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Ascencion to Trinidad

February 4, 2017
Our routing from Ascencion to Trinidad

                                 Our routing from Ascencion to Trinidad

This is not an exciting blog but rather an unabridged diary taken on the voyage from Ascension to Trinidad. Read on if you wish or turn to the next blog….stay tuned as we fix all the small items on Sage and head  north towards Grenada

Damn – 4 days of writing just got erased. How did that happen? Wonders of tablets. Oh well, in review I had stories of visiting petrels that nested and fought on the radar dome, on the dodger, on the bimini and all around us at night. I finally got a little fed up and despite my original hospitality have decided the days clean up was not worth it and have now discouraged them from landing.

There were stories of fish boats, sunsets and frustrations with a non functioning satellite phone. The satellite phone is now working and once more we are hooked up to our shore based weather reporting from a world-renowned weather forecaster Leo (an old friend from sailing in the 80s who kindly watches over us).

I guess now I start again but at Day 5

Day 5

Petrel night again. This time four of them. That’s enough. All I can think of is having to clean up in the morning – not nearly as bad as having a boobie on board. I have banned boobies onboard as they are a guano machine extraordinaire.

The petrels were fun for a while but at times they fought for their favourite perch, on top of the radar dome, and the squabbling went on for hours. I am always amazed at their energy. From the early hours of the morning till late at night they flit through the seas millimetres above the surface as though they are challenging the sea to catch and drown them. Their efforts are relentless, flying quickly and accurately to scoop up whatever they can find to eat. They don’t seem to ever take a rest.

Lots of fishboats last night. What worries us is that they are setting nets. This time they are lighted but nevertheless we are concerned about running over one of the buoys from their nets either in daylight or night and getting the prop, rudder or centreboard tangled up in the rope descending down and attached to the net. Just one more thing to keep on our minds.

Full moon coming up. So much nicer to be sailing under a full moon. Lots of light all night which makes changing sails that much easier. Last night finally went to twin running headsails – one drifter and one genoa with no mainsail. Wind is lightning after posting daily 24hour runs of over 140 miles/day for the last 5 days. Not bad for a 38 foot boat.

Just tried the AM radio as we are 290 miles from the Brazilian coast. And yes, now we can samba and rumba under the full moon!

Day 6

120 miles from Ferdinand de Noronja. Wow, 12 hours from noon to midnight we did 83 miles and no current. I am certainly not complaining about boat performance. We are doing really well so far and all that without current. We should start hitting the current, which is in our favour, within 2 days and further up the coast near French Guyana the current is apparently running at 2+ knots. That will be a great boost to our progress.

We are not stopping in Forteleza. It’s a combination of visa complications and the fact we want to be in the Caribbean during the non hurricane season.

I don’t understand the seas this morning. The last 36 hours gave us a comfortable ride but for some reason this morning we are skewing all over the place. It’s the right sail combination for the wind but there must be some changes in the swell we can’t identify.

No birds last night which is a bit of a relief. No cleanup. They have also disappeared from the waves so I think perhaps the food source has gone. We aren’t seeing as many flying fish and no fishboats last night.

Shower day today. Salt water scrub and a couple of glasses of fresh water rinse.

Shower time - a bucket of salt water 10 x over and then 1/2 litre fresh water rinse

Shower time – a bucket of salt water 10 x over and then 1/2 litre fresh water rinse

Ummm, I keep dreaming of all the showers we have had access to in the last month and wish we had one here with unlimited supplies. We’ve only had one minor rainfall but not enough to test out our water collection system which lies under the solar panel. Am sure we will get rain as we pass through the ITCZ (inter tropical convergence zone).

Day 7

Wow – the beginning of our 7th day at sea brings a morning delight  – the sighting off the port bow of the island of Noronja. It’s about 30 miles away and is a very tempting stop but we decline due to visa problems and a $100/day fee for anchoring and park fees. It doesn’t diminish the delight that there is land on this planet and we delight in gazing wistfully at the sharp rising pinnacles rising out of the sea. Can’t we stop?

No, we’ve set out sights on Isla du Salud (Devil’s Island) in French Guyana as our first South American landfall. We still have another 1100 miles to go and if we can keep this rate of speed up we should be there in another 6 days.

Petrel update – one spent the night on the life ring. I asked where his friends were but he declined an answer so as  not to give away the best of the fishing spots. Tomorrow though I intend on fishing so if he comes back tonight it’s on condition that he lets me in on some fishing secrets.

We’re running again on twin headsails – genoa on one side and small jib on the other. Wind is from the south south east at about 15knots giving us a speed of 6-8knots. We are supposed to have 1/2 knot of current in our favour but hard to tell.

Pizza last night – a little red wine. a checkered tablecloth and we could be in a pizza restaurant in Italy. The only difference is that in Italy one doesn’t have to chase the pizza around the cockpit. So the best action is just take the whole pizza in hand and stuff it in. Was great.

We are eating well and a few pounds are dropping off as thee aren’t any desserts and quantities are way less than my normal appetite can bear! However, health wise I would say we are doing well but my accident prone self started off in Ascencion when I broke my toe. Then there are all the blood smears peppering sails and deck structures where I scrape myself and bleed profusely thanks to a daily dose of aspirin to keep the heart pumping! I am now not allowed out of the cockpit without shoes, a hockey helmet, gloves and knee pads! I think it’s all a plot to get me to sink faster if I fall overboard as I never use a safety harness.


Fashion day onboard Sage

Fashion day onboard Sage – people often ask what we wear at sea. This is full outfit for special occasions otherwise….um….

Very stylish and considering were in South American waters Che's picture is appropriate

Very stylish and considering were in South American waters Che’s picture is appropriate

Day 8

Nothing unusual to report this morning as we move fairly gently 200 miles off the South American coast. No fishboats, no petrels, no ships but the remnants of a full moon guide us along.

Routine doesn’t change much.  There’s always meals to think about and prepare for as they are the highlight of the day. Each day though the fresh items get more depleted; the cabbages now three weeks old are starting to rot, the oranges are still ok but past their best due date as are the apples. What is keeping well are onions, garlic, ginger and surprisingly tomatoes (such are modern-day tomatoes).

To supplement our fresh diet I have put out the fishing line this morning. This is the first time since the murder of the bluefin tuna. I just hope we catch something a little smaller and not so endangered. A nice mahi mahi would be nice although I always feel guilty on those ones as well as they mate for life and travel in pairs.  Some people say you may as put the line in after catching the first one so as to catch the second one that’s somewhere looking for their mate.

I figure that the petrel brought good luck for fishing despite the fact ithis mahi mahi would have been too big to share with the petrel

OK enough of killing and back to life onboard which I have to admit is getting a little tedious. What does keep us going though are our vast storehouse of both electronic and hard copy books.  I have been transported from the killing fields of the Khmer Rouge (When Broken Glass Floats by Chanrithy Him), along the murderous path of a military psychopath in Louise Penny’s A Trick of Light, down to the emotional depths and highs of Ian Brown’s story of bringing up a severely mentally challenged son in Boy Moon and then through the height of the rock and roll melieu through autobiographies of Eric Clapton and Bruce Springsteen. There are many more to list not to mention a number of cookbooks which I can salivate over while Connie cooks 90% of meals offshore! I just get to dream of a great market and the chance to make some of the wonderful meals in cookbooks such as Ottolenghi’s Plenty and River Cafe Italian Kitchen. Oh why do I torture myself?

We’re not running out of water but we left Ascencion with full tanks (2 X 200 litres) + 60 litres in containers. Unlike many other boats we don’t have a water maker  – just another item to have to pay for, maintain and repair! However, at this stage it would be nice after a salt water bath to shower off with lots of fresh water. Ummm, maybe on my 65 footer fully crewed there may be a place for a water maker.

Day 9

Interminable – yes this seems to go on forever. And it’s only Day 9 of probably 19! Yikes….Sailing well but last night was the first night of fairly light wind since leaving Cape Town – all of 6-8kn of south wind. The morning has shown increasing strength and now we’re sliding along at 7kn with 12kn of SE.

Yesterday was full of drama. As I mentioned it was time for a fishing day.  Well, out the line went, flying fish were everywhere and the assumption being was that something was chasing them. It wasn’t till the afternoon that I was sitting out on deck when fhhhhsssssst the feel went crazy. By the time I grabbed my gloves the line on the reel was almost entirely gone. Oh no, I thought, another big tuna and all I want is fish for dinner.

After a long battle we pulled in what must have been a 10kg mahi mahi. He got his revenge though and broke my fishing rod!

Mahi mahi revenge

Mahi mahi revenge

Good on him….so fresh fish for dinner, breakfast, lunch, dinner ad infinitum for the next few days.  This is where a freezer would come in handy – SV Soelelie (this is a sailboat I know has a big freezer) where are you? I know your freezer is empty.

Next on the list was some maintenance on the ropes (sheet lines) on the genoa. Another hour spent winding things up, pulling on ropes, sewing and then putting it all back together again. Who says there’s nothing to do.

And then one of the bolts on the self steering was coming loose. Empty the locker making sure heaving things like portable generators and scuba tanks aren’t rolling around in the cockpit while I dig a tunnel to the stern of the boat. Finally got that bolt tightened and the locker all packed again. Another hours work and no overtime pay.

Despite all these excitements I’m still dying to get to shore and walk around, have a shower, buy fresh vegetables and come back to a boat that isn’t constantly moving around.

Day 10

Things have changed. We are off the Brazilian coast just east of Forteleza heading on a course of 305M. This puts us at 1 degree 50 minutes S  just south of the equator and the notorious ITCZ. Rain this morning but not enough to effectively capture enough off the solar panel cum rain catcher. Always the problem with rain catchers is one is either having to deal with a heavy squall on the approaching rain or like us we haven’t quite got the water catcher functioning  fully ie. right size hose connectors.

So with about a cup of captured rain our dreams of a long shower disappear but there are lots of other clouds on the horizon that look promising. Believe me we desperately need  good showers! Enough said there. I can hear the sailors out there saying “Duh, get a water maker”.

Ah the petrels are back. Sounds and looks like another Hitchcock movie. This time though he’s solitary. However, he has made a mess all over the place so the other job while it rained was to clean up the barn. Yes, that’s what it feels like with theses nightly visits.

We are on our last route line on the GPS taking us to Isla du Salud in French Guyana. We have no idea what to expect in terms of clearance as these are islands and the closest clearing station is 14 miles across a very shallow bank. We plan to just anchor at the island and see what happens. Yikes, and it’s French officialdom…

We still have 900 miles to go but it feels like a milestone at this point and helps to buoy spirits and what has been a good trip but awfully long. After French Guyana it’s 600 miles to Trinidad where we hope showers and fresh food await as well as places to repair a few items.

Day 11 and 12

Yes, neglected to write yesterday. Wasn’t a great day. It’s a change from the SE trades and into the ITCZ and then into the NE trades. We are still in the ITCZ with, this morning, rain-soaked streaky gray ribbons all around us.  We haven’t had rain this morning but late yesterday afternoon had a small rain shower come down on us with enough rain to 1/2 fill a water bottle and enough to wash the salt off our heads. Not quite enough for a full shower but it sure felt good.

The bad news is that the forward hatch got left open when we were sailing in a stiff breeze and this morning found that part of the forward V-berth was quite wet. At least at sea we don’t use that berth but it’s salt water and until we can get to a place with lots of water there’s little we can do but at least try and dry it out a bit. With the heat and humidity of the tropics this is hard to resolve.

Most of the wind is now from the NE or ENE and we are hard on the wind trying to make progress. It’s certainly not like the SE trades where the wind was from behind and we were making great time. Here it’s a bit of a slog what with the pitching and rolling and trying to figure out if we can stay on our track to French Guyana. It’s almost hard holding the course line and we are still 600 miles away. I just don’t want to have to beat along the South American coastline to get to our destination of Isla du Salud.

I’ve almost lost count of the days. Strange as  a sailor’s life is controlled by the clock: we stand watches which is determined by time, we navigate which is reliant on accurate time pieces with precise knowledge of date and day, we set up routines around times of the day to eat and,when closer to shore. try to arrive in a new destination that isn’t going to charge us for clearance because we have come in after hours. With all that to consider one would think we know exactly how many days we have been at sea. But, no, the days flow one into another and I think for self-preservation we consciously don’t count as it’s too painful. We gauge it all from how far we are from the destination and the closer we get then the more cognizant we become of the number of days past and the number to follow.

Me, I just want to arrive and then I may feel normal again.Right now I just want to have a calm anchorage to enjoy. It’s been almost 6 weeks that we have not had to brace ourselves onboard even on those days at anchorage in St. Helena and Ascencion. A quiet anchorage would be welcome…

Day 13

Aaaaargh – wind has gone to the north. It’s raining and the wind howls and we are nowhere near being able to point where we want to go. In fact we are now headed further out to sea instead of to our destination. Sometimes it just feels like what the hell are we putting ourselves through..

Last night was slow. The wind died and for the first time in a long while we actually motored as there wasn’t enough wind to keep the boat pushing through lumpy seas. So for 4 hours we motor slowly through pouring rain, spectacular displays of lightening (which I personally hate) and almost complete darkness as the waning moon was hidden by clouds.

On the bright side I don’t have to hide from the sun today. There are no breaks in the clouds; it’s simply squall line after squall line making us feel like a duck in a shooting gallery.

Let’s hope there’s brighter news when I open this up tomorrow.

Day 14

A wind from the east. What a godsend. Instead of being hard on the wind not pointing our destination we are now running before the wind. At least that we for last night and so far early this morning.

Another visitor last night. At first I was trying to shoo Jonathan off his perch and thinking I had succeeded went to sit down only to hear Jonathan landing on the solar panel on top of the dodger, then a scrabbling slide and a thunk. I looked on the side deck to see a stunned Jonathan down near our water collection bottle. I tried pushing him off again but no, he said, “I’m staying here for the night”. I realised this was not a normal reaction and allowed him to stay on the side deck for the night. He’s and immature seagull (dont’ know variety) and I think he’s starving and off course. There are no other birds around here and I don’t think there are a lot of fish. He looks weak and tired and at present remains perched on the radar dome. As long as he’s on the radar dome or side deck it’s OK. Will see what happens.

Jonathan without any friends

                                            Jonathan without any friends

Down below everything is damp. The skies are cloudy, humidity at 81%, clothes and towels are wet from continued occasional rain. Luckily at this latitude one doesn’t need clothes so not much in the way of wet clothes. However, someone left the forward hatch open and sea water came in to soak the top mattress. The inside of the boat is like a locker room; wet, damp, mould smelling and basically a mess. We try to clean up but it just doesn’t seem to last long as we stumble around grabbing supports, falling down and generally making a mess as soon as the previous one is cleaned up. It’s a losing battle and one that we dont’ make progress on until we get to port.

We don’t know what awaits us in Isle du Salud as there is no clearance there. Clearance is in Kourou a 14 mile sail across the bay through a very dubious looking channel which we are not about to navigate through. We’ll stop but don’t know what kind of reception we’ll get or if there is a local boat we can take to clear in and clear out as we won’t stay long. However, our San Francisco weatherman says that in Couman, about 100km from Salud there is weekend dance fests. Umm, let’s polish the dancing shoes, put on some non mouldy clothes and head for the music hall.

Am keen to get to Trinidad and make tracks in the Caribbean.

Day 15

Wow – the  last 24 hours have been awesome. The wind is just right, 8-10knots just forward of the beam, skies clear and seas pretty calm. On top of all that we averaging 6.8knots or about 150 miles/24hours.  Best of all is the comfort and the night skies. There is no moon to obliterate the stars. With the largest river in the world, the Amazon, just off to port, the Caribbean only another 1,000 miles ahead, the sky full of stars it’s a wonderous night. All the efforts of the last 6 weeks are obliterated just by one perfect night – a night to remember.

Jonathan didn’t return last night but Peter the Petrel did — alone….No problem there; smaller bird, less mess! One ship sighted but so far away she seemed like another star in the inky blackness where the sea meets the night sky. Would be nice to see another sailboat. I know they are out here  but just where they are is anyones guess.

Certainly our spirits are up this morning as the sky isn’t so ITCZ- like. There are  thick cumulus nimbus clouds ready to burst with rain around us but the wind remains constant and the sun shines between gaps in the clouds.

There’s always something to worry about though. We only have 1 tank of propane left and that’s usually good for 10 days +. We haven’t switched over but if we can’t refill in French Guyana and have to make it to Trinidad, another 600 miles, we may not have enough. Stop worrying I say but…

It will be nice to see land again. Although we are well into our routines and good walk on shore and friendly hello would make my day. Oh yes, and a croissant and a few baguettes and, and, and….

Day 16

A challenging night. Ships, squalls, rain, wind and nerves. One piece of equipment I find helpful is the masthead strobe light. Last night I turned it on when there was a ship approaching from astern. Looking from his view all he would see is our white stern light amongst all the stars. Easy to see? No. Turn on the strobe and call on the VHF and yes, he sees the strobe and is adjusting course. Another disaster avoided.  These factors all combine to a make a stressful night of sailing. As offshore sailors will tell you it’s when you close the shore that stress levels increase. We would much rather be out at sea with lots of sea room.

Here, off the coast of Brazil and French Guyana is a perfect example. For most of our journey we have been sailing over depths of 4-6,000 metres. Approaching the coast there is a sharp decrease in-depth about 100 miles offshore to 100 metres. When the seabed decreases so rapidly it causes the sea to break as it adjusts to the depth change. In fine weather it’s OK but when winds are strong and have built up a good wave height this can be problematic. Keeping this in the back of mind makes for sleepless off watches. It will be good to get in….

Day 17

Another magnificent night of rolling along under the stars. We are now north of Brazil and heading inshore to French Guyana for what we believe is a well deserved break. We have 60 miles to go and getting a little excited as well as a little apprehensive.

We have no idea what to expect of French Guyana apart from another French colony with coffee, croissants and duck confit. What makes us apprehensive are the formalities. The clearance port is Kourou but to get to the town one has to make their way up a 14 mile channel with undetermined depth and location. It’s buoyed but things change depending on weather and obviously we don’t have local knowledge.

For the time being we simply hope there is some way to legally get onshore, have a walk, buy some supplies, get water and this is all combined with a comfortable anchorage. Just in case we are stymied by the authorities Connie has a set of cinnamon rolls on the rise, I have a bread loaf on the rise and if necessary we are ready to leave for Trinidad.

As we close the coast the water-colour is changing from the deep-sea blue to a semi muddy conglomerate. I gather this must be partly from the waters of the Amazon to the south being brought north by the north setting current and mixing with river waters coming out from French Guyana. Dreams of jumping overboard into crystal clear water swarming with fish in the anchorage quickly dissipate. That won’t stop me from jumping overboard despite lack of clarity. It just won’t be for too long. I don’t trust muddy waters and what lurks below the surface.

This morning over our breakfast of granola and yoghurt we turned on the local radio. Wow, latin music and the BBC World Service top-of-the-hour news broadcast. Civilization (?) does exist. We can hardly wait…

Day 18

Arrived at Isla Du Salud around 1645hrs and anchored in cloudy water at a depth of 7m. There was a German yacht there who pulled up their anchor after we had settled. A short conversation with them revealed they had got in earlier in the day after 16 days from Jacare and were headed further north looking for a restaurant!

So, we’re now anchored alone off of what is perhaps better known as Devil’s Island best known from the movie Papillon based on the book by Alexander Dumas, I think. Anyway, it’s now a historic site and if we get a chance will go ashore to investigate although we are not officially in the country. I think by the time authorities are notified of our presence it will take them a few days to get out from the mainland and then we’ll be gone, or that’s what we’re counting on.

We got into the anchorage just in time as the ITCZ made its presence known again and the night was sprinkled by short bursts of wind and rain. We were glad to be at anchor. We’ll make sure the weather is clear before we leave as dont’ want to spend a night at sea with the same.

Day 19

I am so sick of this anchorage. When we came in the seas were flat but within 24 hours a swell swept into the anchorage and we roll and pitch making at sea look enticing. I think we are just tired after being on a boat that moves 24-7 and has so since leaving Cape Town on December 1st. We just want a peaceful anchorage where we can walk around the boat without fear of being thrown overboard or against a bulkhead. Oh well, we leave tomorrow.

Isla du Salud has not been explored. There is no energy left to launching the dinghy and finding a place on shore to leave it. There is a dock but only for tourist boats. There are no services onshore and we are having to beg water from the tourist boats. Obviously our legal status leaves us vulnerable as we’re not cleared in so we are reticent to walk around. There’s no restaurant, no baguettes, no croissants so it’s on to Trinidad where we can have roti and

We have been busy onboard cleaning things up and making it habitable and fixing a million and one small things that need tweaking before heading to sea once again. The shores of NE Central America are not enticing. The harbours/towns are mostly located 15-30 miles up a river and from oceanside involve a long marked channel that’s shallow and dubious due to shifting mud/sand. In some ways I would like to poke my head into one of these places but motoring up a cloudy river has never been my most likely adventure.

Day 20

We were leaving today for Trinidad but the ITCZ has produced its usual squalls and rain and we’re hunkered down waiting to see what happens. Who wants to start a trip with a soggy boat?

We moved closer in to shore to try and get some more protection from the swell. The swell reduced a lot yesterday so our movements are not bad and being closer in has brought more improvement.

I forgot to mention yesterday morning at 0300hrs we were awoken by the sound of very deep-throated engines next to Sage. We both jumped out of bed to find a 80m tanker between us and the shore. Now the shore was only 50m off our port side. Yes, we were staggered this ship would go between us and the shore. We both stood on the deck gobsmacked unable to think of what we could do. We were unmovable as we realised we were at the mercy of fate. We realised the ship was moving slowly around us and was under control but we wonder to this day whether or not he actually saw us.

I’ve made a few forays around the anchorage in the kayak asking if anyone has water. One of the charter catamarans took my containers and returned the next day with them full of drinking water and mentioned he was more than willing to do it again if we wished. Thank you.

We try to catch water but the showers are so quick and short-lived we can’t collect much. Am pretty sure we have enough to get to Trinidad but will be glad to once again have full tanks. We usually carry 400 litres and since leaving Ascension with full tanks we are still pulling from the original tank which is 1/2 of our total capacity i.e. 200ltr

Isle du Salud – a verdant jungle that in the evening comes alive to the sounds of cicadas and bird life. Although we see little bird life other than tropic birds and frigate birds we are serenaded by the sounds of parrots during our dinner hour. We are itching to get ashore.

Looking over to Isle Diablo from Isle Royale

                             Looking over to Isle Diablo from Isle Royale

All we can see from the anchorage are a few dilapidated buildings that are literally rotting away. Intricate in the streaks of rust and mould that drip down the facades along with shutters that hang by a single hinge and a roof that’s partly collapsed.

This is not to say there aren’t other buildings on the shoreline that are well maintained. There’s the generator shed. It’s not really a shed but more the remnants of the processing centre for new prisoners coming ashore or leaving. Beautiful arches line the front of the building along with floor to ceiling barred windows. The generator pounds out its rhythm day and night sucking cooling water out of the ocean and spewing it back in along the waterfront wall in an ever flowing warm water cascade.

At night from the anchorage the lighthouse on the north-east side of the island can’t be seen but the loom of the light is there. In ever a rotating rhythm the light spins catching the tops of trees on part of the island and continuing out over the ocean. It has two beams that flash by every 6 seconds. In a way it’s eerie as we can’t see the tower and we’re not looking directly into the light. Also eerie as am sure there are many ghosts that stroll through island pathways at night considering the past history.

The lighthouse that functions today next to the officers hospital

The lighthouse that functions today next to the officers hospital long since abandoned

We are definitely isolated here. It’s 14 miles across the ocean to Kourou. Tourist catamarans make the trip out here for the day and people wander around looking at buildings and walking pathways. There are no beaches and the water is warm but totally silt laden not only due to the Amazon south of us but numerous rivers that are bringing silt down from the interior. The only sea life seen from the anchorage here are turtles but those are fleeting glances.

The main functioning building which is a hotel and a restaurant

                       The main functioning building which is a hotel and a restaurant

Day 21

Left Salud in  early morning being chased out by Russians. The island is under the auspices of the French space agency and the Russians had contracted the use of the island to test one of its missles. The day we left everyone was being evacuated from the island for 48 hours.

After all the efforts of yrying to be low key we found ourselves in the midst of a military action. So the first officials to visit were the naval police. They checked all our documentation and never said a word about clearance. Following their visit and being told we had to leave the area b y 12 noon the following day we went ashore for a walk around Isle Royale.

Returning to the boat in late afternoon the customs boat arrived. Yikes, we thought, we are in real trouble but they never came over but did stay the entire night in the anchorage. We left at 0730hrs under gray skies and pouring rain.

Day 22

Last night was not fun. 25-30 knots NE wind with a double reefed main. Very uncomfortable but we made good  time as there is a 3-4 knot current in our favour.

Highlight of last night was seeing the missle in the night sky. Appeared at 30 degrees above the horizon as a large orange ball increasing in intensity and then flickered out as I imagine it exploded

Day 23

Wind still strong and we are just holding our course line. Yesterdays 24 hour run was 177miles! I would prefer more comfort than the miles. Too uncomfortable to write more. Retreating to bunk and wishing for less wind.

Day 24

Things are improving and it’s not because we are less than 200 miles from our destination. The wind finally dropped down a little although we are still under a double reefed main and a working sized jib. That still means we’re making 7.5 knots at the top end and 5 at the boottom end. It’s certainly not the end to our challenges.

Got up this morning to find our fresh water pump wasn’t working. It’s electrical and I haven’t determined why it’s not working other than the pump is shot. Luckily I had plumped in an emergency foot pump. We usually use the foot pump for salt water but it’s a simple 10 minute plumbing job to switch the salt water pump to become fresh water. Voila, access to needed fresh water but yet another item on the to do list in Trinidad. I just wish I had better knowledge of electrics and electronics. Ah well I will muddle through it after arrival and for the time being relax.

Yes, more comfort means better sleeps and less than 200 miles to go means an improved attitude. I will say this section of the trip has been uncomfortable but Sage sees us through once again.

Day 25

Wow there is land in site. Our night was filled with dodging oil rigs and ships as we made our way in towards land. The night sky was magnificent with the southern cross getting lower and lower on the horizon as we head north and now the north star is in view.

The wind was perfect last night only started to die as we entered that last 45 miles stretch before turning in the large bay that makes up western Trinidad’s coastline. We are now motoring. Yes, after almost 3000 miles we are having to motor due to lack of wind. And here I thought we would have no problem finding wind. The sun has started to rise and reveals the mountainous landscape that makes up this part of Trinidad. The decks were incredibly wet last night and seeing the morning haze here I understand why. It’s only 0630hrs and it’s already beginning to feel like a sauna.

We still have 35 miles to go and at our motoring speed and the sea conditions I can see it’s going to take us a while to get there. Then there are the formalities – customs, immigration, port authority and then finally finding a place to stop either at anchor or in a marina.

And then it’s time to figure out our carnival costume.

13 Comments leave one →
  1. February 5, 2017 00:25

    Carnival costume!? Tony, Connie, my brother looks at me and says “Somewhere there goes a naked clown.” I suspect you two could pass as two sailors just in from South Africa.
    What a wonderful read, thanks so much for the great blog.

    Standing By, Fred

  2. Bill McDowell permalink
    February 5, 2017 01:28

    Hi Tony and Connie,
    Such a great read of your encounters of crossing the Southern Atlantic.
    Well done , Hope you enjoy Trinadad and enjoy their Carib pilsner beer,
    I hope your repairs will not. be to taxing for you and can enjoy the shore life on the Island.
    Salude mi amigo y amiga.
    We are in Peru until the 21 Feb. , have been here since the 15th Jan. touring around too.
    Cheer for now enjoy and be safe.
    Bill McDowell.

  3. K rimer permalink
    February 5, 2017 01:28

    Your high fashion will fit right in at Black Beard’s Tavern. Trade a Mai Mai for some jewels and steel drum quartet !

  4. February 5, 2017 01:40

    Thanks for all this, Tone! Enjoy da islands, man!! 🙂

  5. Barrie permalink
    February 5, 2017 04:32

    Wow! So glad you made it s & s! Keep on posting, as we really enjoy sharing your adventures. We are still in Victoria, heading back to Spain March 20th, to start our cruising the Med. TTFN Barrie & Sandra

  6. Toby permalink
    February 5, 2017 04:45

    Nice read, Tony – thanks! Feels like a normal passage with all the ups and downs. Enjoy the music and careless life in Trinidad. When you get fed-up with Chaguaramas, go to Scotland Bay nearby to relax with the locals, it’s party time over weekends! Have fun!

  7. Sue Donaldson permalink
    February 5, 2017 15:44

    Nice timing arriving in the Caribbean for Carnival! Hope you’re deciding on which island to enjoy it for the dates this year on the 27th & 28th AND way to bury the lede about breaking a toe before leaving from Ascension–hahahaha xxxx much love to you both

  8. February 5, 2017 16:29

    Aha–I missed the “breaking a toe”. Have a fabulous time in Trinidad and the Caribbean in general. We’re glad you arrived without too many mishaps.

  9. Wayno permalink
    February 5, 2017 20:34

    Excellent read you barnacles! Thanks so much.. enjoy some time ashore, well deserved.

  10. John Edward Middleton permalink
    February 5, 2017 20:36

    Happy to hear you made it safely across the Atlantic. Always wanted to go to Trinidad. Hope it meets all your expectations and more. I write this as out my window I look at a foot of snow on the ground and a heavy snowfall coming down. Enjoy your tropical breezes and warm water snorkelling.

  11. Darrel and Loretta Smith permalink
    February 6, 2017 01:13

    What a story! And you have made it to Trinidad!! Congratulations, enjoy your time there, and write more. Bestest of wishes, Loretta and Darrel xoxo

  12. Louise permalink
    February 7, 2017 04:19

    “I am so sick of this anchorage. When we came in the seas were flat but within 24 hours a swell swept into the anchorage and we roll and pitch making at sea look enticing. I think we are just tired after being on a boat that moves 24-7 and has so since leaving Cape Town….
    Isla du Salud has not been explored. There is no energy left to launching the dinghy and finding a place on shore to leave it.”

    How well you have captured the ambivalence of being at sea and the ennui it induces! Sick of the sea…

  13. Louise permalink
    February 7, 2017 04:21

    Despite all the weather, you’ve made it to the New World. Clearly you’ll enjoy all it has to offer. I’m looking forward to hearing about more adventures. And to seeing photos of the “petrels” that shared your trans-Atlantic passage. Thanks for providing a haven for the gull.

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