We raised our sails as we began to head north up the coast of Long Island and enjoyed a pleasant ride in the lee of the land. The motion was comfortable, the sun was shining and we were blasting along at over seven knots. It was an exhilarating sail in a freshening breeze.
When we turned the northernmost corner of the island we were no longer protected by land and the seas grew to five feet or larger. Definitely not terrible; but the motion of the boat became a little more erratic, a little more bouncy. It wasn't a problem for any of the adults on board, but poor little Isla lost her lunch. And her dinner. Luckily for all of us, it seems that Isla is what I like to call the "puke and rally" type meaning that once she pukes, she's blissfully unaware of the mess she just made all over us and the cockpit and goes back to her happy, playful self. She is too young for seasick meds but we will see what we can do to manage her tummy as we continue on.
As if baby vomit all over the place wasn't enough, we then lost our jib halyard. I had just put Isla down for a nap, and came up on deck to see we were slightly overpowered and heeling pretty aggressively We shortened sail a bit by reefing the main which straightened out the boat, and began looking at the jib. Suddenly - as if the jib knew we were talking about it - we heard a loud POP! "What was that?" exclaimed Scott from the helm. A quick glance up the rig confirmed it, "We lost our jib halyard" I told him. It's always something on a boat...
This was not a huge problem by any standard. AJ and Scott went on deck to sort out the jib, we set our stays'l and we were back in action again in less than five minutes. We were all grateful it happened when it did: in decent conditions with lots of daylight - and plenty of hands to help. We'll go up the rig and sort it out later today.
As the last few hours of our trip slowly ticked away, we all became aware of a distinct change in the weather. The sky had taken on a uniform gray color and it looked as if storms were brewing all around us. Then lightning began. When you are on a boat at sea, lightning is a most unwelcome spectacle. While strikes are rare, they do happen. At best, a direct hit to your mast will fry pretty much every electronic you have on board, at worst it can blow a hole in your boat and/or kill someone. The lightning was no where near us as we sailed into the anchorage, but it became obvious as we dropped the hook that it was getting closer. As dinner was being served, we were surrounded.
The storm system was a monster and, according to the radar, extended for miles and miles around us, providing us with the most incredible lighting show I have ever seen. It was pitch black outside but the strikes almost constant, and each time a bolt shot from the sky the world around us would light up as if someone had switched on a bulb. We have video footage, but a few screen shots will have to suffice for now as internet bandwidth won't allow an upload. Nerves ran high for a bit as we looked all around us pointing out strike after strike from every direction, but the closest they got was no less than a mile away.
The wind continued to howl with gusts up to thirty knots and rain pelted the deck as the dramatic lightning show continued well into the night. By morning, however, the skies had cleared and it's a new day. With the passage of that giant system a new weather forecast has come in our favor. It's looking like we will be setting sail from here for the BVI's Sunday morning. The winds are looking good (for now) and we will continue to monitor the weather as we fix the few issues that presented themselves.
Morale is high, the crew is happy and all is well aboard the good ship Asante!