We were all pleased to see daybreak this morning after a rather challenging night. Despite nothing in the weather forecasts, a tropical storm materialised early evening and we had to pull together as a team to ride it out. Sails were reduced to a minimum - just a scrap of the foresail flown and no main at all - as Paul, Phil & Ed battled to keep Jay Jay on course. The auto-helm just couldn't cope with the savage conditions as torrential rain, 50 knot winds and rough seas resulted in us being blown sideways some 45 degrees off course. We were relentlessly pitched from side to side until the engine was put on and we were able to take back control of the boat, engage the auto-helm and revert to the approximate direction we wanted to sail.
It was a night when we closed all hatches and the companion way as we sheltered down below, with us all taking turns to check the horizon every 15 minutes or so. Drenched, exhausted and apprehensive we waited to see how long the storm would continue and how Jay Jay would fair. Finally, at about 5am this morning, the conditions began to abate and the morning has developed into a pleasant sailing day, if a little rolly, and Jay Jay suffered no damage - a great boat!
So a rather dramatic end to a day which had started out very well, with fair winds and calm-ish seas. A family of whales kept us entertained for quite some time, chasing the boat, swimming underneath us and alongside not much more than a metre away - a real privilege for us all. However, cloud cover started to build up at lunchtime followed by pouring rain in the afternoon which flattened the sea and visually was rather bizarre .... almost like looking out over sand dunes.
This morning we have not much more than 700 miles to go to reach St Lucia and we have spotted another sail on the horizon as we all start to converge on our destination.