"Let me on the helm. NOW, Please," I demanded. At the time, it had been just 36 hours since race start. While it felt like so much longer, I also felt like nothing had changed. It was the fourth meal that I was unable to keep down, but this time I held it off for a good two hours before throwing it back up.
Seasickness was hitting me in waves. I was mainly sitting in the lowest lows of it, head over a bucket and essentially useless on deck, but immediately after purging I would peak in energy and needed to put myself to good use as soon as possible.
So after seeing yet another meal stare back at me from the bottom of a bucket, I jumped up and rushed to the helm, asking to be put on.
We were running pretty fast and furious with a spinnaker, while the waves tried their best to throw us off course. I got behind the helm and finally felt useful again. Keeping a steady course, and reaching a personal best of 15.3 knots, I felt on top of the world. When I was feeling so great again, it was hard to remember how awful I felt just moments before.
That was two watches ago. This watch, I came on deck to "emergency" roles being assigned. Someone on the lazy sheet of the spinnaker, letterboxed through the boom for an emergency drop, and someone on the vang to depower the main if need be. It took about 30 minutes for our emergency roles to turn into "NOW NOW NOW"
We began to heel too far over. The sheet and vang needed to be released to keep the boom, and those of us on deck, out of the water. Our watch leader was on the helm and even his experienced helming had put us in that position. Three minutes later I heard the dreadful words, "Meg can you go on the helm?"
I made my way back with the confidence I had been carrying since my previous stint on the helm just a few watches ago. Boy was I wrong. Helming at night with a spinnaker up was unlike anything I had ever experienced.
I looked down at the compass, and it continued to bob back and forth a variant of at least 20 degrees. The compass looked as if it were shaking its head "NO" at me. I should have taken note. I was toggling between what felt like rolling the boat and crash-gybing. After about 5 minutes of a loosing game of Atari with a 70-foot yacht, my Skipper asked, "Do you have this?"
No, I didn't have it, and I had to surrender the helm, completely shaken up. I definitely need some more practice helming with a spinny up at night amongst major swells, but tonight wasn't my night to gamble with Mother Nature.