Do You Know the Way to the San Blas? Ta-Da-Da-Da-da-da-Ta-da-da
The Five Senses

You Sa y "Horrendous" ; I Say Not so Much

It occurred to me that the last post may have horrified some folk. We had been doing our "99s" all night, when one sails the boat and the other sets the kitchen timer to the max---99 minutes. I was pretty tired. Allow me to clarify some things:

First, one person's "horrendous" conditions is another person's "all systems go". When we were in Sint Maarten getting ready to cross to the Azores last year, we attended a meeting about the crossing and various routes. Mike from S/V Quinn organized the gathering and he had a burly man from Germany discuss the northern route for those going directly to Great Britain or Ireland. This gentleman opened his talk by drawing a charming middle ages dragon at the top of the chalkboard Atlantic "chart", saying, "This way, therrrre be dragons." He proceeded to discuss what one expects to encounter on that route and what one must do to remain safe. There, 40 knots of winds and 12-15 foot seas are the norm. Add to that cold temperatures and the requirement that someone on each watch stay on deck specifically to watch for ice bergs. That is horrendous.

What we experienced the night of the 17th and 18th wasn't horrendous for us. It wasn't comfortable, and it's not conducive for cooking, staying dry, or moving about the boat in an upright position, but it wasn't horrendous. We hove-to just before we turned on Chris Parker yesterday, in order to get some things done before heading (finally) southwest (again)(for the last time). During the heaving-to process as I drove the boat into the wind we met a 15 foot wave, climbing up and going down the other side, smooth as silk. I was exuberant. "That's my biggest wave ever!" "You had a bunch of them last night," said EW. "You just couldn't see them in the dark." So for us with this heavy cruising boat,these conditions aren't horrendous, but they aren't comfortable and they slow us down, so they aren't making me happy either.

EW has gotten the auto pilot to work about 75 per cent of the time. My mood is directly related to whether A)It's working well enough for us to stand normal watches instead of 99s and B)I don't have to steer three out of the four hours of my normal watch as I had to do this morning from six to ten. Forget cuisine, meals are food--whatever I can prepare eat and clean up in 45 minutes. We are wearing foul weather jackets for almost the first time since leaving Florida, just to help us stay dry from the salt spray. EW was so incensed about getting soaked again and again that one day that he put on the full gear and lived in a sweat suit for four hours. As I write this I have a bucket load going to clean the wet, salty pile of clothing that's been growing in the shower. We are finally on a beam reach (yea) heading more south than west(double yea)so while the boat is still bouncing, we are heeling slightly more decidedly to starboard, allowing the bucket to settle in to one corner of the shower---mostly.

When we left St. Thomas, I told you to expect us to take 8-12 days. I was hoping for eight and pretty positive we'd arrive in 9 or 10 days. It's Day 9 and we're 338 miles out. Looks like 12 days. Ah well. There are no bugs, no tooth-aches, nothing serious has broken, we love, praise, and kiss each other on every watch, and we still like each other. We have plenty of propane and the freezer/fridge is working great. You couldn't say any of these things about the Endurance Crossing. We have also learned that some of the things we've done to prepare the boat for an Atlantic crossing were not adequate. They worked fine on the crossings because we had light winds and seas---lighter than normal for both crossings. So we have a list going for things to change, purchase, or fix' but it's a doable list.

This is a great boat; I love watching her slide down a wave. All in all, it's pretty exhilarating. And there are some gorgeous Caribbean islands and great friends in our very near future. That's not horrendous at all.

As of 12:23 on June 19, we were located at 15 10.85 north and 77 29.01 West, heading 210 -- mostly. If the waves let us.


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