FROM 1-11. South Atlantic-26°S

Apr 04, 2005 - 0530hrs UTC │Rough Rough - as opposed to Just Rough

0530hrs 04 Apr 2005 UTC Map Ref 146

An intensely frustrating few days, mostly spent watching Montevideo not going past. And for all you members of the great unwashed, our silence is perhaps covered by my alltime favourite song title – “When the phone don’t ring, babe, you’ll know it’s me!”

Windwise, sort of reverse Ogden Nash’s Ode on Tomato Sauce (catsup, for those using spellcheck…) “Shake the bottle – none’ll come, then a lottl”. The second storm duly arrived, no way as bad as the first, and Leroy called in the middle of it to set up a lightshow on a later pass. We watched big cumulo nimbus clouds building up all around us and lots of lightning but there was a starry hole to the north so it seemed worth chancing a flare. He called back to say he did not see it, so we will try again on a clear night if there is one. Brittany, I’ll send you a prediction later when we have some idea what is behind the cu nims.

Just been out on the wildly rolling and pitching foredeck with the very bright spreader lights on in otherwise submarine blackness and wow does it make you aware of frames of reference! (Gerry – take note for SSSC!) All that is visible is white deck, shrouds, a lot of white water around the edges – no horizon, no sea surface, no sky – nowt – just black. So everything you can see is moving very rapidly in completely unpredictable directions but you can’t see the movement and there are no visual clues whatever. Something of a fairground ride and it behoves one to be tethered and holding on with prehensile eyelashes.

Michelle Crozier – When you are in rough wether and have the high waves and things are rolling around – what do you do? Do you sit there and wait it out – is there somewhere to strap yourselves in so you don’t get thrown around – or has it not gotten to that stage?

The simple answer is hang on tight to whatever is nearest and try to brace ourselves against invisible movement.

The more complex answer – my version anyway, Pete will give you his – depends on how rough. Yes, of course we hang on, bounce around a bit in bunks that have high restraining lee cloths to stop one rolling out (except in a knockdown, where they are useless and you and everything not strapped down inside them goes flying) and strap ourselves to the kitchen stove to perpetrate the great teamaking disasters of the century. For normal rough – Bass Strait in a Hobart race for instance, that’s it. Life goes on, you sometimes have to clean up other peoples’ vomit and unblock toilets while it’s all happening – always when it’s rough, the toilet blocks, usually cos someone who is seasick can’t hang around long enough to pump it out properly.

For Rough rough (R/r)  – approaching Cape Horn or the storm we had a few days ago, it’s a whole different ballgame.

If you’ve been reading this stuff from wayback, you may remember my waffling on about the grammar and syntax of the noises a boat makes in happy or stressful times. Astonishingly informative if you are sensitive to it and understand it and know your boat – the more intimately the better.

Rough rough for me is about becoming so acutely conscious of this boat talk, data stream, whatever, that it overrides everything else – sleep, eating, reading, music – the lot. It happens in ordinary rough too but it’s not leavened by fear as it is in R/r. Approaching and in R/r, I do all the normal stuff on autopilot while my brain cell analyses the change in pitch of a particular howl, or tries to find a rational explanation for that sinister clunk that penetrates the other noises at irregular intervals but with attitude and insistence. So, in a way, I become part of the boat – a rather frightened and apprehensive part with adrenal glands working overtime and the sphincter in clench overdrive. It’s essential to manage fear, but the more you know, the more you can be frightened and the harder it gets each time. And all that becomes part of your answer. I hope I never ever have to go through another 80 knot storm like the last one but if I do, then I guess I’m just a bit more educated and scared.

Hope all that makes sense – it’s probably more than you asked for but without it, the picture’s not complete.

Enough already.

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