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The Delivery Guy
John delivers new catamarans mostly from Cape Town, South Africa, to various destinations around the world - follow his next trip from London, United Kingdom to Fort Lauderdale, USA.
The Most Unlucky Fish and Other Things
John
29/01/2009

I have caught some mighty fine fish over the years - and had a few small ones as well. However, the little trigger fish pictured above must be the most unlucky fish that was. Yesterday evening I rolled in our fishing lines only to find the little fellow had been impaled by one of the hooks on our lure. Not only that, a trigger fish is normally (as far as I am aware) a reef fish. What he was doing far out in the north Atlantic, I would not know.

And then today we had a line out again and hooked a nice sized Marlin. We brought him to the boat and cut it free from the line as they are unpredictable and not to be played with as that pointed bill is a lethal weapon.

Our weather has improved slightly and we have been making good daily miles, although with a lot of banging still going on as we crest swells and have them thump under the boat. Also, we are still experiencing squalls every few hours. They bring a lot of rain and wind, the wind not always from the direction we want! At noon today we had 142 nautical miles to our next waypoint, situated at the start of Galleon's Passage, the section where we enter the Caribbean Sea between the islands of Trinidad and Tobago. From there we have another 71 nautical miles to the customs dock in Chaguaramas, Trinidad. So, if we can keep a good pace over the next 24 hours, we may even be able to reach our destination late tomorrow afternoon. If not, we will wait at sea to enter the pass to Chaguaramas at first light on Saturday morning. An update in the next blog report.

I have just downloaded the latest weather forecast and it looks like we will loose our wind as we get closer to Trinidad - lets hope the forecasters are wrong! If they are correct, we will have to rely on the diesel sail to get us the last hundred miles or so.

So, what to do in Chaguaramas? A lot really. The boat has a number of problems that need to be sorted out - some minor but a number major, which will need specialists to have a look at and repair. For this reason Adrian has booked a week in one of the marinas in Chaguaramas and Luke and I will assist in repairing some of the minor problems. We also need to clean the boat to get the salt and grime off the boat, and do some of our laundry. Then, of course, we need to sample some of the local rum and food - both of which are pretty good.

At this time Luke and I start our journey back home by taking a ferry from Trinidad to Tobago and then flying to London on Sunday 8 February. We then have a direct flight back to Cape Town.

But, enough for now. My final blog report for this delivery will be posted after we arrive in Chaguaramas. Greetings from all aboard - John

Banging, Bouncing and Thumping Along
John
26/01/2009

For the past few days we have been experiencing rain squall after rain squall, making being on watch a wet affair. Not only that, the wind is persisting from the north-east which means that the seas are on the beam (side of the boat), making a terrible noise as they hit us each few seconds. It's really, I imagine, like being in a washing machine. The result of all the above is that it is hard to sleep properly and everybody is a bit irritable at the moment. Also, due to the rain and spray, we cannot open our hatches and the boat is like a sauna inside.

Yesterday, Sunday 25 January, we had a dramatic change in the colour of the sea as we passed from the clear ocean into the outflow of the Amazon River - this was whilst we were over 100 nautical miles off the coast! There was a clear line in the ocean and everybody watched as we sailed over it. All quite amazing!

Once again, whilst off the Amazon Delta, we had a couple of visiting Noddies trying to land on the boat at night, I am not sure if any were successful due to the wind and motion of the boat.

As I write this report, we are now four to five days out of Trinidad - we expect to arrive there around noon (local time) on Saturday 31 January if we can keep up a daily of over 144 nautical miles, which we are exceeding at the moment. Remember that Trinidad (and the rest of the Caribbean islands) are 4 hours behind GMT/UTC and 6 hours behind SAST. At the moment we are approaching our last time change, which we will most likely celebrate with a double happy hour tomorrow night.

Thanks once again to Shaun, ZS1RA, for keeping me updated on the blog comments and also the local SA news. Regards from all aboard, John

The Northern Hemisphere
John
23/01/2009

On Thursday, for the entire afternoon, we had thousands of what appeared to be Bonito (a fish of the tuna family) jumping out the water. They were obviously feeding on something and enjoying what they were eating! However, to us four humans stuck on a forty foot plastic sailing boat, it was a remarkable sight - they seemed to be happy and so were we.

Then the sun started setting and just after our evening dinner (bacon, onion and cheese tart), we crossed from the southern hemisphere to the northern hemisphere. Out log records the event as happening at 18:39 local time (21:39 UTC/GMT/Zulu or 23:39 SAST) and at 42 degrees 31 minutes west. Instead of the normal bubbly to celebrate the occasion, we opened a bottle of good South African Muscadel wine and enjoyed the sweet aromatic wine, remembering to each give a little to old Neptune in appreciation of bringing us safely to the equator and ensuring a safe journey to our destination.

So, we are now off the Amazon River delta (which will take another day or two to cross) and expect to arrive in Trinidad on Saturday 31 January. However, in a day or two we will experience the changing of the colour of the sea from blue to a green/brown, caused by the massive outflow of the river. Then, as we head further north, we will encounter the ITCZ, better known to most as the "doldrums". Hopefully there will be some breeze to keep us going but on most of my previous trips up this coast we have had a day or two (or sometimes three) of motoring.

At the moment the wind has changed slightly and is out of the east at about 14 knots, giving us a good push. Lets hope it stays like this for a few days more as we need to have a some more of good noon-to-noon runs. We are still experiencing heavily overcast skies and the occasional rain squalls.

A good weekend to all out there - regards from Jackie, Adrian, Luke and myself, John.

Brazil - A Non-Event
John
22/01/2009

As predicted, we arrived in Fortaleza, Brazil, on Tuesday at noon. During our approach, we had a continual wind change, with the wind out of the south-east changing to our of the north-east. This was accompanied by a large swell, also out of the north-east. When we arrived at the marina, there was quite a serge into the marina and the stern-to mooring was not ideal. We dropped anchor three times and each time the anchor dragged just sufficiently to make the stern punts of the boat want to hit up against the steel floating jetty - not safe!

So, we made the disappointing decision to up anchor, make a few calls in the bay where cellular telephone reception was good and continue our final leg to Trinidad.

There are oil fields on the continental shelf about 40 nautical miles north-west of Fortaleza and we had a hard beat into the wind to make our waypoint just to the east of the fields. Downloading the latest GRIB files via Winlink, we found the cause of the adverse winds - there is a large coastal low sitting on the Brazilian coast and we are sailing through it!

At the moment we still have north-easterly winds, which are predicted to stay for the next few days, with rain squall after rain squall. Not a pleasant sailing experience as it is hard to keep dry when on watch and the rain squalls either bring strong winds for a short time from a different direction than the norm or no wind at all. Both situations need you out adjusting the sails and sometimes doing some motor sailing.

Due to us not stopping in Brazil, we could not get any fresh produce such as tomatoes, carrots, cabbage or eggs. So, we are becoming inventive to keep our diet changed. Tonight I am making an onion, bacon and cheese tart - we have plenty of those ingredients remaining. We also still have plenty of fish in our freezer and, weather and motion of the boat permitting, tomorrow evening will most likely be fish cakes and three-bean salad. We will see.

So, when I post this blog I will be requesting the latest weather file and sending off our position report and a couple of emails and hopefully receiving a few as well. We are getting a weak connection from the Winlink station in Trinidad at the moment and hope to start getting some signals from US based stations as we close on the Caribbean.

We should be in Trinidad by the end of the month but have built in a three day extra sailing due to the adverse winds and slow running current that we are experiencing.

Sometime today we should cross the equator and have a small calibration to commemorate the event as it is Adrian and Jackie's first crossing of the equator by sea.

So, from Adrian, Jackie, Luke and myself, we wish you well until the next blog posting. John.

A Pit-Stop
John
15/01/2009

We are a few days from our waypoint off the Brazilian coast - going relatively slowly due to a lack of the normal winds in this region. The forecast for the next few days does not look promising with light winds from the southeast, getting even lighter off the coast of Brazil.

Adrian has decided that he would like to make a short stop in Fortaleza so once we are in the coastal current, we will swing to port and cross the continental shelf and pop into the marina at the Marina Park Hotel.

The above may sound idyllic but to cross the shallow continental shelf is quite a navigational nightmare as there are hundreds of small fishing boats and thousands of crayfish and lobster pot markers you have to avoid. At night the smaller fishing boats either are very poorly lit or have no lights displayed until you are a few hundred metres from them when they suddenly flick on a light or light a candle in a jar.

We have also not had our fishing lines out for a few days as the last attempt to catch some Dorado ended in some fine skipjack but no Dorado. Luke and I have discussed our lack of fine Dorado and have decided that at first light we will try again - anything else that takes the lure will go back to be caught another day.

At the moment I am able to send and receive email via the Winlink station in Halifax, Canada, VE1YZ. We get a reasonably good signal on 20 metres (14 MHz) in the evening just around sunset. This said, we are still struggling to get good voice contact with Jack, AA3GZ, in Pennsylvania in the US. He appears to be able to hear me far better than I can hear him, which leads me to believe that we have a lot of electrical interference being generated on the boat from all the electronics on board.

So, some of you may be wondering what we do on board all day. Firstly, there is a watch roster and somebody is on watch at all times. Because of the odd hours you are woken for your three hour watch, your sleep pattern is severely disrupted and a person tends to have odd sleeping patterns. When not sleeping or on watch, there is a lot of reading taking place. Luke is the most prolific reader out of the four of us and has read eleven books so far and has basically run out of reading material. Of all things, he found a book on board on how to catch fish and is busy studying that. He is also busy tuning up his skills to write his yachtmasters examination in between the other books. Then somebody has to cook our only set meal, dinner. We have quite a selection of frozen meats and chicken and, plenty of fish. So, around lunch time we decide who is the cook for the evening meal and what that meal will be. We have no pre-cooked meals so each meal is prepared from the raw ingredients.

We also spend time on deck marvelling at the flying fish and other sea life. We had a pod of dolphin around the boat the other evening and their chatter could be clearly heard through the hull. As we now close in on the Brazilian coast we will start seeing more bird life and, hopefully, more dolphin, which have been pretty scarce on this trip.

Then we have had one or two ships pass close to us each day. It appears that a lot of them are heading for the Cape of Good Hope to get to destinations in the Indian Ocean and not taking the route through the Suez Canal and past the pirate infested waters between Somalia and Yemen. In a day or so we will pass the main shipping route between South America and Europe, which should be interesting to see with the use of the AIS system we have on board.

Well, as the flying fish fly and Oceans Dream sails, our greetings to all the readers and my thanks to Shaun (ZS1RA) for sending me copies of the comments from the blog. Until the next post - John.

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