The Night of Doom

Well what can I say... after we set off on the 6th March due to being delayed by weather it looked like we had a clear passage to the canaries. We knew that if we could make it there in 9 to 10 days then we were on track for a good record attempt.

The first 6 days seemed to match the forecast and I thought it would be sensible to start getting some updates from fellow mission warrior Charlie. So on 13th march the email arrives (Re: Weather warning sunday/monday/tuesday).

"Looking at Windyty and other sources it looks like this bad weather will peak around 2100 Monday and ease off over Tuesday with wind in the 10-15 kts range by midnight on Tuesday. It should continue to decline on Weds morning and bottom out at a around 10kts of wind from the north. It will pick up again in the afternoon and loiter in the 10-15 range (with minor gusts) for the next couple of days."

The only issue was the weather had already hit us early. I checked other sources we had and it seemed to reflect the same so we felt confident we knew what was coming, little did we know.

The sea state built to 6m swell with 25knts of wind from the north. You could say this was great because we had good VMG pushing us on course at twice our normal boat speed. After two watches on deck in the wind and rain Niall and I agree as passengers we should pull in the oars and get into the cabins.

Clément and I shared the fwd cabin and Niall and Ralph were in the aft cabin. We had VHF radios to stay in touch. For the next 18hrs we were being smashed in all directions by rouge waves which knocked the auto helm off course, this resulted in Clément and Niall jumping on deck to row whilst Ralph and I reset the auto helm and agreed the next best course angle based on the changing wind and wave conditions.

As the storm continued to build, the auto helm had enough and we also had decided we needed to get some sleep so we dropped the sea anchor, for those who don't know this is a parachute looking piece of equipment that pulls the boat into the wave at about a 35 degree angle to keep the boat from going backwards. The deployment did go quite to plan so I ended up on the bow of the boat (clipped on) and holding Cléments hand whilst I leant into the sea to untangle the sea anchor from the bow line whilst being hit by waves.

We then climbed back into the cabins and tried to sleep for the next 12 hours. On the 14th once the swell settled to only 4m and wind dropped to about 16kntswe pulled in the anchor and got back under way. We all could not wait to get back on the oars and make some progress, all pleased to be safe and thankful that Rose stood up the the might of the Atlantic.

So we now have written on the cabin wall "the weather forecast is never right".

Well we are back in a stable sea state and glorious sunshine, just missing the GnT's :)

From Colin's blog