Saturday, 30 January 2010

Comfort in adversity

You awake Alex?...Yep! Bloody don't want to be but I am. I'm warm - to the ends of my toes warm in my toasty minus 20 arctic bag which I keep unzipped from the knees up so that I don't get stuck in it if we roll. I can hear the howl of the wind, the slat of the rain on the coachroof, feel the motion, a nasty corkscrew and I know beyond any denial, any rationalisation that I really really don't want to get up. So I fumble for my clogs to keep my socks dry and contort myself to reach up for the handrail at fingertip height above my head and swing my legs over the bar holding the leecloth. Lurch and stagger as Berri cops a wave. Pete tells me the story of his watch as I hang on with one hand and put all the warm stuff away and shiver into the cold damp fleecy overall and thermal tops that go with wet weather gear and into the pants and then the jacket. For convenience and warmth, I'm using my Canadian flote coat - the jacket is almost runny wet inside - it leaks and, I suspect, was never meant for this stuff. Yeeark - my hands shrivel as they slide down the slimy tubes of the sleeves but it all warms up quite quickly - just damply uncomfortable. And balaclava, headlamp and out into the howling roar that is the cockpit. Cold, driving rain, wind chill savage, quick assessment and ease the sheet till the heady just starts to flog and haul in with all my strength on the furling line to get the thing to about half its already small size. Make it all fast again, the rain by now running down my face and into my collar. Back inside, jacket off, kettle on, hot sweet cuppa with Kerguelen bread and honey and go through it all again to tack (actually wear) the boat to get the wind on the other side as it goes from east to south to south west. Grey, not black out there, the moonlight just getting through. It's only 35 knots but it's an awful sea and you have to be here to appreciate the beauty of it all.

We are just sitting it out, as comfortably as possible. No need to try to go anywhere, just keep the boat as unstressed as we can and wait. Remember Abe Lincoln - "And all this shall pass away..." I hope in about six hours.

3 hours later and definitely not yet - barometer 985 wind steady 35 gusting 40, almost freezing rain, sea building. Bleah!