DAY FIVE, May 9th: Waterspouts.
Brett wakes me up in the morning. There are low hanging thunder clouds in the sky everywhere.
He had looked off the port stern and pointed to Steve and said. “WHAT THE *$%! IS THAT?!”.
Steve: “I think you’d better call James”.
I come up all bleary-eyed and quickly am very wide-awake.
“HEAD THAT WAY”. I point in a direction 180 degrees away, which is about one o’clock of the starboard bow.
What Brett has seen is a huge waterspout. We’re still discussing how big it was. I wish I’d taken a picture. Brett thinks that is was several hundred feet wide and of course it went straight up to the clouds so it was at least a thousand feet high. Tracy thinks it was much smaller. I think it was at least 100 ft wide. Maybe more. It’s one of the most spectacular things I’ve ever seen. Like a tornado, or a dust devil, but made out of water. We could see the white water and the whirlpool it created as it touched down not more than a couple of miles away. I wanted to get out of there as fast as we could. For a while it looked like the spout was moving towards us, but then it began to recede and I went back to bed. Brett and Steve saw two of them. WOW. Did I mention that I wish we’d taken pictures?
The storm cleared and the wind died at 11am and the engine went on. The seas were flat and it turned into a beautiful day.
The UNO Championship continues.
Brett complains that Ronan (aged seven) has no strategy, but Brett’s in last place and Ronan’s in third, and Brett has been sneaking peaks at Ronan’s cards and he’s STILL losing, so I think Ronan had better give Brett lessons not the other way around.
In the middle of the game, Brett spots a tanker half a mile off our port bow. Like Scotty had beamed it there from outer space. Tracy and Steve (watch crew) will be docked a months pay for paying more attention to UNO than their watch duties (and not winning).
Then Brett spots whales in the afternoon, a whole pod of them. He’s become our official look-out.
(Brett just had to dress up for lunch.)
Emma-Kate conjured up some delicious Mexican food from somewhere. She’s been doing a magnificent job feeding the crew. There are a lot of hungry mouths. And they are all happy!
It’s a glorious day. And on my night watch I’m mesmerized by the phosphorous and the luminous jelly-fish that show up as little light bombs as we sail over them.
DAY SIX, May 10th: World Speed Records
Woken up by Emma-Kate at 8:30am (I had come off watch at 4am). “Maybe you should come up?” I’m groggy, but after some prodding I agree. Good thing too! The wind is 45 knots! And we are sailing along at 14 knots! We’ve got one small reef in the main, but that’s clearly not enough to hold our course.
I grab the helm, turn off the auto pilot and follow my favorite heavy-weather tactic: run with the wind. The boat speed averages 15-16 knots and we see a high of 18.6 on the GPS. DAMNATION THAT IS FAST: a new boat speed record for Ondine (at least since we’ve had her).
I take the helm for the next six hours as we navigate through the edge of a huge storm that is centered north of Bermuda but whose tentacles are still being felt 500 miles east. Seven hours later, once it calms down to the mid 20 knots we head up into the wind and take in a HUGE reef. Basically we now only have half the main sail up. I’ve been driving the boat manually for most of that time averaging insane speeds and I’m exhausted.
Look at that wake. Look ma, no engines!
Better hold on for this ride.
Brett tells me that as I’ve been looking forward he would look astern and see these huge waves build up behind us and then just sit there like a huge wall of water as we surf their crests. He says you could have reached off the sugar scoop and touched them they were so vertical and behind us.
Tbis picture doesn’t really do it justice, but it’s all I’ve got.
We were moving at more-or-less the same speed as the swells. THAT’S CRAZY! (But I like it, like it, yes I do.)
It never ceases to amaze me how the weather and the seas can change so quickly…