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Atlantic Crossing – Day 18… Dodging Squalls

In the last 24 hours – 167 miles sailed. 430 miles to go! GMT – 3hrs

At long last, just a few days before we arrive in Barbados, the trade winds have eventually arrived. And along with them the Atlantic swell is forming, but the sea is still very confused and now quite rough. We’ve bagged up the Spinnaker and are sailing an average of 6.5 knots under the Genoa (which we reef when the winds get stronger) and the mainsail (which has three reefs in it).

For the armchair sailors among you, let me try to give you a feel as to what it’s really like on board right now.

During a night watch we continually analyse every black cloud that comes behind us, as we’re now in temperatures that are likely to get a squall. These usually happen at night and are accompanied by large gusts of wind and torrential rain. So we have to be ready to reef in the Genoa and shut all the hatches, while trying to stay dry. We’ve not yet had a proper squall hit us, but plenty have passed close by.

With the change in the weather, the seas have grown, but they are still refusing to give us the rhythmic Atlantic rollers. Instead we have 2 – 3 metre waves, that come sneaking up behind us and reach up to our solar panels. They either lift the boat right up and then we go skidding down the other side of them at a rate of knots as they break into the water. Or, if we don’t quite make it to the top of the wave, we go so far up it and then end up doing an arse slide back to the bottom, before we level up.

If you’re in bed in the cabin, an arse slide can feel like the boat has put its breaks on and your feet rise up in the air as the boat then rights itself on the next wave. It’s also very, very noisy and sounds like being inside a washing machine that’s sitting in a bathtub with the water slapping around from side to side as the waves hit the hulls of the boat. Thrashing, crashing, vibrations ring out and even with ear plugs in, it can be very difficult to sleep.

Up on the Bridge, we all get a little adrenaline rush when the boat comes off the wave and does a little corkscrew turn in the waves, followed by an arse slide. It’s better than any fairground ride I’ve been on. And it keeps on giving!

And that brings me nicely to our other news, we’re now taking bets on our arrival time into Barbados, which is looking sometime on the morning of Wednesday, 1st February. Due to the island laws, we have to arrive in between 6am and 6pm, so we’re really trying to time ourselves in for a Champagne breakfast.

© Two Drifters Travel

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