Atlantic crossing from Bermuda 14

Fri 15 Jun 2007 20:27
Last night was hell ! Shortly after turning in for a pre- watch rest the wind shifted dramatically. We had been admiring the huge piles of cloud slowly catching us up and had rigged a bit of awning to keep any rain out of the cockpit. Despite our experience we didn't give a thought to the consequences of the cloud overtaking us. All hell broke loose in about ten minutes, Michel, Joel and Richard had a major tussle dropping the poles etc. and rerigging. Not realising what was afoot I stayed in my bunk thinking that three hands were plenty to sort it all out. The poor old Pink Panther ran himself ragged getting the boat back under control. Thirty knots gusting to 40 at times had whipped up a huge sea and we were careering along on a bearing of 150 degrees when we should have been on 95.
Getting up at 1am for my watch was a relief as clinging on to the bunk on the high side of the foc'sle was not much fun, no sleep either. The wind was still blowing hard and we were side on to huge waves trying to keep from being swept too far to the south.  Did the watch feeling sleepy, wet, cold, and thoroughly miserable. Wishing for a nice dry warm bed with a hot water bottle. Everything not fixed down was being thrown around down below including bodies, Richards 140 kilos being dumped out of the chair while he was fast asleep. We were now running under  stays'l and reefed main and vaguely on course, 300 miles to go.   We had been congratulating ourselves on our good fortune in having a near perfect crossing and allowed a little complacency to creep in I suppose.  This ocean is a wild and unpredictable place, I shudder to imagine what it must be like in winter.
Friday 15th. Big seas on the beam and bouncing along, very uncomfortable but covering a lot of ground. Most of lunch ended up in our lap which was just as well as it consisted of...... partly cooked lumps of potato, hard as iron, in a kind of onion, garlic and bean sauce, accompanied by tinned sardines and salmon on a bed of non stick rubber table mat, compliments of our Provencal chefs Richard and Joel. 
 Joel, nickname Popeye at home apparently, has turned out to be as hard as nails, as rugged as they come so its easy to see why. He made short work of everything on the table after we three and discreetly turned our noses up at it. Spud, fish, (with the bones removed manually) bread on the turn so smelling quite sour, disappeared in short order.  He seems to survive without sleep in any conditions, spends time trying to figure out the chart with the boat standing on her ear and doing hunt and peck emails with a smile on his face. He makes me feel like a limp wristed schoolgirl.
Hoisted the Genoa again at about 4 pm which has done lots to ease the motion. Its definitely not as easy crossing in this direction, to start with it gets progressively colder instead of more balmy, changes in the weather appear without warning and seems to be more determined to wipe off everything before it. 
All going well and in control. no damage to boat or crew to speak of, Sunday arrival in the Azores still looking good. Still no fish. Pretty good I'd say.   Manny