A Wild Night and A Wet Day
Shortly after last night’s post, our circumstances began to change very rapidly. We thought we were settling down to a quiet night, our third in a row without chaos, with a conservative sail plan and a breeze dropping from 25 knots to 20 and rising back to 25 knots from the Southwest.
That wasn’t what we got.
After initially showing signs of easing the wind began to howl, building quickly into a range of 28-32 knots. Our initial reaction to this was delight. These were Prospector sailing conditions, which would hopefully help us gain on our competitors. With a full main a the Jib Top and Genoa Staysail at 12-14 knots boat speed we were happy as clams at high tide, as Paul likes to say. We went about our onboard routines, looking forward to gaining on our rivals in advance of putting up the A5 in what we thought would be a moderating breeze at first light this morning.
These plans too were very short lived. The squalls arrived. These squalls appeared suddenly, out of nowhere, with no radar footprint. Four of them caught us. In the first squall the wind went from 25-28 to 47 knots in a second just after midnight. Paul fought the helm as it knocked us on our beam. The crew quickly sprang to life, and reefed the main, as the squall disappeared as quickly as it came. We all were a bit shaken by the sudden menace of the thing, but quickly regrouped thinking the reef would keep us out of future trouble. The second squall hit at about 0130z. After we recovered from the knockdown we put in a second reef and sailed on. The third squall caught us at 0430z, forcing us in to a third reef. The fourth and last squall this morning hit us 30 minutes later at 0500Z. This time with a 44 knot gust. All out of reefs, we struck the Jib Top, which had lost all of its battens and the General, our new name for the Genoa Staysail, which is likely done for the TR2015. We put up the J4, kept the reefs in and sped on.
This morning was anything but glorious. The exact opposite of the great weather we have enjoyed during daylight hours for the last three days. Until a short while ago it was grey, very windy and dumping rain. We are going fast and throwing spray everywhere. Getting ready to go on deck feels like getting ready to go for a walk on the moon with all the gear that you need to put on to stay dry. Presently, it is just grey and windy.
Reading this you might think the crew was miserable in these nasty conditions. You would be wrong. They are there usual zany selves. Tremendously upbeat, joking, telling stories, making fun of each other and laughing constantly. They are simply out of this world. One reason for their good spirits is the performance of the mighty Prospector. She loves her current sail plan and is shaking all this nastiness off without a care. We are going very fast and gaining on our competition.
We can’t imagine being anywhere else in the world today than out here in the North Atlantic, with each other, less than 400 nautical miles to go now, hauling the US Mail.