Written by David Townsend

18, December 2005

Position 07°55’251S 014°24786’W

At anchor, Georgetown, Ascension Island, South Atlantic Ocean.

Hi dear friends, thank you for following our journey, firstly may we take this opportunity to wish you all a merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year. Unfortunately, we will not be having the traditional Christmas dinner this year as we have been invited by our new friends on the USA air force base to a BBQ. Needles to say we will be thinking of you trying to keep warm ha ha ha ha ha ha…

Due to recent events, this update has a different format.

I managed to fix the steering so I can manoeuvre should I need to do so although it is now reversed, i.e. turn the wheel to port the rudder will go to starboard. This is because the broken wire is too short to fit correctly. I managed to get wire, bulldog clips, cable, insulation tape and duct tape apart from other things from the UN while in Abidjan so it came in handy. As for here, well. Have you ever gone ashore only to find you boat gone when you return, well it happened the other night and here’s the story..

Abstract from the forth-coming book ‘In My Wake’ page 79.

Monday the 12th December, the day that nearly scuppered for us for it was the night when Pinta, already gaining a reputation for being a typical French girl, i.e. always going where she wants and not where guided went AWOL for after retuning from a few drinks ashore we returned to Pinta unfortunately she was not there, now we have missed placed her before as the anchor light bulb blew the other day so it was easy to motor passed but after a week of this we had become very good at finding her in the dark but however on this occasion she was nowhere to be seen. As Woody’s head sunk into his hands in disbelieve of the situation I circled around the bay in case she had dragged her anchor but deep down I knew she was goner. Either the shackle or the rope near the cable had failed as I always check the ‘boat’ end to ensure there is no chafe in the anchor line. The funny thing is I was going to replace the lot with chain in Cape Town rather than the 10 metres of chain and 40 metres of rope currently used.

I was surprised how much Woody was suffering and he could not believe how calm I was being about it, for me I was more concerned that onboard were photo’s I had taken of my boy’s growing up. The rest within reason could be replaced but with my very bad memory, these were all I have of my time as a ‘house husband’, the best time of my life so far and if this was fate then it was meant to be, there was nothing I could do about it.

On returning to shore we went to the local police station, I made a telephone call as per the instructions on the wall there and shortly after a lady officer arrived, after giving her the details she called her sergeant. She then called out the ‘AIG’ search and rescue team who in turn launched there RIB. I spoke to the skipper and gave a description of Pinta and although she had no anchor light lit I did comment on her radar profile. The current here at that time of night flows to the NW, he estimated that she could be up to 14NM away as it had been some three and half hours. After having a quick look around through the night vision scope they thought they had seen a mast near one of the navigation buoy’s just offshore, funnily enough we thought we had seen the same during our search but it was not to be.

It was at this time the police offered us the use of the two cells for the night, which we excepted but said if was okay with them we would just wait a little longer at the pier head. Although we could really do nothing it seemed right that I wait here to see the fate of Pinta.

After about an hour a radio message came through that they had found her, one hour and forty minutes passed when I saw the familiar silhouette of Pinta coming into view. Logic said to me she should be badly damaged as moored directly behind us spreading to both sides ware vessels called ‘lighters’ but to my amazement Pinta suffered no damage at all. Now I have said this many times before here but as I travel upon life’s Ocean something has away of seeing me through, whether it be my friend I chat too or be it Cassiopeia who is always looking over me or something on a bigger scale I cannot say but I have been blessed so far out here.

After thanking both the police and the ‘AIG’ search and rescue crew we returned onboard, had a quick inspection to check the hull’s integrity then turned in for the night. In the morning I checked the mooring line, doubled her up then went in the dinghy to check why or how she parted, on inspection the line parted 15 metres from the anchor, as there was 10 metres of chain it meant the rope parted 5 metres away from the chain so the rope chafing on the coral below could possible be ruled out. We did have a bit of a blow the other night and she was surging about a bit so perhaps that had done the damage.

Fair winds and calm seas