At Sea

South Atlantic – Half Way

On the table in our saloon is a map of the world. We bought it at the beginning of the voyage so that we could keep track of all the places we have been and plan where to go in the future. It’s a Pacific-centred map, so the middle is somewhere around the international date line and the Atlantic Ocean occupies the extreme edges to the right and the left.

For the last few years we’ve looked at that map and thought ‘once we get to the Atlantic we’re practically home. The Atlantic is such a small ocean.’ But it’s really not. We’ve been fooling ourselves. We had to cut the middle bit of the Atlantic off so that the map would fit onto our table, but we’d conveniently forgotten that fact so that it would look like we had less far to go than we actually did.

We left Cape Town one month ago, on March 13th, and today we crossed the half-way point to the Caribbean. We stopped in St. Helena for 4 days and planned to sail directly from there to Fernando De Noronha, an island that lies about 200 miles off the horn of Brazil. But the winds didn’t cooperate and we were forced to the North. We found ourselves passing Ascension Island so we thought ‘why not?’ And pulled in there for a few days for another short rest. Sarah is going to write about those islands in a later blog, but for now I’ll just say that both St. Helena and Ascension were great stops. Fascinating places.

It’s quiet out here. Two days ago we saw a long-line fishing boat from Taiwan, but other than that we’ve seen no signs of human existence since we left Ascension four days ago. The wind is a gentle 10 knots from behind, and tonight we will leave the spinnaker flying overnight. It’s a risk. We could be caught out by a squall and have to dump it in the dark. If something goes wrong it could wrap around the head stay, and if that happens I’m not sure what I’d do. But if we don’t leave it up we won’t be able to sail in such light wind. We’d have to just stop and drift. It might still come to that. We’ll find out soon enough.

We have had some company, albeit not human. Three terns have been using Bob as a roosting spot since we left Ascension. They disappear in the day, but every evening after dark they tern up (har har!) and find a perch. Either they don’t have very good night vision or they simply have no fear. Last night one landed on my head and the night before Sarah managed to get one to land right on her arm. I hope they can get home again when they need to!


  • Grahame Rendell

    The Terns are a good-omen preparing you for the bustle of the Northern Hemisphere. Interesting that they are using you as a transiting roost, with presumably food available in the seas around you. Hope to see a picture one day of the birds in your belfry or playing at being sparrow hawks.

  • Brooksie Snr

    Yep – it too is a big ocean, but you have sailed many more miles than you have left to do in the Atlantic. Just respect it, and it will get you home

  • Vicky Hamshere

    I thought the same about the Atlantic until I looked to find the islands you have visited and are about to visit. Perhaps not so wide, but very long from the tip of South Africa north to the Caribbean…plus getting across to our side!! Huge journey. Love the ‘tern up’! That’s your great grandfather Brass’s gene coming out…he loved those plays on words. There was a sign at my school, attached to the frame, under the portrait of one of the original benefactors. It said NO SMOKING. He asked me (age 9) if I could tell him about Mr. Nosmo King… I thought that was hilarious! 🤣
    Please report on the overnight spinnaker sail! Do you ever swim during long journeys?

    Thinking of you both always,

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