The Last of the Long Passages
06 March 2013 | Between Salvador, Brazil and St. George, Grenada
The passage from Salvador to Grenada was the second longest passage of our trip (16 days), the longest being from the Galapagos to the Marquesas (21 days). When people ask us how we do these long passages, we are struck by the complexity of answering this question. We enjoy the challenge of them but who could possibly admit to liking a situation where you go 16 days with only sleeping 3 hours at any given time. Now, that just sounds crazy.
Again on this trip our focus was more discussions about what's next in our future. We are looking toward ending with the World Arc in St. Lucia in April and then heading back to New England. I would say heading back home but it is difficult to use that term when you no longer have a home to go back to. Mark and I keep trying to think in positive terms, calling the return to work our next big adventure. When we tell people that we are going back to work the most common response is "that's awful." Although we feel ready, it is hard to think of ending the adventure we have been on for the past 16 months.
We did enjoy our last long passage. We made a list of all the places we wanted to stop on the way from St. Lucia to New England. We spent a bit of time whittling down the list because we would have needed another 16 months to accomplish the first draft. Our original plans would have put us back in New England early this summer but we have decided to take a bit more time to get home. We keep thinking that we may never have the chance again to roam so freely up the East Coast of North America. My goal was to pick places that would never have us sailing again for more than three days at a time. Thus, we are saying good bye to long passages.
This last passage provided us with many interesting sights and long forgotten sailing situations. We were first struck when we left Salvador that we were finally on a starboard tack thus the boat was heeling in the opposite direction. We were also sailing close hauled and the wind was such that we were heeling over quite well. The current was on our nose along with the wind which was another novel sailing condition for us. Given that we have been sailing downwind for most of the last year, we had become unaccustomed to the boat heeling over so much. It took us about a day to adjust to these new conditions and readjust to the feel of sailing close hauled against the current.
As we approached the equator it just kept getting hotter and hotter. That was especially uncomfortable given the already excruciatingly hot weather we had just left in Brazil. It was painfully difficult to get sleep during the day because it was so hot down below. All of the hatches had to be kept closed due to the wet and splashy conditions which added to the heat in the main cabin. These conditions left us a little sleep deprived at times and definitely less agreeable.
We passed a large oil rig off the coast of Brazil which was lit up like a Christmas tree. We also saw a military vessel for the first time at sea. It must have been doing some sort of maneuvering exercises because it kept changing direction. The first time it turned and cut across our bow I was a little concerned. We still were about two miles away but that seemed closer than I wanted to be to a military vessel which appeared to be from Germany. We were lucky to see only cargo ships during this leg as another boat in the fleet was hit by a small fishing boat at night. We did not see any of these fishing boats which often run without any navigation lights at night. We stayed a bit further off shore to lessen our chances of an encounter which appeared to work quite well for us.
The trip was also one of the wettest passages we can recall, particularly around the equator. We had squalls during the day and even more so at night. The squalls were huge - one was 12 miles in diameter. They would last for hours, with rain pelting down which gave you zero visibility. The squalls sometimes had no wind, wind up to 35 knots and wind shifts of up to 90 degrees. Needless to say trying to sail through these was difficult at best and often raised cause to turn on the engine.
The current was quite favorable during the trip once we were further up the northern coast of Brazil. It was often pushing our boat up to three knots. This shortened our expected trip from 17 to 16 days. Yeah!! We were sailing a consistent 9 knots one memorable afternoon.
Although we did announce in our last blog that we finished our circumnavigation by crossing our furthest eastern point of longitude, I have to eat my words. We had several lively discussions with other boats about what constitutes a circumnavigation. Although I firmly believe that crossing the longitude is sufficient, others (you know who you are) believe that we need to actually cross our original track. I am happy to celebrate it again when entering St. Lucia. In fact, I would say that this type of accomplishment deserves as much celebration as possible.
When we arrived in Grenada, we took a slip at the very nice marina called Port Louis Marina. We were greeted by s/v Dreamcatcher who helped us with the boat and gave us a baguette and delicious cinnamon rolls. We were anxious to get things settled on the boat and head to Tobago Cays for some rest and relaxation before flying to the States for Mark's nephew's wedding.