Last night I felt afraid. I was reading the weather forecast from Rick Shema, my weatherguy:
“Wind and sea conditions likely to increase to gale force (Force 8) late on Jun 4th or early June 5th. Winds to 40kts and seas steadily building to Force 10 conditions (for seas) on Jun 7th.”
The prospect sounded terrifying. My insides knotted and Fear started running around inside my head like a madman, waving his arms wildly and wailing, “We’re all doomed!” in a high-pitched cry.
The Voice of Reason stood off to one side, waiting for Fear to quieten down enough so he could make himself heard. Eventually Fear got tired of doing laps of the inside of my head and started to wind down like a clockwork toy. Reason managed to get a word in.
“Look,” he said in his calm, strong voice, “this weather isn’t even happening yet, and you’re already in a tizz about it. Let’s look at this objectively.
“OK, so we’ve never been in a Force 10 before, but we’ve been in some pretty bad weather and we know this boat is seaworthy. If we just stay in the cabin most of the time, and clip on to the boat when we have to go outside to go to the bathroom, we’ve got a good chance of coming through this in one piece.
“And besides, we have no choice. We’re out here now. There’s nowhere we can go, and no way we can avoid this weather. We’re just going to have to tough it out. But we can do it if we keep our head and stay calm. Just DON’T PANIC!!!”
So this is where I am now. I’m not looking forward to the next 3 days, but that’s just the way it is.
Fear comes from our sense of self-preservation: when we get into a situation we’ve never been in before, Fear starts freaking out – NOT doing this thing has kept us alive so far, so why change now?
But just because you’ve never been in a situation before doesn’t mean it’s going to kill you. And just because you HAVE been there before, doesn’t mean it WON’T kill you. So although fear can be a useful indicator saying, “don’t go there”, it can also be excessively cautious, warning us against anything at all that is unfamiliar. So it has to be balanced against reason and, of course, the spirit of adventure.
Meanwhile, the daily practicality of dealing with this situation is very mundane. Unlike sailors, who have to run around on deck attending to halyards and sheets and suchlike, there is really nothing at all I can do on deck at the moment, and my best survival strategy happily coincides with my natural instinct – to curl up into the foetal position, strap myself to my bunk, and ride out the storm.
So I spend most of my time inside my very small cabin, wriggling around in my red sleeping bag like a big red grub in a chrysalis, waiting for the time when I can emerge back into the outside world. I doze, nibble on snacks, listen to audio books and write my blogs. And try to keep the Fear under control.
I am worried about the watermaker after finding its compartment flooded yesterday. This morning I ran the watermaker for a few minutes and it seemed fine. But this afternoon it suddenly stopped after about half an hour, and wouldn’t restart.
I’ve spoken to Darren at Spectra Watermakers and he has suggested a couple of possible solutions, but I can’t do either of them while there are waves crashing over the deck every few minutes. I will have to wait for the weather to calm down.
Meanwhile, I have done what I can to prevent swamping the watermaker again. The water must have come in around the edges of the hatch lid, which is partly submerged when the footwell fills up with water, as tends to happen in these wet and wild conditions. I’ve got some proper marine sealant, but it needs a dry surface, and in any case would possibly glue the hatch shut if I can’t leave the hatch open while it dries. So for now I’ve taken my panacea for all ills – Bag Balm – and daubed it generously around the o-ring and the edges of the hatch. It’s not much, but it’s all I can do for now.
[photo: view from inside the cabin as a wave crashes across the deck]