When the storm came ablowin’

When the storm came ablowin’

so yesterday the wind that was promised and had been talked about for so long finally arrived! as the waves grew and the gusts got bigger and louder so our sail area got smaller and smaller! by the time we woke for our 12-4am night watch the mizzen was on its second reef, the storm jib was set and, in the classic words of Jan, the mainsail was ‘on its final reef’…aka right down and rolled up and away! even with less canvas we were storming along at 10 knots, even hitting 11.7 at one point surfing down the swell and boy, what a swell! mountains of water grew behind the boat, throwing us further along into their troughs and shooting the compass point and the whole ship right over before returning us to our set course. The wind was blowing the spray off the top of the breaking waves, every now and then lining up perfectly with somebody’s face as they momentarily forgot the risk and looked over the side. It really is the moment when you relax that the sea will always bring something along that you are not expecting and last night was no exception…as the sun started to come up behind the clouds and the light began to get a bit brighter you can fully see what you’ve been sailing on in the dark. this said, there was probably only 5 seconds between my shout of ‘oh my GOD’ and the gigantic freak of a wave, standing alone to all the rest, colliding with the side of the Tecla. with a massive thud this towering wall of water broke over the side of the boat and, as we all scrambled to find something to hold onto, rushed down the starboard side and over me, Richard and Sam, sending us sprawling over the aft deck.

Once something like that happens really the only thing you can do then is just dissolve into hysterical laughter. With water free flowing from your clothes, dripping into your pants and the adrenaline rushing through you it does just take a little moment for everyone to compose themselves and assess the damage which is usually when the giggles hit. a smack like that doesn’t go without little consequences…there was some minor damage on deck, not to mention Sam’s face when he returned on deck after checking whether the fridge was safe for people to open later (apparently it had already flung out all loose items, how superbly efficient!) but after some minor clothing adjustments and some hot noodles everything was back to normal very quickly, well, as normal as things can be in the Furious Fifties in gale force winds!! The others have also experienced ‘freak waves’, one breaking over the white watch just before dinner and even hitting the mizzen sail, whilst others catch us just as we think we are settling into the motions – hats off to Jet who managed to cook dinner with the entire galley flying about her head!

The wind is easing now and with it the sea is calming. the main is back up and only on its first reef and as I write at 3.15 the sun is coming up and beginning what looks like a much calmer day already. We know that this is definitely not the last of the big weather (ahem, Cape Horn…) but we now also know that not only does Tecla handle it beautifully, even making downstairs seem calm and gentle whilst the world is wild outside, but we can handle it too! We can balance our plates, catch each other’s flying belongings, shuffle down the corridors, take the cold, hail (yes you read correctly), rain, wind and spray in our faces and we keep smiling, laughing and working together to come out the other side! (though we wouldn’t mind some sunshine and calmer weather too!). Plus we can now all say we’ve seen waves THIS BIG and GALE FORCE winds in the Southern Ocean. That’s enough Sailor Pub Story ammo for years to come! with love from the Red Watch

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