Thursday, 7 April 2011

Hello sailor!

I can finally say that again as we have completed our first ocean passage for rather a long time. And it was hell!!!

I demanded a helicopter to take me off the boat at regular intervals and gave the boat away a number of times until....we got here. and then like childbirth it was quickly forgotten in the euphoria of land fall.

But I get ahead of myself. We left Guatemala on the 22nd march the first time, yup that's right, the first time.
Everything prepared for a 500 mile passage to windward and off we went. Straight into a nasty storm of over 35 knots straight on the nose. We were expecting 20k from the SE and got 35 from the NE. Ah well such is sailing!
It was OK until the engine ground to a shuddering halt with a lot of cursing from below decks from TBH, I was on watch, we switched everything off and looked at each other with resigned despair. Oh well it's a sail boat we'll just have to do a whole lot more tacking.

That proved to be easier said than done. The wind continued to rise. We now had two reefs in the main and just the staysail up. The waves were short, steep with no back on them which meant that we were slamming into the water on every 3-4 waves. Really nasty stuff. It's like tobogganing down a concrete mogul run, yucky!

By now we were only 20 miles off the barrier reef of Belize and getting concerned about our safety.
TBH went below to get some sleep and as I picked up the next weather forecast, deteriorating conditions, I decided that we needed to turn back. I gnawed on my nails as I waited the four hours for him to get some sleep. Finally he woke and immediately agreed with my decision. In light of the forecast, our position and lack of engine the wise decision was to return to the safety of the anchorage we had left from 3 days previously. We could repair the engine, get some rest and then set out again. The relief was tangible i can tell you.

We turned the boat around, reset the sails and settled back for a 36 hour run to safety. then of course the wind died! Totally and utterly! Not a breathe from any direction!

We wallowed in the swell, tried to be laid back, read, cooked, ate, talked, slept and then as TBH looked over the side he saw a BIG yellow fished net and rope, all around us! So that had been the cause of the engine failure, the whole boat was wearing the marine equivalent of a fishnet stocking. Doh!

As the rope cutter did it's stuff we gingerly fired up the engine again and voila! Off we went.

Two days later we left again this time clawing our way along the Honduran coast into the wind in an attempt to get as far East as we could. I cannot say that it was an enjoyable trip, on the nose winds again, short steep seas. Not pleasant. We even had rain showers. That's just not on I thought!
We stopped for the night to shelter from a strong East wind only to find that the bloody thing swung to the west at 1am leaving us on a dangerous lee shore. So...off we went again. Finally arriving 24 hours later in the shelter of French harbour on the island of Roatan.

We refueled, re-provisioned, topped off the water, met up with some old mates and set off again. Determined to make our destination this time come he;ll or high water. 330 miles to Georgetown, Grand Cayman. And we did make it. Even though we had to motor sail ALL the way. A big blow to our diesel budget, we have used a years supply to make this trip, not a good carbon footprint.

We made a dramatic entrance into the bay here in 25 knot winds, reefed down and dodging the dollops of spray that were crashing over the boat. What a relief to hear the sonorous voice of the Port authority welcoming us in dulcet English tones.

What bliss! And now we are kicking back, enjoying the well stocked supermarkets, the restaurants, the bars and sorting out the post voyage mess.

It's great to be here in the Caymans!

1 comment:

SV Dragonheart said...

Glad you made it. You have been on my mind lately, must have felt you troubles.

Be safe. Enjoy the Caymans!! Miss you!!