Out of the Rio Plata, an intense 24 hoursOut of the Rio Plata, an intense 24 hours

Out of the Rio Plata, an intense 24 hours
We left Colonia de Sacramento on
Monday morning after a late breakfast. Under anchor we set mainsail and mizzen
(with just the 4 of us, we need all the hands on the halyards!) and set of with
a very light breeze, we had to go down wind so we butterfly-ed all the sails on
a calm course. The light breeze disappeared soon and so under engine we sailed
into the night. At watch hand over at midnight the wind had returned and
increased. We were sailing with 7 knots and all seemed fine.. except for the
clouds forming over land.

Within two hours the clouds over Montevideo
had developed into full on thunderclouds and although we still had a nice breeze
and speed, we took down mainsail and jib as a precaution. At 3 in the morning we
were totally surrounded by thunder, we took all the sails down and got our
sailing suits on over our shorts and t shirt (because that is how HOT it still
was during the night) and soon the rain came. Lightning was everywhere! Thick
drops of water were pouring out of the sky and it was hard to see in the dark
because we got blinded by the constant flashes. The lightning got closer and
closer, we talked about dropping anchor, but had no safe anchorage available
within an hours sail. So we sailed on, or engined on. And then the thunder came.
Flashes would strike water to be followed by loud cracks and rumbles. Some only
3 or 4 seconds after the flash.
The dawn came around watch hand over and so
did a massive black cloud. It came into the wind and washed over us like a wave.
The wind turned 180 degrees to South West. No sails were up, so no worries there
as the wind increased to a gale force and blew up the water from the Rio Plata.
It only lasted for 30 minutes, then it was gone and small clearings started to
appear in the clouds.

It rained consistently for another 6 hours, but
the wind died out and turned to the North North east. We set the mizzen and
forestaysail again, but the wind kept on turning for short periods, hitting us
on the nose, so sailing was difficult. We still had lightning around us at Noon
watchhandover, but no thunder. We got closer to Maldonado, a place on the end of
the Rio Plata and would have to head into the wind from there. As the wind
increased to a force 6, we decided to wait it out under anchor at Maldonado. Not
going ashore, just a short stop to wait out the wind. And luckily we did!
Because only an hour after dropping anchor we got a very strong South Westerly
wind. It looked like we were back around Cape Horn! Above the city (which looked
like a very nice place by the way) we saw a cloud hanging very low, a dark blue
grey cloud that seemed to touch the highest of the buildings! The world turned
crazy for a little bit, as we sat inside with our anchor deep into the clay
ground! After a few hours sleep we left again and are now heading north again.
Still about 550 miles to Florianapolis.

In short, an intense 24 hours!
Will write more about our time in Colonia in the next

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