L O G B O O K - by John Philp


MON 21st FEB - Day two of our passage from Brazil to Barbados. It’s sunny once again but the wind is feeble from the north, not quite enough for sailing so we revert to the motor. Finally the wind picks up in the afternoon, so much so that after putting up sail we’re forced to reef the genoa. Squalls descend on us at intervals.

Just on sunset I hear the fishing rod go crazy. Tony is first up to wind the fish in. The line is being pulled off the rod so fast the barrel seems to be smoking! Tony puts the drag on full but this has no effect. We both don gloves and take hold of the line to provide more drag. This slows the run a little, enough to put breaking pressure on the 80 pound line. Just then the stainless steel rod holder breaks with a crack; the line snaps simultaneously! That was a BIG fish! A big fish with a thousand feet of fishing line hanging from it’s mouth...

TUE 22nd - We’re making good progress today in a 15 knot northerly. I’m watching a tiny bird that approaches and circles the yacht. I think it wants to land but acts as though it’s thinking of a way to ask permission. When it goes downwind of us it gets buffeted in the lee of the mainsail and almost hits the water.

This is the first overcast day I can remember for ages. At least it’s cooler on deck. The wind is difficult today. At one moment 7 knots and the next up to 25 knots as rain squalls sweep down on us. The wind whips up fine salt spray and when you’re up on watch you’re forced to wipe caked salt off your sunglasses every thirty minutes or so.

Somewhere off our port bow is the mouth of the mighty Amazon river. We could sail two thousand miles up this river and it would still be seven miles across up there - the mind boggles! Beyond the Amazon are the three Guiana’s - French, British, and Dutch.

During the night the wind remains awkward, gusting strongly. When you’re on night watch you’re forced to steer downwind during the squalls to take pressure off the sails. Sometime in the night we cross the equator.

WED 23rd - It’s overcast again today. We haven’t seen the sun, nor the moon for almost two days. We’re making good time though.

The north easterly is 15-20 knots today, even more in the squalls. Tau plows powerfully through the ocean on a fine reach sending great volumes of water and spray from under her plunging bow. We leave a wide swathe of boiling white foam in our wake, as though we’re riding a white carpet of bubbles.

THUR 24th - Day five. The sun appears today and the tradewinds continue as before, allowing us a good rate of knots.

FRI 25th - Kristy, exasperated by the amount of time we seem to spend at sea says to me today, “Why does there have to be so much ocean?” Much has changed with ocean sailing since ancient times, but in a shrinking electronic world, distances and boat speeds have not. In six days we’ve seen no human life on the seas. Lots of time to think. Or not to think - whatever your mood.

Meanwhile the famed Caribbean trades keep up their steady presence, compelling us confidently towards Barbados, our GPS unit and auto pilot threading us on a precise course.

SAT 26th - The usual conditions again today - sunny and 15 knot trades. We snare a large mahimahi on the hand line in the afternoon but it isn’t hooked soundly and we loose it well before we can pull it alongside.

SUN 27th - Another sunny tradewind day. Less than 200 miles remain to Barbados.

In the afternoon I spy a lone turtle - 140 miles from land. It doesn’t seem to mind the distance, lifting it’s head briefly to peer at us before continuing on it’s lonely swim.

Towards sunset the sky turns vivid orange and red. All kinds of curious cloud forms float in it’s embrace, there’s even a patch of clouds that look like they was printed on an old dot matrix printer - all hazy like.

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