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Waiting for the Wind

June 18, 2017

It’s not like waiting for the wind at sea when it’s calm and one wants to move along. This is waiting for the wind predicted for very early morning on Tuesday.

We have taken refuge near the mangroves and more boats are coming in to seek better protection. It’s a crowded anchorage with lots of unattended derelict boats to cause panic!

Here’s the most recent weather prediction map. Each feather on the arrow represents 10 knots of wind. It looks like here in Martinique we can expect sustained winds of 40knts as the low passes over St. Lucia and Martinique; not a hurricane but…

2017 Caribbean Sailing Season – Best Of

May 28, 2017

Best Food – The French islands of Martinique and Guadeloupe win this category hands down.
A difficult category as there are innumerable food categories but here I am being very general and making this statement for general overall impressions from purchasing the raw products to restaurant experiences.
Of course who can compete with imported items such as magret du canard, unpasteurized cheeses, baguettes and croissants (heavily subsidised eg. Baguette for €1, 8 different types of ham, saucisson by the truck load – need I go on?). Of course these are all imported from France but the islands themselves have thriving market gardens as well as their own locally raised meat.

Best Historical Harbour – English Harbour, Antigua
They are trying. The renovations are ongoing and painstakingly slow. Although a UNESCO World Heritage site they have a long way to go to match other UNESCO sites in the same category. Of course we did see it at what would be the height of the season i.e. the Classic regatta and Antigua race week.

English Harbour in the foreground with Falmouth Harbour in the background

Best Marina – Rodney Bay, St. Lucia
It’s rare for us to use a marina but in this case we actually spent a week at the dock. It’s a new marina with very friendly staff, a great boatyard with some good expertise and a place that has potential for being a good place to hold up for the hurricane season. Apart from this it’s a short hop across to Carrefour Market in Martinique for a little french shopping!

There is a proviso here in that I think the marina is safe for hurricanes up to level 3 but after that not so sure. As the hurricane season is upon us and as we watch a disturbance in mid atlantic safe anchorages/harbours are primary considerations.

Best Beach – Bequia

We liked Bequia but let’s face facts. We have seen some incredible beaches in the Pacific, the South China Sea, the Andaman Sea, Australia. Ok I’ll stop. Yes, Bequia has had the nicest beach we’ve seen so far in the Caribbean!

Best Anchorages – Antigua

The Caribbean anchorages mostly lay open to the west and as such are susceptible to westerly swell and often nights are spent trying to stay in ones berth. It’s not really that bad but…Anchorages are also very crowded. One is always looking for the secluded spots. As it gets later in the season and the hurricane season approaches anchorages are becoming quieter.

Antigua was the last place we expected to find quiet and peaceful anchorages with very few boats. Green Island is close to a favourite kite surfing area on the south-west side of Antigua. It’s not often boats head to the east side of any of the windward islands. The east side is where one feels the full force of the Atlantic swell and wind. It’s much harder sailing and if one makes a mistake it’s easy to end up on the reef.

Antigua abounds with beautiful beaches and both secluded and crowded anchorages. It’s easy to find the anchorages that are quiet and little visited. They are usually a little open to the ocean or on the east side of the island. Green Island stands out as a special beach area although at times the main anchorage where the best kite surfing is crowded but there are other anchorages very few boats visit.


Best Natural Island/Most Scenic – Dominica
There are only two anchorages in the whole of Dominica – Portsmouth in the north-west and Rousseau in the south-west. Portsmouth is a very large bay often plagued with westerly swell and in many areas poor holding. This season we anchored in both anchorages and for the first time in many years we dragged anchor in the night crashing down on a French boat causing a bit of damage. We have never done that before and only one other time in 30 years of sailing have we dragged anchor.
Rousseau, being at the southern end of the island is pretty much always a rolly anchorage. We only stayed one night and didn’t go ashore. However in Portsmouth we made a day long trip hiking in volcanic craters, cooling off in bubbling sulphur springs, touring a chocolate making enterprise and learning about all the medicinal local plants and finished off with a great river swim.
There are no large resort complexes in Dominica, only the occasional small cruise ship, beautiful beaches with no-one on them and an overall relaxing ambience with friendly people. From a land perspective I would return but from a boating one it’s not the best choice but good for a short stop in settled weather.



PAYS (Professional Association of Yachting Services) member picked us up in the morning for a van tour of the northern part of Dominica


Portsmouth Anchorage, Dominica

This is a typical anchorage on any of the islands in the Windward chain. It faces west providing a wind protected anchorage but the swell does sweep around making rolling a persistent problem. This anchorage is also dubious for its holding. We dragged here in the middle of the night for the first time in many years.



An incredible piece of Dominica’s east coast. A barren rock area descending steeply into the ocean and scarred by gullys caused by runoff rain


After a day of hiking and driving around Dominica the river provided a great respite with cold fresh water pouring down from the volcano

Best Saturday Market – Port-of-Spain, Trinidad
We had long discussions on whether or not Trinidad was in the Caribbean. It’s part of this list so I lost the discussion.
The market is wonderful – colourful, reasonably priced, varied and high quality. A great morning’s outing if you get there by 0600hrs.

Best Natural Phenomena – Scarlett Ibises, Trinidad

Wow, something to remember for a long time – see previous posting


Not many ibises in this shot but like the setting with the coastal mountains in the background


Best Cemetery – Guadeloupe

I was blown away by this one in the picture. I came around the corner and there before me was what I thought was a chess player or checkers player would love to spend eternity.


One other comment to make on Caribbean cemeteries. They always seem to command the best views in the community. Started several centuries in the past I guess land was not at a premium and views over the ocean were a major consideration! The one above though was not near the ocean but I guess with the numerous chess board like graphics there was enough to keep people’s minds occupied.

Antigua –

May 28, 2017

Antigua is probably best known for the annual sailing week and the classic regatta.  Both these are held during the last few weeks of April. The two events attract vessels from around the world.

 Lots of maintenance on this beauty

Just another toy!

I thought we would never see another zebra after leaving South Africa                                                    but…

It also coincides with the season where boats heading across the Atlantic gather before pushing off; either direct to the Azores or first head up to Bermuda then across. This year the big attraction for the Bermuda route is the Americas Cup which is being held in June – a perfect layover for those boats heading further east.

Historically, Antigua, was, and remains a key Caribbean harbour, held by the British for a few centuries and now a hurricane hole for all types of sailing and power vessels.  The most famous of all the harbours in Antigua is English Harbour, for many years the headquarters for the British fleet. It’s a beautifully protected harbour albeit a little small. The remains of the English fortifications provide a tourist attraction, especially for the cruise ship passengers.  For sailors it’s one more Caribbean harbour, and expensive at that.

English Harbour in the foreground with Falmouth Harbour in the                                                             background

I’ll be honest – Antigua is not my favourite island. Although the sparkling waters and the beaches provide the idyllic picture of a tropical paradise the island and population that inhabits it has to make do with poor and crumbling infrastructure, potable water shortages (ie. buy water from Nestles!), incredibly expensive imported foods (eg a lettuce seen at a cost of US$14) and an overwhelmingly short tourist season – about 4 months.

Yes, the EC dollar price posted for the lettuce indicates CDN equivalent of about $12. Just one island south they have island grown lettuce for €1!

By overwhelming tourist industry I refer mostly to the cruise ship industry which, before you read on, I have come to doubt their positive economic influence on places they visit.. I come from a city, Victoria BC, that has 265 cruise ships/6 months season.  I’ve seen the negative sides of that industry first hand and I see it here in Antigua.

                    Towering, overpowering and overwhelming

Our first visit to Antigua’s capital, St. Johns, coincided with 4 cruise ships at the docks. Considering each cruise ship holds on average 4,000+ passengers that makes for 16,000 passengers descending on a small town with a total population of 22,000. Can you imagine living in a place where there are more tourists on the street than people who live in that town? It doesn’t bring the best out in the town and it demonstrates the worst aspects of the tourism industry.

I am sure there are some of you have arguments that this is good for the economy and thus the community. The problem with this argument is that most of the money spent is in the downtown areas and the stores are mostly owned by a small business elites that don’t live in town or, if they do, live there for only a short period of time and then live the rest of the times in a more congenial place that isn’t overrun by tourists.  Also, the money the cruise ship charges to its passengers stays with an international company that has no economic connection to the places they visit other than the harbour charges they pay. Even at that, I know, in Victoria BC, the ships leave at 2359hrs just to avoid the overnight charges the local authorities would impose. Having dropped off their passengers for a 6-8hr visit, filled their water tanks, dumped their sewage to the local system (at least in Victoria – am not sure where it goes in the Caribbean) and paid for the electricity they use then off they go to the next anchorage  (where they pay nothing) or minimal harbour dues.

Cruise ship tourism is hard to escape in the Caribbean as towns are forced to build larger and more expensive ports to accommodate even larger ships that will bring even more tourists at the expense of badly needed infrastructure such as a potable water supply, improved roads and much needed educational and meaningful occupational opportunities.

Enough said on that rant! There are a few special moments to be had in Antigua. There is the old fort in English Harbour, a visit to the 300 some odd beaches, the colour of the surrounding sea, offshore fishing, music and the friendly population (outside of the most heavily visited tourist areas).

We have been lucky in that two groups have visited us from Canada here in Antigua. The first visitors were Connie’s sister and family from Calgary.

Trying to fit the family in the dinghy for an outing to Green Island –                                   Debi, Cliff, Connie and Nick

Escaping the blowing snow and ice Debbie, Cliff and Nick flew out of the blizzard and down to Antigua for a week staying at an all inclusive called The Verandah Resort and Spa which is close to one of the favoured kite boarding beaches on Green Island.

The other visitors came from Edmonton to escape the great north’s climate. Sandi and Sylvia flew down from Edmonton and rented a 2 bedroom town house in Jolly Harbour where we could tie up Sage at the dock outside the living room.

Sandy and Sylvia – treasured friends escaping Edmonton’s winter fury

Now, this was luxury for us. I think by the time we left town house everything will had been transferred out of Sage and into the house as we kept thinking of things we needed in the kitchen.

View from the townhouse bedroom balcony. Perfect place to work on                                            the boat! But, did we!

Just an added quick note to say access to power and internet has been very limited thus the lack of postings. Also, on a particularly rough sailing segment the camera ended up being flung from its 6 year placement and ended up in the shower stall covered in salt water. It’s functioned for a while and until I can make it to New York I will be stuck using my Galaxy 4 smart phone camera. Hence quality of photos will de downgraded!

The Caribbean -Windward Islands

April 12, 2017

Yes, I haven’t posted in a while and am sure some of you are wondering where we went. It’s not so much where I want but where did a collection of stories go from the last 6 weeks. They actually got deleted from my WordPress app. Not intentionally. They just disappeared and I can’t retrieve them. It’s all part of travelling and being irregularly connected to the internet.

Anyway, here is my replacement attempt at trying to replace hours of lost work. It won’t be as comprehensive as my original work but at least it will act as a catch up to where we’ve been for the last while.

We left Trinidad near to the end of February having waited in vain for an outboard motor part. We were anxious to leave and catch up with Dave and Marcia on Strider who had crossed over from Cape Town to Grenada a few weeks before us.

With stories of pirates and strong north-east winds off Trinidad we slipped out of Chaguaramas Bay and north out through the pass called the Dragon’s Mouth and out into the Caribbean headed to Tyrell Bay on the island of Carriacou.

Thoughts of pirates but with weather reports of light easterly winds we scooted north over a flat sea past oil rigs that appeared to be Transformers on the water waiting for unsuspecting yachts. We slipped through the oil rig grasp, up the windward side of Grenada through the night landing at Tyrell Bay by early morning. There we found Strider at anchor and had a great reunion with all telling tall tales of our crossings from South Africa and stops in St. Helena and Ascencion.

                                                      Trinidad to Carriacou

We had made it to Carriacou just in time as the wind began to blow strongly from the north east.

          Connie, Dave and Marcia on a short hike in the middle of the day. Hot!

The beginning of the winter season winds blow strongly and as the season progresses the winds lighten. They vary from NE to SE and depending on whether you are going south or north one waits for the more favourable wind as it’s either going to be hard on the wind or just forward of the beam. But it’s always going to be rough between the islands.

Gaps between islands are anywhere from 15 to 35 miles and these gaps are where the full power of the Atlantic storms through along with the open ocean swell. At the ends of each of the islands on the lee sides the wind is always tricky twisted and turned by the wind’s passage over the mountain ranges of the islands. It’s tricky but at least on the lee side of the islands the water smooths out and one can anchor or meander slowly along keeping a very keen eye out for the squalls the landscape decides to throw at unsuspecting sailors.

From Tyrell Bay we head to Union Island where we have to clear customs and immigration for St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

                                                              Carriacou to Union Island

It’s party time on Carriacou. Yes February is Carnival time and in town early one morning everyone was still partying on the main street. This guy was slathered in                                                                         used motor oil

From Tyrell Bay to Union Island was a bash to windward with the entire boat covered in salt water, dishes crashing down below, us holding on in the cockpit trying to figure out if we can make it and to top it all off there was Strider motoring to windward keeping relatively flat and sipping their coffees. Oh, for an 85hp motor! We had fun though. Knowing that at the end of the day one is in an anchorage, the boat is relatively flat and a berth awaits makes the rough weather much easier to take.

Great sailing at times. Here the wind forward of the beam and Sage is performing at                                                                          her best

Union Island proved to be a wind tunnel. The wind blew for all 4 days we were there. Getting ashore was where we got our shower. That is, the shower was salt water but thankfully there was a shower on shore at the yacht club – a godsend. But then we had to go back to the boat later which was a little more downwind so didn’t get quite so wet.

Our entertainment was watching the kite boarders. Right in front of the boat was a reef and flat water for the kite boarders. The wind was blowing a steady 20kn and the kite and foil boarders were having a ball.

             Yes, right in the anchorage the kiteboarders were flying over the yachts



            A thirsty kiteboarder coming in for a refreshment but no time to stop

                                      Tandem – umm, presents possibilities

                                               Union Island kiteboarding scene

Time to go once again and this time a place I have always wanted to see which is Bequia. Again the wind was strong and we said good-bye to Strider as they said they didn’t want to go out again in that kind of weather. So, off we went knowing it was another salt water day.
                                                                                 Union Island to Bequia

The wind we ENE which enable us to hold a tack putting us close to the harbour on Bequia. But you can see from the above map that the last few miles we had to tack in. Salt soaked and a little tired we set the anchor down, turned around and who was coming in but Strider. They had been very keen to see Bequia and decided it was worth motoring up  so left about an hour after us and we came in at almost the same time. We were happy to be able to share another anchorage with them before they headed back south to put the boat up in Grenada while we continued northwards.

          In Bequia they get their beer delivered differently than in Union Island

Next – oh my god this litany never stops! Well, don’t forget we have to keep moving as at this point it’s March 10th and we have until April 1st to get to Antigua. I know for landlubbers the distance isn’t great but not knowing what the wind is going to do we are always concerned about getting trapped by the wind somewhere and missing our schedule.


                  Bequia –  The leeward side of the island – favoured for anchoring

                       Bequia – the windward side i.e. east side of the island

Bequia was definitely the last stop north for Strider. So with sadness in our hearts we said our goodbyes to Dave and Marcia and will sorely miss them. Dave and Marcia were going to put their boat up on the hard in Grenada and head back to the States. They plan to return to Grenada in December so may yet see them if we go south for the summer.

                                                          Dave and Marcia

So where are we? Ah yes, next stop from Bequia is Rodney Bay on St. Lucia.

                                                        Bequia to Rodney Bay, St. Lucia


Yes, we’re rushing. Good weather lighter winds and a great 15 hour sail to Rodney Bay on St. Lucia. The only glitch was a suspected engine problem. So we couldn’t run the engine and sailed in to the bay at night and anchored and waited till morning to get towed into the marina. Engine problem was imagined and so instead of having to do engine work we played.

   A supposed hurricane hole (Maigot Bay) but without a closer look I’m not so sure

                                                          St. Lucia – Grand Piton and Petit Piton

                             An active volcano with hot pools on St. Lucia

Just north of St. Lucia is Martinique. We could smell the croissants from Rodney Bay along with the magret de canard, the comte cheese and the pates. So, without much adieu we rushed on but didn’t stop. What? Yes, we figured we would rush to the north end of Martinique, anchor off of St. Pierre and scoot across the next day to Les Saints in Guadeloupe.

                                                 Rodney Bay to St Pierre to Les Saints

St. Pierre was magnificent. Verdant green slopes under the volcano promising wonderful produce and good food. We snuck ashore for an hour, bought some fresh baguettes and some ice for a late afternoon drink under the volcano. The volcano last blew at the turn of the 20th century burying the entire village. There were only two survivors one of which was  a prisoner in a cell below ground.

                     Approaching St. Pierre and another Caribbean volcano

Then on to Les Saints the next day.

                                                                                        Les Saints, Guadeloupe

At last a wonderful anchorage, well protected, and a beautiful landscape. Les Saints are a group of islands just south of the main part of Guadeloupe. The main town is a tourist spot but used mainly as an escape from the hotels on the main island with tourists coming on ferries just for the day.

                                            Les Saints Panorama from the fort


There are quite a few sailboats on mooring buoys here and we lucked out with a mooring at the head of the pack a short row to the shoreline.

Finally some good food. A small Carrefour grocery store outshone any shopping in the other islands. Stocked with good produce, wonderful french wines, pates and fresh bread all at prices below what we would pay in Canada. No complaints.

It was great having a bit of a break and for a week we went for hikes, gorged ourselves on some good food, explored the old fortifications and generally relaxed doing a few odd chores around the boat. We loved it and had it not been for our committments in Antigue we would have stayed longer and taken the opportunity to explore the main part of Guadeloupe.

Time to move so we had a relaxing sail up the west side of Guadeloupe to an anchorage near Pigeon Island, now the jacques Cousteau Park so named as JC considered the diving off Pigeon Island as the best in the world. For us it was another quick stop with promises to return and take a look later at the underwater scenery. However, I am sceptikal of this being a great diving spot just from the number of tourist boats going out and the fact that we really haven’t seen and vibrant coral in snorkeling anywhere since we arrived in the Caribbean.


                                     Les Saints – colour, colour and more colour

                                              Les Saints to Pigeon Island and Des Haies

Next a short sail up to an anchorage used as a staging ground for the jump off to Antigua. The anchorage is called Des Haies. It was packed with boats, the swell kept everyone rolling for the night and by early light we were out the entrance and on our way to English Harbour.


                           Des Haies, Guadeloupe to English Harbour, Antigua

More on Antigua later. Have a great Easter

A compilation of two photos taken in Bequia at the Whaleboner Bar

Eye catching

February 13, 2017

Looking for a diversion from boat chores we headed to the mountainous interior of Trinidad for a one night break from Sage.

We chose the Asa Wright Nature Centre for Conservation. It’s focus is as a centre for bird watchers and research of indigenous bird species. The centre features a lodge with an incredible balcony overlooking the Arima Valley and the main dining area for people who are staying at the centre.

On the balcony at Asa Wright Centre

On the balcony at Asa Wright Centre

From the balcony in the early morning hours and in the late afternoon the balcony offers magnificent views of the valley and the hundreds of birds that come to the garden to feed off the plants and flowers planted to attract various bird species of which include toucans, humming birds, honey creepers, tanagiers, mannakins, bearded bell birds etc You get the picture.

There is nothing like sitting on the balcony sipping on locally grown and roasted coffee at 0600hrs as the light is increasing to see the change in species feeding at the feeding tables and insects. Slowly the sunrise reveals the valley and the bird species start to change.




One could sit on the balcony all day to watch the various bird species but heading out an a walk through the forested areas with a guide reveals so many more species but more difficult to see. The centre has miles of trains scattered through their 1500 acres of property.

Chlorophanesspiza (green honeycreeper)

Chlorophanes  spiza (green honeycreeper)

We could have spent more nights there as the accommodation was excellent. With three meals a day plus morning coffee on the balcony and a late afternoon rum punch we thought we were in the lap of luxury – which when you look at it we were!

There was one more stop before heading back for more boat chores and that was the Coroni Bird Sanctuary. Yes, another birding adventure but this time on the water. The sanctuary is primarily a series of mangrove channels with numerous open lake type areas where the main feature is the scarlet ibis.

Getting out to the scarlet ibis roosts takes one through the numerous mangrove channels where one can see dozens of egrets as well as snakes that are curled around the branches above the boats that take people out to see the ibises.

Just one portion of the many channels that make up the Coroni Sanctuary

            One portion of the many channels that make up the Coroni Sanctuary

This has to be one of the most incredible natural sights to see.  My top three natural sites are the sand dunes of the Namibian Desert, the Alaska Peninsula on a sunny day(!) and number three is the scarlet ibises.

One can go early in the morning (0430hrs) or late in the afternoon (1600-1830hrs). One has to go out by boat so we joined a boat holding about 20 people. Motoring out through the mangrove channels we stopped numerous times for different birds and snakes. Finally we arrived at a rather large expanse of open water within the mangroves and tied up to a stake placed in the water.

Just one of the snakes sleeping in the branches above the boat

                  Just one of the snakes sleeping in the branches above the boat

Initially, there were no scarlet ibises to be seen but there were a few great herons and egrets all in white standing out against the mangrove forested background. Around 1730hrs a lone scarlets ibis flew in to roost on the island in front of us. Okay, we were impressed but where were the others? Slowly individual ibises appeared increasing the population on the higher levels of the treetops.

A lone ibis

                                                                       A lone ibis

At around 1800hrs larger flocks started to appear. Coming in low over the water from the west they swooped across the waters edge, made a few turns around the island to make sure their roost was available and then started to paint the island orange.



                  Flocks of several hundred at a time would sweep across the lake

Can't compete with this equipment display. These people were also at the Asa Wright centre

Can’t compete with this equipment display. These people were also at the Asa Wright centre

Unfortunately, I didn’t have either the camera equipment nor the presence of mind to think of what was needed for photo taking at this site. I would love to return with a better idea of what is needed for photographing this natural phenomena.

By the end we were just gobsmacked at the number of scarlett ibises. I only wished we had Sage sitting in the middle of the lagoon to stay all night to see them leave in the morning. Instead we had to leave the lake before dark but as we motored back to the beginning the ibises continued to come straight toward the boat we were in as we motored along the mangrove channels.


For 20 minutes we sat in the boat watching grouping after grouping flying in for the night. Eventually the island was painted orange.

All I can say is that it’s worth coming to Trinidad just to see this natural event. And if you stay  you can attend Carnival…

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.

Ascension Island – the land of turtle porn

January 3, 2017

5 1/2 days sail from St. Helena and we find ourselves in what has to be one of the remotest islands in the world. Or, at least, it ranks with places like the Galapagos, Tristan de Cunha, the Falklands etc for being out in the middle of nowhere. 

However, like all the remote islands in the world they have been taken over by the military/industrial complex and here on Ascencion the place bristles with aerials of all sizes. It started out as a BBC world service Atlantic relay station. It still is. However, amongst the BBC aerials there are RAF and USAF antennaes all watching and listening to the world. There are in fact areas where the signs indicating it would be very dangerous to walk out in the landscape due to extremely intense HF waves! Okay so what am I doing driving along this road amidst all these wires?

I’ll backtrack a minute and just mention some incidents on our sail north to Ascencion.  First off, through a satellite phone (Inmarsat) we have onboard for receiving weather information and a few emails  we learnt of some friends, Ann and Chris, onboard Silver Girl, were about to abandon their boat due to a lost rudder. We got one message and managed to send off a reply of support. One day later our sat phone refuses to connect to the required network.  What! Yes, just at a critical moment we have lost contact with our fiends in need. It’s now almost one week later and we have no idea what has happened and if they were able to safely get onboard the ship that was heading their way to affect a rescue. 

It’s minor to say we are pissed off at our network server. This is the first time in 5 years of use that we have not been able to connect to the sat phone server. If we manage to make contact with them from Ascencion I would not like to be the person on the other end of the line.

Obviously we are very worried about our friends. We were both headed the same way and had future plans that meant spending time with them in the Caribbean and if everything worked out anchorages further along the route. We are desperate for news of their safety but may not hear anything until we make it to better served internet location. 

Other than the above the trip from St. Helena was spent changing sails, checking weather, eating, reading, sunset and bird watching and finally fishing. And yes, we were successful. Having changed my fishing line from 35kg test line to 135kg test line I now have not lost one lure and we caught one 15kg bluefin tuna!  So what do two people do with 35kg of tuna let alone 1kg? Feeling very guilty I threw over 1/2 the tuna and then we gorged ourselves on the remaining 15kgs. Tuna sashimi, tuna steaks, tuna spaghetti, tuna, tuna, tuna. I think we eached turned blue after eating it all!

Ascencion and the part you have all been waiting for – turtle porn!  Yes, it’s the season. Here away from prying eyes and hungry inhabitants the turtles are cavorting in the bay. Flippers are flying, water is flying everywhere, turtle bellies are exposed, eyes are glazed and the turtles are .ucking their way to heaven! The sea around us abounds with turtles in lust. Are they hungry? I think they have only one thing on their minds and that’s how to fertilize those eggs before the females head to shore in the evening to lay their eggs on the beaches. It’s a marathon. Essential to survival and these guys are big. Apparently there is no food soirce here for them. Instead they leave their feeding grounds 4 months prior to arrival here having had little to eat with only one thing on their minds and it ain’t food!

Of course, the turtles provide us with hours of entertainment. They are all around the boat and the bay. We sit in the cockpit and encourage them along in their endeavours with cheers of support and ablutions that keep us in a merry mood. It’s a wonderful sight and all played to a backdrop of one incredible island that combines a lunar lower elevation landscape with a towering (818metres) mountain, Green Mountain. The mountain is the source of the water for consumption of approximately 800 non-permanent residents. Although recently a desalination plant has been added and as a result at the peir the water is sold at the rate of 1GBP/40 litres. The mountain also houses the Chief Adminstrator from the UK who looks down from his kingdom on high and makes proclomations, such as the one in the mid 1990s, that segregation on the island is now finished!  Yes, folks in the 1990s.

We are here till Thursday. The anchorage is again an open roadstead and a north swell is upon us which means I have to chase the keyboard as it slides over the other side of the dining table and with my foot hold on to my cup of coffee. It’s a balancing act and we are looking forward to a smooth and peaceful anchorage somewhere along the South American coastline. It’s a long way, 2100miles to Forteleza and about 2800 to Trinidad!  It’s a long way and am sure adventures will abound – more books, more pasta, more rice and perhaps a mahi-mahi or tuna. 

Hope everyone had a great New Years and fortunes for the new year are in the offering. Just remember to share those fortunes with others!