40 ft of Endless Freedom

Dec 8th

In the morning there  is a quietness on the boat as if we have all survived something fierce. We wake to a beautiful sunrise and a nice steady 23 knot breeze from the east. 

Sunrise over the Atlantic

We sail along effortlessly at 8 knots with just a reefed main.  We resist putting more sail up in an attempt to give ourselves a bit of a breather and we decide we would likely only gain about 1.5 knots more of speed. Everyone is quite tired after a few days of being battered by Atlantic squall after squall and days of large swells. We are all a bit bruised after being thrown about the cockpit in the darkness.  Everything  has been a massive effort as the boat is constantly lurching side to side in the swells and this downwind sail.  Sleep was next to impossible.  All this has pushed the crew a bit and people are slightly on edge.

The day passes peacefully and fades into evening bringing a red sky and then  night is upon us again. The daytime watches are a joy and I am happy to be on deck in the sunshine.

Red sky at night, sailors delight.

Tonight my watch mate and I are on watch 10pm – 2am.  At times this is a challenging one as fatigue tries to settle in.  We take turns at the helm an hour on and hour off.  When the conditions stabilize and we are too fatigued to focus we turn on the auto helm and we do exercises on the deck at 1am in the darkness to try to keep ourselves awake through the remainder of our watch.  Again, we quietly kill ourselves laughing as we attempt planks, push ups and sit ups in the swell and slide back and forth across the cockpit like fish brought in from a net.

The watch ends about 2.20am when the two other crew arrive on deck.  They are 20 minutes late and I try not to be irritated. For the remainder of the night I was again tossed around my bunk relentlessly between the hull and the lee cloth.  My bunk mate is now in the pilot berth which is suspended from the inside of the hull.  It takes a small feat of amateur acrobatics to get in but once in, one is wedged so tight that you can not be tossed around.  Meanwhile on the bunk below,  I have learnt to brace myself with my legs and stick my hands down the side of cushions to wedge myself in.  I even try sleeping across the berth but after about the 7th time of getting my head bashed and neck compressed I realize that was a daft idea.

The bunk with pilot berth suspended on the right.

As I lie awake listening to the sound of the water rush past the hull and my crew mates whisper to each other in the darkness, I realize that we now only have 1000 nm to go.  The other parts of my life start to come into soft focus around the periphery of the bubble we have been in over the last two weeks.  It feels too soon to think about the land.

Since being at sea we are surrounded by horizon everywhere you look and so it feels that we are constantly travelling across a blue disc of ocean.  I imagine what we might look like from a birds eye, specks of white sails in a vastness of blue, so small and yet we could travel the whole blue planet on this boat…40 foot of endless freedom.

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