Barry and Margaret Wilmshurst
Tue 14 May 2013 10:19
Ascension – 7 degrees 55 minutes south. We have not been ashore yet but it is not for want of trying. We arrived on Sunday afternoon following a quiet passage, not tiring but with little wind so we took two days longer than expected. In order to avoid a further day’s delay we ran the engine for the last 12 hours.
On Monday morning we were full of good intentions. We dropped our main in the morning calm. With our full vertical battens this is a bit of a performance but the sail needs several minor repairs. We topped up the tanks from the cans on deck, collected the empty cans and rubbish and set off for the landing at the pier-head following a Dutch couple, Paul and Marietta from Nije-Faam. They had been here four days and knew the ropes. The plan was to share a car, see the island and get our diesel cans filled. It did not go well. They got Marietta ashore at the third surging approach, after some heart stopping moments for those watching 30 metres away, but when Paul tried the dinghy flipped and landed on top of him. After quite some struggle he got out from under, grabbed the bottom rung, another big surge and he managed to get a foot on the ladder and climbed up with help from above. He is a mountaineer with a good strength/weight ratio. But from where we sat it didn't look good. Momentarily I saw myself as the intrepid cox'n, putting the lifeboat into the jaws of death only to pluck from the watery maelstrom the lifeless body of the unfortunate Dutchman. It never happened. All we plucked from the maelstrom was one oar, a useful stick, two bags of rubbish and a big bag of water bottles that were floating away. Having managed to heave a line ashore with the oar attached (twice – the first time their leather lanyard at the end of the oar broke), we turned our transom to our soggy friends and went back home for a cup of tea. We left them to dry off in the hotel and try to get someone to see to the drowned outboard - no luck. We decided to wait for another day - or, if it doesn't improve, we'll just sail off. Apparently, when they tried to get back to Nije-Faam Paul fell in again, swept off the landing by a chest high wave, making Marietta very angry - he was carrying the shopping. Without a working engine they were towed out to the yacht by friendly locals helping to salvage a small launch that had sunk on its mooring and was being craned up on to the pier. Busy place.
Nije-Faam left this morning. Marietta had seen enough of Ascension and as they motored out they did not appear to be looking over their shoulders.
We plan to spend a working day on the boat and reassess the position on Wednesday. If it is calmer we shall have another go; perhaps check in and out at the same time and see if we can hire a car and buy diesel from the distant garage.
In the medium term the current plan is head for the Azores passing very close to the Cape Verde Islands at about half distance. If we are low on fuel, the wind serves and we have the time we shall take a break at Mindelo where there is a marina. All to be decided later.
We have some pictures of St Helena ready but no internet so regrettably they will have to wait.