Night Watch – Day 6 Bora Bora to Niue Passage

Here’s a bit of thick description regarding one aspect of life on board during a crossing.

My internal body alarm sounded early this morning; a check of the ship’s clock indicated it was 2:40am – a good time to start getting ready to relieve Kim from her watch at 3:00. I awoke with an unusual feeling – I felt rested! I lay in my berth a minute to savor the feeling of 4 hours of solid sleep. I had helped Anson reef the jib a couple times earlier in the night, but had slept soundly since Kim’s watch began; in part, no doubt, due to the excellent chicken soup followed by applesauce cake, warm from the oven, we enjoyed for dinner. Then out of bed and up topsides to say hello to Kim. In the cockpit Kim was staring intently at the instruments, with one hand on the wheel to help Windy (our windvane) from letting Anthea round up in the increasing gusts. “Don’t come up here without a life jacket. There’s a squall coming!” Down I went to get the thing on and then back up. I could see the dark cloud to windward. Kim was watching the wind speed intently and wishing the rain would arrive as she knew the maximum wind coincides with the rain; was our reefed jib too much sail for the squall?, was the question. I went back down to start my coffee, got the water heating and added the instant coffee and sugar to my cup. I prefer the brown sugar as it has nice flavor and the rich fragrance reminds me of our dear friend Didi and her adobe house in the Himalaya foothills – a place of warmth and love for our family since the 90s. Anthea was quite lively, with plenty of pitching and tossing, so always had to be braced against something. Suddenly a wave of water came aboard and crashed against the dodger over the companion way entrance; most of the water sluiced back on the decks, but some came aft into the cockpit and spilled into the ports of the boys’ cabin. A loud yell from Devon indicated where at least some of it ended up. Off goes the stove and I make my way to their cabin to assess; water all over the cabin floor and on the seat cushions and less on the berths. Back to the galley, where Anson is now silently standing with water dripping off his torso and legs. He politely moves aside while I search for a dry cloth – a rare commodity at this stage in the passage. Going back to wipe things up, he asks me to be sure to get the top of his berth, “where it always drips.” After the clean up, I get back to my coffee making. Meanwhile, topsides, Kim is negotiating the squall. Top wind speed before the rain came was 30 knot gusts, which the jib could handle. So all fine, thanks to her excellent helm work. Anthea remains pretty lively in the steep wind waves. Once in the cockpit with my coffee I get the report from Kim about her watch, reconnect with the rhythms of our ship (wind speed, sail configuration, sea state, course, everything else that might need consideration), and sip my coffee. Kim then goes below. After helping the boys get back into their somewhat dry berths, she pops up the companion way entrance and, saying “here’s your cake!” and passes me a generous serving. Fresh baked cake, black coffee with brown sugar, a beautiful starry night and four hours of downwind sailing ahead, ending with dawn – this is the life!!

Latitude 18 degrees 38.6 minutes south; longitude 162 degrees 58.4 minutes west

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