Cape Town to Brazil
We departed St Helena on 27 Jan 2017 early in the morning. Last night we had changed our mind again about our next destination. We were headed to Fernando de Noronha, a small island 300 kms off the coast of Brazil. We had met a lot of friends in St Helena and hoped we would see them again on our trip either in Fernando de Noronha, Grenada, or … Two of the yachts were Adina and Belafonte (Canadian couple).
We are have good sailing from St.Helena to Fernando de Noronha. First day we go fast and make 214 km and after this wind go down and the next 8 days we go very slow, with only 130 to 160 km per day. But this very good for fishing. Some day we are have very nice fishing days.
One day we are catch very scary and very ugly fish (type of Snoek I believe)
After this we go 10 more days more fast making 170 to 220 km per day. We go faster and like more but be hard every 3 hours drive boat. Our autopilot stop working before we come to St.Helena. Water come inside to autopilot and this why he just stop working. I love sailing and some days you see very nice sun set.
I have my shift for drive with 12 am to 3 am. Marion just finish her time for drive 12 am and go sleep. This is 16 February time close to 1 am and big wave coming. Marion sleep with open window and all water come on her. She scared and come very fast. She thinking storm coming and I need her help. After she see I’m fine and understand everything what happened she try clean her room and make her self dry. This take maybe 1 hour. Moon stay full and I see everything what happened.
Tim awake and take his shift 3 am. But after 2 hours drive he awake me and say we need close genoa because big wind coming. This take couple minutes for I coming and we see this already storm coming very big rain and wind. Close genoa we be very wet. Every one coming to salon and nobody don’t want go to sleep.
Day be very good we have great wind and go very fast. After to Island stay 1 hour drive and we very good start see land again big rain coming. We stop see land. We close genoa but we no start go more slow steal have very high speed. One just what good rain stop after 10 minutes and we start again see island. Moon be full but after rain we have fog and we are see where to go but not clear. After we start see boats we decide not go very close to them. We drop anchor and stop for night in Fernando de Noronha. We have couple beer and go sleep. Finish our 3200 km!
15 February I awake very early maybe around 6 am. Tim still sleeps and I go outside on My MissChief we have a little morning breeze. Come on board I think we are little out from where we drop anchor yesterday night, but because wind some time direction little changed. I come back in salon and start make tea for me and Marion and coffee for Tim. He up after I come back to salon. I told hem everything good and we are talk, have breakfast and try make plan for today. After breakfast he go outside and see we are moving. For 1 hour boat moved for 6 kilometers from where I see we are be in morning. We are fast take anchor and again move boat close to all boats.
We are try call to port control but they did not answer. But couple from boat Adina call to us and ask for we drive them on our dinghy to port control too. Their motor stop working and they need help. We put our dinghy in the water and go to Adina get couple. Have waves and to port control every one come very wet. In port control Marco gift for every one coffee every time for you coming to hem. He do all paper what need and put us in his car and drive to immigration. Because I’m from Ukraine I no need visa but Tim need visa for Brazil. But we did not open visa for him before come to Island. This need go to another city in South Africa and we are be to lazy. We are thinking for couple days on the island maybe they gift for Tim visa there but immigration say no he not allowed to be on the Island. But this fine if he stay just in port for couple days. That island is very expensive for just stay in port. There need to pay for everyday boat stay there and for every person who stay on the boat too. This why we are decided just stay 2 nights. This why first day we are stay on the port. Port have 4 restaurants and 3 souvenir shops. But not just stay on the Island very expensive. Everything there very expensive too. We stay in port have dinner there and drink some local beer.
Next day we decide before we are go tomorrow we need more diesel. Take to cans with us we are decided go to the beach not on the jetty because there more close to gas station. This to be our first time what we are coming to the beach. Tim drive dinghy and I decided jump on sand. Water very clear and I think we are already on sand jump out and be all wet because the water is still very deep. Stay very wet maybe 20 minutes in my jeans short and t-short I understand for finish day I’m still be wet. This why I take Tim to souvenir store and buy dress. After we see our friends from Canada who sailing on the sailboat Belafonte. We are meet them in St.Helena. After stay with them couple hours and have lunch we go buy diesel. Put diesel down to the beach on dinghy we are ready to come back to the boat. We try pushing the dingy to water but big waves push us back. This why on the dinghy start be a lot sand and water and we again be very wet. Come back to boat every one change clothes and we go again to land. This evening we are decided go to the best bar on the island. This take us maybe 30 min walk from the port to the another bar what we are every evening see with our boat.
Come down to the beach we are see there many different bars. First we are go walk and see everything what they have there. Find pizza restaurant and decided have dinner there and after go for some bar, but they start working 6 pm and our time be just 5 pm. Again go looking for some different place for have dinner little earlier. Again start rain and we try first decide where we are. Find nice bar order some drink and pizza find they don’t have pay with credit card. They stop make for us our order because we don’t have cash. They have just 2 bank on the island and close round 5 pm. Again need go looking for bar where no need cash. Walking again start big rain and we see bank go in there ATM machine. We are be very happy take cash and come back to same bar that we find. They just see we are back start again make our other. This nice they still remember what we order there. After we have dinner and a lot of drinks need come back to boat. Outside big rain and need walk maybe 40 minutes, 10 with them some like forest. We are start walk and see some people have taxi. So we are run to first bur what be close to us and asked them to order for us taxi. We are wait maybe 15 minutes and taxi drive us to our port. Go out taxi for a couple minutes and we are very wet again. Come to dinghy this be not very fun because motor not start maybe 10 minutes. This 10 minutes feeling like forever. Big rain and wind. Feel cold and very wet. Something wrong with that Island everyone who we know have problem with engine for dinghy. After engine start be fun drive dinghy in night and with big rain not to good to see where we are drive maybe 7-8 minutes and try fiend our boat. This good we are come back to boat good. In morning we are need start sailing and Marion fly to Natal. In morning Tim take Marion to land and after he come back we take dinghy out, up anchor and go. In front of us wait 2460 kilometers to Devil’s Island.
Having sailed 2800 km from Cape Town, we arrived at St. Helena on January 19 at 17:00 the port control was already closed. But still they answered and said that they will come at 9 am in the morning and that we will moor at buoys No. 15. It was funny because the number could only be seen from the top when you are close to it. First you had to choose which one to go to first. We safely moored and rejoiced that we can rest because after 10 days of navigation. The autopilot had stopped working and we had to steer the catamaran manually for the last 8 days. Therefore, we were very happy just because we finally can rest.
In the morning, the port control was quick, we just had to fill out a few documents, after which we had to go to the island and go through immigration. After that, we went to tour the city. The first thing that interested us was the Internet. For many, this would seem to be wrong. But almost 3 weeks we were without Internet. It was nice to set foot on the ground after a long time on the catamaran. We went to a small restaurant which is the only one in the center of the island. We found the Internet without problems, but that’s what it was not so happy about. The first Internet is very slow and the second is that it is very expensive. You buy an hour of internet and use it. You can stop it when you do not need it or turn it on. But I had time to review it and write it to friends and relatives enough.
St. Helena is a very beautiful small island. The population on it is only 3000 people (with 4000 cars). People are very friendly and greet each other absolutely. On the first day of our stay on the island, we decided to climb the Jacob’s Ladder on this staircase of 699 stairs. We did not hurry and took about 20 minutes. From the top opens a fascinating view. It is seen from the top of the whole center of the island. We were a little tired after climbing the stairs and decided not to go down to the bottom. So we stopped the first car and the woman drove us. It’s nice when there are very friendly people on the island who always try to help.
The first 2 days we spent in the same restaurant. Of course, they went around all open shops and a souvenir shop. It turned out there was only 1 on the island. We walked around the city for a while. We did not really know what to do as on the weekend everything is closed. One thing that is interesting on the island is that credit cards do not work. Only in the bank with a passport you can withdraw money from the credit card. But who arrived on the island on Saturday or Sunday remain without cash as the bank is closed. But in the restaurant you will be given both food and internet by writing down your name and the boat’s name on which you are and you can settle with them before sailing. We were lucky because we managed to withdraw money from the bank and we did not have to use this service. The restaurant is not expensive for food and alcohol, but they make lots on the Internet. The food is normal but after everything tried on the menu I did not find anything that was really tasty.
On Tuesday we went on a tour of the island. We saw an old volcano. The landscape of St. Helena is sublime volcanic, since it itself is the peak of a huge underwater volcano (height above the sea bottom is 4224 m, diameter of the base is 130 km).
A small area on the island is the possession of France – the place where Napoleon Bonaparte was imprisoned. Napoleon lived here under the protection of his last 5 years of life. He died in this house and was buried not far from it. The house itself is original, from those great times. The interior is a reconstruction. The fact is that after the death of Napoleon Bonaparte was buried here on the island but after 19 years his companions took the body home to France, taking with them all the contents of the house, right down to the curtains! Photographing in the house is strictly forbidden. A very large area on which stands a house and a very large and beautiful garden. Napoleon died at the age of 51. Then we went to the grave of Napoleon. The trip took only 5 minutes drive. But then I had to go down 10 minutes downhill. Napoleon himself chose this place and bequeathed to bury him here.
“Diana’s Peak” (823 meters), is the highest point on St. Helena. To the left of it is the “Actaeon” mountain (with the Norqfol pine on top).
Today on the island live about 3000 people (with 4000 cars). The population is represented by the settlers, who are descendants of immigrants from Great Britain, Holland, Portugal, India and Africa. People hope that the airport will be open this summer. It was completed but can not be opened due to a strong wind sheer around the island, so you can get here only by sea from England or Cape Town.
It was a very interesting tour we really enjoyed. The tour started at 9 am and ended at 16 pm. We returned to the catamaran very tired.
The next day in the morning we sailed and in front of us waiting for 3200 km.
We have 2 fishing rods. One is a good off-shore rod and reel that we purchased at the KingFisher in Durban. The other is a smaller rod & reel for smaller fish. We also purchased some 100 Kg line and very heavy duty bungee cord. I created a bungee fishing line by putting the 100 Kg line through 2 meters of the bungee, pulling the bungee to 4 meters and tieing the line. I should have taken a photo, it is hard to describe. I will make another one. At any rate we caught a couple of good sized YellowTail KingFish with the bungee line. The bungee really tires the fish out and they are easy to pull by hand with the thick line. We also caught a couple of birds on the fishing lines. One I managed to get off the line, leaving it with just a tongue piercing. The other one went under the water and we had to cut the line, it never re-surfaced. A couple days later I went to check on the bungee fishing line … and it was gone. Snapped clean off. Now I’m not sure what size fish was able to snap that 100 kg line, but I probably didn’t want to find out either. I have another 2 meters of bungee but no more 100 kg line. I will make another one when I can get some good line again. That bungee is the most expensive thing. It costs $20 / meter in Durban.
We did catch a couple of SkipJack Tuna. The first one wasn’t that big and when we cut it open it had a lot of white spots (parasites) in it. We decided to toss it back. The other was much larger (60 cm long) and 15-20 kg. It was tough reeling it in. It also had a few white spots inside but the fishing book said they were not harmful to man so we kept it. Anastasia has become quite good at pulling (not cutting) all the meat off the bones. The freezer was full with fish meat after that.
Sunday, 1 January 2017
In the morning we were busy getting everything ready to depart. It was time to check out. Now there are 5 steps usually. First you need a paper from the yacht club saying that you don’t owe anything. Then you go to Port Control to file a flight plan and other paperwork. Then off to Customs and then Immigration. Finally on the way out of the harbour you radio Port Control to request permission to leave. So at 11am I did the necessary paperwork at the yacht club and walked (20 minutes away) over to the Port Control office, only to find out they were closed and would be closed for the next 4 days. Hmmm… well I don’t give up easily. I decided to go ahead to Customs anyway to see what they said. They never asked for our Port Control papers as they spent a lot of time figuring out the passports. Anastasia wasn’t with me as her visa had expired and she had to remain on the boat the last few days. And when we checked into Cape Town they stamped my passport with an exit instead of entrance stamp …. finally it was attributed to human error as the computer showed it properly, they had just put the wrong stamp in my passport. So then to immigration, no problems. Okay … so everything is done (well pretty much), lets just go!
By this time the Cape 2 Rio race started (2pm) and lots of boats were out in the bay watching the start. As we readied ourselves to depart the boats started to return and we saw that we were going to have to wait a bit to leave as it is very tight quarters in the yacht club docks. Finally at 3:30 pm we were ready to go and the majority of the boats had returned to their berths. We started the engines and prepared to untie the mooring lines. There was a bit of a wind blowing but we made it out of our very tight berth without too much trouble. So now, do I radio our departure or not? When we had arrived (2am in the morning) I had tried to radio in our entrance to the harbour but there was no response on any channel I tried (16, 14, 12). I decided to take advantage of the confusion of the race starting and just leave. That way I would avoid any questions about whether I had filed a flight plan at Port Control. Nobody seemed to notice us and we were off.
We motored out of the harbour and into the bay. We put out the genoa, hoisted the main stail … and where did the wind go? We played with the sails for awhile trying to coax some speed out of them but we started to drift so turned on one engine for a few hours so that we could get out of the bay to where the winds were. Finally around 9pm we had steady wind and pulled out the genoa for the night. The wind picked up to 18-20 knots and our speed was 8-10 kph which was plenty for the night.
Monday, 2 January 2017
The wind came up and we took down the main sail. We were making good speed with just the genoa out. Towards evening we decided that the wind had come up enough that we should take the genoa in half way. Our timing was good as 20 minutes later the wind picked up a lot more. However, when we went to take in the genoa we discovered that the lines inside had become tangled and we were unable to furl it in. We tried a couple times to loosen the ropes and fix it but it did not work. By now it was quite windy / wavy and the full genoa out was making me nervous. There was nothing to do but head into the wind and completely remove the furling lines and rewind them properly. It took us a bit of time but we got it done and we were able to wind the genoa in finally. We left out 1.5 meters which was enough for the next 2 days.
Tuesday, 3 January 2017
Fairly good winds at 25-30 knots. We had just a bit of genoa out all day and were making good speed. The seas were a bit rough but not to bad.
There were a lot of waves crashing over the boat. One wave filled the back cockpit area with a few inches of water. The coolers were floating around. Fortunately, there is lots of drainage in the cockpit and it cleared within seconds. A few of the hatches seals leak a bit and need to be fixed. For the most part they just need to be cleaned off and a light coating of vaseline on the seals.
4-7 January 2017
Mostly uneventful days. We sailed with the auto-pilot mostly. We were able to use an App on the phones / tablet to control the Garmin display / auto-pilot which it easier during the night. Anastasia became comfortable with steering the boat by herself, which gave me some much needed sleep.
Sunday, 8 January 2017
Happy Birthday Anastasia! Not to much of a celebration. We had our first drink on the boat since we had left Cape Town. Two drinks was enough, everybody was tired already.
January 9-16 2017
We continue in the pattern of sailing with 3 hours shifts. Then sleep or eat depending on how tired / hungry you were. Nothing to exciting for the most part. At some point we decided that the auto-pilot was draining the batteries to much and the weather had turned nice enough to just hand steer. I amused myself by watching the water temperature go up a bit every day. When we started it was 19.5C and by the time we arrived it was over 23C. The sun would raise the surface temperature by up to half a degree over the day.
We see lots of flying fish that glide for several meters before going back into the water. Every couple days we find another one somewhere on the boat.
17 January 2017
Winds have been light for a few days but I have avoided using the engines as long as we are making some progress and the boat is going more or less straight. I put the number of hours remaining to St Helena on the large Garmin GPS display. Everyone started focusing on steering better to keep the time down. We all wanted to be there already.
18 January 2017
Winds were up and down a bit. Watching the hours remaining, it looked like we could make it to St Helena the next day if the wind held. I decided that if the wind dropped to much we would put on an engine so that we could make it. Early in the morning I heard Anastasia turn on an engine, the wind had dropped to almost nothing.
19 January 2017
We motored the rest of the way to Saint Helena, but also put out the Genoa when the wind picked up to make some extra speed. We were very excited to see the first sight of land. There really was an island where the GPS said there was. Whew! As we neared Jame’s Bay at 6:15pm local time, I radioed in our approach. I was informed that Port Control was just closing and we would have to remain on the boat until 9am the next morning when the Port Control would come out to our boat. It was fine with me, time to have a beer and relax for the night.
Here are some photos of the first view of land.
Our approach to James Bay, St Helena.