Ride It Like A Bronco, Baby!

It was 0600 and I was lying in bed, vaguely aware that my body was rising, dropping, sliding and twisting like a corkscrew. Clearly there was some weather going on outside. I slid into my salopettes and stuck my head up through the companionway. There, at the helm, was Liz wearing the same grin I’d left her with the night before. Except this time she wasn’t smiling at thoughts of freshly cooked dorado, but at what was occurring on the beam. When I climbed into the cockpit a fresh breeze hit me square in the face, along with some sea spray, a glimpse of the sky but mainly the view of deep green water with a toothpaste ad crest of turquoise. The predicted waves of 1-2 metres had decided to raise the bar by reaching 3m, and Liz was at the helm riding Esper like a bucking bronco! Despite the crappy mainsail with its broken out-haul car, we were tipping 7 knots and Liz was clearly in the zone. It was encouraging to see her like this; perhaps finally she had realised Esper’s potential as a solid, heavy weather sailing boat. If she’d been in the same weather two years ago she’d have asked me to turn around and go home; now she was loving Esper’s ability to handle a fresh breeze with ease.

Despite all this I figured it prudent to take in some sail, not because of the wind, but because losing a knot or two to make for a slightly more comfortable passage wouldn’t be a bad thing. We were ahead of schedule as it was and we didn’t want to arrive in Port Said at night. Plus I didn’t want to put too much unnecessary strain on Esper. Liz looked a tad despondent when I told her my plans! She was even more upset when I asked her to make breakfast because it made her feel a little sick. Even so, I can thoroughly recommend her dorado kegerie! We continued our communication with the other three boats: ‘Roam II’ normally within sight, and ‘Stormdodger’ and ‘Rhumb Do’ just over the horizon. We discussed weather and the fact our three days of good forecasts were up and were now using old data that could be incorrect. The grib files (weather data) was predicting 15 knots of south easterlies, which would have meant motoring with that on the nose in the big swell. Not ideal. Instead I spent an hour or so trying to communicate with passing ships, getting random forecasts in broken English which didn’t help our passage plan. As if by magic, ‘Full Flight’ came on the air! We were aware that the other rally participants were also heading towards Port Said, having left southern Cyprus a day before, but we didn’t know they were so close. Then Tony gave his location and it turned out he was over 100 miles away! With reception clear as a bell Pat was able to relay a forecast that meant we could continue as planned without having to nip down to the heads every five minutes to pray to Almighty God Jabsco.


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