An end of an era
26 March 2017 | Clarkes Court Marina
We are in Grenada and Belafonte is now out of the water.
We sailed 37,524 nm in just under 2 years and what an experience.
We'd like to say thanks to all our friends that became part of this journey.
Oh, and to answer our most common question, what was our favourite place: Fakarava.
BELAFONTE is for sale
09 March 2017
It's official, as our journey is coming to an end, Belafonte has been listed for sale.
You can view the listing on yachtworld
Also, below is a link to a video Tim shot while we were in South Africa. Click Here
She has been absolutely amazing, the perfect boat for our journey. We were lucky to have found her.
We'd love to keep her, but she is simply too much of a boat for lake Ontario. She's made to roam the world' oceans - that's her element.
Fricking Rockets in French Guyana
07 March 2017 | Kourou, French Guyana
We're hanging at anchor in French Guyana getting ready for our last leg in our Circumnavigation. The next leg is just less than 700nm. While short, it can be a bit up wind so we are waiting for calmer seas, lighter winds and a better wind angle. We figure leaving Sunday will give us wind from behind the bean in the low 20s all the way.
There is not allot to do here in Kourou (It's a pretty small town) but what there is is pretty cool.
Kourou is the home of the ESA (European Space Agency) launch pad! Last night the sent up a terrestrial observation satellite on a Vega rocket. We watch the launch from the Cadarpa viewing area, about 12 kilometres away. The rocket lit up the sky on ignition and 30 seconds later the sounds made it to us, it was loud and impressive.
We are scheduled for a tour of the launch facilities on Wednesday and hope to have more photos then.
14 February 2017 | Near Fernando de Noronha
If all goes well, tomorrow we will make landfall at Fernando de Noronha (islands off Brazilian coast), the last destination of our South Atlantic crossing. From here it’s pretty much coastal cruising , ~1400 nm to French Guyana where we will stop for a bit, from there ~ 700 nm to Grenada where our journey will end.
The South Atlantic has provided us with some great sailing, a welcomed change after the rather challenging Indian Ocean. From Cape Town we sailed ~1700 nm to the remote island of Saint Helena. Its remoteness apart from its location, has to do with the fact that the island does not have an operating airport, so the only in/out is on a ship; the last Royal Mail Ship – RMS St. Helena, pulls into port once per month providing transport & supplies. Just over 4000 people (referred to as ‘Saints’) call St. Helena home. The island and its only town – Jamestown – are a wonderful throw back in time. Life is slow, people are friendly, even the islands one and only prisoner smiled and waved hello though the bars as we passed the prison on our way to the police station to get our passports stamped ;-)
We enjoyed exploring the island with fellow WARC-ers, learning its history (if you’re a Napoleon buff this is a place for you), as well as exploring its beautiful scenery – proud to say we’ve managed to hike to the to of the island – Diana’s peak for a 360o view of the island. Climbing the 700 steps of the famous Jacob’s ladder also kept our hart rates up. The highlight of it all was swimming with whale sharks – these friendly giants (biggest fish in the world) are surprisingly docile. About 8 of us went out with a local guide on a rib about ¼ off shore from our anchorage where about 10 of these beasts were swimming around. We put our snorkeling gear on and hopped in the water – we were advised to not get closer than 3 meters away & avoid being accidentally smacked by its gigantic tail. Turns out that if you move your flippers too much – the bubbles in the water attract the whale shark as its connects the motion with food… Having one of these things turn & swim in your direction is an image that will stay with me for a while. Amazing.
From St. Helena we decided to head ~ 700 nm to Ascension. This meant separating from the WARC fleet, which itinerary excludes Ascension, instead having Salvador in Brazil ~1900 nm as the next destination. We chose an alternate route as it meant less miles (we shaved several hundred miles as compared to the WARC route), better winds & shorter legs. We were joined by Barbara Jean, also a couple of non-WARC boats were following the same route, so we formed our own mini rally. The sail from St. Helena to Ascension will probably go down in our books as the most pleasant passage of all times; 12-20 knots (mostly 15), flat seas & clear skies – a sailor’s dream. We flew our spinnaker one night, all night long the wind ranged between 14-15 knots – never seen such stable weather before. After 5 days at sea we arrived in Ascension, another volcanic island in the middle of nowhere – this one makes St. Helena seem like a busy metropolis.
Just over 1000 people call Ascension home. Interestingly, there are no true residents on Ascension – everyone that lives there is officially on a work permit, which means that every adult on the island must have employment to be there which exception of short term tourist permits. A child born on Ascension is a citizen of St. Helena… Life on Ascension revolves around its UK & US military bases, which makes it an interesting place to visit. There is one store, one gas station, one hotel, one bank etc. you get the picture. Pretty much the only evening meal out in town is a diner at the US military base… Ascension has a lot to offer to a nature lover; dramatic volcanic landscapes, beautiful hikes at its lush ‘Green Mountain’ as well as world’s 2nd largest green turtle nesting site, large population of land crabs & massive colonies of marine birds. We saw countless turtles from our anchorage – also went on a tour with local conservation department to see female turtles digging nests and laying eggs at night on the beach – pretty awesome.
We spend a week on Ascension - a time that was unexpectedly extended due to a dental infection and the need to make acquaintance with a local dentist (like all else – they have one of those). After dental troubles were sorted out we were given the all clear to go, and after a week in Ascension attempted to raise anchor and head out to our next destination. Turned out that our anchor was stuck dead solid on the bottom (we’ve read that the sea bottom at the relatively small anchorage area is littered with debris including old anchors, masts etc.). Fortunately, prior to anchoring we decided to put a trip line on our anchor, with that plus Tim’s patience & skill, after an hour of maneuvering we managed to raise anchor and were free to go. Never a boring moment.
Now we’re on our way to the next destination ~1100 nm away from Ascension – the Island of Fernando de Naronha. We have less than 200 nm to go & are looking forward to seeing land again.
Good bye Cape Town
25 January 2017 | St Helena
After 11 days at sea we arrived in St Helena. The sail was great, winds favourable and the seas were grewat for 9-10 of the 11 days.
Leaving Cape Town was bitter sweet. We'd become a little "marina locked", possibly too comfortable in one place.
Here are some more of the highlights from our stay in Cape Town
Visiting penguins in Simon's town... They are everywhere on these beaches, hundreds of them just hanging out and swimming with the people.
Don't forget to check under your car for them....
A climb up Lions Head gave us a great view of Cape Town and some beautiful sunsets.
We went up Table Mountain... here is a picture from the gondola.
We just spent the morning swimming with the Whale Sharks here, I hope some of the pictures have turned out... will post soon.
18 December 2016
We've made it to Cape Town! Tied off safely at a dock for few weeks - its time for a bit of a break...
Sailing down the South African coast from Richards Bay to Cape Town was tough and stressful. With frequent storms, short weather windows, strong currents and rapidly changing weather, and lack of shelter along the coast except a few ports, at times it felt like playing Russian roulette with sea gods. We have never before spend so much time looking at weather every day, trying to find a good time to hop to the next place.
In the end it all worked out well. After waiting for two weeks for a weather window in Richards Bay we sailed to East London, where we had to wait for a week for the next weather window that allowed us to get to Mossel Bay where we stop for just over a day before setting off on a final leg to Cape Town.
The worst part of the trip was our approach to Mossel Bay, where for 20+ hours we experienced 30+ knots (gusts in the high 30s) and very short & steep seas. As we were sailing 5-10 miles from the coast we were only in 100 m of water to which we attribute the sea state.
We had one pretty massive wave break off our stern. I was at the helm. Heard it coming while it was quite a distance away. As I looked back, a towering wall of water approached and broke just off our stern, sending Belafonte on a wild ride, filling the cockpit with water. It jibed the boat twice - thanks to our Walder boom brake - it was not a problem, as it kept the jibes nice, slow & controlled. Not fun, but we were OK.
Our friends sailing further off from the coast experienced stronger winds (40+ knots). They were less lucky - got knocked down by a wave - one of them woke up on ceiling - the other got bashed about the boat leaving pretty nasty bruises. Fortunately, neither one of them were seriously hurt. They took on a lot of water, lost their bimini, dodger, topping lift and lazy jacks, also almost lost their liferaft secured on deck... We were glad to see them pull into Mossel Bay where we shared some stress relieving beers.
Our trip from Mossel Bay to Cape Town was in pretty ideal weather with 15-20 knots from behind most of the way - nothing too exciting. We rounded Cape of Good Hope (aka Cape of Storms) with 10-15 knots on the beam - as the sun was setting - pretty perfect.
We're happy that the notoriously dangerous parts of our journey (i.e the sail from Reunion to South Africa & down its coast) are behind us ;-)
Cape Town has been quite a surprise - its a beautiful city - very hip & metropolitan. Lots to do here - the days are passing by quickly as we mix exploring with completing boat jobs.
Photo - sailing by the Cape of Good Hope