Two very different nights…

I realise I haven’t posted a blog in a few days, but things have been pretty busy here!

It’s the middle of the night and I’ve just finished a three hour watch on deck. I’ve climbed into the warm bunk vacated by Andy, while he takes my place on deck getting soaked by every fourth or so wave. Bless him. That said it’s a beautiful night out there, if a little cold and wet. The sky is clear, and the shooting stars of the Perseids are stunning.

The Perseids are so called as they appear to be mostly distributed around the constellation Perseus. The shooting stars are actually caused by particles emitted by the comet Swift-Tuttle. They are visible every year around this time, with activity peaking usually around the second week in August. Early navigators often recorded the event in their logs, and I believe records of the Perseids even go back to the time of Christ. If you’ve never seen it then get yourself outside somewhere dark any clear evening over the next few weeks and just wait a few minutes. Out here, away from any light pollution, the show is spectacular. Literally hundreds of shooting stars every night. I’d love to be out here during the peak activity one of these years to see it at its best.

It’s a very different night out there to the one we had last night. We had to deal with a full on North Atlantic storm. It got up to the mid 40knts for a few hours at its worst point, and lasted about 14hrs in total. The only good thing about the night was the phosphorescence in the water. As the storm churned up the water, the huge waves looked like walls of glowing green light, one breaking wave after another away off into the distance. An absolutely amazing sight, that will be another of those memories that won’t fade. To be lucky enough to be in such a plankton rich part of the ocean on such a dark night nearly made up for being unlucky enough to be battered by the storm for hour after hour.

The storm put huge strains on both Dinah and ourselves. Kevlar sail reinforcements chafed right through. A mainsail reef line snapped like string during a gybe. At one point I was working on the bow when a big wave washed through, and when the water dissipated again I was sprawled on the deck with only one shoe! I’ve no idea what forces must have been involved in removing the vagrant shoe, but I ended up barefoot on one side for the rest of the night! Myself and Andy had a good laugh at that. This morning just after dawn, the boat went into an involuntary gybe surfing in the low teens. Unfortunately I didn’t quite react quickly enough, and the mainsheet caught my arm as it flashed across the cockpit. My arm got smashed against the side of the cockpit, and I’m going to have some very pretty bruises for some time to come to remind me of the incident. Two of my fingers are still not right, so I have my left hand strapped up. It brings a whole new meaning to single-handed sailing! Still, I have a great first aid kit, and it’s not that bad really. It certainly won’t slow us down getting to Ireland…

Thanks to the storm accelerating us in the right direction, tonight we only have 500nm left to the Old Head of Kinsale. We should see it sometime on Saturday, and we may even have time to stop off for a shower, a beer, and a nap, before sailing into Cobh on Sunday afternoon. The next few days of sailing look straightforward, which should allow us recover from the nasty conditions. It looks like we may get one more proper blow as we approach the coast, but it’s a little too early to be sure. Fingers crossed we get through before it!