Yesterday we had squalls all day but as the sun set in the west, as it seems to do each evening, the heavens cleared and we had a fantastic clear sky. I was on the 6pm to 9pm watch and sat in wonder watching the heavens. During the short period of dark and the end of my watch I managed to spot four satellites moving across the sky at incredible speed and a couple of 'shooting stars'. It was really quite magnificent as there was no moon.
During my radio sked with hams back in Cape Town we had a few dolphins come and visit us. Shaheda, Shaun and Terry watched them from the deck whilst I could see the occasional one swimming along in our wake. When we are off the Brazilian coast, we should have a lot more visits by these cleaver and fascinating mammals who tend to stay with the boat for long periods when they see us humans appreciating them from the deck. If they do not see us, they tend to disappear quite quickly.
Last night I received an SMS from Dave, the skipper of the 46' ahead of us. They are 650 nm ahead of us now and Dave reports very light winds from the east. He expects to get to Tortola on the 20th of December. I have sent an SMS to Richard, the skipper of the 46' a week or so behind us, but have received no reply as yet. He may have his satellite phone switched off, in which case he will not receive my message.
Dinner tonight is 'Fish Florentine' from the kitchen of head chef 'Terry the Ship Spotter'. He seems pretty confident in how to prepare and cook the dish so we drool at the prospect in anticipation. A full report will be posted here tomorrow for Kerry and other interested parties.
During my travels I have been collecting music at various stops and keeping it on my computer for loading onto my iPod. My music 'library' now contains 650 CD's of all genre of music and I have created different play lists which I can load onto my iPod, depending on my mood and what type of music I want to listen to. The little player is really a wonderful system and worth every cent spent on it. I still have about 500 CD's of music on a portable hard drive which I will have to sort and load onto the computer when I get home.
As we scoot along, under spinnaker, at just over six knots in an easterly breeze, I, together with Terry, Shaheda and Shaun, bid you well until the next blog report - John.
After leaving St Helena I started my "Ship Spotting" competition, the prize to the person who spots the most ships on the section of the leg from St Helena to a point just west of Barbados, being a bottle of good quality Caribbean Rum. This morning Terry started the ball rolling by sighting the first ship we have seen since the fishing vessels the day after leaving Cape Town. So unused to seeing another vessel, Terry's remark on seeing it was "What the f%@# is that?". A ship sir - aren't they a strange sight! He leads the competition with Terry 1, everybody else 0. Terry's ship is show above.
We all enjoyed our Dorado dinner yesterday evening, cooked perfectly by Shaheda with a little assistance by Shaun. Regarding the cooking duties aboard, please do not think that Shaheda is our chief cook and bottle-washer. Each evening's cooking duties rotates and we all have our bit to play in the galley. Tonight is my turn (it should have been last night) and we are having a break from the fish. The menu is chicken kebabs cooked in a light sweet curry sauce served with peas and baked potatoes with a blob of butter and topped with a blob of cream cheese.
It looks like we will not be doing any fishing for quite a time as the freezer is full and there is just no further space for anything else. So, to keep ourselves occupied, the reading goes on and the large pile of books is slowly being devoured by us literary geniuses (ha, ha).
Last night on my watch, we had clear skies for a few hours and with no moon, the stars were exceptionally bright and a delight to watch. With iPod plugged into my lugs I sat marvelling at the spectacle, highlighted by the occasional "shooting star". My watch tonight is from 6pm to 9pm and, if the skies clear, I will try and count the satellites crossing the sky just after sunset. Please note the "if the skies clear" bit - we are having overcast skies with rain squalls on a regular basis and last nights stars are the exception at the moment.
We have only one problem on board at the moment and that is that our batteries are not holding a charge as they should. This means that we are having to run our engines for quite a time each day to keep our voltages high on the batteries. We are thus doing a lot of motor-sailing but if we cannot find out why we are not getting the power into the batteries, I may have to make a 'pit-stop' in Fortaleza, Brazil, to purchase more diesel. We are working on the problem but, as yet, have not been able to find out why it is occurring.
So, from a power deficient boat, greetings from all aboard until the next report.
No, not Terry stomping on flying fish with his size 11 shoes, but two nice sized Dorado in one go. We were meant to put our lines out on Sunday but, due to Sunday being a day of rest, only put them out this morning (Monday) at 6 o'clock. As the ships bell chimed 8 o'clock both pegs on the aft rail snapped at the same time and we had the two Dorado pictured above. Fish for dinner tonight again!
Yesterday we were only able to fly our spinnaker for a few hours due to rain squalls passing us on a regular basis. Each time one of the squalls gets within a few miles of the boat, we have a dramatic wind shift which would back the spinnaker and most likely leave us with a huge rip in it as it wrapped itself around the forestay. Not what we want! So, we have sailed with the jib and occasionally one engine when the wind strength drops too much. The result is a drop in our daily noon to noon runs, which we will make up for when we reach the Brazilian coast.
In the mean time life on board is quite boring! A lot of reading is taking place with myself reading a book on the life of plants, including their sexual conduct - stirring stuff! It really shows how board a person can get for me to read such a book. Thanks to all the Hams back in Cape Town for donating the books and magazines.
Well, this morning I reported our position DTG (distance to go) and ETA for Tortola to the office back in Cape Town, something I do each Monday and Thursday morning. My calculations remain as they were before: DTG Tortola: 3485 nm ETA Tortola: 24 December It looks like we will be spending Christmas in "Hodges Creek", a mosquito infested swamp a few miles east of Road Town in Tortola. I was supposed to be spending the Christmas and New Year period with Joy in the Gifberg mountains near Vanrynsdorp up the west coast of South Africa but, due to the delays in launching and departing on this delivery, that has changed - for the worse.
And a reminder to the folk that visit the blog and find no new report - I only post something when I have the time and thus a day or two may go by with nothing showing up. However, if there is no new report, I do update our position on the map on the right of the page. Just click it, let it load and our last noon position will be displayed. Note that "noon" is not necessary your noon but that of the boat. At the moment we have undertaken three time changes since leaving Cape Town and are presently on UCT/GMT/Zulu time -1 hour or 3 hours behind SAST or 12 hours behind Sydney or 3 hours ahead of the US eastern time. You figure it out to your location!
On that "timely" note I bid you well until the next report. If you would like to know anything from aboard, hit the "Comments" button at the bottom of this report and place a comment on the blog. Deon (ZS1ZL) will pass it on to me and I will reply via the blog or directly to you. Deon also offers the service of emailing you our daily position report - you can subscribe to it by sending him an email to firstname.lastname@example.org requesting the reports.
Regards from Shaun, Terry, Shaheda and myself, John.
At the moment we are sailing under spinnaker with the jury rigged halyard and there appears to be no chare - we will check the halyard in an hour or so when we drop the spinnaker for the night. For safety we are motor-sailing thru the night as the sky is overcast with squalls and, as there is no moon visible, it is a bit too dangerous to sail at night with the spinnaker.
As mentioned above, it is overcast and has been since leaving St Helena. We have yet to experience a really spectacular sunset on this trip due to the heave cloud cover. Shaun and were discussing the days of the old square riggers and came to the conclusion that the navigators were brilliant in their work. How they used to find the little lump of rock (St Helena) with weeks of cloud cover preventing star or sun sights, is really brilliant navigation and record keeping to be able to get their ships there safely.
Since leaving the island we have done no fishing - the freezer still has an oversupply of tuna. However, we need variety in our fish diet and tomorrow morning we are going to put out our lines again and see if we can hook a nice Dorado, as we are now in Dorado and Wahoo waters. Tonight it is beef sausages with mash and sauce and sweet corn - Shaheda and Shaun doing the cooking.
This morning I baked two loves of bread, one of which "evaporated" within an hour of coming out of the oven. The second loaf has been put aside for Sunday brunch - fried eggs and bacon on toast.
Thanks to the folks who have posted comments to the blog. Thanks also to Deon (ZS1ZL) back in Cape Town who copies them to me every once in a while. I have replied to a few of them and will continue to do so over the next few days.
On the amateur radio front we have not been too active. I managed to chat to Des (ZS1ZY) and Dennis (ZS1AU) earlier today and received a bit of news from the home front. We will be up on 14237.5 KHz tomorrow (Sunday) at 16:00 Zulu and listen out for any calls. I gave my last report through to Alistair (ZS5MU) on the SA Maritime Mobile Net the morning we reached St Helena and subsequently am reporting our daily position to Jack (AA3GZ) in Pennsylvania in the US.
And back to the sailing and the environment around us. We are in flying fish territory now and have them fleeing from the approaching boat on a continuing basis. These wonderful fish come in sizes from a few centimetres to about a foot in length. Terry, with his size 11 shoe, has managed to pulverize a few small ones that have landed on deck overnight. I must admit that they do smell very fishy at best but when flattened by Terry's shoe, smell worse than a can of anchovies left in the sun.
Well, on that smelly note, regards from Terry the "Flying Fish Pulverizer", Shaun, Shaheda and myself, John
Well, There was little Internet access on the island this time round and thus the blog gallery did not get updated - all the photographs there are from my previous Tahiti trip so don't bother having a look.
The island was explored by Shaun, Shaheda and Terry after we did all the maintenance chores aboard, and they all seemed to be fascinated by it and the wonderful people there. We even met and had a chat to the new Governor, Mr Gurr, whilst there - an extremely pleasant gentleman.
For those who think we are paying too much for fuel (and I am one of them), how about R16-95 a litre for petrol and R11-75 a litre of diesel, the pump price on the island. Fortunately, the island is so small that a person does not need to spend too much money on fuel. Oh, and we did not have to buy any whilst there as we still have sufficient from Cape Town in drums.
We departed the island on Wednesday, just before noon, and had a stiff breeze for the first few hours from the island before the wind strength fell to between 8 and 12 knots from the east-southeast. It has remained so since and although we have done a lot of motor-sailing, we have also been sailing with the spinnaker on the jury rigged halyard. That appears to be working well with no chafe - lets hope that continues as we really need the spinnaker for the next two weeks and more!
We should reach our waypoint off the Brazilian coast around the 11th of December, where-after we should get a bit of assistance up the coast from the strong flowing current, which should be with us until just north of the equator. For those that do not know, the equator runs through the Amazon delta, so we have a long way to go before we are able to celebrate the crossing from the southern hemisphere to the northern hemisphere - more on that in a few weeks time.
Well, as we potter along at a dismal speed, greetings to all from Shaheda, Shaun, Terry and myself, John.