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Wild Iris - Trans-Atlantic 17: Squall Alley

Sunday night and cloud building very alert for rain and squalls. The beautiful setting moon had disappeared. Visibility very poor. Wind 20kn and we are sailing fast; a relief after many days of light winds. The ability to spot activity and react limited. Midnight and 18 hours of “fun” begins. The first rain storm hits the first watch. At this point we lacked the ability to differentiate a squall from a shower and calculate the angle of the cloud movements; was it 20 deg different in the upper atmosphere due to Coriolis affects(?) hmmm! “Must ask Chris Tibbs” all seems a little academic; with wind speeds approaching 30Kn in heavy rain. We decide to head up and sail out. We clear the rain only to be hit a few minutes later by another. And another. Watch over. An hour and half of battling conditions only for the second watch to be hit with the same problems. That didn’t work. Daybreak and a tired crew contemplate more cloud activity over breakfast. “Oh well at least we can see”. We realise these cloud lines are massive; up to 10 miles wide. This time Wild Iris decides to apply some science! Hand compass checking clearing bearings first rain curtain passing slightly ahead. This time we bear away hard. Wow what a difference we increase our clearance angle and get the benefit of side winds creating a shift pushing us away from the hazard. Success! We spend most of the day applying this lesson. We find a lane between two cloud lines and make good progress. But still exhausting 18 hours.


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