Enroute to San Blas

SV Jenny
Alan Franklin/Lynne Gane
Wed 25 Feb 2015 17:13
Dear Family and Friends,
25th February 2015
Happy birthday to my cousin Kate, if she is reading this, have tried to send you an email but it is being returned.
I am very happy to report calmer waters! After 2-3 days of strong and very strong winds, yesterday afternoon they subsided to a gentler 15-20 knots (apparent wind, as it moves across the sails and not the same as the true wind speed), and it was really enjoyable. I have to say that otherwise you will think us quite mad, (and probably do anyway), to be in these conditions. We have taken a substantial detour west to avoid the worst of the winds and waves so it looks as though we will be anchoring in darkness tonight. Less than ideal but Alan has visited this anchorage before and we have the forward looking echo sounder which will all help.
Our friends on Sofia were already committed on a course with poled out sails and went right through the worst of the weather and reported it was absolutely horrid, shipping waves in their centre cockpit, usually a dry area.
If you have wondered what it is like to be in that kind of sea, read on, for those of a sensitive disposition, skip this paragraph!
As far as the eye can see waves are heaped up by the wind and but also come at you from other directions, for us it was from the NE and also from the SE/E. Huge walls of glassy blue water tower above the stern of the boat, from the bottom of the crater of churning white water left by the passage of the last waves, you can look up 20-30’. These are rolling towards you at some speed and the challenge is to keep stern in line with or diagonally on to the waves to ensure you are not broadsided and to travel at about the same speed as the waves. The waves lift the boat up and thrust it forward, sending it rushing forward at 8-9+ knots, with a crashing crescendo of breaking water. And those are the better ones as you ride these well enough. The waves from the side can catch you on the up or down motion and send the boat crashing sideways, decks in the water, 35-40 degrees from the horizontal and anything not secured with it. Sometimes the waves break against the side of the hull and over the decks, an impact of tons, that you feel with a shudder through your own body. And sometimes you teeter on the edge of a rising wave, looking down into the deep abyss. Get the angle of the boat to the waves wrong and it can be serious, loss of rudder, mast, things that definitely wont make your day. And the motion is relentless, your body tires quickly, you move only if you have to, you time your movements with those of the boat and still you can get caught out.
It certainly happened to me on the Atlantic crossing, but last night it has also happened to our friends on Sofia. Anne has been injured by being thrown bodily across the cabin, possibly bad bruising, query fractured rib. Difficult at the best of times but doubly so on a moving boat. They phoned for our help with anchoring tonight as we are only a few miles apart and heading for the same place and if necessary, if they want to go straight to Colon Panama tomorrow we will support them there too.
Our fishing foray is not progressing well either, we shipped a few flying fish during the rough weather, they seem to pick Alan’s watch to land in the cockpit. The Sofia’s reported 41 flying fish on their decks, I offered the Caribbean flying fish recipe but they had already been buried at sea! We did get a bite the other day and it looked like a 4-5’ Mahi mahi which put up a tremendous fight, one that our reel wasn’t up to and after almost an hour of painstaking reeling in, the reel clutch broke, the lure and line also went, so no fish, no lure, no line, no reel..... grrrh.
We are sailing downwind in lighter winds and looking forward to reaching the San Blas islands although quite how long we shall stay remains to be seen. Panama is a malaria area so we have started our medication, no side effects as yet, thank heavens.
All our best,
Lynne and Alan