torsdag 25. november 2010

We are in Kourou!

Just a short update! We have stopped briefly in French Guyana. We try to find out about the Ariadne launch tomorrow, may be we get to see it from the beach. This is a community that has been build around the space center. Nice and clean in many quarters, and friendly! But also poverty in other places. The reggae music tells us we are approaching the Carribean!

lørdag 20. november 2010

The Guinea Current

At the moment we are sunbathing in the Guinea current which brings water
from the southern Atlantic up to the Carribean. The temperature is 29.2C
in the water, 28.4C in the air. There are only very light winds, but
whether we have reached the Doldrums or not we don't know. There is
after all some wind, 7 knots or so. We have been motorsailing for some
time now, to charge the batteries and to get some progress. Not that the
Guinea current doesn't provide some knots in the speed over ground, too.
We crossed the Equator again, northbound this time, but did not receive
any visit from Miss Neptun or others from her family. That is only for
the first timers. However, we know Ypake were going to cross for the
first time on this leg, so we are anxious to have their report. Did
anyone pay them a visit?
To get some protection from the burning sun we have attached a plastic
net over the cockpit, made from recycled polypropylen. An idea from the
same Ypake! Since it is just a net the wind will blow through it, if
there is some wind, and even if it is not a complete cover it provides a
lot of shadow. A cheap and good alternativ as long as we don't have a
proper bimini. So here we are, lying around in the cockpit, reading
books, relaxing and watching out for any ship that should come in our
way. So far there has not been many, but the other night there was one
heading directly towards us. Again the AIS did prove it's value. The
name of the ship pop'ed up on the screen, and in a few seconds I was in
contact with the other ship. "we are 5 nm ahead of you, approaching. If
we don't do something I think we will be passing very close. Can you see
us on your radar? " I don't think he had spotted us befoe he was
contacted, but after some seconds he answered: "OK, I turn to
starboard". In less than a minute he had turned and we could only see
the red lights. Another 10 minutes or so went by before we passed, and
it could very well be that he would have spotted us anyhow. But it feels
good to know that the other ship has seen you while there is still time
to alter the course!
We did not bring very much fresh food for this passage, as we know it
won't keep for more than 4-5 days in this heat. So now we are out of
potatoes, oranges, papaya, melon.. We still have a tomato, some onions
and a couple of lemons. So from now on the meals will be made from rice,
pasta, canned food and freeze dried variants. And there is always Corn
Flakes so we are fine!
Now I'm heading back to the cockpit to pick up another crime novel,
listen to the audio file of Bill Clinton's My Life or some other
"litterature light". That's all I can manage in this heat.
There is 404 nm to go before we reach Kourou and we have sailed 630 from
Fortaleza. Motorsailing in the Guinea current has given us a speed of 7
knots lately, but we'll soon go back to plain sailing. Hopefully the
light wind won't die off so that we'll still keep a speed of ~5 knots.

Gjertrud

PS: Update on the 20th ov November. This blog appears not to have been
sent yesterday when I wrote it. At the present things are like
yesterday. Position: 3deg 06,8 N - 48deg 27,7W

onsdag 17. november 2010

Somewhere outside the Amazone delta

We left Fortaleza after only 5 days. I'm sure the city is nice and
exciting in many ways, but everyone told us how dangerous it was. You
had to take a taxi wherever you were going, to avoid being mugged! It's
hard to say how dangerous it really was, but all the yachties seemed to
have the same attitude. There is a favela just outside the marina/hotel
complex, but the guards were always there to protect us so we were safe.
So very different from Jacare and Joao Pessoa where we didn't fear
anything except for walking a specific part of the road after darkness.
It was nice to stay in the hotel complex, with swimming pool, tennis
courts, game rooms and all kinds of facilities for us to use. But if
that is all you feel free to do you get bored after some days! At least
some of us do! And especially when our argentine friends had already
left and we are planning to meet them again in the next port!
Actually, we did take a walk in Fortaleza, to the Mercado Central. We
went there with a brazilian couple who wanted company. They observed a
girl who could have been a "scout" for her gang. She slipped through a
hole in the fence as we approached so maybe she had been standing there
to look for potential targets.. Maybe.. We had stripped off any
valuables like watches, belts, purses and so on, but I guess we didn't
blend in too well with the locals.. Anyway, as our brazilian friends
became suspicious we crossed the road and never saw anyone coming after
us. So who knows whether we were in any danger. By the way, the market
was well worth the visit and the dangerous 10 minutes walk each way!
Now we are heading towards French Guyana, and have covered 1/3 of the
distance in a little less than 3 days. We hope to find the current that
is supposed to speed up the boat by a couple of knots.. So far we have
had light winds and a small counter current if our log is correctly
calibrated. There are 20 deg minutes till we reach the Equator and it is
hot both inside and outside. We drink whatever we find to quench the
thirst.
We have sailed 348 nm in 70 hours since Fortaleza and the GPS states
that there are 681 nm to go before we reach Kourou, French Guyana.

Gjertrud

fredag 5. november 2010

Breaking up from Jacare!

Stein came home after more than two weeks in the U.S.. He came from frosty nights and autumn mood in Moses Lake. And in his baggage he had a lot of things from various chandlers in Seattle. There was a birthday gift for me, iPod! (I had already got a hammock..) and also a new and better stereo system for the boat. But most important, the thread inserts for the generator did unfortunately not reach the address in Moses Lake before he left.. The public mail system in the U.S. is probably not as reliable as the freighters who have sent packages from California to Norway in less than a week! Our new Argentine friend, Ezequiel, tried to help by following us around the mechanical shops in Joao Pessoa to see if they had helicoils (threaded inserts) in dimension M9. But of course we did not find it: They had both M8 and M10, M9 but was apparently unusual. Then he helped us with an emergency repair he has used with success on his old 2CV, epoxy mass on the threads. Unfortunately it did not hold up when tightening the bolts in the end. But we can do without the generator until we get to Trinidad ..
As mentioned, we have made new friends, it's the Sundblad family from Argentina on the steel boat SY Ypake! A teenager family like us! It was about time for both Thorstein and Ingeborg to spend some time with peers. They are Ezequiel and Florence with Santiago 18, Josefina 13 and Pilar 9.And everyone speaks English even! The days have therefore been about some city tours, many swimming trips to the pool here (which was not very exciting until you got someone to be with there ..), watching movies in one or the other boat (action in one boat, romantic movies the other) a few sessions with school activities up in the marina office area and otherwise chat, chat, chat ... There have been several BBQ's too, it is apparently an Argentine specialty. One day we were served a morning tea "mate". Pilar, Ezequiel and Florence knocked on the bow and came on board with a cup and a thermos flask filled with hot water. The cup was half full with mate herbs and was filled with water from the thermos. Then the cup went around from mouth to mouth. It was repeatedly filled with water as it was very good and we were seven persons in the cockpit. We drank through a metal straw that was stuck to the bottom, and if there were some diseases among us the condition should be favorable for some disease spreading. But that is how the mate is to be consumed and shared. If you are bid mate it is as much a social invitation as a bid for a drink. And it is a big insult to say no! It is not really tea, but brewed on some herbs that are found in Argentina and Uruguai. The whole thing is an ancient Indian practice that is alive and well among the present Argentines, although there is very little Indian blood left in the silver country.
To do something in return, I made waffles one day. And it seemed as if the Argentines liked them! At such occasions, I am glad we have brought the waffle iron! Then I can offer a little piece of Norway in return for the invitations. It has always been well received, although most people in Brazil think of bacalao in connection with Norway! "Bacalao de Noruega é muito caro!" It is so expensive that it is largely out of reach, I understand. Here they must do with bacalao from Portugal..
The Sundblad family took off last Saturday, and now we've got the speed up too. We want to catch up with them again, and they have already reached Fortleza! At the moment I can summarize that we have scrubbed the hull and added a new coat of antifouling. Blue this time, but that's OK. It was what they had. We have been alongside the pier on the river bank in two days, and we have all worked hard to get a faster boat without grass, shellfish colonies and other organisms as stowaways below the water line.
I must also mention that it was an unusual sight that met us at the pier two days ago. Another Norwegian ship! It was SY Freya, who had come over from Cape Verde via Fernando de Noronha. We'll talk more with them when we are back in our berth again. There are two gentlemen on board, one from my home town Trondheim even! It's always a pleasure to meet people who speak our language, not least!
But then we will also order fuel, wash some clothes and do the final preparations. And hopefully we're off this weekend.

Gjertrud

søndag 17. oktober 2010

Two months in Jacare!

We have experienced a new phenomenon here in Brazil. Both when we were at the Port Administration checking in and when I was at the eye doctor for a check up. The limited language abilities of the Port Officer and of the receptionist at the doctor alike is compensated for by using Google translate! They were both very quick to start typing their questions and answers in Portuguese and letting me read the translation. It actually worked out quite well, even though you have to guess a little to get the meaning. So now I thought I would give it a try here at the blog, too. I have translated my last two blogs from Norwegian to English with the help of Google translate! I must admit I spent some time correcting a few words and expressions to give meaning to it, so I don't know if it really saved me much time compared with starting from scratch. Anyway, here they are. I hope you'll enjoy them, and I'll appreciate all comments on how it turned out!

September 15

With a big chopping knife he cut a precise cut, first on one side, then on the other. Finally, we were going to give it a try, and honestly, I can not understand why we have not done this before! You find them everywhere along the roads selling green, fresh coconuts. 70 centavos apiece, about 35 €cents. We're a little squeamish, afraid of doing it wrong maybe. Well, we could not do it all wrong as we have seen how the others do it. And the coconut is served sliced and ready to drink with a straw. Wimpy or not, now we did it! Admittedly, one for sharing, but it was a start! We were out walking this Sunday with people from other boats. Had lunch at a local eatery and walked along the beach and looked at surfers who had great conditions in the waves. It was actually a contest today between surfers from different schools. I think it was about time, how long they stayed up on the board. Or maybe it was the style? I actually do not know, but I think they were good! One of the others in our party was Gregory from Russia. He found it was a good time to show Ingeborg and Thorstein how he and his friends spent hours on the beaches to kick / throw wet sand at each other. Of course, it ended with soaked and sandy teens, but we have the washing machine ..
But this should be about what we eat here in Brazil. And nutrition in Brazil should include lots of fruits and vegetables! 5 a day (Norwegian saying for how much fruits or vegetables you should take every day), what is that? A couple of squeezed oranges for breakfast, plus one or two bananas and we are close to five already! In addition, sliced papaya, mango, passion fruit, melon and pineapple in between as snacks. To my despair though, I found out I'm allergic to pineapple! Got a rash and itch all over my body after Ingeborg and I had shared a fresh pineapple. But it's so good! Anyway, now I can drink fresh coconut (!), fruit juices of all kinds, guarana, acerola .. I've fallen in love with the zuco graviola, graviola juice, which is milky white, sweet and good. I sucked gorgeous juices from a caju fruit one day, but the consistency of the pulp was a bit too leathery for my taste. (Yes, it's the same fruit that the cashew nuts come from). We really have to taste our way through everything!
I must admit that I pretty much make the same dishes now as I'm used to, based on ground beef or chicken fillets. The quality of meat products are great, and costs a fraction of the Norwegian price. I'm trying to supplement with some of the new, unknown, but there is much I have not yet tried to cook: root vegetables like sweet potatoes and manioc, maize, beans .. For dinner I tried serving roasted eggplants in tomato sauce the other day, but it was not entirely successful. That is, I think it was really good, but the others need getting used to it.. (And maybe the chef must improve the cooking ..) All in all I have to figure out how to prepare all these strange produce so that it will taste good. Had I only spoke Portuguese! Over by the "saxophone restaurants", I've mentioned them before, we found little bars that sell tapioca for 2-3 reais (1,5€) apiece. They are pancakes baked by manioc flour, lovely with ham and cheese, or coconut and condensed milk in it for a dessert. It looks easy enough to cook, but easy and cheap to buy at the tapioca bars, too.
Mostly we buy what we need of food here in the neighboorhood. If we need to provision more we go to Intermares which is a twenty minutes walkaway. Then they help us to a taxi back if we buy for more than 150 reais! The goods are sorted and packed in bags of their own staff and rolled out to the taxi that they have called for. We can only sit in and pay the deductible of three reais for transport! We are getting spoiled .. If I want to experience the big fruit market I go to the Mercado Central in Joao Pessoa. Big halls filled with fruits and vegetables, meat, grains and spices.
That's all for now. Now I'm going out on shopping with Chris. I will shop for exotic fruits and also provide some shoes with worn soles to the shoemaker. Yes, you can even find a shoemaker here!

Gjertrud


October 13

Another month has passed by, and we are still in Jacaré. Truly a lovely place to be! Today is "Dia de Crianza", Children's Day, so everything is closed in the city! We didn't know it, and were surprised to find empty streets on a Tuesday morning .. Well, the weather was fine and we strolled around the quiet streets for a while; Ingeborg, Thorstein and me. Our agenda had been to find an eye doctor to do a test of the vision of Ingeborg and Thorstein. I found out that glasses are really cheap here, at least compared with Norwegian prices. So if it should be needed it would be OK to organize here. Originally we had planned to leave this river by now. But since Stein was called for again by REC we found it was best to stay here where we know it is relatively safe and easy to stay. You hear different things about the various ports and I would not like to be left alone with Ingeborg and Thorstein in all of them. The school year has begun, and both Ingeborg and Thorstein have their daily sessions with the books. Right now Ingeborg is doing a test in math, by the way, and later in the week both geography and science tests are coming up. Thorstein is struggling a bit with the Norwegian language variety "Nynorsk" nowadays. He has actually not had any of it before so it's a challenge with many unfamiliar words.

It is strange how quickly one gets used to new surroundings, and how fast all that exotic stuff becomes common. When we stay so long in one place it also means that you start to know people a bit, and they know you. Ingeborg even has a flock of fans up in the street that comes and calls her out virtually every day. Everyone is a little younger than her, but find it exciting to play with a "gringa". They barely speak a few words in English and she speaks only a little Portuguese, but they learn from each other it seems. And with the help of Portuguese-English dictionary. She listens to their music, sees the dances, learns the dances. They play some soccer and UNO (card game). The rules of the card game are certainly not as strict as she is used to, but that is the same with many things in this country. At least according to Guillermo, our neighbor on the pier who is a Brazilian from Rio. "What we have to offer is liberty.." he said. "It's a wonderful country!" Such as freedom from the bus tables. No one seems to know them, not even the bus drivers ... according to Guillermo. I was waiting for the Jacaré bus one day when a woman from the neighborhood recognized me and was wondering how long I had been waiting. That way she could find out when the bus was to be expected. No wonder it is a market for "Los alternativos": Pirate taxis that pick up people from bus stops. They pull over at the bus stop, roll down the window and shout where they are going. People who don't want to wait any longer gladly accept a seat. Occasionally there are some who shout "Jacaré!" and it has actually worked out twice for me! For the same price as the bus they take you to your requested destination. All sorts of people provides a lift and all sorts of people use the services. I feel a little less touristy when I use the "alternativo", but I guess that is a bit silly..

The first week we were here we got to know quite a few people on the other boats in the marina. French, Russian, Finnish, Polish, German, Brazilian. Twice we have had barbecue parties by the bar which is a good way to meet and get to know people. One of the fanciest boats that were here when we arrived was a fifty-something-foot long French, aluminium yacht. Red and shiny, a real jewel. Some of us imagined the crew to be a lineup including pretty bikini girls with big hats.. One day the owner came on board along with two comrades who were to participate on the journey to the south. They intend to go to Antarctica, hoping to set a record as the oldest crew that has sailed to this continent! Just listen: The owner is almost 70, the second in command is nearly 80 and the youngest is a partly retired companion of nearly 60. It had not been settled completely that they are going all the way to Antarctica yet, but Cape Horn was for sure. In addition to sailing, they were mountain climbers all of them, and still active! The owner, Jean Pierre, has sailed the Norwegian coast all the way to Svalbard, so he knows what he's up to. He was formerly general director of the French Space Agency by the way, and had thus been commanding chief for the plant for launching Ariadne rockets in Kourou, French Guiana. He kindly provided us with us a greeting to Madeleine, who runs the restaurant at Kourou. I think we'll have to stop by!

Until they went a week ago, we spent a lot of time with Chris and Daniel who were here at the edge of the pier in their steel boat Irun. They brought with them the Yorkshire Terrier puppy Hermann that we could borrow as much as we wanted. An offer especially Ingeborg appreciated. They are both Brazilians, but Chris was raised in the United States. Language-wise it was therefore very easy to communicate with them, unlike with most other crews where English does not flow so easily. Chris has taken us around the shops she knows, followed me to the hairdresser to convince them how short I wanted it to be cut (!), shown us where the exquisite shops and craft outlets in the district Tambau are located! Daniel has helped us communicate with the "steel man" who has made some new brackets and chain plates to be installed on the boat. Sure, always something to improve or add to the boat! But then last Saturday Chris, Daniel and Hermann were off to new destinations and eventually Carribean like us. Maybe we will meet them again somewhere in the Caribbean if not before. We keep in touch by mail and hope it will be possible. By the way, it was Hermann who helped establish contact with the kids up in the street, too. Ingeborg and Thorstein was taking him for a walk almost daily, up the street to the train station, down to "Por do Sol", which is the name of the area where the sunset restaurants are, and back to the marina. The walk usually took around 20 minutes, but as Diane, Jamil, Diego and the others gathered around them when they came, the walks gradually took longer, and one day Ingeborg realised she had new friends. Great!

Lately there has been a lot of Brazilians on the pier. They have participated in a joint event where 60 ships have sailed the same route from Rio to Fernando de Noronha within 3 months and visited large and smaller places along the coast. For us all the Brazilian neighbors means that it is a little harder to communicate with them. Again, I wish I had been able to speak more languages!

As I mentioned before, Stein is in the US at the moment. We rented a car to take him to the airport in Recife, as we do not feel confident that we can trust a taxi to come here on a Saturday morning at 5. There is 120 km to Recife. We even went down there to retrieve the ticket the week-end before. It turns out that internet tickets are not always the most convenient, for instance when American Airlines does not accept payment by credit cards issued by other than a small number of countries, and bank employees in this region have gone on strike! As all alternative tickets cost at least 10000 NOK more we decided to go to Recife to get it... Anyway, that way we got to see the seafront of Recife, Via Boagem too! And we stopped in Olinda which is an old town with UNESCO status just outside Recife. We found a restaurant overlooking the harbor. An orchestra with steel drums and ukulele stood in a corner of the terrace creating bossa nova rhythms. Some started dancing between the tables. They do not need an excuse to swing their hips around here, and I wish I dared throw myself into it .. But I'm afraid I fall short in these surroundings. They roll their hips from they are five years old until their legs do not carry them anymore. Wonderful!

I still have not mentioned much about the work that is or should be done to the boat before we leave. Eg. that the generator was lifted out of it's space for maintenance just before Stein left. He replaced the top gasket which has been only temporarily acceptable since it was "repaired" with mouldable gasket material in Malta. As it turned out we got a larger problem: The bolts holding the top lid is screwed into the aluminum goods of the engine. With a workshop manual on the table and torque wrench in hand bolts were tightened as prescribed. When the last bolt was screwed in, it was impossible to tighten. Long before the tension had reached the table value the threads lost the grip. The aluminium must have been too hot at some point and lost it's strength. The captain eventually realised that it must be related to the second issue that has arisen: The heat exchangers in the hot water tank has corroded through so it's kaput. A few weeks ago we began to see that it was damp, just inside the entrance. But since it was still almost daily rain showers, it took time before we realised that the water did not come from outsde, but from the serge tank of the cooling water of the generator! With holes in the heat exchanger the coolant loop was under pressure from the pressurised water system. When we were crossing the Atlantic Ocean and used the generator several times a week we noticed that the cooling water seemed to decrease inexplicably .. By then we had turned off the tap water to save water and the fluid flow was probably out of the coolant loop and into the hot water tank .. We also saw that the generator was hot and stopped at one time. Thus it has been overheated! One thing leads to another, and it is not only a good idea that all systems are interconnected. Now Stein provides some threaded inserts to replace those that have been broken so let's hope we get the generator back together. Why does every small job turn into a bigger one! We can do fine without the hot water tank for now, but it'll have to be either replaced or repaired before we move towards colder areas again. I do not know if this description was very understandable, but I guess the details are not so important to others than ourselves anyway. To have said it: We will clean the hull also before we go north. We tie Sirius up to the dock here at high tide and scrub the hull at low tide. It will be exciting, since it is the first time we try this type of dry docking! But we have seen others doing it so we think it will be OK. The paint they sell here is expensive and no good, by the way. Better to wait until Trinidad says Olli and Marja on Fågelblå. There you get Seahawk with booster ... So we'll probably lift Sirius ashore for a week when we get there, both to raise the water line and to put on the new antifouling.

I have got to stop now, although I have not mentioned the election and the election campaign we have been watching. I have some movie clips I'll get posted eventually, and lots of pictures ..

Gjertrud

fredag 20. august 2010

Rio Paraiba, Brazil!

Finally, we made it!
We had a good breeze ever since crossing the Equator, and made the last part of the crossing in just one week! It really felt good when we could sense the smell of the tropics! Green, green landscape, other boats, people.. There is a substantial tide here, and we had to time our entrance to the river accordingly. 2,4m tidal difference and a shallow river. We made it in time for the first high tide and didn't have to wait. Some hours more or less shouldn't matter after a month at sea, but at the time it felt like it did! Well, now we are here in Jacare Yacht Marina, a small marina on the riverbank of Rio Paraiba. The surroundings are Jacare, a small fishermans village, restaurants and bars at Praia do Jacare and Jacare Marina Club, a motor boat club, on the other side. It's not a very posh neighboorhood, but quite nice and safe it seems.
On Tuesday we made it to Cabedelo where the immigration authorities, customs and harbour offices are located. We took the train from Jacare, and saw how they are handling the security at the trains around here. In every train station and on every wagon of the train there were armed guards watching over us. Besides obtaining safety for the passengers they have seemed to scare potential taggers from decorating the walls: The equipment was worn, but still in it's original colours.. We were not quite sure about how to find the offices in the harbour. Thanks to a Brazilian guy, Luis, who we met on the train, we found the offices at once. Without his guidance I'm afraid we could have spent hours trying to find them.. Not many people speak English here and there are not many signs showing directions in the streets. Anyway, the formalities were no problem and we are now legally in the country for three months.
At sunset the restaurants and bars in Praia do Jacare are filled with people who come to see the sunset and to watch the saxophonist playing Ravels Bolero in his boat. He has done so every sunset for the last 10 years or so, they say.. We went there last Sunday for a nice meal and to experience this institution. Lots of people try to make money on this happening, so we only hope the saxophonist gets his fair share!
One night we were afraid we were observing the start of a major forest fire! Across the river we could see the flames spreading over quite a large area. The smell of burnt vegetation was evident the next morning, but we couldn't see any more fire. As it turned out it is the start of the sugar harvest! The initial step of the process is to set fire to the leaves, and this is what we saw! I guess they had it all under control..
We have also visited Joao Pessoa one day. This is the main city of the area and capital of Paraiba state. There is so much to see and we have only just started. Tomorrow we plan to attend to an excursion to a cachaça distillery in Areia a city, 80 km inland from here.
That's all for now!

Gjertrud

lørdag 7. august 2010

We have crossed the Equator!

It has taken us another two weeks before we could finally cross the Equator. The course we had laid out for the passage turned out not to be a good one.A short while after I wrote the last report we started to realise that we were being taken west by some quite strong currents. And the boat would hardly be moved by the wind! During our short swim in the Doldrums we had seen some nasty looking organisms clinging onto the hull. They were reddish and somewhat  jellyish, different from the ones we have had before. Could it be these that were dragging us this much? Anyway, we decided to try and scrape it off in order to gain some more speed. This time we used metal scrapes to be efficient. During a couple of hours we had done quite a lot and decided to see if things had changed. Well, it hadn’t changed much so we needed to do something drastic if we wanted to reach the destination we had chosen. After careful studies of the pilot charts, and an old map showing the routes of the sailing merchant ships we realised we needed to go East in order to reach Brazil! There we could catch some of the southgoing currents that could carry us out of the NW currents that were effectively hindering us where we were. So we made a 300 nm detour against Africa before heading south again. And alas! Here we are, south of Equator, heading straight towards Cabedelo in Brazil. Actually, we are now aware of the powers of the NW going currents, and try to keep as far south as we can to have some margin in case the wind dies or something changes unfavorably. There seems to be no problem to get back north again in these waters!

Ours is gonna be one of the very slow Atlantic crossings, but were fine! We have water and food, and yesterday we even catched our first dorado! A small one, 3,7 kilos, but perfect for the celebration of the Equator crossing! Miss Neptun even paid us a visit, so our crossing must havs been registered with the Master of the Ocean!

So long then, until Brazil!

 

Gjertrud

lørdag 24. juli 2010

The Doldrums

A short report from us here in the Doldrums! We startet out from Cape Verde last Thursday, 9 days ago, after having given the hull a big scrub while at anchor off Santa Antao. We never visited this island, but were actually visited by some islanders who came swimming out! They were obviously curious about the newcomers, and what they might have been after was to make us come ashore the next day to be showed around. As we had cleared out of Cape Verde the day before, with the intention of leaving as soon as we had releaved the boat of some of the barnacles and whatever there was growing under the waterline, we didn’t want to take the chance of any trip ashore. To bad, probably, especially one of them seemed to be an ambitious young man who wanted to be able to make a living as a tourist guide. Anyway, the day after we left after some hard work with snorkel and mask and wooden scrapes. We had a good wind and headed south towards the island Brava, the most south-westernern of the Cape Verde islands. We never anchored there as we had sort of planned for, but decided to just continue towards Brasil.

After some good sailing, slowly, in light winds that is, we finally reached the Doldrums some days ago. But when is it that you have reached the Doldrums? What wind speed can it be and still be counted as the Doldrums? Of course we know there are squalls in the Doldrums that can have a considerable wind speed, but when the stable wnd from east comes well below 10 knot we regarded it as the start of the Doldrums. Then these last 24h we have had a stable wind below 5 knots, and that is really a lot less! The surface of the ocean is like a mirror, like we saw it in the film “Master and Commander”, when they were drifting in the flat seas south of Galapagos.Anyway, it doesn’t really matter what we call it. Until yesterday we chose to be purists, and did not start the engine once. But after some hours spent, drifting backwards at 0,5 knots due to the current (equatorial Counter Current?) we decided to spend some diesel. So now we have motored for the last 18 hours, and still there is not much wind to sail on. Eventually, however, we trust there will be wind again that will take us south-west towards Brasil.

On this passage we have so far seen lots of flying fish, a large group of dolphins and also a whale! The latter was of course the most fascinating, as none of us has seen one before! It even finalised the show with a flip with the tail before diving out of sight. It was really a grat view! We have also experienced the feeling of swimmimg in the see where the bottom is to be found 5000 meters below.. A bit thrilling, but hardly chilling as the temperature was above 30 deg in the water!

As I’m writing this the sun is rising and it looks as we are going to have another sunny day. No more squalls like the one two days ago, which gave us all a nice shower and also the ability to topping up the water tanks a bit. Next time we will improve the remedies for rain collection as it truly was a lot of valuable water hitting the boat!

Thats all for now, from position 9° 37N 26° 57 W.

 

Gjertrud

tirsdag 13. juli 2010

Update from Mindelo

We are very close to leave for the longest stretch towards Brazil now, and will give a short update from our stay in Mindelo before we go. The two weeks we have spend here has been relaxed, walking around the streets, looking in some of the numerous China-shops, watching football from South Africa, visiting the nearby tourist complex Point d'Agua for a dip in the pool or drink in the bar and so on.. We have really had a good time and have not felt the urge to continue towards Brazil too soon.
Before we came here we read mixed reports from other sailors about the conditions in this place. Theft and robbery, bad quality and expensive food, social problems, but also descriptions of a friendly people. We have found the people here to be most friendly and helpful, and we haven't heard about anyone being robbed in this period. We certainly see a lot of poor people, begging for money, but only very few seems to be really hungry. They might have overcharged us in the markets, but only once did we feel really fooled by this guy selling "jewellry".. However, the loss was not more than we can take. Most of the food that we have bought has been of good quality, and not much more expensive than in Spain. It depends a lot on what you're after, but what is produced locally is not expensive. The locally grown fruits we have found are bananas, mango and papaya. We have realised that we are now probably south of the oranges!.. A very strange feeling for someone coming from Norway! However, the diversity is not like in a Spanish supermarket of course, so you'll have to take what they have..
The marina has probably been upgraded since the last reports were written, as now they have employees taking your lines and no boat boy has tried to sell his services to us during our stay. The sanitary facilities are quite OK. And there are guards watching over the marina at all times it seems, some times they are even police officers.
Last Monday on the 5th they celebrated the Independence Day with a big party in the streets on the night before. On the day the military troops marched in the streets and received a big applause from the crowds. We know this country spend very little on their forces, only 0,5% of the BNP, so they are actually not very aggressive! Then two days later the president of Portugal paid a visit to Mindelo, showing us that there are very good relations between the former colony masters and the liberated people. This day was also rounded off with another consert and big party in the night. We didn't have to leave the boat to listen to the music! Anyway, we went up to the concert area for a while also, to have a taste of the real party..
As I am writing this it is actually a little rain in the air. It is the rainy season, but the rain they get here is scarse. The last days have been very hot and humid, and hardly any wind at all. We drink a lot to avoid dehydration, and feel quite OK. We have become better at dealing with it now.
The forecasts predict very little wind in the coming period too, so the leg to Brazil might take some time. Anyway, we are stocked up now and are ready to go. Next report will probably be from Brazil!

fredag 25. juni 2010

Marina Mindelo!

We arrived in Mindelo, Cape Verde Islands this morning. It took more than the week we anticipated, but then we have not motored at all. There was a steady wind from NNE, which meant we had to gybe some times. The boat was rolling in the waves, so the activities onboard were limited to reading, some games, cooking, eating, sleeping. But every day seemed to be so short we seldom felt like arranging more than two meals a day..
Today is Bank Holiday and the Immigration and Customs are closed. So we will have to wait till tomorrow for the bureaucracy. Now we'll test the showers in this quite new marina. Then we'll have a look at the surroundings. Might be football from South Africa on the big screens here, too? It's Brazil against Portugal today. Wonder which is the favourite in an old Portuguese colony?

Gjertrud

Thorsteins blog's from last week

Blog 1
The first days towards Cape Verde
Now we've been out at sea for 36 hours, so I guess it's time for the first report. I must say things have been very nice so far, with decent wind (at least until lately) and not too bad waves (they are quite tall, but they aren't steep, so it's just a continuous roll). Everything seems to work the way it should. We are testing the wind rudder for the first time, and so far it works very well. I've named it HAL (not the official name yet, because of resistance from my sister <.<), as it's reliable like the original as long as you don't feed him lies :p It has steered the boat steadily, almost without a sound. And all the power it needs, it gets from the wind! We've also tried the towed generator, but the wind dropped, so our speed isn't sufficient for it to spin fast enough. The solar panels work pretty well though ^^ We're currently powered 100% through renewable resources!

Blog 2
Hello, time for a new update! I'll start a few hours after I left off last time. I was sitting inside reading when I suddenly hear my sister shout that she sees a large fish! Everyone go up, and there it was, a sizable dorado, looking almost fluorescent in the evening light. It swam lazily beside and behind the boat. It was a very nice fish, and we'd heard it was also very nice tablefare, so we got the fishing rod outside. Sadly, it didn't seem all too interested in either the "squid" or "wobbler" we tried, and dinner was ready, so we packed up the fishing rod for the day. The next day it was gone. Better luck next time I hope :p

In other news, the 100% renewable energy run we had resulted in the battery decharging far enough for the voltage to fall too low for our electrical systems to keep going. The diesel beast was the only sensible option. After a while we noticed the charge regulator that the solar panels were connected to had partly melted. Disconnecting it, and connecting our renewable energy sources straight to the battery, we saw a large increase in charging capacity. Now we just need to make sure the voltage doesn't get too high.

Finally, we've gotten some wind again! It started yesterday, and apparently the combination of 2-2.5m high waves and 20-30 knots of wind was a bit hard for HAL to handle. We've managed to tweak things a little, so now HAL steers quite well again. We're going at a steady 5-6 knots, sometimes more. Cape Verde islands on Wednesday?

Blog 3
Hello again! Here's a blog from 20*17.5 N 23*21.5 W :) We've now been at sea for a week, and HAL is stearing better than ever! We hardly do anything to steer the oat at the moment, so we get a lot of time to read, think and just look at the sea. Yesterday we were visited by a large group of dolphins that played around the boat for the good part of an hour, surfing on the waves. It's hard to get tired of watching their acrobatics!
This morning we also found flying fish on the foredeck. We'd heard everyone talk about them, but we hadn't really checked until now. Most seemed pretty stiff, probably had been there for some time, but a few still seemed edible, so in the pan they went. They did taste pretty nice! We've also seen more and more flying fish around the boat, jumping out of waves, sometimes in lare schools. They really do seem to fly, although they only float on the wind. But when you see them do bird-like manouevres it's hard to believe that's all they do.
If we're to determine a time of arrival based on our average speed until now, we'll get to the Cape Verde islands on Thursday. We're planning to stop at Sao Vicente for a couple of days. Will keep in touch!

søndag 13. juni 2010

We are leaving Las Palmas!

Tomorrow we are leaving Gran Canaria, Spain and Europe. We are heading for Cape Verde Islands where we plan a short stop before continuing our journey to Brazil. Whether we end up in Fortaleza or Cabedelo in Brazil depends on the weather and currents. This morning another boat came in to our pontoon, and they are heading towards Cape Verde and then Trinidad in a couple of days. This means we might have some company on our way over. The bad news this week was the spotting of a cockroach in the pentry.. We hope for the best, that it was a lonesome fellow with no ability to lay eggs...

tirsdag 1. juni 2010

søndag 30. mai 2010

Dia de Canarias!















Today is the National Day of the Canary Islands. Ingeborg and I went to Pueblo Canarias, a museum/restaurant complex, where there was going to be traditional dancing and music. It was very nice! Colourful costumes and guitar music, and also some traditional songs which seemed to be well known among the audience! We took lots of photos and videofilms, so we'll try to make a small thing for YouTube again. Tomorrow the shops are closed because of today's celebration, so we'll have to find something else to do instead of the planned provisioning..
Noonsite (a sailors website) reported that a lot of timber logs have been observed in the waters between here and Cape Verde Islands lately, appearantly of unknown origin. We'll have to find out more about this as it would not be nice to run into one of them during the dark night.

søndag 23. mai 2010

May month in Las Palmas.

We have enjoyed many weeks in Las Palmas now, but start to look forward to the Atlantic crossing at last! There are always some more preparations you could do, but I think we have covered the most important now. The captain is away for some days, and this trip that came up is the real reason we haven't left already. It has been good to have some quiet weeks for the teenagers aboard also, as there was some studying that had been neglected for some time. Anyway, now Ingeborg has had several tests and seems to have absorbed the curriculum that was scheduled. Thorstein has also had progress on his part, but we need to start a more formalised program for him now.

May month is filled with holidays in Norway, and we have been lucky to find other Norwegians to celebrate them with. Ingeborgs birthday was a success even if the cream cake fell upside down on the cockpit floor.. 17th of May is the National Day of Norway, and we were invited for a party aboard one of the other Norwegian boats. Norwegian food, Grieg music, singing and talking made it a very special day for us.

The weather is getting warmer all the time, but it has not been very hot here in Las Palmas, yet. It has probably been more sunny on the south coast, but we are actually glad for temperatures below 20deg when we go to sleep..

We had a walk in the old city district Veguetas one of the days, and last night Ingeborg and I made a film out of our recordings. Have a look!

Gjertrud

tirsdag 4. mai 2010

St. Patricks Day, Gibraltar!

Just found a short film I took while celebrating St. Patrick's Day in Gibraltar. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hZr4KkdUaiI
Enjoy!

torsdag 29. april 2010

Still here in Las Palmas!

We are still here, preparing for the next step. We think it will be Brazil somewhere, if we are not stopping at the Cape Verde Islands. But first we must do a few things, like installing an extra solar panel, repair some scratches on the bow.., change a broken piece of the watermaker, hook up the SSB, install the Hydrovane... And Ingeborg and Thorstein have a period of more intense studies as we don't know how easy it will be while we are underway. Well, we have to know where we are also, so last week-end we rented a car to see more of the island. We drove down to the south where we had been with the boat earlier. Walked around in Playa del Ingles and in Arguinegin together with all the tourists. Then we headed north, through the mountains and found some of the very "scenic routes". Some road blocks were poorly marked so we ended up with some detours. But it was a wonderful landscape, strange rock formations and the view over to Tenerife and Teide behind clouds and mist. A remote finca had put up a stall by the road where they sold wine, honey and various other of their produces. We bought a bottle of wine but haven't tasted it yet. I'm afraid it won't gain much from storage.. so we'll taste it before we leave. We have also seen that there is a museum presenting the original inhabitants of the islands here in Las Palmas, Pueblo Canarias. I hope we find time to visit before we leave.

Gjertrud

tirsdag 6. april 2010

Las Palmas!

We have arrived safely in Las Palmas, Gran Canaria, after a smooth sail from Gibraltar. Originally we planned to stop for a day in Lanzarote, but after a couple of days at anchor south of Isla Graciosa we decided to go directly to Gran Canaria. Anniken, Ingeborgs friend will arrive tomorrow, and we didn't want to have a too tight time schedule. The summer has arrived also, with a forecast of sunny days and 20 degC all of next week.
As indicated the weather has been good for sailing over the Easter week. Even if the first days were a bit too calm and later it was a bit rolly with the Atlantic swells. But all in all within the limits of what is good sailing conditions. We have tried the cruising chute and the mizzen staysail for the first time. Really, colorful and nice sails for the light winds of the first days. We have seen a lot of dolphins, and even observed how they were surfing just below the surface when the waves was big enough.. It looked as if they had a real good time, too!
More scary was it to encounter a fishing boat that must have sunk just before we came. Only the tip of the bow was above the surface, while another fishing boat was patroling the area to make sure no-one would hit the wreck!

lørdag 27. mars 2010

Setting sail again

After almost 3 weeks in Gibraltar, we are now setting sail again, this time our destination is the Canary Islands! It will be the longest trip yet, at 688 Nm, but if the weather doesn't misbehave it should take about 5 to 6 days. The island we are aiming for is Gran Canaria.

tirsdag 9. mars 2010

In Gibraltar

We are now moored in Ocean Village Marina, Gibraltar, after a pretty hard trip from Cartagena. We did get the wind with us this time, but when it reaches storm strength, it isn't that comfortable anymore. It took 3 days. All crew were well when we came to port.

Then we experienced another storm yesterday night. This time our boat was struck into the concrete pontoon, which we obviously couldn't let happen. The anchoring rope also fastened itself in our propeller. Some english guys came over and helped us out so that we got a line from another pontoon directly behind the boat, holding us off. This whole thing took a few hours, and we didn't get to bed before around 3am.

fredag 5. mars 2010

Leaving for Gibraltar

We are leaving Cartagena today, going towards Gibraltar. If the weather is anything like the forecast says, we should be able to get there in a few days. If the weather goes bad we'll find a sheltered anchorage (we are sailing along the coast, so there's bound to be one close by). It's about 225 nautical miles to sail.

Hasta pronto!
Thorstein

tirsdag 2. mars 2010

Cartagena!

We arrived in Cartagena on Saturday after a days sail from San Pedro. Not too much wind, but we had fog! It was the first time that we were navigating with the aid of a fog horn. We heard the sound from the light house at Cabo the Pelos far ahead of us as the coast landscape disappeared, and we could easily recognise it as we passed. Of course, we have all the other means of knowing where we are, map, GPS, radar, but it was comforting to hear that we were on the right track!

Cartagena has lots of history and so far we have barely started exploring it. We visited the new Museo Arqueologico Submarine this morning. And have picked a few others for tomorrow. But we have had visiting friends from Norway on board, and we will visit them in their holiday home today! Teenagers even, so it is great for Ingeborg and Thorstein.

When the new ceramic top for our cooker arrives from England we will either sail on to a new destination or stay to finish the repair. It depends on the weather most of all.

onsdag 24. februar 2010

A bumpy sail to San Pedro de Pinatar!

We arrived on the peninsula, by Torrevieja just after midnight on the 22. The trip should have taken around 40 hours if we could have sailed a straight line.. The weather forecasts were not too bad before we started, but it turned out they were too optimistic! We sailed almost twice the distance and spent more then 80 hours at sea. The wind direction was not NW as we had thought it would be, but SW.. Met a gale south east of Ibiza that gusted up to 40 knots.. This was our first sail after the dismasting so we didn't like it very much.. There were thunderstorms visible on the sky to the west, so Ibiza did not seem like a nice rescue either. After heaving to for some hours, to see if things would change, we decided to turn around and go north of Ibiza. We had reefed down as much as we could, and had reduced the speed to 4-5 knots. It was sunny and the conditions were not too bad on board. But the appetite for food was reduced.. Poor Ingeborg was sick, and ended up sleeping in the cockpit all through the second night. North west of Ibiza we tried to steer as close to our destination as possible, but the wind kept blowing directly in our faces. We expected lighter winds, and maybe from a different direction closer to the coast and steered a northwesterly course towards Valencia. As we approached the coast we realized the wind was rather stronger than lighter. To avoid being trapped north of the cape separating Costa Brava and Costa Blanca we decided to turn around and sail in the SE direction. Eventually the wind died down a bit and it was time to start the engine. We could relax after a tough "come-back" at sea. The appetite was back and we enjoyed delicious meals of hot sausages with bread, coffe, cereals and bisquits.. The last distance was split by a night at anchor off Torrevieja. We enjoyed a good night sleep and could arrive in a quite good shape in San Pedro the day after.
All in all it had been a good sail, even if it was a bit tougher than we had wanted for testing the new equipment..

søndag 14. februar 2010

Back again..

We turned around after half an hour. A leakage in a diesel line this time.. Well, it's a small thing and we don't want to get depressed over such a bagatelle. Now we'll meet with the people from Rigging Mar again tomorrow, and we will hopefully get rid of the sinus infections that has caught up with us the last week. And I will have time to write up some reports and load up more photos to our web page before we leave.
Gjertrud

Goodbye Mallorca!

We are leaving Mallorca today! We have sails on the boat, but they are not quite perfect yet. So we will get them done in Murcia on the mainland. That is where the factory is. We hope that we won't get in more trouble, and that we can leave Murcia shortly after we're there. We think the trip will take about 40 hours, so that we are there the day after tomorrow. Wish us good luck!

Mom will come back with a more extensive report from our time on Mallorca. Hasta luego!
- Ingeborg

fredag 29. januar 2010

Still in Palma de Mallorca..

We should not be amazed anymore, when things take longer than expected.. Now we are waiting for sails, again. When the mast was stepped we thought the sails were just days away, but that was not the case. They say the instructions from Sailtainer (the rollerboom system), on how to make the sails were wrong. So the mainsail had been cut wrong and had to be resewn! Who's to blame? It doesn't really matter as we are the only part to feel the consequenses. Another two weeks in the marina, two weeks later before we can cross the Atlantic..

It's hard not to be depressed, but on the other hand: Palma has a lot to offer, even in the winter! A wonderful historic city, catedral, museums, a nice promenade in the harbour, restaurants. We still haven't seen more than a small part of it.

Today we have spent a few hours in the museum Es Baluard: the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Palma. There were several exhibitions in addition to their permanent collection. A lot to see, paintings, photography, video, sculptures, some more experimental than others. On Fridays they have decided to let the visitors decide themselves what to pay for the entrance. Sympatic, but I guess that is also why several kindergartens pick Friday as their day to visit the museum. A bit noisy sometimes, yes, but actually the children were very well behaved and didn't disturbe other visitors at all. The museum is only a few years old, and the buildings are a modern complex fitted into the old walls of a castle. The whole bay of Palma can be seen from the rooftop terrace, where there are also sculptures on display. A very nice spot to visit!

On Sunday there will be a concert at the Club Nautico, to raise funds for Haiti. We have decided to go there to support the haitians. It also gives us an opportunity to listen to some live Spanish music. Live music is always appreciated. By the way, there is a Ibsen project on the Theatre Principal of Palma later in February. Hedda Gabler and a Dolls House, I think. We will not wait for it, though, hopefully we have left!

fredag 15. januar 2010

Good news!

I just wanted to update you on our progress. Today the new mast was stepped by the people from Rigging Mar. The mast looks so nice and we hope that everything will work as it should now! The sailmaker from Hood sails came by once we were back in our berth. He will come by Monday morning to take the last measurement when the rig has been tightened. Then the electricians will come to connect all the cables and the rig should be perfect. As soons as the last details on the sails are finished, and a new life-line stanchion is replacing the one that came loose we will be ready to go. I guess it will be next week-end if the weather looks good.

lørdag 2. januar 2010

We are setting out for Mallorca

Hi! Today we are leaving Ibiza for Mallorca. It will be great to move the boat, and of course to get a new mast over there. We have been waiting for quite a while now, but we think we have used the time well. Christmas has been relaxed and cosy. We rented a car to see more places on the island. So now we know Ibiza better. The weather has been a lot of rain and wind, but since yesterday it has been quite good. Christmas eve we celebrated home in the boat. With very nice food, presents and a movie. On new years eve, we went to some new English friends over at S/Y Sea-Vagabond. Francesca and Terry. They had also had a scary accident with loosing their steering outside Algerie. We had a great time with music, food and talking. This is all for now, we are leaving very soon. Mom is writing a letter in Norwegian for the webpage, so stay tuned! Now we are looking forward to go to Mallorca, get a new mast and continue our adventure with good luck in 2010!

- Ingeborg