Late last night we crossed the Indian penninsula and by morning had crossed the Gulf of Mannar. That and the fact that we had covered the maximum distance of 182 Nm in 24 hrs so far, called for a celebration. The skipper ordered the Chef who in turn decided to do away with the usual fare of rice and canned stuff for the day and instead serve hot Dosas and Kapi! So "Pan to Plate" piping hot dosas was the menu for B'fast & lunch. Washed down with some fresh coffee brewed in the Italian Coffee maker fondly gifted by Ottavio and Pai! Absolutely delicious! Another reason to feel good was that the Wind Vane autopilot was put to work for over six hours in the morning and worked without a whimper even with following wind and sea. Thats good news because now I can conserve my diesel and also have something to fall back on in the absence of electricity. Its quite a nifty gadget which uses only the force of the wind and water rushing past the boat to keep her at the desired angle to the wind. The day progressed nicely, big ships passing by, rainbows and all till in the evening saw the first of the equatorial squalls approach. Some sixth sense prevailed and I furled in the Genoa. It was too late to put in a reef in the main. The squall hit, strong winds of about 30 to 35 kts first but Mhadei responded to hand steering, then heavy rain, not too bad, I was planning to have a bath anyway! Just when I thought we had weathered this one the strongest of the winds slammed in. Mhadei almost went over and then turned into the wind and got stuck for good. It was strange, with the main sail fully out and the rudder hard over the boat was just standing there facing the wind on an almost even keel. A new experience for me! These were followed by two bone crunching gybes as the boom slammed into the runner and it was with some difficulty that we managed to get back downwind again. I was soaked and on the edge when suddenly felt the sun warming by back. Looked back in surprise to see an almost clear sky with the sun shining as if the squall never happend! First thing I did was to put in a reef in the main as that experience is not something you want to go through after dark. Found four dead baby squids washed up on the deck. Took a long time to clear up the mess inside the boat as a lot of things had taken flight during our violent manouevers. Its past midnight now and I am sitting in front of the radar keeping an eye on the squalls. Two seem to be closing in so I better stop this and get ready to face them.