Found the wind

Summer 2022
John Andrews
Thu 15 Jun 2017 19:45
Ok - so you can add ten knots to a GRIB file wind speed! Having made our way north to find wind, we found it in no uncertain manner. Force 6 - 7 for twelve hours, gusting to gale force 8 overnight of course. Now however, the wind has swung to the west and abandoned us, leaving us slopping around in a very messy sea. Over the twelve hours waves built up, with colossal waves coming at us in sets of three. Luckily we were going down wind and not trying to fight our way to windward, with the consequence that the boat was regularly surfing down waves at 14 or so knots. The record was comprehensively broken on one ‘perfect wave’, which set the boat off on a perilous 21 knot surf. ‘Suilven’ behaved immaculately, deviating neither to right or left, spray leaping from her bows until she gradually reduced speed to a more lady-like 10 knots on the back of the wave in front.
Terrifying, but perhaps not as terrifying as an event that took place the previous evening. I was lying on my bunk, waiting to come on to my 9.00pm watch. The light was fading and the waves were building. Suddenly I heard a panicky shout from the cockpit. I rushed up the companion way to find Tessa and John staring towards the stern in an apparent state of shock. They had both seen a very large sperm whale surface literally a a few yards from the boat, blow and then casually carry on its way across the stern. It was almost as long as Suilven herself. Awe inspiring and terrifying in equal measure seemingly.