Vendee skipper muses on the seas around her

Sam Davies, the leading Briton in the Vendee Globe around the world yacht race, may well have been busy over the past 24 hours, regaining fourth place from Marc Guillemot, but she has had time to muse upon the nature of the seas around her. Davies, 34, sailingRoxy, has written a blog about waves, from those that are suprising – most notably when sitting on the bucket – to ‘boat breakers’:

‘I have always classed waves into categories, and again on this trip
there are some very distinct groups of waves.

The ‘Surprise’ Wave
This is a group of waves, not necessarily similar in physical characteristics, but they are guaranteed to pop up in annoyingsituations:
1, when you have been helming for a while, dry decks, no waves, therefore you are in oilskin bottoms only….the wave hits the quarter and arrives from behind you and neatly fills up your oilskins and boots.
2, when you are sitting, nicely balanced, on the bucket…. need I say more!
3, You are to leeward, checking the trim, and the wave finds a way of defeating gravity and smacking you nicely in the face.
4, The wave manages to break cunningly into the cockpit, find its way down the hatch, and into the boat, cascading past you in a furious rush to soak anything that isnt waterproof on its way through!

The ‘Brown Trouser’ or ‘White Knuckle’ Wave
These are the kind of waves that I saw a lot of in the Southern Ocean, especially the Indian Ocean, and around Cape Horn. In these waves, it is advisable not to look behind you, or as I worked out, the best thing is just to not go on deck and look at all. You know, however, instantly when you are on one, you start accellerating, the bow is pointing downhill…. then you keep accelerating, the whole boat vibrates, creaks and groans….. you have several ideas of how it is going to finish, and most of them are unpleasant!! Either sideways (the worst), or a faceplant, or a gigantic leap into thin air followed by a crash landing several metres down on the back of the next wave.

The ‘Top of The World’ Wave
This is the best wave ever! There were loads in the South Pacific. They lift you up so high you can see around you as if you were on top of a hill, then you whizz off on an endless surf, the entire forward section of the boat out of the water, if you’re on the foredeck you feel like your flying…..

The ‘Boat Breaker’ Wave
The worst kind of waves, when you smash off each one, and the whole boat cracks and shudders. It is impossible to move around, impossible to sleep. Normally you have to slow down to negotiate these waves.
The ‘Redecorating’ waves
These are like ‘Boat Breakers’ but less nasty, so you don’t have to slow down. This results in a motion that renders any form of eating or drinking impossible, without at the same time redecorating the inside of the boat, and wearing most of your dinner.

The ‘Gift’ Wave
These are waves with hidden extras – they come with a gift inside that they deposit on the deck for you. Gifts include, squid, fish, seaweed, krill, oil slick deposits…..

The ‘Firehose’ Wave
This is the kind of wave that never stops coming. It is very very wet and gets through even the most waterproof of clothing. The cockpit can’t drain out fast enough and starts to resemble a swimming pool. Useful when the sea is warm to get a good hairwash! But beware of its capabilities to sweep you clean off your feet if you’re on the bow!’