Hello, sorry about “no blog 31”.  I couldn’t resist.  The last day has been lost in a gale.

Anyway.  Yesterday we started sailing south east with a good wind and no particular hurry.  This wind then got out of hand.  By this morning we had a force 8 gale and waves with whiteheads that would have done a teenager’s face proud.  The waves and wind were strong enough that the autopilot couldn’t cope and failed to keep us going in a straight line.  It was up to us.  It was then that I realised that we were in trouble.  I did my evening watch.  Every half an hour we would switch out and you would go up into the cockpit, clip on, stand behind the helm and do everything in your power to keep the boat straight.  We had the main and staysails out, as such the boat was tipped over so you had to stick your leg out to stay in the cockpit when the waves came.  It was freezing.  As the shift went on I began to measure time by how much my fingers hurt from the cold…. We sailed on, the waves got higher, the wind got stronger and the waves began to break over the bow and smash into the saloon windows and the cockpit.  Cold water splashed into your hood and you were blinded for seconds at a time.  The wind pushed the boat and you were fighting the wheel to stay pointing in the same direction.  I finished my shift and tried to sleep.  The bow went up and down crashing into the waves with loud cracks and tilting so that any chances of sleep were dashed against the bulkhead as loose boots and boxes rocketed around the cabin.  Even in bed there was no escape from the icy spray of the sea.  There is a vent in the porthole at the front of the boat and as the waves come over they spill through onto the floor.  In the aft cabins spray water came in through unseen cracks and fissures in the hull.  Eight hours later I rose from my bunk for the morning watch.  Things had only got worse.   The boat rocked and the sea spray filled your vision.  David was helming when the weather reached its peak.  We approached a huge wave and as it filled the portholes’ views the boat come crashing down, we braced for it to rock back up, it didn’t.  The swell was too high and we didn’t go over.  The wave came over the foredeck, the saloon, the cockpit.  Were engulfed and for a second the entire boat was consumed by the massive body of water.  That second passed and the water roared off the decks as we plummeted into the trough on the other side.  Water had come through in a dozen places: vents, the companionway and poorly sealed windows.  But that was not my concern, I grabbed the cover of the companionway, pulled it back and breathed a sigh of relief.  David was still there.  Water would dry and we could place back any objects that had come loose but with a wave of that size the main danger was that David had been washed over while helming.  True I knew he was clipped in but all that really meant was that he could be being dragged behind the boat rather than be fully detached.  As luck would have it he’d been positioned so that he was braced against such an assault.  After that the weather began to calm, slowly, very slowly.  By the end of my watch we were still rocking about but things quickly calmed enough for me to write this.  Once I was finished I came below decks to dry off and I noticed something rather odd.  My face was completely covered by a thin crust of dried salt.  So things have calmed and what I hope was the harshest weather we will see has passed somewhat.  I am, I admit, relieved.

Yesterday at the very beginning of my evening watch something quite exciting happened.  We had an Icebreaker pass.  It was hard to tell but I think it was one of the Atom Fleet.  It was huge, black and cream in colour and very cubic in design.  It had been days since we’d  last seen another vessel so it was really nice.  I got some video for posterity.

For the moment the water maker has stopped working.  This isn’t a huge problem as we still have a lot of water and we think we know what the problem is.  Still it’s irritating.

The waves are kicking up a bit so I’ll stop writing now.  We’re going to hit the ice in the next couple of days I think so we’ve got a lot to look forward to, bye.