We were sailing gently west happy to have escaped the doldrums of the previous five days. The sun was shining, the sky was blue and we were relaxed.
Davo sent us a short message. “You are approaching a ‘washing machine’. Wind variable. South, North, West and then South again”.
The first indication of Davo’s washing machine were the heavy clouds ahead and the rain showers. The wind stopped and then started strongly from the other direction. We changed sails and continually reduced the amount as the wind became stronger and the waves steeper.
Night fell quickly and, with no stars and no moon, it was pitch black. Turbulent black water under thick black clouds.
In the night the wind shifted sixty degrees within a minute. The boat turned so the sails were on the wrong side and the line of the towed generator wrapped around the windvane. Despite the wind and bucking boat, we sorted everything out, hand steered a bit then set up the windvane for the new course.
Twenty minutes later and course, sails, generator and windvane were all messed up again. Sort everything out, hand steer through the worst and then lie down – again.
At first light the wind changed again and we were heading East instead of West. The sea was a mess with swell from every direction but especially against us. Once again we were hand steering and getting soaking wet from the waves breaking across the deck.
Eventually we saw blue skies ahead of us and the swell became a little more normal. The windvane was back in action and we left Davo’s washing machine behind us. Hopefully we don’t repeat that night too often.