It's been rough!

Paul Huntley
Mon 1 Jun 2009 16:55

38:13N 43:06W

Monday the 1st June 2009.

Hi to you all ,wondering where we are? Well we are still out here, battling away as best we can to the east. We now have less than seven hundred miles to go having sailed 1450 n.m. since leaving Bermuda. It has been a constant challenge for us all; Libertad as usual has performed superbly as have the crew. I am not so sure about the skipper!

This time yesterday we were becalmed on a heavy rolling sea with a four meter swell from the North West, The forecast had hinted at an intense low to the north west of us but, predicted the track to go well to the north of 40 degrees, this low had other plans to visit us. The southern sector was benign with moderate winds from the W NW then we entered the eye, the rain came down in buckets and the barometer dropped like a stone, 1:7 mbs in less than an hour. We put baking and dinner on hold as the seas grew to more than 5 mts ( you know how I can exaggerate!) maybe 4.5 mts but, they were enormous coming on  the port bow and rolling down the leeward deck, knee deep, taking  the port dodger with it. This increase from no wind to 25/30 knts occurred in less than half an hour. We had the main a genoa reefed to a scrap, just enough to keep our head to wind, the best course was driving us to the north east at 6.5 knts.

Just before dark the VHF crackled into life "this is Seafire,Seafire,Seafire " to the sailing yacht on our starboard bow? We scanned the horizon to the south and through the spray, rain and murk we picked out a super yacht making very heavy weather of it. We made contact on ch 66 and he asked with a very calm English accent what our destination was? He was also making for Horta in the Azores, his normal cruising speed was 12/15 knts, he was doing less than 7kts in this wind. We chatted for a while and he asked if we required anything, I was tempted to ask for a hot bath and a night onboard his boat. He said that we made a fine sight, reefed down and disappearing into each trough with just our masthead showing ,we made a poor target on his radar. Mordecai speculated on the comfort of his bridge deck with large swivelling captains chair and the green glow of numerous radars and chart plotters around him and a cup of coffee in hand without tipping it down the gold epaulettes on his shirt We were letting our imagination run riot, maybe we have been drinking the sea water again!

He disappeared over the horizon to the east saying that he had departed the Florida coast just a week ago and was bound for the Med ,safe passage Seafire you lucky B.......

Guy relieved me at about 19:00 with the wind still above 20/25 knts from the NE but veering slowly. I fell into my bunk exhausted having had little or no sleep for the past three nights, in a comatose state I slept till 03:00 a.m. relieving Drew, having done the 12:00 to 02:00 am watch. 

Things by this time had become a little better with the wind now in the east at 15 to 20 knts and decreasing. By 04: 00 am we shook out the final reef in the main and managed a course of 100 degrees.

Just before my change of watch in the half light of dawn a single dolphin paid us a visit, squeaked a good morning and sped away with a leap, Today has been pleasant with some sunshine allowing us to air the cabins and some rather smelly sleeping bags as well as service two of the Dorade vents that had leaked badly over night. Guy cooked a fantastic breakfast of Bacon, scrambled egg and potato cheese cakes, he wanted to do dauphinoise potato but discovered that Libertad's extensive inventory did not include a piping/icing set Alore!! Lucien exclaimed ,as he disappeared to the fore peak, returning triumphantly with a complete cake decorating set, no wonder he had five bags when he arrived!

We have the weather forecast for tonight is for 20/30 knts again from 18:00 UTC, so we had better batten down the hatches get some rest and food in us while we can and continue our passage to Horta.

Just had a call from a French trimaran outbound from Guadeloupe to Horta and offered to report our position and provide a met (Grib) forecast. The French yacht, Austral is also close by and speaking on VHF.I must away, as Guy has come on watch.

So until next time, love and best wishes to you all from the battered, bruised, but happy crew of Libertad.