Date: 6 December 2010
Position: South Atlantic 29:00.0S
After the deluge, we set sail at first light yesterday
morning for the long 450 mile passage south to Rio Grande. This isn’t just
because we like a long passage, but down this stretch of coast there are no
safe havens at all, so if you get caught out in thick weather – probably
blowing you onto the inhospitable shore – you’re stuffed. The four day
forecast was that for the first 18 hours we would be beating into a moderate
wind, and thereafter we would have the wind directly behind us – not the
perfect point of sail. But whilst not ideal, it wasn’t threatening.
After six hours of motoring, the wind filled in from
the SSE as promised and we had to sail at right angles to our destination, out
to sea. We were expecting around 20 knots of wind. We got it and it was quite
pleasant. The wind picked up to 25 knots and it started getting a little wet
and lumpy. The sky all around us turned grey, then black. The wind continued
to strengthen and the sea to get higher. By this time we were more than 30
miles offshore. We reefed right down until a full gale was shrieking through
the rigging, spray whipping horizontally across the deck. The wind speed over
the deck was 50 miles per hour. One thing that Mina2 is good at is shouldering her
way into strong winds and big seas, but for all of us it was distinctly
uncomfortable. I was becoming a tad nervous. This hadn’t been forecast at all.
What if it stayed like this? What if it got even worse? But we toughed it out
and after a few hours the wind began to abate slowly.
A consequence of the unexpected conditions is that none
of the Drunks has felt inclined to drink any alcohol for 24 hours and they are
now showing signs of withdrawal symptoms - crashing headaches, vomiting, and the
shakes. It’s a pathetic sight, but they are paying the price for their sins.
The vomiting was actually suffered by only one of the Drunks, and that may
have had more to do with the sea conditions. But no names, no pack drill, not
least because I’ve been paid quite a lot of money by Richard not to expose the
sufferer’s identity in the blog.
This morning, conditions could not be more different.
The wind has eased, the waves subdued, the sun is shining and the wind has
backed round to the east allowing us to romp merrily along on a beam reach.
Perfect conditions – for the moment.
The cherry on the cake was that 20 minutes ago we
caught a large plump dorado (I think) which will probably do us for about
three meals, starting at lunch time. We’ve also seen three sharks’ fins
slicing through the water. Lawrence wants to catch one. Bless.
Lunch for four and
I’ve appointed Richard as Entertainments Officer. Due
to a deep-seated insecurity he likes titles and has taken his responsibilities
seriously. At home he’s very keen on Am Dram (or, in his case, Ham Dram) and
he’s brought along the score and libretto of HMS Pinafore. I was lucky enough
to be given the role of the Captain of the ship, Captain Corcoran. At
rehearsals all the crew sing jolly songs about what a good captain I am, and
giving me three cheers and stuff. It’s brilliant It’s the only time I’m
treated with any respect on board. Shame it’s all play-acting.
The problem is that just because, between them, the
Drunks have more than 100 years offshore experience and over 60 years of yacht
ownership, they think they can sail. They strut around like they own the boat,
helping themselves to my booze and when they’re not completely ignoring me
they’re countermanding my every decision. Richard is particularly bad. He’s
already Entertainments Officer and Shitmeister (he’s responsible for opening
and closing the holding tank), but he objected to the title of Watch Keeper
and insisted everyone called him Watch Leader (despite the fact that with a
one-man watch system there’s no one to lead). Two days into the cruise and
he’d promoted himself to Watch Captain and today he’s throwing his not
inconsiderable weight around, taken to wearing my smart naval cap with “Cape
Horn & Patagonia” in gold letters on it, and calling himself Admiral of
The Watch for God’s sake.
The Admiral of The
One of the things that really irritates me are the
constant inane questions from the Drunks, always delivered in a pathetic
“Ti-im, where’s the corkscrew?”
“Ti-im, how do I open this bottle of
“Ti-im, there don’t appear to be any cans of beer in
“Ti-im, I’ve forgotten how to tie my
I mean, do I have to do EVERY bloody thing on this
boat. So I’ve taken to locking myself in my cabin and ignoring them. However,
even with their befuddled brains they’ve worked out a way of tricking me. All
they do is stand in the cockpit and in a stage whisper say something like
“Holy Shit – what’s that?” or “That’s big – and it’s coming straight for us.”
Within a nanosecond I pop up through the companionway like a Jack-In A-Box.