When everything goes wrong you have to let go N24.01W17.14

Salsa af Stavsnas
Ellinor Ristoff Staffan Ehde
Thu 29 Nov 2012 08:26
So there is the day of the ARC start, there is a feverish activity on the dock. It is a silent mood. Then just one hour before start and as the docklines come loose, evrybody starts wishing each other the best of luck. We are like ants that are going to cross a highway and we all hope for the best of luck.
Still in harbour, no waves, Ellinor starts to throw up, has she got Andreas stomack desease? Obviously. But she tells me to move on, at least we have to be on start.The scene is magnificent, 200 boats spinning around waiting for the signal, the wind is fresh. Boom! Time to go, we cross the line and decide that Ellinor is so well we can handle it, and we know that I never get this kind of stuff.
As we head down with Gran Canaria on the starboard side, the wind picks up hard, we have 33 knots of gusts and the waves build up agressivily. I go down to check something in the boat and hear a strange noise in the aft.
On the outside I find that the new rudder on the Hydrovane is trying to brake loose the whole system from the boat. If that happens we will take in water. We have to get rid of the rudder imidiately. Every wave works hard on getting things to Poseidon as he probably wants one of those. I hang on the rear with safetyline and Ellinor brings up the boat on the wind to stop her motion forward and with a lot of strain we get it off! Great! First problem solved. Now we have to rely on our electric again.
If we decide we have to do something radical we can stop in Cap Verde.
As we rush south rain squals appear and we get completely soaked in 1 minute and the wind forces us to bring in the genua and let the jib out. We are now very reefed and the first option is to go south 50 nM tilll we can clear Gran Canarias wind shadow.
- Aren't we having fun!!? is yelled out on our working channel 72, I know who the guy is and he makes me smile when we see him ashore.
Fun is about waves that are about 4-5 meters high, if you look back from your boat it is like a one floor building (thank god its not two) approaching in train speed. Just as you think that wave is going to hit us, Salsa raises her back and let's it past under with a shake.
Then comes the next surprise, as the dark sets in, I start to throw up. Ellinor is below trying to recover. Andreas is sick again and Erika is hungry.
I heat some leftover pasta....
Now it is all about make it as simple as possible. Some of you may think, why don't turn around and go back? Well with Northely wind and high waves, turning around is as fun as paddling up a waterfall, can be done but then we are going to be even more miserable.
Descision taken is that we just head south, no change of sails, nothing, the boat has to take care of herselfe. Watch is made so we sleep 20 minutes, check around, sleep 20 minutes, alarms on.
The night goes on, the waves are the biggest I have seen, but funny enought we feel confident, if everybody else can take it...
Lots of rain, strong winds and the sea made us close the boat completely and the person on watch had to wear harness even in the cockpit. But we never had any waves wash the cockpit, just the decks (was needed).
This morning came with sunshine and by lunch Erika was throwing up as well. Great, now we have a boat full of people with stomack desease!  The good side of it, nobody has to cook.
The bad side, somebody has to empty the bowls.
All day the movements of the boat was very uncomfortable and I felt we had to start doing something radical.
Our course was original, to say the least, no other ARC boats nearby any longer and we where heading to the African coast. Action had to be taken before getting in to shallower waters (from 3000 to 300 meter) as then the sea would pick up even worse.
We took our small strengths we had and jibed. In the afternoon wind and sea became more moderate and soon it was time to head south again and jibe towards Cap Verde. Now we really had to do something drastic, we had to get the genua out to pick up speed and go with the wind. That means working out the spinnacker pole, make it rock steady and then sheet out the genua (heavy work on a rolling deck)
As we did that Salsa picked up speed and suddenly we where going wave speed, that makes a huge difference in comfort.
So now we are rushing down at 7 knots and the wind is only 20 knots and the waves down to 2-3 meters wich feels small now.
On top of everything, a huge school of dolphins with a lot of youngsters started to play around us. One jump braver than the other. One dolphin actually jumped over the bow!
So now it is late at night, full moon, everything feels great, even though my stommach is still growling.
We have been out almost two days and not one meal has been made in the kitchen. The boat is downloaded with food and nobody eats!
We are heading towards the 20th (degree above Equator) and when we feel the trade starts to pick up we head west.
Or as the English say, head south til the butter melts and then turn right.
The butter is far from melting at night, right now I am dressed like in the Nord sea. The biggest chill factor being the wind. When we have it from behind it cools the cockpit a lot. When it rains it all comes in. But in daytime the sun is really warm.
Erika put it all really well today: Nothing is ever as you thought it would be...