The past 24 hours have seen Spirit of Cardiff cover just 80 miles, and so far the high winds haven’t abated in the slightest… Clive Tully reports

Clive Tully reports:

“The past 24 hours have seen Spirit of Cardiff cover just 80 miles, and so far the high winds aren’t abating in the slightest. Maybe we’re destined to cover the entire 600-mile passage from Panama to Jamaica at not much more than walking pace.

Anyone who’s read Sebastian Junger’s excellent book “The Perfect Storm” will know that when it comes to waves, breaking ones are the most dangerous, and what do the most damage. We saw a lot in the North Pacific, but not so many as we’re seeing now in the Caribbean. When you see a 20ft wall of water coming at you, you’re confident the boat will simply ride up it and slam down the other side. When you see a great white foaming crest on top of it, you know it’s going to hit the boat hard.

The wave hits the bow first. The big tube at the front quivers with the impact, and for a second it feels as though the boat has come to a dead stop. Everything inside that isn’t anchored in some way or braced for it lurches forwards. The fact that the tube buckles inward reduces some of the energy of the impact, but in the next instance, the well in the bow between the forward cabin and the tube is full of water. Less than a second later, and the wave collides with the windscreen. Suddenly everything looks green.

We’ve had sufficient big bangs to bend one of the windscreen wipers. As the water hits the windscreen, it carries on over the roof, cascading in a deluge on the aft deck. Were it not for the fact that we’re also enduring extreme heat, we’d have the door on, which would keep the inevitable splatters of water from outside at bay. As it is, the hatches are closed (although they still leak badly) and the cabin feels like a sauna. So the water from outside splashes through the open doorway onto the carpet inside, and the wetness migrates to everything else.

We’ve actually become used to sleeping on damp cushions, with wet towels pulled over us to lessen the shock of the drips from above. But nothing can lessen the amount of damage this storm is doing to us. Alan has hurt ribs and collarbone from colliding with the grab rails in the cabin. I’ve been revisited by the lower abdominal and back pains I’ve been suffering on and off since the passage to Kodiak. Steve says he’s OK. In truth, we’re all battered, bruised, and wishing we were somewhere else. Anywhere but here.”