FROM 1-26. Through the Barn Door

Oct 25, 2005 - 0330hrs UTC

0330hrs 25 Oct 2005 UTC 37’35”S 017’26”E Ref 483

The great unclench! Polished freckles relaxing all over the place. The wind started to ease late yesterday – from a rumbustuous 50 – 60 down to a lullaby 40 or so and we both hit the sack and slept. Woken around midnight by Pete with cup of soup and thoughts of adding some sail to the equation. I went thro the party gear ritual and out into the cold starry dark – the glow had colour rather like ice seen by distant candle light – Orion majestic, Mars just below, the pointers and the Cross blazing away to the south and a band of solid black cloud to the east and formless gloom in the west. Ran the sheets and decided to wait a bit before setting any sail – swell still huge and some gusts with bite. Went forward to tidy the halyards, spread fanwise around the foredeck to stop them banging on the mast in the storm, repacked the two storm jibs and rearranged the sails up front, closed the hatch and leaned back against the coachroof – the moon had risen from behind the wall of cloud and was golden behind some fluffy wisps – sorry to keep harping on about Turner but you’ve got to be here to appreciate just how good he was. Still very big swell and the moon’s reflection coming back to me on several planes and sometimes disappearing altogether behind a black mass of water.

Back in the cockpit, tightening Kevvo’s counter weight – looked up to see mountain of water with seething top way up above my right shoulder. Instant cringe and brace behind pushpit, as low as possible and hanging on with eyebrows and toes – and dear old Berri just serenely lifted her backside, tucked the thing under her and left just a minor frothfest to wet my boots. Amazing what a boat can tolerate – and sometimes make a complete mess of as well.

We are waiting until daylight and we will set some sail – probably 4 & 5 on poles and head NE. I know that’s not according to the Admiralty and Hoyle, but they ain’t here in this stuff. North gets us above the worst of the next one and we’ll sort it from there.

From Martin

I just saw Alex’s latest re his poor Merlin – poor lad. I almost broke down reading about it.

I have an old Merlin (bought it in 1986 from Jo Birch in Devon), which he is most welcome to have if he would like it. Only trouble is, I forgot I had it, and it was sitting in the cupboard for some years, and the batteries died a while back, so it will need to be re-programmed with the nav program which is in the back of the instruction manual. I do have the instruction manual and all the other data that came with it. If they would like it, I will put it in the post, no worries, and it can wait for them in Sydney. I would be so glad to find a good home for it.

Then they will still have one for future endeavours. Altho I guess you have probably had offers flooding in from other folk with Merlins…..I really felt for them yesterday, re the log reports mentioning 80 knots – not nice at all. That is most unfair, especially at only 38S.

I do hope the weather has improved – and will keep fingers crossed that they will still be able to get home in time, if not by the 11th, then at least in time for C’mas.

Martin – deeply grateful for kind offer of old Merlin – would love to give it a good home if you have really finished with it. Does it still have its program in memory? We never managed to contact Juri – the propagation here is r/s and we can’t even talk to Cape Town radio. Glad hes doing better.

Steve-  won’t waste satphone time this morning utc – as long as I can get this away – all ok and we seem to be ready to move on.

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