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Date: 23 May 2015 14:12:39
Title: Atlantic crossing day 6, after the storm...

39:31.8N 64:09.2W @1200 GMT  1528 miles to go (only 83 less than yesterday despite sailing over 130 miles).

Wow, that was some day!  We failed utterly to avoid the storm; the downloaded forecast got its track and strength wrong and the weather service we had subscribed to finally sent us a warning text well after the winds had started.  By dawn Friday we were fully reefed, by midday we had swapped to the little staysail and even that was well reefed.  We were coping OK in winds of 40kts or so (gale force 9) when the wind veered north.  This brought me up on deck just in time to see the wind at 54kts (later the instruments showed the max gust at 58kts) and mountainous seas charging at our stern.  We then had to cope with an afternoon of huge waves (4m maybe?) coming at us from astern due to the new wind and at our side from the old wind.  This is not a good situation to be in, but it was too rough to contemplate heaving to (stopping) as we haven’t practised it enough, or gibing to a new direction.  After a few hours running southwards we summoned the courage to gybe back on course which put both wave trains on our stern – a safe direction.  To make matters worse we had now sailed into a back-eddy of the gulfstream which made the seas steeper and more confused as well as slowing us down to 3kts.  Overnight the winds died but the sea is still rough and, with a strong current against us, we have decided to sail north to 40degrees where the GS is supposed to flow east again.  We’ll see…

 

Some of you know what a boat is like to live in under these conditions, but for our immediate family who don’t – you can’t imagine!!  Apart from the momentary fear of seeing those waves, the sheer physical effort of moving around the cockpit or deck is hard, and made worse because I’d made some mistakes rigging the staysail sheets for running downwind so had to go forward a couple of times.  We spent all of the time below, but nowhere is safe and we were well thrown about (and still are).  The fact that all we have are bruises is probably just luck.  It’s also a challenge to cook and eat anything in these circumstances as everything seems to part company with the surface it is on and you haven’t got enough hands to hold on yourself as well as keep things in place.  Hot tea is a boon, but ‘interesting’ to prepare and supper last night was a “force 10 stew” ie. open two tins and heat them up quickly.  As it happens, we had some Toulouse saucisses with lentils and a tin of Waitrose small potatoes (which always makes us giggle) which was delicious!  By last night we were both so sleep deprived that we abandoned a formal watch system and just both lay down.  Eventually, despite the rolling and lurching whilst horizontal, we did both manage to doze off a bit. Of course we did occasionally pop up and check on the boat as well!  We wonder how people cope on lesser boats; Goldcrest is hugely well built, heavy and stable but is still rolling through 60 degrees and was yawing 90 degrees either side of course in thee worst waves.  However, nothing has broken (not even our spirits!), nothing even sounds strained (not even our tempers) – although Lindsay worries this is tempting fate.  And it is still warm (sea about 22C), which makes everything so much easier to cope with.

 

So back to riding the bucking bronco for a while longer…


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