We were having a lovely time; gentle winds, smooth
seas, relaxed sailing, even stopping for a swim from time to time, but nothing
lasts for ever. Last night we were making good speed north when, at around 8pm
the skies in the far distance to the north started to come alight. Too far from
land for a lighthouse or fireworks and too big for anything other than
lightning. Our hope was it would move away to the west, but when you're
travelling at 6 knots there is no question of being able to outrun a
storm even if it was possible to plot its course. The best option I could
come up with was to reduce sail whilst the breeze was light and sea calm,
hove-to and hope for the best.
By 2am the skies had become black and the
rumble of thunder could be heard to the north and west. Bermuda was
only 91 miles off but what lay between us was not going to make it an
easy journey. Just after 3am the thunder storm came upon us, the
sky repeatedly illuminated by lightning which would have been
thrilling had it not been so terrifying. The thought kept flashing through my
mind with every clash of thunder 'is this what the insurance company might
describe as an act of god'.
The wind increased to the extent it was howling
through the rigging and the rain started and was soon torrential reducing
visibility to nothing and making any pretence of watch keeping pointless. By now
the clashes of thunder were growing in intensity and gained harmony with the
flashes of lightning building to a climax with a terrifying crack that seemed to
make the boat shudder. Like other members of the crew I thought we had been
struck but the lights were still on and a second less intense crack left
me thinking the worst may be over. There was a distinct
freshness to the air as the sound of the thunder moved past away to the
south and we were able to relax.
The radar screen showed 2 areas of heavy rain, one
over our starboard quarter and the other the port quarter. It appeared we had
passed through the gap between two centres of disturbance. At least it confirmed
the storm was moving away. The wind which had
previously been a light southerly was now firmly from the north and we are today
close hauled moving slowly north. Our earlier thoughts of getting to Bermuda
later today have been put back another night which I hope will not be a repeat
of the last.
The male crew members on Silver Bear excel in their
ability to sleep through anything, however, in this instance even they were
unable to get their beauty sleep.
As I wake Ali with a cup of tea and her morning
porridge (with honey) and let her read this blog she remarks 'it was only a bit
of thunder and lightning you light weight'. Perhaps I should fly to Cayman and
let her take the boat home!