Wild Goose - We did it! final blog….

OMG what a last day.  It had everything that a Caribbean adventure should have, sun, wind, rain, calm, excitement, frustration, elation!  Just no pirates.

The day dawned beautiful and found us some 120 miles from the finish sailing fast on starboard tack straight down the rumb line…272 degrees.  Mental calculations had us arriving early in the night- we could almost taste the rum punch….but nature had a few surprises in store for us yet.

First of all as we were clearing away our last breakfast omelet the wind began to drop, lighter…and lighter..and lighter.  The projected arrival time slipped.  Near but so far! All morning the sails slattered against the shrouds.  Oh how we wished we had not torn the cruising chute.  We had some boats in sight, our friends on Blue Pearl, who we travelled alongside on the first leg were miraculously right with us on this final day again, and Soulsister who had been dropping in and out of AIS range for days finally came into actual view.  But try as we might we were all creeping forward at just 4-5kts.

Then finally shortly after lunch (note that by this stage meals have become the only way of telling the time!) the wind returned, and as we approached the Island built until we were steaming along in 20kts of wind and doing over 8kts consistently…the lights of the Island appeared ‘Land Ho!’   We really thought we were nearly there by this stage, also that we were in with a chance of closing the 2.5 mile gap to Blue Pearl  and keeping ahead of Soulsister who had been creeping up on us all day.  Despite the excitement we kept our watch system going and some of us at least got a few moments of sleep.

We past the bottom of the Island in over 20kts, and decided to put in a reef prior to what we expected to be a spanking beat up the last few miles to the finish.  Then we noticed on the AIS that Blue Pearl had stopped…had they gone aground?  They did seem to have gone very close to the shore.  We listened on the VHF for their cries for help…silence..hmm!

The we got it..all of a sudden the strong breeze dropped to just a faint zephyr, add to that a surprising counter current of 2kts, and we were stationary too.  Out came the reef, sails tweaked to the max, and we crept forward.  I was reminded of one of my teenage sailing books: “In light airs sensitivity is the key”.  On we crept the line getting slowly closer.  By this stage the line was a notional bearing from a pair of lights on a headland…closer and closer…then suddenly I asked James if there is an outer distance mark.  “No but. The sailing instructions state we should be within two miles of the shore”.  A quick look at Navionics revealed that we were 2.3 out.  Oh no!  So…we tacked in, and it took another agonising 20 mins before we finally were able to tack back and finish. 0311 ships (Cape Verde)time.  Wow, what a last day!
So after 14 days the sails finally came down, engine on, and we headed in towards a bewildering forest of lights, still just behind Blue Pearl!  There is a marina in there somewhere!  For once it was nice to have Blue Pearl to follow!  

The Arc+ welcome team were on the pontoon to take our lines and the adventure was over.  True to Caribbean form we were handed glasses of wonderful rum punch as we stepped onto the dock-delicious!  Even better it turns out that Blue Pearl is a ‘dry’ boat, and so they kindly donated their four glasses to us…for me that meant three glasses. Rum makes me happy…three glasses makes me very happy!

So that is why I did not write this blog yesterday morning…..

Jane and Lindsay, James’s and my wife fly in from snow covered southern England this evening, then our celebrations can really start.