14-12-07 Ships Log Land Ahoy!!

Rebel T
Tim Walsh
Fri 14 Dec 2007 18:42

Dearest, dearest reader, Oh Joy of Joys!!, Ineffreble emotion fills my
bosom. "Land Ahoy!!"

The time is 17.21 GMT (UK), we sighted land about an hour ago. Interestingly
enough we sighted Martinique before we sighted St Lucia.

As I write St Lucia is 14 miles to the East of us. It came up sharp on the
port bow, but then all said and done we have GPS etc and it is largely down
to technology out of the box that our landfall is so accurate. But hey!..I
bought the bloody thing...so all credit to my forward thinking!!

This crossing gave us another bashing last night, and we are all glad that
tonight it can do what it wants because we are not playing any more!!

All was going well. It was dusk, Jeff and I were sitting on "Skipper's Seat"
sharing a little quality time with Skipper is lovely for the crew......

Anthony was in the cabin reading....We smelled water, rainwater, looking aft
we could see a squall developing. We were flying the full genoa, so we
watched for a while...then as ever the tell tale haze over the water
appeared so we reefed.

We have this sorted nowadays, both lines are run to winches and one person
can reef in 15 seconds. Ant was now in the cockpit oilskins on, Jeff was up
at the winches, I was steering, Ant read out the wind
speeds....24-27-29-30-32-35-38-Bastard bloody wind!!.
It has to be said that we no longer have the tension that we did earlier in
the crossing, the main response was to swear at the wind and reach for
oilskins at the same time. So long as we are not caught unawares that the
wind speed itself is not the problem, having said that, we find it important
to keep the boat moving in the same direction as the wind and to reef
quickly so as to be pulling as soon as possible so as not to slow down,
slowing down increases the apparent wind and that just aggravates
everything. Secondly is not to let anything flog, by that I mean flail
around loosely in the wind. Things simply shake themselves to destruction in
minutes. So we check all lines and tie all furling lines off so that they
cannot shake loose. If a sail were to unfurl at the wrong time that would
be a disaster. We attend to these things religiously and so far have not
fallen foul of them.
The real issue is the sea that builds up. Weight of water is what could
cause damage, and the speed that the wind blows us down the waves, added to
the size and steepness of the waves are our fear. We can not do much , we
cannot effectively outmaneavure the waves, we can just hold on and present
one quarter to the oncoming wave.

There were a few instances last night....We had 3 waves come aboard over the
transom. two came aboard as the white froth off the tops of just bigger than
normal waves, they were wet and unwelcome, but of no cosequence. The third
came over "With Menaces" as they say in law, We were at the crest of a big
sea, as we tilted over the top, we fell forward to begin the swoop down the
face, Rebel gave a weird little wiggle of her bum..she presented an
opportunity and a shoulder of the crest we had just passed came onboard
green. That means heavy. it quarter filled the cockpit It drained away
within a minute or so, but I suppose it must have been half a ton or so. The
boat coped beautifilly, I dont remember sensing any appreciable change in
bouyancy or motion, but it was all a bit quick. We had the saloon slide door
closed, but although this is the rule, we are, or have been somewhat
relaxed about this recently. We won't be again.

Through out the night were squalls, I loose count of how many times we
reefed then unreefed, then reefed again. Once we took off all sail as we hit
the 40knts plus for a gust, we started an engine and ran with the wind at
5knts on the flat and 12-16 on the face. I just hate sliding down the face.
The problem is that you have zero control over how fast you accelerate and
find that unnerving, but we have been OK so far and other boats negotiated
similar so, the envelope is probably further out than I judge.

We could also trail ropes out the back to slow us down , so in reality we
had and have options that are still in the box!!

Still, all that is now behind us. We are all pleased to be ariving, A
strange and most modern phenomenon was the mobile phones waking up and the
Blackberries and XDA's receiving emails from the last 20 days. Such signs of
approaching landfall are not mentioned in the sailing classics.
I don't remeber Eric Hiscock mentioning it once!!

The other modern event is that you can chase down the scales on the chart
plotter . By this I mean that you can increase the scale on the screen. It
is an utterly modern event that in books of the future will be commonplace!!

OK I am going to go. I posted this now because from experience I know that
once we arrive the boat will be busy and events will run away with us.

This would leave our valued readers hanging in the air and ultimately
dissapoint them....I wouldn't want that!!

So this is a "nearly there" blog. Trev will post a finish time if I don't
and we will be back. Our plan is to stay till 21st and then move South, but
this may change.

Pics are to come, not many but some.

Thanks to Mark and Marky Mark for the phone call. This blog is central to
the ship culture now, and that in itself is a modern odysey

OK I really am going now!! BYe...with love and thanks to you all Tim XXX