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Atlantic Ocean Log

Saturday February 16th, 2002

Checked out with port control, immigration, and customs. They are all open 24 hours a day here in Cape Town, which makes it easier. It's also free. We have found that information/procedures are not consistent from office to office and port to port, but the officials are friendly, so we are not complaining. -DWH

11:20am: Lines are free. It is about 1700 nm to St. Helena. As we leave we have a beautiful view of Cape Town and Table Mountain. We also pass Robbin Island. This is the prison island where Nelson Mandela and his ANC buddies were held for several years. -DWH

5:30pm: Once we were clear of the mountains the wind got steady and started to build. It is now about 30 knots out of the south. We are moving along at about 8 knots. It is a little bumpy but is an excellent start. There are birds and seals everywhere. -DWH

7:30pm: Wind still strong, maybe even up a little more. Dropped the main (which had been double reefed). Now sailing with just the jib. Still making excellent speed. -DWH

10:00pm: Wind usually over 30 and sometimes 35-40 knots. The seas are building up and breaking.

Sunday February 17th, 2002

When I wasn't at the helm, I was napping in the saloon with my foul weather gear and harness still on. It is not too threatening, but is definitely interesting. Stacy was at the helm at about 3am when we took a big breaking wave over the stern. I heard her scream, and when I looked out there was water everywhere. They have been breaking around us all night, so I guess we were going to get hit sooner or later. It continued to be rough into the day. Stacy has not been able to eat much. She has been close to getting sick a couple times. I usually don't have too much trouble, but last night when it was dark and I could not really see the horizon, even I was starting to feel the affects. Once it was light out it was better and actually pretty nice sailing. It is fun watching big waves rear up and then break (as long as they are not breaking in our cockpit). I also entertained myself by watching the numerous albatross that have been flying around. I spent 2 hours trying to catch one actually flapping his wings. It never happened. They seem to be able to glide along the wave tops forever.

Noon: Our position is 31 58 S, 16 04 E. We have made about 170 nm since leaving Cape Town.

The water temp is now up to about 65 deg F. When we rounded the Cape of Good Hope and hit the Benguela current (cold water from the South Atlantic) it had dropped to about 50. That current continues up along the coast, but we are starting to get out of it. It will soon be warm enough that we will be enthusiastic about bucket baths in the net again.

4pm: For the first 20 hours out of Cape Town the bar was way up and steady. We must have been right on the edge of the south Atlantic high. It started to drop around 7am and is now down about 6. We are still in fairly dangerous waters, but the likelihood of anything really nasty drops off considerably as we get above 30S. -DWH

Monday February 18th, 2002

It was another rough night. The has wind stayed up in the 25-35 knot range. The seas are not real big, but they are confused. We've gotten hit by waves from all directions. These confused seas make it difficult for the autopilot, so we have been hand steering. We are really looking forward to reaching the trade winds where, along with steady wind, we should also get more regular seas. Jo saw a couple whales this morning. One made a couple passes right next to the hull. He said it was about 20 ft. long and had spots on it's back. Later a different whale passed right infront of the boat. He said a big, black dorsal fin came about 2 feet out of the water. Stacy and I were both napping during all this fun. He yelled for us, but in both cases we were too slow. -DWH

The first fish remains unidentified, the second has a good chance that it was a killer whale! -Jo

Noon: Our position is 30 04 S, 13 47 E. We made 157 nm in the last 24 hours.

Later: The wind has dropped. The main is back up. The auto pilot is working. Stacy is still feeling sea sick, but I expect a full recovery as the seas mellow out. -DWH

Flying fish are back!

8:30pm: Just talked to Laura from Wings of Time on the SSB. They are about 4 or 5 days ahead of us and doing well. Laura had a funny story. They had trouble with their autopilot for the first day or two after leaving Cape Town. She said it was driving like it was drunk. After some investigation they found that the cause was a large quantity of beer. Huh? They had a case of beer sitting next to the autopilot compass. Once the beer was moved the autopilot went back to normal. -DWH

Tuesday February 19th, 2002

4am: Wind died. Motoring.

6am: Wind up a bit. Sailing again.

9:30: Jo and Stacy raised the spinnaker. This is the first time it's been up in months. This, like the reappearance of the flying fish, is another good sign. As good as South Africa was, we are all really ready for that good old trade winds passage making

Noon: Our position is 28 39 S, 12 07 E. We made 112 nm in the last 24 hours.

Cape Town radio really blasts out on the VHF. We are at least 250 nm from the nearest transmitter and are still picking them up.

In the Indian Ocean we all did regular exercise. By the time we reached Richard's Bay we were feeling strong. Since then we've had almost three months of nearly free beer, wine, and steaks. I still feel good but not quite the same. Now that we are getting back into that trade winds cruising mode, I decided it's time to get lean and mean again. I can't say that the push-ups and sit-ups felt good, but I'm happy to be getting back at it. And afterwards I took a bucket bath in the net, much better than those hot showers at the yacht clubs. This is what I've been missing. (Reading a good book, Edward Abbey's "A Fool's Progress", while the autopilot steers us under the spinnaker doesn't hurt either.) -DWH

Wednesday February 20th, 2002

2am: Wind died. Drifting. 3am: Motoring. 6am: A light wind has picked up from the SW. Sailing again.

Noon: Position is 27 35S, 10 49E. We made 108 Miles in the last 24 hours. Spinnaker is up and we are making 6 knots towards St. Helena. I am so happy because I can finally make food, eat it, and then work on the computer. None of this is possible when you are sea sick. My only relief the first 48 hours was sleeping in my bed. I was even sick during daylight at the helm, that should let you know how confused and rolly the seas were. -SLC

The last couple days have been beautiful - mild seas, nice breeze, sunny sky - and the sailing has been pleasant, but we haven't seen much sea life. We've had the fishing lines out. I had one light hit as I was pulling a line in to change the lure, but it didn't really seem like the fish wanted it too badly. Then, in the early afternoon, Jo took a look over the side of the boat. There were fish everywhere. Our lures were still in the water with no action as we watched a steady stream of fish cruising by for hour after hour after hour. I wonder where they are all going and why they are not hungry. I know I'm hungry. We just need a little cooperation here. -DWH

Thursday February 21st, 2002

It was an easy night flying the spinnaker, nothing to keep us company but the moon and the stars. -DWH

Noon: Position is 26 04S, 08 57E. We made 135 nm in the last 24 hours.

7pm: It's been an easy day flying the spinnaker and reading books. -DWH

8pm: Talked to Jeff from Wings of Time. They are having as much fun as we are except they have also caught fish. Little Nicholas, 18 months old, has his sea legs and is all over the boat. Laura, who is very pregnant, is also doing well. They are glad to be in the South Atlantic and not the rough South Indian Ocean. Day after day of 25-35 knots with an 18 month old and one in the oven sounds very trying. We also got another update on the great pirate attack. Last word is that there was no contact between the boats and absolutely no shots fired. The more we learn the more we realize that nothing actually happened. -DWH

Friday February 22nd, 2002

Another easy night with the spinnaker still up. The forecast for this area changes little (SE10-15 or SE15-20 everyday), and it seems to be pretty accurate. Over the last two days the wind has been pretty much from the SE, varying through a range of maybe 40 degrees, and the speed has been between about 8 and 20 knots. It really makes for easy sailing.

Noon: Position is 24 23S, 06 54E. We made 151 nm in the last 24 hours. We have 876 left to go. -DWH

4:30pm: Called Cape Town Radio on SSB. I was hoping that I could place a collect call to the US through them. I'd like to call Ridge, Steve, and John and wish them good luck in tomorrow's big ski race back in Wisconsin. That service was available in Australia, but unfortunately is not supported in South Africa. Too bad. Well at least I know there is someone in Cape Town listening out in case we need help. (And I hope everyone has an enjoyable race!) -DWH

8:30pm: We finally dropped the spinnaker after almost two and a half days. The wind wasn't too bad, but the autopilot was struggling to hold course. It is also cloudy, so we will not have much light to deal with it tonight. Better to be cautious even if it means going quite a bit slower. It will probably be back up again in the morning. -DWH

Saturday February 23rd, 2002

Midnight: Wind died down, the spinnaker is back up, and the autopilot is working.

4am: We have crossed the Tropic of Capricorn (23 27S) and are now officially back in the tropics. We have also cleared the Valdivia Banks, the area where there was the "situation" between the yacht and the fishing boat. We have heard that there are a lot of fishing boats in the general area. We our course to avoid most of the banks and have not seen any boats at all. -DWH

Noon: Position is 22 56S, 04 54E. We made 144 nm in the last 24 hours. We have 732 left to go. -DWH

We saw our first boat since the first couple days after leaving Cape Town. It was a large fishing boat. They called us on the VHF, but their English was difficult to understand, we didn't recognize their language. At first I was concerned because they might be calling to warn us about lines or nets, but after a few minutes it became apparent that they were just being friendly.

Since it is easy sailing, we worked on a few projects. Jo worked in the starboard head (refinishing the walls and wood work), and I worked in one of the lockers where we store food. We have had a squeak coming from that locker for quite some time. I took out all the food, cleaned everything, and found the squeak. There was a board that was loose. Six screws later, and the squeak is gone for good. I think I have now eliminated all the noises from the inside of our hull. These noises bother Stacy when she is trying to sleep. She is a happy girl now. -DWH

Looks like another nice night of sailing with the spinnaker. -DWH

Sunday February 24th, 2002

It was a peaceful night. It is so comfortable sailing downwind with the spinnaker. Ladybug usually has a pleasant downwind motion. With the spinnaker up, we make good speed even with light wind, so the waves are not overtaking us very quickly. We are averaging around 6 knots, but it seems like we are just floating along. -DWH

Noon: Position is 21 30S, 02 44E. We made 147 nm in the last 24 hours. We have 585 left to go. -DWH

I was really determined to catch fish today, so I tried a new strategy. I put my latest homemade lure (a hook, a chunk of lead, the finger tip from an old rubber glove, and the shiny material from a bag of wine) on a handline on the starboard side. I put a big musky lure (10" of wood and hooks) on a handline in the center. Finally I put a rubber squid with some strips of shiny wine bag material on "the Provider" (my heavy pole) on the port side with lots of line out so it was quite a far behind the other two. I figured that the fish did not have a chance. The musky lure would draw them in with its wild motion. They would then either hit that or the homemade lure. If they let those two go by, the last one would sneak up on them, and the fish would probably hit it out of instinct. It seemed like a good plan, and in the early afternoon I had a hit on the Provider. Unfortunately it got off after only a few seconds. Meanwhile Stacy was knitting like a fool. She had purchased some hand spun, hand dyed yarn before we left South Africa and was quickly turning into a hat for me. Once it was done she put it on my head and declared that it was my new "lucky hat", just what a fisherman needs! About a half hour later I had landed a nice skipjack tuna on the Provider. It was just the right size for dinner, so as soon as it was in the boat I went to pull in the other lines before we caught any more. Too late. Another tuna grabbed the homemade lure. Luckily for him, he wasn't hooked too badly, so I sent him back to the sea. While cleaning our dinner I checked the unfortunate fish's belly. He was a pig! His stomach was packed with a squid (about 3-4" long) and a large flying fish (about 7" long). I finished cleaning the fish, and dinner was soon cooked. I had my first real tuna sandwich in a long, long time. Fantastic! -DWH

8:30pm: Just talked to Wings of Time. They made it to St. Helena this morning. It sounds beautiful. Jeff saw what he thinks was a huge manta ray swim under the boat right in the anchorage. He said it was at least 20 feet long. They also have several large dorado hanging out under their boat. Now we are really excited about getting there. -DWH

Monday February 25th, 2002

Another easy night of sailing with the spinnaker, but at 6am the wind died and it had to be dropped.

10:00 Spinnaker back up.

Noon: Position is 20 11S, 00 50E. We made 132 nm in the last 24 hours. We have 453 left to go. -DWH

1pm: Jo is working on the starboard head. I am cutting patterns for the cockpit cushions. The wind has died, and it is raining lightly. The spinnaker is back down.

2:15pm: Dave vs. the Dorado! Well, I think I won because we are going to be eating the dorado for dinner, but he got a good lick in before he was down.......................We finished yesterday's tuna for lunch. Encouraged by my success yesterday, I put out the same combination of lures. It was only about an hour before we had a fish, this time on the "Jake", a 10" musky lure manufactured in Wauasu, Wisconsin. The advertising for the lure claimed that it was the "best that money could buy", which turned out to be true at least as far as the quality of the hooks is concerned. Once I notice that we had a fish on, it only took a few minutes to get it to the boat. I was alone in the cockpit, so rather than gaffing him, I just lifted the fish out of the water. Just as I got him in the cockpit he started to flop around violently (Dorado are famous for this as you will know if you've read our Pacific log or seem Jo's videos). The next thing I knew there was a fish hook through my thumb. Ouch!!!! Now I have a 27" dorado flopping around with one end of a musky lure in his mouth and the other end of the lure stuck in my thumb. HELP!! Jo and Stacy quickly appeared. Stacy helped hold the fish down while Jo spent a couple minutes cutting the hooks out of his mouth. Life got marginally better once the fish was disconnected. Then we attacked the hook in my hand. We tried cutting it with a wire cutters. No luck. These were top quality hooks. Eventually we got out the vise, clamped the hook securely, and cut it with a hack saw. This took several minutes but was not too painful. Jo kept very cool. He's a good man in a crises. I imagine that it is more difficult working on a hook through someone else's flesh than it is to work on one through your own. Once the hook was cut I cleaned the wound and then pulled the remaining part of the hook through with a pliers. I cleaned it a little more, applied some antibiotic, and put a loose bandage over it. Jo cleaned up the blood (from me and from the fish) and filleted the dorado. Stacy made me lay down, got a hot compress for my thumb, and poured me a glass of red wine. Even when things go wrong, life still isn't too bad. -DWH

The dorado is down and out..................

............but he got his parting shot in before he gave up.

4:30pm: Spinnaker back up!

Boy am I glad Dave wasn't hurt worse. As we were leaving Cape Town I ran into a woman in the Yacht Club shower who mangled her foot (lost lots of flesh and had 2 pins to repair the bone) about 100 mile off shore. They came back to S. Africa and her foot is healing well. But it really is scary to think about having a major accident out here at sea. But I keep telling myself this is a very safe place for us to be(not much traffic trying to get to work on time, or crazy people stealing to buy drugs or crazy terrorists), and we have lots of resources in a pinch.

After we cleaned up the blood and cooked the fish it was time to treat ourselves. Dave and I settled down to watch the new movie that Ryan and Linda sent for us. I have been saving the movie for a time just like this, when we needed a little distraction. So there we were in the middle of the ocean laughing hysterically and crying with sympathy for our new found idol Bridgette Jones! A big thanks to Ry and Linda for sending us such a great movie. -SLC

We had a great sunset. There were some dark low lying clouds that seemed to squeeze the hot red into a narrow strip along the horizon. Excellent. Now it's 11pm and we are 6.5 nautical miles from the prime meridian. I will be the only one awake to celebrate our arrival back in the Western hemisphere. I will let you know if it feels any different.....well, we have arrived in the Western hemisphere and there aren't any fireworks appearing in the sky but the red wine from South Africa still tastes great. It feels really good to be one step closer to home. -SLC

Jo's version:
All kinds of excitement today. Taking my usual afternoon nap, when I hear "Jo, Stacy, I need help!" Quickly I make it up on deck and I see that Dave has caught a small dorado. Cool, dinner! Then I start to wake up and realize that he was trying to tell me something else. Nasty! One of the other hooks of the lure went right through his thumb. Him and the fish are attached to the same lure, and the fish is still trying to wiggle away. I run downstairs on command and grab the wire cutters. To no avail, the hook is too damn hard! Another set of pliers, but that does not help either. Time to reassess. 1st step, separate Dave and the fish, so we cut the fishes lip and now we have one less problem. I run downstairs and find the vise. If we use the vise to crank on the wire cutters, maybe we can get through. All we manage is to bend the wire cutters. Ok! I have an idea, lets clamp the hook on the vise, and I'll get the hack saw. I start sawing and the blade goes dull before I finish the job. I quickly grab another blade. Finally we cut through the hook. Dave finishes the job by cleaning the wound and hook as best as he can and slips the hook the rest of the way out! Wow, what a day. At midnight we cross the prime meridian, finally returning to the western hemisphere. 400 miles to go, and we should be to St Helena by Friday!

Tuesday February 26th, 2002

Early morning: Wind slowly shifting more towards the west. Dropped the spinnaker and put up main and jib. -DWH

11:30am: Wind shifted back. Spinnaker back up.

Noon: Position is 18 49S, 00 49W. We made 123 nm in the last 24 hours. We have 330 left to go. -DWH

I was minding my own business digging in the water locker when a wave splashed the deck. Well, I thought, we are not really going fast enough for water to splash that high --- wait those are squid all over the deck! The deck was quickly being stained with black ink, so we gather the little guys up and rinsed the deck. We used one for bait, and the rest got fried in oil and lemon juice. YUMMY! -SLC

Here are some of the squid that landed on our deck.

Spent the afternoon working on a few small projects: making patterns for cockpit cushions, fixing leak in dinghy, finishing the St. Helena flag, etc.

Wednesday February 27th, 2002

What a beautiful morning. The full moon was setting in the west, and the sun was rising in the east.

Noon: Position is 17 25S, 03 01W. We made 151 nm in the last 24 hours. Our planned route has been modified with the addition of a detailed approach to the anchorage, which added a few miles. We now have 184 nm to go. It is a beautiful sunny day and all is well on board. -DWH

8pm: Talked to Jeff on Wings of Time. They are leaving St. Helena tomorrow morning, so we will not get there in time to see them. We will still keep in contact with them on the SSB, but we will probably not see them again, at least in the near future. We wish them the best of luck with the trip home and with the new baby. -DWH

Thursday February 28th, 2002

6am: It's been another beautiful night of sailing under the full moon. We are trying to make good speed in hope of reaching the anchorage at St. Helena before dark. Right now we are doing a little better than 7 knots, and our chances look good, but we will have to wait and see if the wind holds up. -DWH

Noon: Position is 16 10S, 05 10W. We made 145 nm in the last 24 hours. We have 39 nm to go!

12:30pm: Land ho!!

We came around the north tip of the island still flying the spinnaker. St. Helena is basically a mountain sticking out of the ocean. It is a very dramatic sight, very beautiful in the late afternoon light. It is also very isolated - 1000 miles for Africa, 1700 miles from South America, and 700 miles from Ascension Island which is the nearest other land. We don't believe that it has an airport so the only way here is by boat. There are about 5000 people living here. I guess you'd better like your neighbors, huh?

7:30pm Anchor down (for the first time since Cocos Keeling!). The ferry service met us as we came in and directed us to a spot. The customs and immigration officials will not be coming buy until tomorrow. The fridge is on cooling our beer and champagne. Jo just dove in for a swim (also the first since Cocos Keeling!) and I'm next. Then we have a big pot of maffe tiga waiting for dinner. What a wonderful life. -DWH

Friday March 1st, 2002

Immigration and Customs officials came out to our boat around 10 am. We completed all of the necessary forms and took down the q-flag. We went to shore on the ferry. First we paid our check-in fees at all of the appropriate offices. We took a good look around town and then we found a nice place for a beer and cheeseburger. Next we went to check email. Then a couple of beers before heading back to the boat. We had a nice spaghetti dinner and went to bed early while Jo set the town on fire. -SLC

Saturday March 2nd, 2002

Made spice cake while Dave worked on "Ladybug for sale" stuff.

Yesterday we headed to shore around 11 am. We made a quick stop at the police station to show them our health insurance documents. Health insurance is required for a stay longer than 48 hours. Then we bought some postcards and had a soda at a bar with a huge verandah on the main street. After the bar we went down to the Arts and Crafts shop to have a chat with Danny. I met Danny the second day we were here and I wanted Dave to meet him. He does beautiful watercolors of local images and scenery and is very friendly. Danny is from Australia but fell in love with a St. Helenean woman while in England. He has lived here for many years and really loves it. But he says that he must leave the island for vacation every couple of years so that he doesn't tire of island life.

Our next mission was to hike up Jacob's ladder, after climbing 700 hundred steps straight up we were out of the main town district. It did not take more than a few minutes for some one to ask if we needed a lift somewhere. A guy named Brian let us climb into the back of his pick-up truck after we explained that we were just out for a day to see the country side. He offered to drop us anywhere along the road to his house which is on the other side of the island.

Looking down Jacob's Ladder onto Jamestown.

A view of the harbour of Jamestown.

The view from the back of the pickup was AMAZING! The cliffs on the coast are very dry, rocky and brown, but inland there is green everywhere! We found mountains, deep valleys, cattle grazing in the pastures, tons of birds, a group of donkeys and incredible views of the ocean from up high. The roads are one lane, so on coming traffic is a little interesting. Luckily there is not much traffic and we found the roads to be more like paths and were just perfect for an afternoon stroll. After enjoying the scenery for a few hours we found a car headed back to town and asked for a ride.

A few donkeys along the side of the road.

We found ourselves to be a bit sweaty and hungry after the hike so we drank a couple of sodas in the park and munched on the great bread from the local bakery. The town is very friendly, everyone greets you as you walk down the street. I think after a week we would get to know quite a few people by their first name.

After our adventure around the island we decided to get our kayaks out. Dave went for a snorkel and I paddled along the coast for about 30 minutes. The coast is very rocky and steep with a few caves which makes for interesting scenery. Dave found the water nice, 75 degrees and very clear. Lots of big schools of small fish. By the time I made it back to where I left Dave, one of the kids had on his fins and was trying to get in the kayak with him. He definitely made a new friend!

We finished off the day with a tour of the anchorage. We met a nice retired American couple on a boat called Imagine. Their boat was built in South Africa and this was their first passage. We also met a young South African couple with 3 children. They are also new to cruising. Interesting to meet some people just starting out, makes us feel very experienced. -SLC

Sunday March 3rd, 2002

Working on emails and web page stuff. Jo went for a kayak and hike. -SLC