What a day!
We became surrounded by black clouds and the radar confirmed that it was impossible to avoid a soaking at best so we dropped the twin Yankees in plenty of time and set a reefed main and waited.
The deluge was of absolutely biblical proportions and we could only put the washboards in, close all the hatches and watch as the rain ran off the windows like a fire hose. At least it should have dealt finally with the covering of Sahara dust which has smothered everything in a red brown coating since the Canaries. The wind fluctuated in strength and direction and at one stage blowing from the west, exactly opposite to the prevailing direction.
There was nothing for it but a reluctant reach for the key and we ran the engine until more stable conditions prevailed. I think that this very action may have broken the engine ‘taboo’ as now we have had to run it for an extended period (we logged zero hours on the run down to Mindelo) we may be prepared to use it again in similar circumstances. Our 24 hour run yesterday was down to 135 miles, mostly due to running the engine at low RPM to conserve fuel. Our wives arrive in Rodney Bay on the fourth and it would be rather nice to see them for at least some of their week in St. Lucia, so expect more engine if the wind dies!
The enforced confinement enabled us to watch the remainder of ‘The Bounty’ and then we watched ‘Personal Services’. I‘m not sure that all that exposed flesh has been at all helpful!
We received an Email this morning from Odyssey which is owned by a friendly young Irish couple and crewed by a friend. They very kindly lent us their hose in Mindelo just before our departure as they were delayed waiting for a replacement engine mounting. On the way down to Mindelo, they kindly shepherded Moonshine who had broken her forestay. It seems that since leaving Mindelo they have suffered another engine problem and unable to tack back to Mindelo are pressing on with a compromised engine. They intend to carry on through the Panama Canal and around the World so we sincerely hope their luck changes.
Squall sounds so harmless to those of us who are not hardened sailors it sounds like the noise a baby might make when hungry but easily dealt with. Believe me it was an eye opening experience, you can see it coming and then it hits….hard. I know now why “batten down the hatches” has such an urgent ring about it. However we were safe and dry in Hejira and pressed on whilst the radar screen showed us surrounded by the purple haze (thanks Jimmy). It was not fishing weather so we left the stocks undisturbed. During a brief lull in the proceedings a moth alighted in the cockpit and as Bob had not been near his wallet, it defies explanation, something I will have to investigate when we have access to the internet. Since we finished watching `The Bounty` the Master has been rather pensive, more so since Barry asked directions for Pitcairn Island. The night`s watch was undertaken in near daylight with the full moon illuminating a relatively quiet ocean and only an occasional purple hint of menace on the radar.
Still only one case of conjunctivitis and the usual sprains and strains.
A very different day and night for us all, when compared to previous time periods. As the skipper has described, the sail plan on the night watch was a main with one reef and optional jib. Previous night watch sail plans had either been twin poled yankees or Parasailor. I had forgotten just how ‘on the edge’ sailing with a main only can be! We chose to furl the jib after all attempts to fly it on the same tack as the main or goose-winged met with little success as the main was effectively blanketing the jib sail in all positions. Although the wind speed remained a steady 15 to 20 knots, its direction was anything but consistent, and we were left with a constant ‘twitching’ to maintain a direction that was not by the lee and would not end in a crash gybe. After 4 hours, this had become quite a task and we were both glad when the skipper took over.
At this point, it is germane to point out to the reader that our efforts were not entirely altruistic as we recognised that the skipper would NOT welcome a break in his sleep as he luxuriated in his double bed for an unbroken 8 hour kip, something that the remainder of his crew have not enjoyed since we cast off in Las Palmas! I believe that the skipper took an enormous risk allowing the screening of ‘The Bounty’ and is only just beginning to reap the benefits of his improvidence. Mutterings continue!
Barry is still trying to dry his bed – he insists this is because he left his hatch open, not incontinence.