W. Eric Faber
Fri 22 May 2015 22:15
Daily run: 152 miles
An extensive grey mass of low-hanging cloud, so low that it melded with the sea in places, with ominous patches of deep black, accompanied us on our starboard side for the better part of the afternoon. We had been trying to work out whether it was the biggest squall ever or the advent of a new frontal system. On our port side we had a clear sky with patches of white, grey clouds. It seemed that the starboard mass was chasing us and getting closer, but as we were sailing well on a broad reach on the port tack, we did not take much notice and hoped the ugliness would go sooner or later. By 6pm it had us in its clutches and opened its lock gates accompanied by thunder and lightning. The rain was indescribably dense and so hard that it tended to subdue the waves around us. Suddenly, however, the wind dropped, having taken the boat round from south west to north east. The sails began to bang and I was forced to sacrifice the comforts of the cabin. Out I went into the watershed of the black cloud. I managed to get the Genoa furled up, but decided to leave the reefed mainsail as it was. Back to the comfort zone, where a towel was waiting for me, but the mainsail now began to bang seriously and it had to be taken down. Out again into the waterfall. Then Julia said that I might as well have a good wash with soap and water and wash my hair at the same time. I said that the squall (if that is what it was) might not last long enough to justify lathering myself, but she insisted I washed and proceeded to hand me the soap and shampoo. There I was in the cockpit, starkers and lathering myself with shampoo dribbling down my face and getting into my eyes. I was getting cold and wanted to go down below, but Julia said that my hair had not been rinsed properly and that I should wait a bit.
After about another five minutes, I thought I had been rinsed enough to warrant being allowed back in. A towel was waiting for me. Great to be clean, the first shower since the last on Bora Bora, where we showered outside by the diving centre, an experience that in itself merits half a page of detailed description. The squall lasted for two hours with fierce and unpredictable winds. We tried to make some sail and succeeded somewhat, but as the squall dissipated, it left us with less and less wind, so that I had to take the sails down a second time. By 8pm the rain eased off, leaving us with no wind. We waited for the wind to return, but after half an hour, we gave up and resigned ourselves to another windless night. We turned in leaving our little home bobbing on the seas. At 11.30pm, however, the wind returned with a stiff breeze from the Southeast. No time was lost in unfurling the Genoa and putting the ship on a westerly course. The mainsail would have to wait till the morning…
This morning with the mainsail set as well we are bowling along at 7 knots. If the wind stays as it is and there are no more squalls to contend with, we should catch up with the fleet in Vavau, the most northern island in the Kingdom of Tonga.