Leg 3: Part 5

Vicky and I were now sharing evening and morning watches. A couple of days after my up the mast morning, I called into the aft cabin and in my most sweet and sickly voice advised the love of me life to stay in bed a bit longer. This was in part me being nice but over long years of sailing together, I have learnt that adding rain and strong wind to a recently awoken Vicky, does not marital harmony make. For sure watching the darkening skies astern we were in for some weather, best to keep Vicky tucked up in bed. I Bizarrely put the Bimini up, you see it’s much more effective for keeping the main hatch dry than its minuscule size serves to keep the sun off. Twenty minutes after spotting this squall, it was all over us, wind 40 knots, rain horizontal and boat speed over 10 knots, wicked! It lasted twenty minutes, which was long enough to work out that, whilst the steering was good, it had its downwind surfing limitations.

So it seemed this dawn watch was working out with most cockups or worse, happening whilst I wasn’t sleeping.

I knew from reading other people’s accounts, that this increase in squalls was common as you approached the islands, it’s just bad timing. We were all really comfortable with our 10-20knot trade winds, so this 20-30 knots was a bit of a pain. Oh well at least it was behind us and shoving us West.  Andras seemed to catch the worst night time squalls, but really they were more a nuisance than anything difficult.

Our good friend, the staysail became the latest casualty after a little complacency about wind strength. This meant having to use heavily reefed main to balance reefed poled out Genoa but again it was a little more difficult to raise and lower. By this stage daily average distance made good stretched to 150-160 nm, an average of a little over 6 knots. It’s hard to imagine sailing in the Med with such incredible constant winds, usually an hour it’s good before conditions change. Out here our best period we went was ten days without touching the sails, just awesome.

There was a bit of irony at play on our final day, when having placed my morning coffee on the chart table, to throw my arm into my jacket, a particularly violent roll saw me head butting the plotter, trying to break my nose on the autopilot and finally scalding myself on fresh coffee, now moving across the ocean passage chart like a tsunami.

We sighted St Lucia at 0800 hours and as always those last twenty miles seemed the longest of the trip. However it was a time when everybody on board could reflect on the crossing and what it had meant to each individual. Unanimously we felt that 17 days after day 2 had passed incredibly quickly. Andras spent most of the trip wondering whether he would make the adventure on his own boat and by the time we got to the Caribbean, it was a firm belief that if you can make it to the Canaries, the rest of the journey is a breeze. Rob was reveling in a new confidence that even he still found strange. Vicky was happy that the big team on board had stuck together with such camaraderie. Most telling was Conrad, who before the trip had never set foot on a yacht. He has a massive store of ‘can do’ and from watch keeping alone, to fishing, whale watching, cooking and all the mundane things on board, he found a joy and a wonder in it all and is firmly a convert.
Me, well I was happy that my affirmation that it would be lots of days sailing one after the other was true, for me anyway. I have massive pride in all of the crew, when the chips were down, no bad feelings, no down in the dumps, just let’s fix it and keep going because nothing is going to taint this experience.

St Lucia is up ahead and we have some repair issues to sort out and some exploring to do, but for now, I guess we check in and the red and white wine will flow and a few toasts are in order.

I guess I will next be writing about St Lucia and how our repair efforts go, but for now I’m just happy.

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