Date: 7 December 2010
Position: South Atlantic 31:00.0S
We were about 100 miles into the
450 mile passage – the one with no safe havens on the way. Nowhere to go if
there was unexpected trouble.
Having already had the gale force
winds mentioned in the previous blog, I picked up the latest forecast by
satellite email and all of a sudden very strong southerly winds were being
forecast to reach Rio Grande on Wednesday morning. These southerlies sweep up
from Argentina and are often preceded by the legendary Pampeiro; the killer
wind. This coast line and the River Plate are strewn with wrecks, victims of the
Pampeiro. Darwin and Fitzroy’s Beagle was very nearly dashed on the shore off
Maldonado just 300 miles down the coast. The Pampeiro is heralded by a
cigar-shaped cloud below which are screaming winds of up to 100 miles per hour.
Get caught in that and all you pray for is that you survive.
When we received this news, we
had reached the point of no return – there was no way we could fight our way
back 100 miles against the strong winds and waves. So we are now rushing at the
maximum possible speed with the strong wind right behind us in a desperate dash
to get into Rio Grande before the front arrives. The boat is slewing around
pushed by the waves before surfing down the fronts of the waves at terrific
speeds. We are rolling heavily and no one can sleep.
We now have about 125 miles to
go, and we hope to get in in the early hours of tomorrow morning. If the
Pampeiro beats us to it, the entrance to the Rio Grande will be too dangerous to
attempt and we’ll be left to face the storm.
Cross your fingers for us. We’ll
try and keep you posted.