The Mission

Mina2 in the Caribbean - Where's The Ice Gone?
Tim Barker
Wed 23 Sep 2009 09:37

The Mission


Position:          37:06.36N       008:40.25W


Over the next few years the plan is to work our way south, down the east coast of South America, to Tierra del Fuego and the Beagle Channel. In the winter (their summer) of 2011/12 the INTENTION is to head south across the Drake Passage, subjecting ourselves to 500 miles of some of the roughest and windiest seas in the world, before arriving in Antarctica. Having previously taken Mina2 into the Arctic Circle the ultimate objective, if conditions allow, would be to shove our way through the ice into the Antarctic Circle (66° 33’ 39’’S). Then, of course, we would have to make our way back across the Drake Passage and complete our rounding of Cape Horn. Well, that’s the intention.


But first things first. Throughout September 2009 Mina2 was in Lagos in Portugal undergoing a major refit in preparation for the tough conditions and uncertain boatyard facilities we will encounter over the next few years. Spitting in the face of recession, she has been fitted out with a new set of AGM batteries, been re-rigged, had a new set of Hood Vektron sails made, had her bottom sheaved with copper impregnated epoxy resin (Coppercoat) as long-term antifouling, and acquired about the biggest anchor you ever did see (a Rocna 40 kg, to be precise). Communications have been beefed up with an Iridium satellite phone to supplement the SSB communications we already have, so now we hum like (and have the power consumption of) a Type-42 frigate!


So the boat is better equipped and better prepared than she has ever been. That doesn’t mean that things won’t go wrong. They will, and doubtless you will hear all about the failures in future blogs!


The plan for the next six months is to sail south across the Atlantic to Brazil and cruise down the coast ending up in Angra Dos Reis, a fabulous cruising ground in between Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo. Most of this will be in the company of 35 other yachts as part of the French-run Rallye des Isles du Soleil ( ). I am not by nature a rally person, preferring the flexibility and sense of adventure of independent travel. However this rally does include not only a trip into the mangroves of the Sine Saloum delta in Senegal but also a trip 500 miles up the Amazon, escorted by an armed escort boat for security. Both these trips would be unwise travelling independently and alone. I will not, in fact, be joining the rally up the Amazon next year, as it would be almost impossible getting back south 1000 miles directly into strong trade winds and a 2 knot current. Instead I will be rejoining the rally when we have completed our Antarctic adventure and we are heading back north again.


The route of the rally from October to the end of December is: Madeira, Tenerife, Dakhla (Morocco), Dakar (Senegal), Sine Saloum delta, Dakar (again), Mindelo (Sao Vicente in the Cape Verde Islands), then at the beginning of December down the Atlantic to Salvador in Brazil. The Atlantic crossing will involve heading south, through the Doldrums, across the Equator and then SSW across the southeast trade winds to arrive in Salvador a week or two before Christmas.


The Downstairs Skipper doesn’t do ocean passages, so I will be joined by a succession of friends on the way: Lawrence Wells, Adrian Burn, Richard Close-Smith, Tom Mallaburn, Colin Andrews, Neil Thackray, Venetia Kenny-Herbert and my son, Peter.


We plan to leave Lagos in Portugal for the 500-mile passage to Madeira on 8 October, so the blogs should start on or about the 9th. Should we seem to disappear off the map with no communication, fret not – it will simply mean that the computer / satellite phone / something else has packed up!


I hope you will enjoy sharing our adventures, and our trials and tribulations, through the blogs over the coming months.


Tim Barker

S/Y Mina2