Saturday Night at the downpour...but it wasn't raining was Andromeda and the Amazing Techinicolour Light Show.....and yes we made it......

andromeda of plymouth
Susan and Andrew Wilson
Sun 25 May 2014 21:49
N32:22:685 W64:40:937
All we can say is what a 24hours. Yesterday morning we were a bit tired because of the difficulty holding a course in the lumpy sea, however we had made so much better progress that at 9am had only 54 miles to go. There was now an outside possibility that we could make it just before dark.  The wind held steady and less time was spent swinging up and down the waves, but even so after a few hours we got fed up with the boom snatching  back and forth and took the main down finding the ride much smoother flying only the genoa.
Early afternoon a voice broke the silence, we were picking up transmissions from Bermuda Radio.  It was great to hear another voice but more importantly we knew we were nearly there. Next we had a WOW moment as the wind shifted and went up a few gears, and we were hurtling along on a lovely reach directly headed down the Rum line. In a lull we put up the main again to capitalise on this bonus, then just as suddenly it died away completely and it was another half hour before were were moving again.
Celebrating our impending arival on went the CD player and American Idiot by Green Day, a brilliant album especially,made  for prancing about to and singing along  with at the top of your voice.  Even more excitement followed when Andrew spotted Bermuda for the first time and shouted out in grand tradiiton 'Land Ahoy'.
25 miles out (5.10pm local time) we tried to call up Bermuda Radio as instructed.The reception was poor so we were asked to try again later. 
Just after 6pm we established contact, requesting the availability of a tow (more later) into the cut. An hour or so later we were informed that unfortunately this couldn't be arranged before morning so were faced with trying the cut ourselves in the dark or sailing around for the next 12 hours. We had already slowed ourselves down, for once grateful to be only doing 2.5knots as we approached Bermuda's waters and thought we would sail up and see how well lit it was lit and what the conditions were like.  Andrew took the opportunity for a brief rest and Susan had taken over the watch, keeping an eye on the distant lightning illuminating, when the guy from Bermuda radio called again to see if we had decided what to do. We told him that on reflection we would wait till morning, daylight and the tow were told we would be met at first light.
Finishing the radio call Andrew was going back to bed when the wind whistled all around us going from 5 to 25knots plus in the blink of an eye, and then the heavens really opened.  We couldn't see the coast at all, even though we were only about 2miles off. The rain lashed us and although I was togged up for night sailing Andrew had only a tshirt and underwear so he got thoroughly soaked in seconds. The squall went on for ages with lightning flashing all around us, over the island and what felt like a huge area. Thunder was rumbling constantly and visibility was reduced markedly. The wind span round and we did with it, keeping it behind us in effect so the boat motion wasn't too bad.  Susan collected up all the small electronic items and put them inside our small faraday cage (oven) just in case and at the end of each onslaught we took a deep breath and waited for the next one, pleased that at least we were in the lee of the island and the sea was no where near as bad as it could have been.  By midnight it was easing and we could start to try and dry out. Thank heavens we have several sets of oillies and jackets (thanks Dad, the one you gave us 5 years ago really came in handy last night) as we got absolutely drenched several times. Very little sleep was had and even the thermal underwear was called into service.
Now something else should become clear, one of the reasons we were so slow on the trip up, was that once again we did not want to use the engine.We had an incident, in the middle of the night, just over half way to Bermuda, when the engine suddenly sounded louder than usual and we became aware of unusual vibrations in Andromeda. We had already motored quite a bit up to this point because of  the conditions and although we had put in the nearly 200 extra litres of fuel we carried on deck, we wanted to conserve what we had left for emergencies and our arrival in Bermuda.  We didn't want to be report yet another bit of misfortune, and felt frustrated that once again, when putting on the engine, whilst the wind settled on a direction, etc., would have made things much more pleasant, we couldn't do so. Andrew tried the engine at intervals but found he could only get it up to about 1200rpm and we were concerned that if we had to negotiate the Cut in adverse conditions (like Thunder, Lightning, it was very very frightning - for you Martin) we would be exposing ourselves to unnecessary risks, hence the request for a tow. Obviously we were also worried that the engine might suddenly refuse to work at all.
We met the guys on  Line One at the Spit cardinal mark at 7.15am, they were great and soon had a heaving line attached to us and we were off being pulled through the water at 5.5 knots. I was sat on the dinghy at the bow and enjoyed the race we had with the car carrier, also wanting to use the channel, we won.  Once through the Cut the heaving line was retrieved and Line One came along side to take us to the Customs dock before gently depositing us there so we could clear into Bermuda.
An interested crowd (even at 7.45 in the morning) was around and asked why we were being assisted in. After hearing the reason an eagle eyed guy on the dockside  commented  'well I can see somthing hanging from your propellor'.  In the crystal clear water he could clearly see the bottom of Andromeda's prop.  We looked at each other, one of the things we had worried about was whether we actually had a propellor still, as we had noticed we didin't hear its usual noises as we sailed along.  Andrew had thought about going over the side, but we decided that as we are only two up it would be a very risky thing to do in the open ocean, given the conditins we had experienced. After sorting all the paperwork out, we asked permission for Andrew to have a look at the prop whilst we were at the dock. Donning snorkel, mask and flippers, under the water he went.  One broken knife, a lot of dives (and this was after a night of little sleep and following the previous week) Andrew had retireved a huge mass of plastic rope from around the prop. How or where we had picked it up we had no idea. The first we knew  of the problem was after sailing over 450 miles, the majority away from the coast or an area likely to have fishing pots, but here we had somehow managed to sail into the exact part of the ocean where (and of course this was at night, so we had no chance of seeing anything on the surface or below the water) a huge amount of cut off line had ended up.  We think it originally would was an even larger mass around the prop - no wonder we felt a difference in  Andromeda's performance overall, it wasn't just the sea state or us forgetting how to sail properly (and these things do cross your mind).
So smiles all round as we left the Custom dock, feeling the response from the engine and our movement through the water so obviously back to what it should have been...yippee .We are so relieved as once again we had arrived, thinking we needed professional help, on a weekend, and not only that, a Public Holiday weekend too.  We do still have to pay the bill for the tow, and have no idea how much this will be yet.
We are now in a little marina, courtesy of a nice old guy who got chatting to us on the dock.  We were going to go to the yacht club but having emailed and got no reply and then tried to phone but the office was closed, we took the opportunity offered us.  Once tied up and after a glorious shower we both hit the berths for a few hours before going to stretch our legs and work a few kinks out by walking to the very pretty nearby town of St. Georges.
Typically when we got back we found out that we had missed seeing the folks of Athenea who popped, before they left on their way again too.  We hope to follow in just a few days.
Just incase it isn't clear, Andrew is my hero, everyday.
more in due course,
Susan and Andrew
S/V Andromeda