It's 2:10 in the morning as I sit and listen to the persistent banging of a halyard coming from the foredeck and the low moan of something stretching to it's absolute max. That something is the harness on our chain that keeps the pressure off our windlass when we are anchored. I'm trying not to imagine it breaking - a real possibility even though it's 5/8" 3-strand line with chafe protection. It's under incredible load as the wind has been howling in the 30's for over 12 hours and the fetch is causing the boat to hobby horse like a bucking bronco. Something else bangs in the dark and I quickly glance up at the wind meter......36.8 knots. Well, I think.....at least it's not 40 knots.....yet.
I'm on anchor watch and as the wind gusts again what I'm REALLY thinking is how thankful I am to be here. That we are not at sea in these conditions, out there in this storm where some of my friends are right now. I send up a prayer that they have made it far enough to avoid the worst of it. I'm worried sick for them, but trying to keep the faith as they are excellent sailors.
We are anchored in a tiny little outpost called Minerva Reef. It's a popular stopover for cruisers making the long passage between New Zealand and Fiji and a good spot to duck into during a storm. Not that you can actually hide, since there is no real land to speak of. It's simply a low-lying ring of reef that is almost completely awash at high tide, but just high enough to keep the huge rolling waves temporarily at bay. It's about as close as you can get to anchoring in the middle of the Pacific ocean and I'm incredibly thankful to be here.
As the fetch from the waves hits our cockpit enclosure because the tide is high and the waves are growing, I try not to let the noise overwhelm me. I try to distract myself from thoughts of the other boats breaking free and hitting us or of our boat coming loose and crashing onto the reef....of losing everything. So far we are all staying put and the holding is very good - I just need to get through this night. I'm not safe at home, the boat is not tied to the dock and I can't walk away no matter how scary it gets. This is the life I have chosen and there is no other place to be tonight other than out here in the middle of the ocean. And so I write this post to help the time pass and to give you a chance to see another side of our life at sea.
Just another day living the dream. Living the dream.
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