05 September 2011 | Pacific
Dad turned 70 today! We're celebrating! We're going to have a Betty Crocker cake and watch a movie tonight.
We'll when you last heard from us we were going through the ITCZ. We complained to our weather router guy that we were getting rained on a lot and he said that we were very lucky to not have been hit by a thunder storm. Well, that late afternoon...
Sean and Stan using 1.5 liter bottles to collect rain water for showers. Sean: Hey Dad! You're hardly collecting anything. Look how much water I have for MY shower. Dad: Son! It seems to be raining a lot, shouldn't someone be looking after the boat. Sean: Yeah, I guess so.
Sean moves to helm and Dad immediately jumps to his position to collect more shower water. Sean notices, but is distracted by the large blob on the radar.
Sean: Umm... There's another squall coming after this one. It looks like it's a big one. Dad: But it looks clear in front! [Dad looks to his right.] Oh, never mind.
It begins to rain. Dad decides that he's wet enough and asks for permission to go below and change. The wind picks up and Sean begins to brace for the full impact of the squall. The main sail is down due to lack of wind for the majority of the day and only a partial amount of the stay sail is out. Adventure is currently motor sailing at 3.5 knots.
Wham! The squall hits hard, maybe 25 knots and the wind is coming from an strange direction. Instead of coming from our front beam, it's directly behind us. Sean hides under the dodger to try and stay out of the rain. The dodger is not water proof (anymore), but it makes him feel better. Then Sean sees something that makes his heart stop: A FLASH! Sean does what anyone that initially sees a flash in the middle of the ocean while sitting on a 50 foot lighting rod does - he denies it! It was a quick flash and was probably just a piece of canvas flapping around. The sun is quickly going down now, so it's unclear.
FLASH! Sean denies again. FLASH! Sean runs below.
Sean: Dad! There's lightning! [Sean hears thunder for the first time. Big thunder.] Sean instructs Dad to wrap laptop in towel and put it in microwave. Sean wasn't specific enough and later tells Dad that when he said wrap computer in a towel, he meant for him to use dry one. Dad claims there weren't any dry towels.
FLASH! Sean begins counting: One thousand one, one thousand two... He gets to eight before he hears the thunder. It's getting closer. Sean instructs Dad to turn off everything: autopilot, GPS, radar, cabin lights. Sean kills engine.
FLASH! Sean counts to six. Sean remembers that they only have 1 GPS. That the backup GPS doesn't work. He instructs Dad to remove GPS from panel and gives dad his headlamp so that he can remove it. Sean runs back to the helm because he has to steer now and realizes that he can't see the compass because he gave his headlamp to dad. He runs back to Dad to get headlamp back.
FLASH! One second passes and the THUNDER IS REALLY LOUD. Sean freezes momentarily - his teeth and knees are shaking almost uncontrollably . The wind and rain are cold; he's drenched and the sky it's extremely dark; but it's mostly because Sean's REALLY scared. Sean runs and gets headlamp and returns to steering Adventure. Dad gets GPS, EPIRB into microwave. Sean can't see where the storm is but does his best to veer off its path. Sean mumbles lots of prayers that have the word PLEASE in it.
FLASH! Six seconds go by; then eight; then twelve. And so my friends we avoided being hit by a massive thunderstorm. We saw it light up the sky for 5 hours after it passed us. We didn't do anything right and got caught with our pants down. It's only by the grace of God that we weren't hit.
We're very happy to be alive!