Fw: 18 17 190n 24 44 970w
Great Escape’s progress over the past several days may have been glorious, wet, frustrating but never could it be described as ‘oceanic’. That was about to change. In the early hours of Saturday morning the wind began to build. Standing orders required notifying the skipper of a blow of over 20 knots. Since this occurred at watch change just about the whole crew was in the cockpit putting in their 10 cents’ (6p) worth. As the wind continued to build and the boat increasingly difficult to handle – we were hurtling into a black abyss and about 8 knots – Skipper ordered the mainsail taken down. We would progress using the headsail alone.
Peter and Jan were selected for the EVA and ventured out into the blustery black night to lower the sail armed with safety tethers sail ties and head lamp. The main halyard is the only line on the boat which cannot be controlled from the cockpit and work has to be done at the mast. Of course the sail got stuck on its way down, resulting in anxious moments and plenty of shouting between mast and cockpit. The jib was rolled in to reduce our speed which was still close to 5 knots under bare poles. Peter started to the climb the mast and after considerable tugging the sail came free. Calm was restored.
The remainder of the day saw us on a broad reach making 7-10 knots in winds of 25-30kts and waves building to 2-3 meters. This is what we had come for. Alone in the ocean, surfing the swells, the waves rising high above the boat’s stern, before picking us up and passing harmlessly below us. Every now and again a cheer would go up as an icy spray splashed into the cockpit. This was living.
Fishing was suspended for the day due to the exhilarating conditions as was progress on our maintenance list. We hope to travel 160 NM today, our best yet. The first of the Cape Verde Islands lies about 50 NM to our south and about 60 miles beyond that the trade winds should kick in. This will allow us to make our long awaited right turn for the 2000 mile dash to the Caribbean.
A great day.