Tuesday 11th July 2012
Mylor to L’aver-wrac’h…. Nope, Mylor
W F4-5, seas slight and then swelly
The alarm went off at 02:15. That’s really no time to get up, but this was our channel crossing, and this was the time that Pete wanted to leave in order to arrive in daylight. I’d had a poor sleep. We’d gone to bed sometime before 21:00, and I’d read for a while, willing myself to sleep. I’d wrestled with sleep, and odd dreams, and at 02:15 was not feeling very rested. Adrenaline kicks in, and we were all ready to ease out of the finger pontoon at 02:45, bang on time.
I am no fan of night sailing, but I understand that we have to do it to cover the 100 miles to L’aver-wrac’h. I don’t have any good experience of night sailing, so why would it be my chosen way to sail? Anyway. We hauled the sails before we got to Falmouth Harbour, and were sailing out towards the bay. It was OK. Really. The buoys are clearly marked, and the large ships at anchor were lit up like Christmas Trees. The wind was due west, just as forecast. Whinchat was beautifully set, and we were steaming along, with the wind from the direction it was, therefore sitting just ahead of the beam. Whinchat was leaning to port, but it wasn’t jolty. All good, really, as good as it gets. (Mum, skip to the bottom, or stop reading here)!
Pete and I decided that we’d have a two hour system of watches, and I was beginning to feel weary, the poor sleep catching up on me. I had set up the pilot berth to snuggle into, but I thought the duvet would be too much, so I walked forwards to get a couple of fleece blankets. Not good move the first – it was pretty bouncy, as Whinchat was moving through the swell. No worries, I knew that I just needed to lie down and shut my eyes. I peeled off my lifejacket, my boots, with eyes clamped shut and tried to settle in the pilot berth. It’s on the ‘up’ side as we’re leaning to port, so I couldn’t get settled. The shipping forecast was then broadcast loudly over my head through the VHF. I had my eyes welded shut, but there was nothing that I could do to stop the lurching of my stomach. I don’t do fairground rides, have never really enjoyed them…. And here I was, on this bumpy ride over to France. I could feel the strength in my body leaving me, as we rolled through the swell of the Atlantic. I’m sure I’ve written this before, but it’s like going over humped bridge after humped bridge…. Stomach rising and falling. I decided that I might be better in the aft cabin, wedged against the cupboards, which might release me from the feeling that I needed to grip onto the berth. I didn’t think that the act of moving would be a good idea, but I thought that I might feel more rested. I wrapped myself in the duvet that I’d chucked in there, and continued to will myself to sleep. It was to no avail – the fairground ride effect was in full motion still. I don’t know how long it was, but I couldn’t tolerate it anymore so I decided to head back on deck. I think Pete was very surprised to see me.
Thankfully the lurching feeling stopped – it felt so much more stable – and I inhaled air deep into my lungs, trying to drive out the metallic, hot feeling in my stomach. Oh, the familiar bilious feeling of seasickness. I could feel my soul sinking, as I knew that I’d passed the point where I could recover and be of any service as crew. It was truly grim. I knew that we weren’t pounding through the sea, which I couldn’t describe as rough, but this relentless rolling motion was taking me further and further towards my body’s need to be violently sick. Pete asked me if I wanted to turn back. What could I say? In many ways, I didn’t, but I knew that we were only 3 hours into our journey. I just told him that I felt “wretched”. Pete just tacked Whinchat around, and we headed back to land. It was a thoroughly miserable moment.
I moved to the back of the boat, fearing imminent separation of my insides…. until Pete told me off for being outside of the cockpit. I moved in, and lay, prostrate, head facing down towards the moving sea, waiting for the relief of being sick. I have no idea how long I lay there. Pete persuaded me to try and helm; I was going to try anything. It helped a bit, but I hardly had the strength to stand. After what felt like only a few moments, I dissolved into tears. Pete put Doris back on the helm, and made me lie down. The sun was peering from between the clouds, so I wedged myself in the cockpit, with the sun warming me. I must have drifted off to sleep. By now we were well into the shelter of The Lizard, so the sea had flattened out. The churning of my stomach had finally ceased, but I felt wiped out. Somehow I’d managed not to hurl. It was some comfort.
Pete rigged the boat for mooring, and at the last possible moment, I took a mooring line, leapt off the boat, and tied us to the same berth that we’d left some 6 hours before. I had such mixed feelings; happy to be on land and very sorry to be back. No arguments, I was to go straight to bed, where I fell into a deep sleep. Five hours straight. Conked out. Pete set an alarm, otherwise I think we’d’ve slept all day.
Seasickness is something you recover from relatively quickly – when you meet land and eat something. Pete made lunch, and we both ate in silence. What could I say to him? His disappointment was palpable, and it lay entirely at my feet. I know it’s something you have no influence over, but I felt truly pathetic. We ended up going for a walk, which was something I didn’t really want to do, but I thought it would be good for me. It was quite healing, in a way, as I felt less combobulated. The steady rhythm of putting one foot in front of the other, making the parts of me that had fragmented somewhere off the Cornish coast, slowly come back to one functioning body.
We both realised that it wasn’t the day to make any decisions about what we should do next. We were too tired, too dejected. Decisions would have to wait for another day.