+++STOP PRESS+++MINA2 IN RACE AGAINST TIME TO AVOID KILLER STORM+++
Date: 7 December 2010
Position: South Atlantic 31:00.0S 049:52.3W
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.