Monday, April 9, 2012

Docile day turns into a stormy night - Day 20

It was another light air day with an easterly wind of 1-4 Knots most of the morning changing to 4-8 knots from the ESE by the evening.

At 8.45 am we took down the sails and Chris jumped into the warm ocean to swim and clean the bottom. There were gelatinous masses of gooseneck barnacles clinging to the propeller shaft, strut, all along the aft section of the bottom, and along the keel. It took him almost an hour to scrape the worst areas. I stood on "jelly watch". Last year a friend of ours had an encounter with a Portuguese Man O'War mid-Pacific and he suffered for days from the poisonous sting. Well, I did not see any jellyfish but screamed the alarm when a three foot long transparent animal appeared. It must have been about 3-4 inches in diameter, had a faint pink colour around the edges and was slinky-like in shape. I had no idea what it was but warned Chris to swim away as it seemed to be drifting in his direction. If anyone can identify what it could be, please let me know.

We flew our spinnaker from 10 am to 9 pm with a couple of hours of downtime mid-afternoon when the lack of wind and large swell forced us to turn on the engine. Taking advantage of the extra power, we made water and I started to wash laundry using a couple of plastic buckets in the cockpit. Soon we had our t-shirts and pillow slips flying from the life-lines and rat-lines while the smalls had their own line crisscrossing the cockpit. It all looked colourful.

After the sun had set I gathered up the larger clothes and we watched a bit of "television". At first watch (9pm), I asked Chris if we could take down the spinnaker as it can be a liability at night when only person is on deck. Since the wind was now 8 knots, he agreed and we put up the main and jib. I went to sleep on my fresh smelling pillows with a peaceful mind while he stood first watch.

At 11.30 pm, I was woken with a light kiss on the cheek and a request to assist with reefing the main. As soon as I poked my head out of the cabin, I could hear the wind howling. Chris shouted " There is no time to reef, I have to steer us downwind, dog-down the hatches!" I ran below to close the port lights in the cabin and was dismayed to see saltwater spraying over the bunk where I had been sleeping. Worse was the sight of gallons of water pouring over the v-berth from the hatch above it. I secured everything and rushed back up to the cockpit. It was a sickening feeling, watching Chris struggling to keep the boat under control with all his might. The wind was probably 35 Knots from the northeast, gale force, and Ladybug was screaming downwind at 8 Knots. Chris ordered me to furl the jib and that was hard even using the winch as there was so much force on the sails. The rain started to pour, so I passed out a coat to Chris and closed the main companionway hatch.

The radar showed a 4 mile radius of squalls but we could not dodge them even if we had tried as the NE wind forced us to steer SE to SW to keep the boat under control.

It was a nightmare that lasted for about an hour. There was one accidental gybe which caused damage to the traveller. A bolt attached to a tang at the end of the starboard traveller line sheared off and the tang was completely straightened out by the wind. Chris found it lying on the deck after the squall had abated. We shall see if it can be fixed in the daylight. Thankfully the traveller is still functional.

When the wind abated a little we double reefed the main and hove to, later we turned and ran southwest with the same configuration. The rest of the night was spent sponging off the salt from the contents of the v-berth, watching the radar very closely and, in my case, praying for a quieter morning.

At 1430 Zulu today our position was 01 33 S 132 11 W on a course of 205 degrees magnetic. Our 24 hour run was 93 nautical miles and we were 612 NM from Hiva Oa.

And we are now into sunshine with some blue sky ahead...

No comments: