L O G B O O K - by John Philp. (Contact us : info@taufiji.com)


MON 24th JAN - Tau is in the mid Atlantic Ocean headed for Recife - an old Portuguese port on the north-east coast of Brazil. The wind is very light today, coming directly across our stern and the swell is causing us to roll uncontrollably so Tony decides to point our bow north towards Ascension Island, figuring we may as well go where the wind takes us. If the wind remains the same we will visit Ascension before Recife.The sea is so calm we could be sailing on a lake - only the small ground swell gives it away. The ocean is a gorgeous navy blue, and the only discernible life is the occasional shoal of flying fish we disturb, which sets them all a flying like a fleet of angry hornets, skimming effortlessly over the waves.

Though it’s slow going the light wind passages are enjoyable as you can perch on the bow scanning the vast blue domain on a clear, sunny day. There are no planes, no other vessels, no intrusions - it induces a dreamy state, your brain shifts into neutral...

On the midnite shift when I came up to relive Sefo I thought I heard the ratchet on the rod signal a fish on the line. It was only a brief hint, but I wound it in anyway. On the lure was a small ugly fish, a foot long, almost transparent. We weren’t game to eat something that looked so scary so we threw it back where it came from! We later discovered it was a rare fish that would have been worth a bit of money had we kept and preserved it.

TUE 25th - Another fine day though largely lacking in wind so we motor from 11am into the night. At sunset the rod goes whizzing off it’s reel and I jump to wind it in. It is big fish and takes a lot of line off the rod before Tony can take the motor out of gear and back up a little. When I finally tire it out and reel it in, maneuvering it close to the hull the clear water reveals an eight foot long sail fish! It isn’t going to be easy getting it on board! Sefo grabs a spear gun and shoots it through the head, while Tony gaffs it. In concert we haul it aboard and secure it. What a catch! Once it is filleted I figure it will produce eighty meal portions!

WED 26th - The wind is still light this morning and we motor until 10am when the wind rises to 12 knots from the south east. It is shifty though and tends to swing up to 20 degrees each way compelling us to gybe a number of times to realise the best angle downwind. We hoist the spinnaker (kite) after dinner.

THUR 27th - In the middle of the night we drop the kite and hoist the more stable fisherman in it’s place. Again the wind is light and the swell is causing us to roll about. Finally the wind freshens in the afternoon to 17 knots and we move freely, though it is a ‘dead run’ and we are forced to tack downwind once again, slowing our progress to Recife.

The night sky is filled with countless shooting stars.

FRI 28th - The wind is still light today. We listen in on the daily Millennium Rally radio transmissions between their yachts, which are spread over two hundred miles of sea, and discover that the wind is varied out there, but for the most part light.

Today a marlin makes an unsuccessful lunge at our line then follows it for twenty minutes swimming patiently three meters behind the lure. It eventually disappears.

By the afternoon the wind is up once more and we are able to maintain eight knots on a broad reach despite not having a mainsail.

SAT 29th - Today the wind is favourable all day and we sail pleasantly into the night.

Michelle and Kristy have the watch from 8-10pm and most nights they are joined by Lydia and Monifa - so the ladies are in charge of the yacht for a couple of hours. They sit up there with cups of tea laughing and chatting away. It sounds like a Tupperware party from my cabin!

SUN 30th - We see our first ship this morning. The morning also brings the best wind of this passage - 18 knots of south east tradewind. We’re seeing the odd Portuguese Man of War jellyfish now. They are much larger than the ones we see in Fiji, and bright pink rather than blue. At this size they can be deadly if you have the misfortune to get tangled up in one.

It’s day eight of the passage to Brazil. We have roughly six hundred miles to go...

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