Yesterday was a beautiful day with winds only blowing 10 to 15 from the WNW. We ate Jill's Lasagna and slept each in turn. Dylan worked through some sea sickness issues and felt pretty good by the time his night watches came around. We knew yesterday morning that this was the calm before the storm. Our weather guy Capt. Bob Cook keeps us informed and gives us routing instructions and he had been setting us up for the WSW blow that we knew was coming. We had been steering south for the first couple of days because we knew the high west winds were going to push us east fast. Sure enough at about 9:00pm the westerlies started to fill in at 20+ knots and they continued to build through the night.
Let me paint you the picture of today. I woke up to take my 06:00 watch and Dick came down from the cockpit soaking wet. When the guy coming off watch is dripping seawater and looking grim you know that you are in for work. The sun came up right in front of the boat and I got my first glimpse in daylight of what I had been hearing throughout the night. The sea was slate gray but faded into oranges and reds in front of the boat. The waves had grown to 16 to 18 footers boiling and rolling white foam as they came from behind about every six seconds. The wind was blowing a steady 40 knots gusting to 50 (our highest gust today was 55) and the wind was blowing white spin drift off the tops of every wave like I used to see on the cornices that formed way up high on the peaks when I was skiing in Jackson Hole. When the wind is blowing like this the whole ocean is a living monster, tendrils like moving snakes can be seen just below the surface everywhere you look and little tiny waves on the surface turn into huge waves right before your eyes. When you look right behind the boat every six seconds a new behemoth forms and barrels down on you like a 747 airliner with a similar roar. The roar of the approaching wave is deafened though by the sound of the wind ripping through the rigging and over the sails. The boat almost always rides right up over the top of this mountain and surfs down the back side only to rise again on the next one. Once in a while the boat slides off to the side just a little too far and the white foaming top of the overtaking wave crashes over the boat drenching you with a thousand gallons of water. You almost always can see this coming and have time to hunch your shoulders, tuck your head into your jacket and hold tight with your hands to the sides of the cockpit.
Today the adventure continued with a new twist. The auto pilot decided to continue his strike and every so often quits altogether forcing the guy at the helm to think quick, grab the wheel and fight the boat back onto her coarse an reset the auto pilot. If you are to late she rounds up into the wind and waves and it's a lot of fun getting her back on course in these seas and winds.
We are all doing well, the very fact that I am writing a blog tells you that. We were well rested going into this and our weather guy told us this morning that it would be over "soon," a somewhat cryptic answer but still he is a weather guy.
Thanks for all of your riddles and messages we love to receive them.
"Ridin' The Storm Out,"
Capt. Tofer, Capt Dick and Dylan on "Changin' Tags"