Sunday, February 28, 2010

February 27, 2010 - Arrival at St. Helena Island

Jib sheets as frayed as our nerves

This evening, 10 days and 6hrs after departing from South Africa, we arrived at St. Helena. From a distance, in the twilight, the island looked like a forbidding fortress of sheer cliff faces. We're looking forward to getting ashore tomorrow to see how first impressions bear out.

Except for the last three days, we had primarily good, consistent winds of 13 to 18 knots the entire trip with a few lulls and stronger periods thrown in. The wind was dead behind us the entire trip making for lots of jibing and sailing off course to keep the sails full and to allow the off watch to sleep. However, the last three days the weather became less stable.

Each of the past few nights we have had to deal with squally weather and shifty wind. When the wind gusted up to 30 knots in the squalls the boat would make giant S curves under too much canvas and autopilot. When the squalls had passed by us we were left with very light breeze and a 2+ meter swell. As we rolled back and forth in the sloppy seas the whole boat would convulse. The sails popped and slammed as they filled and dumped air. All that motion did a number on our jib sheets. By the end of the trip they had nearly worn through at the point where they pass through the jaws of the pole. And the sound of equipment crashing around did a number on our nerves. It is very disheartening listening to expensive boat parts slowly destroying themselves. But the good news is that we didn't have to fire up the iron genny until the last four hours of the trip.

The highlight of the last few days of the trip was the reversal of our fishing fortunes. Early on in the run we passed through a school of something big. We hooked up both lines, but whatever was back there was too much for the 150lb test line Sten was using. We lost a bunch of gear and now there are some fish out there with some interesting lip piercings. Several days later, Sten landed a small Mahi Mahi. It was so little he tossed it back and we made pasta for dinner. But yesterday, things turned around. Sten landed a smallish Mahi, but still big enough for two meals. Since the boat was rolling too much to do anything fancy, we had deconstructed sushi rolls. The Japanese name for thin slices of fish layered upon sushi rice and garnished with toasted sesame seeds, nori strips, pickled ginger and wasabi is Chirashi-zushi. We just call it easy goodness. After lunch, he caught another Mahi, which as I write this is in the pan for our dinner tonight.

No comments: