On Saturday we left Port Stephens at 11:30 for Newcastle. It was a relatively uneventful day, other than the regulator continually blowing out the new fuses. Great! We'll just have to deal with that when we arrive in Newcastle.
Nearly the entire time we were here this trip it rained, and rained and rained. Sunday, my first order of business was laundry. I had 6 loads of it piled up so I lugged it all to the laundry room at the marina where I knew I would spend the entire day because there is only one dryer. I was settled in reading a book when Frank popped his head in. He had a very strange look on his face that telegraphed something not good. He said, "Barb, I have some very sad news. Jan from Triple Stars has been washed overboard at sea en route to Bermuda. There are rescue efforts but she has not been found." I sat stunned in a state of disbelief for several minutes. Then when the impact of his words hit me I felt a physical stab of pain strike my solar plexus as though I'd been actually punched, and then I burst into tears. I remember thinking, "This cannot be! No! No! No! This is all wrong! Jan is the safest sailor I know!" She taught ME about safety as sea. She and I had just emailed one another a few days ago as they were making their way with the rally to Bermuda. I knew the weather had turned, but I had no idea it had built to 30-foot seas and that they were helplessly hove-to just one day off the Bermuda coast. They were so close. Then I asked Frank, "What about Rob?" Frank said that Rob has been rescued and was off the boat; Triple Stars was set adrift. (In spite of the "post date", I am actually writing this several months later because it is so painful to recall. I am in fact choking up now and feel the bile rising in my throat at the memory.) Triple Stars set adrift? Rob rescued? This must mean they are not looking real hard for Jan to take these drastic steps. Jan was never found. My beautiful friend is gone and this is all I can write about this.
Thank goodness for the rain, maybe. I was numb for a long while. I spent a lot of time in prayer. Eventually the sun returned and thanks to Frank's encouragement we did take some nice walks. We found a marvelous Farmers Market that is held most Sundays at the Broadmeadow Showground in the morning until 1:00 PM. I'm glad we went. It broke me out of my funk for a little while.
Frank continued his dialogue with the mechanic over the mystery of the regulator. It's a blur to me now and I just let him focus on that. I almost just didn't care. I was at a real low point, and having difficulty really focusing on anything. Besides I was and am sick and tired of things breaking down.
We left Newcastle November19th on a very foggy morning. Visibility was NIL. Gee, what a dismal start to a passage! Thank God for working instruments.