Life between the horizontal + 45 degrees

I sit braced in the Nav Station and life has taken on a new slant – 45
degrees – and we are squall dodging, an occupation hazard for this
locality. Jamaica is bucking and writhing NW through the swell and the
weather – a background 10 knots of wind but the squalls can take that up to
60 … and a little mustard green song bird has just jointed me for
sanctuary, I guess safer than braving the squall that have just hoved into
view on the radar + is about to hit us. (Up on deck frantic
scrabbling sounds of preparation to reef the main and if necessary drop the
yankie sail (one at the very front).)

With such frantic endeavour + noise it is difficult to remember that
only yesterday (and for several days before) we were in near doldrum
conditions … baking unabated sun, sweltering humidity, languishing in
low/no wind conditions – and because wind can be so very local – frustrated
as we sit and watch GB + Henri Lloyd sail past + away from us (even with no
wind we are still racing – a difficult concept to retain when so becalmed).
But right now we are anything but becalmed.

When becalmed people cope in different ways – me? I just stay in the
present and watch the reflection of the clouds on the water – when we were
lucky enough to have clouds – or the patterns on the sea surface, consider
the touch of the warm air on my skin and maintain my on going vigil for
sealife. If I don’t stay in the present I end up in a pretty bad place.

When the weather is engaging – and right now it is very engaging – most
people cope the same – they don’t think too much, they respond to the
barely audible instructions yelled by skipper + watch leaders, they get on
with the job in hand and quite simply just try to survive. (Pete is yelling
for all he is worth right at this moment … the squall has struck.)

This morning Port Watch endured its first squall (well actually first two
squalls – one immediately after the other). Squalls can be upon you in a
matter of 10 minutes. A hideously black cloud appears, air temperature
plummets, wind accelerates with a deluge of ice-cold driving rain + hail
(actually golf balls). We were drenched through to our knickers in moments
but no matter – reef 1 in, not enough, reef 2 in, not enough, over-powered we
 hove-to + dropped the yankie. Then the air temperature went up + the sun
came out … we sorted the devastation + within the hour we were dry. This
morning’s effort came with 40 knot winds – a baby. The thing is not to get
caught with full sail up otherwise is could get blown.

… and now it’s watch change over. Port Watch’s turn on deck for 4 hours of
squall dodging. Wish us luck!

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