Friday, November 14, 2008

Stanley to South Georgia Island: 14 Nov. 2008

Patience is life Day breaks in the early hours. At 4am the faint rays of light break through the Southern Ocean clouds and reveal what we have felt but not seen all night: a cold and windswept ocean. Until 2am the boat had lifelessly rolled and wobbled amongst the waves in the center of this monster low, its movement of 20 knots per hour meant we had a frustrating night of waiting ... be patient, wait for the signs as the winds shift. In the center of a low there is little wind, just the remainder of the swell of the screaming winds that have passed by. I was already partly awake when crew member Audrey called my voice to change over watch. I had slept poorly, and still had an aching back and a difficult dry cough. Many would say it's because of the amount I smoke, but over the last two days it feels like I have picked up some sort of bug back in Stanley that just makes you feel weak and tired ... or maybe it's just the stress piling up and showing its hallmarks when you don't want to take any more. A good mug of tea in my favorite cup (which has been with me for more than 90,000 miles) as a close companion - we drink yet another warm brew together and look at the latest satellite image on the Skyeye, only confirming the many hours of debate about which way, and when, this system will blow through. Xplore rocks wildly now as she's buffeted by winds over 50 knots. The outside temperature since the winds have gone to the southwest has dropped to below-freezing; time on deck is painful to the bare skin, and a few minutes is all anyone can take. Thank God we made the decision to stop when and where we did. South Georgia lies 176 nautical miles to the east of us. If it was much further distance we would all probably be more content to ride out this storm, but being so close just taunts us into wanting to free the sheets and let her run - to a safe snug anchorage, where sleep can be had without the bruises on your hips and shoulders. It will come, be patient. If I didn't know Xplore - and virtually every nut, bolt and screw in her - I would have been concerned My "Fat English Girl" as I fondly refer to her , is solid and tough ... some days when I look back at all the painstaking work we have done to prepare her for being down here, I know that in every blow or big sea we sail in, that she can take it with the best. It pleases me and comforts me, at the same time, in every breath as my neck tightens, and my ass checks clench as you feel the boat lift on the yet-another wave and feel the crash of water pummel the decks and shake the rig. Quietly, she always says, 'Be patient, we will sail another day in calm smooth seas.' ~ Stephen

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