Arc Day 14 - Storm at Sea

Dick and Irene Craig
Sat 5 Dec 2009 21:50
Wow! Our "calendar boys" are not just good sports and willing to join in the
fun but when it comes to sailing a boat, they are the best.

Last night we experienced the worst conditions that two of us had previously
encountered at sea. Austin had been exposed to daytime 70 knot gusts, and
Chris recalled his '98 Biscay Crossing

For nearly two hours the wind blew at 40 knots, gusting 50 knots.
Fortunately the parasailor had already been taken down before the wind
became excessive and we were running with the genoa.

The mainsail, in the sail-bag was trying to take off, without any help
needed, other than the strength of the wind. So, in incredulous conditions,
the guys lashed the mainsail to the boom. See photo from later in the day,
with Chris on watch.

At one stage, soaked through to their skin, the guys were locked outside of
the boat when the latch on the door, closed to keep out the rain, dropped.
As cook was in bed, sleeping through this maelstrom, it was only a question
of waking cook, to get the door unlocked. Cook thinks that perhaps there is
a lesson to be learnt here, never shut the door when you are outside, unless
cook is still inside.

As egg and bacon had been scheduled for breakfast this morning, the timing
couldn't have been better.

Yesterday the sky was covered with cloud all day long and the only thing
that could be seen on the radar was cloud. Today started with almost a
cloudless sky but by noon, there was at least a 50% covering of cloud.

We did see the lights on Moonstruck last night until about 10pm, when the
visibility became too poor.

Yesterday afternoon we played trivial pursuits against the Moonstruck
Magicians. The Tucanon Tigers won the game but not without a good fight from
the Magicians. When we spoke to them this morning, they had not experienced
winds exceeding 30 knots last night. Incredible, so near and yet so far.

We also spoke to a NARC (a non ARC boat, another boat crossing the Atlantic
independently). They were on their way to Martinique and had winds no
greater than 20knots last night.

These two boats must have just been on the outside of the storm, missing
both the sheet and fork lightening. We were right in the middle.

Raylah called us just before 11am local time, to give us her UT noon-day
position to relay to Cowes. She is about six miles behind us and also
experienced the storm last night but all is well. Their passage during the
storm, shown on the chart plotter, sounds as though it rather resembles
ours. Very much a wiggly, woggly way.

We are now sailing at UT minus 3 hours and should be 3/4 of the way to our
destination, this evening.

Life aboard a boat is a succession of broken nights, even when nothing
untoward occurs so, unless we are on watch or have another task to complete,
we tend to go to bed almost immediately after supper.

When on night watch, we wear a life jacket and safety line, plus a personal
alarm. We each wear a light which reminds me of a miner's light as it is
worn on the head, attached by elastic straps. Although we do have a
spot-light and another torch on the fly-bridge, these head lights are ideal,
should we need to switch them on to illuminate something during the hours of

We seem to be filling a supermarket bag with refuse about once in three days
which has helped to not over burden us with storage problems. We rinse
everything, including cling-film before it is deposited in the bin bag,
under the sink, in the galley. Washing everything before it is binned helps
to eradicate the cause of any smell. We also have anti-bacterial spray.

Discarded bits of fruit and vegetables are thrown over the side as is
anything that is easily and quickly, bio-degradable.

Today for lunch we will had chicken salad. The chicken had been left over
from the roast chicken we ate for supper last night. We have now also run
out of avocados, grapes and kiwi fruit.

Supper tonight is that good old standby, Spaghetti Bolognese. One that cook
made earlier and that has been taken from the freezer.

While washing up last night, Chris was dismayed that we had now consumed the
entire box of turron ice cream. However, he was consoled by the knowledge
that there is still a box of chocolate ice cream in the freezer.


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