Knockdown. Not Today. And Tortore.

10 Jan

January 8, 2019/Day 96

Noon Position: 46 18S  56 54E

Course(t)/Speed(kts): ExN

Miles since departure: 13,223

Avg. Miles/Day: 138


Winds stayed W most of the night, oscillating between 25 and 35. Mo wore just a double reefed working jib and rode like a mechanical bull. Not so noticeable in my bunk, which is well below the waterline way down in the main cabin, but try to make a cup of coffee and you risked your life.

At 8am, we passed just north of where Mo was knocked down in a gale last February 18th. The knockdown broke a window in the pilot house and let in enough water to soak most of her electronics. It also stole the drogue. That put us into Hobart for two weeks and stopped that year’s Figure 8 attempt.

I *should* be home with Joanna right now, making a fire in the fire place because the power is out and that’s the only source of heat for the moment. But she’s doing that today while I’m on attempt number two. Life was due to return to normal in 2019. The Figure 8, which has been in-build since 2013, would be finished. Not so. And this is where that changed.

I’ve been keen to get past this area without damage. No matter the likelihood of lightening striking twice, it has made me quite nervous over the last few days, and to see the seas here as chaotic as I recalled…

But about an hour before noon the scene began to shift. Big seas we still have, but they’ve lost that jagged edge and appearance of malice. And suddenly the current is with us. Mo’s been pulling 8 knots an hour since noon.

When I feel like I’ve bitten off more than I can chew, when I tire of gray skies and gray seas, my own company and Shepherd’s Pie, again, I pull down my copy of THE TORTORE VOYAGE by Gerry Clark.

Gerry, a merchant mariner turned New Zealand apple farmer, a lover of birds, the sea, and adventure, built a 36-foot bilge-keeled sloop in his barn and set out with short crew to circumnavigate the Southern Ocean, visiting all the islands he could get to along the way. This was in 1983. His goal was to aid in bird conservation efforts by establishing population statistics on those islands, many of which hadn’t been visited since the demise of sealing.

The voyage is glorios and full of disaster. West of Prince Edward Islands (which we passed a week ago), his boat, Tortore, was rolled and lost her mast in a storm. The story of her limping into Marion Island, her jury rigging, the loss of his crew (who had to return to school), the loss of is self-steering gear west of the Crozets, more jury rig attempts at Heard Island; the five times Tortore rolled on the return to Fremantle…

Gerry’s will to survive; his indomitable spirit; his love for where he was despite everything…

Actually, it doesn’t cheer me up, this book. But it makes me realize how good I have it, and that’s something.

This article was syndicated from The Figure 8 Voyage


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