Tin Tin's 1st coral atoll anchorage...

If you have checked our position using this website page, http://forecast.predictwind.com/tracking/display/TinTin you might already have seen that we negotiated our way through some fairly narrow channels in the coral surrounding a set of islands just off the coast of Panama and anchored in calm waters just a mile or so away from the boiling cauldron and roar emanating from the reef where the waves come to an abrupt halt as they end their journey across the Caribbean Sea. Driven by the trade winds..... We anchored in what has been dubbed the 'swimming pool' just off 'BBQ island'.. Dubbed by the yachties who frequent this rather idyllic spot. We dropped anchor in 4m of water onto a pure white sand bottom and I could actually see the anchor dig in, the water was so clear. There were two other yachts already anchored here and we have since been joined by two catamarans. There is a 1.5 knts current flowing and the wind has abated to 30 knts! The current is caused by the vast vol
ume of water being forced over the reef by the large swell breaking along its outer edge, all driven by....

Ah yes, the Trade Winds........... the trades seem, by all accounts, to normally be in the region of 15 to 25 knts.... However, we seem to be experiencing a constant 30-40 knts with regular periods in the 50s and the occasional gust into the 60s... Last night was no exception and, once again, we were sailing under only a reefed Genoa or the smaller staysail. We had taken the precaution of folding away the aft Bimini as that can act as another sail and make it difficult to maintain a course.

Once we were clear of the shelter of Cartagena, (a beautiful city full of colour and places to explore and a few excellent ice cream shops!) the swell picked up to the 1.5 to 2m we had experienced as we arrived, however, it started a gradual increase as the day ended and we started our 3 hr watch rota.

I took over from Emily at midnight having been woken when almost all my possessions were dumped on top of me, and a sudden downpour of water through the (closed!) rear cabin window... When I arrived I found Emily standing on the rear deck, attached by a safety line. I was immediately concerned why she was there and called her back into the cockpit. It turned out that what had woken me (and Paul) was a rogue wave washing right across the rear deck and into the cockpit. On its way over the leeward rail it ripped our ocean Danbouy* and a horseshoe life ring, to which it was attached, off their fixings and overboard leaving them trailing behind attached by only the thin string which is used to turn on the light. Emily had gone out in an attempt to save it and bring it back on board.
* (a Danbouy is a long pole (4m in this case) with a flag and light on the end that floats vertically and is used to help mark the position of a crew member if they have fallen overboard. It was attached to a horseshoe life ring and had also had a drogue which acts like a sea anchor and slows down the rate with which it is blown through the water.).

The same wave had also swept overboard our charming visitor who had been roosting precariously on the side rail right by our cockpit. It was a young Brown booby that had arrived in a flutter of wings and feet just as the sun was setting and we were finishing our supper. It seemed totally unconcerned by our proximity and after getting a good grip with its webbed feet around the thin top rail and netting, it had a quick preen before sticking it head under a wing, all the while keeping balance as the boat was bouncing around up and racing down the swell! We will sleep a lot easier tonight in our perfectly flat calm lagoon.

For the record we sailed 202 nautical miles in 28hrs 45 mins... Under reefed genoa and staysail.


Sindidziwa said…
202 Nm! good going team. That's almost as far as Alex Thomson did in 24 hours in the Vendée Globe... ;-)

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