Firefly, 28 November 2001: Olga is not a lady I would like to meet. Nor, I can assure you, would you

Firefly, 28 November 2001
26° 00N 24° 03W
SOG: 7.1 knots COG: 268 Mag
Distance to St Lucia 2,192 NM

Olga is not a lady I would like to meet. Nor, I can assure you, would you. In the weeks leading up to the ARC whilst the UK enjoyed fine, high pressure, autumnal weather, that other arbiter of northern hemisphere weather, the Azores High, had gone on holiday.

And so, like schoolchildren when teacher leaves the room, a number of mid latitude low pressure areas came out to play, skipping south below the UK high and creating havoc in places used to benign weather at this time of year.

In the week we were in Gran Canaria a brief but violent storm swept through, flooding the southern end of the island and causing widespread damage. In Las Palmas 50 knots were recorded and several yachts dragged onto the harbour wall.

However, when the Azores High re-organised itself one such low pressure system found itself trapped, spat its dummy, stamped its foot and turned into a full scale hurricane: meet Olga.

It is strange – now I pause as Stewart calls to stop the engine which is running to charge the batteries and run the watermaker. The wiring loom towards the engine control panel is red hot, if not burning. Now, three hours and an upended boat later the problem is identified and solved, thanks to Duncan’s electrical expertise.

Back to Olga. It is strange and a little un-nerving to be in the same ocean as a fully fledged hurricane, albeit one that is slow moving and 1,500 miles away, though she shows little sign of abating. We’ll watch her with great interest over the next few days.

Otherwise life aboard is well set into its routine. We are currently running with 18-20 knots of NE wind and the temperature is definitely improving – a far cry from last night when I went on watch in full Mustos.

We have just finished coronation chicken for lunch and will soon try to rig a jury reef 1 to replace the broken pennant, now far inside the boom. We have identified the cause of the breakage. One of the sheaves carrying the reefing lines at the gooseneck was no longer, and appeared to have disintegrated.