June 19, 2010

Gigantic Monstorous Waves

Yesterday the waves and wind built and built to an all new high. It is so strange to ride up so high on a huge wave and then plunged down deep into the trough and be staring up at the next massive wave. It seems impossible that they won't overtake you but right as rain Artemo slides back up and finds a sweet spot to belly surf down. This isn't to say that there isn't the odd "BANG" or "CRASH" against the boat and then a huge "SPLASH". I hate these noises. Sounds like the world is coming apart but luckily it doesn't. We are really lucky that our confidence is building in rhythm with the increase in the weather. We are handling it in stride and fear doesn't grip me like it use to. Although when I spot the breaking waves and can look through the top of the waves and see the beautiful blue green color of the sea as they form their roll......this scares me a bit! I can't remember if I ever told you how I use to shake with fear when things got chaotic, like actually shake and I couldn't seem to stop myself. I may have been to embarrassed to mention it but we are way past that now :-). The good news is that the sky is blue. It always seem worse in 25 knot wind and huge seas when the sky is ominous. I am grateful for the blue sky!

Well this morning just after Graham had gone to bed following his shift and just after I had finished writing the above paragraph.....we began our day of squalls. The beautiful blue sky filled in with dark clouds and you could see weather systems all around us. The squalls moved much faster than I was expecting. I had just spotted the extra dark spot off my port side and I noticed that there was a line of frothy water coming towards us. I managed to get the computer down below and slide the door in its place just as the rain and crazy wind began. I knew I had to furl in the Genoa, so I release the line and tried to hold it as it flailed madly, with the other hand I tried to pull in (furl) the sail up. There was so much pressure from the wind it was hard. The kids were yelling to me, "Dad is coming. Dad is coming". I managed to get the winch handle on and start to bring the sail in as Graham came up on deck and helped me out. Winds blasted up past 30 knots and the seas built even bigger than I wrote about above. Pictures do not do the size of the seas justice. I did get a picture of the wind speed indicator at 30 and also the radar showing the massive squall moving at Gromit and Artemo. Now even through all this chaos we still were in good humor, if you can believe it. I remember at one point Graham and I are standing in the cockpit soaking wet. I had my full rain gear on. My hair is sticking to my face. We are braced against the missen and tethered in. Graham only has his rain jacket and underwear on because he got woken up from his sleep and he was shivering. We stood there hugging each other and I said, "Living the dream baby!" We both laughed.

During the day we had 4 more squalls hit us. Graham went to bed after the 3rd and I handled the last 2 on my own. It was a good drill to do over and over. Once you feel confident that you know what to do in these circumstances, that you have a plan.....all you do is execute the plan. I was really proud of myself. I even managed to do the last 2 squalls with the hydrovane steering us. I have finally mastered the hydrovane and feel as good about it as I did about the auto pilot. The best part is that it uses no power though! The kids weren't as confident in my skill as I was though. For both of the squalls they still asked over and over, "Should we wake up Dad". ha. It may have taken me longer to furl etc. but I got the job done!

In between the squalls I was making buns and pizza dough for our halfway party. At about 8pm we reach it. We celebrated by eating pizza and all four of us singing the Gromits a song we had written for them. It went over really well and there were lots of cheers coming across the radio. We also pulled out the cream soda in celebration.

So Alex got his wish. The day after the big one got away he was out on deck at sunset and voila......he landed a beautiful 5lb tuna, that was just the perfect size for dinner and lunch! He cooked up a storm and the fish was his best yet! My rule is that he can't fish until we eat the fish we have, so tomorrow he should be able to begin again. He is excited. He might even be getting a tad bit cocky :-)! Oh I have to mention that it was 150lb test that broke. Alex was horrified that I got that wrong! ha

Right now we are wing on wing downwind sailing. We are averaging about 6 knots an hour and only 1420 nautical miles to go!


  1. The Acreage - Fort MacleodJune 21, 2010 at 5:36 AM

    We can picture it - we can feel it. Great description and you are right - much worse when the sky is dark!!
    You guys are doing great!!!
    Dad and Cheryl

  2. I can picture it as well, as I remember watching the huge waves as we crossed the Atlantic. Sounds like you are doing fine. I am so proud of you Julie! I keep thinking of the song, "I am woman" you are strong, you are invinsible, you can do anything! Half way there,awesome. Love you Mom

  3. pizza dough and squalls, LOL.

    halfway already, I can't believe it..

  4. Millie and Alex, What is more scary...going on deck and seeing a big squall or going on deck and seeing your pop in his soaked tightie whities?