Hauled out, St Davids Harbour, Grenada. Since arriving 7 days ago we have been working steadily to get Kailani ready to be hauled out and on the hard for the impending 6 month hurricane season. The travel lift has been going non-stop with boats all getting lifted, cradled and strapped for what all hope will be a kinder hurricane season for the Caribbean. We are one mile south of the latitude acceptable by our insurance for being out of the hurricane belt. Making it into the cradle yesterday was moderately dramatic, having to be towed in with a cross breeze, a very narrow slipway with zero depth to port, a steady 15 kts from starboard. The real interesting part was the Caribbean engineering used when it was time to have the lift drive away from our cradled boat. Our radar tower stuck up about 6 inches too high for the lift to clear, so the guys piled up various pieces of wood scraps for the lift to drive up and over to clear Kailani. The lift backed up, the wood cracked, we cringed, the lift settled too low, the lift drove forward, and the process was repeated until there was a big mess of wood, but eventually the lift cleared. Now she is set, and we are putting the last bits to bed for Kailani to rest comfortably. It was a VERY short season for us, most of our time getting ready for and making passage, with the highlights of cruising being our week in St Helena and those sweet days and nights of S Atlantic sailing. We fly back to the US in 6 hours, and will enjoy summer in the northern latitudes visiting family and friends, with an ever watchful eye on the weather down here in Grenada.
DAY 28 arrived Grenanda! At anchor, St Davids Harbour, Grenada. The wind started to die off and veer last night, making it hard to maintain speed in order to make our arrival in Grenada in a timely manner (ie after sunrise, before customs and immigration quit at 1200 hours). We went wing and wing, then found ourselves in the wee hours making too fast a time at 11 kts of boat speed, so it was time to furl the jib, put in a second reef and run. Still we had to heave too, and at 0630 local we decided it was time to make our run in to shore. A very scary entrance, as this bay is simply a narrow cut between two hills, not wide, and fringed with breaking waves and reefs to windward. Under a dbl reefed main alone we inched forward through the channel, found a spot to anchor, headed up, dropped sail and anchored. As we feared, the anchor chain had castled, but we anticipated it this time and managed to get enough scope down in time. It helped that there was only about 10kts of breeze inside the harbor. We were greeted by a local cruiser who came alongside in his dinghy, having heard that we were the boat coming in without an engine, and he kindly offered to bring us ashore so we could skip the whole dinghy unraveling process and make it to clear into the country before officials were gone (they only work on Tue and half days on Thu, and if you miss check in it is a $1000 fine!). So, 5 hours later, we remembered in fact we were back to island time ... finally got checked in by immigration, but it was not a challenging wait as we were able to spend our wait at the bar/cafe relaxing and imbibing. So relieved to be here safely. This was Kailani's 2nd longest passage at 4250nm and 28 days, and our longest as a family. Kailani performed admirably, but the star of this passage was Sophia. She stepped in to help rig the spin pole, furl sails, drive the boat, and even stood a 3 hour watch every evening from 7-10pm. All of this and she even managed to do 17 days of school work! Wow. We are back in the NW hemisphere, and feel lucky and blessed to have this ocean crossing safely behind us.
DAY 27 137 nm to Grenanda. Stbd run sgl rf main and jib poled out to windward, 7.2kts at 290T. With 140 nm to go it is time o start planning our arrival. If the wind holds as forecast we should arrive just outside St David's Bay shortly after sunrise tomorrow. Without the use of our engine, however, getting to the anchorage is going to require a bit of tricky sailing. The half mile long bay itself is on the southeast part of the island and trends NNW. The channel is only about 500 feet wide and is lined with reefs on both sides. Once through the relatively short channel the bay opens slightly but with other anchored vessels, a mooring field and the ubiquitous reefs along the margins there is not much room for error. But even before we sail into this mish mash of hazards we have to get the main down outside. With no engine this means hardening up to a close reach into the 7 foot 7 second swell under the staysail alone and then letting go the main halyard and hoping the sail drops of its own weight. And finally, once we are in we have to pick a spot, bleed off our speed and drop the hook. One way or the other it is cold beers and lunch ashore. The only person that is more concerned that we are is the underwriter at Lloyds.
DAY 26 299 nm to Grenanda. Stbd run sgl rf main and staysail, 6.5kts at 285T. For the first time in more than a week we have been able to open a few hatches and get some air flowing through the boat. While it is still warm air, the movement makes all the difference. This point of sail, virtually dead down wind with a beam on swell, makes for quite a roll. We got out the travel Scrabble board yesterday and Sophia used her engineering skills (no doubt acquired from her mom, the rocket scentist) to design a system of lines strung about below so none of the players had to leave the comfort of their day bunk to stagger across and deliver the board to the next in line. Using gravity, Kailani's roll, a carbineer and a bag, when you finish your turn you simply put he board in the bag, clip the bag to the right line and send it on its way. Voila...Zip Line Scrabble. (patent pending).
DAY 25 483 nm to Grenanda. Stbd broad reach sgl rf main and staysail, 7.5kts at 300T. You know it's a long passage when you are twice passed by the same tanker. Ten days ago the Malta flagged tanker Brighteagle passed us northbound headed for Aruba. Last night she passed a mile to our starboard headed south bound for Buenos Aires. A big ocean it may be, but apparently it's not hard to encounter people you already know. We are now starting to think about slowing down so as to arrive at daybreak on Thursday but we push thoughts of landfall out or our minds for now to avoid jinxing the outcome. Speaking of jinxes, no bread was baked this morning and no problems arose. Sophia's logic course says that this is not good logic, but we are sticking with it.
DAY 24 677 nm to Grenanda. Stbd broad reach sgl rf main and jib, 8.5kts at 295T. So once again the bread goes in and ...our peaceful morning routine is rudely interrupted by the fire alarm in the engine room. It seems the impeller on the generator chewed itself to bits, the engine boiled off the coolant and burning coolant gas set off the alarm. Considering the impeller had been replaced a week ago, Jen immediately put the crew on strict electricity and water rationing since it was not clear the generator on which we depend could in fact be repaired. But after spending four hours tearing down and rebuilding the cooling system while fighting the roll and the heat...Fixed. The batteries are full, everyone has showered and the water tank is almost to capacity. Now we are trying to figure out if our penchant for fresh baked bread is some how triggering suicidal flying fish and bizarre system failures.
DAY 23 898 nm to Grenanda. Stbd broad reach sgl rf main and ataysail, 9.2kts at 290T. Early this morning the wind picked up to 25-28 kts and Kailani got to barreling along at 10-11 kts with surfs up to the mid teens. We received an email notifying us that the Volvo Ocean Race Boats were a few hundred miles behind us making speeds in the mid teens. In order not to show them up we decided to reduce sail a bit so shortly after dawn Harley and Sophia brought in the jib and flashed out the staysail to give the VOR boats a chance to catch us. After all, how humiliating would it be to have our 27 ton cruising boat crewed by three including one ten year old out run the 8 burley guys (and ladies) on their hi tech light weight race boat. Bet you they don't get fresh bread for breakfast either or a shower before going off watch. Eat your heart out VOR crews.
DAY 22 1108 nm to Grenanda. Stbd broad reach sgl rf main and jib, 8.2kts at 290T. Each morning at the tail end of his wee hour watch as the sun comes up Harley puts into the oven our daily loaf of bread to be baked. This gets the heat of the baking out of the way early and allows the off watch to awake to the the sweet, wonderful smell of fresh baked bread to be soon followed by freshly brewed coffee. This morning after sliding the loaf in and closing the oven door, all hell broke loose. A cacophony of rattling and thawcking metal erupted. Harley immediately went into captain mode thinking the boat was sinking or the oven was about to explode. After a quick inspection of the oven he determined the oven was fine and in fact the noise was coming from the nav station, the heart of all our electronics. He quickly moved to the nav station whereupon the problem became obvious. The distinct and pungent odor of fish made it clear what had happened: a flying fish had launched itself into the dorade and down into the dorade box where it proceeded in its efforts to escape to dismember itself. Those of you perhaps not familiar with a dorade, it is essentially a metal wind scoop where the wind and not the water (or fish)is routed below, and under current conditions it is the only ventilation available to us. It did not take long for the overpowering odor of dying fish to supplant the sweet smells of bread and coffee. As captain Harley was then tasked with cleaning out the remains and attempting to eradicate the odor lest we spend the remaining days on passage gagging on the smell of decaying fish. A half bottle of the French equivalent of febreeze seems to have solved the problem, although now it is as if we are sitting in a dry cleaners shop. Meanwhile surfs up, the rogue waves are keeping us honest and we are planning tomorrow's under 1,000 miles to go celebration.
DAY 21 1301 nm to Grenanda. Stbd broad reach sgl rf main and jib, 6.2kts at 285T. To mark yet another milestone, we are now further north than we have been since 2012. We have sailed almost 15,000nm in less than a year, and our hope after all this sailing was to be spending some time in the US with easy access to both Kailani and family. We are still trying to digest the changes in our cruising plans for this season being cut short, trying to look for the bright side, but morale is tough when looking at the added expense and work of it all. We will now have to leave Kailani out of the water, on the edge of the hurricane belt for 6-8 months, with expensive repairs to be done, and expensive flights to come and oversee it all. Meanwhile, on the sailing front, having added another 130nm to to this passage, we had overnight conditions much the same as the last four nights, squalls, rain, big wind shifts and increases. To add to the fun of it all last night we had two more elements to keep the adrenaline running, lightning and two unmarked ships. All the things that work like caffeine in the system to keep us awake in the wee hours. We are still under clouds, with some sun poking through every now and then to tease us. The seas are covered in sea weed, patches of which are bigger than Kailani. We might try fishing, but the extensive seaweed in the water would just mess with our tackle. Besides, it seems like everywhere so far in these last few years, the fish are few and far between as the world's oceans are overfished. Otherwise, we are working on 80% humidity, closed up down below. There is a reason that some people say blue water sailing is like prison, with the opportunity for drowning. The crazies are the ones like us who have chosen this lifestyle.
DAY 20 1483 nm to Grenanda. Stbd broad reach sgl rf main and stay sail, 7.5kts at 275T. We think we celebrated clearing the convergence zone a bit early as the sea, sky and wind look pretty much the way they did 2 days ago despite forecasts to the contrary. As noted above we are now headed to Grenada, the southern most island in the windward island chain. They have he ability to haul us out and repair the gearbox there but given the imminence of the hurricane season it is unlikely we will be able to leave and still make our east coast arrival this season. Grenada is south of the hurricane belt for insurance purposes so we will be leaving Kailani there on the hard for several months. Such are the plans of cruising sailors. All well on board.
DAY 19 1560 nm to Barbados. Stbd broad reach sgl rf main and jib, 7.1 kts at 285T. Fingers crossed, the ITCZ and its nasty weather are in our wake. The NE trades still have a lot of north in them but are expected to veer and strengthen a bit over the next few days. Meanwhile we are making good progress toward Barbados and are taking advantage of the comparatively smooth sailing to grab a little relaxation. Boat school is back in session.
DAY 18 1724 nm to Barbados. Stbd beam reach sgl rf main and jib, 8.6kts at 275T. This convergence zone still has a mighty strong hold on us, as we have battled high winds and seas for 42 hours now. We look out on the horizon and all we see is angry seas and dark skies, a seemingly impenetrable wall of dark grey standing between us and clearing this ITCZ. We have been taking a lot of seas over the deck alternating with torrential downpours. Aa such, we are all buttoned up down below, kind of a tropical sauna with an added roll and bang. We are hanging on as Kailani soldiers seemingly effortlessly through the confused seas averaging 8-9kts. Good news is we are making good DMG toward our destination, and forecast indicates that sometime before midnight we will have clear skies again.
DAY 17 1863 nm to Barbados. Stbd broad reach sgl rf main and jib, 15kts at 100T. As promised we three spent a celebratory afternoon in the cockpit soaking up the sunshine and light SE winds while enjoying cold beverages and freshly baked chocolate peppermint cookies along with a game of Scrabble. All the while we kept an eye on a line of black clouds off the bow which we hoped would mark the change to the elusive NE wind. Last night after several false starts in squalls and between the first and second bites of an omelet at supper time the long awaited wind shift occurred. In a matter of seconds the wind backed 100 degrees, the jib back winded and after wrestling Kailani back on starboard we were actually headed on course for Barbados. Unfortunately the new track put the St Paul and St Peter Rocks directly in our path. The only hazards for 1,000 miles in any direction and we had to avoid them in light winds. We rejected shooting the ten mile gap between them and trying to leave them to windward wasn't feasible as the apparent wind would have dropped to naught. So we sheeted in and pinched up and in the wee hours cleared them by almost 9 miles. All we saw was the glow of the light on St Paul. But with the hazards behind us and 1900 miles of open ocean before us we had a leisurely few hours of on course sailing as the wind began to build, albeit with a little more north in it than we would have liked. Well we may have found the north easterlies, but we were not yet out of the ITCZ. Taking advantage of the relatively smooth ride this morning we took down the Code 0 and stowed it in the hold all he while keeping a wary eye on the dark line of rain clouds off the bow. For the past two hours we have battled through 60 degree wind shifts, up to 40 kts of wind and rain so thick that the bow was virtually invisible. But we were going fast, mostly in the right direction. The wind has gone light and veered back around but there are still clouds all about and we guess that the ITCZ has not quite released its grip on Kailani. All well on board.
DAY 16 1991 nm to Barbados. Stbd beam reach sgl rf main and Code zero, 5.3kts at 015T. After a little over 4 hours of battling with the Code zero sail, we finally got it deployed late yesterday afternoon. We managed to detangle the top and bottom ends of the sail, completely unfurling the sail along the deck so that we could get to the luff and untwist it. This was a major task from the standpoint of the fact that it is a HUGE sail, with a luff much longer than Kailani's deck, and a constant worry that with so much sail area all over the deck, any puff of wind could take it all overboard. We decided to hoist it without refurling it, so much like a race crew (minus about 6 burly dudes) we hoisted the fully unfurled Code zero behind the jib while on a beam reach. Jen hauled the halyard up, Harl worked to keep the sail from flying off the deck (and to keep himself on board). Once fully hoisted, Jen ran back to the cockpit and sheeted in the clew, at which point Jen and Soph furled the jib. Done! The "whomper" as we call the Code zero, started drawing on the very light winds and Kailani was sailing along in 7kts of breeze with a speed of 4kts. Throughout the night we vigilantly chased puffs of winds associated with many squalls, keeping that Code zero full with winds from 4 to 11 kts. We crossed into the Northern Hemisphere just at sunrise, and have been sailing along sweetly since. Only problem is that here, north of the equator, we have found SE winds at 10kts. Regardless, we are pleased to have wind moving us along, and know eventually those NE trades will fill in. Meanwhile, we are making plans for a DOUBLE celebration. We are under 2000nm to go, and we crossed the equator. This marks the third time as a family we have crossed the line, and three being our favorite number, we will celebrate accordingly.
DAY 15 2047 nm to Barbados. Stbd beam reach sgl rf main and jib, 3.8kts at 318T. After motor sailing for 20 hours starting yesterday afternoon, 8-10 kts of wind filled in this morning so we decided to shut the main down in order to give her a rest and check the oil/etc. Unfortunately, upon restart, the transmission was stuffed, clutch is gone. No go forward, which equals no go, and not fixable until we can next haul out. So, here we are in the doldrums, about 60nm south of the equator, with little to no wind. But we are a sailboat, we have been through worse, and we will eke our way through this. Light air sailing requires us to deploy our Code zero sail again. We have been working on the deck for an hour or so trying to deploy the Code zero sail, but the equatorial heat and sun being what it is, we have had to take a break for some lunch and shade. We have a bit of a problem with the Code zero. When last furled up a week or so ago, it did not get furled tightly enough and so the top half of the sail came unfurled in a squall at night, hourglassed, and generally mucked up the whole self furling system. Basically, the top of the sail is partly deployed and furled one way, whereas the bottom is furled up the opposite, and tightly. At the time Harl managed to single-handedly drop the sail and get it all on deck without any complications, and when the sun rose on that day we felt victorious just to get the whole mess of a sail back in the bag and stowed below in the locker, to be sorted out while next peacefully at anchor. Except now we need that sail, with winds to be between 2-8kts for the next few days. So it is back up top to work it all out. On the positive note, our slower progression toward the northern hemisphere means Harl has the potential to pass by the St Peter and St Paul rocks during the daylight hours, a famous navigational landmark used by sailors of old, and often talked about in the fabulous Aubrey Maturin book series.
DAY 14 2201 nm to Barbados. Stbd wing and wing DDW sgl rf main and poled out jib, 6.0kts at 318T. We've benefited from squalls starting early this morning which gave us both favorable wind of 18-20 kts from behind, as well as a cooling and cleansing boat rinse. We are on the edge of the doldrums now, and will make a more direct northward route to cross them. As long as the wind can fill the sails we will eke out the miles, and will likely gybe the jib after lunch, sailing a reach as the wind backs to the E / NE as we gradually make north. Meanwhile, we prevailed in the battle of the birds last night. Counting on their "bird brains", once the slightly waxing moon set, we sailed in complete darkness - ie no running lights, and all instruments lights covered, minimal lights down below. We had really light winds from midnight to dawn, making us a real sitting target, yet no birds found there way to us! Vicimus!
DAY 13 2300 nm to Barbados. Stbd wing and wing DDW sgl rf main and poled out jib, 6.0kts at 318T. The bird battles continued last night, with renewed intensity by both sides. The birds increased their numbers and expanded their roosts, lining up on the spinnaker pole and atop of the kayaks, in addition to their previously claimed perches of the bimini, dodger, etc. Harl resorted to physically yanking some off the the boat by their tails, flinging them back into the water. To no avail, really, as they were stubborn and loud in their intent to maintain rest aboard Kailani. While we are not opposed to birds in general, they can do a fair amount of damage with their acid like droppings, especially on our solar panels. At this point we just hope that tonight there is not encroachment to our down below. Meanwhile, we continue with light winds, and at this point it seems we will hit the doldrums tomorrow some time, when we will cease to sail and have to motor. This section, also referred to the ITCZ, is where the southern hemisphere SE trades collide with the northern hemisphere NE trades, typically resulting in confused and light winds, and sometimes squalls. Its forecast location and span varies daily, but at this point it appears our transit under motor will be somewhere between 400 and 700nm.
DAY 12 2415 nm to Barbados. Stbd wing and wing DDW sgl rf main and poled out jib, 5.0kts at 335T. Well, our love affair with the stargazing was rudely interrupted last night when some sea birds decided Kailani would make a good overnight roost. We had noticed a few days ago one or two black birds coming by, checking out our fishing tackle. They must have been scouts, because last night we had 20-30 birds settle on our bimini, dodger, radar, wind generator, outboards, and even the boom! Harley battled them valiantly, sweeping the boat hook under their feet to attempt to encourage displacement. But they were persistent, and all one could hear was a cacophony of cackling accompanied by pitter patter sounds as their feet moved back and forth to adjust to the movement of the boat. As aforementioned, it made for a less than peaceful watch keeping while sitting up in the cockpit, and was equally ironic due to the fact that Harley was attempting to watch the movie "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest". Hah!
DAY 11 2525 nm to Barbados. Stbd wing and wing DDW sgl rf main and poled out jib, 7.0kts at 300T. We are absolutely loving these fabled "fair winds and following seas" ... such rarefied conditions, allowing us to make our best 24 hour DMG so far on this passage. The clear trade wind conditions are also allowing for some spectacular star gazing at night as we bid farewell to the southern hemisphere constellations that have been with us for so long. Meanwhile, our website has been updated to include our summary of impressions and adventures in St Helena. Pictures will have to wait until Barbados where we hope internet will be improved. St Helena is a truly unique and isolated destination, and highlights for us were whale sharks, vertical ascents, rich history, and of course the warmth of the local "Saints". Check it out at www.LaughterJourney.com Travels page. Thx A.
DAY 10 2654 nm to Barbados. Stbd wing and wing DDW sgl rf main and poled out jib, 6.3kts at 296T. Loving making some miles. A slight waning in the wind in the wee hours made us a little worried, but the sun came up and the wind is strengthened to a steady 12-14kts. Culinary highlight today are some homemade frozen fruit popsicles in the cockpit. Still no fish...
DAY 9 2782 nm to Barbados. Stbd wing and wing DDW sgl rf main and poled out jib, 5.8kts at 297T. Beautiful light wind sailing last night, and we took delight in the stars, even though on one tack we had the Southern Cross off our port bow, and the other tack had the Bid Dipper off our port bow. Since our destination is to the NW, this meant that our 5 kts of boat speed gave us very little DMG, less than 15 nm in 12 hours. But it was still sweet sailing with beautiful skies to keep us company. This morning we have had a slight increase in winds, more or less steadily 10-12kts (as opposed to 6-8kts all night) so we decided it was enough to fill our sails under a wing and wing configuration. So now we are moving along with 100% of our speed going toward VMG. Yeah! Forecast looks optimistic for these settled trades above 10kts so we are optimistic. Any way it shakes out, we are enjoying the warm tropical sailing the likes of which we have not had for years.
DAY 8 2852 nm to Barbados. Stbd beam reach sgl rf main and jib, 4.3kts at 346T. Another gorgeous day, hot and very little wind. We "chased" comfort for the last 24 hours, foregoing VMG, instead sailing a beam reach to make for a more comfortable ride in these light winds. Winds have been between 2 and 10 kts, with our VMG lingering in the 2-4kt range. From the latest weather reports, the doldrums are about 800nm further from here, so we need to save our diesel for then. So, as long as we can fill our sails we quietly ghost along, making the most of our floating tropical island by spending much more time in the cockpit playing card and board games, making smoothies with our quickly ripening mangoes, and downing heaps of sun tea.
DAY 7 2913 nm to Barbados. Port beam reach sgl rf main and jib, 5.5kts at 258T. Gorgeous weather here in the light trade winds. Celebration today for going under 3000nm to go - mango lassie and fresh baked cinnamon rolls for the crew! Meanwhile, found out some of our posts have not gone through, specifically at least Day 5, which had more intel about that flare we saw a few nights back. First let us say, it was a green flare. While we know red flares are the sign of distress, we still reacted as if it was a distress signal simply because, what if? What if, they had old flares, and what if, old flares lose their "red" over time? Go easy on us, it was the middle of the night... What if, it was some type of explosion causing a green projectile? Mostly, we were clear, there was someone out here, sending up a signal. For what, that was the ultimate question. We put an inquiry into our resources at home, and they came back with something that confirmed a thought Harley had from his old Coast Guard exam days- it was a flare issued by a submarine. A submarine!? Hmmm ... yes indeed "A green flare is used under training exercise conditions to indicate a torpedo has been fired or simulated to have been fired." Well, that makes it the SECOND time in our sailing history when we have been the target of a military exercise. Truly, what are the odds? Sort of like the odds of the fact that both times we crossed the Indian Ocean we hit a whale?
DAY 6 3044 nm to Barbados. Sailing port broad reach, Jib only, 6.5kts at 279T. Wind settled in at a more steady 15-20kts last night so we doused the Code zero and deployed the jib. Running with the single headsail in heavier seas we have the washing machine motion, but increased VMG. Today we are passing Ascension Isl to our north 170nm, which could have been a stop on this long passage if not for the fact that it is an open roadstead anchorage and reports are there have been many shark attacks lately, and all the beaches are closed. As such, it is nothing but open blue for the next few thousand miles. Planning to celebrate turning over 3000 nm to go with something culinary this afternoon.
DAY 4 3302 nm to Barbados. Sailing stbd broad reach, Code Zero 5.8kt at 298T. Just easing our way along, non eventful and peaceful sailing out here in the S Atlantic. As we approach the equator it is getting noticeably hotter, and our plans for a swim in the big pool are emerging. But for now, we cruise along, fishing, eating fresh baked bread, and enjoying our mangoes from St Helena which are coming ripe.
DAY 3 3418 nm to Barbados. Sailing stbd broad reach, Code Zero 4.8kt at 295T. Yesterday afternoon the wind filled in to 8kts from the SSE, allowing us to go back to Code zero sailing. Sophia took advantage of the relatively rare moonless, cloudless and gentle conditions to spend the first part of the night watch stargazing with Jen on the fore deck. As often as we are out under this canopy of stars we are still in awe. Had some activity at 0300 when we sighted a flare on the horizon off our starboard bow. We gybed over to head toward it, hailed on radios, and kept a keen watch for the next hours but never saw any other signal. Tough going to sleep thinking possibly someone is out here needing help, but we've done all we can. For now we are back to trade wind conditions, fresh chocolate cake is coming out of the oven, and fishing gear goes in after lunch.
DAY 2 3533 nm to Barbados. Motorsailing at 8.5kt 290T, no sails. We tried and we tried to sail last night, and at 0400 this morning we finally had to succumb to motor as the 5kts of wind was having us flog our code zero and our 1kt speed was less than inspiring at the start of this long passage. We did take on 300L of diesel in St Helena at a pretty penny (pence?) so we have a bit more range, but knowing that we must cross the doldrums where motoring is a necessity, we need to be conservative on fuel. So we start this passage much how we arrived in St Helena, with an encroaching H pressure system from the south dissipating all the SE trade winds away, and us crossing fingers that the wind fills in as forecast this evening. We passed "Mount Bonaparte" in the wee hours, a sea mount named after St Helena's most famous former resident in exile. Aptly named, it is a massive sea mount, its uppermost area larger than St Helena, but relatively "short" we may say, coming up only to a depth of 350ft. Hah! The things we entertain ourselves with while sailing along at 1.2kts under a starlit sea here in the S Atlantic!
DAY 1 3645 nm to Barbados. We dropped our mooring at 1000 and sailed over to a sea mount to check out the whale sharks. We had one swim directly from stbd to port under our bow about 10ft below the surface - very cool! With that we felt our visit to St Helena was complete and by 1200 local we deployed our code zero and shut down the engine, starting day 1 of many more to come on this, our longest leg to crossing the Atlantic. All well on board.
On mooring, James Bay, St Helena. Arrived late afternoon and tied up to a mooring buoy by sundown, helped by our friends from SY Carpe Diem. On the way in along this very impressive rock of an island, we saw a whale shark and tons of fish and sea life. Very excited about the possibility of swimming with the whale sharks while here! For now, it is dinner, some beer and early to bed. All well on board!
50 nm to St Helena. 8.4 kts at 315T, motoring - no sails. Just noticed that the last 2 noon reports had position errors with E as opposed to W longitude - sorry about that! A decided "LAND HO!" was called out by Sophia on one of her morning deck checks, as the massive rock of St Helena is visible 60nm away on a calm day. We were able to enjoy a delightful 4 hours of sailing under Code 0 last night, ghosting along at 4 kts in an 6-8kt breeze. The moon almost full, constellations and planets all around, the sea calmly passing by, it made for a perfect last night of passage. Our gift of wind was short and sweet, then it was back to the motor. With that we anticipate landfall by sundown. Beers are chilling down in the fridge!
230 nm to St Helena. 7.6 kts at 315T, motoring - no sails. Yesterday afternoon we rigged the Code 0 (light air sail), preparing for the wind to decrease. We pulled in the jib and lowered the main, and sailed along nicely as the wind kept dropping and dropping. While we had hoped for enough wind - we need about 8 kts steady - to keep going, the wind went to ZERO, as in ZERO, at 2100 local, so we had to start motoring. The forecast is literally for zero wind for the next 3 days, so we chose to not be becalmed. Anyone who has been becalmed knows - while the ocean is gorgeous, deep blue, calm, not a ripple on the surface, there is a steady up down from the ever-present ocean swell. That makes it anything but calm, as the boat will roll from gunnel to gunnel, tough on gear, tough on crew. So here we are, 14 hours into motoring, hoping for a little steady wind again to deploy our sail. For now, the fishing tackle is deployed, hatches are open, and we are enjoying the tropical calm, accompanied by the steady roar of our main engine.
390 nm to St Helena. 7.0 kts at 315T, stbd beam reach, sgl reefed main plus jib. Gorgeous day here in the S Atlantic, following a mostly uneventful nightwatch. For the first time in 5 nights we had no major squalls and wind shifts, and we could see the stars. Good to see our friend the Southern Cross again. We are enjoying true trade wind conditions and everyone, especially the crew, are quite pleased. We three took an extended deck walk this morning and lingered for about 30 minutes enjoying the gentle motion, flying fish, sunshine, blue blue seas. After lunch we plan to put the fishing line in to see what's up below the surface. Crossing fingers this wind holds for a bit more.
527 nm to St Helena. 9.0 kts at 302T, stbd beam reach, sgl reefed main plus jib. Yay - this morning we took down the pole and gybed to a beam reach, ending over 60 hours of wing and wing sailing which was a bit exhausting. The motion down below is back to a steady uneven keel allowing us some latitude to relax and begin some chores. We did some gardening, shopping, sewing, and are about to do some baking. Sound domesticated enough? For you landlubbers, our "gardening" consists of checking all of our fruit and veg that is stowed throughout the boat, triaging that which must be discarded, that which must be eaten right away, then moving some into the fridge as space allows. "Shopping" means going into our various deep food storage lazarettes and refilling our easy access lazarettes with staples. "Sewing" is the beginning of make and mends - whip finishing some lines, and repairing some clothing items not yet ready for the bin. Two hours from now marks 7 full days of sailing so far on this passage - while we have sailed 1434nm , only 1177nm of it has been DMG. In 50nm we will cross over into the Western Hemisphere for the first time in 6 years. Definitely cause for celebration, which we will squeeze in between some much needed afternoon napping.
688 nm to St Helena. 6.1 kts at 302T, port dead down wind, sgl reefed main plus poled out jib. Lots of overnight squalls again, shifting and altering wind strength throughout. We are sailing as aggressively as we can as it looks like we will be becalmed in 2 days. Because we need to save our diesel for the remaining legs across the Atlantic we will not be motoring. Lots of make and mend days ahead for us!
852 nm to St Helena. 8.4 kts at 311T, port dead down wind, sgl reefed main plus poled out jib. An hour before sunset last night we decided to rig wing-and-wing with a poled out jib, trying to sail more directly toward St Helena. The wind has been light and backing, then veering, and then backing again. We chased the wind to maximize VMG which put us on a course passing directly over the Valdivia banks during the night hours, when we registered the seabed at 300ft below us. Light winds meant even the confused seas could not cause problems for us (thankfully!). Feeling warm and tropical we are running with the hatches open and giving the down below a bit of a freshening. We may even split a beer at lunch time to reward ourselves for the fairly tiring short-handed deck work involved with gybing wing and wing. Sophia has been busy playing chess (against herself) and we are all feeling more well rested and into the passage-making routine. Good thing, since although this morning marks the half way point, the light wind forecast means our last half of the miles will be slower.
1017 nm to St Helena. 7.5 kts at 354T, stbd broad reach, sgl reefed main plus staysail. The fresh water rinses have continued as have the continued 20-25 kt winds. We stayed on port tack for as long as we could, it being the favorable one, but at 0530 this morning local we gybed over since we were no longer making good vmg. As the wind has backed to more SE / ESE the seas are confused, with SW swell colliding at the most inconvenient times with the changing wind waves. Pretty much the washing machine motion down below. Once the wind goes steadily below 20kts we plan to rig DDW, but until then we are satisfied with sailing almost due north. In a bit over 100 nm north from here on our current rhumbline we will cross the Valdivia banks, containing sea mounts that rise to a depth of 120 ft from over 16,500 ft deep. Depending on the wind and current state when we are near there we may have to maneuver appropriately to avoid passing nearby as freak waves are not something we wish to deal with. Of course, at this point we will be transiting that spot in the ocean in the wee hours of total darkness, so no, we will not be throwing a lure out (no doubt much to the disappointment of our fishing friend enthusiasts in NZ)!
1180 nm to St Helena. 10.0 kts at 284T, port broad reach, sgl reefed main plus staysail. Yesterday afternoon it was so lovely and calm with no real seas, meaning Kailani was sailing along at 4 kts in an 8kt breeze. More comfortable than our berth in Simon's Town with the constant gale force winds! We took advantage of the calm to actually spend some time out on the deck, and Jen even lounged a bit atop a sail bag soaking up the sunshine and beautiful view of 360 blue. (hi M&A) That hasn't happened in a few years of sailing! As the sun set, dark clouds on the western horizon spelled change, and the weather turned to squalls last night. We sailed hard in 25-30kts of wind and got a good rinse on the boat from the rain. Nice to have the fresh water rinse after the water restrictions in S Africa made it difficult to clean topsides. Good for the topsides, tiring for the crew. All resting for now, and once the off watch is up we will gybe to get more VMG toward St Helena. All well on board. PS Happy Birthday MOM/Grandma in San Diego!
1350 nm to St Helena. 6.0 kts at 277T, port close reach, sgl reefed main plus jib. Sure is peaceful out here in the Atlantic. We entered solid cloud cover last night, and since then the wind has varied from 8 to 20 kts. We are just sailing what we get, sometimes really slowly, sometimes at a nice even 9kts. Only a single ship in the last 24 hours, we have likely cleared most traffic. All well on board.
1512 nm to St Helena. 8.3 kts at 300T, port broad reach, sgl reefed main plus jib. We cleared Cape Town harbor at 1500 local time yesterday afternoon, and began the first night of our Atlantic Ocean crossing. Winds were 20-25kts out of the S once they settled in, so Kailani clipped along nicely with the wind just aft of the port beam. The night sailing was tiring as we encountered many fishing boats which we had to maneuver around. The most challenging were the Chinese, whose tactic seemed to be to wait until they had an approaching yacht, then turn on their lights/AIS, giving us just barely enough time to alter sail plan to weave between a seeming pop-up game of ships appearing one after the other. Trying to confirm their course and speed, and whether they were actively fishing, was aggravated by the fact that none of them would answer their VHF. One group appeared to be fishing around a "mother ship" who was stationary, and we barely cleared this ship, who used his VHF to scream "sea anchor! sea anchor! sea anchor!" at us. We are tired and resting up this morning, and after lunch will get Kailani optimized for the wind which is backing more to the SE and weakening. For now it looks like we may be clear of the fishing shoals. All well on board.
1700 nm to St Helena. Throwing off the dock lines here at the V&A Waterfront, and once we clear the two bridges that need to be raised, we are ocean bound for St Helena. All well on board.
The best laid plan is the antithesis of ocean sailing. We made good time around the Cape of Good Hope under sail before the wind died off completely. When we began to motor sail the seal on the prop shaft began to leak and at anything over 2000 rpm (about 5 kts in boat speed) the leak went from a drip to an open faucet. This gave us no option but to limp into Cape Town Harbour where we are now alongside at the VA Marina. We have determined the problem is in a rubber damping disc in between the shaft and the gearbox but it cannot be safely fixed with Kailani in the water. So tomorrow at the crack of dawn we motor over to the Royal Cape Yacht Club where there is a slip way big enough to take Kailani. She will haul in the morning and hopefully go back in late afternoon with the problem sorted. Unfortunately with a big 1033mb high coming through on Thursday our departure will be delayed until the weekend. This further delay means that Namibia is off since we are running out of time if we are going to be north of the northern hemisphere hurricane zone by late May.
On the dock, False Bay Yacht Club, Simon's Town, South Africa. We have been here 3 weeks - prepping Kailani and waiting for the wind to calm down so we can make it around the Cape of Good Hope. After almost steady 30s gusting to 40s for 3 weeks, we have calm to the point of no wind. Sailors, are we ever happy with the wind?! We hoped to leave earlier this week, then we thought we could leave yesterday, and then thought again for today. Tonight we have decided we will motor out around tomorrow morning and maybe anchor up on the west side of Africa to wait for some wind for our passage up to Namibia. We got up this morning thinking we would be throwing off the dock lines by noon. So up early we went for a walk to see the penguins one more time, and we were greeted by a peloton of bikers. Although we had heard there was a planned road closure due to "the race" we had not quite sorted it out that it was the "Tour de Cap" or Cape Town Cycle Tour, the largest timed cycle race in the world. Over 40,000 riders took part, and we learned cyclists come from all over the world to participate. Wow. Turns out the only wind we had today was the "whoosh" we felt whilst standing as spectators when a peloton of riders zoomed past. Impressive! We have met many delightful people here in Simon's Town, and accomplished great refit work on Kailani both by ourselves and the vendors here. We leave with 3 working autopilots, new running rigging, repaired sails, a host of electrical and hydraulic repairs, and happy hearts. As ever, we have been inspired by the the many sorts of folks that have crossed our gunwales while here, as well as with the spirit of the Africans we have met about town. To read about our adventures in Cape Town, down to Cape Point, visits with penguins, etc, see our website www.LaughterJourney.com.
We will send an update once we are at sea and have started our first leg of many to cross the Atlantic.