We encountered our first storm recently. I fortunately and unfortunately did not wake up and therefore didn't have the slightest idea about the epic adventure happening on deck. Nonetheless, I am happy that Robert is able to report how he experienced the morning:
"Waking up at 3.30 AM to start the 4.00 AM shift sounds painful and unpleasant but is made up by the chance of seeing the sunrise. However, to be woken up and told to wear all of your wet-gear on removes any shred of potential joy. The rain started at 4.02 AM. Two minutes respite were followed by close to 4 hours of rain. Night-time shifts are normally pleasurable opportunities to see the stars and be entertained by a bright moon.
This night the sky was covered with the blackest of black clouds one could ever imagine. From horizon to horizon a black
self-sustaining squall encompassed the ship. The ship was engulfed with torrential rain set within a bag-drop of sheer blackness. All on watch were called to swiftly remove any sail. Unbelievably, some of the permanent crew were required to climb the mast. Others removed the staysails.
If anyone had any doubts about gender difference within the crew such false pretence was immediately removed. One incredible female member climbed out onto the bow-sprit. Those on watch on the foredeck immediately lost sight of her as she climbed out into the rain and squall. Her task was to untangle a twisted line and block. Close to 30 minutes of battling in force 9 winds enabled the ship to reduce its sails to safely travel through the squall.
What may sound like terrifying early morning was in fact the highlight of our journey so far. Cecile, one of the 'heroes' that day reflected on this act with "I was just putting gaskets around the outer jib". When asked to some permanent crew members if they enjoyed the thrilling morning as well, reactions varied from "It was just a bit wet and windy" to "exciting" and "another day at sea". The size of the "storm" will remain unknown for me, and for all the others that were asleep. Nonetheless, I am very
grateful that the red watch who, as they describe it themselves, saved our lives.
Apart from this adventure and some occasional squalls we have entered calmer water. Where we just grew accustomed to checking every big wave potentially hiding a potential whale, we can now enjoy the luxury of not having to worry about loose objects rolling of tables or benches. For a few days we did not need our freshly obtained sea-legs anymore. A relief
to some, although seasickness has not been a problem so far. The wind is picking up slowly, so who knows what the next few days will bring us. And to be honest, the squalls were wonderful from a refreshing perspective, as the sun is growing stronger as we are getting close to the equator.
At the time of writing we are exactly in the middle of the ocean, about 750 miles from Africa and 750 miles from Brazil. The
doldrums make it hard to estimate our exact moment of crossing, which made a great opportunity for a ship-wide-betting-competition. Furthermore, Neptune is close and the first little signs of his proximity have already been spotted on the ship. In tension we are waiting for his arrival, speculating on what it will bring us.