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Thursday, March 4, 2010

Be careful what you wish for…

We all wanted more wind to get us moving – tonight we got it!

I went to bed around 5:30 to get some sleep before going on watch. I woke up with a fright to what sounded like the mast being ripped out of the boat! Turns out it was Stu and Bruce tacking, but the wind was definitely up and with the mast right near my head and the hull acting as a huge amplifier I didn’t know what was going on! It was a rough, windy night, with the boat being thrown around but every time I woke up I could hear the boys on deck, and as they didn’t sound frantic or loud I figured we were ok and it all just sounded worse from where I was. All night, though, I felt like I was in a tumble dryer, being thrown around and often waking up finding myself clinging to the mattress so I didn’t roll off the bed due to the massive angle that the boat was heeling. On top of the rough ride, and possibly worse that the rough ride, was the noise. Rigging clanging and crashing, the hull lifting up and smacking back in to the water like it was hitting a concrete slab, and waves hitting the side of the hull like a freight train colliding with it. There were more than a few times that I wondered about the integrity of the hull – could it crack with the force of these waves? That said though, Stu came down a couple of times to see how I was and due to him seeming very calm I also felt surprisingly calm, figuring that he would let me know if it was time to panic! I guess in my sleepy brain I also figured that this was showing us that the boat could handle well (although part of the wind gauge was blown off… but no other casualties at this stage!) At one point the engine wouldn’t start, which I heard the boys discussing in my half-asleep haze. I briefly wondered if I had pushed the handle back down after I had turned the engine off last time, and was sure I yelled something to Stu but apparently I dreamed that bit. Stu came down an hour or so later and said that there were a few problems but everything was fine. I asked him whether the handle had been pushed down and he leapt up, yelled to Bruce to check, and 30 seconds later the engine roared in to life. I found out later that Stu had started to get quite concerned when the engine wouldn’t start and was considering whether we needed to turn around. I wonder how things would have been if I hadn’t remembered about the engine handle…!

Motoring gave us some more control, although it got to the point where Stu decided to heave to which is kind of like ‘parking’ the boat – in 12000 feet of water – and letting the worst of the weather pass by (whether this takes 2 hours or 20)… in a perfect world... Unfortunately it wasn’t as successful as we had hoped and we ended up just plowing on.

During the night we got winds of up to 40 knots with 25 foot swell. The wonderful boys let Claire and I stay below the whole night, taking on all of the work themselves. They did an awesome job.

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