17 January 2010
It is a week since we left St Helena and it has been rather a slow trip towards the Brazilian coast - we have had three days of motoring and four of actual sailing. Unfortunately, as I write this report, the diesel is being consumed to keep some form of progress as our wind died last night just before midnight. At first light this morning I downloaded the latest weather files for our region and it looks like at least three days of motoring ahead for us.
Over the past few days I have been reporting our position to Jack, AA3GZ in the US of A, which he logs and also posts on Shiptrak for us (link on the right of this page). We have also been monitoring the emergency radio traffic on the HF radio between the US mainland and the earthquake devastated Haiti, where the estimates are over 100 000 persons killed. It is really quite amazing how the HAM community comes together when there is a crisis and operates emergency radio communications to aid those in distress. At the moment I can hear the American Red Cross, Salvation Army and other aid organisations operating radio networks with traffic about medical assistance, aid and evacuation.
Today, other than being our eggs and bacon day, is also another time zone change day or double happy hour day. We will have crossed the 22.5 degrees west meridian sometime after lunch and thus, at 6pm local time, we put our clocks back another hour and suddenly it is 5pm again. Now, if we had alcohol on board, we would have a happy hour between 5 and 6 pm, which in our case would then equate to two periods of 5 to 6 pm. Mmm, pity we don't have a whole tray or two of nice cold beer as it is really getting hot as we slowly edge towards the equator. And just if you are wondering, by the time you read this we will be UTC-2 or 4 hours behind South African Standard Time. We will also only have another two time zone changes before we reach our destination of Tortola.
Joy is recovering quite well from her two broken ribs and is quite mobile around the boat again. She just has to watch herself and not do any more damage to the ribs that appear to be healing quite rapidly. She also has a curse in that she is a speed reader and can read an entire book in a day. The problem is that she has been through all the books we have on board and has run out of reading matter. We did manage to beg a few extra books from Mike on St Helena, but those have also been dealt with. I think that when I get back to Cape Town I need to organise a second hand book collection to take to St Helena to be used as a "book exchange". There are just no books available on the island to swop and Mike, owner of the radio station Saint FM and the St Helena Independent newspaper has promised to put a book rack up in his offices for "yachties" to be able to do a one-for-one swop. Old book donations gladly accepted - I will transport them to the island in March.
Our fishing has not been the best and we have caught nothing since departing St Helena. This is actually not that unusual as the first 1000 odd miles between the island and the northern coast of South America is not that great for catching fish. However, we are now entering Dorado territory and hope to hook one or two of these lovely fish in the next few days. We now have sufficient space in our freezer to stock up with fish. We just have to catch a few of the little (and sometimes not so little) buggers.
I normally run a competition on this leg of the delivery where the crew member who spots the most ships between St Helena and a waypoint near Barbados, gets a bottle of Caribbean rum in Tortola. We have not seen a ship for the last week and Louis struck lucky last night by spotting the first one. Well done to him!
Otherwise, life aboard continues with the watch-keeping routine rotating and life being a bit monotonous. The flying fish keep us amused with their antics but that is just about all the sea life we are seeing - no whales, dolphins or bird life around us at the moment. I am sure we will start seeing some more sea life as we get closer to the coast but I must admit that years ago we always had an abundance of life around us but very little nowadays. I am sure some scientists will blame global warming but, personally, I think it can be blamed on the over-fishing of the seas by the eastern block countries.
My thanks to fellow HAM Deon, ZS1ZL, for keeping me updated with what is happening back home and to the few HAMS that have taken the time to chat over the HF over the past week - Des ZS1YZ, Dennis ZS1AU and Gilbert ZR1ADI. Now if anybody can let us know what is happening with the cricket 5 day series between England and SA, it would be greatly appreciated.
Until something more constructive happens aboard, best regards from the motley crew, Joy, Greg, Louis and myself, John.