Over the weekend we made the decision to skip our stop at the island of St Helena. The reason for this is that we have been experiencing very light winds and, taking into consideration that we need to be in Recife before March 21, the calculators came out and we found the stop in St Helena would put us too far behind schedule.
So, we have plotted a new route, cutting out the final section to St Helena and "cutting the corner" to head more west than north - more of a direct course for Recife. Generally, such a route is not advisable as it takes a person too close to the South Atlantic high pressure system, where there is no wind. However, the high is way south at the moment and there are adverse winds to the northwest, meaning that our "cutting the corner" may be the correct thing to do - we have to see in the next week what happens.
Yesterday, Monday March 2, we crossed from the Eastern Hemisphere to the Western Hemisphere when, at 07:08 UTC/GMT, we crossed the 0 deg. meridian. We motored across as there is such a light breeze from the east-southeast that there is not enough wind to sail with. We are downloading weather files each day and the South Atlantic, in general, really looks dismal as far as wind is concerned. However, the indication are that we should get a slight increase in wind over the next 24 to 48 hours, which in turn should permit us to sail under spinnaker and save our diesel. Lets see what happens!
Life aboard at the moment is quite boring - sleep, stand watch, sleep, eat, stand watch - and so the cycle continues. Richard is a brilliant cook and is keeping us supplied with great meals. Basically, we fend for ourselves for breakfast and lunch and have a cooked meal for dinner. Yesterday evening we had some rump steaks out the freezer as Kyle said he wants "beef". It was cooked on the BBQ on the stern of the boat (we have no problem with the gas flame being blown out - there was no wind, remember). Our freezer still has a plentiful supply of Tuna and we have not put out a fishing line since the long-fin was caught. It also contains a large variety of other frozen meats, some of which we have not even sampled yet - South African Boerewors for dinner tonight.
Kyle has started to update his blog which can be found at: http://www.sailblogs.com/member/inthewind/ Bookmark the page for his insight into the trip.
And before I close off the blog, a funny thing happened last night. Due to the rain squalls, we all had our hatches closed except for Richard. In the small hours of the morning he had an unexpected visitor, in the form of a flying fish, fly right through his open hatch and give him a nice slimy awakening. Not the most pleasant of experiences as the little buggers really smell bad.
So, as we plod along with very little breeze and rain squalls all around us, I bid you well until the next blog report. Regards from all aboard, John.
Welcome to the "Weekend Edition" of the blog. It is Friday February 27, but it could be Friday 13. Around midnight (boat time) I was on watch and we were bouncing and banging along quite happily with one reef in the main sail, when the boat de-powered noticeably. I checked the usual things then noticed that the main sail was billowing - yep, our reef line had chaffed through. So, Kyle got an early wake-up and we dropped the main and spent the remainder of the night motor-sailing. This morning we will try and retrieve the end of the reefing line, which has slipped into the boom, and tie off a new reefing line.
Last night I made a curry for dinner but, from the photo above, you will guess that it may just be fish on the menu tonight. I was busy yesterday afternoon making dinner when Kyle noticed the strike on our fishing line. He pulled in the great long-fin tuna where after Richard expertly filleted the beast. We now have enough tuna in the freezer to last us the entire remainder of the trip.
"In The Wind" is equipped with a chartplotter, radar, and AIS system. We have just crossed the Valdivia Banks, a large shallow undersea mountain which is roughly half-way between Cape Town and St Helena Island. About 36 nautical miles northeast of us we can see, on the AIS system, a medium sized but slow moving vessel. It is most likely a long-line fishing boat, working the undersea ridge. There are most likely a few more fishing vessels out there which do not have their AIS beacons switched on.
And now a few hours later. . . . We have retrieved the reef line out of the boom and re-tied it and have the main up again and are sailing along, not quite where we want to go, but still reducing the miles to our waypoint at St Helena. At noon today we had a noon run of 149 nautical miles but, unfortunately, not all of them towards our waypoint.
The weather prognosis we receive has, for the past few days, indicated that we are going to go through a large area of light variable and adverse winds ahead of us. It looks like a lot of motoring coming up! Even if we had to skip stopping at St Helena, we would still have to get north of the light winds to catch the easterly winds to take us to Brazil. Lets hope that the weather guru has the prediction wrong or the small high pressure system causing the light winds changes before we get there.
Right, enough for now. May you all have a good weekend - regards from Richard, Kyle and myself, John.
It is Thursday, February 26 and we are motor-sailing. The prognosis was that the South Atlantic high had ridged over towards the African continent and that our wind would drop and become variable over the next few days. Whoever the forecaster was, was absolutely spot on! Through last night the wind slowly dropped and we motor-sailed on and off but today it is even lighter, with a 10 knot true wind out of the southeast.
Yesterday was a day of errors - we managed to get our fishing line entangles in our starboard propeller, which resulted in some anxious moments untangling it. It was successfully removed although it has now been laid to rest in the garbage. We do have extra line and a new line and lure is now out off the port hull.
Then we had a problem with the hoisting of the spinnaker and the tack line, which is too long, was accidentally dropped in the water, went under the boat and also ended up in the starboard propeller. Fortunately, the engine was put in neutral in time and the line was retrieved with no damage to the either the propeller or line.
Oh, and before all our mishaps, Richard caught our first fish of the trip - a small Dorado that was so small it was returned to the sea to grow a bit before somebody catches it again and makes a good meal out of it. There is a photo of it but, due to limited bandwidth on our email, we will rather not publish it with this blog report - the embarrassment in its size also plays a part in this decision.
The distance from Cape Town to St Helena is 1699 nautical miles. At noon today our navigation instruments read exactly 1000 nautical miles to our first waypoint at St Helena. From that waypoint it is another 7 nautical miles to the anchorage in James Bay. This should, considering current wind and sea conditions, mean an arrival at the island during the afternoon of Thursday March 5. Lets see how we progress over the next week!
Our course from Cape Town is north-west and as we progress west, we change time zones every 15 degrees we progress. If we take the Greenwich Meridian as the centre of our time zone, we add 7.5 degrees to each side of it and that will give us our "time zone" of UTC/GMT. Later this afternoon we will pass the 7.5 degrees east meridian and thus, as we are heading west, have to subtract one hour from our onboard clocks. This means a "double happy hour", which will be celebrated with not our usual evening single beer but one followed with a second. Ah, life at sea can be complicated but also has it's occasional perks.
In a future report I will post some information on the island of St Helena, for those that are reading this blog for the first time.
And now, before I finish off this report, the map on the right side of the blog page indicates our position for each report I post. This is not done every day but if you want another map of our daily position, click on the "Shiptrak" link a little down in the right hand column of the blog page - I do a daily post of our position and this should be indicated on a large world map.
So folks, that's all for now - regards from Richard, Kyle and myself, John, until the next blog post in a couple of days.
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.