FROM 2-12. Lisbon-Equator

Drama – sort of

0700/26th position 0911 02420 trip 120/24

There we were, me in my running shorts having been limpid with sweat all day trying to trace the HF problem, Pete in his grotty green salty Stubbies, having a small relaxing mug of random Aussie red with rehydrated curry and rice and celebrating for Hilary – idly watching the cloud building up to the south, still stinking hot and humid, water 37 deg. And then there it was – deep grey horizon, rolling black squall line coming in like the vulture stooping – two decrepit old farts jerked into action – just time to put things below, drop in the second reef, roll in the headsail to a quarter of its size and it was on – only about 25 knots, 90 degree wind change, follow the blast around, lightning, deeep sonorous thunder rolling all about – not at all like Mr Krupa's riff over there in the Pacific last year but still musical – torrents of rain – Pete gets naked with the soap, I go down and connect the mast base to the earth and come up and let the rain wash off the day's grot. And now we're in 2 knots, just as the GRIB predicted and due for another couple of days of it. I'd been soaking my other grommy clothes in a bucket of salt water and green stuff so was able to hang it out in the rain and get a free rinse Yay! And it's (relatively) cool and the sea feels really warm…as it would. Lightning away to the north, overcast and spotty rain here.

And then it got interesting. Pete woke me @ midnight – 'There's some black cloud ahead, might be a bit of wind…good night' – not just dark but glutinous inside-of-cow black and lightning all around so I packed the satphone and some gps' into the icebox and got out there – like going under a table and the first blast had us around onto 290 with horizontally slanting rain so thick that I couldn't look into it and had to adjust everything then tack by feel – and a ship! dead in line and we were the give way vessel so had to get behind him except that he stopped right in front of us … and so it went, non stop for 3 hours with lightning all around, the wind actually hot on my face, my thin pants and T shirt and me wringable – warm water crashing over the bow and back to the cockpit on sheets – black black night, occasional phosphorescence to the side -up to the foredeck twice to sort the furler gradually stumbled through it, the rain eased, the wind backed again and we were back on course and time to wake Pete, who slept through it all. Fun. How I love the tropics.

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