logo Lady Stardust Faro-Portugal to Barcelona - 2010
Date: 15 Dec 2006 21:15:34
Title: The calm..and then the storms

On Wednesday night it was so calm we were able to eat our pasta out of normal dishes and we dined in the cockpit with the engine off, enjoying the cool, pleasant breeze and the break from the noise and heat of the motor.  I had the eight until midnight watch and struggled to stay awake because it was so relaxing and mild outside.  The moon rises later and is diminishing in size each night now (last quarter at the moment) so it doesn't give off much light but looks rather eerie when it does appear - a bit like the smiling mouth of a candle-lit Halloween pumpkin.
Thursday remained calm until early afternoon when the waves got steadily higher and the wind picked up.  Paul attempted to put the parasail up and we struggled for an hour trying to get it going as it wrapped and twisted but it wouldn't co-operate so Paul put it away, concluding that it hadn't been made to the boat's specifications.
Once we'd turned the engine off and reinstated the genoa and mainsail we began to make good speed again in the ever-increasing wind.
By evening the rolling had returned in earnest but I managed to make Spanish Tortilla for dinner and we ate in the cockpit again watching flashes of lightning on the horizon which Paul assured me was miles away.   When Paul woke me for my midnight watch he warned that it was quite rough up above with big waves and the inevitable rolling and odd showers but as it wasn't cold I chose to stay outside for the full four hours.  I noticed a marked change in the atmosphere - the sky was heavy with clouds, it was muggy and flashes of lightning were still all around, but no thunder.  I rescued two flying fish, one was a beautiful blue-backed big one that I managed to hear above Snow Patrol on my iPod as it flapped around on the ropes on our starboard side.  Later, a tiny baby one almost landed on my hand and proved more difficult to pick up and throw overboard.
When I woke just before eight Paul told me a squall was on its way and when it hit us we realised it was our first real squall!  The sky was dark grey and the boat was pitching and tossing drastically in very high waves.  Then the wind increased to 40 knots and the rain came down in a torrential downpour.  Paul had to handsteer because Harriet couldn't cope and until I could pass him his wet weather jacket he was stood in a freshwater deluge in just t-shirt and shorts.  I remained in the cabin gripping onto hand-holds and trying to stay on my feet while fending off and preventing various objects from projecting themselves all over the place.  I could feel the force of the speed we were doing as the strong winds pushed us along and the noise the waves made as they rammed into all parts of the boat was scarily loud - like hammer blows.  It was quite an exhilarating experience all in all and lasted about twenty minutes before calming down and I'm sure Paul relished being up there battling against the elements.  Since then we've had a few minor ones but Paul's fixed the sails so that they're ready for them.
Everything else is fine and we're getting prepared for our arrival in St. Lucia- hard to believe we are so close now and amazing to realise that we are so close to South America (just 500 miles).
Bye for now,
Paul reefing the main ready for the squalls
Harriet battling the elements as another squall approaches

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