nov. 9th noon
we got into a gale last night and had to reduce sail some more. we could see the lights at pt. arguello. it was blowing up to 35kts when my watch went to bed. this morning at 0900 is was 40plus and the waves were pretty high. 15ft but every now and then the consecutive 2 or 3 that were higher. luckily not very close together. the sun is out most of the day so far and last night we had stars. but i see weather coming, so i'll better put this away.
- by the time i had the book wrapped up and put away, it had stopped raining. ha!
i got dowsed by one wave that snug aboard but not very much. i was at the helm in just canvas pants and fleece sweater and saw the cloud coming. Nelson was about to take over the helm and i gave him some time to put his raingear on - wham - it got me! the sun is drying everything fast, over 40kts of wind help too.
ACai amazes me, he is so diligent, not only steering the boat through a gale with one foot, but also singing beautifully and whipping up the most delicious chinese food in these seas in that little galley cupboard, he is very good crew, we talk him in chinese and me in english, lots of smiles and pantomime. i am learning a little chinese, but it's a bit "in one ear and out the other". i retain even single words for only 20min max. when i hear them talk i sometimes crack up because whatever they say sounds like something else. yesterday i heard them say "hei-di-ho" a lot but even through asking couldn't figure out what it was supposed to mean. they had no idea what i said when i repeated it to them.
the boat is surprisingly dry. we only had two times water coming into the cockpit in 24hrs, and every now and then at the slats at the beam. the higher poop deck is my favorite spot, the "top-of-the-world" spot just before we start going down a wave and the white caps are breaking behind me.
i've eaten more fortune cookies in one night than in the past five years together. for once the sugary taste is welcome in a long wet night.
we are racing toward san diego with this gale pushing us. at 1300 we nearly passed san miguel. we carry a reefed jib (maybe equivalent to 1st reef) and a very tattered and small looking main, reduced to maybe the equivalent of a 4th reef.
in one near mishap the jib accidently jibed and got its sheet caught on the bamboo that is lashed to the gallows. the force lifted the whole gallow beam out of its socket. if it wasn't for the thwartships lashed bamboo we could have lost it. it made us thing about the main gallows too which would take the roof with it.
i sleep very soundly between watches, sometimes my knees feel cold, i wrap a fleece sweater around them and feel pretty cozy. the foot end of my sleeping bag is stuck into my big dry bag because there is water running down the sides and occasionally the bilge water wallows up as we are rolling. i could hear it sloshing around between the ballast rocks last night. My hands are a bit raw from correcting the course with the block and tackle rope, i can't do it with my foot in these seas, i need both feet planted on the floor to keep my balance.
these capped and streaked waves are so forceful and pretty at the same time, the wind howls in the bamboo. some sound like whistles, some like a far away horn.
the princess is stout and behaves very well, i totally enjoyed steering her this last watch.
now, so close to the channel islands we had a harbor seal come up and check us out. it was twisting its neck as we swooshed by oogeling with its big round brown eyes.
i'm learning to drink a glass of warm water in the morning and not go to sleep until at least 40 minutes after a meal. that's my chance to write, i'm pretty pooped from wresteling that klunky tiller, and elated to be in my element. time already doesn't exist.