Changed Plan

One of the important things about making long sailing trips is to be flexible about many things, including the course and destination :). Today we changed course. We were heading towards South Africa, and are now heading towards South America. This was a result of the roller-furler (device that rolls up the sails when you don’t want to use them) for the trinquette (fore-staysail) failing. There are three roller-furlers on this boat. One roller-furler failed in the Canaries and was replaced. At the time, I tried to replace all three furlers, but the supplier only had one in stock, and there were problems and delays getting them delivered to the Canaries. I was in the process of ordering two new furlers for delivery to South Africa when this one failed. Because we are currently much closer to South America than Africa, and because the sail which this furler handles is the sail used most for heavy-weather (the farther south you get into the Southern Ocean, the windier it gets), it seemed best to head for South America, rather than continuing with the original plan to South Africa. Exactly where in South America we are headed now is still under investigation. It depends on things like wind, repair facilities, parts availability and visa requirements.

The Plan

For those who have been wondering why we have been taking the route that we have, this picture shows the planned route from Cape Verde. The route is long, and indirect, as it is planned around weather systems, not the shortest distance. The idea was to cross the ITCZ (doldrums) where it was relatively narrow, get as far south as possible using the SE Tradewinds, then go south through the Variables, and then go east with the Westerlies.Getting all the south in on the western side of the South Atlantic avoids having to beat directly into the SE Tradewinds on the eastern side of the South Atlantic (which extend further south than on the western side). Avoiding the South Atlantic High was a key point to the route chosen, as inside the high, there is very little wind, so it is much faster (unless you have a lot of fuel to motor with) to sail around the high, where there are much better winds.BTW, my access to this blog while I am at sea is limited to posting updates. I am not able to see comments on the blog until I get to somewhere with an internet cafe. So if you have posted a comment, thanks very much, I will read it after reaching shore. Email to my regular (non-satellite) email address also does not get to me at sea, and will be read ashore.

Out of the Tropics

We have now sailed far enough south to no longer be in the tropics (by sailing south of 23 degrees 27 minutes south latitude). It is still hot. We left the trade winds yesterday, and are now in the variable wind belt. True to their name, the winds have been variable so far, mostly very light amd favorable.

Ilha Da Trindade

Our course took us fairly close to Ilha Da Trindade, a small island about 600 miles east of Brazil. We talked on the radio with the Brazilian Navy outpost there, and asked for permission to anchor in the lee of their island for repairs. The Brazilian Navy was very helpful, they suggested where best to anchor, and asked if we needed anything (we didn’t). We needed a place out of the waves and swell to take off the auxiliary rudder, replace its lower bearing, and reinstall the rudder. We anchored on the lee side of the island, in 10m (30feet) of water in a bay that sheltered us from the waves and from most of the swell. The job of reinstalling the rudder involves lifting up the 200lb rudder, lining up two pins and then lowering the rudder. This is much easier done when the boat is not moving, so we were very glad to have been able to do the work at Trindade island, instead of having to do it at sea.Just before dusk, we started to leave, but the anchor chain had snagged a rock and would not come up. I dove on it, and between pulling the chain and moving the boat, we were able to free the chain, raise the anchor and leave the island as the light faded.

Great Winds

We have been making 150+ mile runs in the last couple of days, which was really nice. The wind has moderated a bit today (Force 2&3 instead of 3&4), so we’ll only make 136 miles today. We continue to sail hard on the wind, into the Southeast Trade winds, which are very warm and pleasant. We’ve had some rain, but not enough to add any to the water tanks.

Across the Equator

We crossed the equator this morning at 0612 GMT, under a full moon, and are now in the South Atlantic ocean. The picture above shows the ocean at the equator, which looks just like the ocean anywhere else :). Now we need to get used to winds going clockwise around lows and counter-clockwise around highs (opposite to the northern hemisphere), and start looking for the Southern Cross (four stars that can be used to find South).