Force 8

December 20, 2005  

The Bight Bay Norman Island a.k.a. “ Treasure Island British Virgin Islands  

“What?” I yelled. Steph’s words were garbled and I had a hard time hearing her over the shrieking wind through the rigging and the crashing, rapidly building waves. Asking “what?” also bought me a little time. I could tell by her expression and the tone of her voice that this was not going to be a good message and in marital communications / bantering / bartering / balance-of-power tactical exchanges even a few milliseconds can make the difference between holding your own with a verbal parry and being skewered.  

“I said if I had known this is what it would be like I never would have agreed to do this!” she yelled back. The “this” at the end of her sentence was punctuated with the bow of the boat punching into another wave and seawater blasting over the forward quarter of the deck. I knew I had to answer quickly, you can’t let a statement like that stand on its own or it takes on irrefutable veracity. In the world of marriage politics, that could be a complete loss of face. You can’t just concede a point like that, especially with as much at stake as we had. We were less than 24 hours into the trip and I couldn’t afford to fall that far behind that early.  

I looked out at the tumbling seas. The 34 knot (40 mph) gale force winds were tearing the tops off the waves and spewing them out across the surface in long white foamy streaks. The waves were big enough to rock our little world around and were building quickly here on the Atlantic side of the islands. The fetch, or distance the waves traveled under wind, was essentially infinite as there wasn’t much between where we were and Europe a couple of thousand miles away. They were, as the scientists say, “fully mature wave forms.” It was amazing that our boat, about the height (not including the mast), length, width and weight of a semi-tractor/trailer, could be tossed around like a toy boat in a boisterous child’s bathwater, but the sea operates with physical forces of a scale that humans just can’t comprehend  

For the rest of the story see the PDF document at: