comfort was long gone. I was now wearing the survival suit my brother-in-law
gave me, which I became very fond of. It is completely water-tight and both warm
and dry. The boat was thrown around the sea. The cockpit got very wet from the
many waves that went over the cabin and ended up in the cockpit. The howling and
screaming of the wind in the rigging gained strength and was indeed incredibly
loud, though the suit's tight-fitting hood luckily prevented me from hearing
much of it.
When I turned the boat to run with the wind, I had taken the mainsail down and
secured it to the boom and ran nicely with the wind for a couple of rounds of
the rolling foresail. It was nice getting the boat turned. It nearly felt like
the wind had subsided. Instantly it became more quiet on board. Initially
steering wasn't difficult, but that gradually increased.
There were times when I thought now things can't get any worse. Little did I
know. I would of course never voluntarily have gone out in such weather
(conditions). I also wouldn't have thought that my boat, or anyone else's for
that matter, could make it through such a journey.
After eight hours of running with the wind, I was starting to get physically
exhausted and really tired of it all. I was going in the wrong direction,
getting further into the bay and the waves were insane.
Surfing down the waves for hours and at the same time avoiding the heavy sea
breaking over the boat, is physically and mentally strenuous. I was hit by a
few. The amount of water in the cockpit makes my little boat's stern droop and
nearly makes it come to a halt. And without any speed, the bailers won't bail
you out. I was convinced that the next sea would sink the boat. In a (matter of
a) few seconds a desperate is able to empty a cockpit full of water with a
I had previously heard of the Bay of Biscay (which was also why I
waited so long before I started my crossing). I wasn't afraid, but edgy and
cautious. I had obviously heard and read about the terrible storms and 15 metre
tall waves, etc. (It was also here that Captain Haddock from the Tintin cartoons
were always heaving to. The ordinary waves were about10-13 metres tall (3-4
metres taller than my mast). But the waves in the bay are not just coming at you
from one direction. And, there are also a lot of confused waves from other
directions. Sailing in such conditions is very unsteady. Foam was everywhere
now. The air was filled with it, and the cockpit likewise. The wind was rushing
over the cabin and almost created a vacuum. So to avoid getting sucked out, I
had to wear a lifeline in the cockpit. I have read about different
tactics(/techniques) like heaving to and lying ahull. The last is when you move
the boat sideways against the waves and let it(/the boat) take care of itself.
Doing that here, I think, would be suicide. And I believe the boat would get
washed and filled with water instantly. I have never tried this, since one book
described it as such (suicide).
During rough winds in Denmark I had tried heaving to for the fun of it. I
decided to do this (manouvre) since running with the wind was no longer
possible(/an option). I felt completely exhausted. In order for me to execute
this manoeuvre, I need some(/a) sail on the boom. But since I was running before
the wind with no sail set, I not only had to steer but also ease the the
mainsail from the boom and put(/tie) it in the fourth reef. When I made the
turn, the danger of moving sideways in my boat suddenly became very clear to me.
It was difficult getting the stem up against the wind and the waves. On two
occasions I had the spreaders all the way down in the waves. I got the jib
rolled a bit out and was now actually at a standstill (up in the wind). I
managed to get the foresail reversed, making the wind hit the "wrong" side of
the sail, and the boom was right in the cockpit. I now fixed the helm position.
The boat was now lying stable, a little slanting in the wind and I was drifting
sternward by 1˝-2 knots/hour. After some minor adjustments and fastening of
various ropes, I sat down for an hour admiring the behaviour of the boat.
Without looking too much out on the ocean, which now seemed almost frightening.
I was extremely impressed that it was even possible to make it through such
weather inside(/on board) a small fibre glass shell. The power of the ocean is
incredible and I suddenly felt very small...