Monday, April 8, 2013

15 Days, 2 Weeks and 3 Sundays [English] - Day 15

It has been 15 days, 2 weeks and 3 Sundays.

We are more than half way done. It is official that we cannot return. We are closer to our destination than our departure point of Mexico. We have crossed the ITCZ (Inter Tropical Convergence Zone), a zone more or less hostile, where the wind from the north and south meet. It was in this zone that one can be surprised by wind and a tropical downpour (squall). It was in this zone where you have to watch your back, so the wind does not break your equipment. The kind of zone where you wake up in the middle of the day from a light snooze in the cockpit, and scream "Chris! There is a wall coming!". Very quickly you realize that there is a squall approaching at 25 knots, and there is no time to waste in preparing the boat for the rain and wind.

You see clearly the wall of water coming in at full speed. The wind starts to freshen... 30 meters, 20 meters, 10 meters and BOOM! The sky is grey, the wind is picking up. The sea transforms as the rain pounds down the swell, and it doesn't care whether you are ready or not. Suddenly the sails are flapping in the wind, the boat is heeled over and everything becomes wet, all that in 45 seconds. Action, reaction under way. Chris and I are working at rolling in the jib, and doing some corrections and adjustments to the main sail. We almost got caught by surprise. Chris said to me, "That is the kind of action you where looking for eh?", with a smile on his face. I was sleeping in the cockpit just before that squall approached, but it was only the beginning.

To the horizon we could see that more squalls were in store for that day. A squall to the left, to the right, behind us. We were definitely in the ITCZ zone. Every time we saw rain far away, we would check the radar to see the size, speed and distance of the squall. We often got lucky as they would pass before us, behind us, on the side or were not too large. They did allow us the luxury of our first fresh water shower in 2 weeks! That put a smile on our faces, and we got back into a bit of a better mood and fresher smell. The scenery is really beautiful, there are clouds all around us, but not overhead. The rain releasing from the clouds around us falling in a sheet. It makes a grey zone with rays of sunshine shooting through.

4:30PM Oh! It looks like there is a squall approaching from 7 o'clock. Chris turns on the radar and checks. Without enough time to verify, it was clearly heading our way as fast as a horse. Chris and I look at each other with a smile, and BOOM!! the wind hits us, the rain falls, the sea becomes flat and the sky is grey. Anne-Marie woke up and appeared in the companionway hatch with a suspicious and confused face. No time to play around, we put our harnesses on and start our trained sequence of operations to prepare the boat for the wind. Anne-Marie took control of the helm and Chris was coordinating the operation. We are working fast as the wind is already too much for our large jib. As we were rolling the jib, half way through it got stuck. The sail was still too big for the squall. The sail is flapping in the wind, and both Chris and I tried to pull the furling line more, but it was at the end of it's rope. We are a little concerned about the size of the jib, but it's not too late. I jumped on the bow to check things out. The waves are splashing me and soaking me to the bone. The water is warm and beautiful, and adds some excitement to our life. Anne-Marie was trying to sheet in the exposed jib, when suddenly it unfurls itself totally and starts flapping. Chris came up to the bow and decided we need to take the jib down. Anne-Marie headed down wind to blanket the jib with main sail so we could bring it down and secure it to the toe rail. It came down easily, but the roller furling was broken! We can now check sailing through squalls off our bucket list.

Such a long time on the water, it is not for the faint of heart, but it gives me goose bumps. I find it strange that I enjoy it out here so much. I needed this to set back my clock, recharge my batteries. I learn, I discover, I think, I feel, I sleep and we keep moving bit by bit towards our destination.

[NOTE: The roller furling has since been repaired]

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