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Date: 11 Dec 2009 01:55:56
Title: Slow Boat to Barbados

14 55N 52 55W
 
1200 hrs UTC Thursday 10th Dec. -  400 miles to go.
 
Its 3am and just arricved in the cockpit. bleary eyed for my watch.Although there is a quarter moon waning but its pitch black because of rain clouds and squalls.completely blocking out all starlight and moonlight. I wake up the watchkeeper who instantly disappears down below to his bunk.
 
There is a big breaking wave comimg up from astern and its just possible to see the white water in the comber. The noise is something else, just like a continuous breaking wave on the beach.  Fortunately the stern lifts up just before the boiling white water swamps us and we breathe easy. But then our speed increases and we find ouselves surfing helter skelter down the face at 8 or 9 knots whille the white water overtakes us with a mighty roar  Eventually the bow points up to the skies before we reach the bottom of the following trough. We wait while the next one aproaches. 
 
 
 
 
The wind is howling through the rigging and just at the wrong time there is the noise of a massive waterfall just before a rogue wave from a different direction hits us with a loud thump on the beam and Diatonic seems to jump sideways knocking crew off their feet. Some of these rogues hit the quarter and knock the boat off course. Diatonic rolls over what seems like for ever. Another rogue hits the other quarter and we go into a death roll that see's everyone hanging on for grim death whether you'r in bed or on watch.
 
On the verge of broaching we reef down to just a pocket hanky and still doing 7 knots in the squalls.  Nobody can sleep. We worry about the twin poles hanging on the mast and steadying the genoa's but nobody's volunteering to go on deck and stow them.
 
We worry a wave will sweep the deck and all before it. We have 2 bikes and 3 sailbags on the coachroof and10 drums of diesel fuel on the side decks. The transome is crowded  with diesel and petrol drums, 2 bottles of gas, outboard engine, BBQ, deflated dinghy and the liferaft. The transome mounted A frame is held on with 6 bolts and crowded with solar panels, wind generator and a hoard of antenna's.When is it all likely to fall apart?
 
It sounds as though we are in the middle of a Caribbean steel band with saucepans, frying pans, plates and cuttlery all trying to escape.  Suddenly there is something cold and wet wriggling beside you which really makes the heartbeat increase in the dark. Get the torch and its only a flying fish thrown in by the last wave.
 
Every wave is different and brings different emotions. Sometimes the violence is overwhelming but iit s soon forgotten in daylight when we can get on the crest of a wave and be in paradise.(As long as the sun is shining.)
 
Trying to take photos is a waste of time. My photos of 50 metre waves in the high latitudes of the North Altantic in the winter and the Roaring Forties of the South Pacific never quite conveyed reality. After a sustained blow the 4m waves down here in latitude 15N, and in a small yacht, seem just as bad as the 50 metre but the photos never capture.the horror or the ecstacy of the moment.
 
Its 6am and Bob has come up for his watch. Thank god I say and fling myself down the companionway and into my bunk for a few ZZZ.
 
At sun up everything is different. We begin a new day.Breakfast on the last of the bread. Admire the flying fish.
This morning we have read the instructions and made our first loaf of bread. Despite the gas running out half way through it still tastes fantastic. Will probably make another tomorrow but with more sugar in.
 
Meal times are a nightmare in the big seas. The cook gets anything on to the plate and up to the cockpit where crew stuff it down their throat before it goes flying overboard.
 
Everyones trying to cach up on sleep but its quite hot out, even under the bimini.
 
Our ETA Port St Charles, Barbados is 0100 Sunday 13 Dec so we are tring to slow down to arrive after breakfast.
 
Will let you know how we get on. 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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