Retreated and defeated
Eleanor Tims, aka Ryllis Tims
Wed 12 Dec 2007 12:33
N 50:21 W 03:35
Last Wednesday, a week ago today, we reassembled on Avanti, the gear box repair (a broken oil seal) having been completed. We believed that there would be a weather window on Friday, enabling us to make the 24 hour trip back up Channel, returning Avanti to a place much nearer home. How wrong we were. We sat out four whole days of almost non-stop rain, with the boat becoming damper and damper until all our bedding was wet. There was moisture everywhere, (heavy condensation), but my staunch companions did not complain at all. Outside, the gales came through, thick and fast. Gale Force 8; then 9; then Storm Force 10; and occasionally howling furious bouts of Severe Storm Force 11.
The dinghy, hanging in davits on the stern, filled with water faster than we could empty it, or handle it in the strong winds. One of the davits succumbed, broke at a weld, so we lashed the dinghy onto the fore-deck. We ran out of gas for the heater and used up one of the two bottles for the cooker. We'd been having a lot of hot drinks! And I, to Mike's scorn, ("Girls are such wimps"), took two hot water bottles to bed with me, one for my feet and one to cuddle. Davy got through a lot of gin and tonic and I was to be seen occasionally comforting myself with a drop (?) of whisky. Mike had plenty of videos to show us on his large-screen p.c., thank goodness, so picture us sitting there in the nice comfortable saloon of a wet boat, hour after hour, day after day, with gales raging outside, watching bright and cheerful offerings from Disney.
We left on Monday, at 04:40, with the forecast of moderating winds, going down to nearly no wind. Hooray, we're on the home stretch!
Not at all. A wind shift and a strengthening wind, plus wind over tide in Lyme Bay, made it so rough that continuing was madness, and when the block, through which the genoa sheet (aka - pulley, foresail, rope) broke and the sail tried to do a big kite act, we turned tail and went back as far as Dartmouth. You can see exactly where Avanti is on the link below - move the map up with the hand thingy and she's right at the top, on a deep water pontoon, out in the river, accessible by water taxi, and we are all in our respective homes. And of course the forecast was right; ever since we went into Dartmouth there has been no wind.
Now I'm going out of my mind with worry. All that wet bedding on the boat. All that food. Everything will go mouldy. Dartmouth is hard to get to: no train station there. A 3 hour car journey, and I doubt I can drive as I injured my left hand and can barely use it. I'm typing this with only my right hand. I want to go down there and bring off some of my clothes, but doubt I can.
I feel defeated by the situation. However, at least we have achieved the crew's original hope: HOME FOR CHRISTMAS. Mine? No, I was going to have a Canaries Christmas. Still, at least I'll get to see "Carols from Kings" again this year. And decorate the house instead of the boat in the bright sunshine of Lanzarote.
I wish you all a very happy Christmas. I thank you for your emails and your loving support. I thank my crew - a great gang.