The storm found us at about 6:00 Monday evening

It was 10 hours later and in a totally different spot than predicted. That spot was us. The wind went from 10 knots to 45-50 knots within 5 minutes, and held that speed through the night.

Great walls of water slammed across the top of the boat, leaving Ruby Slippers shivering like a wet pup. There were bone-jarring crunches as the boat did a swan dive from the top of one wave into the trough of another. It was shaking like dice in a gambler’s hand, all night long.

Early in the storm, Jim and I decided to take down all the sails (quite a trick in that weather), and just let the boat run under bare poles through the night. We knew it would turn slightly downwind and go slow, so we would not lose too much ground. The wind was howling so loud that we had to scream at each other outside just to be heard. It was kind of rejuvenating to scream at the top of my lungs, without being thought insane.

It was a very roll-y, bouncy, shaky night. Molly and Jessie slept peacefully through it. Jim and I, not so much. We must be through the worst of it; it is only blowing about 30, although the seas are huge from all the wind last night. We are still unable to go directly south to New Zealand – that is precisely where the wind is coming from. Two days ago, our navigation computer said we had 362 miles to go to our destination. Now (Tuesday afternoon) it says we have 360 miles to go. After all our northing and westing and back again, we are only 2 miles closer to land!

Our other passages have been relatively benign, and they have left me ill-prepared to cope with the brief moments of desperation I felt during last night’s storm. I envisioned the step by step process of getting our life raft out of our safety locker, tying it to the boat, inflating it and loading it up with food and water before the boat sank. I wondered how I would keep our passports dry, and whether I could take the hard drive with all our pictures on it. I suppose it was a good, but negative, mental exercise. Jim reminded me about what a good strong boat Ruby Slippers is, and how there have been no “stress” noises coming from the hull.

I can understand why people fall in love with their boats. This little box o’ fiberglass kept my family safe and dry through some very bad winds, and I am growing more fond of her by the hour. We are all fine, and don’t even blink now when a wave washes over the entire boat. We think the winds will start dying about midnight tonight, and we can turn more south and get to New Zealand by Friday of this week.

We will let you know when we get to land, right after I lie prone and kiss the dock to which we are tied. Then we can all be thankful together. Note to my sisters: don’t let Mom read this. ~ Jeanna

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