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March 5, 2018

Part 2 from the Chris Hart Blog

The story continues . . . after the evening supper the captain gathers the entire ships crew to announce the news that storm Emma, racing in from the north, will unfortunately block our passage to the Azores and the new destination of the Canaries has been chosen. Everyone expresses their disappointment but understands the reasons for the change in a bid to keep us all safe. I’m then on the midnight till 4 am watch which seems to drag, probably because the buzz of the watch has turned to the thought of our change of course. The following morning I awoke early, my eyes slowly opening like a shy tortoise, still sore from their pounding the night before, coupled with the lack of sleep. After a hearty bowl of porridge, happy hour is announced and we get to work on the upper decks scrubbing and cleaning. One of the tasks is to clean the vegetable locker where unfortunately the cook lost 30 eggs in the rolling swell . . quite a scramble!  Squall after squall comes rushing through thoroughly drenching those working on deck, and for some reason those assigned the job of polishing the brasswork continue to rub away.

The voyage crew meanwhile frantically receiving emails and messages like teenagers on their mobiles, the first chance of having a signal in 11 days. Now that we’re within reach of the island a tour is also booked for the following day. As I move through the lower decks, crew members are dotted around frantically trying to sort their onward connections once we hopefully reach our new final destination of Las Palmas.

Our watch commences again at 16.00 so I choose a skeleton crew due to the relentless wind and rain to assist upon the bridge, however all but myself and a cadet are retained by the mate. The Bosun plus one have already climbed the main mast in an attempt to prevent further damage to the sails but by this time the winds are exceeding 60 knots and steadily building and the captain seems to suddenly switch to autopilot taking control of the helm. The captain steers away from the island and decides to abort any attempt to moor alongside la palma today, instead he beats a retreat to Tenerife where hopefully the weather will be kinder.

Supper is a somewhat quiet affair as the crew below have also endured being tossed and turned as if in a washing machine! Everyone settles down for the night hoping a new dawn will bring better weather.

Up again on the bridge at 4 am, this time to the sight of the shores of Tenerife, where we stooge around outside the port before we’re provided with a berth in the safe haven of the harbour. I’m still alive. . Phew!

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