Wednesday, 15 July 2009

The squall

We'd had a night with thunderstorms, and often just took down the sails and waited for the squall to pass. In the early morning the wind seemed to abate. I continued with the full genoa spread out on the spinnaker pole, and went down below to get some breakfast. Nina was still sleeping. I could hear the wind pick up through the vibrations from the rigging. A well known boat is full of those tiny signals that border towards the metaphysical. But on this occasion I was very tired. I didn't want any kind of trouble at the end of my night watch.

I had a slice with freshly baked bread in each hand, and with the tiller between my legs I was eating breakfast standing up, looking behind towards a squall that seemed to be coming. It's difficult to judge a squall in grey rainy weather. And being lazy I opted for breakfast. But the squall was strong indeed and Bika started a wild ride with the full genoa flying. I gulped down as much bread as I could and tried to reduce gyring by taking in on the main but it was just way to much wind. It hit so hard and fast that I never really had any chance to do anything except holding on, waiting for the old genoa to be ripped apart. It took maybe a minute. I went forward to bring down the wild fluttering remains, thinking Nina might need some of this for later, but the windvane couldn't handle the conditions and veered us upwind, bringing the prevented main to a half gybe. The boat heeled over and I was suddenly on the leeward side. I scrambled back and forth in a tangle of ropes and confusion, and ended entwined in my own harness, tired and sour. I heard Nina shouting from down below. I couldn't hear what she said, but just answered "it's nothing." Then the rain cleared. I could see the squall.

(The pictures is from the squalls that hit us the next day. I didn't repeat my mistake.)