12 days of pure hell on earth we finally limped into Tuvalu. After being becalmed for the first 3 days we finally got some wind in the form of a 40knot plus howling cold front. I never want to relive those next 4 days again.
I sat in the cockpit waves crashing on my head, soaking wet with tears of fear streaming down my face. The waves infront of me dredging up like something out of “the perfect storm” movie. Dredging up from the deep depths to form the biggest, grey, menacing, mountains I have ever seen. Just as we would get sucked to the top, the wind would howl and blow the crest of the wave down causing it to crash all over our deck. The white water would come thundering down the deck, flooding into the cockpit. For 4 whole days we bashed into it under fully reefed sails, constantly bailing out the cockpit, bashing into these massive waves. For 4 days we held on for dear life, shaking in my harness absolutly terrified to the core. When the darkness set in I sat alone in the cockpit not a star in the sky ,getting drenched to the bone, feeling completly helpless and at the oceans mercy.
All I could think of was “what the hell am I doing out here, I hate sailing” In all my life I have never felt so scare, so terrified, so gut wrenchingly affraid and alone. My heart wouldnt stop pounding, time moved so slow yet we flew along at 8knots. In 5yrs of owning the boat we had never had her fully reefed down, with only hanky sails to be seen. We were hard on the wind and exhausted so we finally decided to run with it. The big waves jacking up behind us, swallowing our bums as we went up and over them. It felt like going on a rollercoaster but backwards. The sound of the wind screaming terrified me even more, a sound I wish to never here again a sound that will give me nightmares for a long time. A demonic screeching. I desperately wanted to set off the epirb. I wanted a helicopter ride out, I was frightened and wanted to be rescued. Would the rescue a terrified sailor ?
Then when I had lost all hope and negative thoughts started to flood my mind my Dad sent a message saying ” the weather will calm down from tomorow onwards, keep your chin up brave sailor girl” I wiped the tears from my face that had constantly wept for 4 days and decided I could do it. I turned the I can’ts into I cans, there was hope there was finally a light at the end of the tunnel.
300 nautical miles from tuvalu the swell started to dissapate and the wind slowly died down. We had just seen the full force of the oceans fury and I can imagine that furosious grey she turned into would most likely get worse in huge storms.
On day 10 we were hit by a lighting storm, the swell jacked up again, the wind howled and the sideways rain stung our faces. The lighting another petrifying site when you are sitting in a huge lightning rod. The thunder making the most tremendous noises.
On day 11 we both hit the wall the sleep deprivation had got to us and we were both well and truly spent. We struggled for another 12 hrs till finally 3hrs from Tuvalu I gave up.I was physically and emotionally done, I couldnt hold out any longer, I left the sails to flog while I lay motionless on the floor unable to move. Finally the captain got up, picked up my slack and motored us into port. On day 12 we dropped the pick in Tuvalu after what turned out to be the most harrowing of passages