2021 Life Logs, Day 101: More Writing
Date: Sunday, April 11, 2021
Weather: Overcast and Cooler, Winds from the NE; High 50, Low, 42 degrees F
Location: At Home in The Cottage, East Falmouth, MA
It felt like winter on Cape Cod today, not spring. I had to put on my winter coat and hat to do my Morning Mile walk with Shadow. At least I did not have to wear gloves. Other people were out with winter hats but only a sweatshirt. I guess I’m just a wuss. Tomorrow and Tuesday look the same, but there might be some sunshine on Wednesday. So, I am going to continue writing tomorrow and Tuesday and take Wednesday off to do other things. Falmouth students are out of school for spring vacation next week and I figure the Goldpebbles might want to come launch the kayaks. So, I am also planning to take off most of next week. But the writing is going well and I will continue as I can.
I am now writing Chapter 14 about our time in the southern Cook Islands. Before leaving on the Voyage of Windbird, I had never heard of the Cook Islands. I had read about Penrhyn and Surarrow Islands in some books about sailing across the Pacific. They are in the northern Cook Islands, hundreds of miles north of the southern Cooks. But Rarotonga and Aitutaki. I had never heard of them. But our friends Michael and Linda Stuart and their thirteen-year-old son Garrett were flying to Rarotonga to be with us for a couple of weeks. So, we headed the 700 miles from Bora Bora to Rarotonga. The weather in Bora Bora had been horrible and totally unpredictable for the time of year. And the weather only got worse the further south and west. we went.
It is a good thing that I wrote logs each day of Windbird’s trip around the world. Otherwise, the book I am writing about that experience would not be correct. When people ask me if we had rough seas in the Pacific, I always say that we did not. It was in the Atlantic Ocean that we had rough seas. I have always said, and believed, that our travels in the Pacific were peaceful and passive as the name suggests. But now that I am going back and reading my logs, that was just not true. It was not as rough as the North Atlantic, but we had some very rough sailing conditions in parts of the Pacific. I’ll end this log with one instance from a sail from Rarotonga to Aitutaki in the southern Cooks when the Stuarts were with us. They had never been sailing before and, after that sail, they never wanted to sail again!
“We left Aitutaki just before sunrise hoping to get back to Rarotonga before the stationary front/trough/low (the weather forecasters were referring to it as all three) could be pushed east by a strong high to the south of us. That black wall that we went through on our way to Aitutaki was the front/trough/low and it had just been sitting there, waiting for us break back through it. That happened in the early hours of that morning when we definitely broke through something. Garrett and I had been below sleeping on the settees in the main cabin. When I got up, I decided to check to see if we had any weather information coming in as emails before going up to the cockpit. I was sitting at the navigation table down below when, all of a sudden, one of the folding cushions from the cockpit came flying down. I, along with the computer, went flying across the cabin. Garrett woke up with eyes as big as saucers as the boat kept heeling further to starboard. He was looking up into the cockpit and watching Mark being thrown across from port to starboard and onto the cockpit floor. I did not see that because I was looking out the starboard ports. I was not seeing the sky. I was seeing nothing but rushing water. Whoa! I knew we had been hit by a very strong gust, but we had never had such a hard hit before. This was the kind of sudden wind gust that could cause a real knock down. Afterwards, Michael, Linda, and Mark, who were in the cockpit, said they saw a black cloud coming our way, but before they could shorten sail, the gust of wind knocked us down. Somehow, I held onto that computer and did not hurt my already broken leg. I landed on my good foot with the computer, still in my hands, going into the kitchen sink. One food cabinet at floor level flew open and cans of food flew everywhere. Windbird righted herself and we all took a deep breath. We were more than a bit shaken, but thankfully everything was fine.”