After Eight Hours In the Gale:
I tried to let Brad rest as long as possible but when I saw the blue Whale wall, I cried out through the raging wind:
"Brad! We're nearly back!"
Soon his head popped out of the hatch and placing the doors back in, he climbed up the very steeply sloping cockpit and joined me on deck. After clicking his harness into place, he looked around. I was used to the loud hissing of the wind beating across the water at forty miles an hour but I'm sure to Brad (after resting in the semi peaceful cabin for a couple hours) the sound was startling. Besides this, I know he was interested to see how the huge waves were towering from behind us now.
"Brad we're going to need to let out the mainsail." I cried above the roar of the waves. "The wind is starting to come from off our back quarter."
Brad looked at the sails and the waves with a grim face. "If we're not careful, the force of the wind will tear off the mast." He almost yelled. "But you better do it! We don't have a choice."
Quickly, but carefully I let Brad hold the tiller while I let out the main sheet and sail. We were thankful when the sail and mast held against the furious wind that was now blowing from astern. Atop a giant mountain of a wave, Brad looked forward as I pointed to the Blue wall of Redondo beach. He looked at me with a happy grin. But the war was not over yet! I had been losing strength and was so glad to see Brad come back on deck. I was feeling very sick and had almost begun to care less what the waves were doing beyond my peripherial vision. I had enough strength left to focus on steering the boat through the waves in front of me but that was almost all the strength I had left. Now that Brad was back, its as if I came back to life again! With pleasure I handed the tiller back to Brad to take us in.
We still had a little ways to go with huge waves still bearing down on us but we were so close to safety we could taste it. All I had tasted up to this point was a non stop deluge of salt water in my face, mouth and eyes each time we passed through a waves white foaming water. Now we were almost home! I still could not believe we were this close. An hour ago I was not at all sure we would make it back. It had only been five hours back when I had prayed and found Gods peace. Home had seemed like a thousand impossible miles away.
And though it was not all that sudden, to me time had seemed to speed up. Redondo's bell buoy appeared among the foaming waves. The huge waves pounded with fury into the stone breakwater to our left. And then we about surfed in the entrance on this cresting wave. With a simple turn of the tiller the boat heeled dangerously to broadside along the wave as we sped into the still waters of Redondo Beach harbor.
Suddenly, all was still...like an impossible stillness - like...heaven! No more falling and lurching up and down twenty foot waves and feeling the wind whip across your face at terrific speeds. The peace was startling and so sudden and so majestic. We all seemed to breath freely again. Inside all of our hearts the confirmation we had made it home safely was now spoken. I pounded on the hatch and then opening it, we all began to laugh at the terror we had just passed through.
"This has been the worst day of my entire life." Max yelled laughing.
"Well at least you now have one!" I laughed back.
Later in the jacuzzi at Brads marina, we all sat and laughed in amazement of what we had just survived. The spa water was so hot and relaxing - we couldn't believe we were there! Only an hour ago we had been cold and wet and battered. The warm water was quickly taking off the years of stress and white hairs we had added to our bodies in the eleven stressful hours it took us to cross the channel. The Catalina Gale had been implanted in our minds for all time and we all knew it!
PS: Thanks for your comments!