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Nereids Rally…

Its the start day of the rally – 5 Sept 2016. The much anticipated Nereids Rally. Only a few boats are leaving from Trinidad. Most had opted for leaving from Tobago. So Enterprise sails alone one more.

Its customary to hug the Trinidad coast to avoid the counter current and wind, then to head out into the Atlantic to clear pirate alley off the coast of Venezuela, out through the oil rigs and traffic of the oil fields and then south – against the currents and the wind – what could go wrong …?

The sky was grey most of the time. We sailed close hauled all the way (into the wind) – than goodness for the new main sail!… Electrical storms were a feature every evening. Initially they were in the distance but each passing day brought them closer. Eventually around 6am, a dark foreboding cloud started to cover the entire sky – it seemed like a scene from a Harry Potter movie, I fully expected a bat to fly down out of the cloud. Then the lightening and thunder began. It seemed directly overhead the crack and flashes were virtually simultaneous. I thought of putting as many electronic gadgets as I could in the oven for protection – but I couldn’t leave the helm. With the sea rushing past the boat furiously but with only slight waves the wind started to scream through the rigging. This was a new one on me. I had never heard the wind do that so loudly. The wind indicator at the top of the mast started to whine like a child’s top. I watched with interest as the wind speed went to 30kts (ok, I had sailed that before); 40kts (oh, perhaps I have to much sail up  – I took the genoa in); 50kts (the main sail was reefed – but only one reef); 65kts (oh shit… this could be bad) – the apparent speed reached 73.4kts because of our forward motion – it is greater than the true wind speed – Enterprise just ground to a halt. I froze in awe. The boat stood perfectly upright – head into the wind and the sea and wind screamed past. It was dreamlike – I didn’t do anything except watch. I knew if I touched anything this perfect balance may be disturbed and we would be blown flat. I waited – it seemed an age – but was probably no more than 20/30 mins. The wind subsided to around 25kts … with much relief, we continued on our way.

 

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Its behind you …! If you were asleep and you had to take the helm – you may have to do it with only underpants on …
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Electric storm and 65kt winds… Into the black..
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A new day… Land ahoy..

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