logo Mina2 in the Caribbean - Where's The Ice Gone?
Date: 19 Nov 2011 12:45:38
Title: Mina2 Falls Apart in Full Gale

Position: 44:26.51S 058:43.33W

Date: 19 November 2011

Time: 0945 L 1245 UTC

 

 

Well, we got the full gale we were expecting – and something else we weren’t expecting. The wind rose to more than 40 knots for a number of hours and the seas rose correspondingly so we had 3 ½ metre waves riding under us from the starboard quarter (from the back but slightly to one side). We had a well reefed main and a reefed yankee on the other side, held out with the spinnaker pole (which is about 4 metres long and as thick as my thigh). Periodically a bigger wave than usual would push the stern of the boat round, but the new autopilot was coping extremely well. Mid morning a much larger rogue wave reared up, picked up the stern and spun us round. The strong wind caught the front of the yankee (it should have been behind the sail), there was a loud BANG and the spinnaker pole was thrashing around on the foredeck, detached from the mast, but still connected to the sail, high off the deck. A cast aluminium fitting that attaches the pole to the mast had sheared. Luckily both John and I were on deck and within a couple of minutes John had furled the yankee away, so the pole was now pacified and we went forward, lowered the pole onto the deck and lashed it securely.

 

It’s not a major problem but undoubtedly an inconvenience. We only use the pole when we have the wind directly behind us, when it is very effective in giving us a (normally) safe and stable ride. However, I was straight onto trying to find a replacement for the fitting. I called Oyster Aftersales (who provide a fantastic service) on the satellite phone (the wonders of modern technology!) who started the process of identifying the precise part and where they could get one and courier it out by plane to the Falklands. Failing that, John (who is an engineer) believes we may be able to have one fabricated in Stanley.

 

As we head further south the nights are now becoming significantly shorter (it is approaching summer down here), but with the moon now not rising until about three in the morning, the nights are as black as pitch. On my midnight to 0300 watch last night, I saw a lot of lightning to the south and southeast, probably more than a hundred miles away. Perhaps it was as well our departure was delayed by the bureaucrats after all – we might have been in the thick of it. The sea temperature is now below 10 C so the night watches are carried out in thermals, foulies, woolly hats, boots and gloves.

 

We are now just more than half way there and are beginning to look at the weather patterns to calculate the best route. It’s not simple. The forecasts are changing quite rapidly, but the closer we get, the more accurate they are likely to become. At the moment it looks like the wind will die today (which it has started) and back round from the north to the south. Sunday should see the stronger northerlies resuming again. But then on Monday and Tuesday strong winds are now being forecast from the sou’southeast. If we maintained a direct course to Stanley (sou’southeast) it will be bang on the nose and if progress were possible at all, it would be extremely uncomfortable. So we are keeping well to the west of the rhumb line, so we can sweep round to the east on our final approach and get a better angle on the wind. It will mean travelling further, but hopefully a lot more comfortably. My best guess at the moment is that we will arrive on Tuesday afternoon, but we may have to stand off overnight and enter at first light Wednesday.

 

On other matters, I’ve been inundated with emails from limp-wristed, tree-hugging, albatross-kissing conservationists, all horrified that John deliberately caught an albatross with a fishing line. So I have to admit that the account may have been slightly exaggerated or, more precisely, completely made up. During the long night watches I’m afraid I allowed my imagination to run riot a bit. I apologise unreservedly for any offence I may have caused. I feel deeply ashamed because this blog has always had a reputation for complete honesty with never any deviation from the absolute truth. (In fairness, the bit about the DS leaving half our food in the freezer in Buenos Aires is, in fact, completely true).

 

Joining us on our Great Adventure South, at his insistence, is Able Seadog Snoopy, ship’s mascot and my constant companion for 35 years. He always likes to do the ocean passages and it was on our Transatlantic crossing a couple of years ago that he was such a help with watch keeping, sail trimming, and mixing the Mango Bombs with a Triple Gin Float that he earned his promotion from Ordinary Seadog. He has been kitted out by the DS with polar wear to keep him snug in Antarctica. He now sports a little woolly cap and a neck warmer. Last night as the temperature dropped ever lower, I saw him looking a little grumpy. “What’s the problem Snoopy?” I asked. “It’s my polar wear” he said “they smell like old socks” (not really surprising as they are in fact made from old socks) “and the DS promised me some mitts for my paws. I suppose she left them in Buenos Aires like half my food. My paws are f***ing freezing”. “SNOOPY!!” I cried, “how dare you use language like that, and do NOT be rude about the DS, your superior officer!” Snoopy was brought up short. He suddenly looked crestfallen and, without being asked, trotted over to the Naughty Chair where he sat with tears of shame rolling down his little cheeks. Bless.


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