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. 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.
New York Metro Map Photo Gallery
Click on Photos for Next New York Metro Map Gallery Images
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.