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Caleta Sara Sunset


21 September 2005

The centre of Mendoza is full of cafes Mendoza vineyard We took the bus from Mendoza into Maipu, where the wine is produced. It was fairly hot and the town was very dry and dusty. We wandered around for a little while but nearly everywhere was shut as it was lunch time. We found a little cafe / bar and had a great lunch before heading back into Mendoza's centre. Mendoza is a very pretty city and in the centre are the trademark Argentine cafes and great clothes shops. We were delighted to be back in Argentina as we both really love the country. Argentina definitely has the best shopping I have seen anywhere but I was very restrained and we limited our spending to a couple of bottles of Malbec wine. We need to leave tomorrow unfortunately as we do not want to leave the boat unattended in Higuerillas.

20 September 2005

Arid river valley in Argentina Chilean / Argentine frontier We took the bus into Mendoza, Argentina today as our visas were due to expire. The trip took about eight hours and the distance was just over 400 km. We passed through some beautiful countryside. We did not have to go out of the town far before we could see the Andes. They were still covered with snow and there were people skiing. The road to the frontier passes over the mountains and the views were great. The scenery changed dramatically as we crossed into Argentina, the area there is so dry but still very beautiful. There were huge valleys with narrow rivers running through. I think the water was mostly melt water from the mountains. As we came into Mendoza we passed lots of vineyards as this is the main wine region for Argentina.

Tierra del Fuego

25 March 2005

After a late morning I met Julia from the boat beside us. After a couple of drinks last night I agreed to go for a run with her today. However after getting out of bed this did not seem such a great idea so instead I suggested that we walk up to Glacier Martial. She and her boyfriend Simon walked up with Kev and me to the refugio at the bottom of a chairlift. We had a glass of vino caliente (delicious) and then took the chairlift up a little further. In the winter this lift is used by skiers. The views were lovely and the walk made a nice change.After arriving back at the boat we had drinks on board T Tauri Wind with Don and Vicky who had sailed the channels before and knew of some useful anchorages etc. We are looking forward to returning to Chile.

24 March 2005

Today I did most of our stocking up for the next three months. I bought loads of boxes of delicious Argentine wine for just over 2 pesos per litre (around 40p). I also managed to find lots of vacuum packed “lomo” / steak – so we have as much as we can fit in our fridge. Without a doubt, Argentina produces the best beef we have ever tasted and the wine is always great. Due to the wine, milk and beef on board we are sitting somewhat lower in the water.Tonight a large group of us went into town to “La Rueda” for a Parilla.. This was basically as much meat as you could eat! After dinner we went to an “Irish bar” in the town and immediately doubled the population in there. 

23 March 2004

rainbow Ushuaia is a very social place to be as there are a lot of people and yachts here who we have met before. The temptation to meet for dinner, a drink or just a chat means that though the boat jobs are progressing, they are progressing slowly! There is a wealth of skill and knowledge within the sailing community here as most of these people have been sailing for many years and without exception the people of the cruising yachts are more than willing to help with any problem - demonstrated by Phil's willingness to help us (or Kev) successfully fit our new wind generator.

18 March 2005

Ushuaia beaglemountains We have had an interesting three days so far in Ushuaia. It is easy to see how people get lulled into spending months here. It is a lovely town with lots of conveniences, it is inexpensive and the views are really beautiful. We have stocked the boat with Argentine wine for about 50p per litre. There are lots of gorgeous craft shops in the town. As there are a lot of sailing boats here, the atmosphere is very sociable. We have met up with most of the people to whom we had been speaking on the Patagonia radio net here (or in Puerto Williams). Today we finally managed to get our hands on our wind generator which was sent here in January. The bureaucracy was as ridiculous as ever. It took us three days and 13 different visits before we could take it! Still, Ushuaia is a duty free port so we did not have to pay import tax on it. We will be here for several days more and I am glad. I have thoroughly enjoyed Argentina and Ushuaia is a fabulous little city. It will probably be our last developed stop for about three months.

25 February 2005

We woke this morning intending to head off for Ushuaia at 0530 but we did not leave till closer to 7 as the wind was still a little high. We motored for a couple of hours before the wind was blowing 45 kts on the nose and we were going sideways. We decided that as we had not yet cleared into Argentina from the Falklands that we might as well go to Puerto Williams in Chile, which was only a couple of miles downwind of us and around 35 miles from Ushuaia.

23 February 2005

Weather is still not ideal but does not sound awful so we decided to make a run for it. We started with strong NW / NE behind us and this died away to nothing. We motor sailed but then noticed the engine was smoking badly and the temperature was rising. So, we cut the engine and sailed to a temporary anchorage where we checked everything we could think of. We found no cause of the problem and started the engine again to check the raw water outlet - this and the temperature were fine. We suspect that maybe we had picked up kelp around the saildrive and consequently blocked the raw water intake. Anyway, by the time we were ready to go the wind had picked up to 30-35 knots and so had the seas. It took us 3-4 hrs. bashing around trying to weather Cabo San Pio. Once we had done this the wind died and we were sailing in a lovely breeze for a few more hours. During the evening there was very little wind so we were motor sailing in flat water under a full moon with lots of dolphins for company. They were fishing though as they were not splashing around as they do during the day. We anchored in Bahia Relegada at just after 2.00 am. Later that morning after a deep sleep I caught our first glimpse of a snow topped mountain!

Isla de los Estados

20 February 2005

Today we crossed the Strait! We were very fortunate with 15-20 kts of northerly winds to blow us across into Bahia Buen Sucesco where we spent the night at anchor.  As we left Isla de los Estados dozens of dolphins converged on the boat to play in the bow wave (or to listen to Guns 'n Roses).  We arrived at last in Tierra del Fuego - the Land of Fire.

18 February 2005

sapphirehoppner3 kevwaterfall We will not forget today in a hurry . Today was Sapphire's third birthday! The morning presented a stunning sunny and warm day. After breakfast we decided to fill our water tank from the little waterfall near the boat. Several trips in the tender and sore arms later (Kev's arms!) and our tanks were full again. Mid morning I decided to attack the weed that was beginning to grow along our waterline. We are sitting quite low in the water and our antifouling is below the waterline. The weed which grows here can slow us down. This came off eventually and over lunch we decided to make a run for it across Estrecho de la Maire. Because of the mountains surrounding us here we have no reception to obtain weather information but the barometer had been slowly climbing and the clouds gave no indication of anything nasty pending. It took us quite some time to get both anchors up and the lines stowed back onto their reels but eventually we were off having timed our exit to take advantage of the tide. As it turned out there was very little tide. We set off under reefed main and genoa and the first two hours were a pleasure. This in itself was enough to make me suspicious as these conditions just don't seem to last. With a depressing predictability the winds and seas kicked up once we had covered about 12 miles. Before we knew it we had 35 knots in our faces. This strait of water is notorious as the strong tides travelling north from Cape Horn converge with the west running tides from Isla de los Estados and when these two bodies of water hit the prevailing westerly winds, the result is often very confused seas and breaking waves. This is exactly where we found ourselves. At less than 25 miles away and visually clear the mainland and our destination were tantalisingly close. We persevered for another hour but were making less than two knots speed – suddenly 25 miles seemed a very long way. With both the winds and seas increasing we were not too proud to admit defeat and ran back to Hoppner where we reset our anchors and settled in for the night. That little exercise took us 10 hours.

14 February 2005

hoppner approachestados After spending a couple of very peaceful nights in secure anchorages at Port Stephens, we listened to the weather this morning and decided to go for Estados. The decision was a bit touch and go as the forecast was for a near gale from the north – experience has shown us that this forecast usually means more than that. Still the wind would be coming from the right direction so we clenched our teeth and headed off. Before too long we did indeed have force 8 winds which became force 9 winds from the north. We were belting along at a rate of knots but the seas were huge. It was also probably the coldest passage we had made to date. Even when I was off watch and wrapped in a sleeping bag, I could not get warm. The one thing to take my mind off the size of the waves was watching the hundreds of seabirds skimming the seas. There were albatrosses, gulls and petrels and for the first time I saw storm petrels. They are incredibly agile and they seem to dance on the seas with delicate little steps. A really magical sight. We did 170+ miles in 24 hrs which is a new record for us. The whole trip of 200 miles took about 30 hours. With only four miles to go we could not see the island as the visibility was very poor. With two miles to go the clouds lifted to bring Isla de los Estado into view. It is very craggy and tall, I think made of granite. A very rugged and beautiful place, it reminded us of Yosemite. Sure enough the wind chose this moment to swing to the south west (on the nose again) so the entrance to Puerto Hoppner was boisterous and took us ages. Kev had to dodge not only breaking waves around the entrance but also the violent gusts (rachas) of 50kts screaming down from the mountains. The entrance to the inner anchorage was nerve wracking. We had to run between two rocks with about 1m clearance on each side of the boat. This would have been ok except for the gusts. We made it in in good order but it took us around three hrs to anchor and get the lines ashore! By 2200 we were enjoying a curry and mulled wine, feeling as though we had been through the wringer. I suspect that we were both asleep within a minute of going to bed for a STILL night at anchor.

Puerto Santa Elena to Deseado

20 January 2005

We left Puerto Deseado at last for the Falkland Islands.

17 January 2005

We are still in Deseado waiting for the weather to moderate a little before heading to the Falklands. There has been a gale blowing here for 48 hrs but we hare expecting and hoping that this will calm down shortly. The town is nothing special but there is a lot of wildlife here. Each morning we see penguins and cormorants swimming around the boat and yesterday a lilttle Commerson's dolphin swam over to check us out! We are here with Dreamaway (a British OCC boat) and Thalassa II (a Dutch boat).  We met these yachts first in Mar Del Plata.   Carpe Diem arrived shortly after us  but have  already left for Ushuaia.

11 January 2005

We had planned to spend 10th still in Caleta Horno but when we woke the weather seemed calm and in the absence of any forecast we decided to leave. First we took the tender ashore for a quick walk. It really is a very beautiful place and the colours reminded me very much of Australia's “Dead Heart”. We left at 12.30. On our way out we saw another sailing boat coming in. They were “Carpe Diem”, a Norwegian boat. Their engine was broken so they were heading in to repair it. We chatted on VHF and we offered to stand by in case they had difficulty entering the harbour but they assured us that they would be OK. We had a lovely sail for 6 hours before the wind died completely. The wind blew up at midnight to a steady force 7 which had increased to an 8 by the time we arrived at 11.30. All in all, a lumpy and windy passage but incident free other than my seasickness. I was disappointed about that. Kev managed brilliantly as usual. We had to anchor twice as the anchor dragged in the kelp at first. Caleta Sur is a windswept and stark place but beautiful in its barren isolation. We have the lighthouse, gulls and two penguins for company.

8 January 2005

caletahorno kevlines ctahorno The wind was howling again when we woke up.  We decided not to leave for Caleta Horno until after lunch as the tide would be foul.  We had only 16 miles to go and when we did leave the wind was brisk but died  away as the rain arrived.  For most of the trip we motorsailed and just talked and relaxed.  When we were within about 4 miles of the anchorages the wind returned with a vengence and we "enjoyed" as stiff beat into 35 kts. We were grateful that the wind did not blow up any sooner or we would not have made it through the channel.  Inside the anchorage there was not a breath of wind, it was amazing.  To ensure that Sapphire was really secure Kev needed to take two 100 metre lines from her stern and fasten them ashore. (There is not a lot of swinging room in the anchorage).  He took one line at a time and tied it around his leg - he tied the tender painter around his other leg so that it did not float away when he was ashore. Once ashore he had to carry a bucket with 5 metres of chain with him and fasten the chain around some rocks and then attach the line to the chain! This was our first attemp at tying up ashore and we need the practice as we expect to be doing this a lot in Chile.

7 January 2005

TPeng We sailed across Baia Camarones today and were really lucky with the wind. Last night the wind dropped to Force 0 and the water in the anchorage was so still that the stars were reflected in the water. This morning we woke to another fresh SW breeze. We set off into this but before long it backed around to NE so we had a lovely sail. We anchored in Caleta Sara which was a tiny cove. We took the tender ashore to visit the penguin colony which was about 3km away. It was a real treat They were really noisy. We also saw some guanaco roaming wild. We visited the little Club Nautico and ate dinner there before returning to the boat for a magnificent sunset.

5 January 2005

We woke to a foggy morning but this burnt off. We left Madryn and motored all of the way out of the bay. This was OK as there was no wind and we needed to run the watermaker. We had a really great sail for the first 130 miles to Santa Elena. We were beginning to feel a little self congratulatory in that we had not been flattened by the weather – this was a mistake! We only had 25 miles to go when the wind swing around 180 degrees and increased. We spent 10 hours trying to make good the last 25 miles. The wind was up and down from 10-40 knots every few minutes and we had the tide against us for a long time as well. We eventually got in absolutely exhausted and fairly peeved! Even the sealion colonies off to starboard did little to recover our humour. We recovered after showers, a good meal, wine and a huge sleep!

Golfo Nuevo

2 January 2005

coldfrontcoming After a very boisterous night at anchor we needed to move the boat this morning as the wind was increasing and we were on a lee shore.Sod's law made sure that the windlass chose this moment to break again (having been "repaired" in San Fernando). Nonetheless we set off into the bay where we remained hove to for most of the day as the wind continued to increase from the NE. The weather forecast indicated that the wind would swing around 180 degrees and increase which it did. We saw the clouds arriving from the west and before too long I saw what I took to be fog heading for us at a rate of knots. This was not fog but the spray kicked up by the wind! The cold front hit us with winds of 55 knots. This was incredible as the waves had built up from the previous NE winds and were being blown back by the SW winds from the front. After 30 minutes of excitement, the wind died to nothing, the water was flat and we returned to our anchorage for a stiff drink..or several.

1 January 2005

sl4 New Years Day and Kev woke me to look at the sea lion that had taken residence in our tender. The previous night we had taken the outboard off but left the tender tied to Sapphire but still in the water. The sea lion was a female who was content to enjoy the sun until her mate pushed her out and climbed in himself. We thought this was funny until a few hours later he defecated all over the tender! Not only that but he started moving around in it which threatened to break the transom. We eventually persuaded him to leave by starting Sapphire's engine and shouting / clapping at him. We had fun for the next hour cleaning our poor tender! We will not make that mistake again.

31 December 2004

sunrisenuevo We entered Golfo Nuevo at dawn today. This is a fine marine life sanctuary and for the second part of the year, southern right whales come here to breed. We could not sail in as there was very little wind and it changed every minute or so. We needed to make the tide so we motored in. The sunrise was spectacular – pinks and oranges. We enjoyed possibly the best beat to windward we have ever experienced with dead flat seas and a delightful force 4 wind. On our way to anchor we saw dolphins, penguins (Megallanic), and an elephant seal. We anchored off Madryn and took the tender into town. It was scorching hot. We did not anticipate the sea breeze which picked up while we were gone and so getting the tender through the surf and back to the boat was exciting. We got drenched but that was ok.We saw the new year in at anchor watching the fireworks exploding around the bay. Even the Prefectura joined in setting off red flares.

29 December 2004

kevroaring40s roaring40s We entered the Roaring Forties today. At around 0300 we each had a rum in the cockpit. I was feeling a little anxious as the wind was brisk and I was not sure what was to come whereas Kev was keen for an excuse to celebrate. As it turns out, there was no problem. The wind stayed on force 6 for a while and dropped. Our northerlies abandoned us to westerlies but this was fine as the sea state was fair enough.

Mar del Plata

25 December 2004

We stayed up for Christmas eve to see Christmas in. At midnight the fireworks and car horns kicked into action sending the dog on the boat next door berserk. I phoned home and spoke to most of my family as in Brisbane the Christmas celebrations were well and truly underway. Kev spoke to his family on Christmas morning and discovered that they were enjoying a white Christmas. Christmas day did not seem to be such a big thing here with a lot of people working as usual. We found out that many people here exchange gifts on 6 January, the Epiphany (celebrating the visit of the wise men to the baby Jesus). We were invited to dinner by Maria and Roque who were friends of Jose Luis. We had become friendly with Jose as he is a long time member of YCA and had been keen to welcome us. We had a really interesting evening. Maria is a profesora of English Literature in the north of Argentina and taught us a lot about the history and culture of this country. We had not met Maria or her husband before tonight but in true Argentine fashion they welcomed us to join them for their Christmas dinner.

23 December 2004

mooredmardelplata We arrived at YCA Mar Del Plata at 0500 this morning. Our passage was on the whole a good one and fast with strong northerly winds pushing us down. The first day was not a lot of fun though as the wind started on the nose and the Plata kicked up some nasty seas. As a result of this I was a little seasick but that passed and the second day and night were a real pleasure. We were ushered into a nice easy berth at YCA Mar Del Plata in the early hours by the marinero on duty who greeted me with a big smile and kiss. We had breakfast and went to bed for a couple of hours. A few hours later we were greeted by Avril and Graham Johnson from another OCC boat “Dream Away” – they had seen our burgee. We invited them to drinks with us and it was a pleasure to speak English again and to catch up on some news. They know some of the people we had met on our passage as well as people we knew from the UK.I cleaned the boat in the afternoon as she was covered in mud from the river plate - the water there is incredibly shallow. During this a man called Jose came along for a chat. He is a member of YCA here and he invited us to meet him for some wine in the club that night. We went up after dinner and stayed for an hour or so before heading back to Sapphire as we were still quite tired.

Buenos Aires and the Rio de la Plata

17 December 2004

cardinalmendoza il_buco horst We were very glad to leave San Fernando and head back to Puerto Madero in Buenos Aires. Again Horst accompanied us for the passage through the delta and ensured that we arrived without difficulty. During the evening we met up with Horst and his wife Monica, Roberto and Cecilia at one of Roberto and Cecilia's restaurants called Il Buco and what a fantastic place it is. We were treated to the BEST Italian meal I have ever had (por supuesto with delicious Argentine wine). After dinner we moved to the restaurant next door (also owned by Roberto and Ceceila) called the Museo de Jamon - this was delightful too as was the very fine brandy  produced by Roberto.  He and Cecelia even danced the tango! Our friends have made us feel exceptionally welcome and I am sure we will never forget our time here. Buenos Aires is without a doubt one of my favourite places and I hope we can return here some day.

15 December 2004

We have been in San Fernando now for two weeks. We had a safe trip here though the water was seriously shallow - at one point we had less than 20cm distantbuenosaires under our keel and we took the deep water route. Sapphire was hauled out of the water and we had to stay in a hotel for two weeks which was a bit of a luxury. During the time here Sapphire has been freshly anti-fouled and polished, the propeller has been serviced and our towed generator has been repaired. We hope to leave here on Friday to return to Buenos Aires before heading onto Mar Del Plata. Yesterday we met with Horst, Roberto and Cecelia (Roberto's beautiful wife) for a quick drink at the hotel. Last night Roberto and Cecelia took us out for a fabulous meal at a local restaurant and then on for the most divine icecream at a heladaria.  They were great company and very generous to us.  The food and drink in Argentina is outstanding and Kevin is in his element with the amount of great meat here.

30 November 2004

laboca4 As today is our last day in Puerto Madero we thought it best to see some more of the city. We headed for La Boca. This is traditionally one of Buenos Aires' working class areas where poorer migrants used to start their new life. La Boca is fringed by extremely poor slums, it is hard to imagine people living in that sort of poverty. It is certainly the most colourful district of Buenos Aires with many of the buildings made of painted metal. . This is the home of the Tango and it is no coincidence that it used to be full of brothels. Now it is a real tourist magnet. Tomorrow morning we leave for San Fernando which is further up the river. Horst is sailing with us as he knows the area well. We met him and Robedrto in La Paloma. We expect to have about 20 cm clearance under our keel so their local knowledge as well as their good company will be most welcome!

23 November 2004

tigre_water We all took the train to Tigre at the river delta. It took around an hour to get there and it was lovely. The Tigre waters are very muddy and the banks very reedy. There are dozens of small islands. The houses all have jetties as the only way to get around is by boat. Most of the houses are on stilts as floods can be common. It was very green with lots of huge trees, including many gum trees. We had a late lunch at the Gato Blanco restaurant - delicious. The meals were absolutely enormous. It was a great opportunity to see a different side to the Buenos Aires region.

21 November 2005

kev_marilyn_me tango bottles Kev's birthday (and doesn't he age well..like a fine wine!)  We visited the Global Challenge yachts in YCA as they were having an open day. We went onboard Samsung and were shown around the boat. They certainly seem extremely strong. (I would not fancy the next leg these boats have in front of them - non stop from BA to Wellington.)  From here we visited the antiques market at San Telmo which was great.  There were tango buskers melting in the sun, bands and lots of street entertainment.  There were stalls selling all types of antiques including jewelery and lots of colourful soda bottles.  It was really hot so (much to Kev's delight) he and Marilyn made an early escape and returned to the boat.  That evening we all went to the hotel (where Myles and Marilyn were stopping) and Kev and I had our first baths since Christmas.  We had a lovely birthday dinner in the hotel restaurant.  

20 November 2004

evita launch Myles and Marilyn joined us after breakfast and we headed over to Recoleta as Kev was very keen to find a pub showing the rugby. It turned out very well as we found a little pub showing the Argentina / France game - and Argentina won! The England / SA game was on after that so Myles and Kev stayed put while Marilyn and I made the most of the wonderful craft markets there. There were lots of beautiful hand made clothes, jewelery and crafts at incredible prices. We collected Kev and his dad after the game (which to their delight England won) and we all went to look at the amazing cemetery in Recoleta. This is where the rich and famous of Buenos Aires have been going to RIP for years. The place is full of elaborate mausoleums, some of which are airconditioned! We found Evita's tomb which was not as enormous as many of the others. Whilst at Recoleta we also saw some professional dog-walkers! Their presence ensured that we needed to watch where we stepped! The area was very green and leafy, really quite Parisian. On the way back to the boat we visited the hypermarket and bought a trolley full of groceries including a case of wine - all for around £15.

15 November 2004

ba_dock We arrived into Buenos Aires just before midnight. We could not get through to Puerto Madero as the swing bridge was closed. We could not find anywhere to tie up so I called the Yacht Club Argentino on the VHF. I was having a confused conversation in Spanish when the coastguard cut in. I thought I was going to get into trouble for talking on Channel 16 but instead the Coast Guard asked for our details and asked where we had been. He then got onto the radio to the Yacht Club Argentino and asked them to help us with a berth. By this time a man had come to find us from the YCA and escorted us into a berth for the night. Later in the morning after a good night's sleep, we tried to pay and found the night had been gratis. We filled up with diesel (we had been running on fumes) and then made our way to Puerto Madero. A lovely marina with finger pontoons (a real treat). Kev left to clear in and I stayed to clean the boat which was a tip.By the end of the day, with all paperwork done and the boat immaculate, we took the little launch over to the town centre for a delicious coffee in one of the many cafes. This is the first really delveloped place we have been to since Jersey and it is great! We have since discovered that the Argentine wine (which we knew to be excellent) is also very inexpensive - we will be making the most of that!

10 November 2004

roberto_horst We had planned to head off today. Kev left to pay the harbour dues we owed. While he was gone I was listening to the vhf and heard a man in Spanish mention F8-9. I could not catch where this was for so we obtained a forecast. Sure enough, the forecast of gale 8-9 was for this area so we decided to stay put. We cleared in which was easy and ventured into town. The town looks to have been caught in a time warp. We saw a lot of bicycles and horse and carts. We found an internet cafe but after a power failure and then a line failure gave up on that. We had a really nice lunch of "chivitos" which were basicially steak sandwiches wiht the works, with a bottle of Uruguayan wine for $7. Back at the boat we decided to put extra warps on in case the bad weather did arrive. During the night the wind increased to F8. The gale took 48 hrs to abate. An Argentine boat, called Gringo came in. They had caught a 25kg tuna which they were keen to share. It was delicious. We had dinner on board with Roberto and Horst from Corsair. We need to work on our Spanish!

9 November 2004

I came on watch at 0330. It began to drizzle and the wind died to a F3. I was watching this begin to increase and decided to get the genny in. In less than 60 seconds, the wind increased from F3 to F9. I called Kev just as the main accidentally gybed and this broke the vang. Thank God we had the preventer rigged or the damage could and probably would have been much worse. Decided to down all sails once the wind died off - this had not been a gale but a squall. We motored to La Paloma in Uraguay. Just as were out of Paloma we were overtaken by a plague of black flies! (we have since read that the arrival of a Pampero can be indicated by an increase in the number of insects in the atmosphere.)Upon our arrival in the harbour we saw that there was very little room for us to anchor as we had planned. we were in contact with harbour control over the vhf. The lady to whom we were speaking spoke some English and told us to look for a buoy. We were not happy with this as the mooring buoys were very close together and we did not think that we could fit so I told her this. Still she insisted that we go to the buoy - I could see a yellow one free so asked her whether she meant the yellow buoy. "Yes, the yellow buoy," she replied. Again I told her that that buoy was not suitable for us. She still told us to go to the buoy, the buoy near the pier. We saw a battered red pier with a grizzled and very hairy man waving to us. He looked about 50-60 years old. I told the lady at port control that there was a man on the pier waving to us. "Yes!" (She was sounding a little exasperated with me by now.)"That's the BOY!"

8 November 2004

Continued a very rapid sail with f6-7 from behind us. At around 1100 Kev noticed two rainbow halos around the sun - these are caused by ice crystals in the atmosphere. We were feeling a bit on edge as we were waiting for our next pasting. We were watching the pressure like a hawk and were dismayed to see this begin to drop again, very slowly but inexorably. The clear skies which began the evening gave way to cloud cover and there was a lot of lightning, but none near us.

5 November 2004

Still very calm so we motor sailed. We were concerned about fuel and decided to refuel from our cans. We were not at all impressed with the sediment in the fuel we took on in Salvador. This was more of a concern as the baja filter is temporarily out of action.Saw our first small albatross or mollymawk - it was a black browed albatross. The pressure dropped by another two mb. The wind increased to a F4 during the afternoon so I called Kev - I thought we needed to reduce sail before we got slapped. We dressed properly and reduced sail just before the wind increased to a F6. This was short lived though. Kev bellowed, "Do your worst!" at the sky. I reminded him that when Mervyn, (the skipper of Thermopalye during the Clipper 96 race) did this we were rewarded with a shredded chute.  We enjoyed a great meal and were sailing happiily for about 2 hours.  When I came on watch at 2100 Kev decided to put a reef in as we were under full sail. By the time I came up the companionway 35 knots hit us like a train and Sapphire was really shuddering horribly.  The rain was falling like a sheet and we hove to and reefed the main before getting rid of the genoa.  This was a pampero which are relatively common in these parts.  The woolly socks and hats were dragged from their lockers.  We spent the next 2 days hove to and slowly being blown sideways.  During this time the pressure slowly increased from 1011 to 1025 mb and when the wind abated we were left with the most glitteringly clear sky that I have ever seen.