We are fortunate to have winds between 14 and 17 knots out of the east at the moment and are doing quite well, speed wise, under spinnaker. At noon today we have 404 nautical miles to our waypoint, which is situated between the Brazilian coast and the island of Fernando de Noronha, which is northeast of the city of Natal. As we get closer to the waypoint we should start picking up the effect of the Guiana Current, giving us a bit of a boost of speed up the coast towards the Amazon delta and the equator. We hope to reach the waypoint sometime on Monday.
Life on board is a bit monotonous with just a daily routine taking place and nothing exciting happening. This morning, whilst we were all busy launching the spinnaker, a small pod of dolphin were playing at the bows but, as we were busy with the spinnaker and not paying attention to their antics, they soon disappeared. They tend to stick around if they see us paying attention to them.
Terry was our baker again for the day and produced two fine loves of bread for us - photograph above. He better be careful or he is going to become the chief cook and bottle washer when he gets back home as he is producing some fine meals whilst on board. Tonight we go back to a fish dinner with Shaun cooking up Dorado fillets. He claims the actual meal he intends to prepare is a secret - the rest of us think he has no idea yet how he intends to cook the fish. Last night I whipped up a good old baked macaroni and cheese, which, even if I say so myself, was quite edible.
Last night I was on the 9pm to midnight watch, during which a Common Noddy tried to land on the forward starboard railing. The poor fellow tried a number of times with me lighting up the landing approach with my torch, but eventually gave up and disappeared into the pitch dark. We normally do get visitors of the feathered variety on this section up to the Amazon delta.
Well, just a quick happy birthday greeting to John (ZS1AGF), Dennis (ZS1AU), Hugo (ZS1HSF) and Stan (ZS1T), all of whom have just celebrated their birthdays over the past few days or will celebrate their birthdays in a day or two.
With that salutary note we all bid you well until the next blog report.
Today is a double happy hour! Well, what it actually is, is a day we put our clocks back another hour as we have changed time zones again. Six o'clock becomes five o'clock due to us passing the 22 degree 30 min. west meridian. We are thus now 2 hours behind UTC/GMT and 4 hours behind SAST (South African Standard Time). We have another two time zones to go as Tortola (and the rest of the Caribbean) is six hours behind SAST.
Last nights 'Fish Florentine' turned out quite well except there was no spinach. We did purchase some in Cape Town but somewhere along the line it went walkies - actually, it is most likely still in my freezer at home or has exploded in the back of my car - hopefully the former! So, Terry, like all good fellows from 'Down Under', made an adjustment to his recipe and used sliced potato instead. Then, to compensate for the change in our diet, he actually baked two loaves of bread today. One was a plain white and the other a cheese loaf. There was nothing left of the cheese loaf a half hour after it came out of the oven!
We had the spinnaker up most of today as we had some fairly constant winds out of the east with no rain squalls. Unfortunately we cannot keep it up permanently as we need to charge our batteries every six hours - they are just not keeping their charge! I am in contact with our Cape Town office and the factory to try and sort the problem out, but it looks like we will be using up all our diesel to get to Tortola.
Jack (AA3GZ), who runs the Maritime Mobile Net I am reporting to, reports that it was -10degC in Pennsylvania last night. We, on the other hand, have been having an average of 28 degrees C for the past few days. It looks like it will get hotter as we get up to the equator and into the Caribbean with a lot more humidity.
Not too much further to report today, so greetings to all out there from the four of us aboard Moorings 46#A1040.
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.