21 November 2010 | South Atlantic
At the moment we are about two hundred miles south of the island of Ascension, making very slow progress towards our waypoint off the coast of Brazil. Normally, at this time of the year the trade winds have just filled in but, we have been unlucky and they are yet to arrive. Although we have been sailing with our Gennaker, we have been having very slow daily runs in very light airs.
Before leaving St Helena I realised that a leak had developed somewhere in the plumbing for the starboard side fresh water system. I even delayed our departure to try and find it and thought that I had - I found a number of pipe joints not fully tightened. However, the leak persisted and we found fresh water accumulating in the starboard rudder compartment. I could not find it and sent Dylan, my first mate, to sit in the compartment and re-check the pipe fittings. He was not there for more than 30 seconds when the only large swell of the day came along and broke into the open hatch. The result was a very wet Dylan but, fortunately, we both saw the funny side of the incident.
This incident lead to me finding our leak! I also received a bit of a wet down and went across to the stern basin to wash the salt water out of my deck shoes. When pulling the tap mechanism out of its holder, I found fresh water spraying out of the spray head joint, which had come loose. The problem has now been solved with a spanner and plumbing tape. I estimate that we lost about 75 litres of fresh water before solving the problem, something we can ill afford as our water maker does not work!
Yesterday I had two fishing lines off the back of the boat and had a big strike on the one line, but no fish. We are now in Dorado waters and I cannot wait to land one of these fine fish. We still have one large tuna fillet in the freezer, which is going to be on our plates soon if no Dorado takes the lure. Normally we catch few fish for a few days after leaving St Helena but as soon as the water temperature reaches 24 degrees Celsius, we tend to find both Dorado and sailfish showing interest in our lures. Whilst on the subject of sea life, I have noticed a total lack of dolphin and sea birds since leaving St Helena. We did, however, spot a fine Orca whale a few days before St Helena, something I have never seen before on the first leg from Cape Town.
I have started my "Ship Spotting Competition" and both Dylan and Conrad have one ship each. The AIS system spoils the competition a bit but it still keeps the crew awake and keeping a good watch. The prize of a bottle of Caribbean rum normally goes down well once we have reached our destination, which is Chaguaramas on the island of Trinidad.
At the moment we are a bit in a dead area for HF radio transmissions and I am using a station in Switzerland to send and receive our email. That station is slowly fading away as we progress towards the west. I have been able to also make a connection with one in Nova Scotia, but it is still a bit weak and will take a few days before I can make reasonable connections via it. As we head further west and slowly creep towards the equator, the stations in the Caribbean and US will become more "readable" and our email transmissions should improve. It is a pity that there are no stations on the South American continent.
Well, that's about all the news from aboard Ultima Life for now - basically we are all board and reading lots of books when off watch. Long passages like this one are very boring as life becomes a bit monotonous. So, I bid you well until my next posting - greetings from Dylan, Conrad, Juan and myself, John.