For Berrimilla's first circumnavigation, the International Space Station
and the North West Passage, go to

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Highs and lows part 2

0700/11th position 1733 02456 trip 131/24 and 2524 to CT

From the cloud patterns it looks as if we are dropping into the top of the S Atlantic high. The barometer is rising and the grib, while still showing us as in the trades, has the high below us at about 25 S
As I said in the last one, below thr high you get down into the line of lows - depressions - that march across the world all year round and go all the way down to the ice at times. To be avoided unless you are deliberately looking for a slingshot into the next dimension, as Groupama will be when they get down there in a few days. Then they will start to go very fast indeed and will sustain those speeds for thousands of miles as they follow the great circle to the Horn as far down towards the ice as their data tells them is safe.
I have been in 4 really severe storms and the '98 Hobart with winds over 60 kts and at least 2 of them gusting over 80. Two were approaching Cape Horn 4 years ago and the other two were in the S Atlantic, off Montevideo and just a bit further along our current track towards Cape Town. All but the '98 Hobart (where we were just behind it) found us in the dangerous (left front) segment of one of these depressions and if you haven't experienced the ferocity of an even relatively mild 60 knot southern ocean storm it is very hard to describe - a combination of wind and huge breaking waves, gut wrenching knockdowns, the screaming of the wind in the rig, violent movement with no frame of reference and the crashing of water against, around and over the boat. Plus your own fear. Grown men have been reduced to tears - and at least one has been brave enough afterwards to make his videos public. You sustain yourself from wave to wave, knockdown to knockdown by remembering that no storm lasts for ever - they just seem to - and you have to outlast them and hope the boat is strong enough to last that long too. I seem to remember that the one we went through over here had winds over 45 knots for 9 days and we were bare poled (no sail up, trying to keep the wind and waves on the quarter and sometimes surfing at 10+ knots) for most of the time. While there's never nothing you can do, you are pretty much helpless and it feels that way. Not funny. I hope the Examiner is kinder to us this time.

David - interested. We may be in touch shortly.
Allan - more interesting than ever. I guess you have to ask how often it happens around the world and never gets reported.