If Everything Were Perfect This Wouldn't Be an Adventure - December 9th
The Buffalo Bills and Vasco da Gama

Thunder Alley on December 8th

So there we were, minding our own business and motoring in no wind, when we found ourselves being stalked by a pack of thunderstorms. I was on watch and EW was sleeping. Now there are two things I'm scared of: snakes and thunderstorms: I won't look at a snake in a movie and can't stand the harmless Maine variety; also, I've been known to weep in fear during a storm in Casco Bay. I'm not proud of that, but there you go.

I watched the sky for about a half hour before waking EW. At that time we had heavy lightening on three sides of us, including on the bow. Protocol for the portable electronics would be to put all laptops, and the iPad in the oven. Unfortunately, I was baking bread. I put EW's iPad on top of the cans in food storage and put my laptop on top of the iPad. I am sure that this would have done no good whatsoever, but I felt better and that's important during a thunderstorm.

This first storm (yes, it was that kind of night) had no wind and no rain; it didn't show up on the radar, so it was very difficult to see where it was headed. After watching the lightening strikes for 20 minutes, EW said, "I'm going to take a guess and say we should steer to port. I think it'll pass us." Sounded good to me, so we turned to port -- or north, we had been going west. That storm did move off past our port side, but we still had lightening all around. We kept watch for quite a while, and I fed EW fresh bread and canned chili, then he went back to bed at 10 (2200).

Having lived through the first batch of storms, I didn't wake EW for the second group until the sky looked dire to port, starboard, and on the bow. It was just nasty, but the closest and at that point worst storm also had rain so we could see it on the radar. Both of us realized that unless we turned pretty quickly to the south, we were in for it. So we turned and found ourselves in an thunderstorm free alley. Think of a bowling lane in which the direction of the lanes reverses with every other lane. (I bet that would be quite noisy.) We were bowling along to south, fairly quietly as we offered up no strikes, while both storms bowled past us heading north, with strike after strike and booming thunder.

At 0100, EW sent me to bed for two hours (at this point, EW may have had 2 hours of sleep, I'd had none). When I got up at three, he said that there was one storm now passing to starboard and after that we were done. We also had wind. There isn't supposed to be much wind here today, but as I wrote this, at 0500, we had 12-18 knots -- down from 15-25 when EW had hit the sack. Since we had been dodging to avoid storms, we had left the jib furled during the worst of it. When I got up, we set the jib before EW went down and I was gradually able to move us on course for Guadeloupe.

This was not my favorite night, but I did pretty well and never even felt like crying. Once the bread was done, I left the oven door open so it would cool and was able to store the electronics prior to the batch of big storms in thunderstorm alley. This close encounter with thunder and lightening may help me deal storms in the future, but this does not mean I will seek a similar "cure" for my fear of snakes. I'm drawing a line here and that's it.

As of 0530 on December 9, we are located at 19 degrees 53.30 minutes North, and 026 degrees 37.25 minutes West. We are sailing for the Caribbean on a course of 270, at a speed of 4.9 knots. I can see the moon and stars and that's a very good thing.


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