During one of our 6-11am off-watch moment across the Solomon Sea, I was woken by the impact of Derek’s fan falling from his bunk and onto my chest. I lazily handed it back to him before it struck me “Hold on a minute, if Derek’s fan fell into my bunk when it is a metre away sideways, that meant our boat was heeled over pretty badly (close to 90 degrees) for that to happen.”
Having woken up, we could hear a whole load of frantic shouting from above and in a hurry, my watch rushed up to lend our beloved Starboard watch counterparts a hand. From that moment on, the next 24 hours were characterised by a parade of squalls with an average of two storms every 4 hours.
On an ocean racing yacht, we execute sail changes aka evolutions (bring out a different sized sail) in response to the wind conditions. In our case, it was a constant day of sail change after sail change, “oh look! there’s a squall coming, let’s drop the headsails” crews scrambles to the bow and snake pit. “oh, the squall has passed and the wind is more calm, let’s hoist the headsails now” crews scrambles to the bow and snake pit. *Repeat process with each wind change* Sadly, during one of those sail changes I had the misfortune of losing my grip while ‘sweating’ the Port Yankee halyard, landing on my left elbow which hurt (obviously). Thankfully the pain has gone away by the end of the day.
Looking back at the rest of the day, it started earlier at 10am due to the drama and was a non-stop action-packed watch till we got off at 6pm. I recall flashbacks of being at the bow, washed and pushed around by the waves and truly appreciating the existence of them guardrails. One wave came over us sweeping my sunglasses off, my heart lifted when I found it caught at my feet! WHEW! My whole body is aching now and I am wondering if the next wave that comes will wash me overboard.
Everyone was absolutely knackered by the 10pm watch, just sitting quietly as the rain pattered on. But it was some mind-over-body moment when 4 of us managed to hoist the biggest Yankee sail at 1am.
Somewhere in the Solomon Sea.. heading northwest towards Papau New Guinea