09 October 2017 | Le Port, Reunion
06 October 2017 | Le Port, Reunion
05 October 2017 | 'Tween Cocos Keeling and Rodriguez, mid Indian Ocean
03 October 2017 | Oct 3rd, Port de Plaisance, La Reunion
01 October 2017 | Oct 1st, Grand Bay, Mauitius
29 September 2017 | Sept 29th, Caudan Marina, Port Louis, Mauitius
26 September 2017 | Sept 26th, Caudan Marina, Port Louis, Mauitius
21 September 2017 | Sept 21st, Half way to Mauitius
19 September 2017 | Sept 20th, Preparing to leave Port Mathurin, Rodriguez
18 September 2017 | Sept 18th, Anchored Port Mathurin, Rodriguez
14 September 2017 | Sept 14th, Anchored Port Mathurin, Rodriguez
12 September 2017 | Sept 13th, 130 nms to Rodriguez
07 September 2017 | Sept 7th, 900 nms to Rodrigues
05 September 2017 | Sept 5th, 1160 nms to Rodrigues
02 September 2017 | Sept 2nd, 290nms en route to Rodrigues
01 September 2017 | Sept 2nd, En route to Rodrigues
01 September 2017 | Sept 1st, En route to Rodrigues
31 August 2017 | Aug 31st. Anchored in lagoon off Direction Island, Cocos Keeling
30 August 2017 | Aug 30th. Anchored in lagoon off Direction Island, Cocos Keeling
26 April 2018 | Marina du Marin, Martinique, 26th April
My last bitch and moan about luck was, as usual, tongue in cheek. Since then, I have replaced the batteries but in doing so, needed to reset the mains battery charger to the new type of battery....to find it dead. It was new in OZ, the old one dying respectably of old age, and the new one having only been used a couple of times - so few, in fact that I don't remember any occasion when I needed to use it, except to prove that it worked! Fortunately the excellent insurance company accepts that it was caused by the lightning 'event' off Durban. I certainly haven't used it since that happened. With the wind transducer at the top of the mast replaced - and working fine - I really do hope that is the end of the lightning damage. Anyway, the week we spent in Rodney Bay was taken up with trying to sort out the various issues. No-one on the Island could fix the rig and try as I might, I couldn't fix the new chartplotter/radar issue. These have never worked properly since installation, but the cause was always clouded by the poor battery voltage and the issue of updated software. Thus, it was pointless talking to anyone until the batteries were replaced and the software updated. Replacing the batteries took three days to accumulate the cash from the ATM, plus a morning to take out the old and fit the new with all the various bits of kit - either adding power or consuming it - correctly connected and tidily tied down. An example of such equipment is the two fridges. These are normally run through breaker switches on the electrical board, but with the electrician-twerp in Grenada switching them off while we were away for 5 months....I decided to remove that temptation and power them, fused, from the batteries. They can still be switched on/off at the unit. The wi fi in St Lucia is too poor during the daytime to be able to download any reasonable amount of data such as the chartplotter software, so I got up at 0300 one morning to accomplish that. However neither the replacement batteries nor that success solved the radar issue. Meanwhile the two - of three - new charts that had to be bought for the new chartplotter remained unusable and became my main mission - having given up on the idea of getting anything else done in St Lucia. To cut a long, frustrating story short, my pestering finally paid off, and with Malcolm's persuasive help, Navionics suggested a way forward, using the broadband of the local electronics shop - which was duly negotiated. Two days later, I had enough of the charts for the local Caribbean, the Azores and Europe to safely proceed. A major achievement! Rodney Bay marina has the best trolleys I've ever used, being huge wheelbarrows, but with bicycle wheels. As well as excellent conveyors of beer and other less important stuff, they make an excellent bath for washing the sprayhood and bimini! After the filthy air of Africa, DC's badly needed a wash....mostly on the inside! Maggie and I did this most successfully and satisfyingly, except to find that we could NOT undo the zips for the various 'curtains'. The maker had used aluminium zippers, which had corroded - near melted - and were immovable. They had to be ripped off and have to be replaced with plastic ones. DOH?! So now, when I talk about 'luck', do you see a thread (every pun intended) begin to appear? With several successes under our belt, and arrangements made in Martinique to address the remainder (new battery charger, another 'expert' Raymarine dealer with stock, and several 'expert' riggers) we left Rodney Bay on Wednesday for the shortest leg of the whole trip - 22nms - N to Marina du Marin, Martinique. With a full load of fuel onboard for the next leg to the Azores, we cleared out of St Lucia and left around 10 am for a super sail, albeit with lumpy cross seas and an awa (apparent wind angle) of 40-50 degrees. We weren't racing, of course, but did manage to overhaul another yacht and stay ahead of several more, whilst fortuitously dodging the worst of some heavy looking rain showers. Safely moored around 3pm, I cleared us all in and made contact with the latest various 'experts'. Thus, the battery charger should be fitted Friday or Saturday, the Ray guy came this morning, and the Rigging will all be done next Wednesday............ Phillipe, the Ray guy has been and gone, and we have the chartplotter on test to see if any fault returns. 'Great!' I hear you say: ' What did he find?....... ...........That the installation by the Ray guy in Walvis Bay was bodged. The power cables that connected the chartplotter and the radar readily came out of the connector block as soon as Phillipe started to investigate. Hence the voltage drop of nearly 1 volt that I had worried about and questioned.......disguised by the then poor state of the batteries (which really were poor!) So......incompetence.......like that which permeated the work at the Yard in Torrevieja, like the electrician 'guardian' in Grenada, and like the riggers in Australia and Rodrigues so that one year on, DC requires both lower diagonals replacing and the forestay shortened/replaced......plus the makers in Grenada of the bimini and sprayhood. The list could go on, if I wanted to depress anyone. All completely avoidable: the cost in investigative time and worry and money....exasperating! Bad luck? Or a whole industry riddled ............around the World..............? We will be here until next Thursday 3rd May at the earliest, but hope to leave as soon as the weather forecast looks sensible thereafter - with everything properly - and safely - resolved. That really will be lucky!
24,863 nms 'round the block'
19 April 2018 | Rodney Bay, St Lucia
Pam's comment about statistics incites some more. eg the 'round the block' mileage registered by the impeller is 24863 - at least from Rodney Bay and back again. The benefit of the mostly favourable current will mean that we actually covered more, but that extra isn't quantifiable.
Saiiing from our departure port of Torrevieja, our log produces a total of 30,308 nms and our route back to La Linea, via the Azores suggests there's another 3,300 miles to go. We stopped at La Linea on our way out, so I'll do a 'Door to door' mileage when we get back there!
I must admit, it all sounds quite a reasonable lot.
Around the block
19 April 2018 | Rodney Bay, St Lucia
Mart - Sunny with sudden heavy downpours
We crossed our outgoing track at about 0800 UTC yesterday, passing from the SE the same waypoint that we passed from the NE on the 3rd December 2014 on our way into St Lucia as part of the ARC+ rally. Thus, we officially completed our circumnavigation at that time.
We arrived and moored up in Rodney Bay Marina at around the same time as on that first occasion. It is good to be back - and lovely to see so many familiar faces, again. We even had friends Glenys and Nev from Alba round for drinks last evening!
We were all pretty tired to exhausted, but managed to keep going with a nap in the day. A few beers with G&N, then rum punches with dinner ashore made certain we all slept soundly!
Earlier, soon after clearing in, I had tested my luck to find an acceptable replacement supply of batteries available, in stock and charged ready to go.
We will take delivery Friday once we have accumulated enough cash to get the max discount.
I also got a rigger to call, but he doesn't have the necessary equipment - no-one on the Island does - so we must go to Martinique; some 30 miles N up the chain.
We'll organise that for next week, having got all the other jobs done here, hopefully, and had some time to tour and chill.
The new wind doodah for the top of the mast had arrived, so that was fitted by the rigger, and seems to be working, OK.
So....jobs it is for a few days.....
Shaping up for landfall
17 April 2018 | North Atlantic 40 nms off Barbados, 17th April
We had one more great 24 hours of sailing before the winds became more tricky again - lighter, with awkward angle. Thus yesterday, it was decided to revert to Plan A and go N around Barbados.
As a result of the slower conditions, we have also lost the race to ensure we arrived in daylight. However, the Bay to Rodney Bay marina is wide and open and we have been there before. The marina is also well lit, so we have no concerns about approaching and either anchoring off the beach, or going straight into the marina. We'll decide when we get there.
The conditions are forecast to be relatively light, and the Bay is on the leeward side ode of the Island.
That arrival will officially end Maggie and my circumnavigation, so a beer might need to be sacrificed to celebrate the fact; with another to note Maggie's birthday yesterday.
ST L arrival is now only some 120 nms away. We have some jobs to do!
17 April 2018 | North Atlantic 40 nms off Barbados, 17th April
is a funny concept. Part of me doesn't believe in it, rather preferring the maxim that you make your luck. Hence, when I really have tried to do the right thing, taken the sensible and responsible course, only to find fate sniggering at my stupidity; do I feel rather p'd off.. This trip has well and truly driven the point home....from the electronics (I bought a spare chartplotter from a dealer I trusted - only for it to have serious faults that cost a small fortune to not even fix). It failed the first time it was used at sea!. I accept the dealer acted in good faith, as an intermediary on someone else's behalf, but the wallet with a hole in it is still mine. I won't mention the crew: that we met up with, or even invited home to stay, but who went on to make our life a misery. No. I won't mention them. The batteries were high quality, top spec internationally branded batteries - pretty costly - that were bought at the very beginning, in Spain, to ensure we had a trouble free 2-3 years, given that they had a life expectancy of 7 -10!. They worked fine until we installed the solar panels and a controller from the same company. Unbeknown to us, the controller had a fault at manufacture that fried the batteries under the Catribbean sun for 5 months. That I was responsibly paying the Yard in Grenada specifically to look after the batteries, made no difference. In fact the idiot turned off the fridges which I had left on to create some load - with the fridges closed shut! I returned from the UK to find overcharged batteries and fridges with mouldy food! The electrical system has been a constant issue ever since, with peculiar faults showing up in various bits of equipment: to make you think it's that equipment that's faulty. Until, that is, some techie advises you to replace it - which you do - and the fault remains...... but you are off already; traveling to the next scheduled destination. It was finally in New Caledonia that the fault in the solar controller was found. However, I was not alert, nor alerted, to the seriousness of the damage to the batteries, which I can now see with hindsight, were deteriorating rapidly, but even then, any issues were masked by us having shore-power in the OZ marina. It was the lucky lightning miss that has brought matters to a head with the forcible replacement of kit highlighting the ongoing issues, so that this trip across the S Atlantic has been an increasing struggle with the fast failing batteries. I now HAVE to replace the batteries in St Lucia and attempt to get the maker of both the solar controller and the batteries to recompense me. I will need some luck to succeed with that! Finally, a stand of the most difficult to get at rigging wire broke yesterday. It was all sensibly and responsibly renewed in Australia by a well known rigger a year ago, and then responsibly tested in Rodrigues after the worst part of the most hard wearing sailing conditions of the whole circumnavigation. I can't see any alternative but to have the mast taken off in St Lucia for the broken wire and end fittings to be replaced. That won't be cheap. I only hope it can be done in time as we have to be gone....or stay somewhere 'safe' here or back in Grenada for the upcoming hurricane season. Who's a lucky boy? At least the mast hasn't fallen over!
Steady as she goes
15 April 2018 | North Atlantic 400 nms off St L,; opp Guyana Sun 15th April
Another great night's passage making - dry, with the wind blowing around 20 knots, consistently angled off the starboard beam to continue giving us 24 hour distances of around 180 nms, with only slight help from the current. The inevitable hand sized cotton wool clouds that obscure the stars as they transit the inky firmament were the only feature to diminish the joy. Autopilot Graham seems so calm and cool as he meets the pull of the swell and DC just dinks and weaves through the foam - leaving the crew on watch to hang on to save him/herself from a tumble as (s)he dodges the invading mug-lets of spray in the same gyrating movement. Cheer out loud joy! This morning's wind GRIB files continue to promise much the same, except for small but important variations in direction and strength. Plan A is leave Barbados to port and hang a left for St Lucia, once off Barbados' NE corner. However, the prospect of lighter, backing winds suggest that going S of Barbados and maybe St Lucia too, and then up the west coast of whichever might have a better wind angle at the time, so we have changed course 5 degrees to the latter. If the A route proves the best, we can easily and advantageously change back, whereas to ignore B much longer could give the worst outcome. Nice problem (1), eh? Meanwhile, the morning has clouded over somewhat, and rain looks a distinct possibility. We would all welcome the washing away of the salt that coats everything - especially the solar panels. These also need a clean of the leaving present from the latest noddy that got evicted a couple of nights ago. I must have given him quite a surprise - given the volume left behind! The sea temperature is said to be 32.3C, while, here at the nav table, it's 31 - so quite warm. Our friends further south tell me on the evening SSB net that it's 35+ around the Equator. We seem to have dodged the more extreme temperaturess and had pretty comfortable conditions. It has even been verging on the 'cool' at night. Nice problem (2), eh? Maggie has decided to make her chocolate hedgehog biscuit and nuts batch today - using up the remains of the cocoa, so no Mart's Magnificent Apri-Choco Cake for her birthday tomorrow. We'll defer celebrating the latest of her advancing years, ashore.