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Sailing Gromit
Passage from St. Helena to Guadeloupe, Caribbean
20//03/2015, Way out in the Atlantic Ocean!

Our spinnaker, light and smooth, colourful and bold, flies proudly in front of Gromit, powering us through the waves at around 6-7 knots (9-12 km/h). We are thrilled! Not only are we moving faster, but the ride, oh, the ride is so much smoother than when we have our two forward sails up in a wing-on-wing configuration for downwind sailing! When the winds are light and the sails are not held full, the waves, the inevitable waves, make us rock and flop back and forth.

I still love the ocean. I still spend hours just looking out into its immense beauty. I am still in awe. This sentiment is not shared by the rest of the crew! Passage making has never been a favourite of anyone aboard. This is our longest passage ever: 3850 nautical miles from St. Helena Island to Guadeloupe Island in the Caribbean. We estimate it will take us about 30 days.

On a daily basis, Michael sends out a position report by email, to let friends and family know where we are, that we are fine and to say a few words about our day. I have compiled these reports, and will call them, instead of a daily 'twitter', a daily 'fish-byte'.

The report is limited to only 80 characters, so instead of putting spaces between the words, Michael has simply capitalized. It's random info about the day in 80 characters - the epitome of efficient! So, here is a glimpse into our day-to-day over the last 18 days :

2015/03/11 LeavingStHelenaWithinHourNextPlannedStopGuadaloupeDistance3800MilesEstimate30Days 2015/03/11 Day1LightWindsTheFirst12HrsDownJustAWeeBitToGo1SmallMahiMahi 2015/03/12 Day2LightwindsContinuingAnnoyingRollySwellGettingHotterStillWearFleece@Nite 2015/03/13 Day3UnexpectedAutoLifeJacketInflation TGIF!!! 2015/03/14 Day4Hide&SeekResults;Liam-0,Maia-0,Zoe-0,Mom-0,Dad-0 2015/03/15 D5BestStHelenaQuoteYouCanLeaveYourKeysInTheIgnitionButDontLeaveAnAppleOnTheDash 2015/03/16 D6TodayPassionFruitCheesecake&CurriedOstrichALaVietnamienne600MilesDown3250ToGo 2015/03/17 D7StillNoBigFishLastBananaWaterUpTo24DegCNoMoreFleece@NiteLightWindsSlowGoin 2015/03/18 Day8Week1-813Miles2989ToGo31DegCInBoatMovingWellSpinnakerInDayJib&Staysail@Nite 2015/03/19 Day9first150MilesIn24HrsFlewSpinnakerOverniteStillNoFish 2015/03/20 D10RapalaNoFishRapalaCopyNoFishPlasticSquid-NoFishToothpaste+ChipBag25LBMahiMahi 2015/03/21 Day11FirstSubstantialRainfall/SquallTodayAsWe GetCloserToTheEquator 2015/03/22 Day12SquallyRainfilledNit&MorningNoWindMotoringMakingWater&PowerGreyGreyGrey 2015/03/23 D13Had40KnSquallAllsWellFollowedByAllShoweringInTheRainNextTimeWillReefEarlier 2015/03/25 D14RainRain15KnotsOnNoseRainRainAnotherMahiMahiCourtesyColgateHappyBDayCornelia

2015/03/25 D15RainFiniEarlyMornEncoreAutoInflatedLifejacketDueToSaturationBinMotorinFor42Hr 2015/03/26 Day16FinallyASunnyDayWithUsableWindsAllFruitTomatoesCucumbersFinished 2015/03/27 Day17MoreRainCompenstaedByMapleSyropCheesecakeSargassoWeedDisablesWindVane

EQUATOR CROSSING 2015/03/27 00:11am LATITUDE: 00-00.00S LONGITUDE: 030-21.67W SpecialEdition4thEquatorCrossingMilestoneHopefullyEndOfEquitorialSqalls&Variable

2015/03/28 Day18JustPassed1/2WayPoint1864MilesToGoMayTheNextHalfGoQuicker!!!

So I hope this post works. Sometimes when I post remotely, through the SSB radio, it all gets mashed together instead of staying in list form.

Here is a tongue-in-check excerpt from an email Zoe wrote to our friends aboard s/v Salty Gingers, who are waiting for us in Guadeloupe and with whom we will sail back to the Chesapeake Bay:

So I'm just writing to apologise in advance. As you know, we've been locked up together for 19 days (and we still have around 14 more to go), and we are sooo bored of each other and desperate to talk to someone new at this point, things are getting serious. Soo just be prepared, we will probably spend the first three days, post arrival, talking your ears off. (This happened after our 9 day passage to St. Helena. We spent the afternoon talking all the other cruisers ears off although? they talked a lot too, because they were also under socialized,? I think we all had a mild case of this.)

Then again, this just occurred to me, we might just spend three days silent, just taking in the sound of other peoples' voices. I don't even know, all I know is we are all very socially deprived and we are not currently sure of what the side effects of social deficiency are.

Things are already pretty bad, look at this rambling email?.....

So, that's it for now. 1729 nautical miles to go.....

30//03/2015 | Julie Perry
Yahay!! Can't wait and there is no way you could talk to much! We want to hear all your stories and can't WAIT to see you all. We are tracking your progress at: http://www2.winlink.org:8081/maps/PositionReports.aspx?callsign=VE3MZL&title=Position%20Reports%20for%20VE3MZL
Arrival at St. Helena
09//03/2015, St. Helena Island, Atlantic Ocean

It was quite dramatic, in the early hours of the morning, to see the silhouette outline of the towering rock cliffs of St. Helena Island. As the light began filling in, the brown, textured cliffs began to show more and more of their beauty and power. We were very happy to be arriving, as our 9 ½ day passage from Luderitz, Namibia had been a rough one.

The mooring field, where we took a 'big cheese' mooring ball, is situated in front of an enormous, imposing rock face. Just barely visible at the top are the stone walls of a fort. It makes us wonder what it was like during the years when this was a thriving port being defended from marauders.

We did an island tour and saw the tomb of Napoleon and the house in which he was incarcerated and spent the last days of his life. We saw the tallest peak where Halley spent a year observing the stars and charting his namesake comet. Our 'History on Wheels' tour guide, a 79 year old resident, drove us around this picturesque island, which is surprisingly green and lush on the interior, telling us many facts about St. Helena and his family who have lived here for generations. I'll post a photo album when internet is more available - most likely in the Caribbean in April.

Here's a little background and history about St. Helena.
In 1502, Portuguese sailor, Joao da Nova sighted this island on the 21 of May, and named it for the feast day of St. Helena (the mother of Emperor Constantine). When he came ashore he found fresh water, gumwood trees and birds, but no inhabitants. He quickly realized that it was an ideal place for refreshing future sailing ships and it was kept it a secret for a few decades.
During the East India Company era (1659-1833), hundreds of ships stopped in at St. Helena each year filled with riches and many battles were fought with pirates wanting their treasures.

There was a great loss of trade when the East India Company stopped coming to St. Helena when the island was transferred to the Crown in 1834. Then, in 1869, when the Suez Canal opened, allowing a shorter route to Asia, more loss of trade occurred.

With the invention of the steam ship, the long 3 month-plus voyage to England aboard a tall ship, took only 2 weeks making it a more appealing destination. Now, ships no longer rely on St. Helena, but St. Helena relies on ships. All supplies and travel to and from the island are dependent on ships that travel between South Africa, St. Helena and Ascension Island. This leaves this quiet, mellow island of about 4000 people very remote. But watch out! There is an airport being built and nearly complete and plans for 5 star hotels are being made.

We talked about how this might change the island. The people here are super friendly, always smiling, waving and saying hello. St. Helena is an unspoiled, beautiful island with quaint towns and an easy feel about it. Will it become a tourist trap with shops and services aimed just at the tourist dollar, as we saw in many places, mostly Asia? We hope not! With all that said, we'll probably never know, because who knows if we'll ever be able to come back?

Today, (Monday, March 9), we will check out and set our sails for the Caribbean - about 4000 nautical miles from here. It will be our longest passage yet - taking, we figure, about a month. We are well stocked with food, water and school!!!! so we are good to go!

I will do my best to post regular updates along the way.

Anchorage
09//03/2015, St. Helena Island

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The Big Cheese Mooring
09//03/2015, St. Helena Island

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Napoleon's House
09//03/2015, St. Helena Island

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Jamestown
09//03/2015, St. Helena Island

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Sailinggromit
Who: Michael, Cornelia, Zoe, Maia, Liam. Photo: In the Highlands of Sri Lanka
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