The last weather front has passed, and we are on a day of calm again. But the next one is following closely behind. All the way to Seattle – bang, bang, bang. We had the last quadrant of the last front for about the last 24 hours. The seas were mountainous – it was like being in the basin of a group of mountains, with huge peaks all around you. And when we were on the crest of one of those peaks, it was like being on a roller coaster, getting to the top of that last track before whizzing down the other side. Only with a roller coaster you can get off!
The wind at times was blowing so hard, it took all the ripples out if the water. If it was a different colour, it would have been like looking over sand dunes in a desert, with the wind blowing particles of sand over the top. Only it was black, and those particles of sand were spray.
When the wind blows in a certain way, and goes down the boom, it sounds like someone warming up on a didgeridoo. Couldn’t work out where the strange sound was coming from at first, sounded very spooky. Then I remembered Wendo shouting down it in port one day, frightening the life out of everyone. “I was going to keep it a secret, but thought better of it. Didn’t want anyone scared out here!”
Everything is now wet. For the first time, my boots are wet. I am not sure if they have let the water in, or whether they got wet in the boot locker. When I got up a couple of days ago, someone’s dry suit (dripping wet, of course) was laying over the top of them. So it is quite feasible that the water got in from that. But it is also feasible that the water came in from the sea. There is so much of it in the boat. My foulies are wet on the inside as well as the outside. I don’t think any outer wear would have kept out the amount of water that they have had to deal with. Shift after shift, hour after hour, minute after minute, the waves keep coming. My foulies are wet when I hang them up (dripping would be a better description), and wet when I put them back on again. The waterproof top and bottom I wear underneath is keeping a good amount of dampness from my skin, but it is there. The undies are definitely getting damp – through all of the layers! I am sleeping in most of them, so they do get a chance to dry out in my sleeping bag. Not a very good way to sleep though. But necessary. If you want a fighting chance of having dryish clothes next to your skin that is the only way of doing it.
Even my sleeping bag is not keeping me warm every time I get in it. As soon as I wake up (yes, I do manage to sleep every time) I start to shiver. Getting out of the sleeping bag is like stepping into a fridge. The rest of my clothes go on in super fast time. And cleanliness is not of high priority now. To physically take off my clothes to have a baby wipe shower is not going to happen. A quick wipe around the necessary areas is all I have had for the last week or so. It is too cold. I leave my watch wrapped around a hand rail below deck when we go on deck, so that everyone can keep a track of their thirty minute slots – more importantly that they relieve me when mine is up. When I go to put it back on at the end of the shift, it is like putting a slab of ice on my wrist. But I need it to see what time it is if I wake up before being woken. If it is half an hour to go, it is a bit like winning the lottery!
The gaiters on my boots have taken on a new role. When I was on mother duty the other day, I managed to walk around with a piece of tomato in there for most of the day. A very good storage system! When I cleaned my teeth yesterday when it was rather rough, I decided to spit in the toilet rather than the basin as that was a bigger target. I managed to miss, and it went in the gaiters of my boots. Yuk! I go nowhere at the moment without my boots – even if they are wet inside. Below decks is absolutely saturated everywhere. The toilets usually have an inch of “water” sloshing about, so I am taking no chances. Boots it is! The toilets are cleaned five times a day – once every shift – but with the amount of water dripping off everyone’s clothes, there is nowhere that keeps dry.
The cold is really getting to my hands and fingers. Virtually as soon as I go outside, the tips of my fingers go numb and start to tingle and burn. When I move my hands, it is as if I can feel every muscle grinding against one another. It is horrible. They are fine once they warm up below decks. I hope this is a temporary Pacific thing, and it isn’t going to last for the rest of the race or longer. Putting cold wet gloves on obviously doesn’t help, but the choice is that or nothing. Of the four pairs I have, they are all wet. Some have been hanging for days to try and dry, but they are still as wet as when I put them there.
I was asked a question yesterday – “How do you deal with it when you have had enough and want to get off?”. A difficult one to answer. I replied that there was no magic solution, but seeing the look of sadness and despondency in her eyes felt I had to say something positive. “Think of things you would be doing at home, or places you want to visit – your body may be on the boat, but your mind doesn’t have to be.” I’m not sure that was a good enough answer, but it was the best I could come up with. I know I have used that method many, many times. It works for me in small spells, and that is what you have to do to break down the time. If you look at the bigger picture, you would go mad.
Or perhaps I already have!
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Editing and the choice of images on this blog is entirely by Paul Keevil!