18/01/2014 – The last frustrating day and a bit!

From midday Thursday, when we had 200 miles left to run, the wind dropped and we lost the helpful current. All of a sudden the anticipated daylight arrival became an impossible dream! They say it’s better to travel hopefully than to arrive, but I disagree. We were hopeful but the arrival was more than welcome even if somewhat later than hoped. Friday’s noon run was 162.4 miles through the water, stunning given the weaker wind, but sadly only 131 miles towards the waypoint as the current effectively carried us 31 miles backwards. Four years ago we would have been more than satisfied with that total but we have come to expect more. We had another sailplan change forced upon us, during the night of course, when a very expensive snatch block managed to twist enough to pop the pin. In fact it was probably a blessing in disguise because the new sail configuration enabled us to sail faster towards the waypoint as the wind slowly backed. The virtual finishing line was 5 miles long on a particular line of longitude between two lines of latitude. From 2300, when I went back on watch, my task was to closely monitor our track so that we could cross at the closest point, identified on the plotter and confirmed by the GPS. I had instructions to wake John up when we had 2 miles to run. We crossed the finish line at 0056 St Lucia local time, a trip of 1086 miles through the water, not always in the right direction! The adverse current stayed with us until the end. In 13 hours from noon Friday we sailed 83 miles to cover 69 miles over the ground. The major highlight of the day, apart from the arrival, was a fantastic dolphin display which mesmerised us for about half an hour. I’ve never see dolphin leap so high before, often with two swimming together and leaping out of the water at the same time. Do you think dolphins go in for synchronised showing off much like Tom Daley and his partner compete at synchronised diving? We are very lucky that we had a 95% moon which rose at about 2015 so gave us lots of light and made a night entry to the East Hollandes Cays possible. The pilot book is exceptional and we found the detail on our plotter at a 2 mile range was in exactly the right place. Though very nervous about navigating between reefs and islands, John found confidence in our forward looking sonar and in fact never saw less than 12 metres. We anchored in 15 metres with lots of space in all directions, set an anchor drag alarm and fell into bed at 0530. The 16 miles approximately from our finishing position took 4 hours. In daylight our anchorage is stunning, surrounded by palm tree covered little islands, patches of reef, surf and many different coloured areas of water depending on depth. As we were finishing breakfast we were visited by three Kuna men in a dugout canoe. They had a letter in English explaining that the Kuna council had decided cruising yachts should pay a set fee of $10 US for a stay in the Hollandes Cays for up to 31 days. Sadly we’ll move on to another group of islands on Monday but I don’t begrudge them the fee. They said we could go ashore and pick coconuts and bananas from a couple of the islands which is good. Every coconut belongs to someone, even on uninhabited islands and you can’t just go and help yourself. This morning we have started to put the boat back to cruising mode. John has started on essential repairs and I have put the saloon straight and remade the aft berth. After lunch we’ll inflate the dinghy and go exploring. This will probably be my last blog for a few days. Joyce

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