Sailing matilda

15 April 2013 | Rodney Bay, St Lucia
25 March 2013 | Union Island, SVG
10 March 2013 | Union Island, SVG
25 February 2013 | Speightstown, Barbados
18 February 2013 | North Atlantic Ocean - 165 East of Barbados
12 February 2013 | South Atlantic Ocean - 300 miles North of the mouth of the Amazon
03 February 2013 | South Atlantic Ocean - 260 miles East of Ilha de Fernando de Noronha
29 January 2013 | South Atlantic Ocean - 225 miles West of Ascension Is.
23 January 2013 | South Atlantic Ocean - 145 miles West of St Helena
16 January 2013 | South Atlantic Ocean - 75 miles from St Helena
10 January 2013 | South Atlantic Ocean
31 December 2012 | V&A Marina, Cape Town, South Africa
20 December 2012 | Hout Bay Yacht Club, Hout Bay, South Africa
24 November 2012 | Durban Marina, Durban, South Africa
24 November 2012 | Bluff Yacht Club, Durban, South Africa
16 November 2012 | Richard Bay, South Africa
11 November 2012 | 85 miles off Richard Bay, South Africa, Indian Ocean
08 November 2012 | Mozambuique Channel, Indian Ocean
02 November 2012 | La Port, La Reunion

The End is Nigh

25 March 2012 | Pacific Ocean, approaching Hiva Oa, Marquesas Islands
We made a decision yesterday not to motor in time for the finish line (today) as the winds were enough to sail on, we are enjoying it with no great need to rush, and using up a very expensive tank of diesel just for finishing a bit earlier just to get the last day of the festivities did not seem worth it. Of course today the wind has got up to decent levels for the first time in weeks and so we are now worrying about finishing in the middle of the night tonight (so we'd have to bob around until daybreak - not safe to anchor in a strange place in the dark). Typical.

Strangely enough we are not desperate to reach land at all. Despite making just about every dud course decision we could have made and the weather conspiring against us to make it an exceptionally long crossing, we have thoroughly enjoyed it. The watch routine takes some getting used to (with just the two of us) but once cracked it becomes natural and instead of dreading the night time watches, they become a highlight that will be much missed. For the first time in my life I have had a grandstand view of the best part of a full phase of the moon, and the night sky without the moon is mind blowing. It makes you realise what we have given up for the sake of the electric light.

I think we have also cracked provisioning. For lunch today we finished the last of the salad/fresh items (as we cannot take them into the islands) but with other foods we could have gone on indefinitely. We do not even change our menu from dry land to sea very much. We did run out of diet cokes at an early stage of proceedings, but I guess that can only be a health benefit. It helps not to be big meat eaters but a freezer would be useful in that situation (which we do not have).

The most exciting part of the trip had to be surrounded by 30+ knot squalls in the middle of the night (I really wish I could have taken a picture of the radar screen) and during it, having seen no boat for the best part of week, coming across both a tanker and a Japanese fishing vessel. It was particularly exciting with the fishing vessel (an enormous factory ship) as the squalls conspired to send us on a collision course whatever course of action we took, however we could not cross its bow and were nervous about going behind it due to nets etc. It was very comforting to raise the skipper via VHF who confirmed he could see us visually, by radar and AIS - believe me at times like that you are very pleased you'd forked out for the technology. However translating 'was it safe to go behind him' into Japanese proved a challenge too far - fortunately it would appear the rest of the world recognises the term 'backside' and uses it far more widely than the English, and so were very grateful to have permission to "go up his backside" just in the nick of time.

Technology wise the voyage has been a game of two halves.

The Duogen was brilliant as it could fulfill all our power needs, and some, once the boat speed got up above 6 knots, we very much regret having a generator fitted now.

The Hydrovane also came into its own at last. We used it for many days continuously day and night, for a good thousand miles or so. I actually think it is a good deal safer (and lazier) using a wind vane system on a crossing like this as the worst that can happen if the wind direction suddenly changes and you happen to be down below is that you go off course a bit, you still keep your point of sail. Of course the other advantages are that it uses no battery power, and reduces wear on your rudder and steering gear (Samsara, who had steering and rudder issues, moved to using their windvane system while they sorted it out). The downside is that for us, having a central cockpit, it means we have to get to the back of the boat to adjust it if we want to alter course - not ideal at night. It also takes a bit of time after you have tweaked to establish if you have tweaked enough.

We broke records on how long our Parasailor was up continuously (for the better part of a week), and we just take it for granted now that it gives us speeds and motion that no other sail can match in light downwind environments.

The Raymarine C120W has never missed a beat, although it does re-set itself on average a few times a day. We have it on all of the time. We will have to see about a software upgrade to stop the constant re-setting.

Our SSB has been a sanity saver, but our reception still does not match our transmission capabilities and it has let us down on the radio net, so we really need to sort out the excessive boat noise we have. Unfortunately it seems to be a dark art and two sets of experts have failed to overcome this issue so far despite throwing too much money at it.

After the squalls two bits of equipment let us down. The Autohelm (St 7000) control panel let in water and had to be taken apart and dried out before it would tell us anything sensible again, it is also a lot quieter these days as the alarm squeaker appears to have drowned, which we are quite grateful for. The B&G instruments (wind direction, depth etc) have developed an intermittent fault that seems to defy all logic. Of course it means they do not work when most required but are completely fine at other times - hopefully we can get this sorted on the islands.

Sorry I went on a bit about the technology, but we have been asked to by fellow sailors thinking about following in our footsteps.

Hopefully we will make the finishing line tomorrow at day break and can calm our anchoring nerves (sounds to be a bit of a bun fight with all the ARC boats) with few soothing lotions tomorrow night. We have been brushing up on our French during the crossing and so have just about enough knowledge to be really dangerous.

Cheers Heather and Jonathan
Vessel Name: matilda
Vessel Make/Model: Hallberg-Rassy 42E
Hailing Port: Portsmouth
Crew: Jonathan & Heather Howard
About: Jonathan and Heather Howard are now back in the Caribbean after completing the circumnavigation. matilda is now on the market and in May we will return to the UK with our friends on Peat Smoke.
Extra: matilda was re-launched in October 2011. Our circumnavigation took 15 months and we are now starting to think about getting back to work.
matilda's Photos - Main
Meeting up with the rest of the fleet 15-26 March
19 Photos
Created 25 March 2013
Photos of our various stop-offs to Grenada.
11 Photos
Created 25 March 2013
After Mustique we returned to Bequia for a few days and then onto the Tobago Cays 7-9 March
6 Photos
Created 25 March 2013
After briefly stopping at Bequia and St Vincent, we went for 3 days to Mustique from 1 to 4 March.
8 Photos
Created 25 March 2013
After St Helena we spent 4 weeks at sea from 22 January to 19 February to get to Barbados
11 Photos
Created 25 March 2013
We arrived in St Helena on 17 January and stayed five days till 22 January.
15 Photos
Created 25 March 2013
We arrived Hout Bay mid December then went to the V&A Marina in Cape Town for Christmas and NYE
24 Photos
Created 25 February 2013
We visited South Africa from 12 November to 5 January 2013
25 Photos
Created 16 November 2012
We stopped in La Reunion for a week up until 03 November
20 Photos
Created 2 November 2012
After two weeks at sea we arrived in Mauritius where our friend Brian visited from Dubai. We left for Reunion on 26 Oct.
21 Photos
Created 25 October 2012
After a great crossing from Bali we spent the last week of September in Cocos - another little piece of paradise
16 Photos
Created 25 October 2012
After sailing from Darwin we spent a week in Bali up till 21 September
15 Photos
Created 19 September 2012
We spent a week or so in Darwin, getting to Kakadu and Katherine Gorge along the way
14 Photos
Created 19 September 2012
Jonathan and Kelsey sailed matilda from Townsville up to Thursday island while Heather was in the UK from 5 to 20 Aug.
14 Photos
Created 22 August 2012
Anne, Baz and Amethyst joined matilda in Mackay for the sail to Townsville for the first week in August
22 Photos
Created 20 August 2012
We spent the first couple of weeks of July sailing from Fiji to Vanuatu with Philippa, Jari, Finlay and Ethan
33 Photos
Created 7 August 2012
Paul and Suzana gave us some of the photos of matilda they had taken earlier in the WARC
11 Photos
Created 7 August 2012
We spent the first week or so of June in Vava'u, Tonga
11 Photos
Created 7 August 2012
We spent 8 days in Suwarrow as a result of the nasty weather which passed through.
32 Photos
Created 11 June 2012
After arriving in Tahiti on 25 April, we cruised the Society Islands to Bora Bora before leaving for Suwarrow on 13 May
40 Photos
Created 10 May 2012
We stopped for a few days in late April at Rangiroa in the Tuamoto Archipeligo, where we had some excellent diving and great food!
5 Photos
Created 10 May 2012
We spent a few weeks from 26 March cruising Hiva Oa, Tatuata, Fatu Hiva and Nuku Hiva
26 Photos
Created 8 April 2012
After leaving Galapagos on 4 March we arrived in Hiva Oa on 26 March after three weeks at sea
16 Photos
Created 8 April 2012
On 9 February we set sail from Contadora, Las Perlas, Panama for the Galapagos Islands. We arrived on 15 February and have spent the last week touring around San Cristobal Island from Wreck Bay.
18 Photos
Created 21 February 2012
On day two in Panama we visited an Indian settlement, where we got to swim in a mountain pool
12 Photos
Created 7 February 2012
We left Shelter Bay Marina on Saturday 28 January at short notice to make our transit, arriving in Balboa, Panama on Sunday afternoon 29 January
20 Photos
Created 2 February 2012
After starting the World ARC on 8 January, we crossed the Caribbean Sea to San Blas for a week of R&R.
22 Photos
Created 26 January 2012
Whilst here we have climbed the Gros Piton, soaked in the volcanic sulphur baths and zip-wired through the rainforest...
16 Photos
Created 6 January 2012
Christmas at Landings Resort and New Years Eve at Bay Gardens Beach Hotel in St. Lucia
13 Photos
Created 1 January 2012
Jonathan & Heather took a day off in Las Palmas to visit Chis, Ange and Alex at their hotel, just a day or so before the ARC start
7 Photos
Created 16 December 2011
The ARC opening ceremony in Las Palmas was fantastic, with a drum band and a grand march around the marina with flags flying.
14 Photos
Created 16 December 2011
10 years ago yesterday (15th December) was our wedding. We decided to take some time away from the boat and stay at a posh hotel called Cap Maison. It was wonderful.
13 Photos
Created 16 December 2011
These are just a few of the photos taken on our three-week crossing to St. Lucia. We have so many photographs, especially of the whales, it's difficult to choose which ones to upload!
20 Photos
Created 15 December 2011
These are shots from the ARC start line around noon on 20 November.
9 Photos
Created 15 December 2011
On 20 November we set sail from Las Palmas. Chris, Angie and Alex were visiting from the UK and took these shots of our departure (thanks Chris)
17 Photos | 1 Sub-Album
Created 22 November 2011
On 3 November 2011 we sailed overnight from Rubicon Marina in Lanzarote to Las Palmas, Gran Canaria for the start of the ARC.
10 Photos
Created 13 November 2011
On 23 and 24 October we sailed from Puerto Rico on Gran Canaria to Morro Jable and then on to Gran Tarajal on Fuertaventura. On the 23rd we had a long encounter with a pod of hunting dolphins, who took time out to ride our bow wave.
18 Photos
Created 24 October 2011
On 7 October 2011 we re-launched matilda after more than six months of work out of the water in Puerto Colon, Tenerife. The amazing result is testament to the skills of the local crew who performed the overhaul, so our sincere thanks go to Ivan, Alex, Jesper, Pepe, Ronaldo, Diego, Horacio, Ronnie and Jamie for their fabulous work.
23 Photos
Created 22 October 2011
On 20 October we set sail at 6am for Gran Canaria. Sadly we had to motor sail most of the way because the wind was right on the nose, but we did have a fabulous sail towards the end.
12 Photos
Created 22 October 2011
On 15 October we set sail for La Gomera from Puerto Colon in Tenerife. It was very calm when we set out, but the wind acceleration zone soon woke us up!
17 Photos
Created 19 October 2011

Sailing matilda

Who: Jonathan & Heather Howard
Port: Portsmouth