Until a few days ago, the grinder of the celestial sphere had been consistently keeping the sun and the moon in sync above our heads. The sun would rise in the east, and set in the west at the same time as moonrise in the east. This cycle continued for many a happy day and as a result it was never really dark out here.
Then the cogs slipped in his machine, causing the moon to linger below the horizon long after sunset. As a result, it is pitch black between 1930 and 2230 local time, and between these times, you can’t see what’s coming.
The rain came first. That isn’t unusual, for the last few nights it has rained every night for a few minutes. Then the rain got heavier and I remembered Jimmy Cornell saying that if the rain comes first, the squall is going to be a heavy one because it has the strength to blow the rain ahead of it.
The wind increased to 27 knots, then to 30 and up to 35 knots for what seemed like an age. I was expecting carnage, but Lady Jane took it in her stride. Our boat speed increased to something beyond normal, but We stayed on course and didn’t feel out of control at all.
As it was, the squall was over in a few minutes. The wind dropped to around 10 knots and eventually returned to trade wind speeds of between 18 and 22 knots. The clouds dispersed, so at least we could see the stars. And after drying my head, we returned to the important business of sleeping and watch keeping.
The advice when sailing in squall prone areas is to ensure that the main can take 30 knots of wind (it can), then furl the genoa when you see a squall approaching. That’s all sensible stuff, but we didn’t see this one coming and I didn’t fancy skin and fingers being flung in all different directions when trying to reef in those conditions, so we just rode it out – and it was fine.
All is bright this morning, there are squalls around but we are miles away from them.
We have given up on trying to get to Bridgetown for Friday afternoon, so we are aiming for Saturday morning instead. Consequently, we have taken in the mainsail and most of the genoa to slow us down to just over four knots.
We are now just 84 miles from Barbados and all is calm and relaxed onboard the very stable Lady Jane.