5 June. A squall gusting to 60mph had me out on the foredeck setting a storm staysail and a spitfire jib. Several waves broke over me, and to my disgust water ran up inside my oilskin trouser legs and over the top of the long boots inside them. I then had to double-reef Miranda, which was a difficult and tricky job, with seas picking up the ship and throwing her down on her side, or slewing the stern round while I was standing on the counter using both hands above my shoulders to reef. Just as I got below and hung my wet scarf and boots above the Aladdin heater, an RAF Shackleton started buzzing me.
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Although it had done well to find me in that disturbed sea, I did not feel hospitable. However, when it buzzed me a third time, I pushed back the hatch enough to poke half my head out. I promptly got a sea down my neck. Swearing, I put on an oilskin coat and flashed my Aldis light at the aircraft. It started flashing a message at me, but it was coming at me from behind the trysail and I should have needed to chase out on deck to read the signals. I could not face a drenching below the waist, so merely flashed an acknowledgement.
Looking round, I could not find Pidgy, which made me sad; I thought that the swooping aeroplane must have frightened him, and made him take off, and I also feared that we were too far from land for him to make it. Two hours later I had good news; Pidge was back. He must have hidden away somewhere from the Shackleton. He looked all in, poor devil. But at least he could do something that I couldn’t; he was standing on one leg on the cockpit seat, and swaying to the roll of the ship without looking. It was real Atlantic weather; grey mist, turbulent sea, moaning wind. It was not comfortable, but I had great satisfaction that Gipsy Moth was charging ahead at a steady 6 knots under her storm rig, and I felt in complete control. 6 June. I was rousted out twice during the night when parts of Miranda’s rigging gave way. The first time I found all the sails aback, and the yacht headed for England, which does not put up the average speed when racing towards New York.
I began to jib at calling up London on the R/T at a fixed time every morning. It was then my best chance of a sleep after the schemozzles of the night. I would be drowsy and snug in my blankets when the alarm went off, unwilling to get up, have no copy ready and be dozy-brained when I tried to think of some. On top of that, as soon as I did get up I would be sure to find that a sail change or a retrim was needed, and I would either regret losing racing speed if I telephoned, or regret missing the transmitting rendezvous if I changed a sail. I asked for the transmitting time to be switched to the evening, and promised better copy then.
Under the cockpit seat I found Pidgy, bedraggled and sick-looking. I feared for his life. I made him a hut under the seat with a transparent plastic covering, and gave him a dish of Macvita and bread, with a bowl of fresh water, both of which he went for. Later he seemed better.
The battery-charging motor began to give trouble. It would stop every few minutes when the yacht rolled. I had to think of some way to get over this, for the batteries must be charged if I was to get my story through. I fashioned a piece of wood to plug the petrol tank opening and to raise the petrol level, but it did not work. The motor still petered out at each big roll.