Upon my awaking, there was Bob setting the main: the long awaited Easterlies had arrived, or, so he thought.
What a farceur that wind had been!!!!
Main and Asymmetric out, that bug bear of nature receded once more. Grrrrrrrrrr…….!!!!! Down it all came.
Like an imp, the wind frolicked with Bob throughout the day: up, down, up down came the sails in various combinations. Frustration plus, as low speeds equalled an increase in the travelling time for arriving in South Africa. Within us both, a sense of urgency was building, for a SW bringing 45knot plus winds was on its way and you don’t want to be in the final approach to the SA coast when it hits.
Running southward along the east coast of South Africa at 1 – 5 knots depending upon its position at the time is the Aghoulas Current. Near the two hundred metre contour line, it is at its most dangerous.
A place to be avoided when a south wester roars through, for when waves and swell approaching from the south collide with the current, waves increase to phenomenal heights. Ships have been known to split asunder. When one knows a blow is coming in, the smart money is to remain ‘heaved to’ much further out until it has passed and the seas calmed.
During the 24 hours of squalls, the wind vane had been jostled loose and turned off centre with the mast. This in turn affected the readings relayed down to the wind instrument situated in the pilot house. For the interim, Bob had adjusted the settings from below, but with the winds finally non – existent it was time to rectify the problem. Hooked firmly into his Bosun’s chair, Bob ascended the mast, whilst from below, I used the winch drill and pulled in the slack on the halyard that was his safety line – despite calm conditions, being seventeen metres off the deck whilst Gratis rocked to and fro, it was still hold on tight whilst the pendulum effect was in action.
A minor adjustment and down he travelled, checking all attachments upon the mast as he descended. A sailor’s work was never done….