• At Sea

    Homeward Bound

    I keep a running list of jobs to be done. ‘Replace head gaskets’. ‘Check rigging’. ‘Clean filter’. Stuff like that. The list is never finished, but I try not to let it get too long. The more important things, like ‘check rigging before next leg’ go straight to the top, and other things stay there for weeks, months or even years.

    Today I was looking through the list and came across one or two things that have been put off for a while. ‘Replace engine belt’ and ‘oil change on high-pressure pump’. “I’ll do that in the next port”, I thought to myself. “Where are we going again?” “Oh, wait, that’s right………… we’re going to Bermuda.”

    I still haven’t come to terms with the fact that this voyage is finally drawing to its end. Three and a half years of moving constantly from one place to the next, never knowing what to expect, where to buy food, where to get cooking gas, where to buy fuel, or clear customs, or where to anchor in such-and-such a wind direction. What’s the local language and what do we need to be aware of? What’s the crime like? Is it expensive? And most of all, what’s the weather doing? These, and many others, are questions that have been going round and round, over and over in our heads for the last three and a half years. But not for much longer. In Bermuda I will know the answers to all of those questions, the list of things to do will pale into relative insignificance and we will be finding new things to do and new ways to occupy our time. I am approaching that with mixed feelings. On the one hand it will be a shame to lose the stimulation of new places and new things, but on the other we are both definitely ready to move on. The future is far from certain, but I am looking forward to discovering what it has in store.

    In other news, it appears that the Bermuda Triangle is indeed jinxed. The engine has developed two (I think) independent issues, either of which could prove to be quite problematic. The first is that approximately a litre of oil has been mysteriously transferred from the engine into the bilge. It’s clearly leaking from somewhere, but once I’d topped it up and then ran it to try to find the leak none was visible. What was, however, immediately apparent was that the lip seal on the raw water pump has failed. Salt water was pouring out of the pump. At least that explains why the bilges were getting full.

    We had a spare seal, so I spent a few hours last night stripping down the pump. There were some other issues too, but for now I have, to put it technically, ‘bodged’ a repair and we are waiting for the sealant to set.

    Meanwhile, it’s a gorgeous day, albeit stiflingly hot. The ‘wind’ is about 5 knots from astern. We have our large spinnaker set and it’s pulling us along at a sedate 2 and a half knots. It’s Sarah’s least favourite sail. It has nearly pulled her overboard once* and was the cause of a nasty broach a couple of years ago but I’m hoping that moments like this can convince her that it was worthwhile lugging it around the world after all. It certainly looks very spiffy 🙂

    We’re about 170 miles from Bermuda, which we hope to cover in about 48 hours. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve caught myself imagining what it will be like to call ‘Bermuda Radio’ on the VHF. In the not-too-distant future that daydream will become a reality.

    *Sarah says that’s not true. She says it hasn’t been just once, it’s been “a million times”. It is “like attempting to tame The Hulk with a piece of string”

  • British Virgin Islands,  Caribbean

    Our Penultimate Destination: the British Virgin Islands

    You know those feelings when you’re in the last few days of an epic holiday? The feeling of impending doom as your holiday nears its end and you have to get back to the ‘real world’? As your vacation countdown clock ticks away and you feel a tremendous pressure to fully enjoy every last moment? Well, these are what I am feeling now, in our penultimate destination of our three and a half year voyage: the British Virgin Islands, or the ‘BVIs’.

  • St Kitts and Nevis,  St. Martin

    Closing the Loop

    On Wednesday February 10th 2016, Bob hauled in her anchor and set sail from Marigot Bay, St. Martin, bound for Cartagena, Colombia. A little under 3 1/2 years later, on the afternoon of June 10th 2019, the same anchor found purchase on the same sand, and Bob found herself once again clustered

  • Ascension Island,  At Sea,  Brazil,  Caribbean,  Fernando De Noronha,  Martinique,  St Helena

    Crossing the Atlantic

    The photo above is looking up at Bob from somewhere in the depths of the South Atlantic Ocean.

    We’ve made it from one side of the Atlantic to the other. Woohoo! Don’t get me wrong, there’s still a reasonable chunk of Atlantic lying between us and Bermuda that we’ll be tackling over the coming months, but it still feels like a major achievement to cross such a huge swathe of ocean. We’re currently in the Caribbean and working our way north, from Martinique to Nevis, where Alex will be the best man for his best friend’s wedding. I can’t think of anything better after almost two months at sea than a week of celebrations with good friends.

  • At Sea

    Escape from the Doldrums!

    Day 11 at sea. Perhaps another 7 to go.

    We finally made it out of the doldrums five days ago after a frustrating time trying to escape. Every day we worked hard to make it far enough North to find the wind, and every day that wind eluded us. We used up as much diesel as I dare without running the tank dry. The days were slow, grey, rainy and depressing and our daily runs were likewise: we made just 60 miles for two days in a row, then 42 the day after that.

    Finally our luck changed and we picked up a nice force 3 breeze, North Easterly, which built and has stayed between 4 and 6 ever since (about 25 knots at times, which is fairly breezy). The mainsail is double-reefed, reducing it’s size to about 40% of it’s full compliment, and with just a sliver of headsail set as well we have averaged 150 miles per day over the last four days, which might be a record for this old lady.

    There’s not much out here. We’ve stayed about 350 miles offshore to avoid the wicked currents that are often produced by the outflow of the Amazon river. Millions of gallons of fresh water dumping into the Atlantic can make things difficult closer in, generating rough seas, strong currents and turning the surface of the sea a muddy brown colour even 200 miles out. Or so I’ve heard.