Thursday, January 28, 2010

Friends in Falklands

          It has been over a week since we reached Port Stanley and time seems to have flown by. The repairs are progressing well and looks like we will be able to sail out on 01 Feb as planned. A short sortie to test the autopilots this morning went off well except for the tricky coming alongside in gale force wind, which seem to to be a norm here rather than an exception! As mentioned in the last blog, we were in time to meet up with Ocean Watch of "Around Americas" fame and see them off on their next leg. The local populace here has been really understanding. Realizing that we were extremely short on time and couldn't do much sight seeing, some of them  decided to visit us and were captured on camera by my shutterbug crew Abhilash. Talking about friends, working in the harbour, my thoughts are often with Jessica, battling the South Atlantic Gales and nursing EPL from her knockdowns. In fact every time a gale passes over Stanley, more of a daily occurrence in the past few days, I tend to look up and tell the wind, " Hey! Ease up as you go, there is a brave girl sailing that way!" While Jesse was celebrating Australia day on 26 Jan talking to Kevin Rudd and screaming up the South Atlantic, me and my crew spent the 60 th Republic day of India by putting in a couple of hours of extra work to fix up my steering and the generator! I doubt how many know that the two countries celebrate these days together!                                       



Friday, January 22, 2010

Greetings from Port Stanley

 Looks like many are wondering about our disappearance after rounding the Horn almost a week back! Apologies for not updating the blog earlier but things moved a bit too fast after the Horn and the crew kept getting busier as we entered the Port and got on to the most important task of turning around Mhadei for the next leg. We are presently berthed at Port Stanley, getting the steering and generator fixed while also pampering Mhadei by meeting her small little demands which while not critical, are best attended to when there is a little shore time. She has weathered the Pacific at a trot and deserves all the attention! Meanwhile the crew, self and Lt Cdr Abhilash Tomy who landed up a day after I reached to help me with the work, are being looked after by the British armed forces and the friendly Falkland Islanders. This is perhaps the first time an Indian boat has touched the shores of the Islands so we are quite a novelty here. We landed up in time to meet "Ocean watch", and her crew. It was great to exchange notes with her skipper Mark Schrader who has two solo circumnavigations under his belt. Taking heed of the old saying that,"a picture is worth a thousand words," I will stop writing for now and let the viewers see some photos of the trip from rounding the Horn till reaching Stanley. Hopefully this will make up for the silence of the last few days to some extent!

The Horn!

Cape Deceit

Sentinel of the Islands!

Sunset off Falklands

A Royal Escort!

Port Stanley

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Past the Horn!

 Mhadei crossed the Horn at about 1500 GMT on 12 Jan in a howling gale that seems to be going from bad to worse! Presently trying to maintain a NE course. More later.......

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Good wishes work!

Thanks to the good wishes of so many, the sea and wind seem to have been kind to us for the past few days. The wind has been light and shifty which means frequent visits outside to adjust the wind vane and the sails but we are moving which is what really matters. The swell is much less and we have been sailing upwind most of the time which puts less stress on the wind vane and the creaky steering. A good current of upto 2 kts has been compensating for the lack of stronger winds to some extent. Jessica seems to have run ahead to meet up with her parents at Cape Horn! As per her last position she was about 90 Nm ahead so looks unlikely that we will be able to catch up, with a little over 300 miles to the Horn!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

A welcome respite!

The gales of the last 2-3 days subsided today and so did the swell. There was thick fog all around with intermittent drizzle dropping the temperatures but the absence of wind chill more than compensated for the extra cold! It was good to have three hot & rather heavy meals through the day, shake out a reef or two, go around the boat tightening everything that is not supposed to move and spraying WD 40 on everything that's supposed to! In the morning for a while it looked as if the wind will die out completely but luckily it was just changing direction and started blowing a steady 10 to 15 kts from NW, as against WSW of the past three days, making us do a ENE course at a comfortable 6 kts while keeping the wind vane happy. The forecast for the next few days is not predicting any gale force winds. Keeping my fingers crossed as at sea, specially in remote areas like the one we are in, one tends to take forecasts with a pinch of salt!  

Monday, January 4, 2010

One Gale gone waiting for next!

It blew through yesterday and night building up big seas and keeping Mhadei's crew on tenterhooks with the steering groaning. By morning the wind had come down, the swell reduced marginally and we were moving well again. At the end of my tether with the groaning of the steering, took a can of WD 40 and sprayed it in every nook and cranny of the steering system without any conviction that it will work. An hour later I was so happy to have been proven wrong! No more groaning! Not sure what exactly was the problem but the solution seems to have worked which is all that matters!

          The weather forecast is predicting another gale in the next couple of hours so waiting and watching the wind. It is really cold now with the temperature dropping below 4 deg C at night and not much better in day time thanks to an overcast sky.

Friday, January 1, 2010

A soak in the Southern Ocean

Last night as I was checking up various things on deck I realized that one of the two bolts holding the Wind Vane together had gone off. This was serious specially with the autopilots already on strike! Rushed with a spanner and as I was sitting on the transom putting on a new bolt a couple of waves washed over me soaking me to the inside of my boots! Exquisite agony is probably a good way to describe it!  Managed to put on the bolt without loosing the spanner as my hands had already started going numb, got inside and it was straight in the sleeping bag for a couple of hours after a quick drying up and change of clothing. Got up grudgingly only when my boat builder, Ratnakar, rang up to wish me a happy new year and discuss a solution to the problems on board. He was celebrating New Years with friends & family at Goa but by all indications his mind was on the boat in the Southern Ocean!

       Midnight of New Years eve, just as I was getting out to change the wind vane with the wind dropping, the phone rang. Finding it a bit odd to receive a phone call close to midnight, picked up the phone and what a pleasant surprise! Jessica calling to wish New Years! So very thoughtful of her! Amongst all the new years wishes I have received in all these years and at various places I think I will cherish this, from this gutsy girl 350 Nm away and the nearest  human being to me, as the most special! With wishes like these how can 2010 not be anything but great!

          As we sail into 2010, here is wishing all the readers, from Mhadei & her crew, a great year ahead and good times to come!