June 7 - Wind, Speed and Flying Fish!
We have had an interesting time here just recently. Through the course of
yesterday and the night before the wind slowly built as what you might call
a fairly energetic low pressure system passed to the North of us - we had
already made the decision to go South as I thought it was going to be worse
than it had been forecast the day before yesterday, and by going South we
should have avoided the worst of the wind, the most dramatic rate of wind
shift and crucially the worst of the sea state.
Just as well we did really - it blew up to 55 knots, with often a sustained 50, and we finished up with a short, steep Gulf Stream sea state, with the odd breaking wave - big enough to appear impressive on camera, and very beautiful with the occasional complete white - out as torrential rain and spray went flying downwind, but not ideal really. There were no ships around either funnily enough, although the birds loved it, but even they avoided the rain!
Whilst it blew we lay in our respective bunks like a pair of book ends, both of us thinking "surely this can't go on for much longer", but that's the joy of going with the weather systems, they take forever to come over you. Neither of us said very much, it was fairly noisy. I thought perhaps we should have had a game of shouted "I-spy" to break the silence between us, when Sam announced he could see some blue sky through his bedroom window, and within a couple of hours there had been a big wind shift of around 90 degrees, the wind had dropped to 30 knots, and we unrolled the solent, shook out the third reef and started for home in earnest, with our boat speed over 20 knots hour after hour. We fortified ourselves with the biggest vat of tortellini in the world, swimming in olive oil with grated cheese on the top and a yoghurt to finish! At one time later during the night the computer said that our time to go was 95 hours to the Scilly Isles, we were really hammering on! It didn't last - today we are upwind again, against an eddy of the Gulf Stream, again, with the wind going up and down annoyingly in the range between full main and one reef - shades of the race over!
After Sam saw his flying fish the other day, we both saw a flock of three fly across infront of the boat. It was incredible, I have never seen them before, they really do fly for ages, or glide to be more accurate. It is really stunning what nature comes up with given the opportunity; we all know they exist, but the possibilities seem to be without limits when you actually see something like that with your own eyes. Unfortunately there were some small ones dead on the deck this morning, one an inch long an another a bit longer, so that was quite sad. If you stretch out their wings they are really incredible, with long deep blue stiffeners running through them, although they were much thicker and stronger than those found in ordinary fishes fins. Their little bodies are deepest blue and silver underneath. The flying ones we saw were much bigger, at eight to ten inches long. The artist Didier Becet who painted them and the penguins and gulls that accompany them on the inside of the ceiling on our boat had obviously seen them too - although he has caricatured them, he has captured their slightly surprised looking eyes and intense but comical expression to a tee. I bet you didn't know fish had expressions.......they do though.
Today is beautiful, warm and sunny with some clouds. The sea state is confused still to say the least, but the sun shines through the little breaking crests lighting them up in a turquoise colour ageist the deep blue of the surrounding wave. Now it is lunchtime - I am going!