Morning broke, squalls at last behind us, the sea had reverted to that of tranquility and no wind: Big Bertha to the rescue once more…

Aware that winds containing an increased wind strength of twenty plus knots was heading our way, the sails were once more reefed.

An ‘on the nose’ SW blew in with speeds of 15 to 26 knots bringing with it a long night of constant adjustment to ensure Gratis remained on course sailing west..

02:00, squalls increased the winds to a regular 35 plus knots. No abating of that maelstrom evident, on sighting a number of threatening ebony towers pointing our way, it was time to brave the elements. Swathed in wet weather gear, life jackets on and safety lines attached, with winch handle in hand, we clipped on to the jackstays, and proceeded cautiously to the foredeck.

Waves connected with Gratis, causing foaming white cascading waterfalls constantly walloped Little G2 prior to rising and continuing on to set the decks awash; we rapidly became two saturated souls.

Winds and water chilling us to the bone – the concept of what cold truly meant was brought home – the second reefing line was readied.

All in place to go, Bob in position to guide the main and take in the reef, I finally released the main in stages as Bob battled the elements to pull her in and attached the reefing cringle to its attachment at the mast. What felt like eons later, it was time to return indoors. Clothing peeled off, ensconced in a dry set, snuggled together for warmth, at last our bodies commenced the slow process of warming once more.

In Bob’s words, ‘It’s invigorating to be out there, in the wind, rain and cold, waves pouring over the top – NOT!!!!’