7 Dec - It's only a shower

Moulin Rouge
Philip Barltrop
Thu 9 Dec 2010 13:20
Water, a life source, a friend and also at times a foe.  During our time on board Moulin Rouge we have certainly seen a lot of water, in fact some days, we see nothing but those of us on board and water, but this night we were all to experience a new phenomenon.......
Chris and Andy had settled down for the 9pm to 12am watch and all was appearing to be quiet, so Andy let Chris have an easy night and relieved him from his watch.  Ten minutes later a call from the deck and Mark and Chris were on deck having donned lifejackets to find Andy in a Squall with sails backed and 28 knots of wind from nowhere howling through the rigging.  Philip sprung to action activating the Night sun deck lamp and all set to trying to tame the sails in the challenging and torrential rain conditions.  Andy was prepared in full waterproofs, Mark was wearing his pyjama trousers, whilst Chris was wearing shorts.  Comments were made subsequently that although cold rain, it was fresh and as refreshing as a shower.  Subsequent to the squall passing by, Chris and Andy restored the sail plan with second reef mainsail and full headsail for the following watches.  During the squall, Andy did also manage to help provide some shelter for a little sea bird that had landed on board.  The bird was seen by some later watches still on board, but we now assume the rested bird has gone back to join its friends.
Following this first Squall, Andy and Chris both completed the watch scouring the horizon for black patches that could be the next Squall.
Colin and Ben were woken for a watch change at midnight and managed to avoid a soaking by tactically manoeuvring past two further squalls then handing over the watch to Philip and Mark at 3am.  Mark and Philip were hit again by a couple more squalls and after two changes of clothes were relieved by Andy and Chris who were led to believe they were just exiting a squall under headsail.  Chris and Andy sat in that squall for 2 hours trying to escape its clutches by increasing speed, decreasing speed, altering course, but could not escape its grasp.  Philip remained up monitoring the radar seeing this ever growing squall.  The final successful tactic was to slow the boat down to about 1.5 knots and let the squall overtake us.
Ben and Colin were not to be let of scot free in this catalogue of soakings.  They resumed watch from Andy and Chris at 9am and then endured  almost three hours of driving rain as we headed south away from the Squall zone.
All in all an epic night - special thanks must be noted for the valiant and consistent work of our seventh crew member Ray, who we feel this passage would not be possible without...........