08 April 2016 | Port Stanley
Well quite a lot has happened since my last post and you will have to bear with me over any discrepancies which may arise as this is written from memory over some tumultuous times.
Passed Cape Horn on 21 March and with sometime fickle winds headed away from the rocky archipelago of the Beagle Canal and Straits of Magellan. Quite strong winds were forecast for 24 March so found myself heading WSW under double reefed main. As the electric bilge pump and the Whale pump in the saloon had failed I was in the cockpit pumping out the bilges around 8pm when surrounded by a flurry of white water. I deployed the Jordan series drogue and noted the two saucer size holes in the stove in port side galley and saloon windows. A bit of extra pumping and settled in for the rest of a cold damp night. The early morning revealed the destroyed solar panel array but two seemed intact and gave a positive voltage so were stowed below and the windows patched with pieces of ply cut and bolted together over the holes. The wind gradually rose that day to the forecast 47 knots with steady gusts around 55 knots. With the drogues set to run strait downwind and with the sloping stern quite a lot of water was surging into the cockpit so set the drogue around the main starboard winch and with the tiller lashed hard to port gave a very mild ride with the wind and seas about twenty degrees aft of the beam. The turbulent slick formed by the hull and keel were just in the right place so from then on in quite threatening waves just dissipated and a very placid rest of the day and night were quite comfortable though everything was quite damp.
The next morning the drogue was easily recovered by having two turns round the largish winch, taking up and pulling in the slack in a trough and hanging on hard in the surge, though to my disappointment it was noted that most of the cones in the first section of the drogue had been shredded. Set up the main alone with two reefs and decided to carry on through the Pacific with reduced but adequate resources. Later that afternoon it was noted that the strong 30 knot breeze was gradually backing to the west so went into the cockpit with a view to going about – or in actual fact jibing as this was far more comfortable.
With a rushing sound of water and a lot of white foam I found myself in the water about ten feet away from Katherine Ann with a couple of sheet ropes conveniently to hand which allowed me to pull my chest up over the guard rail as the yacht slowly righted and slowly started to move . Faced with the quandary of not being able to get myself over the now almost upright guardrail and letting go of my tenuous grip and going round to the stern a fortunate little lurch to leeward had my feet up over the rail. Home safe!
The first thing I noticed was the wobbly mast so set the Windpilot to dead downwind and lowered the only sail up, the main. A quick inspection revealed that three of the six shrouds on the port side had parted and the main outer shroud to the masthead had three or four of the nineteen strands broken and it was then that I decided the nonstop circumnavigation attempt was over and shelter be sought. In addition the patched up windows had been stove in with a lengthy crack opened up between the cabin side and the deck. Running downwind there was not much water coming in so back to the tedious task of pumping out the ankle deep water in the cabin. By this time it was night and with the assurance from the plotter I would miss Diego Ramirez settled in for the night with the occasionally replenished hot water bottle to ward off the 5C damp. Morning revealed the Silentwind blades had been smashed, the solar panel was no longer charging, the spare 20 litres of water and the spare emergency flare and spare epirb had all gone west. (East?) Also with a little flourish the Iridium Go passed on to present only a foggy face of water droplets. I could now safely exaggerate the wind strength as the sender on the masthead had been destroyed along with the VHF aerial. Deciding not use the main the two running backstays were put on the port side and the spinnaker pole uplift from the top spreader led down to the port shroud connection so the masthead was reasonably guyed and the jib hoisted.
Next was to plot a course for Stanley in The Falklands. Not a Problem. Go to the Chart Plotter. Indications of low battery and then.. Goodnight. Nada. Not a problem. Go to the Toughbook. Little pop up “you have 1h41m remaining” Find a pencil and a dry bit of paper. Latitude of Stanley is …Little pop up “ You have ten minutes remaining “followed immediately by blank. Nada. Replace batteries in Spare GPS.Nada. Nothing. Get out cheapest little Garmin Orienteer model. Read off Lat and Long. No Problema. Stanley Lat and Long. Chart of South Atlantic. Very soggy but very carefully read off (estimated, guessed) coordinates of Stanley. Set course which entailed the water coming into the stove in windows in some quantity so cushions plywood and cross tied ropes set up to cut this down to the occasional but manageable squirt and slurp. All this was happening in winds and swell which were gradually ameliorating but not always in the most favourable direction. In this way gradually worked towards Stanley till he lights could be seen on Saturday night of the 2nd April and then the hoped for SW change came in with a vengeance such that the jib had to be doused. First light revealed glimpses of the land whenever on the crest of some of the steepest seas seen to date but fortunately I looked over the shoulder and recognised the Cape Pembroke light tower exactly on the guessed Longitude and only four miles out in latitude at about 11am. As the shelter of the land came into effect steady tacking had me making solid progress into the stiff breeze to make the town of Stanley by mid-afternoon and was able on the second pass to pass a line to Johannes and Vanessa on Saturnin and helped by Jerome on Golden Fleece who I am grateful for allowing me to raft up in the sometimes boisterous Stanley Harbour weather.
From the time of the second knockdown till reaching Stanley I was occasionally uncomfortable and often a little damp but always certain I would make it without resorting to the EPIRBs, my main concern being for my anxious family as my last VHF transceiver had gradually died, so it was with great relief to be met on the wharf by Bob McLeod Chairman of the Falkland Islands Yacht Club who was able to tell me his wife Janet was able to track Katherine Ann through this blog and inform my family.
From this point on it has been almost like a fairy tale. Bob waited on the wharf while the Customs and immigration came down on a Sunday and quickly cleared me in with a one month visa then up to Bob and Janet’s house for my first hot bath in seven months and a lovely meal including lots of fresh vegetables grown by Janet in her own garden. I have now been their guest for nearly a week and things have been achieved I would not have believed could be possible in this short time. Bob and Carl Freeman, Port Officer of The Ocean Cruising Club brokered a deal (at no Commission) for the sale of Katherine Ann which is now finalised with the proceeds already in my Australian bank account! Cash has been arranged, fares back to Australia Leaving Saturday and arriving Brisbane Monday, transfers and all the things not least of which the washing of sodden clothes and the homemade biscuits and coffees. On top of all this both Bob and Janet are Kelpers, people who have been born on the Falkland Islands and we can reminisce back to the time forty years ago exactly when we arrived here in our rudderless Triton 24 and I spent nearly six months working on the new airport while Barbara worked in the hospital kitchen waiting for a replacement rudder to arrive from Australia.
A lot of things have changed in Stanley due to oil exploration and extensive fishing but the thing that hasn’t changed is the warm hearted and welcoming approach of the people themselves.