Posted by: catamarantwooceans | February 5, 2010

Rolling across the south Atlantic to Brazil

23.1.10 – Saturday – We delayed our departures for the want of onions. Yesterday after all the food shopping, we still did not have enough of those. Robert, who took us from the “Star” supermarket to the dock, promised to bring some at 0900-0915. Promises, promises! The man was not there.

We went out with light wind from behind and Zulu hoisted the ballooner, that’s the Amel version of a drifter.                 He has two on board and this time he chose the newer, heavier one. The wind was shifty, less than 10 knots and the sails were collapsing and inflating time and again. After a while the ballooner connection to the top of the mast broke (it is being held there by a special plastic part and not by the halyard. This enables both sails to furl together) and fell into the water.

the special plastic part

We fished it out and pondered the options. Zulu had only one spare part left and it was decided to use the older, lighter ballooner. This was promptly hoisted and we were on our way again, alas – about 25 to 30 degrees off the desired course, due to the wind direction. Night fell. After dinner I went out to roll in the fishing line. It felt as if there was something light on the line and surprisingly we took out a strange fish, looking like a stretched barracuda, 96 cm long with a narrow tubular scale-less body.  The picture is bad but you get the idea.

strange fish

Jinks broken? Time will tell.

24.1.10 – Sunday – We made only 119 miles in the last 24 hours. Passing 07 degrees 30 minutes west we adjusted our local time to U.T.C minus 1 hour. Winds a little stronger so we hope for better mileage.

25.1.10 – Monday – 131 miles in 24 hours, still disappointing, we were planning on 150 a day. In the afternoon, frustrated by the light winds, Zulu decides to replace the normal jib with the other ballooner (heavier of the two on board, but lighter than the jib). This entails taking the flying ballooner and the jib down, hoisting the “new” ballooner and then the “old”, light one. Easy to write but difficult to execute. Sheets got entangled, the plastic part that has to connect the ballooner to the top of the mast did not do the job and in trying the sail got stuck on a deck fitting and was cut, about 15 cm long tear that Zulu quickly repaired, using sticking tape.  We had to admit defeat and hold the sail up by the halyard. Now, if we need to reef, we will have to take this sail down.

Compensation for the hard work was a fish that was caught – a nice tuna type (albacore?). Zulu filleted it, removing the skin expertly. “I watched the fish cleaners  at the fish market in the Maldives and learned” he says. The fish yields four meals for the three of us as well as great sashimi for first course. Dinner is grilled pork chops with ice cream for dessert.

26.1.10 – Tuesday – Only 111 miles in the last 24 hours! When are we going to reach Salvador? A tranquil day goes slowly by. A ship passes astern demonstrating to us that we are not alone in the world. I pass the time reading “The Girl who Played with fire” by Stieg Larsson, the second in his trilogy of action mysteries. Great read!                                         Dinner is Thai Satay Tuna with rice.

27.1.10  – Wednesday – 130 miles for the day, an improvement. A ship passes in the afternoon and calls us on VHF. They saw a small blip on radar at 5 miles, that’s what we are in this enormous ocean, a blip. The watch officer thought we were brave crossing the ocean in such a small boat. He should have seen some of the other yachts that do it!

28.1.10 – Thursday – 150 miles in the last day, much better! At 1000, just after laundry was finished, the generator quit while powering the watermaker. Zulu went into the engine room, looked at the Onan genset, supposedly the best there is and found out that a circuit breaker protecting the electrical producing component tripped. He reset it but whenever we tried to operate the set it tripped again. This was not something we could fix ourselves. The meaning of an inoperative generator was we will have to rely on the main engine for batteries charging and that we lost the 220 V needed to operate the watermaker. We now had some 450 liters on board, about 15 per day for each of us and will have to exercise restraint using water. Cut down on showers, wash dishes in sea water etc.

29.1.10 – Friday – 140 miles in the last 24 hours. The trade-winds are blowing gently, making for a relaxed, if not a fast, ride. Sailing across an ocean or any other long passage, requires one to adopt a certain mind-set; Do not expect any highlights, routine is the name of the game. During the day you have meals, you read, rest, stand watches and sleep. You observe the distance to go on the plotter, at a certain moment starting to compute your ETA. Sounds boring? Maybe it is, just a bit, but you get immersed in it and it’s all right.

30.1.10 – Saturday – Morning brings more wind. Zulu decides to take down the light ballooner and open the mizzen. The ride becomes faster. Last 24 hours gave 152 miles.

31.1.10 – Sunday – 166 miles as of yesterday, an average of almost 7 knots. 816 miles to go. If we go on like this, we will reach Salvador on Friday in the afternoon. Clock adjusted to UTC minus 2.

1.2.10 – Monday – 168 miles done. In the afternoon we hoist the light ballooner. The going is good. At 2220 Miri wakes me up: “Come on deck, the ballooner split up!” Zulu is already there and we take the sail down, fishing the upper third of it out of the water and dumping it all into a sail bag. It is one of the original sails on the boat, made in 2001 and having a lot of mileage. Still, the wind was only 14 knots true and about 8 apparent and the boat’s manual allows it to be used up to 20 before reefing.

2.2.10 – Tuesday – Morning rain. 157.5 miles ahead. Forecast is for a 17 knots easterlies for the next few days but what we get initially is only miserable 5 knots and we have to motor. Afternoon is better with 12-15 knots from the southeast. Good sailing. As evening fall, the wind goes aft and we revert to the Twins configuration.

3.2.10 – Wednesday – Night took the wind away and brought rain instead. Only at 0440 the wind is back and the Twins open up. At 1000 UTC we are 342.5 miles from Salvador, 148 miles in the last 24 hours. The last plastic part holding the ballooner up breaks and the sail falls down. Again, I might add. We hoist it up again holding it in place with a halyard. Now we cannot furl it and have to take it down when the wind goes over 18 knots. It goes down, it goes up, tangles hopelessly, taken down and straightened and then up yet again.

4.2.10 – Thursday – The wind stays constant, more or less, and we make good progress during the day. A Brazilian Navy ship calls us on VHF for identification around 150 miles off shore. 151 miles in the last 24 hours. During dinner we toast the passing of the 100 miles to destination.

5.2.10 – Friday – Good wind all night. Just after sunrise the coast of Brazil became visible on the horizon.We go around the Santo antonio lighthouse, the first one ever in South America, to enter Bahia de Todos Santos where Salvador is situated.

Santo antonio

At 1100 local time (we had to move the clock another hour backwards) 1400 UTC, after sailing for 14 days and four hours, we dropped our anchor in front of the Bahia Marina, waiting for the marineros to guide us in.

1915 nautical miles covered at an average speed of 5.63 knots, 135 miles a day.

This was a relatively easy crossing, no storms or bad seas, but still a long voyage. All together from Capetown we traveled about 3700 miles. The boat performed beautifully, she is fast, comfortable and well built. The only complaint I have is the ever present rolling of the monohull. Even in relatively flat sea it would suddenly roll up to 20 degrees each side and slowly come back upright. I got spoiled sailing a catamaran…

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