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.


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
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.


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.