David Scully aboard Cheyenne describes the transition from the icy southern seas to the warm blue of the subtropics
Is it Monday, already? Cape Horn plus five days? It seems incredible that I have neglected to report for so long, but the transition from the icy southern seas to the warm blue of the subtropics has placed other demands on my time.
First, the extraordinary transition from the westerlies to the Atlantic. Within hours after rounding the Cape, the powerful swell that has dictated our progress for the last month had entirely vanished, along with most of the wind. We edged up the south-eastern tip of South America in a delicate land breeze. As we approached the entrance to the Straits of Magellan, a slight chop appeared on the water surface, which was followed by a building breeze. Our original intention to leave Staten Island to the west was stymied by the variable breeze, and we found ourselves forced to pass through the Straits of Le Mare, a shallow, uncertain, current ridden, channel between the island and the mainland. As we passed the channel, the wind built quickly from a whisper to over 30kts, and we enjoyed a midnight reef, in a gale, with the rocks of the island under our lee.
Blasting out the north side, we bore away to a course east of the Falklands, and raised the islands later the same day, though too far to leeward to see them. Not to far to feel their effects, however. The disturbed winds became lighter as night fell. A phenomena we had all but forgotten about was about to manifest itself. No wind.
We spent the next 30 hours battling through a ridge of high pressure, speeds dropping to 3 and 4kts for hours at a time. While frustrating, it did give us the chance to repair the full hoist mast hook position, an all day affair that happily ended by our setting full sail as the sun set. Big respect to Mike Beas, Justin, and Damian, who helped engineer and effect this second repair. No sooner did we have the last bolt in place when our instrument system decided to respond to the balmy weather by going on holiday. Driving this monster at night with no electronic support is hard work, so we immediately set out to fix it. Nic, Adrienne, and your correspondent went at it for 24 hours, and thankfully were able to get the little numbers winking again. This instrument package is known as the Hydra system, which is very appropriate, as like the many headed monster of legend, as you solve one problem, another crops up in its place!
So what with one thing and another, your correspondent has been well entertained for the last few days. For the last 24 hours, however, we have been blasting along with our accustomed speed, the air growing warmer with every watch. Mark has figured out a way to rehydrate the meals without the use of the stove, and that leaves a little gas for coffee. The Southern Cross blazes across the night sky, and the albatross sightings decrease at an inverse ratio to flying fish. We have left the rough simplicity of the south for the tortuous tactical transit of the mid latitudes and equator and the little green boat on the Deckman screen is threading its way through a complex of weather patterns in its climb north. The weather cards are being dealt by a grudging dealer this week, and it will take all our talent to turn his offerings into tricks.