There was one topic that dominated the conversation amongst us three boats: The Weather. Everyone cited the details from a different website and soon Analysis Paralysis set in and it was difficult to make a decision. On one hand, the day was beautiful and there was a gentle breeze from the northwest, which was ideal. On the other hand, a couple of websites showed heavy convection activity right in our path. First one boat called and said, "We're leaving!" and it wasn't long after that that another boat pulled up their anchor. We soon followed.
As we left the atoll, the seas were quite lumpy but it smoothed out as we got further away. The sky looked like it was promising a fair day - until about 4 hours later when dark clouds with flat bottoms developed right in front of us. We tucked two reefs in the main, furled the genoa altogether and deployed the staysail. The squall struck quickly and the wind reached 27 knots. Heavy rain fell but we had put up one side of our cockpit enclosure so we were staying dry. The seas got lumpy all over again. We had to hold on tight for about a half hour and then we were able to unfurl the genoa.
The wind held up from the west and we were able to make some decent time. Day turned to night and we settled in for our night watch routine. It was close to midnight when another squall formed, sucking up all the wind and leaving Rutea to wallow. Not wanting to face a squall without some propulsion, we started the engine. The radar was showing a large line of activity heading straight for us and there was going to be no way to avoid being hit. So I thought, Why not just turn right into it and get through to the other side as quickly as possible? Big mistake. We made a 90-degree turn into the squall but the squall stalled and grew. The radar kept showing that we were right in the center of the squall, with torrential rain and winds to 37 knots but no matter how hard we tried, we stayed in the center of the damn thing. The wind was now coming across our port side and we had no enclosure coverage there. I was steering by hand and the rain was hitting me so hard that it stung. Forget seeing the radar screen, I could barely see the compass right in front of my face. This lasted for almost an hour and for the first time in many months I started to feel a chill as my clothes were completely soaked through and my fingertips looked like prunes.
We are now making some progress but we're almost 30 miles off course. There's another squall that's bearing down on us so I'd better go help Ruthie.
All is well on board.
At 4/10/2015 3:24 PM (utc) Rutea's position was 00°40.58'N 073°11.87'E
radio email processed by SailMail
for information see: http://www.sailmail.com