We made it!
Exactly 51 days after leaving Cape Town, Oroboro has arrived in Ilha Grande, Brazil. Crossing the South Atlantic ocean has been an incredible experience that we will treasure for the rest of our lives. Here is an excerpt from our old style Ship Log Book.
Cape Town to Luderitz, Namibia
Date: Saturday 12/15/2018 Noon position: Cape Town Sail of choice: Main and Genoa Wind and Sea conditions: Wind from SW to SSW, 17/25 kts. Waves 2.5 meters.
Captain’s log – Stardate 58,467:
Oroboro left the V&A Waterfront at 13:30. We spent 3 months in South Africa preparing the boat for the crossing. We are confident that she will take us to Brazil safely.
When I called the Port Control over the VHF on channel 16 asking permission to leave the harbor for one last time, I communicated our navigation plans and thanked them for the warm hospitality in South Africa. They replied: “We were happy to have you here, Oroboro”. Very nice of them!
Lots of dolphins accompanied Oroboro past Robben Island jumping and swimming off the bow. We sailed fast at 8/9 knots, sometimes even 10, with two reefs in the Main and full Genoa. Water temp 16C°.
Date: Sunday 12/16/2018 Noon position: 31° 40’S / 017° 06’E 24 Hour Run (DMG): 160 NM Sail of choice: Parasailor Wind and Sea conditions: Wind S, SSW, SSE 18/23 kts. Waves 2.5 meters.
Captain’s log – Stardate 58,468:
The first night at sea was beautiful. We had beautiful starring sky. In the am, we caught the first fish on Oroboro: a stunning Yellow Tail almost 1 meter long, weighting about 5kg. Sushi for lunch! Oroboro sails nicely, the Parasailor is very steady and doesn’t need to much attention. The ocean is of a green color and the sea water temp is 17C. I spotted a big shark.
Date: Monday 12/17/2018 Noon position: 29° 18’S / 015° 55’E 24 Hour Run (DMG): 123 NM Sail of choice: Parasailor Wind and Sea conditions: Very light wind from N, NW.
Captain’s log – Stardate 58,469:
We crossed the border with Namibia! Glassy sea, with little or no wind. After motoring for 15 hours, around dinner time we decided to heave-to and wait for the wind to come back. We were close to diamond mining rigs and they call us on the VHF to ask why we stopped there. The swell was too uncomfortable, so after dinner we started the engine again and kept motoring along.
Date: Tuesday 12/18/2018 Noon position: 27° 17’S / 015° 13’E 24 Hour Run (DMG): 114 NM Sail of choice: Asymmetric Wind and Sea conditions: Light wind from NW, NE, SW. Waves 1 meters.
Captain’s log – Stardate 58,470:
Ware sailing again! We spotted a big whale passing by very close. We can see the infamous Namibian coast. Arrived in Luderitz at 20:45! Lots of seals welcoming us. We are so stoked to be here and tomorrow we’re going to visit Kolmanskop, the diamond ghost town! I have been there many time in my dreams during the last year and a half! It’s time to go there for real now!
Luderitz to Hottentot Bay, Namibia
Date: Friday 12/21/2018 Noon position: 26° 37’S / 015° 08’E Sail of choice: Parasailor Wind and Sea conditions: Wind shifting from ESE to SSE, 26/35 kts. Waves 1.0 meters.
Captain’s log – Stardate 58,473:
Sailing some 5nm off the coast. We saw 2 ship wrecks along the infamous Skeleton Coast. Dropped the anchor in Hottentot Bay under 35 kts of wind. Scope 10 to 1! Glad we upgraded to an oversized 35Kg Spade anchor. Next morning we woke up with no wind at all, surrounded by 300 meters tall sand dunes all around. We put the dinghy in the water and went on land. Spectacular environment! Shot some videos with the drone. Never seen such a landscape before in my life!
Hottentot Bay to Spencer Bay, Namibia
Date: Saturday 12/22/2018 Noon position: 26° 08’S / 014° 57’E Sail of choice: Parasailor Wind and Sea conditions: Wind shifting from SE to ESE, 20/24 kts. Waves 2 meters.
Captain’s log – Stardate 58,474:
We dropped the anchor in Spencer Bay in 5.2 meters. Hauling wind 30+ knots. Good holding, the oversize Spade anchor is fantastic. We saw lots of birds on Mercury Island, but the house looked empty. Would have loved to visit the place, but there was no way we could get there by dinghy with that swell. So we decided to move on.
Spencer Bay to Walvis Bay, Namibia
Date: Sunday 12/23/2018 Noon position: 25° 16’S / 014° 38’E Sail of choice: Parasailor Wind and Sea conditions: Wind from S, 15/24 kts. Waves 2.2 meters.
Captain’s log – Stardate 58,475:
The Parasailor is up, we had a very pleasant sailing until the wind increased to 20+ knots. Bringing down the Parasailor in that kind of wind was hard. Made a note to myself to be more careful next time and bring it down earlier. Another note to myself: We should get rid of the 2 to 1 spinnaker halyard system once we get to Walvis Bay and go back to the original 1 to 1. Having a 2:1 for the spinnaker when I have electric winches doesn’t make any sense. Beginner mistake.
Date: Monday 12/24/2018 Noon position: 22° 52’S / 014° 27’E 24 Hour Run (DMG): 151 Distance To Go: 28 NM Sail of choice: Parasailor Wind and Sea conditions: Wind from SSE, 12/22 kts. Waves 2.2 meters.
Captain’s log – Stardate 58,476:
Think fog along the coast. Glad I hard wired my radar, which is now working flawlessly. We anchored in Walvis in front of the Yacht Club in 3.5 meters of water. Lots of seals. A huge one climbed on board. And a big pelican landed on the helm station roof. What a nice welcome committee! We had a great Christmas dinner! Walvis Bay is very different from Luderitz, but we like it. Some very good restaurants, lots of flamingos in the lagoon. We are very keen on climbing Dune #7 and visit Swakopmund!
[photogrid ids=”1533,1532,1459″ captions=”yes” columns=”two” fullwidth=”yes” ]
Walvis Bay, Namibia To St Helena
Date: Tuesday 01/01/2019 Noon position: 21° 50’S / 011° 22’E Distance To Go: 1,210 NM Sail of choice: Main and Genoa Wind and Sea conditions: Wind SSW 19/23 kts. SW swell on the beam. Waves 2.5 meters.
Captain’s log – Stardate 58,484:
We left Walvis Bay and started sailing fast on beam reach, with a reef in the Main. Namibia is a beautiful country, we only managed to scratch the surface. We would have loved to rent a Jeep and drive all the way to the Petrified forest. But unfortunately we just didn’t have the time.
When we left the SW swell made the ride really uncomfortable and Yuka fell seasick. Really seasick.
Date: Wednesday 01/02/2019 Noon position: 20° 58’S / 008° 26’E 24 Hour Run (DMG): 182 NM Distance To Go: 1,028 NM Sail of choice: Main and Genoa Wind and Sea conditions: Wind S to SW 21/23 kts. SW swell on the beam. Waves 2.5 meters.
Captain’s log – Stardate 58,485:
Very dark night. Uncomfortable swell. In the afternoon, finally the sailing become more comfortable, still 1 reef in the Main and full Genoa. Yuka is still sea sick. We sailed 182 nautical miles in 24 hours. This is quite something for such a small boat.
Date: Thursday 01/03/2019 Noon position: 20° 03’S / 005° 45’E 24 Hour Run (DMG): 171 NM Distance To Go: 858NM Sail of choice: Parasailor then reefed Main and Genoa Wind and Sea conditions: Wind SE to SSE 14/24 kts. Waves 2.5 meters.
Captain’s log – Stardate 58,486:
Parasailor up! Totally different sailing, much more “civilized”. Finally in deep blue waters, we can start running the water maker. Our Spectra water maker is capable of making 65 liters an hour of fresh good tasting water and consuming very little electricity. It’s now time for a 26 liters “long” hot shower. We are having a beautiful sail. During the night, the wind increased to 27 kts true, shifting from SE to SW. We brought down the Parasailor, and sailed with white sails. 2 reefs in the Main, 1 ½ in the Genoa. Oroboro sails safely in rough conditions. Yuka is still seasick poor girl. We try to keep a course as close as possible to 301M.
Date: Friday 01/04/2019 Noon position: 19° 11’S / 003° 10’E 24 Hour Run (DMG): 163NM Distance To Go: 697 NM Sail of choice: Deeply reefed Main and Genoa, then Parasailor Wind and Sea conditions: Wind SE to SSE 18/25 kts. Waves 2.5 meters.
Captain’s log – Stardate 58,487:
I still can’t sleep well at night, it’s as if my mind is constantly scanning every little noise of the boat trying to decipher it. The wind increased to 28 knots at night from SSW. We double reefed the main at 2 am. Then the wind shifted to SSE. Now we have the wrong sail combo. It’s unsafe to change sail plan before daylight. In the morning Yuka has finally got over her sea sickness. Life on board is good. A lot of reading, when not on watch. Sea temp is now 22C! What a change from the 16C of Cape Town.
Date: Saturday 01/05/2019 Noon position: 18° 30’S / 001° 18’E 24 Hour Run (DMG): 155NM Distance To Go: 542 NM Sail of choice: Parasailor then Main and Genoa Wind and Sea conditions: Wind SSE 16/22 kts. Waves 1.5 meters.
Captain’s log – Stardate 58,488:
Oroboro is sailing smoothly, we are half way to St Helena. Finally good winds, 13 knots TWS, very steady. The Parasailor’s up, we are doing 6.5 knots SOG. We can keep the course. Nightfall dilemma: should we keep the Parasailor up? Winds now are 14 to 21 knots. What if a squall comes? There is no moon, so it’s hard to spot a squall. We decide to keep it up. The squalls luckily were short lived. Oroboro is surfing nicely, just as smooth as an airplane. Winds 16 to 22 knots, SSE. Course 303M. First night I don’t have to wake up for a reason or another.
Date: Sunday 01/06/2019 Noon position: 17° 30’S / 001° 11’E 24 Hour Run (DMG): 114 NM Distance To Go: 428 NM Sail of choice: Main and Genoa, wing on wing Wind and Sea conditions: Wind SE to ESE 10/12 kts. Waves 1.0 meters.
Captain’s log – Stardate 58,489:
Unfortunately the Spinnaker Guiding Block broke (the shackle bent and the pin broke), and we had to take it down in a hurry because the halyard had started to chafe. Had I not noticed during my customary end-of-watch inspection, almost certainly the halyard would have chafed and the spinnaker would have fallen into the water at night. The good thing is that Oroboro sails surprisingly well wing on wing.
Date: Monday 01/07/2019 Noon position: 16° 33’S / 003° 35’W 24 Hour Run (DMG): 156 NM Distance To Go: 273 NM Sail of choice: Main with 1 reef and Genoa, wing on wing Wind and Sea conditions: Wind ESE 13/18 kts. Waves 1.0 meters.
Captain’s log – Stardate 58,490:
We crossed the Prime Meridian. Beautiful trade winds sailing, starry night, pleasantly warm. Venus and Jupiter bright on our stern, the Greater Bear to starboard, the Southern Cross to port. Changed local time to UTC. Great sailing, we’ve done no course adjustment in 24 hours. Finally in the steady SSE trade winds! 150nm in 24 hours, stress free. Wing on Wing is working well.
Date: Tuesday 01/08/2019 Noon position: 15° 53’S / 005° 39’W 24 Hour Run (DMG): 150 NM Distance To Go: 132 NM Sail of choice: Main with 1 reef and Genoa, wing on wing Wind and Sea conditions: Wind shifting from E to ESE 10/14 kts. Waves 1.0 meters.
Captain’s log – Stardate 58,491:
Lots of flying fish on deck at night. Cleaned up the flying fish massacre in the morning. Squalls during the night from SE, 21 to 25 knots. Wind died in the am, so we’re motoring. 65 hours on the engine in 2,000 nm total since we got the boat. How about that! I lost my first fish. It was a big tuna. Yuka and I watched 2 movies: La diner de cons and The Best of Youth. For a moment I thought I was home, and not in a little sailboat in the middle of the ocean.
Date: Wednesday 01/09/2019 Noon position: James Town Anchorage, St Helena 24 Hour Run (DMG): 57
Captain’s log – Stardate 58,492:
Sailing again! Land Ho! When I woke up at 7 am St Helena was clearly in front of us. I made coffee in the galley with the view of the island right in front of me. Spectacular! Such an iconic place, a very important milestone in our voyage.
[photogrid ids=”1659,1597,1596,1594,1589,1576,1563,1634,1588,1562″ captions=”yes” columns=”two” fullwidth=”yes” ]
St Helena to Brazil
Date: Monday 01/14/2019 Noon position: 15° 56’S / 007° 59’W Distance To Go: 2,271 NM Sail of choice: Asymmetric Spinnaker Wind and Sea conditions: Wind S and SSE 8/14 kts. SE swell. Waves 1.0 meters.
Captain’s log – Stardate 58,497:
We left St Helena at 12:00 Zulu time. Light conditions, pleasant sailing. St Helena behind us, pod of dolphins jumping off the bow. Beautiful sunset and then starring night. Heading WNW trying to avoid pockets of no wind. 2,271 nautical miles to Brazil! This is going to be the longest leg of the voyage.
Date: Tuesday 01/15/2019 Noon position: 16° 38’S / 010° 20’W 24 Hour Run (DMG): 142 NM Distance To Go: 1,940 Sail of choice: Asymmetric, Main and Genoa Wind and Sea conditions: Wind from SSE 10/12 kts. Waves 1.0 meters.
Captain’s log – Stardate 58,498:
We motored from midnight to 6 am. Now the Asymmetric is up again. Started heading SW. Hope our weather routing strategy will pay out for the extra 50nm. Light conditions, pleasant sailing. At the end of my watch at 2 am, a moon as red as the sun sets in the west. Spectacular!
Date: Wednesday 01/16/2019 Noon position: 17° 18’S / 012° 35’W 24 Hour Run (DMG): 138 NM Distance To Go: 1,804 Sail of choice: Asymmetric, Main and Genoa Wind and Sea conditions: Wind shifting from SE to ESE 5/7 kts. Waves 1.0 meters.
Captain’s log – Stardate 58,499:
Drama strikes on Oroboro: The Water maker is leaking from the Clark Pump! We have 800 liters of fresh water that need to last 2 weeks. Unless we can repair the pump. Not sure what the problem is, it worked flawlessly for 50 hours.
Date: Thursday 01/17/2019 Noon position: 17° 57’S / 014° 49’W 24 Hour Run (DMG): 146 NM Distance To Go: 1,671 Sail of choice: Asymmetric Wind and Sea conditions: Wind from everywhere. Waves 1.0 meters.
Captain’s log – Stardate 58,500:
Motoring, then asymmetric. Caught a beautiful 14 kg Skipjack tuna fish. Excellent for sashimi. The water crisis seems to be over. We manage to run it in Low Pressure mode, collecting 1 bucket of sea water every 30 minutes and making some 30 liters of water an hour. Rigged a bilge pump into a bucket, powered it with my Juno power bank delivering 12 Volts DC.
Date: Friday 01/18/2019 Noon position: 18° 28’S / 017° 03’W 24 Hour Run (DMG): 130 NM Distance To Go: 1,542 Sail of choice: Asymmetric then Parasailor Wind and Sea conditions: Wind shifting from ESE to SSE, 6/25 kts. Waves 1.0 meters.
Captain’s log – Stardate 58,501:
I think we’re out of jail. Flying the spinnaker and making good speed. Several squalls with winds up to 25 knots. Parasailor flying beautifully. Run the water maker for 3 hours in low pressure mode. We can still make 30 liters.
Date: Saturday 01/19/2019 Noon position: 19° 06’S / 019° 16’W 24 Hour Run (DMG): 133 NM Distance To Go: 1,409 Sail of choice: Parasailor Wind and Sea conditions: Wind shifting from E to ESE, 8/16 kts. Waves 1.0 meters.
Captain’s log – Stardate 58,502:
Run the water maker for 3 hours again in Low Pressure mode. It still makes about 30 liters of water an hour. Saw the first ship after leaving St Helena, on AIS on a collision course. Hauled them on VHF, it’s a Chinese cargo bringing iron ore from Brazil to China. Asked them to change their course. Intense night watch, constantly watching over my left shoulder for the next squall. Hard to keep the course, wind very shifty. The Parasailor is been up for 50 consecutive hours!
Date: Sunday 01/20/2019 Noon position: 19° 39’S / 021° 45’W 24 Hour Run (DMG): 143 NM Distance To Go: 1,266 Sail of choice: Main and Genoa Wind and Sea conditions: Wind shifting from E to ESE, 12/18 kts. Waves 1.0 meters.
Captain’s log – Stardate 58,503:
At 9 am started the water maker. Salinity: 568. Leak seems to have increased to 1 bucket every 15 minutes. During my customary end of watch inspection around the boat at 3 am, I noticed that the spinnaker guiding block shackle was broken. Again. Parasailor down! Saved it again.
Date: Monday 01/21/2019 Noon position: 19° 55’S / 024° 17’W 24 Hour Run (DMG): 145 NM Distance To Go: 1,122 Sail of choice: Main and Genoa Wind and Sea conditions: Wind shifting from E to ESE, 14/20 kts. Waves 1.0 meters.
Captain’s log – Stardate 58,504:
The water maker started rejecting water. Salinity >875, 788/864. Pressure 4.8/5.2 bar. Pump running asymmetrically. We have 700 liters of fresh water in the tanks that need to last until Brazil, some 10 days.
We started rationing water. From now on, shower with sea water on the trampoline and rinse with fresh water on the stern!
We’ll try to stop in Trindade and ask the military if they can provide some water. Fished a big 8kg Skipjack tuna. This will provide us sushi and sashimi for a week!
Also, in between squalls during the night I saw a very rare moon rainbow. It’s been 5 weeks and 2 days since we left Cape Town, some 2,584 nautical miles ago. Every day is different. Love feeling Oroboro surfing the waves when sleeping down in the cabin.
Date: Tuesday 01/22/2019 Noon position: 20° 11’S / 026° 33’W 24 Hour Run (DMG): 129 NM Distance To Go: 995 NM Sail of choice: Main and Genoa Wind and Sea conditions: Wind shifting from E to ESE, 12/14 kts. Waves 1.0 meters.
Captain’s log – Stardate 58,505:
Yuka made sushi ad sashimi with the 8kg Tuna I fished. Fantastic lunch. I decided to attempt to repair the water maker. I spent 8 hours in the locker under the bed in the port cabin disassembling the water maker to attempt a repair. Spectra didn’t make the job easy. The suspect is a cracked O-Ring in the Clark Pump cylinder end cap. I removed the O-ring but it seemed ok. I inspected the cylinder thread where the end cup is screwed on, but no cracks were visible. I replaced the O-ring just in case, put it back together but the leak was still there. The water maker it’s beyond repair, we need a new cylinder.
Date: Wednesday 01/23/2019 Noon position: 20° 26’S / 028° 27’W 24 Hour Run (DMG): 109 NM Distance To Go: 888 NM Sail of choice: Main and Genoa Wind and Sea conditions: Wind from ESE, 8/10 kts. Waves 1.0 meters.
Captain’s log – Stardate 58,506:
Spotted chafe on the Main sheet during my customary inspection round. We have 180 liters left in the STBD water tank. The day before we consumed less than the 70 liters. We spotted Trindade on the horizon.
Date: Thursday 01/24/2019 Noon position: 20° 30’S / 029° 34’W 24 Hour Run (DMG): 63 NM Distance To Go: 824 NM Sail of choice: Main and Genoa Wind and Sea conditions: Wind shifting from E to SSE to ENE, 8/14 kts. Waves 1.0 meters.
Captain’s log – Stardate 58,507:
Filled up diesel tanks with Jerry cans. 100 lt in each tank Port Engine Hours: 101. Starboard Engine Hour 95. Sailing toward Ilha Trindade, an outpost of the Brazilian Navy with about 30 soldiers and some scientists and meteorologists. Anchoring is prohibited, but we hope we can get water and some additional diesel. During the night we were approached by a patrolling navy ship with no AIS, only white lights. They made radio contact, we explained our plan. The anchorage was exposed to swell and wind. We didn’t feel safe so we opted to heave to during the night and try again the next morning.
Date: Friday 01/25/2019 Noon position: 21° 02’S / 031° 41’W 24 Hour Run (DMG): 124 NM Distance To Go: 703 NM Sail of choice: Main and Genoa Wind and Sea conditions: Wind shifting from ENE to SSE back to ENE, 13/18 kts. Waves 1.0 meters.
Captain’s log – Stardate 58,508:
We made radio contact with the base explaining the situation, they told us to call again at day break. They were very kind and tried to organize the water and diesel for us, but at some point we called it off because too risky to have a boat on the side with that wind and swell. At 6:30 am, we left Trindade. Northerly wind for the first time during the passage. Double strike on the lines, we caught 2 huge 14kg each Yellow Tail tunas.
Date: Saturday 01/26/2019 Noon position: 21° 27’S / 033° 45’W 24 Hour Run (DMG): 119 NM Distance To Go: 585 NM Sail of choice: Main and Genoa Wind and Sea conditions: Wind shifting from ENE to ESE, 8/14 kts. Waves 1.0 meters.
Captain’s log – Stardate 58,509:
Looks like we lost the help of the South Equatorial current. Switched to Port water tank. We have 390 liters of water that need to last until Brazil. Starry night. Perseus, Andromeda, Orion Belt on starboard. Southern Cross on port. Yuka made a great dinner: spaghetti al tonno pinna gialla. Life is good again. At 3 am I can clearly see Venus, the morning star, and Jupiter so bright on our stern. The Big Dipper is so low on the horizon.
Date: Sunday 01/27/2019 Noon position: 21° 57’S / 035° 54’W 24 Hour Run (DMG): 125 NM Distance To Go: 461 NM Sail of choice: Main and Genoa Wind and Sea conditions: Wind shifting from E to ESE to ENE, 8/10 kts. Waves 0.5 meters.
Captain’s log – Stardate 58,510:
Caught another big Tuna (15kg). During the night, the usual midnight squall with winds up to 25 knots. Lasted for an intense 45 minutes. Black menacing clouds all around, some lightning. Now we also lost the boost of the South Equatorial Current. If the wind doesn’t assist us, we are in for at least 48 hours of motoring.
Date: Monday 01/28/2019 Noon position: 22° 27’S / 038° 05’W 24 Hour Run (DMG): 126 NM Distance To Go: 336 NM Sail of choice: Main and Genoa Wind and Sea conditions: Wind shifting from E to ESE, 6/10 kts. Waves 0.5 meters.
Captain’s log – Stardate 58,511:
In the am we noticed a sailboat on our port side sailing north. The skipper called us on VHF. It was the American skipper of Puffin, the boat in 4th position in the prestigious Golden Globe race, the solo-around-the-world race with no electronics (not even water makers). The skipper had a lively chat, and explained to us that he had problems with the auto-pilot since the beginning of the race. He said he was exhausted after 6 months at sea. Jean Luc is already in the Bay of Biscay in a force 10 storm. He said he hopes to arrive in a month or so. He has a sextant but the almanac is of 2018, so he needs to make the corrections for 2019 and he can only use the Sun. His speed log was eaten by a shark in the Indian Ocean, so he needs to guess his speed for the DR. The South Equatorial Current is back again, giving us an extra 10nm a day for free. Still no wind, but I guess that burning diesel is more economical than chafing sails.
Date: Tuesday 01/29/2019 Noon position: 23° 05’S / 040° 22’W 24 Hour Run (DMG): 132 NM Distance To Go: 206 NM Sail of choice: Main and Genoa Wind and Sea conditions: Wind ENE 10/16 kts. Waves 0.5 meters.
Captain’s log – Stardate 58,512:
Big swell and no wind during the day. Wind picks up at night. Sailing fast! We spot the first oil rig. We are 227 nm from Cabo Frio. So close yet so far away. Dreaming about Paraty, the music of Brazilian language, fresh mango, caipirinhas. A new beginning. The “easy” part of the voyage is done (crossing the ocean). Now we’ll have to deal with Coastal Nav: ships, oil rigs, rocks, coastal squalls.
Date: Wednesday 01/30/2019 Noon position: 23° 07’S / 043° 14’W 24 Hour Run (DMG): 160 NM Distance To Go: 49 NM Sail of choice: Main and Genoa Wind and Sea conditions: Wind ENE 16/18 kts. Waves 0.5 meters.
Captain’s log – Stardate 58,513:
Paying attention to a couple of new oil rig installed outside of the demarcated area on the chart. My friend Philippe just sent me an email through Iridium advising to stay at least 10 nm south of a specific waypoint. So we changed course. We passed all oil rigs sailing fast. Wind back during the night, sailing fast. 17 knots of wind on the beam, making 7.7 knots of speed with 1 reef in the main. Land Oh! We can see the Brazilian coast! At 22:15 local time we see the Cabo Frio lighthouse. Lots of fishing boats, watches become very intense from now on. Current against 0.6 kts. We pass Rio in the morning and we can see Copacabana! We got cellular coverage. First WhatsApp conversation with family!
Date: Thursday 01/31/2019 Noon position: 23° 08’S / 044° 07’W – Enseada Das Palmas. Praia dos Mangues.
Captain’s log – Stardate 58,514:
We dropped anchor before sunset, in time for a very well deserved swim! Only one other sailboat anchored in the bay. Surrounded by the jungle. Amazing. Time to celebrate.
Oroboro has sailed 4,122 nautical miles since she was launched on September 26th. We spent a total of 127 days on board, and 51 days at sea.
Sleeping at night while underway
I still find difficult to sleep at night while under way without waking up at least two or three times to check what’s going on outside. It’s not that I don’t trust the person at the helm, it’s just that down in the cabin wind and the waves seem to be so much stronger than what they really are. I guess it’s just a matter of getting used to it.
When I switch off the light in the cabin and try to get some sleep at night, it doesn’t matter how tired I am, it’s as if all of my senses suddenly are well awake and alert. I pay attention to every little sound of the boat and you try to decipher it. The movement of the boat in the waves, the autopilot, the sails, the surf… Because we started in rough conditions from Cape Town, I thought I would adjust more quickly to sleeping at night under way. But I still haven’t. Luckily Yuka on the other hand has no problem at all with sleeping.
I told her that when falling asleep I imagine that I’m on the Firenze-Bologna high-speed train. The movement of the boat is vey similar to that of the train running fast through the Apennines. Not that Oroboro is as fast as a train. The sound of the autopilot reminds me somehow of the sound of a train and the slamming of the waves on the hulls reminds me that of the wheels of a train. Yuka on the other hand, tells me she feels like she is inside a huge whale, like Pinocchio. That’s so much better!
Keeping a good watch on a boat is paramount. On Oroboro we take it seriously, so we have 3 hours watch shifts and six hours rest around the clock. We do this for 3 main reasons:
Safety: we need to watch for ships, inspect the boat (e.g. bilges for water, sheets and sails for trim and chafe). Weather, wind and waves etc.
Course keeping: COG, BTD and XTE, trim sails, adjust course etc.
Record keeping: Time, Course, SOG, Wind direction, Barometer pressure, Temperature etc.
Unfortunately I am told that today many cruisers don’t keep a good watch, not even at night. One more reason to be vigilant.
Sailing across an ocean
Life on a sailboat during a passage seems to be revolving around numbers. Time, speed, distance, latitude, longitude, variation, depth, current, waves, swell, wind angle, temperature, pressure, meters, degrees, nautical miles, amperes, watts, liters of water and diesel, distance made good, distance to go, course over ground, speed over ground. Sometimes I feel more like a bookkeeper rather than a sailor. This soon becomes an important part of your life. You are so far away from help, that you need to stay on top of things, all of the time. But you also end up reading a lot. And luckily my personal library is very well stocked!
Too little or no wind
On a long passage, no matter how carefully planned, there is always going to be time of little or no wind when the boat just can’t sail. This situation can be painful. The swell rocks the boat, the Main sail and the Genoa slat back and forth, SLAT SLAT SLAT, back and forth back and forth back and forth. It’s painful because you know is bad for the sails, all that abrasion and chafe and shock load for just a few knots. So what can be done? Ideally, if conditions allow, I’d rather drop the sail and just drift, waiting for wind. But that’s not always possible, so most of the time you need to motor. Our 30 hp Yanmar motor consumes 2.5 liters of diesel per hour at 1,900 rpm giving you a speed of about 5 knots. We have 360 liters of diesel in the tanks and an extra 100 liters in jerry cans. That’s the equivalent of almost 7 days of motoring… We had quite a lot of motoring during this passage. Initially it was frustrating. But then I learned to appreciate that, because under engine I can relax, have good meals, a glass of wine.
During this voyage I experienced first hand how inaccurate a nautical chart can be: the chart of Ilha de Trindade was off quite a bit. I use Navionics charts for my chart plotter. Navionics has been recently acquired by Garmin. I will send them a screenshot showing my boat on top of the hill in Ilha de Trindade.
Luckily on board I have 2 back up systems. A Windows and a Mac laptops running Open CPN, an open source program. The Windows laptop is at the chart table, with the GPS device. Open CPM allows you to do so much more than the normal chart plotters. I can import GRIB files, tracks and routes, can easily calculate distances and you can have all the charts of the world. If the main system at the helm station fails, I can navigate with Open CPN.
During the passage, I checked the weather at least twice a day. Using the IridiumGo! I downloaded the Grib files with PredictWind and then compared the various models available (PWG, PWE, GFS and ECMWF) trying to understand which one was more accurate. What are these weather models?
PWG is the proprietary PredictWind weather model that uses the NCEP global initial conditions for the model run.
PWE is the proprietary PredictWind weather model that uses the ECMWF global initial conditions for the model run.
GFS is the Global Forecast System from NCEP. This model is used by most other weather websites/apps.
ECMWF is the European Center for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts, that is highly regarded by Meteorologists and top Navigators around the world.
Comparing all these forecast models allows me to gauge the confidence level in the forecast. The GFS/ECMWF forecasts are a good benchmark. So far I haven’t been impressed with the proprietary PredictWind models, but with all 4 forecasts I can have a greater confidence to make the best decision.