Paniced cpt: Do I even like to sail?

OCTOBER 14th, 2016

Censored curse word, I don't even like to sail. The admission is hard to come to, and still not. I was nauseous before we left Porto, from something I ate or from not eating or from the excitement of the upcoming night or I don't know. I'm currently in my bunk, shaking. Why are we doing this? There is too much uncertainty and too many things beyond our control. One of the last things I did before leaving Porto, was adjust the reefs in the main sail. The reefs allow us to carefully stow part of the sail, so we can use it without blowing away. When we left, the French guy in the boat next to us asked if we were sure we wanted to go out in this weather. The forecast has predicted a lot of wind, are you sure you can manage it? Isn't it better to wait 'till tomorrow?

Despite his advice, we left as planned. Our forecast says the wind will die down during the day Friday, and we wanted to use the favorable direction of the winds to get further south. However, one of our most important rules states that we will not have more sails up than the most coward among us is comfortable with. So we hoisted the main with the least amount of sail we can use, two reefs, and we rolled out a part of the genoa. We were sailing west, with a slight drag south. We've been advised to sail at depths of 100 meters or more along the coast of Portugal, to stay clear of fishing equipment.

With the sails up, Elise took the helm and I went to bed. As I was shaking in my bunk, the Atlantic Ocean hugged Paloma and the winds shook all of us. I am forever grateful to Elise being both braver and more comfortable at sea than I am. A little less obvious at maximising crisis is she as well, to all our benefit.

The waves broke alongside the boat, and sounded like they came from inside Paloma. First time I went outside was at about nine, to help Elise reduce the foresail a little. The sail got caught behind the main, and wasn't much use there. With a little less of the genoa out, we sailed better, faster and more comfortable. The first thing that struck me, however, when I came outside that first time was the almost full moon from the clear sky. It illuminated the oceans and the sky to such an extent, we couldn't see stars. It was just as magically spectacular when I came out again an hour later for my first shift of the night.

That first shift was coloured by the anxiousness letting go. The winds blew a steady 25 knots, with gusts way stronger. With the swell from the Atlantic up our rear, we held a speed between 5 and 8 knots over land, with an average of 6,8 kn. I really love sailing!

Paloma proved once again to be the toughest of us, by far. She wriggled her way through the waves. Every now and again, she wasn't able to resist the waves asking her to dance. Not that I blame her, they were all tall, dark, knew what they wanted and simmered with strong opinions. All the women here appreciate dedication. We had so much fun! At the extreme, we did 20,7 knots over ground. That is not supposed to be possible.

The bright moon followed us throughout the night, until it set at about half five. When I went back for my second shift, the winds, waves and speed had all decreased a little; although we were making almost 6 knots. As the sun started to rise, as a red ball of fire, through the soft clouds, I was expecting a beautiful day.

Now we are well moored in Peniche, after a calm day at sea. Just outside there is an island that we want to explore. It has a fort and great snorkelling. I have to admit,  I usually love sailing.