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Knockdown, Huge Seas and a Buzz from Customs

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Despite the fact that today started with a knockdown, a wet bunk, a headache and some pretty huge seas, I've had a great day. I know the words knockdown and great don't belong in the same sentence, but right now I'm feeling better than I have all week. And I don't mean that I've been feeling lousy all week, I mean that right now I've got sore cheeks from smiling all afternoon.

The wind started coming up yesterday and sat on about 35 knots all night with maybe the odd gust reaching close to 40, which isn't really a big deal with Ella’s Pink Lady sailing under just the storm jib, because I was being extra conservative (i.e. my nerves weren't really feeling up to any fast surfing!).

It was the swell that got interesting. The big seas were from a nasty low pressure system passing to the south and although we missed most of its wind, we sure copped some big seas. Probably the biggest I've seen so far (the sea during that storm in the Atlantic was nastier though because it was steeper and more closely spaced.) These swells were 10 metre liquid mountains, rolling past with tumbling white tops. Ella's Pink Lady was handling it all beautifully though and when we were knocked down just after it got light this morning, I'd actually started relaxing because the wind and sea had already started easing.

I was in my bunk asleep this time when we went over and was woken up when various objects (see Pic 2 below) and a whole lot of water landed on top of me. Seriously whatever happed to gently shaking someone awake and handing them a cup of coffee?

Anyway it wasn't too bad as far as knockdowns go. I'd say the mast only just touched the water and there wasn't any damage. But having a whole lot of bilge water in my bunk didn't have me thrilled. Annoyingly, I'd only just turned the outside cameras off half an hour before. If the cameras had been on just a little longer, you could well have been watching this instead of reading about it - how annoying!

After Ella's Pink Lady picked herself back up I figured there wasn't anything I could do till things calmed down a bit more, so I put my wet weather gear on, pulled up the hood and climbed back into my soaking bunk. It doesn't compare to comfy PJ's (pyjamas) and a soft double bed with fresh sheets, but I couldn't have slept better!

When I got up again, the sun was shining and the sea had dropped off some more but was still spectacular. Totally amazing to watch from under the dodger, which was what I was doing when the wind generator suddenly started roaring like crazy. I quickly climbed out into the cockpit to see that the roaring wasn't coming from the wind genny, but a plane just over head!

It was the Australian customs sent to investigate the suspicious looking pink boat. Nah, just kidding. They were on a routine flight and dropped by to say hi and to remind me to check into with the appropriate authorities when I reach Sydney, which seems kinda strange, seeing as I haven't stopped anywhere. But I suppose it’s regulation and my shore team has all that under control.

After that, with some more sail up as the wind kept dropping, I had a really fun afternoon hand steering in the sunshine, surfing along and taking in the amazing sea. The rest of the week isn't going to be any easier with another front and low pressure system expected, but unlike a few days ago, I'm not dreading it anymore. Just looking forward to getting down under Tasmania and doing some fast sailing.

It’s Anzac day tomorrow so I'll make a special effort to watch the sunrise, take a minute to think about all our soldiers away from home and maybe I'll have a crack at making some Anzac cookies.


Pic 1: Yesterday as the wind and sea was rising, with the mainsail lashed to the boom and the orange storm jib flying in the background.

Pic 2: The galley after the knockdown. See if you can pick the things that shouldn't be there? To name just a few, there's the white floor board from under the nav table, the pencil sharpener pierced on the stove, the USB cord that was plugged into the Toughbook and see that bit of white string in the top right? I didn't drape it around the switch box like that.


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