14 55N 52 55W
1200 hrs UTC Thursday 10th Dec. - 400 miles to
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
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
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
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
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.