had veered round to the north-west again a dead head wind
for us. If we went out we would be blown south and lose the valuable northing we had made. But there was no choice and we sailed away from Jidda.
The waters of the Red Sea had taken on a new appearance a cold steel
grey, utterly unlike the laughing blue tropical waters Idle Hour
had sailed in for so many thousands of miles. Heading northward, we were slowly emerging into the temperate waters of Europe
. Perhaps it was for the best in some ways that our progress was a slow one, for we gradually became acclimatized to the change in temperature.
Nevertheless, the north-wester was heartbreaking. We would sail for twelve hours on one tack, beating hard against the short, steep seas. Then for another twelve hours we would pitch
and buck on the other tack. And at the end of 24 hours I would find we had actually made 3 miles! At this rate, it would take us 7 months to make Suez.
The wind freshened steadily from the north, and the seas got bigger and bigger. The gale blew off the foamcaps of the seas, reducing our visibility to nil, and our decks were awash from morning til night.
It was a miserable business. The bilge
overflowed with the water
we were taking aboard, and the bilge-pump jammed.oil from the engine
slopped over and floated on the flood in the cabin
, covering our bunks with a slimy film and still we bucked into the north-west gale and struggled for a wretched mile or two of northing each day.
We finally got the bilgepump working again and cleared things up in the cabin
, but all day and every day the roaring, baffling wind continued out of a cloudless sky and fought us bitterly for every inch we made. Each night we had to anchor
in the lee of some reef in order not to lose the precious northing we had gained: and each day the mirage mocked us with land ahead where we knew no land could be.
With mirages confusing me my chronometer too far out to be of any use head
winds baffling us the constant fear of reefs
as we made the coast at the end of each tack I was rapidly becoming a nervous wreck myself, and seriously beginning to wonder if I should ever get out of the treacherous Red Sea alive and in my right mind.