"Egret" N4674 - Scott and Mary Flanders
Ed. note: On February 10, 2011, Scott and Mary Flanders, on board their Nordhavn 46, Egret, arrived in the Canary Islands. In doing so, Egret became the eighth Nordhavn to circumnavigate the globe. It had been four years, five months since the couple departed Gran Canaria, intent on seeing as much of the earth as possible, although not necessarily with an end goal to circle the globe. Voyage of Egret documents the Flanders’ entire trip, an endless adventure that has put them in touch with the most fabulous places and interesting people. Much route planning and forecasting was required in order to get to some of their ports of call. But the days of detailed planning are over…for now. “Egret” is now back in Fort Lauderdale, the place the couple called home for so many years, and, ironically, the starting point of their world wide cruising escapade that began with the Nordhavn Atlantic Rally in 2004. They currently travel hither and yon, sometimes by boat, sometimes not. Here, the latest update from the Flanders as they keep us continually apprised.
January 28, 2011
Position: 3 22.67S 18 45.56W 202.67nm south of the equator. Egret will cross the Equator tomorrow afternoon. The champagne is cold.
Course: 007 degrees M.
Speed: 6.8 knots
Average speed since leaving Ascension: 6.4 knots
Seas: 1m gentle swells, SE
Wind: 11 knots SE
G' Day mis amigos, Egret is under way for the long stretch to Scarborough, Tobago. She departed the anchorage at 1712. The seas at first were a little larger from the island effect and the wind piped up to 20 knots or so. Within a couple hours the seas diminished to 1 - 1.5m and the wind was in the 12-15 knot range.
Lets back up to Ascension and describe our short time there. The monthly supply ship, Anvil Point, arrived the second morning. We were asked to move along with Tamasha (the only cruising boats) so we anchored on the far side of the local boat moorings. We were the fifth and sixth boats to arrive this season. Going ashore is a bit different. There is wave wrap around the island and a continuous surge. Fortunately during our stay it was reasonable. You use your dinghy to come along side a wide aluminum jon boat and tie the dink to it. Then you hand over hand the long line from the shore to the jon boat stacking the very wet line on the foredeck. The front of the jon boat is protected by cut up tires so you literally ram the cement dock and jump off on the upswell. They too have an overhead pipe frame with knotted ropes hanging down for support. If the tide is high your feet get wet from the surge. Also, because of the supply ship being in we had to call from the jon boat for permission to come ashore. We also had to check with security when leaving so during a lull between loading containers from barges we could scoot back to the dink.
We did the green turtle tour that night we mentioned in the last VofE. We watched a short film then went to the beach. It didn't take long before the guide found a medium size female laying eggs. We all got to see eggs popping out. Green turtles lay about 100-125 eggs in a clutch. They lay about 4-5 clutches during their stay. Only one in a thousand baby turtles survive until maturity. The turtles come across the Atlantic from Brazil. The females don't reach maturity until 25-30 years and live until 70+ if all is well. Females make the trip every 3-4 years when their fat reserves are sufficient. When they come across they don't eat for 4 months. Females have numerous partners and at times during the same day. The males don't come ashore. Our medium size turtle was still quite large and the larger get up to 300 kilos (660 lbs). We were allowed one picture with flash from behind which we did. Others in the group were blazing away with their cell phone cameras and point and shoot cameras. The guide (a Saint) was so nice she didn't say anything. We went back as suggested by the guide early the next morning to try and catch a late turtle on the beach but there were none. During our driving around we saw turtle nests on two other beaches. It is early in the season. The guide said when it is busy there can be over 300 turtles a night nesting on Long Beach in front of the anchorage.
In addition to the turtles that have been visiting Ascension for eons there are three feral animals on the island; donkeys, about 50 cattle and a few sheep. We got to see all three. The cattle and sheep are scattered on the very steep slopes of Green Mountain, the only place with any vegetation. We ran across a half dozen donkeys along the beach. They are quite tame and playful. They walk up to you looking for a handout and if you don't cough goodies they leave.
Ascension is not a pretty island as was St Helena. It is a seriously volcanic island with most of it a rust colored, treeless wasteland of pointed, jagged rock. Green Mountain in the center is just that and is misty, cool and jungly near the top. There are no permanent native type folks on the island or ever has been. (Same with St Helena and Tristan de Chuha) In the past the only residents were posted here from primarily British forces. Today the island is the home to BBC World, the RAF and USAF. There is an abandoned NASA station on the island from the Gemini days. There are also very few military personnel on the island. Most folks are contract workers and most of them Saints from St Helena along with a few Brits and Americans. These days the island's use seems to be mainly a tracking station for BBC and a refueling station for military planes.
We rented a car for a day and drove basically every road on the island. If you are an antennaphyle this is Antenna Nirvana. The clusters of antennas are the most wild and crazy collection of this n that you can imagine. There are the usual giant dish antennas, giant dome antennas, some that look like huge old fashion TV antennas with a central tower and a horizontal array multiple pipes, tall single antennas pressed into the ground into a V shape around a circle, super tall antennas connected with enough wire in between a bird couldn't fly thru and so on. We took pictures of a lot of different types then quit because we got tired of stopping.
One stop was at the Volcano Bar on the USAF Base. We arrived at 12:30PM hoping to buy a tee shirt for our buddy back in the U.S. and have a bite to eat. They were closed until 5:30 but the manager was inside working at a table. We got his shirt and a couple for ourselves. The American manager has been here 16 years working on the island. We asked about a barber shop and she sent us to the next street over but didn't think we could get in. There is a traveling barber from Coco Beach, Florida that comes for a week every two months to cut hair and do ladies styling. When we stopped by there was a security guard type guy with lotsa badges and doodads of importance decorating his shirt getting a 'whitewall' haircut. (A whitewall is no hair on the sides so your white skin shows with a little hair on top. Typical military type cut) Dickiedoo and I were next. Then two Saint ladies came in, one with purple and yellow hair for a touch up and the other more traditional. They were happy to wait so they didn't have to go back to work.
It is early morning, it is very dark outside with no moon or stars and the seas have settled into an easy pattern from behind and all is well. Just 2917nm to go. It may seem like a long way but we'll just put in the time and before you know it, the arrival alarm will be going off. Later in the afternoon Dickiedoo reeled in a nice fat 15lb dolphin so the fish stocks are back up.
The next morning (Thursday). Well, the last two sentences are now just partially true. We made a little change to Egret's plans. Below is what we wrote to our friends and family back in the U.S.
Oh hi guys, we had a slight change of plans so we'll give you a heads up before the next VofE. Egret's course now is 008 degrees on course to a waypoint east of the Cape Verde's, then a direct shot to Las Palmas, Grand Canary Island.
After a bit of boat work we will fly back to the States (Ft Lauderdale) for visits then return to Egret before April 1st then head into the Med for a while. The other day I was looking at the C-Map charts of our announced route and it is lotsa miles with not much of interest* to us until we get Way North. We are just 2150nm from Grand Canaria and will be there in 2 weeks. It makes sense to do the route in reverse, still visiting Scandinavia, Iceland, Greenland and so on in the future making shorter hops. We have been pushing hard from Fremantle (Western Australia) 8712nm ago so this will be a nice break.
*Later. "Interest" doesn't mean that we wouldn't enjoy the trip. There are very few places in Egret's travels we didn't enjoy ourselves. Interest would mean fresh interest or something interesting we haven't seen.
Egret's circumnavigation will be complete in Las Palmas where we picked up Master Angler Steve and headed for the Deep South in September, 2006.
It is kinda cool to have a boat that gives us the option to make decisions like this (turning right in the middle of the Atlantic). The picture tells the tale. (Picture ) The dark red line is the current route and the lighter red line to Tobago is the original route. Check the difference between cruising CW vs CCW.
Mary and I are excited. Dickiiedoo is in shock but loving it. S.
Later. We received multiple replies from friends giving us votes of confidence. That was nice. D Doo will stay with Egret to Gibraltar. There is a 40 ton lift next to the marina so we can schedule a bottom job and take care of my main concern, Naiad shaft seals. We literally will have circumnavigated with the seals that were replaced just weeks before the NAR. We still have to work out the Naiad details but we will probably have to do it ourselves using a special adapter from Naiad. More on that as it unfolds. Before Mary and I leave for the States, Dick and I will inspect every heavy duty hose on the boat and replace what we see fit. Fortunately the smaller A/C, wing and generator intake hoses are 3/4" and of course that is 19mm. Some of the best exhaust hose and heavy duty intake hose is manufactured in Italy so I imagine the well stocked marine store in Palma carries Italian hose. If we need to replace the 2" hose for the wing or generator exhaust, we carry some spare in stock and can bring back from the U.S. what we don't have if we can't buy 50mm hose locally. We will also change the 1 1/2" (36mm) keel cooler hose from the main to the cooler.
So there you have it. A little overview of Ascension and again you see how cruiser's plans are written in sand at low tide. Ciao.
And now we'll add a little commercial. When we return to the States I'm going to buy some more camera toys. This is not a matter of need, but want. It doesn't make sense but it is what it is. So here's the deal. I'm going to sell part of my current camera and lens collection. At least half of what you have seen the past couple years on VofE were taken with this camera and lenses (Mary took the other half with the same lenses). What you see in VofE is a greatly reduced version of what I see on my 21" hi def monitor. Here is the list: D300 Nikon camera body, 18-200mm VRII Nikon lens, 70-300mm VRII Nikon lens, spare battery, 4GB CF card, filters, battery charger, and manual. $2,000. I also have a separate 80-400mm VR Nikon lens. $1,000. They will be in Ft Lauderdale in about 3 weeks or so. All are in perfect condition. If you have an interest, do your internet research to see the savings and contact our son, Scott Jr at 954 815-2328. We will ship via UPS prepaid and insured as soon as we arrive in Florida.
Below is OMNI Bob's forecast after the change of direction.
To: Captain Scott - M/Y EGRET
Fm: O.M.N.I./USA www.oceanmarinenav.com Tel: 1-302-284-3268
2030UTC 27 JAN 2011
Captain, thanks for the update and understand you are now heading to Las Palmas via east of the Cape Verde Islands.
During the next 3days, high pressure to your south across the S/Atlantic will be the driving wind/sea force helping to maintain a mostly SE-ly wind/sea and swell direction. However, as you move north of 05N/lat you will come under the increasing influence of a stationary high pressure ridge pattern over the eastern Atlantic, which may remain stationary near the Azores for a good chunk of the coming week.
During the coming weekend, a cold front is expected to move across the Canary Islands and may even reach as far south as the Cape Verde Islands before moving inland across western Africa. The stronger high near the Azores will help produce a strong NNE-NE wind/sea pattern to the Cape Verde Islands as well as continue toward the Canary Islands during the first week of February.
The strength of the pressure gradient will support wind/seas forces 5-7 with NNE-NE swells at least 2.0-3.0mtrs. However, during the strongest winds of force 7, sea could build to 3.5-4.0mtrs between the Cape Verde and Canary Islands.
Along the direct route to Grand Canaria, expect:
Wind: SE-ESE 05-15kts
Swell: SE 1.0-2.0mtrs
Wind: SE-ESE 05-15kt.
Swell: SE-ESE 1.0-1.5mtrs.
Wind: SE-ESE 08-15kts, but becoming more Variable to W Sat/pm, 05-15kts.
Swell: SE-ESE tending a bit more confused with a secondary NW-N swell developing; 1.0-1.5mtrs.
Wind: Variable to W-WNW 08-15kt, wind directly may veer more NNW to NNE Sun/pm.
Swell: Tend more NW-N 1.0-1.5mtrs, maybe upto 2.0mtrs by Sun/night.
Wind: N-NE 10-18kts, upto 20kt at times.
Swell: N-NE 1.5-2.0mtrs.
Wind: N-NE 15-20kt, gusty/25kts by the pm/hrs.
Swell: N-NE 1.5-2.5mtrs.
Please keep us advised of your daily position while enroute. Watching/updating. B/Rgds, Bob/OMNI
January 24, 2011
Position: 7 55.26S 14 24.97W Anchored off Georgetown, Ascension Island, South Atlantic
Distance from St Helena: 707.54nm
Engine Hours: 112.8 4 days, 16.8 hours
Generator Hours: Same
Fuel Burn: Approximately 210 U.S.Gallons - 806 liters @ 1410 RPM, 1350 RPM for 24 hours and 1000 RPM for 2 hours jogging.
Average Speed: 6.3 knots It was 6.4 knots but we turned and ran 180 degrees for 2 hours before landfall to have a daylight arrival (and let us fish near the island...no fish)
Average Speed from Fremantle: 6.5 knots
Distance from Fremantle: 8396.29nm
G' Day mis amigos, Egret is under way. She left St Helena at 1700 local after a full day ashore. First it was breakfast ashore after Dickiedoo scrubbed the bottom. It was fairly clean but there were spots he missed in the dirty water outside Walvis Bay. However it was a LOT warmer. One interesting thing was the beginning of a gooseneck barnacle farm from the prop back to the stern. There wasn't a single barnacle forward of the prop. We found giant goosenecks on the Atlantic crossing from the Canary Islands to Brazil. They started south of the equator. We'll have to check that again in Ascension. While D Doo was doing his deal I did the pilothouse and salon glass with Rain X, dropped the paravane arms to take advantage of the extra windage in the trade winds from aft of the beam and secured the boat for sea. Mary was busy organizing as well. While all this was going on (after Dickiedoo was out of the water) a whale shark stopped by for a peek led by a giant manta ray. The whale shark was small at about 15' but the manta ray was huge. The fin was a bit intimidating at first until we saw what it was. Both were quite beautiful in the clear water.
Our first stop after breakfast was visiting the propane guy. He said he could fill the bottle using our adapter but after grilling him, he couldn't. We left the bottle and kept the adapter. (It was a very old steel bottle from Argentina) The weather has been super stable so we decided to leave after touring one more day by car. We visited the only general area we missed to date and it was perhaps the most spectacular yet. It was another green and bronze day (inland and coastal). Then it was off to Customs and Immigration. That took just a couple minutes. Then it was off to The Star grocery store for final this n that. This morning we topped off the fuel tank from jerry jugs replacing the generator fuel burn. We traded our two empty 20 liter jugs for two 25 liter jugs with diesel. So the little lady is deep in the water and not her usual perky self. Then it was the last trip back on the water taxi and it was a hoot boarding* in the surge. You had to time yourselves not only on the up swell but somewhat stable fore and aft in the surge. We all made it including the eggs with no issues or tragedy like getting squished between the ferry and the dock.
*Boarding the water taxi or coming ashore in St Helena is interesting. The dock has 4 horizontal steps depending on the tide and surge. High over the edge is a heavy pipe frame with knotted ropes hanging down. The trick is to hold on to a rope for stability, get one foot stable inside the ferry and let go of the rope. Coming ashore is easier. The motion is the same but once you grab a rope to lift yourself ashore you are home free. We heard coming ashore in Ascension is a nightmare, And you have to use your own dink. We'll find out Sunday.
After arriving back aboard it was getting everything ready, warming the engine, starting the fuel circulation pump for its run to Ascension, running the 12V stabilizer pump to flush any air from the system then turning it off and turning on the 115V March stabilizer pump. Mary put the food items away, closed the stateroom port lights and so on. Next it was retrieving the dockline threaded thru the mooring pennant, putting the at sea short snubber on the anchor chain and covering the windlass with its sumbrella cover. Within a short distance of the mooring we were on autopilot running a course of 328 degrees M, turning 1400 RPM making 6.7 knots in the gentle trades. We actually have enough fuel to make the 3700nm run to Tobago with a reasonable reserve. We still plan to empty the jerry jugs and stern bladder before Ascension, then fill the jugs just one time for additional safety and that will be it. The key to fuel mileage on this leg is the constant trade winds and a favorable current.
At sea. It bothered me the other day watching the locals returning home on the RMS St Helena who were trades persons working in Ascension returning with no jobs. While here we read several brochures on St Helena about the standing joke about a lot of people making a lot of money consulting on what to do with St Helena. One thing did stick. One consultant suggested to make St Helena a call center like in India. The school graduates have a 99% literacy in computer skills and high academics.. English is their first language spoken with an easily understood pleasant lilt and are the naturally nicest people we have met in our travels. Cable and Wireless are on the island and if this came to be I'm sure they would meet the demand. Wouldn't it be great if young people had a future at home and wouldn't have to leave the island to make reasonable wages?
In cruising there are stops and There Are Stops. St Helena is one of those magical places as was Namibia. Egret will not return with Mary and I aboard. It is a heartbreaker but it is the life we choose even if it is difficult at times like this. I doubt few of you will make it either unless you circumnavigate via South Africa. However, there is a way if you don't arrive by your little white fiberglass ship. Hummmm, lets think a minute. Fly into Windhoek, Namibia, rent a camper for a couple weeks, visit the desert and later the game parks to the north. Then take the short hop to Cape Town, join the RMS St Helena and in a few days you will be in St Helena. The RMS St Helena visits every two weeks so your stay will be in two week intervals. There are quaint places to stay, prices are reasonable, the vistas are very unique and the people are the best. Then take the RMS St Helena to Ascension and stay for a bit. A little known fact is you can buy a ticket on a RAF military plane for a hop to London. Would this be a magical vacation or what?
And now let us move our focus to Ascension Island. Other than super remote, very rarely visited Tristan Da Cunha island well south of South Africa and roughly the same latitude as Mar del Plata, Argentina, Ascention is the second most remote/least populated* Atlantic island in both the North and South Atlantic. Ascension is roughly 1220nm from Brazil and 1620nm from Africa. In terms of remote, Easter Island in the South Pacific is 2058nm from South America. So you can say Egret is just hugging the coast, or perhaps even say, coastal cruising. This wasn't true in the South Pacific.
*Tristan Da Cunha has 5-6 family groups living on the island so it has a very small population but at 1500nm from South Africa is The most remote Atlantic Island.
0520 the next morning. It is super smooth, wind is 5.2 knots apparent, speed is 6.7 knots with a 6.5 knot average at 1410 RPM, the full moon is getting ready to set and life at sea is very good. After Mary and D Doo get up this morning we'll put out a worm and see what snaps. We got an e-mail from a cruising buddy this morning asking we pick up a tee shirt from the Volcano Bar at the USAF Base in Ascension. We'll give it a go. The three of us bought shirts in St Helena and D Doo bought a swell hat that says St Helena. Unless he pushes the crown down he looks just like Forrest Gump with his now long hair. Neither D Doo or I have had haircuts since Fremantle and we look like prisoners. Mary hasn't had a haircut either but it was super short when we left, and besides, she always looks good.
A little after breakfast the rod went off and Mary reeled in a nice fat dolphin about 12-15lbs. We have 5, 3 meal bags of fish in the freezer and one in the fridge for dinner tonight. After the 5 packs freeze we'll pack them tight and see how much room is left in the freezer. If there is enough room for another we'll put the bait back out. The day has been a series of slight showers passing thru from behind, the sea is still super calm but not oily as it was earlier. When it was slick you could look into the water and see the blues and purples as far down as you could see. The only birds are Wilson's Storm Petrels doing their wave dance. I'm afraid we have seen the last of the albatrosses. The last group we saw were working the fishing boats we passed on the way to St Helena. A few flying fish scoot out of the way every so often. We had no flyers on deck this morning. More to follow.
Friday early afternoon. "Boating itself is Not dangerous. Other than one small island, Egret is well over 1600 nautical miles from Brazil and 1300nm from Angola (Africa) as I type these words. This is Not dangerous. You are at greater risk driving to work tomorrow". I typed these four sentences last night for an upcoming magazine article. To get the mileage figures I zoomed out C-Map charts to calculate the distances then sort of took a double take. Perspective came to mind. Picture 1 is what I saw. We write about this place and that but this single picture brings it all together. The red boat icon in the left center of the picture represents Egret's position. The red circle to the bottom is the waypoint just off the anchorage in St Helena. The red circle at the top is the turning waypoint around the SW corner of Ascension. The red line represents the course. The red circles are 700nm apart.
Now let us look even farther afield. The land mass at the bottom right opposite the southern tip of South Africa is Australia. Fremantle/Perth is less than one quarter of the way up from the bottom. Egret had traveled 8009.2nm from Fremantle when I typed those words. Pretty amazing isn't it? The yellow barrels shown around the perimeter of land masses are tide markers. If you look at the top of South America between the words Venezuela and Guyana, then look at the bottom tide marker, that is Tobago. Tobago is 3000nm from the top red circle of Ascension and Egret's next port after Ascension. Pretty cool, eh? You know the most amazing thing? This little white fiberglass ship. All she asks is clean fuel, oil, air and a bit of routine maintenance. That is not a lot to ask. We enter a waypoint into the GPS, hit Go To Waypoint on the GPS, tap the Nav button twice on the Simrad autopilot, and when the alarm goes off we have arrived. It is that simple...most of the time.
And the arrival alarm is going to go off in 6.6nm. It is 0730 Sunday morning and the volcanic island of Ascension is just off the stbd side. The eastern portion is quite high just like St Helena but the western half slopes toward the ocean. On the lower portion there is a wind farm with no blades turning in 5.4 knots apparent. To the west of the wind farm are quite a few round white communication domes glowing white in the early morning sun against the bronze background of the island. The large, perhaps 60', New Zealand built ketch Tamasha called Ascension Radio a few minutes ago asking for permission to anchor and was there fuel available. Ascension Radio said they would call Port Control (not on duty this early) and get back them. Tamasha was on their way to Salvador, Brazil from St Helena. We had a beer together at the Consulate Hotel the afternoon before they left. Tamasha left St Helena more than a day ahead of Egret and arrived just 12nm or so ahead of us. There has been little wind and they had to motor most of the way and now diverted to Ascension for fuel. The only fuel station here is a way's inland so all fuel has to be jerry jugged. We offered our jerry jugs once we empty them after anchoring. So I guess the point here is we as a group make overall plans then make any changes as necessary or if we change our minds for any reason.
TK splashed down at 9:00AM in crystal clear water with a couple giant green turtles popping up there and there along with about a zillion black angelfish. We dropped in 32' (10m) and let out enough chain to end up over a low relief reef. After we shut everything down, Mary was fixing breakfast and I gave the rod a go. It didn't do any good. The bait stealing angelfish wouldn't let the soft plastic lure get to the bottom and ate everything but the hook. We were told by Ascension Radio the officials would meet us at 10:00. So we headed for shore along with the Tamasha crew to clear. It took just a short time to clear and we all headed for the local pub. Within a short time we organized fuel for 8:00 in the morning, found the grocery store and the rental car place at the Obsidian Hotel.
One thing that caught my eye was while wandering around trying to find the pub we stopped by a cafe next to the Obsidian Hotel. The pictures of the huge blue marlin, tuna and even sailfish was impressive. I didn't know it but there is an active sport fishing industry here with a couple small first class charter boats for the fishermen who fish the drop offs of the world. I can't wait to learn more. I don't know why I'm so interested. When pesky blue marlin fuss with the bait (about 2 a day lately) we try to get rid of them. We even started pulling the bait close to the boat hoping they won't hit. It wasn't too many years ago if I had those thoughts I would have to check myself into a clinic for help.
Tashama now doesn't have to go to Brazil to offload a crew member. It costs a pittance to fly to London then back to work in New Zealand compared to the Brazil - NZ connection. So everyone is happy. Tamasha is going to spend a couple years in the Caribbean then he is thinking about the South Pacific again. Northern Fiji and the Solomons were his favorites.
We plan to stay a couple of days, take care of fuel and a little groceries, rent a car for a day or two then leave for the long stretch to Tobago. The next VofE will come from sea with Ascension Island tales.
So there you have it. Another dream trip at sea, AND a new location to explore. Ciao.
Whoops, latest, latest before we fire this VofE into space. Giant green turtles are mating all thru the anchorage. The females came ashore last night to lay their eggs on Long Beach, a .5k white sand beach in front of the anchorage. Dickiedoo spotted 123 individual turtle tracks this morning and the last female entered the water just a few minutes ago. We will be on the beach tonight to witness all this.
January 18, 2011
Position: 15 55.11S 005 43.12W On a mooring in Jamestown Bay, St Helena (South Atlantic)
G' Day mis amigos, this place is great. Here is the check in deal. Port Control doesn't get to work until 0830 so that is why they didn't answer. After breakfast a launch came out with Immigration. After filling out the usual they left and we had to visit Customs and Port Control ashore. No problem except both extracted large amounts of Pounds Sterling for this and that. So we bled. Fortunately we had British Pounds they accept on par with St Helena Pounds. Then we cashed in some Euros and pathetic U.S.P at the bank. The good news is things in St Helena are relatively cheap except for fuel. We were told today the average worker makes about 50-60 St Helena Pounds a week (about $80-100 U.S.P.)
So actually before checking in (there were 2 other boats with large crews checking in at the same time) we beat feet for the tourist office (I Site) and booked tours at Longwood where Napoleon was sent in exile as well as starting on the rental car process. Then we finished checking in after the other folks had done their deal. St Helena has a tremendous amount of history starting back in the 1500's we'll get to later. We know better than try and explore an interesting town with Dickiedoo reading every word of every caption on every item of interest including uninteresting items of interest interesting to no one but Dickiedoo. You get the picture. So Mary and I split and left Dickiedoo to read to his hearts content and we did our deal. We wandered around town, took a few pics, stopped for lunch at Annie's, the yachtie hangout with flags and burgees and tee shirts with crew's names scribbled in magic marker and spilled beer decorating the ceiling and wall. Then we did the Iron Man deal. I can't believe we did it after 8 days at sea, no real sleep for hours and wobbly legs after coming ashore. We climbed Jacob's Ladder. And Dickiedoo read. But first let me describe Jamestown.
St Helena is a beautiful island, "an emerald set in bronze". Approaching St Helena it appears to be a desolate (bronze) rock with no vegetation rising vertically out of the ocean. However, the inland highlands are green and very much New Zealand like. Jamestown is the only town on St Helena. The town appears to be straight out of the 1800's. There isn't a single chrome and glass building anywhere or any building over 2 stories. There are No fast food joints, 3 gas stations on the island, No ATM's and one bank in Jamestown. They got TV a few years ago (3 channels - BBC, Discovery and a variety deal) and a couple places in town have wifi as the internet has creeped in. The radio station plays Country Western tunes with words like "you torrrrrre myyyyy heart out and stomped that sucker flat" and ABBA and 40's stuff.
However, all the check in procedures was done with paper and copying machines. No computers were on any desk we saw. The island population has dropped from a high of 5000 to about 4000. Many are away temporarily making real money in the UK, Ascension Island (working for the American military), or the Falkland Islands. The town is like a dagger blade with the wide end at the sea and narrowing to a point a couple k's inland with high nearly sheer walls on both sides. There was a major rock slide a few years back. Fortunately a MP from Brittan was visiting at the time and soon funding was sent from the UK for a major construction project with containment fences and draped fencing covering entire walls.
For 60 years flax was the only export from St Helena. There was a ropery on the island and flax plants were imported from New Zealand that took to the St Helena climate and soon were covering acres and acres of the high inland growing areas. In 1966 the industry collapsed with synthetic fibers taking the business. Basically the sole buyer of flax twine was the British Postal Service for bundling parcels. So some nitwit paper pusher maggot brain decided it was a bit cheaper to buy nylon twine and destroyed an entire (sole) industry supporting one of Brittan's dependency's. A couple attaboy's for that jerko. Flax was St Helena's singular export so today the only industry is Government (60% of the work force), support services for government and a tiny bit of tourism. Tourism is on the rise with the more intrepid crowd getting about 1000 folks a year. If they are counting yachties in the mix, about 200 yachties call a year with an average crew of 3. Simple math if that is the case. St Helena is one of the FEW places in the world that has NO airport so visitors have to come on the RMS* St Helena that runs between Ascension that does have an airport or South Africa. The RMS St Helena makes 26 visits a year. Most trade goods come from South Africa and a bit from the UK. Fuel for example comes from the UK. *RMS - Royal Mail Ship and the last dedicated mail ship in the world.
St Helena is in line for a single major improvement of two being considered. The first option is an airport and the second is a breakwater so cruise ships can safely offload passengers. The few cruise ships that do come by don't always get to offload their passengers at the seawall because of the surge. At times they have to leave without landing after making the long trip here. The locals and folks like us would vote for the breakwater. An airport would ruin the isolation these folks so love and if for no other reason, the one lane - two way roads* can't handle the traffic. *For the most part, St Helena roads are like a twisty rope full of knots** draped around the hills and valleys. (**wide spots for passing with the downhill car pulled over and stopped. The uphill car has the right of way. Island speed limit is 20k's in Jamestown and 30k's (18mph) outside town.) Day one of our rental car trip we never got out of second gear.
For a long time, Nova Scotians held the Egret title of the world's friendliest folks. Namibia had the short couple week honors and now they have been displaced by the Saints. When you walk down the street, Everyone says hi or good morning or some form of recognition. Even teen agers smile and say something. Driving around today the tour guide waved at every car and they waved back. In the 1700's when slavery was still allowable, the population was about 50/50 slaves and mostly Brits. In the early 1800's, Chinese laborers were brought in and they add to today's mix as well as Scandinavian folks - primarily from shipwreck, Malay and even a group of people from the Maldives found adrift in the Pacific and dropped here. Today the far majority of Saints are some shade of light brown and the whites are in the minority and are probably 1 generation imports. Saints are a beautiful people and very unique in the world.
In checking in, one thing they require is some form of medical evacuation insurance. Mary and I have it but Dick didn't so he had to buy a local policy. I asked the lady what they do in a real emergency their 54 bed - 4 doctor hospital can't handle. She said they do what they can like hail any passing ship, if the RMS St Helena is coming the person had to wait and that is about it. Perhaps the best compromise would be a short runway for medical evacuation or government folks Only that could support small aircraft with the range to fly from South Africa. Then build the breakwater.
On the western wall of Jamestown there is Jacob's Ladder that runs up the southern cliff face to the fortifications on top. There are 699 Very Steep steps from bottom to top. Mary and I did the deal the afternoon of arrival after 8 days at sea. We didn't exactly sprint to the top but we made it and the views are spectacular. At the top there is an old fort for defending the harbor built in ye ol' days. The ladder was first used as a tramway to send manure to the top from the Mule Yard at the bottom of the cliff near the Jamestown fortifications at sea level. So you know what our legs felt like after tramping up and down. You always go back to your roots. The guide told us that folks actually make the pilgrimage here to do The Ladder and try to break the record. Currently a young German has the record at a 5 minutes and some seconds.
Here are some important dates:
1502 Juan de Nova discovered St Helena on the 21st of May, and named the island in honor of Emperor Constantine's mother, St Helena.
1633 The Dutch took possession but abandoned St Helena in 1651 when they settled in Cape Town.
1659 Captain John Dutton was appointed as the first governor of St Helena under the English East India Company.
1775 Captain Cook visited on his second circumnavigation.
1815 Napoleon was exiled here after his defeat at Waterloo.
1821 Napoleon died on May 5th.
1840 Napoleon's body returned to France.
1907 Flax manufacturing from New Zealand flax planted on the island.
1922 The first motor car, an Austin Seven, was brought to the island. Of course this made Dickiedoo deliriously happy and joyful because he owns two, a 1930 special and 1929 hearse he has nearly completed back home. And to add to Dickiedoo's fuzzy wuzzyness, there are probably more old Land Rovers here per capita than any place on earth. D Doo has one of those as well.
1966 Collapse of the flax industry.
1995 TV arrives.
2011 m/y Egret arrives with a raggedy crew of three.
I don't know the date but in the early 1900's American Joshua Slocum visited St Helena on the first solo circumnavigation of the world.
The first thing we did after checking in was taking on fuel. There are two fuel suppliers in St Helena; Solomons and Craig from the water taxi. Solomon's uses large steel barges primarily used to offload the supply ship. Both were about the same price but Solomon's had a deal with the bank we could pay their bill with a credit card. There are No credit card machines in St Helena. So it saved getting a cash advance on the card with all the expenses or changing U.S.P at tough rates. We bought 1400 liters from Solomon's. The fueling itself wasn't easy with Egret and the barge going in opposite directions in the surge. We didn't dare tie tight to the barge but kept 5' or so away when we could. They had 4 guys helping push Egret off the barge when we got to close. Later we topped off with nearly 110 liters from Craig including filling the diesel heater tank for even more capacity. Fuel cost 1 Pound Sterling (or St Helena pound) per liter or about $1.65 U.S.P/liter. $5.77/U.S.Gallon. The fuel was spotless.
Today it was another day exploring by car. This place is very special. There is so much to talk about we'll need to break it down into bits while we are at sea. The Napoleon deal will take an entire VofE's pictures. So lets start at the beginning of the car touring. The first day was a guided tour with Larry who took we three on a general sightseeing tour and hit the major Napoleon sites. The first N site was where he was quartered at first. An English gentleman, a Mr B, gave one room of his house to N while Longwood (his home until death) was being brought up to speed. N wrote these were the happiest days of his time on St Helena. Mr B had a 12 year old daughter who spoke fluent French and became buddys with N. Then N moved to Longwood, our next stop on the tour. We went thru the home and the various N rooms including the room where he died and a replica death bed and the death mask on a table next to the bed. The walls of both homes were covered in N paintings. It was very interesting and obviously there were many more details. One interesting detail was an American girl of about 20 who came to Longwood every day and wept as she wandered thru the gardens. She thought she was N's wife Josephine. After 2 years the easy going Saints had had enough of Josephine weeping and shipped her out. Of course we have complete photo's of everything but we'll show what we can. Then it was off to the Governor's Mansion to meet Jonathan. Jonathan is a 170 year old tortoise who came from the Seychelles along with 5 others over the years. Jonathan was hitting on a bimbo tortoise who was probably only a hundred. She gave him the cold shoulder at first but then relented for a kiss. That was to much for both of them so they napped a bit until Mary and Dickiedoo stopped by for a visit. They both made great friends and Jonathan even let Mary give him a scratch n pat. He raised himself up on all fours and stuck his head out for all the attention. Pretty cool.
Back to today. We took the usual road to the top of Ladder Hill and headed east to the two 'gates' we knew by now. Then we kept making northing until we came to new ground and followed every road to the end. Unless you see a map of SH you have no idea what I'm talking about but understand SH if full of mountains with steep valleys inbetween and NO flat ground including the valleys. So the roads wander a bit. We found hillsides covered in green flax plants, imported pine trees, native trees, cattle, sheep and goats. There were lush areas and desert areas surrounding the coast. Remember, SH is an emerald set in bronze. There was one area in particular that was similar to colored sands we saw before in Australia and again in Mauritius. There are only a few places in Australia where they have ocher, a colored clay the Aboriginals used for body painting. Ocher was rare enough it was used for trade items in Oz. There there is a shallow valley deeply eroded and the colors are very spectacular with reds, oranges, dark greys and yellow ocher. The three of us just sat and looked for a while after hiking in a few blocks off the road. There isn't a single picture of this area in any tourist brochure and I don't know why. On another road we came across the "Most Isolated Golf Course in the World". Yup, it was a 9 hole course complete with a clubhouse, greens and goats in the rough. The sand traps were bright red clay so the course was quite colorful. Next it was a visit to the Observatory of Edmond Halley. "He came to Catalogue the Stars of the Southern Hemisphere 1677-1678". He was only 20 years old. Later he discovered Halley's Comet.
We have been on a quest for propane. Everyone told us to take the bottle to Solomon's Gas station on Back Street in Jamestown. We have been there twice trying to beat the only fill on Thursday deal but have struck out. (Today is Monday, we have the car thru tomorrow and want to leave on Wed.) We know they take the bottles to the Longwood area to be filled. So we went there, met an older gent walking and asked him about propane. He said "let me in and I'll take you". So we did. Along the way he told us he was out for a walk, was 83 years old, worked for the French at Longwood, drove a truck and a cab. So he took us to a grocery store who sells propane. I asked inside about propane, they said they only sell it in 65 kilo bottles so no deal there and to go to Solomon's Gas Station in Jamestown. Well, thank you but it was the bakery lady who was telling me all this so I asked about sweet rolls or scones for a snack. They didn't have any so I said what good are you? She looked kinda surprised I would whip something like that on her then she laughed. So I left and she followed me outside and gave me her lunch. I declined but she insisted. Inside was a giant sweet roll she made herself and two meat type deals. And the older gent was still outside talking to some other guy. We left and took another road that deadened a few k's away so retraced our path past the grocery store and the older gent was still yupping it up with the same guy. In the end we went back to Solomon's Gas Station and left the bottle and an adapter I made up. We'll know tomorrow morning. So what's all this about? First of all, just how nice the Saints are to a person. Second, what is so simple back home, isn't. But then again it makes for an interesting day and it is all great fun.
The RMS St Helena anchored offshore this morning at 0600 and began offloading. A bunch of folks offloaded as well and they looked like locals. It turns out they were locals returning from Ascension Island. It turns out the RAF, and USAF have shut down contractor work because of the downturn. All these folks have no more work and are returning home. Offloading containers was interesting as well. First of all, the containers were all 20' and not 40'. They use these barges with a giant outdrive that runs about 6' down (2m) driven by a large diesel engine. The barges aren't particularly large and can only take 2 containers. They run the barges near the seawall, hold them off the wall with giant hawsers attached to moorings, and tie perhaps 10' off the wall. The barges race back and forth in the surge. The lift operators have to be very skilled and the workers on the barge must be super careful because it is very dangerous work. Before they lift off the first container they lower a big weight on the front of the barge to counterbalance the first container being lifted off. It is Very slow going but in the end all is unloaded.
We had a local named Stephen stop by Egret by water taxi who asked to come aboard for a minute. In he came and he said his neighbor back in Torquay, UK is a VofE reader and asked him to look us up. Stephen lives both here and back in the UK, "but mostly here". He gave us his phone number* and said to stop by his place for tea or he would drive into town and meet for a beer. We called today but no answer. Winding up the day, Dickiedoo was climbing Jacobs Ladder and reading you know what, so Mary and I were heading to put the car away for the night when she saw Stephen downtown. We stopped and he came over and we talked but it wasn't Stephen but a guy who looked like Stephen and was from the gigundus ketch that came in this morning. He is an American and the first boat in from the %$##@@#%& ARC fleet. So we told him we have been fighting for dock space everywhere because of the %$##^* ARC. So off we went with ARC guy to the Consulate (a local watering hole and hotel) and told stories and drank a bit of suds. It was a great day. *phone numbers in St Helena are 4 digits.
We have more accurate fuel burn information for the trip from Walvis Bay to St Helena. After fueling we used more fuel than we originally reported so the mileage figures are all wrong. The original figures came from trying to read the sight tubes rolling in the surge. In actuality we got 3.15nm per U.S. Gallon/.82nm per liter.
So there you have it. A bit of St Helena history and Egret crew doings. The next VofE will probably come from sea on the way to Ascension Island. Ciao.
January 13, 2011
Position: 15 55.11S 005 43.12W
On a mooring in Jamestown Bay, St Helena (South Atlantic) Distance traveled from Walvis Bay, Namibia to St Helena: 1232.37nm Average Speed for trip: 6.6 knots Fuel used including minimal generator burn: Approximately 1330 liters (350 U.S. Gallons) We will know exactly after fueling.
Fuel mileage: .926 ltr per nm, 3.52nm per U.S. Gallon Water used. Approximately 120 gallons (455 liters) Generator Hours. 4.2 (For making water and doing laundry) Distance from Fremantle, Western Australia: 7705.16nm Average Speed from Fremantle: 6.6 knots
The trip from Walvis Bay to St Helena was as good as an ocean voyage can be. We had no spray on the pilothouse glass except exiting Walvis Bay in the afternoon sea breeze. The wind never exceeded 25 knots and seas 2.5 meters (8'). All seas were well spaced and the motion was minimal. Looking at the Big Picture, Egret has had a fairy tale run from Fremantle all the way to St Helena. Others were not as fortunate including a few knockdowns and one double rollover. The reasons for the fairy tale run are choosing the right time of year to travel, routing, excellent weather forecasting (thank you OMNI Bob), patience to wait for good weather, and of course Luck. Don't ever trust Luck. Don't ever have a Schedule. Use the other disciplines, and if you are Lucky, goodonya. There are times when you are Not so Lucky. That's why you gotta have a boat that is the Real Deal, not a pretender.
G' Day mis amigos, there be hitchhikers. Mary and I were sitting in the pilothouse this morning having a cuppa and she mentioned the flying fish she saw in the running lights on her night watch. So I went on flying fish patrol to see if we had any flyers for breakfast*. First find was the little petrel. We think it is a Wilson's Storm Petrel. It was hiding next to the jerry jugs strapped on the stbd side. Mary picked it up in a towel, covered it for a couple minutes to settle it down then we put it on the cockpit cap rail. It flew to the water, did its web footed water dance over the waves for a moment then took off and flew high and low like it was flying out of happiness of being free. Apparently it couldn't lift off in the confined space of the side deck. It must have flown toward the running light, hit the side of the pilothouse or rigging then dropped to the deck. If you can see it in the picture, note the tube on top of its beak. This is a salt exuder tube allowing it to drink sea water and exude salt thru this tube like a mini reverse osmosis. Albatrosses, petrels and some other birds living at sea full time have this salt tube. Picture 1.
Next we found a flying fish on the boat deck and Mary found this small squid on the foredeck. Both flying fish and squid jump toward running lights. Mid ocean during the NAR, Ellen Bane from N46 Stachmo had a squid fly thru the forward hatch at night and land in bed with her. In addition to scaring Ellen witless it inked up the bed. Or was it Ellen? It's a mystery. After 6 years cruising the Med; Ellen, Bill and Satchmo are back in the States doing well and still cruising. The squid didn't make it. Pictures 2 and 3.
*Cooking flying fish is quick and easy. Collect the larger ones, do a simple scale and gut, cut off the heads, make a simple thin batter and fryemup. Flyers take just a minute until done. The meat flakes off the backbone and skin much like a small trout. The pure white meat is tasty with no fishy flavor. My guess is we'll have lotsa flyers between Ascension and Tobago as the water warms outside the cold water current we are in at the moment. Of course along with lotsa flyers are lotsa larger fish to snack on the flyers. Can't wait. Once we saw the first flyer yesterday we put out a worm just in case something snaps.
2.5 days later. No snappers. However, we hit the half way mark an hour ago. It is still very calm. Seas perhaps 1 meter swell, very little wind chop, 7.8 knots of wind, boat speed 7.0 knots, 6.6 average speed since leaving Walvis Bay.
Mon AM. Well, well, we finally got a snapper. I was laying down in the salon taking care of nap chores after coming off watch while Mary was fixing breakfast. There was a little commotion outside and I saw the rod bend a bit then straighten then bend more than usual. We were towing a fish on the take no prisoners rod (80lb test line - 37kg) so Dickiedoo reeled it in. It was a 5lb or so dolphin (mahi mahi, dorado) On the U.S. east coast we usually call them dolphin, the Pacific crowd call them mahi mahi and the Brazilians call them dorado. Dorado means golden in Portuguese. We were still fishing on the Brazilian side at this latitude on the way south in 2006, (about half way between Salvador and Rio de Janeiro) so I doubt this is the farthest south we caught a dolphin. We did a quick fillet and release. We have a giantus steak defrosted so tonight we will have surf and turf. (Same day just before noon) The rod went off and this time it wasn't a toy fish. The fish pulled nearly all the line off the reel in a nano second before I was able to get to the flybridge and start the roundemup deal. The hook pulled a minute later and Dickiedoo had lotsa line to reel in. A couple hours later the rod went off again. The rod would bend, about 10' of drag would be pulled then the bait would be released. This happened 5 times as the fish tried to eat the bait. So let me go into sport fish speak and describe what is happening to the sportfishermen readers in language they understand.
The first snapper pulled a ton of drag nearly dumping a locked up 80lb TLD 50A on a relatively light stand up stick (so we can use a gimbal belt with no back support). The 80lb Tiagra's with heavy sticks are put away for the time being. When we got the bait back the hook tip was bent so the hook set on bone then pulled. We haven't seen any tuna birds or any school baits to support tuna so we can suppose it was a blue. Also, the small dolphin had a round poke mark healing from a beakfish strike. The second fish was a beakfish for sure as you know by the way it snapped. Now lets think a minute. Here we are in a mom and pop trawler pulling a single sub surface bait on an unattended short flat at 6.6 knots. The bait is a simple 8" blue and sliver octopus rigged with a 10/0 triple strength hook and a 10' 400lb mono leader. What would be going on if you had a real sportfish out here pulling a 6 plastic spread with teasers? Can you imagine? And we have just entered warm water with more and more flyers in the air. This morning we had 4 flyers on deck. So we are on the edge of Real Fishing. You could have a 5-6 billfish day. Easily. Before the good fishing starts. In St Helena the guide says there are lotsa fish and dinner is no problem. So you can bang the bottom on anchor and catch lunch or dinner at will. Or you could take the dinghy out around the corner and really do it right.
Now lets think about the Real Deal. After St Helena across at about the 20S line is a chain of islands and sea mounts that extend 600nm east off the coast of Brazil. The north flowing Falkland Current terminates at this chain and the south flowing Brazil Current does as well. This chain is already whispered among those who dare. However, fishermen are limited to the local sport fish fleet of smaller boats with no range. Even so they still catch grander blues. Can you imagine a SF with the range to fish this unfished except close to shore chain from east to west taking your time? I can because there is. It is 75', runs on less than beer money and is purpose built for doing just this. You could fly your buddies in and out of the small port and pull on major lips exploring unfished water until you are ready for something else. Then it is time to bring in the family and spend the next months in Patagonia. But that is another story.
But then again, let us give you just a little snapshot of what could be. Let's say you finish with Brazil, head south to Ushuaia, Argentina, reprovision, refuel and head south. Now picture this. It is early morning and it is relatively calm. You have run to 56 degrees south then turned west. The 42 foot Rupps are swung out with two rigger baits on the stbd side and one flat. You are low in the cockpit on the port side looking past the chair, the rods, the Rupps (gold tips of course) and lines lit up in the morning sun and Cape Horn is in the distance. You snap the picture. Don't you think the editors of Marlin Magazine and Sport Fishing Magazine would sell their mothers for that picture? I do.
Your peer group of fishing buddies back home would be hating life when they see the cover shot. Of course they are still your friends but are they really your peer group any more? They still day fish then race back to the dock like boring usual. You have No Limits but your imagination. Think about it. No Limits.
OK, so much for fishing, dreaming and pimping the N75SF. The wind swung behind the beam early this morning for the first time on this trip and the seas increased a bit to about 1.5m and a little wind chop. The wind is only about 12 knots so the seas are from a system down south. We hit a counter current for a bit then a short time later she was back up in the 6.6 - 6.8 range. The trip average is still 6.6 knots @ 1450. At this speed we will have to slow in order to arrive after daylight particularly after OMNI Bob said we will have increasing SE'ly winds giving an additional push. Last night (Mon) at 2346 Egret crossed into the Western Hemisphere for the first time since 2008 when she crossed into the Eastern Hemisphere between Tonga and North Island, New Zealand.
As we mentioned before, this morning we had 4 nice fat flying fish on deck. So Mary friedem up in butter along with scrambled eggs and toast. Not bad at all. Neither was surf and turf last night. What will today bring? We'll see. Later in the afternoon the seas picked up to about 2m from the SE with just a little more wind. The highest wind has yet to reach 20 knots.
0400 Wed AM. We reduced RPM from 1450 to 1325 to slow the approach so we will arrive in daylight tomorrow morning. After we reduced RPM she slowed but .2 knots, however, with the extra power off she started rolling a bit in the following seas so we cranked up the Naiad's and that slowed her even more. In this case, that's a good thing. There are light misty rain showers blowing thru with no wind and no real rinse. We would love to have a big deluge before arrival to have the lady sparkle on arrival. Egret will not be the first N to arrive in St Helena. N46 Kanaloa has been here twice before on their loops around the world. Those folks (Heidi and Wolfgang) are the Real Deal. Three circumnavigations down and they are on their fourth. (the first was under sail) Amazing isn't it?
You know VofE is a sequence of chronological events as they happen during the course of each posting. You can see our thoughts at the time and how events unfold and we treat them. If some things may seem a bit confusing it is because we didn't go back and smooth the details. The details are accurate at the time. What happens later is just that. So with that preamble here's the latest. The 1325 RPM lasted until the first series of big rolls as the seas built to perhaps 2.5 meters from astern (8'). Egret simply didn't have enough water speed past the keel and fins. We increased the RPM to 1420, she straightened right out and the major rolling went away. At the same time the wind picked up to the 20 knot range and now we are flying at 6.9 knots and our arrival time is a couple hours before daybreak. After the turning waypoint there is only an additional 5.6nm to the anchorage. So we'll see what happens during the next 20 hours.
Mary and I were sitting in the pilothouse having our first cuppa this morning when Dickiedoo came up the stairs with a big grin on his face holding a flying fish by the tail. He thinks it came aboard thru the stbd side window just before I came on watch. The door was closed. Egret has a stairway that leads below from the stbd side of the pilothouse. So that little fella flew thru the window and straight down the stairs. We had three other flyers on deck this morning and now all four are in the fridge waiting to be yummy bait while on anchor in St Helena. Also, last night just before dark I was on watch and I heard what sounded like heavy rain. It was a huge school of hundreds of flying fish taking off in unison to the south. I have never seen a concentration of flying fish like this anywhere in our travels or fishing days in Florida. And they were lit up in the sunset light. Beautiful.
Closing on St Helena the wind picked up as well as the seas. We were still able to continue comfortable at 1420 RPM but were flying at 6.8 knots plus. We arrived way to early at about 0300 and decided to not attempt a landing in whatever town lights were shining on the harbor. So we turned 180 degrees, reduced RPM to 1000 and drove into the seas at a comfortable angle making 2.5 knots. Around 0515 as the glow was starting in the east we turned back on course. St Helena is a duplicate of Pitcairn in the South Pacific. You approach a high barren rock in the middle of nowhere, go around the NE then NW corner and into the harbor. Instead of Bounty Bay in Pitcairn it is Jamestown in St Helena. The homes are built up the hills just the same. However, Pitcairn has less than 70 residents and in St Helena, 'Saints' number about 5000. The two sailing fleets, Cape to Rio and ARC, have yet to arrive so there are only 4 cruisers here beside Egret AND we got a mooring. Anchoring starts at 60' (18.75m) and holding is poor. Here you don't take the dinghy ashore, there is a launch that picks you up with a VHF call to ferry service. The ferry has already been by and told us the moorings have 2 tons of concrete on each so I don't think we will move. Now we are waiting for Port Control to call and see if we go in for Customs and Immigration or they come to us. On the way in we spoke to St Helena Radio after a large sailboat requested bunkering service from Solomon's Fuel and put our request in as well. It appears there are two fuel barges moored between Egret and shore. Wouldn't that be nice?
So that is all we know just now. It is good to be here and all is well. Ciao.
January 7, 2011
Position: 21 21.59S 009 21.75E
Seas: 1m gentle swells, SW
Wind: 4.2 knots Variable
Speed: 6.4 knots @ 1450 RPM
Average speed for trip: 6.5 knots
Nautical miles to go: 914.2 (to turn in waypoint off St Helena)
We expect to arrive in St Helena on Thursday.
G' Day mis amigos, here's the getting under way deal. After we decided to leave we walked to town, cleared Customs and Immigration then walked back to the grocery store for final provisions that included two bottles of champagne, one for the equator and one for Ft Lauderdale. We completely filled the taxi for the trip back. It was a wet slog in the afternoon sea breeze with the dinghy full and Mary and I both aboard. Dick had to wait until we unloaded our little rubber car and were able to come back for him.
Later that evening a large expedition sailboat came to anchor behind Egret. It had sponsorship logos down the side announcing some manly quest. I called on the VHF and told them if they wanted local information to stop by and we would tell them the deal. They got about 100' in the wrong direction when they threw out their dinghy anchor and called on their handheld VHF for help*. Their Honda 4 stroke engine quit. It is no surprise because nearly all well used Honda 4 stroke engines quit unless you put a simple in-line fuel filter after the primer bulb. Honda's are VERY susceptible to specks of dirt clogging the carburetor jets. (They have two Honda's aboard and neither run. And they just had the small engine serviced.) We had them raft to the side of our dink and took them back to their boat. I claimed salvage but they didn't buy in. I asked where they came from and he said Ille Grande, Brazil. I told them we spent a week there on our way south five years ago and loved it. Then they asked where we came from, so thinking of their logo announcing quest deal I gave them a gentle little shot. (Yea I was naughty and rolled a big rock into their garden.) I quietly dropped the 5 Capes on them, year on the Beagle and a couple other things like Tasmania (the captain is a Kiwi so he'll know that deal). It worked and I think they were perhaps a little embarrassed the beautiful little mom and pop powerboat lady anchored not far away had done the deeds they were hoping to do in their sponsored dragon slayer and big crew. Ho hum.
*The only reason I'm throwing this unnamed expedition sailboat under the bus is to pass along three important lessons. Add a fuel filter in line between the primer bulb and the engine for all small outboards (both 2 and 4 stroke), not just Hondas. Have a dinghy anchor aboard with a long anchor line (they had to anchor in 35' - 11m). And have a handheld VHF in areas like this so if there are any issues you can get help. Their dinghy was about 9' with 3 adults aboard and someone's large suitcase. It would have been difficult to row upwind in the 25 knot sea breeze had there been no help.
We were in touch with Alan Louw (email@example.com) in the Small Boat Harbour for a time slot to get fuel. We entered the SBH this morning (Wed) at 1030. The SBH is a catchers mitt for all the junk that floats down the long commercial pier driven by the afternoon sea breeze. The slime, goo, spilled fuel, jillions of giant jellyfish, cups, bottles, trees, bodies, etc were stacked up inside. Thank goodness for keel cooling. We had no other pumps running including the stabilizer cooling pump when we entered. Old fashioned raw water intake pumps and strainers would need a strainer about the size of a washing machine to catch all the stuff and you would need a couple of hours to clean it out. Docking was in a tight spot at the end with the wind being an additional pain. Then the fuel hose would only reach the foredeck fuel bladder so we filled that then backed out of the harbor without hitting anything, turned around and backed in and were lucky again. We actually looked good with all the dockside experts watching this shiny little lady among the nasty fishing boats. Picture 1.
OK, we'll cut the drama and just give you the facts. Egret took on a total of 1891.4 liters of fuel (419 gallons) filling the forward fuel bladder*, stern bladder and main tanks at 7.4 Namibian Dollars per liter at an exchange rate for cash of 6.41 ND per U.S.P. So we spent $2183.50* U.S.P for fuel at $5.21/gal. The heavy little lady is almost as heavy as when she left Fremantle except this time we didn't fill the diesel heater tank on the boat deck with its 41 extra liters.. Actually thinking about it, she may be heavier because of provisioning. Along provisioning lines we spent about $1,000 U.S.P. *On first quote, fuel was 7.1 ND/liter and the exchange rate was about 7 U.S.P./ND. We got pounded by the increase in fuel and drop in The Peso's value which of course sends up the price of fuel. And so on. *We filled the behind Portuguese bridge fuel bladder in Cape Town.
Egret cleared the SBH at 1210, called Walvis Bay Port Control for permission to depart the harbor for St Helena. OK with them. Next we ran to the inside of the sand peninsula near Pelican Point (southern harbor entrance) to anchor and clean the bottom, keel cooler and prop. Dick being a former NZ Navy diver in his youth got elected and he worked for about an hour in cold water scrubbing off heavy slime and getting the cooler and prop all nice and clean again. (We have an electric hookah rig) Egret cleared the harbor at 1442 and put in the turning waypoint off the NE coast of St Helena. Just 1211nm, an eight day hop. And we only have 1205nm to go. We had fog early on but now vis is almost a mile. Seas are from the SW at about a meter plus in long swells and a little wind chop on top. Wind speed is 15.3 knots. Boat speed is 6.5 knots at 1450 rpm. There is just a little motion. Mary has a giantus pork roast in the oven, Dickiedoo's core temperature is starting to warm, his shaking is lessening from spaz to withdrawal and all is well. More to follow.
Picture 2 is a beggar that jumped on the swim platform looking for a goodie after Dickiedoo got thru cleaning the bottom.
So lets talk about Namibia for a bit. We have lotsa water coming up and will have plenty of time for that. Most early mornings on anchor off the yacht club it is still and a bit foggy. And most mornings the terns are busy with breakfast of 2-3" thin minnows. There are hundreds of them working against whatever slight wind there may be dipping and diving the baitfish. We too rose to the bait and got out the long lens and shot away at the nearly impossible to capture target. We took probably 1000 shots on motor drive over a few days to get this one picture and perhaps 2-3 others that were acceptable. Picture 3 is my favorite.
Pictures 4 and 5 are a parting shot from the desert. Mary surprised a young female oryx feeding behind a bush near where she was sitting. She shot it tight and came up with this amazing 'eye see you' picture. And we can't get enough of the dunes and the Deadveli area (Dead Trees). You'll see once we get internet access and can send the bulk of the Namibia pictures to Jenny and Doug for posting.
The 4 days we spent inland traveling during the two week stay were as good and certainly as interesting as any during our travels. Another week inland traveling would have been right for our short stay schedule but it wasn't to be. For those of you still Working (I hate to use that word, we're trying to keep it clean for the Boat Kids), a two - three week trip to Namibia would be about right for a quick overall look at everything from the desert to game camps with all the large animals of Africa. And it is safe and easy to travel. Instead of a canned tour it would be best to fly into Windhoek, rent a camper to do your own deal and have total independence. We said it before a couple times but the folks here are truly friendly and not just because they want your money, they are friendly to each other as well.
Along those lines I'll point out a special person. We met Josephina at the Sossusvlei Lodge working as a grill chef in the buffet. She is a pretty young girl about 19 or 20, speaks at least 3 languages including perfect English with a lilty accent, has perfect handwriting, is at work at 0500, has a two hour break in the afternoon and works until 2200 at night, 7 days a week for 5-6 months straight with a month off in between stints. We arrived at the evening buffet shortly before closing and she had to go to the kitchen for more meat to serve we three, and the same the next morning at breakfast when were late again and she was out of eggs for the omelets. She never lost her bright smile and giggly, shy demeanor. I took her picture and showed it to her. She melted then asked if she could have a copy. I asked for her address thinking I could e-mail it but she has a P.O. Box and I assume wants a print of a picture. It was my turn to melt. Picture 6.
So here is what we are going to do. When we arrive back in Ft Lauderdale we'll put together a package for Josephina with gaudy FLL tee shirts, other local stuff and her pictures. Wouldn't it be nice if You sent Josephina a post card from where ever you are from with a picture of your city or local attraction? Can you imagine how happy it would make her to receive something from another country for herself? I suspect what little money she earns goes to her family back home.
Mary ran thru a fleet of fishing boats last night on her watch. She changed course 20 degrees to the north to give them room. The large fishing boats were trawling back and forth pulling nets. So it made sense that this morning we had our friends the albatrosses and large petrels back. They must have been working the fishing boats. There is little wind so the poor things are having to fly ahead (instead of soaring) and land hoping we put out nets. It was good to see them again. As we move north (Egret's course is 302 degrees M. - 32 degrees N of W) and the stronger steady winds diminish we will see fewer and fewer. We will miss the albatrosses and later the Southern Star, two icons of the Southern Hemisphere.
And now the 1115' (348m) Safaniyah, 184' (58.5m) Beam and 68' (21.25m) draft is closing with a CPA of .30nm. They have the right of way. So I think we'll move when it gets close. Later. They turned at 2.5nm even though we could have easily moved and were getting ready to do just that. Also surprising was their rate of turn. They turned 30+ degrees in just minutes. We were watching the rate of turn on AIS.
Weather since the beginning has been mild. Only for a short while near the coast when we were caught in the afternoon sea breeze did we get any spray on the pilothouse glass. This morning (Friday) the seas are perhaps a meter of gentle swells and almost no wind chop. Wind speed is 6.9 knots from forward of the beam and we are making 6.5 knots. The air is starting to warm to the point we had the lee side (stbd side) pilothouse door open during the night. So now Dickiedoo is eating his pre breakfast, Mary and I have been snuggling together in the pilothouse having our first cupa then she just announced today is omelet day. We Boys love omelet day. She doesn't give us eggs as often as we want trying to take care of ye ol' arteries.
Later. It is so calm we did a load of laundry and made water. Whoop de doo.
So there you have it. A couple more days at sea. Enjoy the weekend. Ciao.
January 4, 2011
Position: 22 57.09S 014 28.82E Anchored off Walvis Bay Yacht Club, Walvis Bay, Namibia (West Africa)
G' Day mis amigos, today was a great day. It was 4WD drive day down the beach and thru the sand dunes to a shallow bay called Sandwich Harbor. We learned a lot about driving thru heavy sand and in the end Mary and Dick only had to push three times. The scenery was spectacular after a while when the dunes got larger. We just couldn't stop taking pictures as the light moved across the dunes. We climbed a series of two dunes and paid the price for so much time aboard and nothing but a small amount of walking for a while. We were dragging. Anyway, the view from the top of the second dune was spectacular. It is easy for me to write what we saw but it is difficult to describe what its like to look over a storm sea of sand waves hundreds of feet high. The dunes are multiple shades of tan with oranges and reds in places and dark shading from the sun. We drove to the end of the allowable track ending at the shallow end of Sandwich Harbor. There was a small flock of perhaps 20 pink flamingos feeding along with smaller shore birds. The setting of the flamingos against the high dunes was special. So we sat for a while watching the flamingo shuffle as they fed. The flamingo shuffle is when they stamp their feet about 3-4 times or shuffle it back and forth like a Bo Jangles imitation with their beak backward against their direction of travel, mouths facing back. The shuffling foot is just behind the beak stirring up critters. Then they take another step forward and so on. At times their entire head is submerged so all you see is a neck in front of two skinny legs with knots for knees.
Last VofE we talked about the overpopulation of seals being a fairly recent issue and how nature would take care of the problem. Nature at work was front and center on the drive along the beach. The beach was littered with dead seals of all sizes that couldn't find enough food. In the dry desert air they just sorta deflate.
On the way back, Mary spotted a small whale feeding just outside the surf. The ocean was slick calm with 1.5 meter swell breaking on the beach. The wave behind the surf was where the whale was feeding. It was so shallow we could see where it was at any time from the water movement. It appears it was a small whale feeding on patches of krill. We could see car size areas of pinkish red that are the same color as krill in the waves. The whale would roll on its back and when it would come up it would have its bottom jaw open then it would close as it rose out of the water.
Later it was off to dinner with a nice couple we met at the Yacht Club. They are on a couple year countdown to cruising aboard their 42' aluminum Van de Stadt sailboat they bought a couple years ago in Cape Town. It is a great bluewater design. They planned to leave Walvis Bay and head to Brazil via St Helena (everyone's stop on the way up or across the Atlantic). We e-mailed them the Deep South info we consolidated into a single document so they can have the information to see if they wish to turn left at Brazil instead of right.
And now where do we begin? The three of us left Egret for two days in the Nambib Desert at famous Sossusvlei. Mary and I stayed at the beautiful Sossusvlei Lodge and Dick stayed at the nearby Desert Camp, owned by the same folks. www.sossusvleilodge.com
Before leaving WB we were told there was a recent shower in the desert and the green shoots were drawing game close to the road about an hour out from Walvis Bay. A few miles out of WB we hit the 'dust road' (dirt road) and headed east into the nothingness of the flat sand desert leaving the coastal sand dunes behind. About an hour later we saw our first game, wild ostriches. Then came the springboks, oryx (small and large antelope) and a few zebra. The oryx are horny guys with both the males and females having long straight horns. The larger male horns are well over 3'+ (1m+) long. Oryx have adapted to the desert by having the ability to extract moisture thru their mouths by breathing moist early morning air. As we drove thru the desert and came on green patches there would be game nearby. During the heat of the day the game disappeared except in areas of small trees where the game was gathered in the shade. So it was a start and stop trip to the intersection of the road leading to the Sossusvlei and the booming metropolis of Solitaire (about 6 buildings). In this area you buy fuel when you can so we topped up AND Mary found a German baker and bought meat pies and a gigundus apple crunchy thing for desert. We arrived at the lodge, checked in, and went to the park entrance and bought tickets for that afternoon and the next day.
And then it started. You know we have seen lotsa stuff in our travels. Lotsa beauty in different forms. I won't say any more. You get the picture. The road in runs thru a flat valley with high dunes on both sides. As the sun rises and sets the colors are constantly changing from tans, to oranges to almost unreal reds. It was very much like the Olgas or Uluru (Ayers Rock) in Australia in that respect. So it was start and stop with Mary taking most of the pictures from her side with the giant hammer of time (gate closing) hanging over our heads. At the end of the road is the iconic Dead Vlei (dead trees) that I wanted to photograph at sunset and again in the morning in low light.
As the sun dropped the colors were changing from orange to more red and the shadows were deepening. Finally we had to tear ourselves away and head to the end of the road. The last 3-4 k's are 4WD drive deep sand. Of course we didn't take the time to let the air out of the tires and of course we didn't get far and got stuck. So we let the air down to 20lbs (1.4 bar) and drove to the end. Dick and I made a forced fast march across the dunes to the Dead Vlei trying to at least see it before we had to turn back and race back to the gate. We were dragging but at least we made it and was it special or what? This is an area of ancient acacia trees growing in an old river bed that were landlocked by dunes and received no more water. The bottom sediment dried into yellowish cakes and the acacia trees are nearly petrified by the dry air. We snapped a few pics then raced back to the car where Mary was waiting in the shade. Of course while we boys were trudging thru hot sand a jackal walked close by the car. When Mary took a pic and the shutter clicked the jackal was freakin and streakin. She got the shot.
Then we were racing back trying to beat the gate closure but the colors were turning wild on the dunes so we HAD to stop for a few snaps along the way. In the end we made it with 7 minutes to spare by exceeding the speed limit just a bit. Then came the best buffet dinner ever at the lodge. When was the last time you ate kudu, oryx, zebra, ostrich or steenbok? They also had boring pork, steak and chicken as well. There were plates of fruit, nuts, cheeses, a giant bread basket with different breads, soups and desert. We didn't eat, we fed. Kudu is like tenderloin with little gamey taste and the zebra was the best. Mary got the plates and I didn't know about the other game. They gave us so much kudu and zebra there was no room to sample the others.
The next morning it was up early, a quickie grab at the breakfast buffet then off to the 6:00 am gate opening. This time the colors were softer and of course, reversed. So we did the race along deal trying to do everything before the light went away. We did, then it was back to the lodge for a gigundus breakfast. Then the reverse trip back to Walvis Bay. We're still on overload from the trip.
A Yacht Club member loaned us their bakkie (4WD truck in Africaner), gave us maps and paid for a permit for us to see a moon landscape type scene not far from Walvis Bay. It was beautiful as well. In addition to the topography there were a couple interesting items. The first was the coloring of the desert in light greens, blacks and reds from lichens. It was if the desert was painted with a soft pastel brush. The second was the 'upside down tree' (Welwitschia mirabilis). The mirabilis is conifer that grows with its trunk underground, has surface feeding roots and just two leaves. When you see the 'tree' it appears to have multiple leaves but in fact they are just split from the original two. They are individual male and female trees that grow relatively close to each other. The only other time we saw opposite sex trees was in New Zealand's Stewart Island. The trees live to be quite old and one large example protected by a fence was dated 1500 years old. Nearing the end of the day we met two women on a lookout that were waiting for the sun to drop to take photographs. We talked for a while and she said a year from now all this will be gone. Even though it is within the Namib-Naukluft Park, permits have been given to strip mine for uranium. She said it is low grade uranium and they have a high grade mine away in mountains she pointed out in the distance so why? It seems to me the Namibians are eating their seeds for the future. In all fairness, Namibia conservancies are growing at a very fast pace. Already 16% of the surface area of this very young country is part of a conservancy and are 20-25 more conservancies under way. One thing that will hopefully guarantee soft impact tourism in the future is there is not enough water to support mass tourism. We have not seen giant crowds discharged from giant buses anywhere in our travels. So the prices are high and the quality of service is even higher.
We would like to take one more trip north. Like we mentioned before we want it All. In the north coastal area dune elephants and dune lions have returned. We would love to see that as well as visiting a Himba settlement. And one more shot at a game park in the north as well. We'll have to extend our immigration stay for another couple weeks in case we get weathered in. So we'll see.
In the small world department, last night after we got back we looked out and there was an expedition boat on anchor that looked like the 93' Whale Song we first saw in Ushuaia, Argentina. While in Fremantle we met another Whale Song belonging to a whale reasearchist family (11 year old daughter). They were negotiating to buy the Whale Song we knew that was lying in Malta. They did, brought it up to ABS standards and left Malta running straight to Walvis Bay via Gibraltar, Canaries, Cape Verdies and now to Walvis Bay. They are fast tracking to Cape Town to pick up guests then on to Mauritius and eventually to Fremantle. They stopped by this morning for coffee and a visit. AND they identified the whale we saw along the beach. It was a yearling humpback feeding on its own. He said occasionally a baby is born late or is weak and can't make the trip to Antarctica. The mother has to abandon the calf to survive so she does and the wee one (it wasn't exactly wee) has to do or die. This one was doing. Hopefully Our baby whale will make it and join the N/S group on their way back north in the fall.
A little techno came up. Before we left we turned off the fridge and moved everything from the little freezer (fridge/freezer) to the big freezer. We left with 160 amps down and when we returned we were down 184 amps. Solar* did the deal with just the freezer going. Not bad. After we returned we started the main to lift the dink. Just after starting the main I started the gen to charge the batteries. I could barely hear it so I shut the gen off nearly immediately. It wouldn't turn over when I went to restart it. It was dark, New Year's Eve, Mary had fixed a touch of Rhum du Cane and I didn't want to deal with it so we started the wing (with its 110 amp alternator), paralleled the batteries and charged away. This morning I took the lid off the electrical box and found a relay loose. I guess shutting the gen down just after it started shook it loose. So we plugged the relay back in and all is well. *4 - 150 watt panels on top of the flybridge top.
Here is a little relay story we learned from Lugger Bob (Senter) prior to the NAR (if you are lucky enough to have a Northern Lights gen). If anything electrical comes up pertaining to the generator there are a couple things to look at. First is the 2 amp circuit breaker on the gen electrical box over the electrical end** that controls the power from the electrical end. Check if it is tripped if you can't get power when the gen is running and the rotary switch is switched to ships power. We had the 2 amp breaker fail so we borrowed a spare from a friend and now have 2. Second. If the temperature gauge reads super hot and water is coming out of the exhaust, the first thing to do is take your digital temp gun and see if the discharge elbow is hot. It usually runs around 105 degrees F. Also shoot the temperature sender near the circulation pump. It normally runs about 190 degrees. If both are reading near these temperatures the engine is NOT hot. Check the heavy ground cable on the side of the electrical end. It will be loose. Tighten it and the engine temp will return to normal readings. No problem. Third. If these two issues are not yours, under the lid of the electrical box is a bank of 5 relays. These are simple, square brown Bosch relays available from NAPA and elsewhere for just a couple dollars each. They are all the same. Change them all from spares. If the problems go away you can find the bad one at your leisure by changing them one by one. We carry 6 spare relays. **A generator has two 'ends' or halves; an engine end and an electrical end.
Today we need to tie up a few loose ends like finding out the fuel deal, see if the fuel guy will take U.S.P and at what rate, will the banks change U.S.P and what rate, and can we get a car or the previous truck to spend a few days north. If there isn't any car available we'll get in touch with OMNI Bob and prepare to leave. Town is a long walk and it is not interesting so without a land based agenda it is time to see what else is out there and we be gone. The next VofE may come from sea with a Namibia wrap up.
We enjoyed taking the pictures for today's VofE. In landscape photography perhaps the lowest form of taking a picture is the 'walk up shot' where you walk up, look around a bit then snap a picture with little thought to framing and other stuff. An even lower form is shooting from a car. Well, the dune pictures you are going to see were lowly, shot from the car with a telephoto. No tripod, no nothing. We just did the best we could with the time we had. I was driving and Mary was on the more scenic side. Most of the pictures are hers. I think you will enjoy them.
So there you have it. A few more days in The Life. What did you do these past few days? Specaular dunes? Feast on kudu and zebra? Oh my. Ciao...
... Here is the latest. Egret has checked out of Namibia and will fuel Tuesday am local then leave for St Helena. The rental truck didn't work out and OMNI Bob says we have 3-4 days of good weather before a system moves thru holding us in port for another 3 or more days. So we're off.
(OMNI Bob) Over the next 3-4 days, a fairly typical pattern is expected to prevail along the coast of Africa south of Walvis Bay.
A stationary trough/low pattern should persist from SW-rn South Africa NNW across south/central Nambia, while a weakening high pressure ridge pattern prevails in the eastern Atlantic. The combination of these two systems will maintain a mostly S-SE wind/sea pattern forces 3-5 with the strongest winds nearing 30S/lat.
Long SW-SSW swells are also expected in the 1-2mtr range in the Walvis Bay area southward to/about 27S/lat. Thereafter swells closer to 2.0-2.5mtrs are more likely south to St. Helenas.
We are watching a cold front moving slowly north/east. It should gradually work its way through the prevailing high through Jan 8-9. The front should reach the SW coast of Africa through Jan 10th and a stronger high pressure ridge pattern will develop west of the front.
With the stronger high to the west, a building SW-ly swell pattern and increasing southerly wind/sea pattern is expected to develop southward from Walvis Bay toward St. Helenas. In general terms wind/seas will increase forces 4-6 southward along the coast with building SW-S swells to 2.5-4.0mtrs through Jan 10-12.
As the high moves eastward the SW-S swells should subside but the winds should freshen a bit S-SE forces 5-6, occ/7 with the highest conditions southward of 27S to St. Helenas. How much of the force 7 develops will depend on the development of the low pressure pattern across SW Africa and high pressure ridge to the south.
So, overall, it appears the best chance for the lightest wind/seas will occur during the next 3-4 days. Once the cold front to the south/west reach the SW Africa area (Cape Agulhas), increasing wind/seas/swells are expected to develop and persist for at least another 3-4 days.
Please keep us advised of your intentions. Updating based on yoru ETD. B/Rgds, Bob/OMNI
Ed. Note - The glossary of Egretism terms will be posted on the Captain's Log home page for easy reference.