Leg 5, Race 7 Day 6, 7th March

Got up and after quite a struggle got my boot on and was on deck for watch – I was given some stick that I shouldn't be there but the winds had gone light again so the boat was fairly flat and steady and not likely to be too challenging for my ankle.

On watch later it was quite a different story. We went from barely making headway with a windseeker straight to Y2 plus 2 reefs in the main. The gear change was like going from pootling down a country lane at 30 mph to tearing through a forest track in a world class rally car! Piers said this was the start of the storm we'd been expecting which would be with us for 3 days. It rained and rained and rained. Everyone up watch, between 6 – 8pm was mad. It was blowing a hoolie which once again made a sail change from y2 to y3 very “interesting”! I went from taking it easy in the pit to togging up and down the deck relaying messages from helm to bow! More hands were needed up front and as my ankle was not up to the battering the bow work was likely to give it, I took the helm instead, which meant half an hour trying to keep our bucking Bronco of a boat steady while standing essentially on my bad ankle! I was by no means the worst off on deck though. We had a tiny little Pied Wagtail visitor who was also struggling in the strong winds and kept landing on deck obviously trying to rest and find some shelter.  We thought we were finding it hard to move around in the 32 to 34 knots of apparent wind. Our little feathered hitch-hiker was getting blown down the deck despite trying to crouch as low as possible. He was able to feast at least on the scores of dead Dragon Flies that appeared to have committed Hari Kari on our deck. We, like him, were absolutely drenched but whereas we were high on adrenaline I suspected our little feathered friend might not make it through the night.

I slept well through to my night watch  – although a bit hot and disturbed by various nav alarms going off. I arrived onto a pitch black deck – couldn't see the bow of the boat in winds now peaking 35 – 39 knots. We split the watches again so we did an hour on and off which breaks up the night - 20 minutes of helming each and then an hour blow deck – very civilised.  The dark night meant it was great viewing of my “fallen stars” in the sea – although making out the constellations is hard when they move around so much. Ken and I chatted about how amazing this whole experience is. He was surprised that after nearly 6 months at sea I still got such a thrill from being out at sea and hadn't got complacent. We also noted that although we all dread getting our wet foul weather gear on and going up when we are warm and dry, that once we are on deck and out in the air dealing with the sea, how you forget all that and the clothes and wet doesn't matter it all just fits and feels so right to be there. We concluded that the on-deck was great, and the below deck living was really not too bad at all either – it was just the bits in between we really didn't relish!