The strong north-westerly came last night and here we are – under sail for the past eighteen hours, making steady nine knots and heeled over on our ear on a starboard tack that should take us right down to Stanley. We’ve got three reefs in the main, a quarter of the yankee and a full staysail out and we’re flying towards home. 134 miles to go.
It’s wonderful sailing: petrol-blue seas smashing into white caps all around, a clear blue sky, and petrels and albatrosses soaring in our wake. Last night on our 9-midnight watch we had to take the third reef in the main as the wind strengthened – Laura and Gavin and I were out on the pitching foredeck in our foulies and life-jackets, clipped into the safety rope and grinding the winch as waves broke over our heads. Icy water whooshing down my back. The authentic southern ocean experience. Quite a thrill, actually.
(Are we nearly there yet? Can I call myself a sailor now?)
There is a downside to all the drama. Yet another form of ship’s motion has established itself – an off-angled sort of corkscrewing that means that we are crawling around the boat like old men, clinging to the handrails, and our friend the yellow bucket has reappeared. For two reasons – the usual, but also as part of the equipment with heavy-duty rubber gauntlets and a screwdriver for clearing a blockage in the starboard head. In these rough seas, looking at the peaky faces of his crew, skipper Miles nobly undertook the job himself. Hero of the day.
All going well, we’ll be moored at the dock in Stanley harbour pretty soon. Our watch’s grim midnight – 3 am slot tonight will be our last.
Tomorrow: pictures! Gossip from the bars and high-spots! No talk of anyone’s digestive system, either end. It’s a promise…..
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