Lightning all night

We were keen to take a look at the prop before weighing anchor as we had experienced a ‘knocking’ from the prop area on passage from Antigua when we had started motoring.  The noise had diminished when we ran the engine in astern then disappeared. An inspection with the snorkel revealed nothing untoward and we concluded that we must have picked something up around the prop which was being ‘whipped’ against the hull and the rope cutter must have dealt with it.

With a light following wind and not planning to arrive at the passage between the islands before dawn, we were content to ‘bimble’ along sometimes sailing under just a poled out jib and sometimes with engine assistance. The sky blackened late afternoon and the wind increased to 29 knots and backed 150 degrees to head us. With the heavens opening and surrounded by lightning, we doused the sail, put in the washboards and watched the fireworks from down below. The lightshow was still entertaining Barry when I came on watch at 0200 and continued through the night with the rain appearing as purple patches on the overlaid radar screen.

A good mobile signal was maintained as we passed close to St. Eustatius and Saba islands and this enabled some helpful Email exchanges. I am now in contact with two ladies who live on Tortola and who have offered to help with shopping, washing, driving us around and sourcing ‘kit’. Nellie is the cousin of son Oliver’s girlfriend Gini and Suzie is an old friend of Bobby King who has been sailing with me along with other members of my brothers shooting club. Did you follow that? Anyway, Suzie is already on the case of finding 5 diesel cans to give us a greater range in the event of insufficient wind (not unknown) on the forthcoming passages. We also exchanged mails with Martin Whitfield, a fellow Southerly owner whose yacht ‘Dawn Chorus’ is doing the first leg to Bermuda. I was keen to glean his experience of ‘clearing in’ to the BVI as we had heard stories (re-enforced by Scorch) of difficulties and fines if the formalities are not followed to the letter. Martin had experienced no problems and ‘cleared’ at Virgin Gorda within 20 minutes – including a dog, so we will make that our destination and keep our fingers crossed.

Although I had taken chicken out of the freezer intending to cook an evening roast, sausages at lunch time had blunted our appetites so it was a quick ‘Bombay Aloo’ before bed. The chicken will have to wait.

With very little traffic on  passage, a strong radar signal from a tug passing 11 miles away and also showing on AIS enabled adjustment of the radar alignment – assuming that the AIS is absolutely accurate in that it is derived from a GPS position. We were able to position the radar reflection directly over the AIS symbol and I am very pleased but mindful that alignment on one bearing is not necessarily alignment on all bearings – more checks required.

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