Sun 9 Dec 2007 12:15
hard to believe i know, but check out the photo. first we were going to keel haul him for theft of precious provisions, but seeing as he has been an exceptionally good skipper in recent days (or more particularly nights) we have forgiven him and although we had to take the beanz away from him - after all we have had more than enough wind of recent - see story below - dave has cooked a wonderful full english (albeit with german bockwurst sausages) with beanz this morning, so crew and skipper are happy again.  the sun is shining, the sky mostly clear, foulies are hanging everywhere to dry and bob has just got the finish line out.  we still have the huge chunk of tuna but that is frozen and we can have that anytime.  lisa and i have cleaned the heads for the first time in 3 days and everyone is feeling upbeat again. 
yesterday i was so dog tired (as was everyone) that i couldn't bring myself to type hardly anything, but as i've just announced on deck after breakfast, i could feel a blog moment coming on.  it was hard to tear myself away from the sun, but hopefully it will still be there when i have finished this.
to recap on the last few days, friday was white, windy and wet most of the day and we had another day of hanging around or sleeping in the sticky heat.  our bedding is now totally rank from sweating so much.  i am dreaming of crisp white clean sheets.  friday first night shift was mark and i and we spent the whole 4 hours scouring the skies trying to make out what was coming from where and more importantly what was going to hit us.  the sky was black everywhere, not a cloud in sight and on the first shift we had a boat record speed of 15.6 knots!!  we also had 44 knots of wind.  we had lightning coming from all corners and everyone on board was told to avoid contact with anything metal.  i went down at 12 to a bed where the only thing to hold onto is the mast which i had to avoid at all costs.  before long all three men were on deck, torrential rain, more lightning.  lisa came down and becky never went up as the lads did a 2 at a time shift system.  wait for it - they had winds of up to 55 knots - that's gale force 9/bordering 10.  not one person on board has every experienced such high winds.  for the half hour or so that bob and i where in bed together we were struggling just to stay in and finally it became physically impossible to stay in without holding the mast and as two of us crashing into the lee cloth would probably have torn that out, bob went on deck and i put my sleeping bag on the floor in the forward cabin and dozed fitfully amoungst my foulies, life jacket and various other stuff that had been thrown to the floor.  meanwhile on deck the main was out as far as it could go and as we didn't want to broach (sails in the water) mark decided to take down the main - which was probably his most important sailing decision ever.  since then we have had reports of all sorts of broken booms and even a mast down.  once the main was gone, it was all still pretty scary - the boat was swerving round the waves like crazy and it was the longest night any of us have ever lived through. still, thank goodness, morning arrived, the crew had hardly slept a wink but caliso had come through it.  at this point i do have to say that we have the best possible skipper in the world.  throughout the madness he stayed calm, decisive and totally in control.  instructions were clear and we all felt safe even though it was scary at the same time.
saturday was sent trying to catch up on sleep with more rain and white/gray/black skies and squalls.  we had a shift system going all through the day and then on into the night.  all full foulies, life jackets and harnesses all day.  last night we were expecting the worst again.  we had since had weather reports and basiclly there were about 4 thunder storms on going near us - we were slightly to the south of one and just continued south all day in the hope of getting a bit of distance between it and us.  we were told this front/low is going west the same way as us and we just didn't want to be in it until thursday.  it might still come back and bite us a bit again, but we will be prepared this time.  last time the forecast only warned of squally showers.  last night the main was taken down in daylight and we were ready for whatever was thrown at us again.  the worst we got last night was 45 knots - which sounds ridiculous, but actually it's not so bad - 30-40 has become the norm.  bob and becky had the first shift 8-12 and got completel soaked through.  they also saw a cruise liner (which at first they thought was the moon come back!) and more lightening.  mark and i then went on for 12-4am and we got soaked for at least 2 hours - with horrible biting slanting rain that you just couldn't hide away from - we also had about 3 big waves come over.  we therefore got cold and decided to make a mid-shift cup of tea and have some maltesers.  just the ticket.  this will sound wierd but because of the night before we didn't mind the rain, the winds stayed at around 30-42k and then odd stars started coming out.  i cannot describe the joy of seeing stars - clearing sky - at least temporarily and then we got excited each time a star appeared.  some went again and more drizzle came but we went below dryer slightly that bob and becky.  dave and lisa had the early morning shift and their wind got up to 45k and they took the head sail in even more.  i walked into our cabin just in time to see bob catapulted into the lee cloth for what he says was the 5th time that night.  i therefore decided to try our the saloon where dave has been sleeping and i must say, with the help of two cushions, my sleeping bag and my pillow i managed to wedge myself in so tight that although i had three position changes as different bits fo my body went to sleep, is slept quite well.  earlier before my shift i was so shattered that i slept so soundly that when bob came down to warn me about the lighting and the mast, he couldn't rouse me at all, but as i was well away from the mast he left me.  so i feel quite caught up.  the day before i had had the early shift 4-8am and then so sleep and then the early evening shift of 8-12 and no sleep and some dozing on the floor, so i am not surprised that i zonked.  mark was feeling incredibly tired a few days ago, but he said he slept brilliantly yesterday and even came on deck at 11pm, went back to bed and went out like a light again until 12 when our shift began.  so all in all, we are all feeling much better.  what a difference the sun makes.  it might not stay all day but we know what to do now and i'm pretty sure the main will be down at night for a few more nights to come.  we are now at 660 miles to go.  we have loads of celebrations to catch up on, a meridian, 2/3rd of the way, under 1,000 miles to go and later today we will have crossed the 2,000 mile mark.
last night becky made us corned beef hash and beanz which although it looked like baby food, went down an absolute treat and we all really enjoyed it.
none of us expected this to be quite so hard as it has been in recent days, but everyone has pulled their weight, our skipper is brill and the morale is great.  i think that's about it. more news tomorrow.

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