December 9th 2010: Incoming squalls -- the best day of sailing yet

Enigma's Transatlantic Voyage
Manuel Ribeiro
Thu 9 Dec 2010 13:29

5 weeks of sailing had passed without running into a single squall. Though it was considered inevitable that they would be encountered, the crew became very accustomed to slow, leisurely sailing in light winds and small waves.


But on Wednesday morning, we finally ran into our first set of squalls – and it was the best day of sailing yet.


The first of them had come at about 6 in the morning towards the end of Manel’s shift. Many had been identified on the radar the previous night, but were all avoided until then. When they finally hit, refreshing rains came in slanted gusts as we sailed through 30 knot winds and 3-4 metre waves. The squalls came and went until early afternoon, but the strong winds and large swells were present throughout the day. With that, we were finally able to get a feel for how Enigma would handle under these conditions. And she did very well. Manuel Sr., Pena and Manel took turns at the helm, maintaining course while anticipating the large waves coming beam-on. Though they did a great job negotiating the swells, it still didn’t prevent all sorts of things – pots, bowls and an open bottle of Pepsi among them – from staying in one spot!


The crew’s mood was slightly antsy, but generally excited, as we reached top speeds over 13 knots. Lucky for us, these fast speeds were maintained throughout the day – even when the squalls subsided. Manuel Sr., Manel and Boyan couldn’t resist taking turns in perching themselves at the pulpit, letting waves soak them as they came splashing on deck, feeling the strong apparent wind and watching the sunset. Being there while the boat was surfing down these large waves was quite a sensation, especially because the water was warm enough to resemble being in a bathtub! After being drenched in salt water after only a few minutes, we were able to take showers below deck. This came as quite a luxury, as we remembered being told in Las Palmas that the only option for most boats when in similar conditions is to come out on deck with shampoo and hope the rain lasts!


Shower or no shower, we were thrilled to be sailing in these conditions, closing in on our destination by 185 miles (50% more than we’re used to).


Hopefully, these conditions will last for another few days – which would allow us to get to St. Lucia by Wednesday morning.


Until tomorrow,


The Enigma Crew


P.S. We are also happy to announce that Manel has heard from his University about his study abroad programme. It turns out that he got his first choice! He now has his eyes set on Hong Kong City Univ. for his final semester.



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