Apologies for blog drought recently.
After a day of drying out oilies, bedding and
becoming comfortable once again we were looking forward to some pleasant
tail-winds into Horta. But, what 2 days previously had been an intriguing
little squiggle in some isolines to the West of us seemed to have now grown
rapidly into an agressive little bugger of a depression. Lets all get wet
The skipper's knack and feel for sailing and
weather has to be complemented here as timing proved to be everything on
this particular morning. H was on the 12-3 night shift, in bed but getting
up and checking horizon, course and sails regularly. He kindly (or
cunningly?) decided to do an extra hour and woke the sleepy crew at 4am and
nodded off. 10mins later and the jib was in full blown generalised
tonic-clonic, flapping mentally into the wind, Captain Jack (the wind-vane
self-steering gear) couldn't cope with the growing waves and wind. Crew
dons waterproofs, mans the tiller.
A few hours later and the Force 6 is blowing waves
over into the cockpit, crew wet through and tiller is needing two hands for the
waves. Fun sailing and no point in getting H's waterproofs wet too - H
agrees (funny that!!) and supplies crew with great toast (which gets a little
soggy by the last mouthfull) and smarties.
Then the radar detector starts erupting noise - no
ships though, that would be the lightning strikes. When one is in a (very)
confined space, far from safety, perched at the bottom of the tallest structure
for miles around and a thunderous warm front is steadily crawling up your stern
- discharging its deadly payload below, its amazing what comes into your
head... Mr Genton, GCSE Physics, "Electricity follows the path of least
OK so the mast is made of laminated wood - not too
bad one would hope. What about those shrouds - oh those four 7mm steel
cables lining the mast up to the sky, you imagine the millions/billions
of free electrons floating about just waiting around, guiding the strike
in! And its gaining on you, drawing inevitably
closer, occasionally showing off - i can zap to your port, i can zap to
your starboard etc. And now its here, directly above you. The
wind drops, a sense of gloom prevails and the rain sunndly sets
in really thick, baptizing you "Green Mile" style for the shock.
So H, a direct hit - what's the damage?
Structural - almost certainly, probably melts the shrouds, collapsing the mast,
and if it runs down the mast it could blast a hole in the iron keel and sink the
boat (H filled me in on that detail after the event). Electrics - all gone
- no GPS, no SatPhone, No VHF radio, No Led Zepplin. And past that its
mainly just explosions (fuel tanks) or fire.
Fortunately for us just the odd near miss but no
fireworks. Jib couldn't cope with the strain though and got a massive hole
in it - to be stitched up. 6hrs at the helm and the crew turns in for bed;
H takes over putting a formidable 6hrs into restitching the sail. Wind
dies, Captain Jack returns operational again and we're both pooped. A
double ration of Campbell's Condensed Tomato Soup - heaven sent (must come with
the name), cheese and biscuits, round of cards and we turn in for bed and night
530miles to go.
Scat 3 J : 1 H
3 card excre shuffle 10 J : 21 H
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