We departed Cape Town at 13:00 on Saturday after having problems with our navigation electronics. Somebody had reset our auto pilot and it kept on giving incorrect readings so we were delayed whilst Rolly Brown did his thing and re-commissioned the instruments. Thanks Rolly, you did an excellent set-up for us.
Our first night out was basically into a very light northwest breeze, with a rolling swell that was uncomfortable. However, nobody was seasick and we spent the night occasionally motor-sailing or beating under full sail. In the early hours of the morning we had a heavy rain squall, followed immediately by a change in the wind direction to south, slowly edging to southeast as the morning progressed. The pattern followed the prognosis we had received before departing Cape Town and by Monday midday we had a rising wind, that kept on rising throughout the day. We kept on reducing sail until during Sunday night we had 35 knots from the south-southeast and only a tiny piece of genoa out. And we were sometimes hitting 10 knots surfing down the waves! Today (Monday), things have calmed considerably but then the wind has also dropped to under 12 knots true. It is amazing that either it blows too hard or too softly - nothing in-between!
Richard is a fine cook and prepared a great meal of pasta with marinated chicken and sautéed vegetables for Sunday dinner. This was just what we needed as none of us were really comfortable enough to try any big solid meal. However, by Sunday morning everybody had fully gained their sea-legs and we had lamb cutlets with vegetables on the menu for our evening meal.
We are unable to make a connection for email with the HF radio on the boat - for some reason the special modem does not want to talk to the remote station in Durban properly and I am trying to get some assistance to check our setup of the system from Cape Town. In the mean time we are sending and receiving once a day via the Iridium satellite telephone, which is quite fast but does cost quite a bit for the airtime.
Last night we set our clocks back an hour as we had already passes our first time zone change. During this delivery we will have four time zone changes in total as Recife is four hours behind Cape Town or two hours behind UTC/GMT. We celebrated the occasion with one small drink each - a Windhoek Draft beer!
Our first full day at sea we had a noon to noon run of 256 nautical miles logged. Not bad considering the rough conditions! Today the sea has calmed considerably and we only managed a noon to noon run of 140 nautical miles.
If the sea state settles a bit more by tomorrow, I will rig a fishing line in the morning and see if we can get ourselves a nice tuna for dinner tomorrow. We are in tuna territory at the moment so our chances should be quite good - watch this space for an update. And talking of fish, today we have had our first flying fish darting away from the boat. They are quite far south for this time of the year so the water temperature must be quite warm for them to be around.
So folks, that's all from aboard "In The Wind" for now - greetings from Kyle, Richard and myself, John.
I am back in Cape Town after a long tiring trip that took me from Trinidad to Tobago, then on to Antigua and again on to London. The final leg from London to Cape Town was the longest, with the 747 packed with humans like sardines in a sardine tin, with us arriving at 06:45 in the morning. It's good to be home - although for a short period only!
So, what's next? Well, I am taking "In The Wind", a Leopard 40, with the owner, Kyle Mussman and crew member Richard Rotteveel, to Recife, Brazil. From there they will be joined by their partners and will slowly explore the Brazilian coast as they head towards the Caribbean.
The boat is well equipped although the SSB/HF radio is still to be installed, which will happen on Monday 16 February. The next few days will be spent starting the provisioning and getting some extra equipment ordered. We are still waiting for the boat registration papers to arrive from the US (the boat will be US flagged) and then we have to have a safety inspection and obtain the required CoF before we can proceed with departure formalities and get going! We are planning on departing Cape Town around Saturday 21 February.
Steve Searle, a highly qualified technician and fellow radio ham (ZR1ACM), will be installing the SSB/HF radio, together with a Pactor modem, thus we should have some good communications via email, allowing us to keep the blog updated on a regular basis - so, keep tuned!
I will update the blog again in the next few days with a progress report and test transmission from the boat before we depart. John.
We arrived in Chaguaramas at 21:30 local time on Friday 30 January 2009. The final approach passage via the narrow channel known as The Boca (Dragons Mouth) was done in pitch dark with Adrian at the helm and myself acting as "pilot". There was a strong current against us but Adrian manoeuvred the boat flawlessly through the channel and then through Chaguaramas Bay and the anchored and moored vessels, ending with parking Oceans Dream on the customs jetty without a hitch. Well done to Adrian as the bay and approach is a nightmare in navigation at night.
We spent the first night tied up to the customs dock after clearing customs. Fortunately the immigration office was closed and thus we could sleep the night tied to the customs jetty and then moved to CrewsInn Marina on Saturday morning after clearing immigration.
Luke and I will be spending the week here as our flight out is only on Sunday 8 February. So, we are assisting with rectifying some problems on the boat in between sampling the local brew and local food. Talking about the local brew, the humidity is so high that a person really needs a copious intake of fluid throughout the day to ensure your body does not get dehydrated. The photo above is Luke in his new disguise - beard, short hair and, of course, attending to his fluid intake.
So, from a wet Chaguaramas (yes, the heavens are still ensuring fresh water for the island), I bid you well and hope you have enjoyed my ramblings over the last month and a half. Until the next delivery, may you all keep well. John
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