What a night

Silver Bear
Ray Lawry
Mon 10 May 2010 14:21
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!