The lightning was flashing on the coal black sky all around us. The wind was picking up and got colder. The rain was whipping us in the face and from time to time the water from an exceptionally large wave came breaking over the cockpit and covered us in salt water from top to toe, and despite wearing hoods etc. somehow the water always seemed to find a way under the waterproof gear. The winds reached 20m/s (39 knots) with gusts up to 25 m/s (48 knots) and the waves were now huge, so you really had to hold on and make sure you were tied on with your lifeline – otherwise you risked being tossed around the wet deck.
Through the night and early morning we met several minor cyclones which we struggled through with all that it entails. In the morning, when I was doing the dishes and making breakfast in the galley with Mikkel Farver, we met another low pressure. Mikkel went up on deck to help out and I stayed to finish the dishes. It soon turned out to be close to impossible, since every time I had washed a single cup and sat it down to dry, it instantly took off and flew right across the galley. New strategy – everything had to be washed, hand dried and put away one by one. At the same time there was an infernal noise in the galley because everything inside the cabinets was bouncing, sliding and flying around hitting the inside of the closed doors. What was not firmly in place on the tables was falling or flying around, often ending up somewhere under the crew mess table.
All in all we have had nice winds on a close reach and the boat has constantly been heeling over at 35 degrees. For one thing that means when I need to open the watertight hatch to the forepeak and the toilets, it means one foot to the wall so that I can use my entire body weight to open it. And same thing when it needs to be shut again! Oh yeah, you learn a thing or two about how to manoeuvre around the boat, when the weather is like this.
Unfortunately the weather prohibits our daily salt water showers on deck – the only comfort is that we probably all smell equally bad and have equally disgusting hair. The only things fairly clean are our hands and feet, which more or less constantly are exposed to water and moisture and therefore look like granny hands!
The days are floating together. It means nothing if it’s Friday or Tuesday, I only count either four our six hours ahead – four hours watch and six hours off – and that way it goes by: every day turning into more days, now turning into weeks.
The atmosphere on board is still great. Fortunately we have a fantastic time together, and when Mikkel A is speaking of persistance and endurance it is not only on an individual level – it is also very much created by a common effort, and when we work together as a team, we help give each other a positive energy. On such days as described in the above, where the fewest (if any) sleep well – it is up to 40 degrees under deck and we are being tossed around in the bunks – so most of us can be a little worn down, then a smile, an encouraging squeeze on the arm or a hug can mean the entire difference. And we must keep remembering that – we must take care of, respect and appreciate each other, and fortunately we are good at that here on board Oceans of Hope.
And besides that we are just really looking forward to a fresh water shower and a really cold beer in harbour.