For a person that thrives on having too much to do the last week has been excruciating.
I am sitting in Douarnenez, my boat is tied up in port and I am not allowed out to sail. My van with all my tools and spares has gone back to the UK and I am left with the clothes I am standing in and one bag containing my running kit, a computer, printer and laminator to keep me occupied.
Believe me it has been hard.
Anyone who has been keeping an eye on the weather over the last couple of weeks could not deny that it has been hard; low after low jostles for position in the centre of the Atlantic and then set off like bowling balls straight for Finisterre and with out a doubt would have knocked down any mini’s that got in their way with regular seas of five metre waves coming ashore on the Spanish coast.
To follow it all the grandmother of all storms is on the starting blocks at the moment ready to come ashore in the UK and on the Brittany coast at the end of this weekend with winds over 40 knots and seas of 10 metres in it’s centre.
For the first week I was very chilled, reflective, using my time to do the final finessing jobs I had not had time to do at the start and to sleep and eat and get my head in the right place. But this week I am starting to fight against it.
When I came out to France before the start I rather optimistically packed my running kit – I am not sure how I thought I would have time to get in a quick run with all the preparation that was going on but it has saved my sanity now. It is the only thing that is giving me release at the moment as I rapidly run out of things to do.
My boat is spotlessly shining like a pin; I have packed, checked, repacked all of it’s contents and cleaned the inside over and again.
In the search for something meaningful to do I have organised all of the files on my four year old lap top, yesterday I deleted over 3000 emails from my hotmail account and defragmented my computer for the first time ever.
We are of course a the mercy of the weather and it would be foolish to do anything other than wait for safe conditions to leave but I had planned this race down to the day, my time off from work, stop over arrangements, shipping the boat back to France and none of these plans included sitting round in Douarnenez for over two weeks.
We are all hanging on the possibility we can leave on Tuesday, because if the delay carries on much later than that I am sure I am not the only one who is going to run into problems.
We have now had three sequential forecasts which have shown Tuesday to be a possibility; as soon as the swell from the monster storm on Monday has died down we will be out on the tail of it and heading South.
The race organisers have already announced they will change the sailing instruction for the first leg to allow only 48 and not 72hrs of technical stopover. This refers to unscheduled stops we make on the Spanish or Portuguese coasts to fix or replace broken kit during the first leg; and the underlying message is they want us in Lanzarote fast.
The stopover is going to be reduced and the restart has been nominally announced for the 11th October; after which Puerto Calero will not be able to host a fleet of 84 boats.
It certainly focuses the mind on the leg ahead.
There will still be a large swell, conditions will be lumpy and tricky and the stopover will be short; should the boat get damaged during this first leg there will be little time to fix it before the restart. This leg is going to be about getting there in one piece; looking after the boat, keeping a weather eye over my shoulder and recognising the waves that have teeth before they take a chunk out of me. It is not going to be easy.
That is if we go…..