So how have we been for the past two days?
There is a psychology to offshore sailing, well not just offshore sailing but in any endeavor where your life is actually at risk for a time and you survive, be it whitewater kayaking, mountaineering, rock climbing, extreme skiing, all of which, I have done.
The immediate feelings after the rush of the event itself are, gratitude, excitement, and a feeling that you are indestructible which comes with it an overwhelming optimism. The next step is the difficult one. The coming back to reality. The sea is quick to put you in your place as are mountains and foaming class 5 rapids.
Monday night after our “perfect day” of sailing we had our most frustrating night and it continued through all of yesterday, last night and today so far. The wind shifted to the east as we expected. This was the very reason why, if you look at our spot, we have been heading more to the east than straight toward St Thomas. I have done this trip enough to know about the force and constant nature of the trade winds. We had also received good weather information which told us that the trades would be blowing hard and shifting to the South East and possibly south. This would be very difficult for any sailboat to make the last 300 miles but on a Catamaran our ability to sail to windward is further diminished.
But with east winds blowing 20 to 25 we should be able to make 8 to 10 knots right? The past two days we should have FLOWN! That was what we expected too but when the wind shifted so did the seas. Monday night we had confused seas which had only lessened somewhat from the storm, suddenly they are pounding us from every direction. Any time we let the boat go more than 5 or 6 knots the seas threatened to rip her apart. I have never heard such a noise. Every seam and connection of any sort slammed, banged, flexed, and creaked. When the seas finally gathered around to the east and began to come at us in a more uniformed fashion it was even worse. They built and built and they were only about 3 seconds apart. To go toward our destination we had to have the wind and seas on our beam and these steep close waves would pick up the first hull while the one right behind it slammed into the second hull under the boat. If the main was up with more than a triple reef the wind would push further almost lifting the windward hull out of the water. The wind picked up last evening to the 30s again and we were forced to drop the main altogether, and do it in the dark. I went forward clipped myself onto the shrouds and John pointed the boat into the wind and waves so we could drop the sail. Then Dylan, who was controlling the halyard tried to lower it fast enough to get it down and slow enough not to bury me in the flogging sail. Meanwhile the steep waves are now bow on at 3 seconds apart crashing over the bow, tramp and myself.
The sun is up, the wind is blowing in the low 20s, still from the east, the jib reefing line has become worse and will now only reef the jib to the size of an large storm jib, the motor is on, fuel is getting low, the pounding continues.
I made some hot water for cocoa or tea this morning. I tried 3 times to fill and stir the mug of cocoa and each time I lost the cup in the process. The first one fell on the floor, the second one crashed into the dish rack and the last one spilled all over me when I was finally sitting down to drink it. While I was cleaning up the last of these 3 messes the boat dropped out from under me again and the tea kettle, still half full of boiling water, stayed in the air while the boat dropped, and when it came back down it came down on the galley floor spilling boiling water all over. I gave up and drank a coke instead. By the way I was fervently wishing I had my silly looking, but ingenious, conical shaped, sailing, coffee mug!
I have to go now. I need to get back in my swim suit with my harness and tether on and go forward to untie the furling line for the jib and roll it in by hand so when I reconnect it it will roll all the way in. I was hoping for light air and calm seas to do that but I have lost my optimism.
Captain Tofer, John and Dylan