Friday, March 15, 2013

Fernando De Noronha

     The passage from Recife to Ilha Fernando De Noronha confirmed for me the wisdom of of the the old saying, "Gentlemen don't sail upwind," and of taking the downwind route from The South Atlantic to Europe (ie via the Caribbean). Three days of beating into wind and waves (sailing almost as close as I could to the direction the wind was blowing from) made for a bumpy and wet passage although the wind was probably not more than 15 knots most of the way. This upwind passage also revealed that Twister has developed a couple of annoying leaks (all relatively minor and all on the deck or in the portholes (windows)).  Not that the passage was all that bad, but a month of it would have gotten old.
     I sailed into the anchorage at San Antonio Bay about an hour before sunrise on Thursday the 14th of March, with dolphins escorting Twister. That never gets old, by the way.  The anchorage is littered with dive-boats and small fishing boats, but I was the only sailboat in the anchorage when I arrived. Last night another boat (Bromwyn--I met them at Cocos Keeling in The Indian Ocean) arrived from Ascension Island. The island is lovely (the internet connection is too slow to attempt uploading photos), and I would probably spend more time here if not for the exorbitant fees--for two days I had to pay ca 180 Real (ca $90 US). There are daily fees for the boat, for each person, and, if you want to visit the half of the island which is a national park, a fee to go there. So tomorrow morning (or maybe tonight) I will start the 1900 mile, trans-equatorial  passage to Tobago (or maybe Barbados, or maybe Grenada, but I'm pretty sure it will be Tobago).  I'm hopeful that it will take two weeks. That would require a 135 mile per day average which is equivalent to a 5.65 knot average which is close to what I did from St. Helena to Recife. 

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Fernando De Noronha And Beyond

It's almost time to depart Recife--planning on a Monday (March 11) morning departure. Next stop, Fernando De Noronha, an archipelago about 300 nm north-northeast of Recife. I will probably only stay a day or two before starting the ~1900 nm passage to Tobago (after doing some research, I decided on Tobago rather than Trinidad). If the ITCZ (doldrums) behaves, this passage has potential to be a fast one as we will probably be reaching (wind on the beam, ie perpendicular to the course the boat is sailing) to broad reaching (winds from behind the beam, but not dead downwind) the whole way, and the current should be favorable (of course I was expecting favorable currents from Cape Town to Brazil but actually had countercurrent almost the whole way--turns out there are a lot of eddies in the ocean currents and where the currents are depicted on nautical charts is often not where they're found). Somewhere near the equator, I will be passing the sun in its nortward passage to the Tropic of Cancer, and after passing the equator, Twister will be back in the northern hemisphere for the first time in about two years.


Thank you very much, Joao and Elba, for your putting me up in your lovely home, feeding me delicious Brazilina food, taking me  out to listen to local music. I hope I can repay your generous hospitality someday. After a week in Recife, I'm starting to know my way around this lively city. I haven't seen many tourists in Recife. It turns out they are all in Olinda, a smaller, quainter, and more historic-looking town just north of Recife. I went there on a day-trip to walk the cobblestone streets and be a tourist. Olinda is said to be a good place to go for Carnival (which I missed as it came very early in the calendar this year--Carnival occurs anywhere from the beginning of February to early March, somehow depending on the timing of a particular full moon, or at least that's my understanding of the matter). Latest photos from Recife.

Friday, March 8, 2013

The Passage to Brazil

makeshift whisker pole (after repair)
was pleasant, uneventful--even a bit monotonous.  I didn't catch a single fish, but something did take my favorite lure (without returning it) a few days before I arrived Recife. I don't think the wind exceeded 20 knots or dropped below 10. It was mostly dead downwind sailing, which does make it a bit rolly when there is swell (which there always is). Most of the passage was sailed with twin jibs (using a wooden pole as a makeshift second whisker pole for the hank-on jib on the inner forestay. The pole broke a week into the passage but was fixed with a couple of bolts and some line). The best day was 138 miles, the slowest 119. The passage took ca 13 days and 16 hours which is faster than I had expected (If I sailed 1800 miles, which I think is not too far off--the great-circle distance is 1775 nm--that is an average of 5.5 knots). Anyway, it was fast enough to get to Recife in time to have a visit with my friends Gui and Steve who were here for a wedding (they flew home on Tuesday). Gui's parents, Joao and Elba, have very kindly hosted me at their lovely apartment in the Aflitos area of Recife, since I arrived. Here are a few photos from Recife.

The great-circle distance is the shortest distance between two points on a sphere--so called because the line between the two points are part of a circle whose center coincides with the center of the sphere (ie the largest circle you can draw on the surface of a sphere). A whisker pole is used to hold out a headsail to better catch the wind when sailing downwind. Twin jibs means using two headsails with both (usually) poled out--one to port, one to starboard.

Hugo Boss Boat
The other day, I accidentally sent an email that was meant for my friend Paul, to the blog. Thus the odd blogpost a couple of days ago. To the right is the Hugo Boss boat I was referring to seen from Twister sailing into Recife harbor.  Here it is in Cape Town. This boat is a 60 footer made to compete in the Vendee Globe singlehanded round-the world, southern ocean race. The winner of the 2012-2013 race averaged more than 15 knots over ca 28 000 nautical miles.

Sunday, March 3, 2013


Arrived Recife, Brazil in the early hours of March 3. Good passage from St. helena but no fish.