Atlantic crossing 11

Wed 6 Dec 2006 11:16
Tuesday early evening we were all three tittering and laughing about not
much, used to the motion and jammed in a convenient corner. Unnoticed, the
conditions outside were changing and finally brought to our attention by the
sound of a giant hand slapping the side of the hull with a sack of wet sand.
A kind of hollow boom accompanied by the sound of rushing water. A first I
thought we had hit a whale as we had received warnings of them being in the
area, if fact one boat had already been in collision with one. Thisbe
righted herself and trembled back on to her course. We had begun to slide
sideways down the waves due to a wind shift, and had smashed beam on into
one of the frequent crosswaves. It shook us out of our reverie and back
into action. It was already getting dark and the wind was piping up over
20kn so we reefed the sails by about a third and settled her into a safer
direction. Victor does the 8 to 12 so was kitted and sent into action. By
now the waves were looming over us in a very scary fashion, smashing the
boat this way and that and dumping white tops over the side. Even without
much sail up we felt overpowered, hissing down wavefronts and sliding
sideways at the bottom. I joined Vic on deck and we managed to reduce sail
even further after a bit of a struggle which eased the situation somewhat.
With the washboard in, Alex and I tried to get some rest in preparation for
our turn, leaving poor old Vic at the mercy of the elements, outside.
Midnight and no sleep later, I relieved him on deck and kept an eye as he
turned in. Did a bit of tidying and tried to get some order around the deck.
The wind had dropped a little and the full moon lit up the scene in a
surreal way, broken water all around and great waves. I lay athwartships and
got some music going. Imagine laying across the cockpit and watching the
mast swaying violently against the starry backdrop, the masthead wind
indicators dancing and jiggling about, lit up by the tricolour masthead
light. your feet alternately above and then below your head. Thisbe and I
had a dream of an hour, soaring and swooping through moonlit canyons of
cloud and waves, seeming to be at one with the elements. High above another
layer of cloud was racing by at breakneck speed. The volatile nature of the
tropical weather is always a surprise, small changes in sea temperature
cause great clouds to suddenly appear out of nowhere, one minute the sky is
clear the next a squall is racing up from astern, ripping into everything in
its path up from 15 to 30kn in seconds, accompanied by slashing rain. I had
to stand to and be ready to hand steer if the situation suddenly got out of
So relieved the we had reduced sail. Kept thinking that the worst was over
but more squalls put paid to that dream. I know I am always banging on about
the beauty of the whole experience but there is another side to crossing the
Atlantic in a small boat. Down below is a scene from a flooded shop. Wet
weather gear all over the floor, nowhere to put it. Damp and smelly bedding.
Books jammed in everywhere, take out one at your peril. Valuables, watches,
ipods, hand held gps, chargers etc swinging crazily about from their
hangings. Everything you do or need takes so much effort that its best left
if not important. Decided not to make porridge this morning so emptied the
locker looking for the last four Wheatabix, locker awash with spilt oats,
various cereal bars and general rubbish. Cleaned and sorted it out. Put two
wheatabix in bowl, bowl fell over and dumped contents into wet sink. No
problem, whats a bit of soap between friends. Held bowl with one hand while
finding milk in fridge with the other, slopped milk into bowl, about half a
liter by accident, milk returned to fridge. Held bowl while dumping a pound
of sugar into it. Decided that another biscuit in the whole mess would
improve the end result, so carefully propped bowl against leeward bulkhead
while ripping open packet, got one. Sudden lurch spills contents of bowl
over worktop, managed to scoop some back into bowl but thought waste of
effort so scooped remainder straight into mouth. All this accompanied by a
steady rain of onion skin and garlic cloves from the nets slung across the
Wiped bowl out with teatowel and that was breakfast done, whew, what a
relief. Strong smell from pits so went to heads for babywipes and had a bit
of a rubdown, put same pants back on, what the hell, they have only done
three days. Doing me blog now, on the bunk with feel braced against the
furniture and trying not to dump laptop onto floor. Wondering what to do for
lunch, will have to be something substantial, when the food hoover wakes up
he is going to be looking. Will try to get satphone working now to download
any emails and try to answer them, also must do position report to ARC. Can
see Vic standing on deck, looking like Neil Armstrong, his sickbag stuck
charmingly in his belt, his weekold beard making him resemble some species
of landlocked walrus. Best make haste, be my turn up there next. Good ere
init. Manny