Okay, I said the next and final blog report would be when we had reached Chaguaramas, but I thought a quick one could be fitted in before we arrived.
Firstly, we are about 45 nautical miles from Chaguaramas as I type this and remember that we are six hours behind South African Standard Time and four hours behind GMT/UTC - it is now just past noon, local time. Since last night we have had rain squall after rain squall. Everybody has had a good soaking during their watches! And we have just started our section along the north side of the island of Trinidad and . . . it is still raining!
Luke has just gone on watch in his full foul weather gear and has just spotted a huge leatherback turtle, its head about the size of a rugby ball. We have seen a number of turtles over the past two weeks but this one takes the cake for size.
Over the past few hours we have had a dramatic increase in shipping as we headed towards Galleons Passage, the channel between Trinidad and Tobago. These are ships heading not only to and from the coastal countries up ahead, but also to and from the Panama Canal. Adrian has been in his element checking each ships data that comes up on the AIS system - he really loves his gadgets!
So, from a wet crew (just spotted another monster turtle) to all the readers, greetings - I will post another (final, final) blog report after we have arrived and settled the boat in Chaguaramas - John.
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
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
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.
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.