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Mistral of Portsmouth - Santa Cruz … the last few days

It’s been a while and there’s a lot to report! We’ve had a lovely time.


Chris and I had our day out at North Seymour - a tiny uninhabited island north of Santa Cruz. It was a really special day. A bus ride to the north of Santa Cruz where we were ferried to a big catamaran for the 45 minute trip to North Seymour. En route, at least 50 dolphins jumping and playing with us - a spectacular sight. And onto the island itself - I felt like I was David Attenborough! We were greeted by blue footed boobies followed by Magnificent Frigates mating, Santa Cruz gulls guarding their eggs, Golden Iguanas, sea lions, turtles and dolphins in stunning surroundings. Next stop was a snorkelling tour … words can’t describe it... starfish, manta rays, parrot fish, sharks, so much sea life … it was as if I was starring in Finding Nemo! Delicious lunch on board followed by a visit to the most beautiful beach I have ever seen … and I have seen a few! Pink flamingoes, red and orange crabs, pelicans feeding on white sand, azure sea, blue sky and a lush green backdrop. Truly we were privileged to be there. A perfect day celebrating our 13th wedding anniversary!

Janie and Patrick joined us on Monday - we were all excited! So glad they are here as preparations are so much easier with 4. Janie and I did fruit and veg provisioning whilst Patrick and Chris changed oil filters; skippers briefing at 4pm, and prize giving with drinks followed by dinner. We came in 2nd on the leg to San Cristobel and were awarded a prize for winning the eta competition on the leg from Santa Marta to the San Blas Islands - all good causes to celebrate! 

The following day (the day before we left) we were up early to get the main sail out to check all was well - you may remember that a piece of metal had fallen from the sky and bounced into the water when we crossed from Isabela to Santa Cruz. We couldn’t see anything amiss but wanted to check and sure enough … the swivel that furls the sail in and out had broken - a big bolt had flown out and the thing had fallen apart. Bugger. I went up the mast and having identified the problem had a wobble about staying up and trying to fix it. Bad memories of mast swinging! Luckily for us, one of our friends from Amanzi (the lovely Ron) had come over to help Chris change the engine  oil and was happy to volunteer to go to the top.  Our challenge … get the sail down manually so that the swivel could be brought down to boat level to be fixed. Patrick went ashore to find a new bolt. Janie was designated to go ashore to get passports to immigration. Chris and Ron changed the oil in the engine in the meantime. A super team effort. We were hugely relieved to have a working mainsail.

As an aside, every time we need to go ashore, we have to hail a water taxi on the vhf radio. The system works but honestly, you take your life in your hands every time you leap into one as it revs itself close to the boat. Especially challenging when holding 30 eggs in a tray (for example!) or several loads of seriously heavy supplies! 

To continue with our story … briefing/training for Patrick and Janie all pm whilst I cooked, cleaned and packed the boat ready for our 3 week sailing marathon. Dinner on board, a robust conversation on Covid followed by an early night! 

Today is the day. We got up early again to get the (new) code zero sail ready (early morning before the wind gets up) and put the vertical batons into the mainsail (too windy the day before). Mission accomplished, we waited for the 5 inspectors to visit us - essential to be signed off before we could leave. Loads of paperwork later, a narcotics agent searching my underwear drawer whilst an environment inspector looked into the freezer and we were signed off. We planned to weigh anchor at 1215 ready for the 1pm start.

And hey ho … would you believe it (of course you would!), the anchor chain was rammed tight below the surface. Nothing we did would move it. We called a diver and sat to wait, watching our friends cross the start line and begin their big journey. So frustrating and such a disappointment. A happy ending to this particular tale however. An hour later as a water taxi came by to see what he could do, we tried again and miracle of miracles, the chain lifted! 45 minutes late over the line. We are excited to be going. The fleet are ahead of us but we will catch up I’m sure. Our new code zero is flying beautifully … please god let it last!

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