An all too familiar sound

Here we are in the Taiwan Strait, having exactly the sort of tough time we were promised. Over the last couple of hours the sound of the wind in the rigging has risen from a moan to a scream – and sure enough the true wind indicator is reading 60 knots, and the storm job is going up on deck. Of course it’s pitch dark and everybody is exhausted as we have been battling gale force head winds and steep waves all day, after another all hands epic battle to get the yankee 1 down, the three up, and all 3 reefs in the main in the early hours of this morning. Even when you are in your bunk, sleep is impossible as Henrietta’s unpredictable slamming attempts to throw you over your leecloth onto the floor.
And yet, it’s been a day of huge grins and good humour, from skipper and hard pressed crew alike. They almost look as if they are enjoying themselves as they come down the companionway soaked and dripping, accompanied by bucket fulls of the sea, shaking their heads to get the salt water out of their eyes. Nico and I have been mothering today, and it certainly hasn’t been an easy one. In the end you just have to laugh as you hear someone scream ‘wave!’, just as you are opening the oven. Just laugh, hold onto the hot tin with the bread in, and duck as a selection of lighters, condiment bottles, bowls and other utensils throw themselves at you on their way to the other side of the galley.
THings were going so smoothly during our midnight watch last night – I took the helm at 1am and Henrietta seemed to be sailing herself. It was as black as the inside of a coal hole out there, but I hardly had to touch the wheel to keep Henrietta slicing through the darkness, making great wind angles and speeds. She seemed so eager – almost like a salmon swimming for the river she was born in. Perhaps she smells Qingdao, her birthplace? It does seem that I had the last good hour on the helm, as it’s been bash, splash and smash ever since. It is supposed to ease up soon, so I hope things will be mellower when I get back on watch tomorrow. I definitely picked another good day to be mother!

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