Barreling Along in Half a Gale

Mina2 in the Caribbean - Where's The Ice Gone?
Tim Barker
Fri 18 Nov 2011 12:54

Position: 42:17.25S 057:31.83W

Date: 18 November 2011

Time: 0945 L 1245 UTC


Although we’ve now entered the Roaring Forties of the South Atlantic, the wind and waves have so far been kind to us. Compared to the first two days of motoring torture, we had an exceedingly pleasant day yesterday. Light to moderate winds from behind us, we were gently cruising along at 5 to 6 knots, rolling slightly but with little in the way of waves. By this morning the wind had picked up as forecast; it is now blowing half a gale with a bit more to come later today and tonight. We’re currently romping along at about 8 knots but we have now met the adverse Falklands current which is reducing our speed over the ground to a little under 7 knots.


The consistently cloudless skies which we enjoyed for the first two days of the passage have changed as well. With this northerly wind pushing warmer moist air from the River Plate over the cooler water of the South Atlantic, it has often been misty and on a couple of occasions we have been enveloped for a few hours in damp, clinging fog. We are now almost exactly half way to the Falklands. With 570 miles to go we should be there in about four days if things go to plan.


There was less wildlife around us yesterday – a few shearwaters, petrels and albatrosses – but we did have one bit of naturalistic excitement. A fur seal suddenly appeared, swimmingly rapidly along with us at the stern of the boat. It was porpoising out of the water and careering either side of us. It stuck with us for about 10 minutes. None of us have seen a seal playing with a boat in this way before.


We pick up weather forecasts twice a day by satellite email, and the forecasts have been changing quite rapidly so it’s difficult to be certain what’s in store for us. But it looks like we will continue to enjoy these significantly stronger winds and higher waves  – still from behind us which is comfortable – for another 24 hours or so. But then we will fall into the hole of a high pressure system for a day which will mean little in the way of wind, and variable in direction, so we may have to motor for a bit tomorrow before the next low sweeps south past the Falklands giving us more northerly sailing winds from behind us again.


Oh, I almost forgot. When I signed off yesterday, we had this enormous albatross on the poop deck, a little bit cross, all of us anticipating a succulent roast dinner in the absence of all the food still sitting in the DS’s freezer at her mum’s home, and there, approaching rapidly, was this menacing cloud spitting forks of lightning into the sea. All of a sudden Linda suddenly recalled the poem she had read about an albatross. It was called something like “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” and it was all about this idiot on a ship that kills an albatross which triggered all sorts of storms and pestilence in punishment by the gods. The pestilence we already have on board, and frankly we could do without the violent storms as well. So we chucked the albatross overboard which seemed none the worse for his close call with our dinner table, and we prostrated ourselves on the poop deck in supplication to King Neptune. The cloud which was by now almost upon us released a fantastic thunderbolt which struck the water close to the boat, turning the sea into steam, and the cloud immediately dissipated leaving us once again bathed in sunshine and being wafted across the ocean by a gentle breeze.


John, who had caught the damned bird, is of course in disgrace and has had to spend most of the day on the Naughty Chair. The Naughty Chair is rather small and John is very big, so he’s been sitting with his knees at the same level as his ears looking a bit like a disconsolate cricket.