Every Cloud has a Silver Lining

Every Cloud has a Silver Lining

Dec 05, 2008 @ 13:58 15:58.9N 38:30.6W

As I sat down to write the blog entry yesterday evening after dinner in the cockpit, I first ran my usual system checks at the chart table. Earlier we had evesdropped on a ship to ship conversation concerning squalls approaching from behind, so I decided to switch on the radar, which can detect approaching storms as far as 24 miles away and there they were, heading our way. We had rehearsed squall routine on paper but not yet for real – here was our chance. Calmly, we talked through the reefing process and then secured all hatches and moveable objects. But time ran out and what was one minute a balmy evening began to turn into a wild water ride. With spray soaking our shorts and T shirts we struggled to get the mainsail reefed. The noise of the storm drowned out all commands and chaos reigned. The boom lashed wildly and the mainsail flogged noisily until brought under control by our so-called team effort. Downwind again and the boat speed climbed to double figures with only a tiny mainsail and nothing else. Ummm … this is what a squall mid-Atlantic is really like. 30-45kt winds, variable in direction and building seas.

One by one we changed into wet weather gear for the first time and hunkered down for the night with cups of tea and hot chocolate, the wind howling, the rigging creaking and the waves periodically giving us all a good soaking. Oboe performed like a star, holding her course and driving us relentlessly directly towards St Lucia.

Tired but exhilarated we took it in turn to cat nap but we were all up in the cockpit to watch a spectacular dawn. The winds continued and as noon approached, the 163nMs achieved in 24 hours brought forth shrieks of joy. John, in his inimitable fashion, performed feats of mental arithmetic and entertained us with averages, maxima and new estimated times of arrival.

The winds have abated, we are under full sail and it is 1530 on Friday 5 Dec. The sun is shining. Oboe seems to be preening herself at a job well done. The crew is now a team, so you see, every cloud has a silver lining…

Nigel

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