Skipper Injured In Catastrophic Tea Disaster

Mina2 in the Caribbean - Where's The Ice Gone?
Tim Barker
Mon 26 Mar 2012 16:49

Skipper Injured In Catastrophic Tea Disaster

Position 44:42S 060:28W

Date/Time: 26 March 1200 local (1500 UTC; 1600 UK)


We’re following the cold front with its strong southerly / southwesterly winds up the South Atlantic and it’s providing an exhilarating ride. We started off running directly before the wind but the consequence, as the seas built, was such uncomfortable rolling of the boat including everything in it, that we packed that in after the first day and have since then been batting along with the wind 25° off our stern which makes for a more comfortable but still very boisterous ride.


After several days of gale Force 8 winds, the seas have grown majestic. We are now 200 miles from the nearest land, (the coast of Argentina to our left), and from where the winds are coming from it is clear blue water as far as Tierra del Fuego more than 600 miles away, so there is plenty of room for a long 100 metre ocean swell to develop. In between these 4 to 5m high rollers are overlaying smaller waves generated by the current wind which climb like a ladder up the big rollers. The crests of many of the waves are breaking, sending brilliant white cock combs of water tumbling down the waves, contrasting with the deep, deep blue of the ocean. The waves are travelling a lot faster than we are, so they advance on us from astern. As each peak approaches, towering high above us, Mina2 kicks her pretty stern into the air and allows them to pass beneath her hull. Whilst the waves look beautiful and dramatic, they are not sufficiently big to be threatening to us (touch wood, fingers crossed). And, sadly, there is not a camera on earth which can recreate the shape and size of these waves – all photographs of waves at sea look pathetic compared to the reality.


These conditions are forecast to remain for the next 36 hours, by which time the cold front will have overtaken us and we will fall into the high pressure system behind it with much weaker and variable winds for the remainder of the passage, so we are enjoying it whilst it lasts. We have not been pushing the boat hard at all. Our sail plan of a deeply reefed mainsail and a scrap of headsail is based on comfort and safety rather than maximising our speed. Nevertheless, our distance covered over the last 24 hours, noon to noon, has been a more than respectable 184 miles over the ground, an average of 7.7 knots.


With more than 750 miles under the keel since we left Ushuaia, we are now just beyond the half way point. As is traditional on Mina2 on her ocean passages, we are celebrating the occasion with a glass of fine wine. Lawrence is in the cockpit on watch. Tom and I come on deck with three glasses of light coloured liquid and hand one to Lawrence. We raise our glasses and take a long sip. Whilst Tom and I savour the delicate nuances of the fine wine rolling across our palates, Lawrence spits his drink out. The next thing he spits out is a string of expletives. Well, what was he expecting other than water? He is on watch after all.


The boisterous conditions have exacted their toll. Last night, Andrew made a mug of tea for both of us. As he was climbing back into the cockpit, I offered to hold his mug and pass it to him. At that moment a rogue wave hit us at an awkward angle and the boat lurched at a crazily. I made a grab for a handhold, missed, and the next thing I was flying through the air, spraying scalding tea all over me. The first point of contact with the sole board (floor) was my elbow. A searing pain shot through it as I stumbled apologetically to my feet to make Andrew another brew. 12 hours later and it’s still hurting a lot, but as I have not even a shadow of a bruise to show for it, I’m getting absolutely no sympathy from the crew. They’ll pay for it, believe me.


Only minutes after my accident, I had made a cuppa for myself which I had put safely on a sticky mat on the saloon table. As luck would have it, Rogue Wave No2 hits us and my full mug of tea hurtled across the saloon and smashed into a thousand pieces. There’s now more tea in the bilge than there is bilge water.


Just before dawn, Lawrence and Andrew were in the saloon when all of a sudden, after three days of continuous silence, the VHF radio crackled into life. They were surprised to find themselves listening to a long conversation between two fishing boats carried out in Japanese. Lawrence looked worried as he said to Andrew “Do you think the skippers gone the wrong way?”