May 20, 2010

Mothers in a mood

Yesterday mother (being the ocean....I love Tomek's analogy) was in a mood. It is funny how quickly I had forgotten how bad it can be. It all came rushing back to me as Graham and I struggled against the wind, rain, thunder and lightening in the dark. Our radar is really great and we did manage to out maneuver a few squalls but eventually the sky was overtaken with black and there was no place to hide. When I looked on the radar screen our little boat was smack dab in the middle of the big huge blotch of a mess. We tried sailing to port. We tried to starboard. We tried to run. We tried to motor. We were just stuck with it and we decided that we were using too much diesel and losing too much ground, it was time to heave to (this is stop at sea basically).

Why does as hell need to break loose when you are exhausted? It is hard to think straight and move quickly. It is painful. You need to find that extra bit we all have inside us and use up your reserve. We got back out the storm tactics book by Lin and Larry Pardy and read back over the maneuver. We knew it would be a bit harder this time in the dark and without Cornelia on the horn telling us what to do but finally we managed to get her stopped. Oh sweet relief! We tied off the wheel and turned on the AIS and set the alarm for an hour and off to sleep we went while the squall continued to rage up top.

Now I forgot to mention that Alex picked up a cold before we left Panama (he catches everything eh?), so he has been taking it easy and enjoying his bed rest. Unfortunately he past his cold to me though and it is a wicked one. My head felt like it was going to burst, watery eyes, runny nose, sore throat. Really really yucky. All I wanted was a big comfy bed, a down duvet and a cup of neo citrin. Not gonna happen on this night though.

At about 5:30 once the sun began to rise Graham decided it was time to get Artemo sailing again. He was still exhausted and in a bit of a daze. He went up on deck and let me continue sleeping. Now this is the part of the story that Graham would probably rather I didn't tell but let me just say the moral is that everyone is human....even the Captain. I was awoken with the sound of Graham's voice and he had that tone in his voice when something very bad has happened. I jumped out of bed and ran up on deck. Graham looked so defeated when I got up there. He says to me that we have no manual steerage. He says that in his haste to get Artemo sailing again he had forgotten we had tied off the wheel. He was pulling out the sails and clicking on the auto pilot and then snap the cable for the steerage went due to the pressure.

Know I have known Graham for 21 years and in this time I have done alot of dumb things. I mean ALOT. Often times I will even tell myself, "now be careful you don't do this" and then I do. The wiring for the fan is a great example of that. Anyway my point is that it is VERY rare that Graham makes these same dumb mistakes. He makes them so infrequently that there isn't anyway I would say anything like, "What were you thinking?" or "Weren't you using your head?". These catch phrases are better suited to the third or forth time I have repeated the same mistake. I could tell that he was already beating himself up. All I said was well I have no doubt you will fix it.

Graham assessed the damages and found a way to rig up a fix. Did anyone have any doubt? Not I! The weather was still to crazy to install the fix though since we would have to basically lie adrift in the huge seas for the hour or so while he makes the fix. So for now we continue on with our auto pilot. We also have our emergency tiller (and we know where it is and how to use it now :-)) and our hydrovane if all else failed, so no need to worry.

The rest of the day was dark and stormy. We were really feeling like maybe it was just us but then we caught the SSB radio net and heard other cruisers who were behind us talking and saying how they were getting the s%$& kicked out them and all the problems they had from broken rigging due to the winds, to problems with batteries. I actually let out a whoop when I heard this and I said to Graham, "See we are normal"! It was just what I needed to hear to keep kicking!

Amelia said, "It is just so strange how it can go from so calm and beautiful to this"! She is hoping for the return of some calmer seas. She would like to clean up the boat and she said I am in serious need of a bath. LOL. She is amazing though. I was so sick with my cold and Alex had a bit of sea sickness due to the chaos and Graham was exhausted. Amelia took care of us. Brought us drink. Got us left overs. Cut up cheese, salami, pickles and crackers and took it around to the various parts of the boats to offer it up. All of this while holding so she wasn't launched across the boat. She has been reading me to sleep with "New Moon". She waits til I am out and then stops. Last night she said, "Thanks for taking me on this adventure. Even when it is crazy like this I am still happy we are here." As I am typing this I am realizing what a grouch I have been with this cold. I got great kids and a great hubby. I am going to get up now and tell them that!
ARTEMO LOG - Thursday, May 20th at 12pm.- 100 hours at sea, 350nm behind us and about 650 left to go. If you do the math we have only averaged about 3.5nm an we have about 186 hours to go! That would make our arrival on Thursday, May 27th. Now I am still banking on sooner. Right now we are doing 6knots and have been for awhile. We have about 19knots of wind at about 60 degrees off our bow. We are heeled way over and as much as I would like the Captain to ease the sheets I know we will lose a bit of speed. I know the worst of the weather is behind us and fair sailing is coming our way.


  1. WOW! 100 hours at sea. That's a pretty big milestone. Congrats Artemo crew!

    Hope you're all feeling healthy again real soon. Nothing worse than having to work when you want to curl up in bed. You're lucky to have Millie taking such good care of you!

    Funny because yesterday morning Joe crawled into bed with me and said, "Dad should have been a king, then you would be a queen and you could have REAL servants instead of us."

  2. Hang in there Artemo!
    Don't let the wind push you
    around. If you need to head
    in a direction that is not
    south, as everyone recommends,
    don't take a beating to do it.
    Go west and then when the winds
    see it your way, head south again.
    We did!!!
    We're rooting for you. We think and talk about you every single day!

  3. The Acreage - Fort MacleodMay 21, 2010 at 6:18 AM

    Hey - according to what I can see the worst of the weather is done - weeeelllll maybe a few drops!!!
    Good going guys - you're hanging in
    Dad and Cheryl

  4. Poor Graham mistakes do happen and its just more work for him. Good thing he could fix it. I hope you and Alex are over your cold soon and that Graham and millie dont catch it. Glad to hear you had a nice birthday and the kids made it special with their power point presentation. I can just see Millie all excited waiting for you to wake up. She is to cute.

  5. Can't wait to hear all about the equator party!!!!
    Tell all.

  6. The great thing about things breaking is you get to learn more and fix more, I love it when I screwup. Good luck with the colds, you guys will be so much stronger when healed. I like hearing that you are eating cheese and Salami, sounds very civilized.
    Sailor lingo "Ease the sheets", very nice.