Thursday, 24 November 2011

A rough ride

I had an interesting experience this weekend, one I debated about saying no to. I decided to say yes, I hadn't read the Caymanian Compass before I did. The story I've linked to is an interesting one, two Aussies sailing home and not making it past the Cayman Islands. They were right to seek shelter from the rough seas, not so well executed as they landed on the unforgiving reef.

The unforgiving reef we had to negotiate in Blue Runner a day or so later as we sailed around to George Town to take part in the Pirates Week festivities. I didn't notice any of the wreckage going out. The wind was lovely, not the 2o plus knots promised. The waves were not so lovely, breaking fiercely on the reef. Big swells to break through to get to the open sea. It was tense on board.

A really big wave washed over the boat unexpectedly, we all hung on tight as the boat was swamped. Then another came and I lost my grip, thrown to the back and luckily caught by John who was sitting at the back. The waves washed over us, soaking us and filling the cockpit. Now Blue Runner is a J37, a rather large yacht that has been Bruce and his son Alex's home from time to time. Plenty big enough for open water sailing. Luckily more than a match for the waves as we broke through out into the Caribbean Sea.

I was soaked to the skin, a bit battered and bruised, and really pleased to have stayed on board. We rode the swells for a while, really big swells and white water. Choppy and unpredictable with some strong wind gusts. Once I got over my initial fright, it was exciting! Riding the crest and dipping into the troughs, sitting on top and looking down into air before we gracefully rode the wave. It was a bit nerve wracking in places but too soon we were in calm water and heading to our destination, a safe mooring in George Town Harbour.

The cardboard boat race was the draw for Alex, very exciting when you're 8 years old. I got to have a much needed swim and chill on the boat with others where we could watch the race while sampling the refreshments on board and swapping big wave stories. I had tennis tickets, the dingy didn't get back in time. Dinner was next and watching the Pirates Week closing fireworks, amazing fireworks over the harbour. Dancing in the streets followed, good music, good company until we sloped off, exhausted.

Next day was the return trip, I was a little worried. It was a much better sailing day, some exciting waves but not the choppy, unpredictable ones of the day before. Heading towards the reef we saw smelt diesel and saw some wreckage. The Plight, I found out later. It was surreal seeing the boat parts going past in the water, steering around them and looking for people. There were some big pieces. The trip into North Sound was much less eventful, thankfully and we were soon enjoying a beer at the mooring.

I was totally exhausted and slept well that night. My bruises are impressive, and I don't bruise easily. It was funny, one of the crew was from Regina in Saskatchewan. Same place that Mary-Anne is from. It's not that big apparently. He was wearing a Roughriders T shirt and was very surprised that I knew about the team and the place. A great conversation opener. Canadian's are such a nice bunch, very much like kiwis in their friendliness and their travel habits. I've met plenty here, all wonderful people I count as my good friends. 

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