Sunday, February 17, 2013

To Brazil

Setting sail in a couple of hours. Destination:  Recife, Brazil. It's ca 1800 nautical miles which I'm hoping to do in 14 days. It might take 18 or more as winds will probably be on the light side and coming from directly astern (not a good point of sail).  

Friday, February 15, 2013

St. Helena pt. 2

Pretty much in the middle of nowhere in the South Atlantic Ocean. Closest anything is Ascension Island, ca 700 nautical miles away.  Population:  4000. The telephone numbers and car license plates have four digits. No airport, no ATMs, no mobile phones. One supply/passenger  ship which comes  from South Africa once per month (well it stops again on the way back from Ascension Island, but not with any new supplies).  One town—Jamestown. The island looks very barren from sea, but the interior is green if not exactly lush. It is most famous probably because Napoleon spent his last several years here as a prisoner. He was buried here, but his body was moved to France 19 or so years after his burial. Folks are friendly. Everyone waves when they drive by and say hello if they’re walking.  It's British territory, but the people generally look some indeterminate mixture of Indian, African, and European ancestry. 

Sorry, I think the link to the photos in the last post was kaput. I have hopefully fixed it now. The problem seems to be that the default setting in Google photos is that only I can see the albums. So here they are hopefully. 

Thursday, February 14, 2013

St. Helena

Passage From Cape Town To St. Helena

Some photos from The South Atlantic

Wednesday 30/01-2013
Motored out of the Royal Cape Yacht Club and the Cape Town harbor. Paul was waiting for me outside the breakwater, putting away his outboard (and only) engine. We had agreed to race to St. Helena. I pulled up alongside, we said “ready?”, raised our sails, and the race was on. There is a “traffic separation scheme” outside the harbor—basically like a two-way road, ships entering or leaving the harbor are supposed to follow the lanes marked on the charts (and they drive on the right side of the road). Anyway, small boats should stay out of these lanes as much as possible, and try to cross them at right angles. I thought the wind was favorable for crossing the lanes southwest of the harbor, so I headed that way. Rebellion stayed on the northeast side, heading toward Robben Island. After tacking back and forth many times in the shifty northwest breeze (I had a little trouble in the beginning with the tacking, as I had to furl the genoa each time, then unfurl it on the opposite tack because of the (removeable) inner forestay which I had left in place), I ended up back on the track Rebellion had chosen, and I followed him, close-hauled in very mellow conditions (especially considering it seems to blow a gale more often than not in Cape Town).
            As I looked back at Cape Town and Table Mountain, shrouded in fog and clouds, I felt a surge of contentment as well as affection for the city and its delightfully diverse people. Sailing past Robben Island, the mainland disappeared in the mist.
            AIS made crossing the traffic lanes, as big tankers and cargo ships were coming and going, an easy affair--something which would previously have been stressful. As Robben Island faded in the fog, we sailed into sunshine and the South Atlantic.  
            Rebellion had a lead of several miles by sunset. Maybe there’s more to sailing than just the sails.

Thursday 31/01-2013
A Yellow-Nosed Albatross greeted me at dawn and kept me company through the morning.

1730:  Rebellion hailed me on VHF channel 16 (He couldn’t hear my response), so though I can’t see him, he is probably not more than 12 miles ahead.

Friday 01/02-2013
First Flying Fish found on deck, and the dirty brownish green of the coastal water has been replaced by the deep blue of the open ocean. Water also much warmer.

Sunday 03/02
Flying twin jibs (the genoa on the main forestay, and a hank-on jib on the inner forestay I installed in Cape Town) for the first time. Would be better if I had a second whisker pole.

Wednesday 06/02.  0820 UTC
Almost exactly one week out of Cape Town. 940 miles done and another 748 to St. Helena. Spotted first (Red-Billed) Tropic Bird of this passage. Winds becoming lighter and lighter.

1205 UTC
Noon-to-noon runs:
Mileage (nm)

Saturday 09/02. 0005 UTC.  21° 39.’5 S  000° 01.’1 W
Crossed The Prime Meridian (Greenwich longitude) about ten minutes ago. Now into westerly longitudes.

1345 UTC.
Caught a lovely 3-foot bull Dorado (mahi-mahi) about two hours ago. Had ceviche for lunch (minus cilantro, normally an essential ingredient). Fish tacos for dinner.

Tuesday 12/02.  1545 UTC
2 or 3 whales stopped by to say hello as I sat, reading, in the cockpit. Don’t know what kind. Dark, nearly black. Prominent dorsal fins. Hard to judge size as I couldn’t see the whole bodies—maybe 20 feet or so. Soon after a female Dorado swam right next to Twister, rudely ignoring my fishing lure.

Wednesday 13/02, 0730
Land Ho! St. Helena visible in the distance, north-northwest.

Arrived James Bay, St. Helena. Found Rebellion there waiting for me. Beat me by 1.5 days. What a thrashing! I owe Paul 5 milkshakes.