PHOTOS TO FOLLOW!

Friday 25th July

Leaving Galinhos at 16.30 on the high tide proved to be a slow process. Having re calibrated the depth gauge, we realised how little water there was! We hope that we were struggling against the wind and the tide, as we only made between 1.5 and 2.5 knots out to the fairway buoy…..if not, then there is something wrong with our propulsion!
We set course for the 1000m shelf line through a lumpy sea. We decided to try 6 hour night watches, so very soon after leaving the peninsula, I made dinner of tuna and sweet corn pasta and settled down at 1830 to sleep. With full water tanks sloshing around under the bed and the constant whine of the auto helm, ear plugs are a must.
At 12.30 watch change, the wind had picked up and the sea was livelier. We needed to reduce sail, but with the furler for the genoa had jammed. Desperate measures were called for……Marcus donned life jacket and lifeline to go forward and sort out a riding turn on the furler. Another mission completed!

Saturday 26th July

The wind was strengthening and rain dogged us for the whole of Saturday. Some of the squalls brought gusts of 30-35knts and we were doing close to 10knts at times. We put the weather boards in and took turns helming when the seas were too strong for the auto helm. Working Vera, the Hydrovane, alongside Moaning Minnie, the Autohelm, seemed to work well as we edged our soggy way northwards.
I still take at least 24 hours to get my sea legs, so I felt pretty nauseous all day and couldn’t face much to eat…….I had doctored the remains of yesterday’s dinner, but couldn’t face more than a couple of spoonfulls! At least I know it will pass and am not completely debilitated….just sleepy, unable to face food and a bit apathetic. It’s reassuring that Marcus isn’t affected. He is able to get on with it, while I’m like a wet lettuce drooping around the place.
At 19.45 the Autohelm stopped working! With the wind blowing 6knts, Marcus was having to helm in pretty foul conditions and I came straight from bed into my ‘wets’ and up into the cockpit. Vera was trying hard to keep us on track, but the cross waves kept pushing the rudder over and with out a hand on the wheel, we were veering off all over the place. Shooting along at 7knts, I clambered up onto the transom to move Vera’s knot on the control line back into the centre, so that we could adjust the angle to the wind from the cockpit. It’s amazing what you can do when it has to be done. Once we get calmer seas I’ll have to go down into the aft locker to mend the Autohelm. I’m not looking forward to it, but it’s got to be done. When the wind drops we don’t want to have to hand steer for hours on end.

Sunday 27th July

After a very rainy and wet night when the winds got up to 35knts and the boat speed went up to 10knts, we spent all day with good wind and short seas on a 3-4m swell. We were averaging 8+ knots and sailing well. Watches have to be spent up in the cockpit to be at hand in case the helm goes over with one of the big waves catching the rudder.

Sunrise after a windy night.

Sunrise after a windy night.

My sea legs arrived during the night and in the morning I made two lots of bread. We had soup and warm bread for lunch and pizza for dinner. The new stove top oven works a treat.
We had a bit of a scare when the generator appeared to have stopped working, but after breakfast we used the main engine to charge the very low batteries and, hey presto, the generator kicked into life! If these things don’t happen, then we live in ignorance. We had assumed that the starter battery for the generator was independent from the domestic bank…..now we know differently.

Monday 28th July

Early in the morning at 03.56.42, we crossed the equator and shared a glass of scotch with Neptune.image This is our fourth crossing, as going south we missed the exact moment on the chart plotter display and had to recross and cross again for the benefit of all the cameras on board!
Neptune, and any other Gods who were with him today, smiled on us. As soon as I came on watch, at 07.30, the wind picked up and we had a steady gentle breeze and very calm seas all day. Not rocking and rolling meant that Marcus could take up the boards and try to get the galley fridge working by cleaning the filter and blowing through the pump to clear the blockage. It seems to have worked. Whilst the boards were up, we noticed a big hose from the generator rubbing on the prop shaft, so up came the saloon seats and boards and I went down to re fix the cable ties that hold the hose in place. We felt very pleased to have got two jobs done in one day!
The sailing, winds and weather were perfect. We spent the day reading and generally lazing in the sun. In the afternoon we decided to try to get the whisker pole out of its holder and set to starboard. This is the first time we have tried to move it ……. we did watch the rigging brothers in Brighton release and check it, but we have never got round to doing it ourselves.
Like everything on IK, the kit is heavy and potentially dangerous to handle, so we spent some time rigging the lines so we could deploy it without it slamming into the shrouds or into one of us!! Once it was secure, we decided to go the whole hog and hoist the genoa on it…….so in it all came, the genoa sheet was lead through the eye at the end of the pole and out it all went again.

Down wind rig with whisker pole working a treat!

Down wind rig with whisker pole working a treat!

We changed course to sail with the wind just over our starboard quarter, adjusted Vera, who has been doing a sterling job, and sat back and relaxed.
Normally when we are fishing, we wrap the line anti-clockwise around a cleat, so that when / if we get a bite, the winch pays out, alerting us to the fact. In setting up the starboard lines for running, Marcus had tied the line to the back stay, so it was only when I looked back and saw a splash following us that I disturbed the captain on the sundeck. ‘No, no. It’s only the lure.’
‘Are you sure. It looks like a fish to me.’
‘No, no. Trust me it’s just the lure’
After catching half an hours more rays, Marcus came back into the cockpit and checked behind……’I think we’ve caught a fish!’……….

A fine yellow finned tuna gave itself up to feed us for three days.

A fine yellow finned tuna gave itself up to feed us for three days.

Down wind rig with whisker pole working a treat!

Down wind rig with whisker pole working a treat!

Our first catch, a yellow finned tuna of about 10lbs. Marcus didn’t have to kill it as the waterskiing it had been doing for the past hour, did the deed. Using our new scheme, of landing the fish through half the transom gate and then shutting the ‘flailing’ fish in the aft cockpit, worked a treat …….. except there was no flailing. Within minutes, Marcus had the fish gutted, skinned and filetted, ready for dinner for the nex four days. The temptation was to try our luck again as we were on a roll………..we had actually managed to catch a fish!!…….but excitement on the high seas must be rationed and thinking rationally, we can’t store or eat any more than this one fish, so after sluicing down the aft cockpit, the reel and lure were packed away to use another day.
On our way down to Brazil, with Dan and Jenni, we had a set rota for watches and chores. When it’s just the two of us there is no rigid rota, but generally we are both around and about during the day and at night we split the night into three four hour watches. The first watch is 1800 – 2200, the second 2200 – 0200, and the third from 0200 to 0600. By alternating who takes the first watch, it means that every other day we get a split sleep of 8 hours and the one who did two watches gets the chance to catch up with sleep during the day. So far so good, but with 10 more days to go we may find the system needs tweaking.

Thursday 31st July

During the night we had veered off course and at 0730hrs when I came up on watch, we changed the sail from running, to starboard tack configuration. It’s always a tricky time as whoever has just woken up is wooly headed and the one who’s been on watch for the last 4 hours is not wide awake either! So long as we talk through what needs to be done, we manage effectively.
During the day, the wind dropped and the current is causing us to steer almost 90 degrees to our course in order not to get pushed in towards the coast. We are having to do watches in the cockpit as the wind is so light that a stronger wave can send us off course and Vera can’t quite cope on her own.
Another lazy day with noticeably fewer miles covered. I made some more bread and, apart from cooking breakfast and lunch, seemed to be on watch for most of the day…….not too onerous, as I can read and use my iPad in between course adjustments. Marcus managed to send and receive some emails while we had the generator on ….. we also had the water maker on to top up the tanks and fill one of the 20 litre water containers. By filling straight from the tap on the water maker it means that the drinking water doesn’t have to go through the tanks and pipe work. The only problem came when Marcus didn’t realise how quickly the container was filling and it overflowed over the dinette cushions, so up they came for an airing!!
Not much else to report today. We’re hoping that we can start our run towards Iles du Salut tomorrow. We are planning to stop there at anchor for as night or two to catch up with sleep and take a look at the infamous French prison islands where Papillon was incaserated.

Friday 1st August

There has been lightning in the sky, but no sign of rain. We have just passed our waypoint for turning towards Iles de Salut. When Marcus came on watch at 0800, we changed course for the islands. The wind dropped off gradually during the day and the current began to ease. The jib was poled out and stayed more or less full, but the main was flapping and cracking like a whip when the swell rolled us from side to side. We had spent most of the night doing barely 3knts, except for strong winds accompanying a rain cloud for half an hour at 0500. When the rain passed, the wind dropped completely and the sea became smooth.

Saturday 2nd August

Enough wallowing! The engine was switched on at 0830 and we took in the head sail and kept a little main out to act as a steadying sail. We immediately stopped rolling and were able to stear the course we wanted. With the wheel locked and Vera adjusted, we were able to relax a bit, but the helm needed constant watching and adjustment.
As the sea was smooth to slight, I decided it was time to mend the Autohelm. The entrance to Moaning Minnie’s compartment is down by way of one of the aft lockers and then in through a hole about 18inches square. All of the gear, ropes, hoses, tools and fuel stored in the locker has to be lifted out and balanced in the aft cockpit, before I can climb in and squeeze through the opening. The job itself is not too bad, as after two previous bolt failures, I now know what to do and which tools I need. With the new bolt fitted and tested and all the gear re-stowed, we were able to leave Minnie in charge as we sat down to a dinner of fillet steak!

Sunday 3rd August

At 0800 we crossed from Brazilian to French waters. We breathed a sigh of relief, as we had outstayed our legal time in Brazil! With the motor and Autohelm working well we calculated the we would arrive in Iles du Salut before dark. We settled down to another day of reading and relaxing. Marcus decide that as we had passed through a fleet of fishing boats, it might be the time for a spot of fishing. Within half an hour he’d caught our second fish….. a large mackerel type fish, maybe a horse mackerel or a small tuna.

Our second mackerel/tuna type fish and very tasty it was for tea.

Our second mackerel type fish and very tasty it was for tea.

Again we landed it through the transom door and this time it was alive, so Marcus shut the door behind it to trap it and thensquirted some white vinegar in its gills to kill it. We had been told that alcohol does the same, but why waste it? It turned out that the mackerel/tuna was unlucky to be caught. It hadn’t swallowed the hook, it had obviously taken too close a look at our bait and the hook had side swiped it in the eye…… poor thing:-(
Shortly after the excitement of the fish, we had our next event of the day…..we sighted land………. French Guyana in the haze off to port. It was not until 1445 that we eventually picked out the Iles de Salut ahead of us on the horizon and it took us another three hours to get there.

Iles de Salut 3 hours away.

Iles de Salut 3 hours away.

The islands have a terrible history as a French penal colony, but from the sea they look like tropical islands with Palm tree covered shores and white breakers on green seas. We approached the largest of the islands, Ile Royale, and made for a buoy in a sheltered bay. As we approached we saw three boats already at anchor and recognised one as our friends from Jacaré, Brice, Sonia, Awen and Arthur.

Chintouna at anchor.

Chintouna at anchor.

No sooner had we picked up the mooring buoy, than Brice paddled over from one of the other boats to greet us. It was good to be welcomed by what seem like old friends. A little later Sonia came over, shortly followed by Brice and Robbie, the owner of the other boat, Topaz. It turned out that we had met him briefly before in Jacaré, watching the World Cup in the local bar. This cruising world is really very small! After a beer and a catch up with all the news and local knowledge, our visitors left us to get some dinner and then some welcome sleep.

Monday 3rd August

We slept soundly from 2100 until 0200, when we were awoken by the mooring buoy banging against the boat. We both got up and managed to wrestle the line, that had managed to pass itself under the bow, free and re-tie ourselves using just the slimy line attached directly to the buoy. Back to bed and another four hours deep sleep.
Sonia and the children arrived to say hello. They were pleased to see us and Awen offered to act as our guide if we wanted to go ashore later. After another round with the fridge, that had decided to stop working again, a quick check of the engines oil levels and a change of line for the whisker pole and we were ready to pick up the children and head for the island.
Awen was an excellent guide and we saw all of the island, except the museum,

Awen and Arthur......our guides for the day!

Awen and Arthur……our guides for the day!

and all the wildlife on offer……..amagouties, peacocks,

Peacock and amagouti in one shot.

Peacock and amagouti in one shot.

monkeys, iguanas

Slightly blurred monkey

Slightly blurred monkey

Sun bathing iguana.

Sun bathing iguana.

and a turtle. The only thing we didn’t see were parrots.
There are far more buildings than we expected. Many of them are in use as staff quarters and one has been converted into an hotel with an annexe of long line modern day ‘cells’. The whole complex was built by the prisoners starting in 1852 and finishing in 1953 when the last prisoners were sent back to France.

Old punishment block.

Old punishment block.

The islands are now owned by the French Space authority and, nestled behind the old punishment block and solitary confinement cells, is an observation dome and helicopter pad. The islands are in a direct line of trajectory with the Arianne Space launching site, across the water near Karou.

Devils island from Ile Royalle.

Devils island from Ile Royalle.

Today the islands are jointly used for space exploration and tourism, but for the 70,000 prisoners that were sent here, it was far from a holiday. Poor living conditions, poor diet, hard labour and harsh discipline meant that only 20,000 lived long enough to see their release. We were looking into the doorway of the little church, when the curator arrived and offered to show us around. Just like all the other buildings, the entrance is closed by metal bars, presumably to keep the worshipping prisoners in! He unlocked the door for us and took us on a very informative tour of the church. All the walls had been decorated with paintings by Francois Lagrange or ‘Flag’, a famous painter and forger who was imprisoned here during 40s.
One of flag's murals.

One of flag’s murals.

It is incredible that a civilised nation like France was still operating medieval style punishment almost into the second half of the twentieth century.

Tuesday 4th August

Our anchorage.

Our anchorage.


Island Kea on the mooring.

Island Kea on the mooring.


We took the dinghy ashore and planned to visit the museum and then go onto the hotel to use their WiFi, but on the way we met Sonia, Brice and the kids, who told us the WiFi was down. No change there, despite this island being part of the French space project!!
Having ‘done’ the museum, we made our way back along the coast path to the boat and came across some opportunist monkeys that were hoping for scraps from the small campsite. The campsite is free, but campers have to bring their own food and water, as there isn’t a shop on the island.
In the evening we went over to visit Sonia and Brice on ‘Chintouna’ and took some bread we baked that morning, some Camembert cheese we bought in Joāo Pessoa and some cold beers. Claude, from a 35ft Ovni paddled over to join us. All of us are leaving on Tuesday, so it was good get together as we won’t bump into one another again until the end of September.

Wednesday 5th August

Happy 93rd birthday Geoff.

After popping across to ‘Chintouna’ to get some weather information, we dropped the mooring and were off on the last leg to Trinidad. If the winds do what the grib files say, then we should get there on Sunday. My guess is that we’ll struggle to make good speed as we are still in the convergent zone above the equator, where winds came die and become variable at the drop af a hat. By the evening the winds dropped and the sails were slapping as we rocked on the swell with not enough breeze to keep them full. We took in the main to a handkerchief and relied on the jib to slowly pull us along. Luckily the tide was pushing us with about a knot and a half in the right direction.

Thursday 6th August

After a wallowy night, interrupted by having to run the engine to charge the batteries and make some head way, we spent a relaxing day with the jib poled out lolloping our way towards Trinidad. Progress was very slow. We seem to be having a problem charging our batteries enough for the power we have been using. To cut down on consumption, we have turned off the navigation and Autohelm and are using the small Garmin gps and the iPad. We have also decommissioned the upright fridge and are just using the under seat fridge. Hopefully we will be able to charge up the batteries less often and use up less fuel. To charge the batteries we have to run either the engine or the generator.

Friday to Monday 7th – 12th August

Trinidad looming larger.

Trinidad looming larger.


We are now in Trinidad!! The last day and a half the winds died and we have motor sailed the least 50 miles. Very little else to report. We caught another fish, but when we reeled it in, we found that it got away and managed to bend the fish hook straight in its efforts to get away!
As we were making our way along the north coast of Trinidad we were hailed by a search and rescue helicopter who asked us if they could do a winching exercise with us. great excitement and we set to to prepare the boat for the ‘rescue’. This entailed clearing the decks of bikes ropes and all the other bits and pieces that seem to accumulate on passage and dropping and stowing the bimini. After donning our life jackets, the helicopter appeared and circled us a couple of times
Helicopter circling.

Helicopter circling.

before they called us on the VHF to say that, because of our back stays they couldn’t safely lower a man onto the deck and they didn’t have the necessary ‘wet box’ onboard to drop into the water. We were disappointed not to have had our visitor drop in and a little concerned that they might not be able to rescue us for real!! We asked them and they reassured us that in a real emergency they would be able to rescue us……..Phew! They circled once more, passed on a message from Genevieve Too and gave us a recommendation for a restaurant in Chagaramus and waved us goodbye.
And they were off.

And they were off.


For the past two days, we had another boat, Genevieve Too, on the same course as us about six miles away. We were going faster than them in squalls and so arrived some six hours ahead of them and watched them moor up in front of the restaurant we were eating in and then went to greet them like long lost friends, although we’d never met, only spoken on the VHF.

We had a good night’s sleep out on anchor and have spent the day trying to get ourselves organised with lift outs and finding our way around to do laundry and shopping.

Chagaramus bay where we are anchored.

Chagaramus bay where we are anchored.

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