The down-side of not being a gecko

Last night was something else – the radar screen looked like a fruit bowl due
to the density of orange blobs migrating across it (squalls are indicated by
these orange disks). One freezing battering and drenching after another as we
 spent the night rather futilely trying to dodge the worst of them. Our route
through the mayhem was so circuitous that anybody charting our course will
discern the word ‘Jamaica’ written on the sea in joined-up writing!

What is strange was that in the midst of this battering fear was not my
biggest emotion – although given the violence + speed with which the boat
heaved over + the precipitous angle of the deck (the bottom rail was well and
truly ploughing a deep furrow through the boiling sea surface) I might have
been excused – it was awe and amazement that such overwhelming weather
conditions could materialise seemingly so quickly and so extremely and then
as promptly disappear.

The problem with wind – and violent wind in particular – is the angle that
formerly horizontal surfaces assume. This results in any object, in fact all
objects, wilfully propelling themselves out of former storage areas and all
objects but especially those at head-height become missiles. This isn’t so
bad when the item in question is the odd shoe but when you are in the galley
the appearance of all the kitchen knives heading in your direction at high
speed is another matter.

There is also the small matter of getting round the boat (inside or on deck
both options are treacherous) and using the heads. It is in this department
that being a gecko definitely has advantages.

I haven’t mentioned the heads, well not in detail up to this point. ‘Heads’
it the nautical term for ‘toilet’.

Clipper 70s have two of these – one fore + the other aft. In terrestrial
terminology that means there is one toilet between the sail locker (right at
the front of the boat) + the galley (front of middle) – this is the ‘forward
head’ and the other in the middle of the boat between the galley + the
sleeping berths (unsurprisingly this is the ‘aft head’).

Heads are a cubicles about a meter square in area with 5 solid sides + a
cloth ‘door’. Each head contains a handbasin (read small dog’s food bowl) + a
primary school size toilet basin minus the seat. The aft head also has a
rather interesting adaptation which we call ‘the shower’ which is only
available for single 5 litres of water use to those who have just finished
mother duty – by which time is it an much prize + much looked forward to

The trouble with being in the heads is not in calm weather when they are
benign but when it gets rough, the basin + toilet become items on which you
can knock yourself out. Cleaning your teeth is a star turn in rough weather.
This morning, boat heeled well over, there I was cleaning my teeth.
Toothbrush in one hand, the other three limbs + my bum forming a plane as I
braced myself against available surfaces – I should point out none of these
surfaces included the floor which at that moment was not where you would have
imagined. Washing is another hazardous activity although “washing” is a
rather generous term as baby wipes don’t really count as washing. It is at
these times that it would really help to be a gecko! But we survive + finding
ingenious ways not to knock yourself out has become part of the adventure.

Outside all of the above the race is on. It has been a day of tactics as neck
+ neck with Garmin we make for the finishing gate which at 9pm on Sunday
evening (our time) is only 90 miles away. We cannot quite eyeball Garmin yet
– they are a mile or so away on our port side – but each hour we are taking
0.3 miles out of their lead …


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