Watery Christmas 2012

Sailing at night, charging through the ocean when all around you is a moving and restless darkness, certainly serves to heighten the senses; hearing in particular. The boat creates it own symphony of noises wind in the sails, water rushing past the hulls, waves slapping the bridgedeck, structural stresspoints creaking under load, autopilot beeping off-course, bilge pump alarm telling us to pump all these become part of the noises we hear and filter at night. Rebecca and I find ourselves constantly scanning noises to check that we recognise them all; unidentified noises need immediate investigation.

So it was with anxious racing hearts that we awoke in the early hours of 25th Dec to unidentified noises up the mast, racing out of our bunk and throwing on lifejackets we emerged into the moonlit cockpit to discover one of Santa’s reindeer had caught their bridle in the rigging. Blitzen, you buffoon, get down here shouted Santa in an uncharacteristic display of frustration. You could forgive this momentary lapse in decorum, given that Santa had managed to track Tonga Moon all the way from the North Pole down to its watery path some 200 miles off the New Zealand coast. Impressive. Equally impressive was that none of the boys woke up. Or believed us when we told them, even Jakey. And so we welcomed in Christmas 2012.

Funny how history repeats itself. This day 1999 we were in a similar predicament, trying to sail back to NZ from the South Pacific in time for christmas day on our beloved yacht Jemima, but failing to make it and stuck in a storm north-west of Cook Strait. You’d almost think New Zealand doesn’t want us back? That year Santa brought us a shredded mainsail and two knockdowns. This time we’re pleased to have avoided the storm, but have again failed to get home for Xmas day and are again being thrown around by decent sized seas.

The last two days have been pretty grim, slamming our way into the 25 knot winds that formed the outer influence of the gale (formerly cyclone Evan). Poor old Charlotte has been very seasick, and James also unwell. But they’ve both shown fantastic fortitude, never failing to fulfil their crew duties on watch despite offers, and although having a pretty miserable time their presence has alleviated Rebecca and my sleep deprivation, for which we’re hugely grateful. Actually the ones we must thank most are their spouses, Andrew and Jeni, who supported them in coming with us knowing that they’d be absent over Christmas. Thanks guys.

Charlotte says she’s learnt a lot on this trip: mostly how seasick she can get, I think, and how she’d rather set her hair on fire than go sailing offshore again. She’s been on what we’ve now named the Tonga Moon diet (no food, water only) for most of the trip, (“wonderfully slimming” she says, “Betty Ford clinics ain’t got nothing on this”) and yesterday Rebecca raised concerns about her hydration and rigged her up with an intravenous saline drip. Extreme measures? I suggested. Oh no, says Dr Starr, this is standard procedure for most doctors after a big night out!.

In anticipation of a tough passage, we’d agreed with the boys before departing Australia that we’d postpone Christmas celebrations until we got to New Zealand and can really enjoy it, so celebrations today for us were mute. But the wind dropped last night and swung round in our favour, and we’re making good progress to our landfall at Opua which we hope to reach in the next 48 hours. We’re in our traditional eat everything in the fridge before quarantine confiscate it mode, and the meals are becoming more extravagant. The sea has flattened somewhat, and today both cousins have started to recover, even breaking their Tonga Moon diet this evening to try a tentative mouthful of spare ribs and spud. So things are definitely looking up.

I woke Rebecca at midnight Christmas Eve for her watch, and in that bleary and dishevelled ‘just woken’ state she donned her foul weather gear and harness and took station at the helm, my greeting of merry christmas receiving only a wry smile. Things will definitely become more merry when we get home.

So in the meantime, MERRY CHRISTMAS to anyone reading this. We look forward to seeing you soon.

3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. mananamanananz
    Dec 26, 2012 @ 04:41:12

    Merry Christmas guys!! Safe travels lolSxx


  2. Brian & Susan
    Dec 26, 2012 @ 08:56:45

    Merry Christmas one and all!!XXXXX


  3. woodguys
    Dec 27, 2012 @ 22:47:45

    Merry Christmas xxx


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