We only had 96 hours in St Helena, but it was well worth the visit. After a week at sea it’s great to have a break, restock (spending GB pounds!) and do a little tourism.
St Helena is a tiny chunk of the UK and feels a little like a strange part of Devon. We took an all-day tour of the island and saw it all, including Napoleon’s Tomb and his house where he lived for the last eight years of his life.
First Time Flying the Parasailor
Then it was off to Salvador, Brazil – 1930 nm, 14 days at sea. This is third or fourth longest passage in the circumnavigation.
We soon settled into the routine – watch, sleep, eat etc. We were forced to motor for the first day or two, but then the trade wind set in and we sailed for almost the entire trip. We also used the parasailor for the first time – what a great sail! Easy to handle, tolerant of wind shifts, and easy to snuff as long as you don’t leave it too late. We’re looking at one for Mistral…
Night WatchFishing Success!Mahi MahiMahi Mahi FilletedSushi in PrepLaura’s SushiParasailor – Ready for BrazilKaren on Watch
We expect to arrive in Salvador at dawn tomorrow (the 10th). We’ll have a kip, clear in, then watch Tommy’s England game against Wales! Go Tommy!
Funny old thing, fishing. We weren’t sure we’d do any on this trip, never having fished before, but we inherited a rod and reel with the boat and Martin passed it fit for duty. He promptly proved it by catching a decent-sized wahoo.
Laura, Martin & Karen with a WahooKaren & Tim with a Mahi MahiA Good LureChris Laying a Line
So when we arrived in Gran Canaria off we went to a fishing shop where we bought a new rod & reel, some spare line and a selection of lures, mostly pink plastic squids. We also popped into the off-licence for a cheap bottle of vodka, a splash of which which sends them to fish heaven almost instantly.
A Big Mahi Mahi!Shirts & Karen Gutting a Mahi MahiTuna FilletsPatrick & Karen with a Tuna
So each morning, assuming the seas are not too rough, the rain not continuous and enough crew awake to be able to deal with a catch, we set two lures two or three boat-lengths behind the boat. We then go back to our normal activities e.g. navigating, boat repair, boat maintenance, sleeping, radio net calls, cooking, reading, writing blog posts, FaceTiming family etc.
Patrick preparing to filletLanding a TunaDoof with the raw steaks
A few indeterminate hours or days later, we are startled into action by the sound of one of the lines running out as a fish takes the lure. At this stage, five things can happen:
The fish immediately rejects the lure and disappears.
The fish bites the line and takes the lure to the deep.
We are too slow to get to the reel, the line runs all the way out, breaks, and the fish gets the lure and 150 ft of line.
We battle the fish to the side of the boat whereupon it thrashes up and jumps the hook.
We successfully gaff and land the fish. Note this only has a 20% probability…
Assuming we land the fish, we then give it a dash of vodka, bleed it (increases flavour), gut it and fillet it. Sounds easy but probably takes 40 min or so.
Yesterday we heard the lines running out and both lures had been taken! The fish on the starboard line took option 1 and vanished but we managed to land the other one, which was a magnificent tuna.
Oh, I’ve missed a sixth possibility after a bite: the fish becomes bait for a bigger fish. Nice work, Tim!
We continued on to Tikehau in company with Matt and Fiona on Matilda. Tikehau – another stunning atoll. From there it was a 24 hr passage to Moorea, close to Tahiti, where we anchored in Cook Bay.
Cook Bay, Moorea — not always sunnyTikehau – Karen & ChrisTikehau – Matt & FionaTikehau – Shallow WaterTikehau – Clear WaterPoint Venus, TahitiSunset Bar, PapeeteNew Bikini!
In Tahiti we took the oportunity to get some maintenance done, mostly routine – engine & generator service, rigging inspection and tune-up, but also an instrument needed repair and the aircon needed a new capacitor. All the work was carried out efficiently, a bit of an unusual occurence in sailing.
The Blue Banana Restaurant, TahitiBora Bora Yacht Club – James arrivesBora Bora Cocktail HourBora Bora Sunset
Then it was on to Tahaa for a couple of days including the stunning Coral Garden snorkeling area.
From the Marquesas to Bora Bora is “free sailing” on the World ARC. That means we can go where we like as long as we all meet up in Bora Bora on 11 May, to prepare for Leg 5. It’s about 1000 nm from Ua-Pou to Bora Bora with lots of atolls in between – the Tuamotu Islands and the Society Islands being the main groups.
With Patrick and Janie leaving us in Nuku Hiva (thanks for all your hard work!) Karen and I decided to sail to Ahe in the Tuamotu group on our own. 480 nm is three days and three nights of sailing. We ran a three hour on, three hour off watch system and although tiring, not too bad and definitely possible for short passages.
The highlight was catching a tuna on day 2. We think it may have swallowed the hook completely as it was already dead when we landed it. Karen gutted and filleted it – there’s probably enough for 16 servings!
Arriving in Ahe posed a new challenge – the atoll. Only one way in and always a current dragging you one way or the other. The advice is to enter on slack tide, which in the South Pacific is six hours after moonset or moonrise, that would be 1220 local for us. Our ETA was 1400 which we thought might be too late, so we motored for the last few hours and arrived outside the pass at 1315. It didn’t look too bad so, with life jackets on and the boat buttoned up, we motored though the pass. All good, but definitely not something to do at night or in bad weather.
Three weeks at sea – this is the longest passage of the whole circumnavigation, 2980 nautical miles in a straight line.
But you can’t go in a straight line because you need to go south to pick up the Trade Winds. How far south? Good question.
In our case, we missed the official start because we couldn’t raise the anchor. The chain was snagged on something but it magically freed itself an hour later. Once we were on our way we went a little further west and a little less south than most of the fleet. It still took three days of motoring to find the wind, and even then the wind was less strong and more variable than we’d experienced in the Atlantic.
Code Zero Flying WellNight WatchTunaDiverting to RaindancerPatrick, Karen & Chris
Some of the hightlights of the 21-day passage: a midnight rescue of Raindancer, a non-ARC boat which hit a whale and sank within 15 minutes. Eight ARC boats diverted to the last known position of the liferaft but another non-ARC boat, Rolling Stones, got there first and effected the rescue. Fishing: we threw three fish back which we decided were too small to eat, but landed a tuna and a small mahi mahi. Sun shots: Patrick was keen to use the sextant so between us we took quite a lot of sun shots. Our fixes were usually within 5-10 nm of our GPS position – good enough! Fixing the boat (not really a highlight): the generator played up on this leg. By trial and error and some advice from other boats, I narrowed the problem down to the fuel feed, so we eventually found a way to keep the genny running. Losing the generator means we have to charge the batteries by running the engine, but it also means we can’t run the water-maker.
Chris & KarenThe ChartSmall Mahi Mahi?Land Ahoy!The Watch System
As we finally anchored in the small bay of Hiva Oa, I recorded our total distance as 3080 nm. Here’s to some shorter passages over the next few weeks!