Yesterday was a long day. We started the day by putting in a pair of reefs which, with our Yankee and Staysail, was a fast but manageable sail plan for the building wind. We had been warned of winds in the 50s, but then the first front hit. Frank Hoogland was on the helm and held the boat beautifully as the wind speed rocketed up to 72kts, driving hail horizontally down the deck (no hood or hat for me, this part was really quite painful) and whipping the tops off the waves. With the Main fully eased we had nowhere to go, any mistake would have been serious, but Frank saw us through with Dan and I stood either side and Brino (Brian Anderson) on the opposite wheel ready to apply a bit of extra muscle. Just as order began to re-establish itself we caught a sidewinder that blasted the cockpit and doghouse hard enough to wash water bottles, ropes and crew down the boat.
A spell of relatively moderate conditions and sunshine allowed us to hit reset, finish breakfast (my porridge had actually been washed out of its bowl as I ate and watched the helm), before round two. This came on with far less preamble, appearing as a pretty average squall on the horizon, which we cautiously reefed back down for (well done to Richard Hutchings and watch for particularly rapid reefing). By the time I had wriggled back from the pit to the helm everything was going dark again, and this time the wind went straight to full speed (68kts). Frank had taken the helm again this time for the evolution but got caught out here and over we went. This was the first of three big broaches that morning, with the worst keeping us down for at least ten minutes.
The afternoon brought bigger seas, and the conditions remained serious, but some order and control was re-established, allowing us all to take a deep breath.
The other major event of the day was Skipper Dan's birthday, which we celebrated at the 0200 watch change (singing happy birthday in the dark) and again at 1800 (with cake, and a card and presents). This one was punctuated by a near crash gybe (helm yelling for help wrestling the wheel back up to windward) - fortunately the cake had already gone back below and was safe and secure.
All the best from Imagine your Korea, currently sailing downwind in sunshine and good breeze,
Sam & Dan & co.