Atlantic crossing. From Bermuda 11

Mon 11 Jun 2007 18:49
Monday morning and sitting on deck in the long awaited sunshine. After an anxious time praying for wind just a few days ago we are just coming to the end of  a 36 hour big blow. Not a true Atlantic storm but a strong wind 30 plus knots and gusting 40 as we skirted a big area of  low pressure to the west of us. The sea was really jumping up on Saturday night as I sat with Sue during her watch,  the autopilot was playing up I didn't want to leave her on her own. It has been one of those periods when you ask yourself 'what the hell am I doing here'. Everything in the boat is either wet or damp, food preparation has come to a complete stop, waves were regularly breaking over the boat as we ploughed to windward into the southeaster, no shower or clean clothes for several days.  I felt sorry for Sue but she put on a brave face and weathered it out. Woke this morning early and noticed a change in the motion, a little smoother and not quite as noisy in the forepeak, wind a little more gentle so I felt very optimistic as I started my watch at 4 am.  Looking out at the still very grey scene, low clouds scudding across the sea, white horses dancing about at all points of the compass, the occasional wave rolling down the sidedecks, much better than the day before.  Sliding across the ocean in our hi tech machine I always get to thinking about the old timers who pioneered these routes, they didn't really know where they were,  often in  frail craft held together with tarred rope, no decent food, clothing, or medical care, they must have been tough as old boots. As the sun came up for the umpteenth million time, a break in the cloud allowed a slash of golden light through, making the ocean glitter and sparkle, the surreal and magical scene  reminding me why we like to do this. The clouds quickly closed in again and I cuddled down in the wheelhouse to keep warm. A sudden jagged streak of forked lightning tore across the sky in front of my eyes startling me out of my little reverie, I hadn't noticed the black cloud galloping towards us bringing a squall or 'rage' as the French call it. A boom of thunder right over the boat rolled across the sea with a strange tearing sound followed  by torrential rain which hammered the surface flat. It quickly cleared and the morning became progressively more benign.  One pm, the sky is blue, the washing is out, Joel is at the wheel looking very pleased with himself practicing his new skill. The smell of lunch is wafting up the companion way,  pants are dry, feet are warm, Come On !!   Anticipating a nice lunch reminds me of some recent offerings. Richard prepared corned beef  Provence style just before the storm but can be forgiven as he had never used instant mash before. The result was a pinkish gruel, runny enough to pour, made up of corned beef, onions and instant mash. UGH. we ate it though. Language subtleties are still keeping us laughing, the skipper, now nicknamed the Pink Panther due to his slight build and jaunty French humour, announced a couple of days ago during a lull in the wind, 'alors, we must start ze engine, we are like sitting duck 'ere'  Joel trots out some stuff obviously learned during lessons at school, 'take a piece of chalk and go to ze blackboard'  or   'the door to ze garden is open' . Lots more that I have forgotten.  We now have under 1000 miles to go so making good progress.   Manny.