Monthly Archives: January 2017

South Africa to the Caribbean – day 12

Our position at 10.00 (09.00 GMT)Tuesday 31st January
18 36S
002 47W
We have 230 miles to go to St Helena and our 24 hour run from 10.00 yesterday to 10.00 this morning was 125 miles, a bit better.

The wind finally died completely yesterday and the engine went on at 1.00pm and was on for the rest of the day and all night. The air temperature is a lot warmer now and the sea temperature is back up to 25.8C which we need for when we get to St Helena because friends ahead of us have reported whale sharks are swimming around the mooring field. I might get to swim with a whale shark hopefully. They are harmless by the way and only eat sea morsels. We saw one in the Maldives but it was quite a way away and there were so many tourists you couldn’t get near it

I was out of bread yesterday and the bakers was closed so I made bread. I also made some flapjacks so they will last us until we arrive. Last night I made bangers, mash and beans with an egg on top. Now you may be thinking that doesn’t sound very special but we are talking really nice pork sausages (haven’t been able to get pork for a while) and proper Heinz baked beans not own brand rubbish. I found 4 tins in a supermarket, they are coveted by cruisers.

A tiny moon came out last night after the most amazing sunset. The sunrise this morning was beautiful too. Must be getting near land.

Amazing sunrise

Amazing sunrise

So the journey continues. These blogs go through to our facebook page but remember we can’t see facebook or your kind comments but thank you for them, I look forward to reading them when we arrive. If you wish to contact us on passage please use mdqf6 @ sailmail.com (but take the gaps out) I love to hear from you. xx

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South Africa to the Caribbean – Day 11 back in the western hemishere

Our position at 10.00 (09.00 GMT)Monday 30th January
19 59S
001 10 WEST
We have 354 miles to go to St Helena and our 24 hour run from 10.00 yesterday to 10.00 this morning was an even worse 110 miles.

Our big news is that at 3.15 yesterday afternoon we crossed the Greenwich meridian line and are now in the western hemisphere. The last time we crossed from east to west was in 2008 on our way back to the Solent from The Netherlands. The other side of the world we crossed from west to east the first time in 2010 with the Blue Water rally and then crisscrossed it a couple of times in 2012, which was our last time in the wonderful country of Fiji. We’ll stay in the western hemisphere for a few years and won’t cross back to the eastern side until we are back in the English channel possibly heading to Norway….but knows when that will be.

East of the meridian

East of the meridian

 

 

 

 

 

 

Seconds after crossing the meridian

Seconds after crossing the meridian

Camomile crossing the line

Camomile crossing the line

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The wind finally died yesterday at 5.30pm and we started motoring. Luckily the wind picked up again at 1.30 in the morning and Bill put the sails out and started sailing again. We passed our three quarters of the way last night.
This morning our speed is anything from 3 1/2 to 6kts as the wind comes and goes.

I gave the Indian takeaway a go last night with chicken in Massaman sauce with basmati rice and Bill ordered a nan bread – how lucky is he. I am too because I had a glass of wine with mine to celebrate the crossing of the meridian.

One of a number of fabulous sunsets

One of a number of fabulous sunsets

I drank it at dusk watching the sun go down and light up the sky with a magnificent golden hue. Later, as it was the dark moon night, the stars were simply stunning with planets and galaxies visible without the ambient light of the land. I know I don’t like passage making but we are privileged to see some of the most amazing sights.

Enjoy your Monday …. and yes he did have a shave he was looking too shaggy!

So the journey continues. These blogs go through to our facebook page but remember we can’t see facebook or your kind comments but thank you for them, I look forward to reading them when we arrive. If you wish to contact us on passage please use mdqf6 @ sailmail.com (but take the gaps out) I love to hear from you. xx

South Africa to the Caribbean – Day 10

Our position at 10.00 (09.00 GMT)Sunday 29th January
21 06S
000 20E still
We have 462 miles to go to St Helena and our 24 hour run from 10.00 yesterday to 10.00 this morning was a painful 112 miles.

Oh godddddd are we nearly there yet? No and you’re not allowed to say that!

We’ve spent a very frustrating 24 hours watching our speed gradually drop with the wind. When we left Cape Columbine 9 days ago the GPS was giving our arrival for the 30th, but that was after our really fast first day, then it dropped to the 31st. A couple of days ago it started saying the 1st and this morning it’s saying the 2nd. So who knows. Our speeds have gone from 5kts to 4kts to 3kt with the wind now F2. At 9pm it dropped completely and we had to put the engine on but with almost 500 miles still to go we didn’t want to start motoring yet. Fortunately at 2am the wind picked up enough for Bill to unfurl the gennies and get the boat sailing again. The south east trade wind is directly behind us and the main and genny would be difficult so we are pleased to have the twizzle rig. This morning we were ghosting along in 8-10kts of true wind and still managing to get 4kts but it was very up and down.

Last night I decided to order a takeaway from Suzy Wong’s Chinese restaurant and we had stir fried beef in black bean sauce with noodles and very nice it was too.

This mornings deliberation is should Bill have a shave or not? he’s looking very shaggy.

Enjoy your Sunday.

So the journey continues. These blogs go through to our facebook page but remember we can’t see facebook or your kind comments but thank you for them, I look forward to reading them when we arrive. If you wish to contact us on passage please use mdqf6 @ sailmail.com (but take the gaps out) I love to hear from you. xx

South Africa to the Caribbean – day 9. Back in the Tropics

Our position at 10.00 (09.00 GMT)Saturday 28th January
22 19S
001 49E
We have 572 miles to go to St Helena and our 24 hour run from 10.00 yesterday to 10.00 this morning was 140 miles.

The wind has dropped over the last 24 hours giving us a F3 all day yesterday. It also backed further and we now have true south east trade winds. The main sail wasn’t happy yesterday. Firstly we jibed it onto the other tack but it was still flapping so we took it down completely just before sunset. This enabled us to put more of the gennies out and we were soon racing along at 6.4 kts again. Our overall speed has dropped by a knot or two overnight and this morning we were down to 4kts. There was also a shower of rain which gave the decks a nice wash off but it also sucked away the wind. I was on watch and the speed went down to 2.7 kts, I was within minutes of putting the engine on but I gave it 10 minutes to see what would happen. Gradually the wind picked back up again and after half an hour we were back to 5kts.

Norsa and Solstice checked into the the net this morning and are doing well and Antaras might leave Nimibia this afternoon. I’m going to change the net once we get to St Helena because 4036 isn’t suitable for the boats further away. We are using 8110 still and also 8164 has a good reception.

Our fresh supplies are gradually going. I ate the last nectarine yesterday and the last of the mango with my breakfast this morning. I still have 3 peppers, 8 carrots, 4 onions, 2 mushrooms, some potatoes, 6 tomatoes, half a cucumber and a lettuce leaf left – it’s a big lettuce leaf. There’s also some apples, a lemon and 3 bananas in the fruit bowl so we won’t get scurvy. I cooked tagliatelli carbonara last night with bacon and mushrooms, yum.

At midnight last night we entered 23 degrees south which is the tropic of Capricorn,maybe now it will warm up a bit but an email from my sister says it’s -5C in England so maybe it’s not so bad here.

So the journey continues. These blogs go through to our facebook page but remember we can’t see facebook or your kind comments but thank you for them, I look forward to reading them when we arrive. If you wish to contact us on passage please use mdqf6 @ sailmail.com (but take the gaps out) I love to hear from you. xx

South Africa to the Caribbean – day 8

Our position at 10.00 (09.00 GMT)Thursday 26th January
23 51S
003 42E
We have 711 miles to go to St Helena and our 24 hour run from 10.00 yesterday to 10.00 this morning was 158 miles.

I have to start off today’s report with an apology to my nephew. We were not 120 miles from Tristan da Cunha but 1200 miles! How many spotted my mistake? I could lie and say I left a zero off but I didn’t. I miscalculated on the latitude scale on the side of the chart – and I’m supposed to be the navigator. It’s a miracle to me how we got this far. Any way I’m sorry Tristan, Auntie Susan is madder than a hairy egg – but then you already knew that!

Nothing new with the sailing, our F4 has continued for 24 hours now. We still have 2 reefs in the main and the genies are adjusted in or out depending on the seas. Sometimes the sea builds up to 2 meters in gusts of 20 – 22kts and then later will go down again. It still makes sleeping difficult as the boat is rolling quite a bit. I spoke to our friends on Norsa and Solstice on the net yesterday morning as they had just left Cape Town to join us in St Helena. I spoke to them again this morning and they were all doing well.

Big excitement at 6.30 yesterday evening as we crossed our half way point to St Helena, which also means we have completed an eighth of our total journey. I celebrated with a glass of wine with our spaghetti bolognese. Normally we never drink on passage but as it’s so quiet out here and no ships have been sighted I thought it would be ok. Our angels must have been watching because shortly after that a ship hove onto the horizon to remind us not to be complacent.

So the journey continues. These blogs go through to our facebook page but remember we can’t see facebook or your kind comments but thank you for them, I look forward to reading them when we arrive. If you wish to contact us on passage please use mdqf6 @ sailmail.com (but take the gaps out) I love to hear from you. xx

South Africa to the Caribbean – day 7

Our position at 10.00 (09.00 GMT)Thursday 26th January
25 22S
006 01E
We have 866 miles to go to St Helena and our 24 hour run from 10.00 yesterday to 10.00 this morning was 151 miles.

Another good 24 hours of sailing. During the morning the wind dropped to F3 so Bill put more of the gennies out to catch the wind and take our speed back up to 6 – 7kts. The wind veered a bit in the afternoon to a more southerly direction which brought the wind more forward onto the beam that can enable the wind to ‘flick’ behind the genny, a real no no because the poles don’t like that. This is fixed by reefing in which in turn would reduce our speed again. By mid afternoon Bill decided we needed to take in the gennies, raise the main with 2 reefs in it, and bring out the reefed gennies again. He says it adds extra sail area and the three sails together stabalise the boat and we kept our speed at 7kts. The wind increased slightly after dark and remained at F4 during the night. We’ve been a bit slack keeping watch lately because there hasn’t been any ships sighted but last night we were a bit more vigilant as we crossed the Valdivia bank where there are allegedly lots of fishing vessels but we didn’t see any. The Valdivia bank has several sea mounts on it where the sea bed rises up from 5000 meters to 23 meters on the shallowest point and 115 meters and 163 meters at two other places and was right on our route. We picked a course through the middle and crossed the bank in roughly the position of 25 41S 006 26E and didn’t see any shallow water for the cruisers following along behind us.
Despite the fact we are getting closer to the equator and the tropic of Capricorn it isn’t getting any warmer. I woke this morning to 100% cloud cover. The computer is still playing up. Although it’s working slowly it regularly decides to shut down with the error message ‘thread stuck in the device driver’. Anyone got any ideas?
Last night for those that are interested I made a delicious sweet and sour pork stir fry and the evening before (I forgot it in my last report) we had chicken fillets in breadcrumbs with potatoes, carrots and the last of the brocoli, still served in a bowl.
Finally for my nephew Tristan we are currently just over 120 miles from your island in the Tristan da Cunha group but this is the closest we’ll be and won’t be able to visit it. Thought you might be interested. 🙂

So the journey continues. These blogs go through to our facebook page but remember we can’t see facebook or your kind comments but thank you for them, I look forward to reading them when we arrive. If you wish to contact us on passage please use mdqf6 @ sailmail.com (but take the gaps out) I love to hear from you. xx

South Africa to the Caribbean – day 6

Our position at 10.00 (09.00 GMT)Wednesday 25th January
27 12S
007 51E
We have 1012 miles to go to St Helena and our 24 hour run from 10.00 yesterday to 10.00 this morning was 160 miles.

We have been able to keep sailing for the last 24 hours. During the day the wind remained at F4 but we kept the reefs in the sails as the forecast predicted the wind to pick up again in the afternoon. At about 4pm the wind started blowing 18 to 20kts, which was F5 again, and backing more SSE. We were flying along at 7.4kts. By sunset it went more SE and was now coming from dead downwind, so we needed to put the twizzle back up. (I’ve had people asking again what the twizzle is. If you take a look at the technical pages on the website there’s an article that Bill wrote on the twizzle but basically we fly 2 gennies on a twin foil which are attached by poles to the ‘twizzle link’ that Bill invented. It’s independent of the mast and is supported on an uphaul. It looks like a butterfly and gives us our speed when we are sailing downwind.) The process is turn engine on, take gennies in, prepare poles ready for deployment, turn into wind and take main down, turn back out of the wind and deploy poles on the gennies, turn engine off, reset course and trim the sails. Unfortunately the stronger winds had brought the sea up and the boat was pitching about on the sea making it difficult for Bill on deck. It gives me an enormous sense of impending doom when he’s working on the deck and I’m running through my mind what I would do if he went over the side all the time he’s out there. It took us about 45 minutes to get it rigged correctly with Bill precariously perched on the deck raising poles etc while I pull in all the bits of ‘string’. The wind dropped about 10pm but unfortunately the sea was about 2 to 3 metres and we had a very rolly night and didn’t get a lot of sleep. There was great excitement this morning that the ‘miles to go’ log is about to become less than 1000. Amazingly that’s the distance of a trip across the Biscay from Cornwall to La Coruna in Spain and back!

There was a panic yesterday afternoon because Bill’s computer crashed. My computer is already in the UK waiting to be mended and my old computer isn’t capable of running airmail or the Iridium system, our main means of communication. Bill managed to get it running again but it’s very slow. We’ll have to nurse it to St Helena and see if anyone can take a look at it there. Meanwhile I managed to write this blog on it.

No milestones, no ships, no wildlife so that’s your lot for today!

So the journey continues. I hope these blogs are going through to our facebook page but remember we can’t see facebook or your kind comments. If you wish to contact us please use mdqf6 @ sailmail.com (but take the gaps out) I love to hear from you. xx

South Africa to the Caribbean – day 5. Chasing the last meridian

Our position at 10.00 (09.00 GMT)Tuesday 24th January
28 52S
009 55E
We have 1166 miles to go to St Helena and our 24 hour run from 10.00 yesterday to 10.00 this morning was 162 miles.

The day started with 4 hours of motoring which gave us a chance to run the watermaker and charge the batteries while we waited for the wind to pick up. By midday the main was back up. At 2pm the genny was out and finally the engine went off as the wind picked up to a F4 beam reach. Bill downloaded a forecast and the wind was predicted to pick up overnight so we put a reef in the main and rolled away some of the genny before sunset. By 10pm the wind picked up to F5 but still on the beam giving us back our speed of 7 – 8kts. The sea has been remarkably calm for the amount of wind we have but the old rogue waves still knock us sideways now and again. It certainly isn’t the champagne sipping conditions I was promised!!
Bill put a second reef in at 5am this morning when a squall came over giving us a bit of drizzle and slightly stronger winds but it dropped back to F4 once the sun came out. I cooked a nice chilli for dinner last night.

We haven’t seen any ships for the last 24 hours.

We’ve passed a couple of milestones in the last 24 hours. Firstly, St Helena is a quarter of the way to Florida and yesterday we passed our quarter of the way to St Helena.

Secondly, we have passed 013E and the last time we went through that meridian was in Denmark, the year before we left on our travels. The definition of sailing around the world is to pass over every meridian and the equator so that means we have now sailed around the world – all we need to do now is join up the two ends. How good is that?

So the journey continues. I hope these blogs are going through to our facebook page but remember we can’t see facebook or your kind comments. If you wish to contact us please use mdqf6 @ sailmail.com (but take the gaps out) I love to hear from you. xx

South Africa to the Caribbean – day 4

Our position at 10.00 (09.00 GMT)Monday 23rd January
30 30S
012 27E
We have 1326 miles to go to St Helena and our 24 hour run from 10.00 yesterday to 10.00 this morning was 141 miles.

We’ve had a good 24 hours but our speed has slowed down. We managed to catch up on sleep yesterday and I spent the day writing while Bill was reading and studying weather forecasts. The wind was forecast to back to a more southerly direction so we made a bit more westing south of the rhumb line and rigged the twizzle ready for the following winds that were predicted for later that day. We are eating well, we always eat like kings at the beginning of a passage. I had salmon and avocado pitta bread for lunch and lamb shank (pre cooked) potatoes and broccoli for dinner. The sea is a bit warmer now at 22C which in turn has warmed the air up and I didn’t put quite so many layers on for my night watch. One ship passed us last night quite close.

The wind continued at F4 for the rest of the day but by 22.00 it had dropped to F3 and at 4am Bill decided to take the main down, change course and fly the twizzle. I was not amused because I let him have a good 5 hour sleep before waking him at 1am and I only got just over 2 hours. As he needs to go up on deck to set the twizzle and I have to do the cockpit work we both have to be up. The twizzle was set for about 6 hours but the wind continued to drop and our speed halved from yesterday to 4kts +/-. Eventually at 10.00 when our speed dropped to 2.7kts we gave up and put the engine on. I don’t mind being patient for a while but we’ve got a lot of miles to do and I don’t want to be out here for weeks.

So the journey continues. I hope these blogs are going through to our facebook page but remember we can’t see facebook or your kind comments. If you wish to contact us please use mdqf6 @ sailmail.com (but take the gaps out) I love to hear from you. xx

South Africa to Caribbean – day 2 & 3

Day 2

The sand dunes of the west African coast

The sand dunes of the west African coast

Having gone to bed surrounded by fishing boats, the next morning they had all gone. By 8.15 we left the anchorage. There wasn’t any wind so we had to motor. There are quite a few lobster pots on this coast so to the cruisers behind us, be careful. The fishermen were moving between them.
The feature of the day was wildlife. We saw lots of seals and birds, several pods of dolphins but the real treat was whales and a lot of them. Sometimes it was just a water spout but we had several breach right by the boat, which I wasn’t happy about, with the full tail display. Whales are something we haven’t seen a lot of so it was a real treat. Of course as soon as I got the camera out they disappeared.
This was our second day sail and the anchorage in St Helena bay around from cape Columbine was our goal. As we were rounding the cape the wind piped up and we managed an hour of sailing. Unfortunately the wind kept building and by the time we got to the anchorage we had 30kts over the decks. There’s a fishing harbour in the bay and we anchored on the north side of the break water for shelter. The waypoint was 32 44.37S
018 01.06E
There was quite a good signal so I was able to have a nice chat with Thomas and pick up our messages. Once we leave the anchorage there will be no more facebook or internet for a while. The wind continued to blow most of the night and the forecast for continuing north wasn’t good. We had traveled 57 miles.
Day 3
By the morning the wind had gone but the forecast wasn’t good for our 3 day passage to Nimibia. We listened to cape town radio. Firstly they were giving fog warnings for the area we would be traveling through plus Bill had noted that by the end of our journey there would be strong winds blowing off the Nimibia coast. We spent several hours trying to decide what to do. Eventually we decided that we would miss Nimibia and go straight to St Helena. It was a shame but we didn’t want to continue north that day and we didn’t have the time to sit and wait in the anchorage for the weather to improve. The forecast might change again, they often do, but the decision was made and we motored back out around the cape towards St Helena. Once I put our waypoint in it gave us a distance of 1645 miles to go. ARRRGGGG.
Within an hour the sails were up and we were making speeds of 7 and 8kts over the ground with a beam reach in a F4 SSW wind. By 4pm the wind was up to F5 and Bill decided to put a reef in the main and pull in some of the genny but we were still cracking along at 8 to 8 1/2kts, at least a knot or so of this was current in our favour but the sea was very lumpy. For the cruisers behind us the area between the 200m and 300m contour lines had Indian ocean style ‘washing machine’ waves and our beautiful clean and salt free decks were soon bathed in sea water coming right across the decks. All hatches were closed, even the little cockpit one that we leave open for ventilation. As the sea was still only 15.2C, it was making the wind cold.

My lovely Giraffe socks - thank you Hailey

My lovely Giraffe socks – thank you Hailey

That evening to do my night watch I had on 3 top layers and 2 bottom layers plus my UGG boots, hat and mittens! The wind picked up to F6 by 9pm so neither of us got much sleep with the boat being throw around by the wind, sea and our speed. We choose not to put another reef in because the forcast showed the wind was going to die down in the early hours so we decided to stick it out. By 2am the wind started to drop and by 6am it was back to F4 and we both took it in turns to get a bit of sleep.
At 10.00 this morning our position was 31 20.6S 014 58.9E with 1459 miles to go to St Helena. In 24 hours we had traveled 186 miles, an average of 7.75 an hour, this is a new record for us beating our top speed in the Pacific ocean in 2010.
So the journey continues. I hope these blogs are going through to our facebook page but remember we can’t see facebook or your kind comments. If you wish to contact us please use mdqf6 @ sailmail.com (but take the gaps out) I love to hear from you. xx

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