Only 600 Miles to go…

16th August
36 degrees 39 minutes N; 053 degrees 02 minutes W

Err yes whoops of course we aren’t travelling EAST to get away from the
cyclone; we are going WEST and have been for the last 24 hours at least.
The cyclone has tracked pretty fast up the coast of the States and is now
finally North of us so we are just waiting to be told by Michel that the
route is clear for us to also turn North towards St Pierre.  Only 600
miles away!  The last 24 hours we were instructed to not only turn west
but also to slow down in order to allow the storm to pass us by.  This was
incredibly frustrating of course, though for a lot of that time we had no
wind – we furled the genoa at about 0430 this morning and were doing 5
knots on average until this afternoon when we raised it again and were
doing around 8 knots with no engine.  The GC is gnashing his teeth – he
can’t wait to turn; he has a third gennaker that’s the perfect size and he
wants to use it to run on the winds following the cyclone.  It’s going to
be very very very wet; for which we are being compensated by having two
lovely dry days on board.  Especially nice as the swell has picked up
quite a bit (though nowhere near the 5.5 metres that was suggested we
might have this morning).  That may well happen tomorrow; better not feel
too comfortable.

Riding out this cyclone has us all with mixed feelings.  Obviously the
word cyclone strikes dread; there’s absolutely none of us who wants to get
mixed up in that kind of drama.  It took me a while to assimilate that the
thing is indeed a long way away; we can see the clouds associated way over
to the horizon but I was still waiting for the winds, swell and rain of
the outskirts of the thing; remembering the ride that we had on the tail
of Cyclone Ashobaa a few years ago when we lost Dory (our tender … not the
fish).  However, the reality is that it’s 400 miles away which to be
honest is as near as I’d like a cyclone to be!  More interesting is our
response to the delay in arrival that this has caused.  When we discovered
we were likely to arrive within a week to ten days – a good week short of
what we were prepared for – we were all kind of disappointed.  What?  You
mean it’s almost all over?  What happened?  And then; oh no, cyclone; slow
down; take longer ……. It was almost too much to take.  So near and yet so
far; and with the unknown drama of a really bad storm in the offing … it
was too much like the script from a bad movie!  Sigh.

I have to say that we’ve made the most of it, each in our own inimitable
style.  The GC and Betrave worked to cover an additional area of our
galley ‘tent’; the Genie has transmitted positions and plotted on the
satnav every three hours, around the clock; I have made fresh tuna poached
in olive oil and Betrave and I have now made jam drops.   Go figure.  I
think we need a new reality tv show – Extreme Cooking.  I reckon Betrave
and I would win the baking.

The Genie, now, would win the eating.
I haven’t written too much about the Genie for a couple of reasons –
mainly to protect his privacy; but also probably because his role and mine
don’t intersect too much, him being pretty much on the technical and
physical side of things with the GC.  It’s a different thing when it comes
to the table, however, for the Genie’s real super power is eating.  It’s
hard to figure out where it goes on that trim frame, but everyone who
knows him understands that his approach to food is extreme.  His mother is
an extraordinary cook, and the boy has not only an exquisite palate – he
can discern the various flavours of each ingredient, and discuss them and
how the dish is cooked – but he has the most fastidious approach to food
and eating that I’ve ever seen.  Yesterday, for example, when we had hard
boiled eggs as part of a tapas style lunch, it was the Genie who carefully
evenly spread mayonnaise on his toast; edge to edge; cut his egg into just
so slices and arranged them just perfectly on the toast before taking a
single bite.  Hungry as he may be, he’ll never wolf his food – every
mouthful is treated with respect.  I’ve heard him humming towards the end
of a meal he’s really liked, though I have to say I don’t think he’s ever
met a meal he really didn’t like, unless it was very spicy.  The boy could
eat for his country.  Let’s just say that if I’ve been obsessed with
cooking on this trip, part of the motivation has been the appreciative
audience I’ve been fortunate to have.
Huh.  The GC has just told me we are at our closest point to the cyclone.
430 miles … that’s enough, thanks very much.  Tomorrow it will be gumboots
back on and all speed for St Pierre!!!

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