Thursday, June 23, 2011

Great Balls of Fire

Sailing into electrical storms at night is something that land lubbers will never understand, and quite understandably, and you would have to ask the question of reason and sanity about why silly old sailors would do such a thing ?

Wellllllll, you see there are weather systems that you want to be on the right side of and there's the other side that just isn't going in the right direction, so you have to pick one or the other, sounds quite simple.

So last night we picked the right side of the system, but there is a down side to that, lightning, thunder, very strong gusty winds and heavy rain ! hmm you ask, doesn't sound very smart at all.

Every weather system is fed by external and upper atmosphere air masses which have different characteristics, and some times these don't mix that well or get along nicely, a bit like putting some guys from the Hells Angels in with a bunch of gay ballet dancers, you just know that there is going to be a fight.

The fight didn't last that long, and I am not sure who won, but it was spectacular. There we were sailing along and I was watching the winds start to creep back from the North, I just said to Jane that we would put the last (4th) reef in as it was feeling more unsettled and there was another, even darker cloud mass coming, and as we went to do this, ga boom !

Within seconds the winds went from mid 20's into the 30's and then 40's, we banged on the auto pilot buttons for 50 degrees course change as I ran back to the helm to tak it manually, Jane was dumping the main sheet and the winds peaked, and the torrential rain came bucketing down, we had to get off the wind to ease the pressure.

All hands on deck, as Audrey felt the sudden change from her bunk, tearing away down wind the girls fought with the main and brought it down and under control.

The lightening bolts and thunderous booms from the electrical storm directly above us was incredible, it was all happening very fast and there wasn't even a moment to shut the computer systems down, to do up your jacket or to even consider whether we would be hit by the lightening.

The crack of the whip noises, and the great balls of fire as the white fists from heaven came sparkling down left everyone awe struck and totally sodden with rain and perspiration, job done, boat fine, everyone safe.

Postion 37 03 S 167 42 E speed 7.2 knots course 242 true 1003nm to the Tamar River and Tasmania

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