Atlantic Crossing - Day 4

The Talulah's Web Diary
Ali Pery / Shane Warriker
Wed 19 May 2010 15:11
23:46.960N 59:28.590W

1350 UTC

This is Jon's "guest blog update"

Well we are now 420 nautical miles North North East of our departure point
of Antigua. Yesterday was an active day in terms of shipping, with us
crossing the intersection point of the bee-line for all the big ships
heading from Panama to Africa, and others from Venezuela to Europe. We are
steadily bashing through and across the seas, making 140 miles a day in our
chosen direction on a close reach to the wind. Although this direction is
more North than East at the moment, if you think about it the more North we
go the less East we need to do later. Additionally as we head North the
Easterly Seas, we are currently getting, should reduce or turn to assist in
our progress towards the Azores. Well that is the plan; we will see what
Neptune has to say about it.

Unfortunately, the last couple of days have been marred by the absence of
news of a recent but dear friend of ours, who set out at the same time as us
from Antigua and after one day became incommunicado. After much anguish
between us and subsequently other colleagues, through a twice daily, shared
radio SSB network our minds have been put to rest.

The last we heard from him, shortly after being targeted by a mysterious
white plane ourselves, was over the VHF radio stating that he was about to
be boarded, the reason unknown. After that we heard nothing and could not
raise him or any of the third party, on any of our communication channels.
Thoughts have been revolving through our minds including the possibility of
something having gone wrong with himself (single handed) or his boat but we
could get nothing back from the Coast Guard, either local or the US. Maybe
it could be local customs; surely they would be in liaison with the coast
guard. Then our thoughts went to the more sinister of possible piracy; we
knew there was an unknown party involved.  Is there anything else we could
or should have done? Two more days passed with us and our friends, through
the radio network, some still onshore, attempting to solve the mystery. Then
today after an e-mail to Falmouth Coastguard back in the UK we got a reply –
both from Falmouth Coastguard and our friend himself!  He had been boarded
by French Customs approx 150 miles North of Antigua and “forced” to sail
approx 120 miles in the wrong direction up to St Martin, where his boat was
taken apart and searched, during which time he was not allowed any contact
with anyone at all.  Needless to say they found nothing sinister aboard.  He
emailed us as soon as he could, and will have to spend the next few days
putting his boat back together before he is able to set sail again.  Despite
the terrible time he has had, we are celebrating the news that he is safe
and well – you should see the smiles on our 3 faces today!

It is still hot, and Off-watches are hot and muggy down below, as obviously
we can’t open any hatches.  The occasional wave in the cockpit gives us our
salt water showers, and the squalls we hit give us our fresh water showers. 
Already Talulah, and we, are getting very sticky and salty.  Our fresh food
is beginning to go off, but we have enough rice, flour and tins onboard to
keep us going for weeks and weeks!