Well, the storm hit.  I will call it a storm and not a front, as that is a
far better way to describe it.  The winds were forecast to be between 35
and 40 knots.  They were up between 60 and 70 knots for about eighteen
hours, with a high that I saw of 118 knots.  That is about 130 miles per
hour.  Quite a lot for this little boat.  It was carnage.

To start with, there was a lot of people being sick.  Sick everywhere.
Some made it into the bag – others didn’t.  During the night it was
difficult to see what you were walking over – so I took to wearing my
boots.  I know I went to the loo at one point, and it was all over the
floor.  Yuk!

Then came the accidents.  Inevitable in those conditions.  The sea was
tossing the boat around like a salad.  Tenerife Tony had a wave lift him
up and throw him against something hard on deck.  At first it was
suspected broken ribs. He is back on deck again, bruised, but with a smile
on his face. Linda has been confined to her bunk.  She was beginning to
walk tentatively before the weather turned bad, so it was decided that the
bunk was the best place for her.  Kirsty has caught the dreaded virus
going around, and is terrified that it will get on to her chest.

Then came “the wave”.  It first hit the boat on one side and nearly
flattened it, and then caught the other side and nearly flattened it the
other way.

I was on duty in the nav station.  I thought I had got the better option, rather than being up on deck.  I was down there for the whole shift, just making sure that there was no traffic that was going to run into us.

Kirsty was laying on the floor at the side of David’s bunk (her bunk was occupied as it was our “on” watch).  He did wake up at one point and said it was like being at home – he had a dog that slept at his feet there!

I was, or so I thought, well ensconced on the nav station bench, with a very unladylike stance of having one foot each side of the opening.  It worked well for three and a half hours.

When the wave came, it initially took me backwards towards the other opening.  Before I fell out there, it literally made me airborne, and I hit David’s bunk (the hard bit) with my head.  Ouch!
I laid on the floor for a few minutes seeing stars.  No blood, so back I got and got on with watching the traffic.  She (Kirsty?) was quite concerned at the time, but it has now degenerated into me looking like a gummy bear doing a star jump flying through the air.  If I was a gummy bear, my head may have taken the impact a little better!

Just before that happened, I actually succumbed to being sick in a sick
bag.  Luckily, Kirsty was feeling sick and had one to hand just as I felt
the need.  Being stuck in the nav station for all that time (I had been in
previously in the afternoon as well) is not good for the stomach at the
best of times.  I did throw up afterwards as well, but wasn’t sure if it
was the head injury or seasick.  I think seasick, as there have been no
other side effects.

Meanwhile in the saloon, that wave did for another couple of people.
Steve was standing in the companionway when it hit, and he flew upwards
into the wet locker.  Bearing in mind that it is like climbing Everest to
get to the high side, he said he was catapulted up, and saw the wet locker
from above.  He was able to hang on to the bar that holds the life
jackets to stop himself from falling backwards, so no real harm done
there.  Phil, on the other hand, came off rather worse.  He was
innocuously sitting on the bench in the saloon, when he was pushed firstly
back into the wall, then catapulted upwards and hit his forehead on the
beam on the ceiling.  A nice shiner there.

At some point, Craig was washed away by a wave whilst helming, and smashed his ribs.  I think he is in a lot of pain, but won’t admit to anything. You can tell by the way he winces when he takes off his drysuit.

Marc and Craig have almost single handedly helmed our watch through this storm. They have done an amazing job – neither having sailed before this, but both being up there with the most competent on the boat.

The winds have now abated, but have also left some of our sails in disarray.  Within a few hours, our main sail had ripped, and we had to pull it down.  We have been without it since, and will be without it until it is repaired in Qingdao.  It means we can’t go as fast without it, and we are limping into port.  We are in eighth position, with some fairly good speeds, but are not able to point in the direction we need to go.  So this means tacking – and back to the good tack, bad tack syndrome.  We should have been hitting port today – I am sure a few of the leaders are already there.  Hopefully we will be there tomorrow, but with having to get in before 5pm that may be pushing it.

Unicef have had to put into Shanghai with a suspected broken arm on board.
If that is the worst the fleet has suffered, then I think we have got away with it lightly.  They will be in Qingdao long after us – so we are by no means the worst off.

During the storm, someone got out a packet of chocolate eclairs that had
been bought in Vietnam.  Looked just like a pack of Cadbury’s.  Until you
ate one.  Number one – it wasn’t hard to chew.  Number two – it didn’t
have any chocolate in.  They tasted like a very wishy washy fudge.
Disappointing.  Very naughty to dress up a pack of sweets to look like a
well known brand.  Or very clever.  It made us buy it!

Not the only food faux pas of this trip – but we got away very lightly I
feel.  We bought a whole load of eggs again, but this time they came in
very slippery plastic egg boxes.  We lost a few during a tack – mostly
over Tony’s shoe.  He wasn’t impressed!  The anti bac turned out to be
glass cleaner – but an additive of the Milton we had on board meant we
could still use them.  The granola was lovely, but at over £5 a small bag
meant I only bought a few and they were used up in the first couple of
days.  The bananas were already ripening, so we ended up throwing most of
them over the side.  The dragon fruit seemed to be too much effort to
peel, so a good few of them went over as well.  Should have saved the
money on the fruit and bought more granola!  No one has gone hungry!

– – – – – – – – – – – – –
Editing and the choice of images on this blog is entirely by Paul Keevil!

Meanwhile, back in the UK the press are making a fuss over
Alex Jones: Hell on High Seas “This physical, mental and emotional feat”
= Five days from Belfast to London!