Sunday, May 22, 2011

The Curse of the Star of Bengal

A physically and emotionally tough day today after a long worrying sleepless night. There IS romance in sailing the seas , and I have experienced it but this feels horrible. Last night as the sun went down all was fine and I was about to cross the Kermadec Ridge south of the Star of Bengal Bank, Then thick black cloud covered the sky and it was very dark, the wind abruptly increased and changed direction, it poured with rain and then after 30 minutes of chaos, everything stopped, including the wind. I waited, had a rest for half and hour and the boat drifted. Slowly the wind returned as before. Next, when I saw where we would be headed, my heart sank : the shallowest part of the Bank, a little blue circle on the chart perhaps 50m deep. I pondered what the sea might be like there, could there be giant waves or breakers - I didn't know and I couldn't see, though it was still 20nm away I decided to tack to the SW and cross the ridge somewhere else. Knowledgeable sailors may well have ignored the frightening contours of the sea floor below but not being sure exactly what they meant for the sailor, I decided to stay away. But I couldn't sleep and kept checking our course till early this morning we were safely across and I tacked back to the NE again. And heres a weird thing - last night I decided to have a meal from a tin - the first time this trip - I reached into the bin and randomly pulled out ….."Butter Chicken"

So this morning I received wonderful emails from many wonderful people and especially wrenching were the ones from my children. I shed a few tears. I had a breakfast of scrambled eggs and later tried to get some sleep.

After lunch p avocado sandwiches, fruit, water, a biscuit - the wind had poicked up and I took in the first reef in the main. The sea sell was rising and becoming uncomfortable. I did my little round of checks - the hydrovane - ok - and the Bilges. Yesterday I mopped out less than ¼ of a bucket, but today there was a dramatic increase, to my horror yet again, several buckets full. And as I mopped, more appeared. Terrible thoughts of dread and doom flooded my thinking, something bad had happened somewhere fpr sure. In the foremost bilge, under a grill in the floor of the little place near the Head (Toilet) I saw the water streaming in - from the Bilge Pump! It wasn't "on" was being forced back through from outside, and there was no valve on this tube. Fortunately it was a long and flexible hose and I bent it back o itself and passed a hose clamp over to secure it shut. No more leaking. Such frights like that I could do without.

Tonight there are no obstacles real or imagined in front of us as we bump and wallow through boisterous and uncomfortable sea with the headsail half rolled up and the first reef still in. I could do with a good sleep. It will be nice if the wind eases off a little after sunset.

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