18 June. I hit a head-on gale, a very different proposition from a gale on the beam. A modern yacht can make headway against a gale, provided that the sea is not too turbulent, but in a west Atlantic gale, the ship gets thrown about so much and its way is stopped so frequently that it cannot progress into wind; every time its way is checked, the wind pushes the hull to leeward.
At 9 o’clock in the evening the jib sheet parted at the clew with a sharp twang. I rushed up to get in the sail before it flogged itself to bits.
New York Map World Photo Gallery
Click on Photos for Next New York Map World Gallery Images
The stem I was standing on was jumping.
15 feet above the water. My hands were so numb that I had trouble tying the knots of the sail ties. During the jib trouble, the halyard fouled up the forestays, locking them together, so that I could not set another headsail. It was all my fault, because.
I ought to have shortened sail long before. I had been repairing the motor exhaust and had wanted to finish that job before going on deck. I tried to get moving with a trysail and a staysail. As I was setting the trysail I was swung round the mast, and my head was knocked into the reefing gear of the boom. I was surprised that I was not knocked out. When I set the staysail as well as the trysail, the ship seemed to go mad, and I hurriedly dropped the staysail again.
The barometer had dropped nearly 20 millibars in a period of minutes, and a pinkish glow suffused the overcast. I expected hell to be let loose that night.