Just a quick postcard-less update from the ocean wave. Am still afloat but only just as 3 week voyage across the Atlantic has not been without incident. So far have had a v. blowy hurricane, swirling-like tornado water spout, surfacing whales and heaped seas with waves as big as buses (haven’t been sick yet though!).

Then several hundred miles east of the Caribbean the US coastguard contacted us to divert course to go to the aid of a stricken yacht on which man had had a heart attack. We spent 14hrs sailing through thrashing and thundering seas before the yacht was sighted pitching around wildly in the driving rain and spume-whipped waves. A rescue attempt was made by 5 Russian crewmen who launched (not without difficulty) one of our two rusty lifeboats but had to be aborted as seas just too dangerous and the captain didn’t want to risk the life of his able seamen. Was a very forlorn sight to watch the yacht, ‘Always Saturday’, be swallowed by the storm – left to its own devices.(Man was finally rescued half a day later by US cutter).

Then one of two engines failed to restart so we limped onwards at 7 knots into a night full of banshee winds and an explosive electrical storm. Rainwater poured through the leaking windows and roof of the bridge and i was scrambled into action to scurry around by torchlight mopping up puddles around the numerous elecrical equipment with the torn up remnants of the Russian crew’s underpants. Next, two of the bridge’s GPS’s went down so the 3rd mate on duty had to navigate by dead reckoning for a while. This was followed by a red warning light which started flashing and blipping and blurping indicating that the 2nd (and last!) engine had failed – but it was a false alarm – just rain water in the electrics I believe. Have now been anchored at mouth of Panama Canal for two days surrounded by scores of other container vessels which, like us, are all waiting to go through. No spare engine parts are forthcoming in Panama so we hobble onwards into the Pacific at half speed.

More slow moving news soon….

PS wildlife spotted today: pelicans, egets, boobies, herons, dolphins, bat-sized butterflies and a massive multistoryed cricket that flew out of the jungle and landed on me on the deck and had probing proboscis the size of knitting needles.