Greetings from the Tropics

Mon 11 Nov 2019 19:14
The 11th November is a red-letter day aboard Nina as we have cause for celebration. Three causes in fact - James’ birthday, crossing the Tropic of Cancer, and the start of the trade winds.

Overnight we wrestled with what we hope were the last of the nightly squalls we been encountering recently. Your correspondent (Phil today) was entrusted with the heavy responsibility of guiding this 13 ton speed machine through this warm patch of the Atlantic during an early watch after nightfall. James who handed over to me, before descending below to complete his communications, asked me to continue on our course of due South whilst avoiding the nearest of the squalls which surrounded us and were illuminated by their electrical storms.

Normally the squalls move with the wind, but the bigger of them seem to develop their own motive force through disintegrating at the front whilst regenerating themselves at the rear. We’d encountered this sting in the tail before, but normally when the “danger boys”, as Nick and I are (affectionately) referred to, are on watch. Last night it was revealed that I alone am able to summon up the wrath of the storm Titan.

I called down to James to advise that the tempest was not only intensifying, but it simultaneously blew cold downdrafts in our direction whilst approaching closer rather than moving away. James confidently took the helm and steered away from the lightening and torrential rain. Half an hour later we we still attempting to outrun this 16 mile wide squall, but it had other ideas. When it became evident that running was proving futile, James declared he’d had enough, and it was his intention to turn and battle our way through the heart of this beast to freedom. The clash had become personal. We turned 180 degrees to confront the monster. We drove into it as it unleashed its terrible weapon of unrelenting cold rain. Eventually it started to dissipate, and when Nick came on deck to relieve the watch he offered to take over the helm, James responded that he wanted “victory” before being prepared to return to our original course.

And so we emerged; cold, wet, and tired, but having proved our point. We were not prepared to yield and had stood up to this bully of the seas. There is but one memorial to this brave encounter now our clothes have nearly dried - a small pirouette in the recorded track of Nina, where James stood up to the the Titan and won the day.

You will be relieved to hear that daybreak brought with it a brighter prospect. Warm skies, a little sunshine, the comraderie of sharing accounts of the night before, but most important of all, a freshening westerly wind which would hasten us on our course directly South to Antigua.

The days of sailing into the wind are largely behind us. At 09.00 we crossed the Tropic of Cancer at 23 degrees north. At 09.10 the first flurry of the trade winds raised our spirits. The boat settled as our thoughts moved to reaching Antigua, reconnecting with our loved ones, standing on dry land, washing and toilet facilities which do not move, and finding a bar.

In the meantime we’ll be having a beer this evening and celebrating James’ birthday.

Sent from my iPad