Roughing it up – 10 51 North, 77 10 West – One week back at sea

On our circumnavigation, we were told there were 3 parts of the world to
expect the roughest weather:

1 – Biscay
2 – Columbia
3 – The Aghulas current off South Africa.

Well, we’ve now crossed the second of these and it was more demanding than
the first (Biscay). The last 24 hours have been testing on the boat and us.
We had 35 knots of breeze with seas coming from lots of different
directions. We topped out the speed last night at 13.6 knots surfing
downwind in the dark with 3 reefs and a poled out headsail. It always feels
so much faster in the dark when its been doing by feel and you can’t really
see what is going on.

The wind softened today to 25-30 knots and maintained the confused seas.
Heading across the Colombian basin, the wind was pushing us in the direction
of Nicaragua. We wanted to gybe but were conscious of gybing back towards
the roughest part of the wind acceleration zone and added to that gybing the
pole and working on the foredeck in very bouncy and confused seas wasn’t
grabbing the crew! We decided to sit and wait for the expected wind shift to
the North East which it has done and we are now headed in the right

Testamant to the confused seas was sitting in the cockpit this morning
with Caroline and Nichola – we were suddenly hit by a massive wave which
filled the cockpit with water and left the 3 of us completely drenched.

A walk of the decks late afternoon today found 6 flying fish on deck and a
halyard twisted around the radar (which we’ve now fixed).

The children have been brilliant for the last 2 days – Bluebell is the
happiest since leaving home – she is cooking all the meals with us, reading,
playing games with Willow and Columbus and being utterly charming. Long may
it last. Columbus is engaged in his Tintin books and devouring 2 a day,
Willow is still pulling things apart faster than you can put them together
with a cheeky / guilty smile and shrug of the shoulders.

It’s 125 miles now to the San Blas Islands – our rendezvous point is
Chicime Cay where we meet with the other World ARC boats. At this rate we
should be there late afternoon tomorrow.

Arriving there will be a new experience. The charts were last updated in
1918 so they aren’t to be relied on. It’s eyeball navigation as we work our
way around the coral reefs and will have a spotter (probably Nichola) up the
mast to direct us through the shallows. This is daytime only entry sailing –
if we arrive in the evening we will stand offshore and wait for the morning
so we can work our way in.

We’re looking forward to arriving and having completed another ocean
crossing over the Caribbean Sea – it’s other 1000 plus sea miles for the
children and us.

From the Caribbean Sea, Out from Aretha.

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