Captain's Log

Archive for the 'World Voyage 7' Category

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Sailing our Blue-Water Barque Along the Coast of Brazil

Easter Sunday at 03-40′ N / 49-22′ W about 105 nautical miles off the NE coast of Brazil at noon.

We have a surpassingly beautiful day with us right now. The Picton Castle has all sail set apart from royals and flying jib. Winds are fresh and about abeam from the northeast. We are sailing at about 8 knots steering northwest bound for the Grenadines, now less than 1,000 nautical miles away, having sailed around 3,000 nautical miles from St Helena. A long passage is this one. We have had all kinds of weather so far. Calms, robust squalls, fair winds, contrary winds, no winds, too much wind and very sweet trade winds as we have right now. The kinds of breeze a ship like ours was built for.

Now we have fresh NE trade winds particular to this part of the world. These should carry us all the way to the Windward Islands of the Eastern Caribbean. A strong hot sun reflects like so many shattered mirrors off the white capped seas rolling along with us. The canvas sails are taut like a drum against the sheets and braces, pulling us along to the Caribbees. The steering is balanced. From time to time a wave hits the side of the ship just right sending a cascade of sparkling spray over whomever is walking by. Salt is getting encrusted where it dries on pin rails and fife rails, and in our hair too.

Yesterday we sailed by the mouth of the Amazon River. Here the seas became dark green and lumpy, tossing the ship about some. We are past that now and are in smooth sailing yet the seas are still a green unlike we see offshore.

It is Sunday at sea.  Hands can be seen about the ship reading, patching old shorts that maybe should be tossed instead. Some are sewing up seabags of sail cloth. Some off watch are in their bunks binge watching Game of Thrones or Breaking Bad or Shameless or some such. Some are knitting.  It is ship’s cook Donald’s day off so three hands are in the galley sorting out getting us fed. We cater to  vegetarians, gluten free, vegan, fish eaters, chicken eaters and meat eaters in the crew. Sometimes we also remember to look after a small boy too, who eats pizza and bread and pasta. That’s about it. Pizza bread too.That’s any piece of bread with a smear of pasta saw across it. Peanut butter on crackers are OK too. No special diet for him but something.

Also yesterday we had a visit from those Denizens of the Deep, King Neptune and His Royal Court, led by Cap’n Davey Jones, Aphrodite, Scribe, Baliff and many distinguished courtiers, resplendently dressed and coiffed. Evidently, they found it needful to attend to our seven crew who were crossing the Line for the first time. So with due pomp and ceremony, with utter dignity, charm and with most sensitive mindfulness to the sensitivities of these sweet cherubs and with all the sacred solemness one could imagine, all the cares and woes of these poor pollywogs were lifted, their burdens shared and shed. Grateful they were and King Neptune and Royal assembly returned to seas, and the seas laid down overnight and all was right with the Realm with only salty sunburned Shellbacks sailing the Picton Castle once again.

This ship sails along ploughing these seas as swiftly as we can ever hope to see her sustain. Along the coast of Brazil having just passed the Amazon. The Orinoco is next.

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Day’s Run – 21 April 2019

Winds have laid down to a pleasant force 4+. Seas have settled down now that we are past the massive outpouring of the Amazon River. Sunday at sea, a lovely day. Thoughts of Caribbean islands dominate.

Date: April 21,  2019

From: St Helena Island, South Atlantic Ocean

Towards: Grenada, West Indies

Noon position: 03°-39′ North Latitude / 049°-22′ West Longitude

Course and speed: NWly at 6-7 knots under all plain sail

Wind force and direction: force 4+ NEly winds

Seas/swell: steady organized NEly seas of 2-3+ metres

Barometer: 1016 and steady

Sky: partly cloudy, warm

Water temperature: 27.6C – 81F

Distance made good in 24 hours: 156 nautical miles

Passage log: 2,801 nautical miles

Voyage log: 24,603 nautical miles

Distance to next port: 853 nautical miles as the current takes us

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Day’s Run – 20 April 2019

Fresh to strong northeasterly trade winds and a strong Brazilian current are sending us on our way. Pretty lumpy seas, no doubt due in part to bounce back off the coast to the leeward. Flying jib, outer jib, fore t’gallant, mainsail, spanker and upper staysails are taken in. Steering is pretty good though.

Date: April 20, 2019

From: St Helena Island, South Atlantic Ocean

Towards: Grenada, West Indies

Noon position: 02°-03′ North Latitude / 047°-18′ West Longitude

Course and speed: northwesterly at 6-7 knots under reduced sail

Wind force and direction: force 5+ northeasterly winds

Seas/swell: rough confused northeasterly seas of 2-3+ metres

Barometer: 1016 and steady

Sky: cloudy, warm

Water temperature: 28.1C – 82F

Distance made good in 24 hours: 155 nautical miles

Passage log: 2,645 nautical miles

Voyage log: 24,447 nautical miles

Distance to next port: 1,044 nautical miles as the current takes us

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Day’s Run – 19 April 2019

At about 2200 last night the Picton Castle broke though and crossed The Line, the Equator, into the northern hemisphere. Back in the north for the first time since approaching the Galapagos so many months ago. Yesterday was bright and shiny. But today is overcast and squally. Still making good time though. We are about 115 nautical miles off the coast of Brazil following the 100 fathom curve steering NWly for best favourable current giving us a boost. The squalls all in a day’s (or night’s) work for the crew of a windjammer. Winds look fresh and fair for the foreseeable future.

Date: April 19, 2019

From: St Helena Island, South Atlantic Ocean

Towards: Grenada, West Indies

Noon position: 00°-40′ North Latitude / 045°-04′ West Longitude

Course and speed: NW at 6-7 knots under all plain sail

Wind force and direction: force 4 NEly winds, frequent rain squalls

Seas/swell: moderate NEly seas of 1-2 metre, a bit confused at times

Barometer: 1016 and steady

Sky: overcast, rainy, squally, warm

Water temperature: 27.8C – 83F

Distance made good in 24 hours: 149 nautical miles

Passage log: 2,590 nautical miles

Voyage log: 24,392 nautical miles

Distance to next port: 1,201 nautical miles as the squalls drive us

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Day’s Run – 18 April 2019

On the 8-12 watch last night the winds picked up out of the northeast. At midnight all sail was set and the good old reliable main engine was shut down. Big sighs of relief all around. The day came in bright and clear with a building northeast trade wind on the starboard quarter. Sweet sailing once again. Still 30 nautical miles south of the equator….

Date: April 18, 2019

From: St Helena Island, South Atlantic Ocean

Towards: Grenada, West Indies

Noon position: 00°-30’S / 042°-52’W

Course and speed: NW at 6 knots

Wind force and direction: force 4 northeasterly winds

Seas/swell: moderate NEly seas of 1-2 metres

Barometer: 1016 and dropping

Sky: beautiful sunshiney day

Water temperature: 28.8C – 83F

Distance made good in 24 hours: 150 nautical miles

Passage log: 2,423 nautical miles

Voyage log: 24,441 nautical miles

Distance to the next port: 1,350 nautical miles as the royals pull us along

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Day’s Run – 15 April 2019

Fired up the main engine at midday after winds pooped out all together. Looks like a couple days more at 7+ knots to steam out of these doldrums. Lots of rain last night and today. If we had an extra week or two we could sail out of these doldrums. Glad we have a good and big main engine.

Date: April 15, 2019

From: St Helena Island, South Atlantic Ocean

Towards: Grenada, West Indies

Noon position: 03-42S / 034-46W

Course and speed: WxN x 1/2 N, or 287 degrees at 7.3 knots

Wind force and direction: winds all over the place and light

Seas/swell: moderate seas of 1+ metre from the east and SE.  Pretty smooth

Barometer: 1015 steady

Sky: overcast all day – stationary rain squalls we motor through – winds fanning out underneath them

Water temperature: 28.2C – 83F

Distance made good in 24 hours: 92 nautical miles

Passage log: 1,903 nautical miles

Voyage log: 24,021 nautical miles

Distance to next port: 1,834 nautical miles as the shark swims

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Day’s Run – 14 April 2019

Shut down the main engine at midday with a decent sailing breeze. Hope it lasts, doubt it will. We sailed within sight of Fernando de Noronha Island at dawn. It was 26 nautical miles to the north. Picking up some current now. But not out of the doldrums yet. Sunday at sea. Dogging the watches today and switching out daymen.

Date: April 14, 2019

From: St Helena Island, South Atlantic Ocean

Towards: Grenada, Windward Isles, Eastern Caribbean of the West Indies, Isles of the Blest Noon position: 04-08S / 033-17W

Course and speed: WxN or 280 degrees at 8.3 knots

Wind force and direction:  East and light at Force 1

Seas/swell: moderate seas of 1+ metre from the east and SE. Also a northerly swell and a small SW swell. Pretty smooth

Barometer: 1014 steady – we are headed towards lower pressure in general but not towards any storm

Sky: Clear and nice at midday anyway

Water temperature: 28.8C – 84F

Distance made good in 24 hours: 199 nautical miles

Passage log: 1,811 nautical miles

Voyage log: 23,939 nautical miles

Distance to next port: 1,955 nautical miles as the mahi mahi swims

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Day’s Run – 13 April 2019

Motoring still. Looks like a couple more days of this too in these equatorial calms. Could be a lot worse and looks like fresh trade winds on the other side of the equator. Got an email from King Neptune’s Scribe today. They are not amused that we have a bunch of Pollywogs aboard. Shudder….

Date: April 13, 2019

From: St Helena Island, South Atlantic Ocean

Towards: Grenada, Windward Isles, Eastern Caribbean of the West Indies, Isles of the Blest

Noon position: 04-29S / 029-58W

Course and speed: WxN or 280 degrees at 7 knots

Wind force and direction: East and light at Force 1

Seas/swell: moderate seas of 1+ metre from the east and SE. Also a northerly swell and a small SW swell. Pretty smooth

Barometer: 1015 steady – we are headed towards lower pressure in general but not towards any storm

Sky: Clear in the AM, a couple rain squalls overnight, mostly cloudy right now, light rain squalls about

Water temperature: 28.9C – 84F Distance made good in 24 hours: 174 nautical miles

Passage log: 1,612 nautical miles

Voyage log: 23,740 nautical miles

Distance to next port: 2,135 nautical miles as the mahi mahi swims

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Day’s Run – April 12, 2019

Motoring now. Pretty calm. Big squalls last night. Head winds coming out of the west so we hove to. Saw no reason to sail back to Africa, as charming a land as it is. Torrential downpours. Sunny now. In the calms while steaming we loosed all sail to dry and just furled it. Drying out all around. I had a nice Captain’s dinner in the mess last night with Suzi, Brian, Dirk and John G. Looks like we will be motoring for a few hundred miles through calms. Now steering for a point south of Fernando de Noronha in order to catch the current along the coast.

Date: April 12, 2019

From: St Helena Island, South Atlantic Ocean

Towards: Grenada, Windward Isles, Eastern Caribbean of the West Indies

Noon position: 04-48S / 027-07W we are now 312 nautical miles east of Fernando de Noronha

Course and speed: WxN or 280 degrees at 7 knots

Wind force and direction: East and light at Force 2

Seas/swell: moderate seas of 1+ metre from the east and SE. Also a northerly swell. Pretty smooth

Barometer: 1015 steady – we are headed towards lower pressure in general but not towards any storm

Sky: cloudy and squally earlier today – nice clear skies now

Water temperature: 29C – 84F

Distance made good in 24 hours: 80 nautical miles

Passage log: 1,508 nautical miles

Voyage log: 23,566 nautical miles

Distance to next port: 2,300 nautical miles as the frigate bird flies

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Day’s Run – 11 April 2019

Squally day today. But fair winds and a good drill for the gang to take in sail and set sails again after the squalls. We are well into the Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ), the fancy modern name for the equatorial doldrums. So far, pretty good fair winds through this area. I still expect calms and motoring though. Soon.

On deck between squalls, sailmaking continues and Jack and Tyler are with sailmaker John. Arne and Carlos are working on setting up frames for our boat project. Deyan discovered that a porthole to the engine room door is brass so he got all excited and is stripping the paint off to polish it in amongst his more pressing projects. Today’s workshop is on determining wind direction – more complex than one would think – and then delving into the nuances of the compass, variation, deviation, etc.

Date: April 11, 2019

From: St Helena Island, South Atlantic Ocean

Towards: Grenada, Windward Isles, Eastern Caribbean of the West Indies

Noon position: 05-15S / 025-54W – we are now 500 miles west of Natal, Brazil

Course and speed: WNW1/2N or 302° true at 4 knots

Wind force and direction: East South East (ESE) at force 3, more in squalls

Seas/swell: moderate seas of 1+ metre from the east and SE. Also a northerly swell, a bit lumpy

Barometer: 1015 steady – we are headed towards lower pressure in general but not towards any storm

Sky: cloudy and squally today with periods of clear skies

Water temperature: 29C – 84F

Distance made good in 24 hours: 85 nautical miles

Passage log: 1,428 nautical miles

Voyage log: 23,486 nautical miles

Distance to next port: 2,371 nautical miles as the frigate bird flies

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