Tristan da Cunha rose out of the mist in a majestic way, some 6,600 feet in the air and some 7 miles long. We passed within two miles and talked via VHF with Radio Tristan. Our passing was big news in a place where little happens.
Hardly anyone goes there and there are 264 residents, all of whom own the island collectively. It is said to be the world's most remote inhabited archipelago. And, if there is a prize in the race for the Skipper who has gone closest to the many Atlantic Islands, I stake my claim starting with the Canaries.
1,243 miles from St Helena its closest neighbor, it is Accessible only by a six-day boat journey from South Africa or as part of epic month-long cruises through the South Atlantic Ocean. Tristan is about as far from a quick holiday destination as it gets and perhaps not for a weekend break and one you would have to think long and hard on for a 'bucket-list'
Apparently, it was originally annexed by the British in 1816 because they feared the French would use it as a base to rescue exiled Napoleon in St Helena! But despite it formidable remoteness, Tristan da Cunha, named after the Portuguese explorer of the same name, has a rich history and a plethora of native wildlife that is truly unique.
The second last big event in 1961 was when the Queen Mary's Peak erupted and all had to be evacuated but fortunately there was little damage and the residents returned to Edinburgh of The Seven Seas, the The lobster factory is the biggest income earner for the residents and all are listed and farmers, while sharing in the work of the community including several Government jobs shared.
And the last big event was when Kenny Read and his Puma team spent several week there after losing their mast in the Volvo Ocean around the world race. Apparently, the islanders adopted the crew and the few free local girls did not want them to leave.
Before Tristan, which we passed with 30 knots plus of wind, two reefs in the main and no headsail, The New Reality on board Kilcullen kicked in the morning of Day 25. Winds at 35 knots plus. One surf down a wave brought us above 26 knots - that's 40 k an hour!! I also foolishly got soaked wet, when engulfed by a wave while struggling on deck.
It took almost 2 hours to shorten sail and I had to hunker down on 'all-fours' and crawl forward to the bow to solve a roller-furling problem. One moment we would rise, ride a wave You feel on top of the world and then a massive surge where you are planted between two walls of water.
Like the proverbial turkey voting for Christmas, we have dug south to get wind and by the "Hook" we have it - an extraordinary contrast from idyllic light air sailing in the tropics 10 days ago.
Hook, from Hook Head off Waterford, is a term dating back to Cromwell. It is where I made a landfall after crossing the Atlantic in my 16-foot dinghy." We' ll get there "By Hook or by Crook" says Mr. Cromwell, apparently, - Crook, being a West Cork headland - he would have been sailing from the south coast of England and he planned to land someplace between the two)
Anyway, we had had the Blast Reacher and one reef in the main when the wind came. First it was down to the J2 and another reef in the main. Now its main only and we still get 20 knots! Since problems off the Canaries with my second reef, this was the first time to test my new system. On the first time the load was too great and the line broke, the second time with a different configuration we got the reef in and, here in the Southern Ocean it may be some time before we have to get it out.
Meanwhile following the Tristan da Cunha Triumph there was a special EGM of the South Atlantic Residents Association. I am indeed honored to have been elected as President ( elect) of SARA. The inauguration will be the same day as President Trump takes his oath of office in Washington. Alan Roura, on board La Barbeque, representing Switzerland in the Vendee, will be the First Minister and Deputy First Minister combined
0300 hrs, BST, 2nd December, 2016
Lat: 38 16.99 South
Long: 10 11.87 West