Walkabout - As Frankie Valli once said - Oh What a Night!
Lightening, squalls, sloppy seas and 360’s trying to outrun the biggest weather front Walkabout has come across!
We left Fakarava yesterday morning at 1130 to ensure we hit high water through the south pass and were met by quite a lumpy sea for the first time in a while! The engine was on so we motored out to get a good sailing angle for Tahiti and launched the BWR in about 11 knots of wind. It was your perfect day sailing, wind behind, sun out and sky blue, what could possibly go wrong!
Well, it all began after sunset when we saw lightning flashes in the distance ahead of us, which in the overall scheme of things was fine as the wind was blowing from behind so any squalls and lightning should stay ahead of us. We then noticed more lightning to the left of us and keeping an eye on the radar, the rain and squalls began to grow so we decided to turn away from them and our destination to keep clear of any lightning.
By midnight we were all up, the sails came down and engine on and there was a stage when no matter what direction we turned, we remained in the epicentre of the storm! The flashes of lightning lit up the whole sky with increasing frequency. The claps of thunder got louder. The sat phone, VHF radio and iPhone were put in the oven for safe keeping. Much of the lightning appeared to be up in the clouds, and then Tom and Andrew saw a proper bolt that came down to the sea, no more than a couple of miles away, and we were surrounded by red on the radar. Where would the next one strike? It is not a very comforting thought when our mast is the highest lightning conductor for many, many miles.
It meant for a very disturbed night of sleep for everyone. Happily, by 0900 the clouds have eased, and there are no more red patches on the radar! Phew ...
Its 1045 and we are still motoring. The wind is all over the place. There have been 360 degree wind shifts within an hour, and the wind speed is generally less than 5 knots. The forecast (for what it is worth) indicates a bit more wind later today.
One more night before Tahiti - how exotic does that sound!