Monday, 9 May 2011

The first night on the Atlantic

Stomach felt a bit uneasy as we came out of the Gironde and met the Atlantic. Pretty choppy stuff, but after an hour or so both the sea and my tummy settled. I seemed to have found my sea legs and just before sunset a group of Dolphins came to inspect us … a couple of them even showed off a few tricks.

I was on watch from 8pm to midnight with Miles and Red. All went well and we even sneaked in a glass of 2009 Castillon from La Brande at shift end. I made my way down to the cabin to attempt some sleep, but as soon as I got settled, legs pointing North, the 'Irene' started to really roll so I had to turn around and wedge myself between my rucksack and the side of the boat to stop me from rolling out myself; not an easy manoeuvre with 40cm of head space. Red on the bottom bunk got a couple of my books hurled his way but he was doing same as me so any accidents were avoided.

The next 4 hours sleep was a roller coaster of this clicks, clacks, shudders, whacks, louder clicks, splashes, BANG, squawking ropes, whooshes, weird deep haunting moaning noses from under the boat and the damn toilet door banging away like Keith Moon!

Then I felt a cold droplet of water right on my forehead, then another, I leaned up to find a torch – banging my head on the beam, of course – only to find water dripping in slow but regular patterns of two drops every 5 minutes or so from three different places. Once all drip areas had been located and mapped I adopted a twisted, 'S'-like position, avoiding the cold drips.

The last hour I managed to get some sleep but was soon back on deck for our second watch. A very bumpy night, but we had made great progress during the night and once on deck we could see the lighthouse of the Ile D'Yeu and the distant glow of Nantes. We picked up some good wind skirting under cloud patches. I went to the control cabin called the Whales Back to look at the GPS map to check for any fishing trawlers, not many around, waiting for sunrise now.

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