logo Mariposa Blanca Move
Date: 12 Feb 2013 13:15:29
Title: Position 18:23N 063:41.6W

Tuesday 12 Feb 2013

Log 5566
Noon to noon 129nm
GPS to go 61nm

We all are looking forward to "Painkillers" to ease and lubricate the stiff joints we have, topped up by a large plate of chips and something nice, all delivered to a table which is stationary. We earned it last night!! Mother nature played a mean trick so late into this passage.

The day deteriorated yesterday as expected but we made some great speed in a good direction. Having dismissed an earlier idea of a brief stopover in French St Martin because we would have arrived in the dark and this is not recommended generally around here due to known sounding and chart errors, we decied we could make a beeline for Tortola and perhaps arrive before the customs clearance office closes for the day at 1630 local.

Before dark, Mike made a fin al sterling effort in a very lively galley to produce a nice hot beef curry from a tin with his own special rice, all eaten from dogbowls in the cockpit. Then the weather decided we had been having a too easy time of things and sent us NNE (as opposed to the more helpful NE) winds at a steady 30 knots and gusting 38, accompanied by house sized rollers with hissing spitting white curlers on the tops which attempted to enter any oriface not fully secure on the boat (it failed to find any) and even more inconveniently, it included black cloud after black cloud on a night without moon anyway and then for good measure, filled every third cloud with water determined to fall to earth. Hence an already uncomfortable night became pure misery as it rained and rained again and the whole horizon (had we been able to see it!) was obliterated.

By now we were closing to the north of the UK island Anguilla with a need to pass over the shallow extended banks to its north side, in order to escape the Atlantic and enter the Caribbean. We sensed the island was there rather than saw it and the rain storms really did obliterate it. Radar homed in on the rain clouds and not the land and we were without any means to confirm our GPS location, heading in heavy weather for a serious shoal, with adjacent islands forming a lee shore. With a situation which could have been lifted straight out of a Yachting Monthly "what now skipper" quiz, our skipper took solace in some more coffee and a few more ciggies before deciding to use the only other option to check GPS which was soundings (a much under used tool by the way!!) so we carried on towards the shoals with a specific waypoint placed strategically where the bottom rose up from 4000 m through 900m to 40m, all in under 2 miles. Sail was reduced to survival canvas and we crept in at our slowest speed possible of about 5 knots, waiting for the bottom to appear on the echo sounder (previously calibrated by the way!) at the time and depth the chart claimed. It all worked out fine and to our surprise, the shoals did not have wild white water over them as was a real possibility given the heavy seas and massive changes in depth. We crept on over the shoals for another 13 miles befor ethe water started to deepen again and, needless to say, then the clouds disappeared and we were given our first sighting of a landfall in confirmation of the other evidence that we were where we wanted to be and safe.

For the first and only time this whole trip, Andy demanded 2 people on watch at all times but the third person found it impossible to sleep anyway and we are all dog tired this morning. Daybreak (1030 UT) brought a reduction in wind to around 25 knots and we are back into one person watches, broad reaching in quiteheavy seas at around 7 knots. On deck it is pleasant, below decks I am still fighting to avoid being ejected by the chart table seat and Mike is asleep.

WE can stilll make Road Town before sunset but are likely to miss the customs office. Our good friend Tony is on stand by to help us clear in anyway and direct us to the booked marina berth. Peter and Gail will be waiting also as they arrived on Tortola this morning. The team had pallned to use the final day to clean up, sahve and put on fresh clothes for a smart arrival but I think now, after the last 24 hrs, we will look just like a crew who have crossed the Atlantic! and the boat cleaning will be waiting for us tomorrow.

Saw one ship last night in the early hoursa nd have heard some VHF chatter by Amercicans and a regular VHF coastradio announcement of something, all in French and none of us speak French.

A lone frigate bird has been circling us and just saw a lone dolphin (very rare to see only 1) gambolling under our bows. The sun has appeared from behind the clouds and last night is receeding into the memorys, its place being taken by the anticipation of actually spotting a real landfall and our destination, the afore mentioned food and drink, showers and a serious sleep.

It will also provide us the chance of calling home to loved ones and catching up on news. Ade tried to call his son Chris today to wish him Happy BIrthday but only got the answering machine, so from us Chris, Happy Birthday.

Mike promised us pancakes today but Ade used all the eggs yesterday for breakfast with his excellent home made bread.

Thanks Jan for your great support to us all and those very regular update messages. So we know the Pope has resigned and burgers are off the menu right now.

The Mariposa Blanca delivery team of "Admiral" Andy Petty, "Padre" Mike Povey and "Lord" Adrian Sinker Waller. Titles courtesy of nothing better to talk about a during a motoring session 10 days ago!

NB Will aim to prodcue a final update blog tomorrow afetr arrival and sleep etc. Thank for reading folks.

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