Jonty Peace reflects on the perils of wild weather as he rides out the tail end of Opheila
I know that I am a little strange, but I do take great pleasure in lying warmly in my bunk listening to the wind howling in the rigging while Aurial bucks safely at her mooring lines during a passing gale.
This one is the whiplash end of Ophelia; a nasty girl whose threat to the southwest of Ireland has been severe enough to close the schools and batten down the hatches.
I snuggle down under the warm covers; beside me Carol snuffles gently, emitting little wisps of smoke and smuts as her damped down Dragon’s fire smoulders gently, ready to flame as soon as the need for tea impinges on her consciousness.
But for now, peace. Apart from the wind in the rigging.
As I lie under my duvet listening to the cacophony above my cabin, I can’t help sparing a thought to those who are not able take safe shelter from the winds. From boats on exposed moorings, through working fishing boats and commercial craft, and on to buildings and gardens – we know that there will be damage, and pray that it won’t be to living things.
I sincerely hope that no recreational craft are caught out at sea – this is a time to be holed up inside safe strong harbour walls, but sometimes even they suffer – I read that even one of the gates at Milford Haven dock was torn from its hangings to float in the lock.
Jonty Peace points his bow towards the Isles of Scilly and rediscovers the joys of cruising the south west coast
Jonty Pearce cat-proofs his boat ahead of voyages with the beloved family pet
In Britain we are fortunate not to be in the regular path of full strength hurricanes; the reports and images covering the aftermath of Irma and Maria in the British Virgin Islands make sobering reading.
What harbour walls can shelter craft from 160 knot winds? We sat out 57 knot gusts in the Orkneys and thought that was bad. Even here in the excellent shelter of Neyland Yacht Haven it has just gusted 52 knots. But wind gusts nearly three times that? I find it unimaginable.
The sheer pressure of wind carries a force able to uproot trees and buildings as easily as pulling up weeds. I don’t like to even speculate on the damage our coastline and havens might suffer were a full series of hurricanes to pass our way.
Either way I know that I have no intention of leaving my safe berth. Aurial, being a ketch with lazylines for her stackpacks, seems to have a myriad pieces of string that snake up her masts to resonate at different pitches. I know that even a modest breeze can sound like a gale when down below, but this orchestral howling is forceful enough to be the real thing.
Having emerged from my cocoon I hastened to double her lines, check her genoa lashing, and take down the spray dodgers and sprayhood.
Out on the pontoons the masts are swinging to and fro like demented pendulums, and the scream of wind generators is overlaying a descant to the rigging’s chorus. There is even a standing wave (a small one) in the wind over ebb by the upper basin cill.
And then it’s time for breakfast!