Squalls & Pies!
Position 13:58N, 58:45W
Iam writing this on what I believe will be my last night at sea, with less than 130 miles to go now we should be in before midnight tomorrow. I must confess to mixed emotions, it has been a roller coaster ride over the last few weeks with many highs & lows. I have asked all the crew to fill in a quick questionnaire I put together so I can share with you a mixture of views on what the journey has really been like. As I have written all but one of the daily blogs, your impressions of our trip have probably been a little biased! Dave has written an account of his thoughts and feelings on what happened to us mid journey which makes an interesting read – and which I’ll publish when we arrive.
So sitting here in the cockpit just starting my first watch it is easy to feel very romantic about the last 3 weeks! We started with no moon, bowling along in the pitch black, full of nervous anticipation about what big atlantic sea would feel like. Although I had done a number of night sails before they had always been a trial and were something to be endured, a means to an end, a necessary evil! I certainly never thought I’d get used to them. Some 20 nights later we now have an almost full moon and the reflection of the moon on the water combined with the stars and the graceful swishing noise the boat makes as it cuts through the black water under sail is quite a magical experience. I am very glad that this no longer frightens me and I can appreciate it for what it is, a truly unique experience, I am also glad our journey is ending on such a positive note.
The weather has not been great today – we got off our watch at 4am, but we were back up at 6am as we decided to get the cruising chute up as soon as it was light, as we have now moved our clocks forward to St Lucia time, so it is light by 6am and very dark by 6pm. However once up – a squall appeared and that is more or less how the whole morning went, the wind would die away to nothing and we would be wallowing along at 4knts or less so we’d get the crew ready to change the sails and whilst they were all on the bow hoisting the cruising chute, the winds would pick up to 20knts plus. This continued until around 11am, by which time everyone was tired and fed up, we now have our sights firmly set on the finish line and we didn’t feel like we were making progress! In the end we got it up but about 20 mins later all hell let loose, a squall appeared from nowhere and the boat took off, I was down below and everything just fell sideways as she almost broached, (went over sideways with the force of the wind in the sail) whilst Dave was trying to let the sail go the dog nearly went over the side, so he was trying to get a hold of her whilst shouting for help, (Jordan was still playing on Indy’s Nintendo!) and not fully able to control the boat, at the same time the wind blew the bimini (sun awning) out of its brackets in the cockpit and it sort of landed in a heap on top of Dave so now he couldn’t see either! Help arrived and we let all the lines go, there was alot of flapping but in the middle of a torrential downpour and further 30knt gusts we got the sail down and order was restored! The squalls have continued all day and into tonight so we have made frustrating slow progress sailing directly downwind with the white sails goosewinged again.
Tonight was probably the highlight of our day, we caught no fish today (thank god!) so we were able to truly savour a wonderful fray bentos moment. I had bought a stash of emergency fray bentos pies in the UK some 8 months ago, they had now travelled over 4500 miles with us waiting for a night such as this! With no fresh or frozen food available - fray bentos came to the rescue. (My sister will be so proud!) So everyone picked a pie and they were cooked and served with tinned veg, we even ate out of the tins to cut down on washing up as we have no water. There was a slightly worrying moment when the can opener I have onboard wouldn't open the tins, but 2 sailors with 2 leathermen later and they went in the oven. Earlier in the day I cooked the last of the vacuum packed american bacon and served it with fried eggs and part baked bread (now baked obvioulsy!) , no small feat given the roll - both meals were extremely well received - a fitting end to our attempt at eating our way across the Atlantic!