As with our previous sojourns, whilst on the final approach, overnight the winds died and ranged between 6 – 8 knots whilst Gratis’ speed died from sixes through to eights down to a measly three and four. At this snail paced speed, it would be 20:00 before arrival and a closed port would mean a night’s wake ‘hauled to’. Were we going to allow this fickle wind to deter us from arriving in the harbour at a reasonable time? Not on your Nellie!!!!! A turn of the water tap, a press of the switch to change to starting battery bank usage, a rotation of the key: Big Bertha roared to life, a burst of throttle powering Gratis forward through the practically flat seas: 14:00 arrival on its way!
For the hell of it, Bob released the fishing line soon after.
The weather prediction being for practically clear skies, it was with surprise that we noted a cloud bank up ahead rather than the expected island. Drawing ever closer, like a curtain the mists opened, enabling us to see for the first time the lower half of the rugged land. Towering mountain tops were enshrouded in the low lying cloud, and as with a Christmas present, presented to us a mystery of what we would discover during our coming explorations. Excitement built within!
After hours of tidal flow holding us back, a direction change saw our speeds increase from fours and fives to between seven and nine knots. Our girl really moved along now!!
The sound of the fishing reel whirring increased the expectation. Simply dripping, Bob eventually hauled on board a 1.4m Wahoo. Whilst his battle was in progress, I was inside upon the radio making contact with the port authorities.
This proved to be a dream run right up until the moment arrived to pull in the twins.
A mountainous land of deep valleys, crevices and craters, the winds tunnelling through create affects upon the sea.
In the process of rounding the north western tip we discovered the degree to which this can affect the waters. Upon the land, the cloud bank divided in two, whereupon a black monster made the decision to proceed our way.
Having commenced preparations for reeling in the twins, within seconds it was imperative that we do so with speed. As with a click of the fingers, the wind increased from ten knots to twenty five. All I could say was thank god this didn’t occur during the night hours and that the winds were no stronger!
Releasing the sheets in spurts to furl, all went well until the sail to windward was pushed behind the Gennie, thereby entwining it within. With half of the sails still flying, the wind not abating and seas now increased, we released the behemoths once more. A second attempt fared no better. Whilst our girl rocked and rolled in the water, the flapping sails adding their bit to increase the motion, there was only one thing to do: lower the sails to the deck as they were.
With Gratis’ bow turned into the wind, the process commenced. Bob standing at the bow in order to guide the sails safely down, I operated the release of the halyard at the winch. Bit by bit, down they went: until the top of the twins arrived at the radar that was! A sudden wind gust taking hold blew the wretches toward the mast where the halyard thereby became entwined within the framework of the radar’s gimble. There were we, half the monoliths on deck wrapped safely upon the poles, the other continuing to billow and flap in the wind.
With the hope of easily releasing the line from below, Bob sent me into the pilot house where I turned off AP and took over the helm manually. At his direction, I turned Gratis’ bow first one way then the other as, to no avail, he attempted to work the twins free.
We were now left with no choice: Bob had to climb the mast and cut the beasts free. Directing me to turn Gratis landward with the instructions to do so at snail’s pace, using a combination of neutral and forward burst if need be, tools in hand out headed Bob.
No easy task was this for him: no safety harness, the boat rocking in the swells whilst Neptune attempted to throw him seaward bound, Bob clawed his way up and up. Gripping tightly, he finally sliced the halyard through and the remainder of the twins fell to the deck.
Sighting Bob’s feet as he returned to the deck, I could at last heave a sigh of relief. The danger was over and it was at last possible to head into port.
As I have written before, life is never dull upon the water.
After much discussion, the position of the twins and Gennie is to be switched prior to us departing the island. With the Behemoths at the bow they shall have total reign of the area as they are released.