Atlantic Crossing: The Calm & The (first) Storm

DAY THREE, May 7th: The Calm before the Storm

The engine is on all day today.  The weather is beautiful but there’s no wind.

The UNO championship begins.  Brett manages to amass 300 points most of it in one hand.  Did I mention that the object of the game is to score as few points as possible?  Ronan (who is seven) does much better, but Paloma is in the lead.  Go girl!

While we are sailing, we keep seeing plastic bottles, but then on closer inspection we realize they are jellyfish.  This variety has evolved sails!   They extend what looks like a piece of plastic above the waves and are blown with the wind. Sailing Jelly-fish, who knew?!

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DAY FOUR,  May 8th: Look at me I’m in tatters.  I’m a shattered.

Finally, this morning the wind begins to pick up and we turn off the engines at 8:30am.

The wind is behind the beam and not too heavy – 10-15 knots so we put up the spinnaker.

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I LOVE the Spinnaker.  It’s a beautiful day.   The seas are pretty flat, the wind is perfect, there are a few fluffy clouds in the sky and the spinnaker is beautiful.  Although it’s my watch, I head below to mess around with the electronics (AIS, charts, etc, I love gadgets as well).   I get a call from Steve who is at the helm and run up.  The spinnaker is shattered.  I mean Tattered.   (Can’t give it away on 7th Avenue.)  It’s in little pieces.   I run forward and start pulling the bits out of the water, then run to lower the halyard and remove what’s left aloft.

As I do this, Steve heads downwind, but totally loses track of what he’s doing.  As I’m watching him, I yell.  “NO”.  David yells.  “DON’T JIBE”.  Which is a little more helpful than my comment.  But it’s too late.

I’ve rigged a preventer on the main, just to stop the boom bumping up and down in the following seas.  But I’ve rigged it to the toe rail as I really didn’t think there was any risk of a jibe.  There is no way that the toe rail is strong enough to stop the boom from jibing.

I yell.  “NO. NO.  NO.”  Not very useful and certainly it’s too late.   We jibe and I watch as the boom rips the toe rail up from the boat.  I’m furious.  I’m yelling at Steven and David acting like a jerk: “I’m captain of this boat, did I tell you to turn off the auto-pilot, or alter course”?  “I’m working on the spinnaker expecting the wind to be constant and you’re altering course!?  You’re jibing?   I run back to the helm and briskly kick Steve off.   When I look at our position we are heading back to Bermuda.  We are exactly 180 degrees off our desired course.  I’m furious.  I don’t remember what else I said but it wasn’t nice.  I put on the engines, correct the course.  Go back to the spinnaker and finish putting the tattered remains back in the sail bag.  I look at the ripped toe rail and start adding up the damages.   I AM PISSED OFF.   Not so much about the spinnaker.  That’s my fault, I shouldn’t have left it to Steve all alone.  But I’m really upset about the other damage.  Emma-Kate is doing a good job of diffusing the situation with some jokes.  I’m not ready for humor yet but I’m grateful to her for trying to dispel the thunderclouds that are appearing over my head.

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The wind continues to pick up into the evening.  And overnight real storms start to materialize.   There’s thunder and lighting as if to mimic my mood.  I hang jumper cables off both sets of shrouds (shrouds are the thick cable that supports the mast and is fastened to the deck) I’m told this might help if we are struck by lightning.

Emma-Kate and I do our first watch together and watch the storms overnight.

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It’s a pretty spectacular storm.  Lightening is one of the few things that really worry me on a boat as you can’t do anything about it.  And we start to see lighting strikes pretty close – the time between the strike and the thunder varies between three and eight seconds so it’s 1-3 miles away.  It’s still thundering as we head off to bed.

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