The compass jumps between 180 and 300 degrees, while I throw glances at the log. 6, 7, 8 knots the speed accelerate, whilst the Genoa is only one third out. Well, I cannot bring it in further anyway. It is pitch black, there are crashing sounds every where, the wind moans. Every nerve in my body is tense; what’s that bang? Shouldn’t it dawn soon now? In between the running sheets of dark clouds, I watch on the Sonar schools of giant fish only feet beneath Santa Maria. The instruments, my head torch and the moon are the only gleams of light in the night.
Cascades of rain beat the canvas cover sheltering me - thank heavens for that at least. Need to pee, but hesitate to use the bucket, both toilets are broken again. I lost the first bucket when flushing it overboard; the speeding ocean took both the rope and the handle. Now, we have only one bucket left.
Enormous waves throw me around the boat, when hitting our side. I am black and blue all over. A long, red scratch scars my right leg and I have no idea when that happened. I am scared and would kill for a cigarette. I am tense and wide-awake although I’ve not slept for almost 48 hours. 6 days. 20 to go. I glance back at the sky no more clouds, please!
I lose weight for every day. Oh, will I be in great shape for Everest this year - if I get there at all, that is! Tom calls at me from the aft cabin once in a while. Get back to sleep, I think I´ll manage this I shout back. He had a long watch last night and needs his sleep badly, but cannot rest because of all the slamming at the boat.
The storm has now lasted for 6 hours. Last, it roared for 2 days. This is some strange weather. Reports of 45 knots over Ireland might explain some of it. May she keep in one piece in all this this. May we get our share of calm seas, stars and dolphins. Cause until now, it has been a veritable terror for most the time. We could, of course, take shelter at nearest point of land. Let’s see; that should be West Sahara or Mauritania at this point.
The sun is sparkling, the waves provide playful joyrides. Sometimes, I tie myself into the Genoa stay at the very front of Santa Maria and ride the waves into the speeding wind, with Techno blasting in my Walkman. At meals, the cheese constantly leaves the sandwiches and the food escapes the serving spoon before reaching the plate. Sometimes, Dolphins visit in hundreds, and play with us for hours to a Beach Boys tape at the sound blaster.
At night, the Milky Way appears above us as a bright band of sparkling stars. Competing in beauty only with the fluorescent green patch of luminous plankton, glittering in the waters around Santa Maria´s hull.
Mother Nature sure has her moods. Just as at Everest, she can be gentle, soft, even caring. You feel safe and everything is beautiful. Then, without a warning she angers, the wind picks up and suddenly life itself is at stake. And you can do nothing about it except take shelter and pray for survival.
So, what is one to do? Stay at home? There pretty soon become scared of ones own navel? Rather real fears, than the imaginary. We have 6 days left. Incredible! Patience is getting scarce now. Want to get there now. But thanks heaven that we carried this through. We’ve hardly slept, been scared mad and starved at times. But we would not have missed out on this for one moment - what a wonderful, new dimension to our lives!
In the morning of January 15 we spotted a faint, gray shadow at the horizon. We read the last chapter of Columbus logbook, brought with us. Hours later, Santa Maria proudly entered the harbor of Saint Lucia.