Storm Clouds- always heed the signals

Norman G III
Tue 29 Nov 2011 14:21
good morning

today at midday local time ( thats local to our boat and bears no resemblance to international time zones) our position is

16 43 11N 32 58 48 W

and we are making good progress in the direction of st lucia

i apologise for not writing a full appraisal of yesterday but we were caught out by a storm- but more of that later

the details to fill you in on but in no particular order are
jason is almost upto full speed again after a very shaky start..Te davisons pharmacy on board the boat (opening hours 24/7) staffed by two highly respected pharmacists opened for business and its first patient was dispensed a cocktail of medicine to cure all. having had two days of his new drug regime jason now eats 3 times a day sleeps for 10 hours and even goes to the bathroom normally--- our first newborn on board the boat.

skip has moved up a gear (into second) and is amazing us with knowledge about the sea and marine world that is extensive and incredible. I use the word in its literal sense because i am sure that a lot of what he says may have an element of artistic license-- but golly loves it so we are all happy

now golly has taken on a new role as of today (in fact today is his first day) Lunch monitor.
ving eased himself away from front line evening meal cooking duties he has assumed responsibility for cold lunch collations- we are looking forward to an eclectic mix today and will report later-- i wonder if the golombeck relish will rear its ugly head?

since the beginning day ( some 30 light years ago) of this voyage Jason and golly have really ben wanting to experience a storm. well jason did before the sea sickness and golly said he did but only a small one!
we had a great days sasiling yesterday and at abou 1800 started packing up and getting everything ready for the night time shifts. we ate a hearty meal and then jason and golly retired to take some sleep leaving skip and I on watch

i forgot to explain thet a running joke has been the forecasting of storms . every cloud in the sky has to be examined to the incessant questioning of golly
is it a storm cloud?
will we get a storm today?

in the beginning we told him the truth
no storms today/ not the right sort of cumulus formation

but after a while it was more entertaining to tell him all clouds were storm clouds and try to get him to unpack his wellingtons to wear

now the trade wind zone is new to us all. Skip has been in the pacific trade winds but not the atlantic and there are differences. We have read all the books but there is no one with any real experience of them on board ( again thanks to our eminent forecasters L watherston and also D Golombeck who unsolicited and for free gave us some excellent routeing advice gained over many years of marine forecasting and navigational planning advice out of his office in Los Angeles- thanks again) so its a bit of a guessing game as to what would happen in the trades especially at night but established wisdom says that the trade winds blow from f2 to f6 as a Neasterly day and night with frequent squalls and nights of easy rolling seas sailing down the glitter of moonshine with a star filled sky---- last night wasnt like that

last night jamesand i cooked and golly and jason tidied the boat and brought in the fishing tackle another mga fish broke the line after taking more than 200m with the clutch fully closed ---big fish 6 ng3 0 )and both said

we think there is going to be a storm tonight

yes there is said skip get your wellies ready

no im serious said golly

ok thanks for the advice

and we carried on cooking

fast track to 22.35

skip and i on deck planning an imaginary trans atlantic race in a maxi 70 ( did you know four boats- mega boats- have less than 4 days to go to arrive in st lucia) when the wind moved north 15 degrees inb 5 minutes. Now wind shiftsare a sure sign of trouble so we began to furl the foresail and mainsail. within 3 minutes the wind strength had increased 15 kt accustomed by gusts over 30kt and a sudden downpour. skip and i dressed only in shorts and tshirts were wholly unprepared for this and were soaking wet. all of a sudden the sea was really rough and we were ahving to cope with breaking waves at the back of the boat more than 4m high. skip went below to put on wet weather gear and i stayed on the helm. the motion of the boat was so violent it was impossible to stand without holding on with both hands and even then i fell twice.
when skip returned we kept lookout for another 20 minutes and then on the radar saw our first boats in 3 days- a yacht 2 miles to our port (left side) and a supertanker ( 1000ft long with a draft of 17m) a real monster coming toward us at 11.5 kt- its name was Cape Flamingo and it was heading for port talbot in wales

our boat was travelling too fast for the seas so we needed to reef again but it was all a bit frantic so i thought golly may want to see the storm and help. i ran down below and knocked on his door
golly -- no reply
i opened the door golly golly theres a storm

no reply

golly louder i shouted and turned on the lights

golly theres a storm make sure your hatch is shut and come and see it

all i heard was a sound like scooby doo made in the cartoon and then silence-- hed gone immediatley back to sleep again

jason the neonate was sleeping soundly in the bunk bed so i left him and went back to the cockpit

the yacht was now 2.5 miles away and the supertanker 7 miles away and still no sign of a change of direction we set up a 5 mile guard zone on the radar and decided that at this limit we would call them on channel 16 the international channel that all boats must monitor while at sed. supertankers need space to make direction changes normally 2 miles so to miss us he needed to act soon ( the saying with big tankers is that if you dont see them move but they are missing you they have seen you but if you see them make a big direction change they havent seen you)

at 5 miles i calle dthe tanker-- our computer has an ais system that transmits our position but also recieves the status of all other vessels with ais in our area and a cpa the clostst point of approach that the vessel will get to us--- in this case less than 200ft!!!

tanker cape falmingo tanker cape flamingo this is yacht norman g over
no response

tanker cape flamingo tanker cape flamingo yacht norman g over

only a crackle on the vhf-- so ichecked the system was working -- all ok
Da yacht from cape flamingo pass you message -- was the response in a thick russian accent

we are a yacht less than 5 miles from your vessel please state your intentions and confirm you have visual with our vessel over-- i was very proud of myself using the formal language of the british navy

yes i have seen you and will move to starboard( right ) to avoid you and pass behind

ok isaid but there is a yacht to our starboard as well please confirm you have visual with him as well

da da i have visual good night and that was the end of the communication

he was travellin at 11.5kt so that is nearly 2 miles every 10 minutes. he was now less than 4 miles from us so he had to move fast.

to our relief we saw at once the aspect his lights change and saw a red light appear relief for us at we now new he had turned to miss us. but nwhat woul he do . surely with 2000 miles of ocean to manouvere in he would go behind the other yacht as well--- no he cut behind us and then turned as sharply as he could and turned to the north again in from of the other yacht --- he had cut up two little yachts and missed them by less than a mile each on the open ocean amazing

the weather had deteriorated again and i was soaking wet so i changed into my waterproofs and for the next hour we tanded the boat throught the worst of the squall

at 12 midnight golly appeared dressed head to toe in waterproof with his bannd spanking new wellies on his feet a proper mariner

not so bad these storms are they ha said i was expewting much worse

i went to bed

so you see danger signs are there for all to see but if you choose not to take advice or not to look yourself you deserve what you get

special lunchtime mention to cheryl in the office and isabel and new baby at home hi hope all is going well
and to the little thief - tlb for us

work hard

ubtil later