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!
Day 10 at sea, and we’re speeding along at 6 knots heading North by East. Which would be really good, except that we don’t want to be going North by East, we want to be going West North West. Our destination, as it seems to be about 90% of the time, is almost directly down-wind of us and although there is a decent 15 knot breeze, if we try to sail deep down wind it is not enough to keep Bob’s sails full as she rolls back and forth in her characteristically violent fashion.
I suppose I can’t really complain. The first 6 days of this passage were glorious. Calm seas and a gentle wind just aft of the beam propelled us along beautifully. It was like tobogganing on a never-ending slope of powder snow. The cold Benguela current which runs north up the west coast of Africa kept things chilly. Hats and coats stayed on for a few days. But it also gave us clear skies and steady winds, with no squalls or thunderstorms or any of the other nasties that are common in the tropics, and become more-so the further west one travels across any of the world’s oceans.
1150 miles out from Cape Town, with nearly 600 remaining to St. Helena. When we get there we hope to have 3 or 4 days of rest and sight-seeing and then we have to push on towards Brazil. Fingers are crossed that the wind either picks up or shifts one way or another. I’m also hoping we can buy some green food in St. Helena. We’re starting to get low now and it’s a long way to Brazil eating canned and dried stuff!
The photo above shows a fleeting moment of affection between two young impala in Hluhluwe Imfolozi game reserve, about an hours drive from Richards Bay.
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Welcome to the new and improved Voyages of Bob. After looking at some other sailing blogs out there I became inspired to make a few changes to bring our website into the modern era. It has all the same information and photos as before but with a sleek and snazzy new look. We hope you like it as much as we do!