05/01/2012, 11 deg 19 min N 021 deg 04 min W
Picture: Sushi - Paulo's favourite
It's fantastic getting replies back so quickly and appreciated by everyone.
Sleep is a precious commodity that is taken for granted in the city. One goes through the day, enjoys the evening with friends or the television and the heads off to bed for an uninterrupted, re-vitalizing sleep to prepare for the next day. Here however there is never the possibility of going through the night fast asleep. Our watch roster continues and although there are theoretically six hours between ones watches there are also other things to so sleep is gleaned in short spells both day and night whenever one can. Sometimes one is not actually tired but knowing that a watch duty will be required soon then we need to cultivate the habit of resting before hand. One of my favorites is from three to five in the afternoon. If I am able to get that little "power-nap" then I am able to head into the night duties easily. It is also necessary to take care at all times of others needing to rest and respect this with quiet on their behalf.
As many of the exciting things that we are seeing and experiencing there are also the mundane. It is not unusual to see one of us sitting with a bucket doing some personal laundry.
A strange feature of this voyage is the continuous cloud cover that we have had. Prior to St. Helena and continuing northwards the sky was mostly overcast but with good visibility. Often there are the most spectacular sunsets but I only recall one such opportunity to photograph the scene. For the past few days the sky has had a hazy appearance with poor visibility as if there is a mist around us but at a short distance.
A little earlier a ship passed and whist we monitored it on the radar at about five miles distance it was not visible as it normally would be. These are the tropics and the humidity is quite high so perhaps this has something to do with it. But it just goes to show that out here no two days are the same.
Valentinna has asked to make a contribution to the blog so here it is;
Un saluto a tutte la persone che amo :``siete piu vicine che mai! piu di quando lo siete fisicamente''. Auguro un buon anno nuovo a tutti quanti, e di provare la stessa sensazione che ho provato io sotto una grande scia di una stella cadente.
Vi auguro di essere cosi' sazi da non avere desideri da esprimere per il nuovo anno ma solo un sentimento di gratitudine ad ogni vostro respiro... solo per il semplice motivo di farlo!!!! "certo, sotto un infinito cielo stellato e una stella cadente viene meglio!!"
Comunque, vorrei anche scrivere di una persona, TOM.
Who is Tom?
E' un compagno di viaggio speciale, sempre presente con rispetto e riservatezza. Una persona unica e profonda come queste acque.
Grazie a lui inoltre possiamo ricevere i vostri commenti o scrivere e soprattutto per me, far vedere a mia nonna che lo gnocco non teme il mare!!
Un abbraccio special alla mia famiglia e al mio uomo preferito, ciao Papy!
It is early evening and I hope to get this away before going on watch.
Now at 11 deg 19 min North and 021 deg 04 min West.
Picture: Blackfish swimming along Mrs. Marietta
Most of my early voyages were made with very little outside contact for long periods and just a phone call from some remote destination. Technology has changed this and now it is much easier to stay in touch with a wider field of interested folk. In fact for those in the city there is such acceptance of the instantaneous gratification of the internet that the lack of it is seen as something bordering on a disaster. Whatever happened to " No news is Good news ". But jokes aside using the system that we are it is very pleasing to be reaching out to others and receiving their wishes and comments back. There is such joy in sharing. Not only do we have the new visitors in the form of the families and friends of those on board but some old friends have popped it in to say hello as well. Paula from her armchair in Ireland, it's great to have you along again. Then there is also Lynn with the K4 call-sign who is also tracking us on the aprs site ( how're the signals? ).
Yesterday afternoon just before the sun set a small pod of whales were sighted and although we slowed to a crawl and tried to approach carefully it was not possible to get really close to make an identification but we were treated to a spectacular tail wave which Dudi was able to photograph. In it the sea has a pinkish glow of the setting sun reflected onto the water. Hope you enjoy it as much as we did the experience.
There have been a few groups of dolphins playing in the bow-wave of the boat from time to time. These have mostly been the Atlantic Spotted Dolphin. Today however when the cry of " Dolphini " went out we were greeted by not only the smaller Atlantic dolphins but another group of larger dark colored animals slowly swimming along. They would break the surface gently to breath and then slide back into the water. The true dolphins came to the boat but the other larger ones ignored it completely. This is the typical behavior of a group which my book on Dolphins and Whales calls the Blackfish. These are the Pilot whales and includes RISSO'S DOLPHIN which I feel these were. Wonderfully gentle in their behavior they moved along breaking the surface every now and again, some times alone or sometimes in twos and threes. Cameras clicked away like the paparazzi but they took no notice and we took the memories.
Night is upon us and the night watches have started so sleep well and see you next time from 08 deg 25 min North and 019 deg 59 min West.
03/01/2012, Equator - Atlantic Ocean
Picture: Tom having a ball at the Equator crossing party.
Today we sailed into a different world.
For a short period around four o'clock this morning while I was on watch the clouds shifted and opened a view to the south. There in all it's glory I could see the Southern Cross brightly, watching and guarding over my beloved South Atlantic and Southern Ocean. It was as if it had come to say "Farewell", for ahead I had already had a glimpse of Cassiopeia and Ursa Major. The constellations of the north towards which we are heading.
We all awoke to a morning filled with excitement. Of our whole crew of eight only I had previously sailed over the Equator and although I have done so many times it still is a special moment when you move from the Southern world to the Northern one. Traditionally everyone wears something hand-made from items found on board. I sported a bow-tie and fresh shirt for the occasion. Following suit ( pardon the unintended pun ) the others soon donned their outfits and the boat thronged with a Pirate complete with eye-patch, a General with gold epaulets and cuffs, a Prince with a shining silver crown and mantle, a toga bedecked Goddess of the sea with a crown in the form of an octopus and an Elf left over from Christmas with a large bauble hanging from one ear.
As the GPS data slowly clicked over to a row of zeros there erupted a tumultuous shout of joy. Neptune was toasted and appeased with some cake and all the new comers were welcomed to the special band of sailors who have " crossed the line ". Turning Mrs. Marietta from her course we steamed along the line and actually found it. The hot, sultry weather and warm ocean beckoned and firstly Vittorio plunged into the ocean to swim along the line. he was closely followed by the others whilst Dudi and I kept an eye on their safety.
Sailors of old feared for demons and other perils in the unknown world that they forged a path to, we follow in their wake not finding any of those dreaded demons but certainly finding joy in the Almighty Creation and an inner peace of our surroundings.
There are few opportunities for such special moments in our lives and I trust that today's first timers have enjoyed the experience and will remember it as fondly as I remember my first crossing.
Leaving the scene we turned the boat back on it's course and continued on our way with the day growing hotter and hotter. Scooping buckets of water from the sea we pour it over our feet to cool them down and to make the deck bearable under the soles of our feet. Later in the afternoon a tropical shower approached from the east bringing some welcome rain to cool us and the boat.
Some comments from Riccardo:
Come ha gia' detto Tom, oggi per noi e' stato un grande giorno: abbiamo attraversato l'equatore! Con tutti i riti connessi.
Abbiamo aperto due bottiglie importanti, una di Barolo e una di Champagne. Abbiamo fatto il bagno al traino, superando i timori per lo squalo bianco e le meduse letali di queste latitudini. Abbiamo ballato come dei pazzi "Questo e' l'ombelico del mondo", ognuno col suo travestimento fatto a mano. Tom, emozionato, ha fatto un discorso molto toccante sul pulpito di poppa, rivolto verso l'immensita' dell'oceano!
Questa tratta da Sant'Elena a Capo Verde e' molto lunga, circa 2.500 miglia nautiche. Fa molto caldo. I turni di notte, che prima richiedevano giubbotti, cerate, guanti e berretto, adesso li facciamo in costume e maglietta. Stiamo attraversando le mitiche calme equatoriali, una trappola mortale per i navigatori antichi. Una latitudine a cui i marinai impazzivano e gli equipaggi si ammutinavano. E' incredibile quanto possa essere docile l'Oceano da queste parti.
I venti stanno gradualmente girando. Fin qui li abbiamo avuti a poppa, tra poco li avremo in faccia e tutto diventera' piu' impegnativo.
L'atmosfera in barca e' piacevole, mangiamo ancora il tonno di 20 Kg pescato tre giorni fa. Una strana calma si e' impossessata di noi...questo viaggio sta cominciando ad avere un effetto catartico sui nostri animi.
Adesso scappo a dare il cambio a Tom al timone. Auguri di buon anno a tutti!
So as we steam into the night best regards from us all at 01 deg 31 min North and 017 deg 34 min West.
As we have forged ahead and especially after St. Helena the air and water temperatures have climbed steadily. A remarkable feature of this voyage has been the amount of cloud cover that we have experienced. Almost constantly overcast we would have had difficulty navigating the true way with sextant and sun sights to fix our route. In view of the prevailing conditions modern electronic and satellite systems have guided us on our way.
Yesterday afternoon the sky cleared to give us a star filled evening. Much time was spent in identifying both well known constellations and lesser known heavenly objects that aroused our curiosity.
Arriving on watch well before dawn I was greeted by the now familiar dark sky with little to see. Even as the dawn drew near there was no ceremony or grandeur in the sunrise, it just slowly got gradually lighter with the visibility increasing almost imperceptibly until it was day. And as a day it has been good.
All day there has been a festive atmosphere on board as we approach the end of of year out here in our small world. Surrounded by water and far from land we exist in an isolated environment but with the knowledge that further out there are our loved ones.
Tonight there are decisions to be made as to when we celebrate the arrival of the new year. We have South African time, Italian time, Universal Time and of course the true Local Hour according to our longitude. Whatever the decision the is going to be a party at CLUBBE NAUTICO de MID ATLOANTICO and you are all invited to join us in celebrating the arrival of the year 2012.
May you all have a wonderful and prosperous NEW YEAR.
Cheers from us all on board Mrs. Marietta 3 at 04 deg 26 min South and 13 deg 47 min West.
HAPPY NEW YEAR, LA FESTA IL CAPODANNO
Santa with a plate of Panettone
Our approach to St. Helena felt like a bit of a race against time and Santa Clause. In the end Santa won but as you already know he kindly came out to Mrs Marietta to cheer us up.
Arriving in the anchorage before dawn we found our way in in the dark and put the anchor down in about 30 meters of water depth. Well secured some took the opportunity of a little shut-eye whilst we waited for the local day to begin. Being Boxing Day and a festive holiday the kind operator at St. Helena Radio was able to contact the Harbour Master to arrange for our formalities and clearance to land. Ever so helpful and friendly Dudi and I were fetched at 9:30 local time and assisted by Barry and Linne to do the harbour and customs forms whilst Fionna saw to our emigration details. Thus sorted we were free to visit the Island.
For me it was a chance to meet old friends and chat while the others sourced an internet connection which they found at the Hotel and also met Peter Martin who offered to take them on an excursion around the Island. With it being the Christmas holidays every thing was closed so it was most fortunate to have Peter's assistance to explore a little of the interior of St. Helena. The shore line is extremely rugged and barren of vegetation due to it's volcanic origins. By contrast the interior is lush and green. This amazed the others on their first visit to this remote destination which can only be reached and visited by boat there being no airport or other link with the outside world.
For me it was wonderful to meet a few familiar faces in the street and to have a meal with Ray and Desiree who always show me such love and welcoming warmth in their home. Due to such a little time there were others that I wanted to see, but perhaps next time.
Tuesday was also a holiday with every thing still closed and with our own pressures on time we decided to make our way further northwards. There was a little work to attend to on board and a compass needed adjusting so while that was being done I went ashore to pay for our ferry usage and some other small items.
Valentinna was unable to find any fish-cakes, a renowned local delicacy, due to the holidays. Undeterred on hearing about this Desiree set about quickly preparing and baking a fresh batch for me to take back to the boat. These were all enjoyed immensely with compliments and chants of " buonisimo ". Thank you Des!
There have been some questions about our speeds and progress. When motoring we run the engine at about 1700 revs per minute for considerations for the engines well-being and a reasonable fuel consumption, this generally give us a speed of about 9.5 knots. Dependant on wind conditions and angles our sailing speeds are generally around 10 knots or a little higher. These factors have resulted in us making around 220 to 230 miles a day. Sometimes it may not seem much but these are point to point distances that do not take into account the actual distances covered in tacks and course changes to maintain close to our route plan.
Since leaving St. Helena both the air and water temperatures have steadily increased. Prior to the island we never caught any fish but with our experiencing warmer water we have now landed a fine Dorado on Monday and a magnificent long-fin tuna yesterday evening just around sun-set.
As ever there is always a lot to be done on board to keep moving at a respectable pace. The constant attention to the boat and gathering weather information has left little time for writing but I hope this contributions suffices for now whilst I think about the next instalment.
Enjoy your day as we enjoy ours at 09 deg 53 min South and 009 deg 13 min West. ( What a co-incidence in those figures. )
I have made several attempts to write the next portion of our journey but each time have been interrupted by something needing attention on the boat. We are on the move day and night so there is always attention needed somewhere apart from the normal watch-keeping duties. There is always two of us on watch at a time to keep the boat on track. Very little use of the auto-pilot is being made and we are hand steering most of the time. I have named the auto-pilot " Gerronimo ". History has it that Gerronimo was a bit crazy and the auto-pilot has not been the sanest piece of equipment. Hence it's name and the never ending hand steering
Christmas as a religious festival is celebrated in many cultures each with it's own variation of the essential theme. My experience of an Italian version was most pleasant indeed. Whilst missing my own family on such an important occasion it was good to be with caring folk who took the time to celebrate Christmas in a very traditional way.
Even out here Santa Clause was able to find us and arrived resplendid in his red suit and bearing a large plate of Panetoni.The night before we had a sumptuous dinner with the emphasis on fish. Octopus formed the entre or antipasta and was followed by a long pasta with shrimps and lobster on the side. During the day there was Christmas cake or "Pandoro " to give it it's correct name. Later in the evening gifts were exchanged. For lunch today there was a tasty freshly made pasta.Thank you for all the Christmas wishes and messages posted on the blog for us. Shaun was kindly able to forward them on me to print and so allow all to read them.
For two days now we have been seeing Fairy Terns flying around. These beautiful white little birds are endemic to St. Helena Island and are a sure sign of our approach to the first destination on this voyage.It is now a little after two in the morning and I have managed to write this after completing my watch at one am.At position 16 deg 12 min South and 005 deg 21 min West we are about fourty miles from St. Helena and should arrive at the anchorage shortly after dawn.I had wanted to include a contribution by Valentina but she is asleep at present so will try and have it next time.
24/12/2011, 21 deg 43 min S 000 deg 51 min E
Clockwise from the top: Enzo, Paulo, Tom, Riccado, Bellomino, Vallentina, Dudi and Vittorio.
A very good feeling came back to the boat today. We were all lacking a little sparkle with the constant motoring and the ever present drone of our main engine. It is a lovely piece of machinery in the form of a 350 horse power Cummins unit able to drive the boat along admirably but we are a sail boat and our passion is after all the art of sailing. If we wanted to motor we could have chosen a motor-yacht. Of necessity however our beautiful sail boat had to use it's engine when the wind forsook us.
Just before lunch time today the wind returned in a usable fashion and it was not long before we had the sails up and surged ahead with the sea gurgling off the bow and streaming past the wake behind us. The wind settled and the asymmetric spinnaker came out to help us on our way. This beautiful all white sail has been billowing out in front of us. From it's tack at the bow it has beckoned us to follow gleefully behind it. With the sea calm as the Trade Wind area should be we have had a wonderful afternoons sailing.
The clouds cleared to bring out the sun, taking the chill off the air as well. What more could we want from life? A lot of excitement developed around the thought to have a group photo that we could send you all with our best wishes for the festive season.
So here it is and " BUONE FESTE BUON NATALE SEASONS GREETINGS " from us all here at 21 deg 43 min South and 000 deg 51 min East.
Tom and Crew.
23/12/2011, 23 deg 43 min S and 003 deg 38 min E
As we move along I am wondering how to bring the atmosphere of the boat to you and share the unique experiences. A question today raised the point of what has happened to the summer and the African sun. For three days now it has been overcast with grey skies and quite a chill to the air. Most times we are wearing a light jacket or fleece top over our shirts.
It's a strange feeling being in summer but not seeing the sun and feeling cold but we must not forget that this is the South Atlantic which is dominated by a high pressure system that brings Antarctic air in it's circulation from very far south. In the sea there is the Benguela current rising in the south and flowing northwards so there is nothing to warm the air. This South Atlantic high has moved into a position just to the south-west of us and with it's isobars spread out there is little chance of any significant wind for us and we continue motoring. The sea is typical of the Trades area with a gentle and rolling swell having a long period resulting in a rolling motion to the boat that is not at all unpleasant.
To make up for the lack of wind our Italian cuisine is of the highest order. In charge of the catering, Valentina is excelling in her presentation of mouth watering delights. Yesterday we had a magnificent home-made Gnochi pasta which has a potato base. lunch time today a Melanzane alla Parmigiana which was made of fresh bringals sliced and allowed to dry a little before being baked with cheese and tomatoes. My simple explanation of this sumptuous dish does not do it justice. Italians love cooking and I saw both Vittorio and Bellomino helping in the galley.
By way of introduction Vittorio is a master at sailing and Bellomino an enthusiastic young sailor always smiling with any chore. He and I have a lot to do with me needing to learn some Italian and he some English.
Come dice Tom, ci aspettavamo l'estate Sudafricana e invece niente, giornate grigie e notti buie, senza luna e senza stelle,si naviga nel buio completo!! Siamo partiti da Cape Town con un bel vento e mare formato che ha messo subito alla prova chi appena arrivato dagli uffici italiani, vento e mare che ci ha anche permesso di macinare parecchie miglia! Dopo un paio di giorni finalmente il mare si sta cominciando a calmare ma con lui anche il vento purtroppo. Da ieri a tratti, molte ore di vela e motore o addirittura solo motore per non far sbattere troppo le vele con l'onda lunga dell'oceano. Durante la prima notte con il vento e il mare la vecchia randa che avevamo portato per risparmiare la nuova ci ha abbandonato, costringendoci durante la giornata successiva ad un lungo lavoro di cambio randa.
L'attenzione resta alta anche grazie alla "regata virtuale" che stiamo facendo con la barca gemella che ha gia' fatto la traversata. Fino a ieri eravamo avanti, oggi sono di un paio di miglia avanti loro. In pratica se fossero reali li avremmo a vista sopravento. Aspettiamo per domani un lieve salto di vento che potrebbe con una strambata farci tornare in testa.
Altra "regata" che stiamo facendo e' nel cercare di arrivare per Natale ma ormai piu' facile Santo Stefano ad approdare all'isola di Sant'Elena, piccola isola sperduta nell'oceano con 300 abitanti.
Se non ci risentiremo per allora BUON NATALE a tutti da tutti noi! Dudi
Ciao a tutti, per compensare la poca attivita' velica ci diamo da fare in altri campi.
1. La cucina: come gia' detto da Tom, qua si mangia alla grande. Abbiamo fatto gli gnocchi di patate, impastato gli strozzapreti, preparato una parmigiana "sontuosa", che stiamo facendo fatica a digerire.
2. La pesca: siamo super attrezzati con canna al carbonio e esche artificiali di ogni forma e dimensione. Da ieri stiamo provando una nuova esca chiamata "excited bird", uccello eccitato. Effettivamente saltella sull'acqua che e' una bellezza, ma non ci pare molto efficace per il resto...abbiamo deciso che da domani riponiamo l'uccello e proviamo con qualcos'altro.
3. Il bagno: con Vittorio e Bellomino ci siamo fatti un bel bagno con delle gran secchiate di acqua dell'Oceano. Rinfrancante! Ci ha rimesso al mondo!
4. Lezioni di carteggio nautico: Vittorio insegna, Bellomino e Valentina discepoli attenti.
Qua stiamo benissimo, anche se ci mancate tutti tanto. A breve nostre nuove. Riccardo
Thanks to Dudi our captain and Riccardo for their comments.
All this to you from 23 deg 43 min South and 003 deg 38 min East.
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Regards Shaun ZS1RA