FIRST BIG CROSSING: Day 13

The sun just came up.
Everyone on the boat is asleep.
The engine is running for the first time in 13 days and 1100 miles.
A rainbow just burst through the massive clouds ahead of us and splashed into the ocean.
What Doldrums? This is beautiful...

It was also absolute HELL for the past twelve hours.

I look down at my wrist, where I have my Tibetan prayer beards coiled around my hand.
You know it's been a rough night if I broke out the beads.

Lightning.
Like you cannot believe...
If it wasn't so awesomely terrifying, it would have been the best light show I have ever seen- and trust me, that's saying something, coming from an ex-Deadhead.

It started on my watch-of course.
Jon was just going down after his "long watch" 6-10.
He had let me sleep and extra half hour, the seas had settled nicely and we were still sailing along (expecting the winds to die soon) but he was watching the sky when I relieved him on deck.
"There's a little lightning"he said.
Oh yeah. " I said, swallowing the instant rush of nausea that comes over me whenever I get afraid. "I'll keep an eye on it" I tried to sound confident. "I'm sure it's heat lightening"--the humidity is stifling.

A half hour later I was shaking his foot,
"Honey, sorry to wake you but... we better pull in the sails and fire her up, we need to get the hell out of here".

Lightning.
Everywhere. SO much of it. The sheet stuff, the big crackling mad-scientist bolts, the entire sky back-lit by blood red fire.

We even saw some sort of cosmic alien space bomb weirdness land in the ocean after a particularly big burst. A GREEN SWIRLING BALL- like a falling flare but it lasted way less long, before fizzling out in an explosion of red sparks.
WHAT THE HELL?
We looked at each other and...laughed.
Because, honestly, when it gets THAT crazy....what else can one do?
North South East West, it flashed in all corners of the sky.
No where to run-but run we did.

There is still no moon and with the cloud cover we would have to wait for the big bursts to see the outlines of the "thunder bumpers ". That's our cute kid-name for them but these ones were not cute. These were middle of the pacific monsters. We had no wind-which made things manageable but managing terror is always a sort of rear calm, really polite, "can I get you anything, honey...and do you know where the VHF is for the ditch-kit?"

A ditch kit is a thing you pack with food and safety items and you hope to never mention again...because honestly, ditching in the middle of the Pacific is not an option.

Now, this is all from our newbie perspective, too. So maybe there is an oldy-salty type person who would be WAY more sanguine about the whole thing. Me? It scared the pants off of. The lightning was close and everywhere and that is just a helpless thing to feel on the boat. Jon drove through it as best he could manage, we slalomed around the biggest, nastiest looking clouds as they lit up and after a huge amount of praying and pleading with the universe, some stars poked out and we aimed for those. A big storm cell moves really fast though, so it was many miles and many hours of hide and seek. At one point I looked up to the sky to wish us a safe passage on a star I saw over the mast. I realized as I finished my wish this was no star-it was my own mast light. I took that as a sign. This isn't personal-it's a phenomenon and its up to you guys to brave it out.

Which we did. The kids slept throughout he whole thing--except for the moment when I moved them from the sea-berth (directly beside the mast) and into our less lightening strike prone bed in the aft cabin. I told themI didn't want them getting wet every time I opened the hatch to change watches with daddy. A little lie never hurt if it makes kids go back to sleep.

We got through it. Thank you, Universe and there was no sleep for either of us so finally Jon took off for a little nap and I sat down to write this...

I am now finishing this several hours later. We have been in high squalls all day, with unbelievable rain and winds clocking around like crazy. The rain was a blessing because when Jon went down for his nap this morning, I made a pot of tea and Kai woke up and I got distracted saying good morning to him so I left the water pressure on (A big no-no out here because if you spring a leak you could very quickly empty your tanks without knowing it, especially with the engine drowning out the sound of the bilge pump). Jon woke up an hour later and went into the engine room to discover that underneath the engine was flooded with FRESH water. The line that comes out of the hot water tank above the engine had ruptured and after a terrifying night of no asleep we discovered we had lost HALF of our fresh water supply. That's right folks. Secondary tank empty yesterday and now HALF of the primary today. Middle of the Pacific-two weeks left to go.
Jon looked at me and told me not to worry he had done the math already and we had enough on board to survive. When I could breath again and the feeling returned to my body, he told me he would run the water maker and I went upstairs and prayed for rain.

Well, that prayer worked, too!
So, after a long night of dodging squalls we spent the whole day chasing them! - which the kids thought was a blast and really once the sails were all reefed within an inch of their stitching, it was all cool. But we did manage to refill almost both tanks entirely just from Catchment.

And we rode the tail end of one squall for a few hours with 15 knots from the North East-almost like we were out of the doldrums but we are SOOOO not even close yet but it was a positive-though rainy few hours of good wind and gentle seas all headed in the right direction.
Hey, we'll take it.

So....
Not to worry, Mommies and Grandpaps  and all our faithful readers...
We are still here, still heading South (under power) and are a little more experienced than yesterday...
and praying for no lightning tonight.

Break out the Ju-Ju beads!!

PS. If I am ever a day late in writing one of these--do not panic. I might have overestimated my abilities to type in chaotic seas or even email when dealing with wonky propagation in weird convergence zones--so PLEASE do not worry (I know its hard when I write a freaky one like this one) I will write the moment I can. We are doing fine out here--really. It's an OCEAN we're crossing so ...we're gonna have our crazy days!

Captain's Corner:
Well , she kinda said it all but here's something to chew on... After all this time and all these miles, we are STILL getting farther away from land rather than closer to it! How bout them apples?
Oh, and I fixed that water line...Phew.


6 comments:

  1. Hellish, indeed. Makes all my loopy comments pretty dull-witted. You will be ancient mariners for sure by the time you reach Taiohae but it seems to me you are doing fantastically well.

    ReplyDelete
  2. the greybeard loonApril 15, 2013 at 8:48 PM

    The silly buckets on the deck,
    That had so long remained,
    I dreamt that they were filled with dew;
    And when I awoke, it rained.

    My lips were wet, my throat was cold,
    My garments all were dank;
    Sure I had drunken in my dreams,
    And still my body drank.

    ReplyDelete
  3. On second thoughts, why the hell not?

    ReplyDelete
  4. That electric feeling of fear that causes the hair to stand on your whole body is what you will remember forever and it's also what introduces you to the new you. I was wondering when you might hit one of these powerful moments and now when you hit another, you will know it will also pass and you might even start looking forward to the next, as crazy as that is. I have not been in the middle of the Pacific with no where to hide from a storm but I have been on a Goan beach with the monsters above and chose to sit under them as the bolts hit the palm trees. I am with you as much as I can be sitting here in my kitchen and cheering you on every day! It's been a hell of a day in North America once again and being on a boat away from it all is paradise. Hi to Jon as well, fixing stuff is cool right!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Hey Jon, Suki, Kai, and Hunter,

    Your doing GREAT considering what has been thrown at you. Jon (the handyman) your on top of it as I knew you would be. I hope you checked all the fittings to those tanks. It is amazing what comes loose when a boat is rolling day in day out, even Tigger is proud of you. He is sitting on the nav station desk as I read your blog. I could swear I heard him say "Way to go Custer"

    Miss you guys! Terry, Dawn, and Tigger S/V "MANTA"

    ReplyDelete
  6. whether i'm ending the day with one of your entries, or beginning the day...i get invigorated by it! i feel alive! just know i'm on more of those night watches with ya then you realize....work sched has me doing the same here for month of april basically....prayer beads ahoy!! buddha sends his love by the way...wasn't sure he had mentioned how much he loves the beads you placed around his neck Suki :)
    Love ya guys and keeping ya close in all ways!! xxoo

    ReplyDelete