I'm Alive (barely)
We're off the coast of Japan trying to get out into the open ocean. It's
been bumpy, but I've been fine on the sea sickness front and the cold is finally
subsiding. I sprained my middle finger and its a nice fat sausage but
healing quickly. No time for rest!
We had our butts absolutely handed to us for a couple of days with winds
ranging from 40 to 90 knots. I thought the boat was just going to tear
apart at one point when a squall came through that seemed impossible to
control. Ollie, our watch leader, and a massive rugby player was the only
person able to hold the wheel mostly under control. He did that until he
was exhausted; then the skipper came on deck to take over.
For context,Simon NEVER comes on deck. He sits in the nav station and barks orders at
us. Not steering the right course within 30 seconds of stepping on the
helm? Ah the familiar little 'wreek' of the hinges on the hatch opening and
Simon popping his head up. "Helm? What course are you steering? "
I was so exhausted at one point, I didn't know if I was going to make it. Just non
stop work work work, grind grind grind, haul haul haul. We ripped our
spinnaker, so one guy is below 24x7 trying to fix it as the sailmaker.
One crewmate has terrible sea sickness so is down for the count during the roughest
conditions. And one is always pulled off of rotation to 'mother'. So we
have a watch of 8 with only 5 ever on deck, one on helm and the rest of us
doing all the reefs, headsail changes, etc. Even Ollie is worn out and he
is a barrel of energy.
Then the wind has died, which is less stressful but
can mean even more work hauling sails up and down trying to catch the wind.
We did that and then the wind came up like a gale and we were left with the
wrong headsail on the forestay and a massive sail bunched up in the cockpit
with only a handful of people to deal with it.
We've had to do a few "all hands on deck" to make it through the worst of it due to the smallness of
our watch; the other watch (we're bay watch and they're crime watch, ha)
has 9 people and none sea sick, so much more muscle! The first day I was
mostly given bits of string to pull on. Now I'm really in the thick of it,
which I definitely prefer, but it is hard, hard work.
They're training me to helm with the kite up in the dark across the Pacific. Right now, only
Ollie is trusted with the helm in those conditions, so it will be good to
get at least one more up to speed; skipper seems to think I'm up to the
task, so bring it!
Let's hope there aren't too many 'wreeks' from the nav
station. They call him whack a mole, lol. I actually really like sailing
with him; he gets on deck when needed and only yells most of the time, but
not all of the time :) He's clearly doing something right as we're managing
to hold onto our lead in extremely variable conditions.