Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Summary... South Africa to Tobago

Summary South Africa to Tobago/Trinidad

WOW… so much to note!

The sea states, the different skies, clear versus cloud “shadows”, the “noise” of the wake and waves (always worse than its bite!). 

The beautiful phosphoresence at nite off the side wash and wake, the dark shadows of winged “passengers” who join us for a free ride, the Rock’in and Roll’in and keeping balance in turbulent seas…

The glowing lights and looms on the horizon of passing ships (why don’t they have AIS and show on the Radar?)…

Keeping the batteries charged (a constant challenge with power steering, fridges/freezers, radar etc) ...

Running (?!) to close all hatches as the rain starts…

Some TRX exercises on calm nites, Jen on the SSB trying to grab the grib files for weather, watching the sea temperature creep up and up, as do the sea miles (thousands of them)…

Aternating engines on still nites to keep us moving…

Thinking ahead to the next day – what to bake?, to eat?, and when to catch up on shuteye, what to read (never read so fast or so many novels at once). 

The watch crossovers…

The milestones – Equator/GMT/Mid-Ocean Swims/Best Mileage Days…

The sail changes (midnight in 25 knots…. Bring it on!)…

Brainstorming Boat improvements – helm seat, sail sheet configurations etc etc...

Enjoying “Chinese laundry” days…

The fish watching (Dolphins, Yellowfin Tuna, Flying Fish) and Fish catching – Skip Back Tuna, El Dorado – losing fish (7 lures, just “gone”!)…

Watching Movies and TV series (over 300 to chose from)  PUMPING the Tunes on the amazing Fusion Stereo…

Planning ahead for repairs – smashed in side window, busted pulleys and snapped halyards…

The art of Water-Making – an “Essential” luxury to keep us in some sort of normality and comfort…

Taking in stunning sunrises and sunsets, following shooting stars across star filled night skies…

Dreaming of Rum Cocktails or a Ice Cold Beer at the next port of call ( a “dry” passage is a safe passage!)…

The realization any pre-passage fears are gone and replaced with enjoyment of each days activities – Living in each moment of the trip!

Some Statistics:
Slowest Day            98 Nautical Miles
Fastest Day             200 Nautical Miles
Average Day            135 Nautical Miles

Fastest Speed            17.2 knots
Average Speed            5.6 knots

Water Used (on average)            300 litres per day

Sea Temperature Cape Town            17 Degrees Celcius
Sea Temperature just before Equator            30 Degrees Celcius

Total Mileage (Mykenos South Africa to Tobago)            5400 Nautical Miles

Biggest “Luxuries”
*The winner by far is… Water!!! Twice (or more daily) Showers, Washing Machine, Clean Boat etc etc.
*Music – huge thank you to Roddy from NZ & Phil from SA for being so generous and helping us with such a wonderful selection
*Movies – huge thank you to Phil from SA – what an amazing selection!
*Sound System – Fusion with Sub-woofers is awesome
*Freezers – Icecream, Iced Coffees etc what more could you ask for?
*And obviously a beautiful luxurious catamaran home “Our Rose”.
*Screecher – thank you to Johan & Marlene for advising us to order a screecher – we would have been much slower and lost without it! And also for all your advise and suggestions along our journey in building our Luxurious Home!

Fernando de Noronha to Tobago...

Sunday 28th April we cleared out – the reverse of clearing in – they again all came to us to the office at the top of the pier.  At 1100 we motored away – very light winds, so we sailed/motored for the first few days, counting down to the Equator.

Wednesday 1 May, we crossed the Equator – celebrated with masks and hats (Mark gave us) a bottle of champagne (Marks girlfriend Tracy had given us) which was a real treat as we have a “dry” boat when we are at sea.   We switched charts from South Atlantic to North Atlantic Ocean.

Clocks back another hour.

Sunday 05/05 – lots of rain!

Monday 06/05 – Richard discovered frayed main halyard… Mark attached harness and up the mast he went.  Yes, it was serious – he cut it and rejoined it, however this was not to last and our main halyard snapped – now no Main!

We were heading to Isle de Salut (Devils Island), best known from the Novel and Movie Papillon.  However, we decided that due to wind shifts, our diesel diminishing and the broken Main Halyard, coupled with the Broken Window that it was best if we make a change of plan and head straight for Tobago – things need fixing.

Tuesday 07/05 – Found Screecher halyard was also fraying – immediately changed it and using Spinnaker Halyard.

Thursday 09/05 – Clocks back another hour.

Sunday 12/05 we arrive in Tobago... Our first Bluewater Crossing complete!

Saint Helena to Fernando de Noronha

Saturday 13th April, leave Saint Helena.

Back into the rhythm at sea.  We eat “really” well – baked bread, homemade sausage rolls, muffins, cakes, pies, thai curries, pastas etc etc.  With two freezers and two fridges we are able to carry a lot of fresh/frozen goods.  EVEN icecream – what a luxury at sea!

No wind for the first few days.  We stopped motoring midday Sunday serviced the generator, then went for another swim.  Motored again, then finally Monday we were sailing again – screecher up!

22nd April – clocks back another hour.  At night we have 6 Brown Noddies (birds) who hitch a ride.  They arrive about 2100 and leave about 0600 the next morning.

25th April – a school of dolphins come to say “Hi”

Friday 26th April – we arrive Fernando De Noronha – an island off Brazil (yahoo we are in South American waters).  We did not have a courtesy country flag, so I drew one with watercolor pencils, which we lamenated and flew, along with our “Q” quarantine flag.  As we neared, we begun radioing port control – no response…  we then motored around the moored local boats to see where we could anchor – quite a swell there – some local tour operators were helpful when we yelled out to them.  We found a good spot and anchored.  We still had no response from port control, so decided to take all our documents and go ashore.  We lowered the tender, put on the outboard (for the first time since leaving) and headed ashore.  Port control was at the end of the pier.  We found the reason we had no response on the radio was due to the fact that no one spoke English.  Our clearing in experience though was delightful – Port control, Customs, Immigration all came to us at the small (airconditioned – thank goodness over 30 degrees) office.  They brought “google translate” up on their computer so that we could communicate – Portugese to English.

It is a Eco Status Island and Reserve.  We had to pay USD$110 per day just to anchor and go ashore.  Needless to say, we were only there for 2 nights.

Richard went for a dive with local operators.  The island is for tourists, predominantly from Brazil – I loved how they were all so very confident with themselves – all shapes and sizes in “G-String/Thong” Bikinis (Richard and Marks eyes were neally popping out of their heads) and Men in very skimpy “speedo” style.  I am very sorry to say we didn’t get any photos as we had left our cameras onboard, then the day we cleared out it was raining.

Sunday, 19 May 2013

Saint Helena

The first experience of “Clearing In”… obviously vastly different from air travel! Flying our “Q” quarantine flag, and the courtesy Saint Helena Country flag, (and of course our NZ flag) we arrived at Saint Helena - we were notified by Port Control to pick up mooring number 15.  We were then told to wait and Customs would come to us.  Shortly afterward, two people arrived via passenger ferry, we filled in forms and were then given permission to go ashore, where we were required to go to Port Office and pay fees, then to Immigration which was at the Police station, where we filled in more forms and had our passports stamped – we were then free to explore Saint Helena.

The people of Saint Helena are incredibly friendly… everyone acknowledges you when you walk past them – a big smile, a wave or a “Hi”.  We had a late lunch with a very welcome cold beer.  Later in the afternoon, we were walking up a hill when we came across a lady carrying her groceries… I asked her if she needed a hand – this was how we met “Mildred”, a delightful 82 year old, with a twinkle in her eye – she had been to meet friends for drinkies and was on her way home.  She was thrilled to be given the our arms to steady her and we all carried her groceries.  When we arrived at the entrance to her home, there were 48 very steep stairs – Mildred negotiates these every time she goes out – this is probably why she was still so agile!  Use it or lose it!  

She insisted we meet her the next day, which we did.  We ended up back at Mildred home Friday for late afternoon drinkies – what a lovely interlude.

Richard and Mark walked up (and down) Jacobs Ladder – 699 steps (900metres)

Friday we hired a car ($20 for the day) and explored the island.  It was where Napoleon died, therefore we went to see Napoleons grave (though he was exhumed and taken back to France some time ago). 

We looked through his house he was exiled to before his death. 

We went and met Jonathan, 182 year old Tortoise, who lives at the Govenors residence.

The roads were incredibly steep, with very varied scenery (lush to baren).  We couldn’t believe how many NZ Flax bushes were here – actually more concentrated than anywhere we had ever seen.

Flax - covers as far as the eye can see!
Friday morning, before heading off in the car, we cleared out again.  As they are closed on the weekends, you clear out on Friday, then leave when you are ready before Monday.  The reverse of clearing in – Immigration (police station), then port control, then customs.

Saturday 0630 we watched Saint Helena and the very friendly hospitable people fade into the distance.

First Leg at Sea – South Africa to Saint Helena...

We immediately got into the rhythm our new life, which consisted of shifts.  We do 4 hourly shifts during the day from 0600 and 3 hourly shifts at night beginning at 1800.

First day out, we caught our first fish – a tuna – delicious Sashimi!

The weather to begin was lovely, turning to rain and thunder on the morning of day 3.  We were cruising along nicely.
Day 4, I was on midnight to 0300am shift, we were on a beam reach and the wind was getting up to 30 (ish) knots, we were sailing along beautifully.  About 2 hours into the shift, there was a big “bang” noise, I came inside to try and see what it was, and Mark came up from his cabin and he was drenched – the large Port Aft window has cracked – it had completely opened up, let in a huge amount of water and then closed up again.  This was incredibly scary!  

We had to make immediate repairs, Mark and Richard used epoxy, glue, putty (everything we had available) to try to close up and secure the window.  

The decision now was, what to do???  We were so close to the gentle trade winds – do we carry on, or do we turn around and try to head for Namibia for repairs.  We had been sailing away and north when we left SA, therefore we would experience the seas again associated with leaving a coastal region.  We ended up deciding the safest was to continue to the trade winds.

Friday 05/04, first time change – clocks back 1 hour.

Monday 08/04, stopped in the Atlantic for a swim – AWESOME!

Tuesday 09/04, Eleven and a half days after leaving South Africa we arrived at Saint Helena

Our Rose Blessing...

Finally the time was right to “Bless” Our Rose.  It is our second to last night (Tues 26th March at 18.30 at Mykenos in South Africa), before leaving on our passage.

We had asked our Darling Friend Chris from New Zealand to write some words for us, which we added/changed.  We had a bottle of our favourite champagne and with Hannah Robinson in our minds and hearts, we share our blessing with you.

TANGAROA, God of the Sea, We ask your blessing upon this gift to us, Our Rose.

We give thanks for her, for her beauty and for the joy she will bring to all who sail with her

Protect her, as she sails forth from here in to excitement, adventure and the unknown.

Watch over those who will be cradled in her arms, surround them with your protection and safe guard them on their journeys.


Saturday, 18 May 2013

Clearing Out...

After a massive week of having all of the final things fixed on Our Rose, Provisioning for two months or more, saying goodbyes, we finally had come to the day where we would be “Clearing Out”.   Our goal was to be heading away by mid/late morning.  We walked to V & A Waterfront Marina Office, where we needed a letter confirming we were paid up and leaving the marina (which is required by customs), we then walked 10 minutes to port area to Immigration, we filled in forms and they finally stamped our passports.  It was then off to Customs a walk of 15 minutes into city centre.  We queued and when our turn came we thought we had all the documents, however we had not been told we would require a “Export” document, a document that needed to be supplied from Rudi (boatbuilder), via a Clearing Agent – OH NO.  So, on the phone to Rudi – to cut a very long story short, urgency was put onto this piece of paper and we finally received it at 4.00PM.  We speed walked back to V & A Waterfront, onto Our Rose and we were finally ready to leave…

Alan the newest Nexus owner, and Roger of Nexus Catamarans came to :”Throw off the bowlines" – so that we could "sail away from the safe harbour, catch the trade winds in our sails”… and they waved us off…

We sailed overnight and arrived at Langebaan at 03:00am where we stayed for two nights, doing final provisioning. 

We finally left South Africa, Six Months after arriving on Thursday 28 March, at 17:00, the wind was forecast for a southerly to help push us away from the coast – here begins our First Crossing…