The first day of Spring

It’s been amazing sailing, and we are working so hard there’s barely any time to reflect on it. Here are a few things I want to remember from the last day or so:

I wrote about our night time  (2:30am)  yankee drop yesterday, but I didn’t have time or space to say how spectacular it was. With the deck-light on, the huge clouds of spray splashing over the bow and along the full length of the boat looked like a firework display. Standing at the low side helm (as backup helm) earlier in the night, I felt as if I was diving into the sparkling masses of slightly phosphorescent water that regularly came sweeping back towards me.

5am – the wind has changed but we are still surfing down waves – surfing at 18 knots sailing close hauled. The sea foams and boils against the rail as Nick goes forward to secure things on the leeward side. .

6am – the sky is purple grey, and low clouds hide the sun, sending jagged orange rays down to the surface of the sea, which gleams like polished marble. Rags and tatters of wind scar the surface, sometimes gathering themselves together to send us hurtling down the face of the waves, which are still rolling up from behind us, although the wind is ahead.

8am – slivers of sunshine light up patches of the sea, which crawls uneasily as far as we can see under the cloudy sky. The sea is confused as the waves formed by the new wind from ahead compete with the big swell from the old, following wind.

2pm – grinding,  I was often knee deep in pools of fresh seawater before they drained away. Every time Nico lit up, it seems his cigarette was engulfed, and several life-jackets have inflated just from the incoming spray.

10:30pm – in the blackness, ragged patches of moonlight gild the crumpled surface of the waves, lighting up the foaming crests of the huge rollers we are surfing on. Shallower water has increased the size of the swell, and we are surging past the island of Hachijo (?) Shima in the grip of the Kuro Shio (Black Snake current). It is a struggle to keep Henrietta under control – she needs all Nick’s and my combined strength prevent a round-down and crash gybe. The island is a mini mount Fuji under the rising half moon, which lights up the roiling clouds it has just dragged itself out of. Sparkling rows of white streetlights near the water’s edge make the last land we’ll see before California look very inviting.

We are having an amazing time, even if you don’t hear much from us. And today is the first day of Spring. We are no longer crossing the Pacific in Winter, however cold it seems out there.

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