There are occasions, when it becomes necessary to climb up the mast. I take my hat off to Dame Ellen McArthur for climbing her huge mast no less than five times in the Southern Ocean. I bought a piece of equipment, which I believe Dame Ellen used; it is a rope climber. It is possible, with the rope climber, to climb to the top of the mast, unaided. Most sailors use a bosun’s chair; a second team member is required for this and requires a certain amount of skill to lower the guy from the top of the mast. A serious problem must have occurred, recently, with the use of a bosun’s chair; the entire stock has been recalled! At 95kg and at 67 years of age, climbing up a rope is no easy task. I got 2/3 of the way up and had to abandon the project! Photo attached.
Last weekend, when Hurricane Ike was landing in Texas, we exited the River Manatee on our third attempt to get to Charlotte Harbour. The harbour was recommended to me as a hurricane “hole” to which we could run if, as is possible, we are awaiting favourable winds at Key West and a hurricane is heading our way. I understand Key West is not a good place to be in, when a hurricane passes over!
We anchored in the isis of the River Manatee, behind a bird sanctuary called Egmont Cay; we spent a peaceful night, there. At 0700 hrs, on the Sunday, we exited the Manatee and entered the Gulf. Despite the fact that Ike had made landfall on Saturday, there was a substantial swell running, which made our southerly journey uncomfortable. This subsided by 1100hrs and we made good progress all the way to Charlotte Harbour. We anchored at 1945hrs, just as the sun was setting.
On Monday, there was not a breath of air; it was stifling. The humidity must have been 90%+; sweat simply cascaded off both Maggie and myself! My swimming trunks became saturated with sweat, which made the wearing of them distinctly uncomfortable; so, they were removed. At some point in time, Mr Sun snuck up behind me and provided my buttocks with a severe singeing! No photo of that, I’m happy to report.
We motored deeper into Charlotte Bay [the bay is about 20 miles long] and were attacked by a bird of prey. Now, I am no expert in the naming of birds; but, there was no doubt it was a bird of prey. It flew round and round Beesmej and began to dive at our bow. It was Maggie, who recognised the problem. In order to deter seagulls from landing on our yacht and leaving their calling cards, I had invested in a plastic owl, which is about two feet tall. It looks very realistic and it was placed on a seat right on the bow. It was this owl the bird of prey was interested in! After five minutes or so, having provoked no response from the owl, the bird of prey flew off.
We found a good place to anchor, should we need to retreat from a hurricane and returned to the entrance of the bay. Maggie decided to give “The Family” a view of the bay [photo]. Numerous turtles were evident. Nesting occurs, in the bay, June/July. Locals were concerned at the carnage caused by Tropical Storm Fay, which went right over Charlotte Harbour. Hundreds of baby turtles perished during the storm.
By now, a fantastic wind presented itself and we had an exhilerating sail to the entrance. Just to the south of the entrance is Pelican Bay, where we anchored, overnight. On Tuesday morning, we dinghied to the shore and had an interesting guided tour, in a 4 wheel drive, down a number of nature trails. A baby alligator had been seen outside the Rangers’ hut, a few days previous; the mum presented herself, a short while later. Since our guide enjoyed bringing her young grand-daughter to the island, she was, now, having serious second thoughts about bringing her to the island again! There was a photo of the ‘gaitor mum on the Rangers’ hut.
The return trip was scheduled to be an overnight sail. Winds were from the north west. I planned on a single tack, involving a sail just south of due west for a distance of approximately, 20 miles. In the event, the wind began to slowly veer; first to north; then, north east; and, finally, due east. Since I was able to set the angle the yacht should steer [50 degrees off the wind], we didn’t need to tack, at all! We just followed round and, literally, fell into the Manatee River! With all the electronics up and running, the batteries were hard pressed to keep up with us; attempts to start our generator failed; so, we ran our engines.
During our return trip from Charlotte Harbour, a thunder cloud kept chasing us. Bolts of lightning were frequent and startling. Each time, I managed to outstrip the cloud! Fortunately, my weather doppler shows at what speed a cloud is moving; so, by dint of the tweaking of sails and the application of engine power, we were able to keep ahead of the cloud.
We have been back in Twin Dolphin, since Wednesday. I am, still, awaiting the arrival of my replacement anonometer; the generator was sorted, yesterday; and the carpenter is scheduled to complete various projects, early next week.
My Ham Radio continues to frustrate, as I cannot receive or send email, whilst at sea. This is an issue which needs to be resolved, urgently.
posted Sunday September 2008