I didn’t manage to post a blog before leaving Brazil and I have now been at sea since the 10th of February.
I made a decision to turn homewards from Florianpolis. The last few days sailing from Rio Grande had been very slow an so I stopped in Florianpolis to do some more research and reconcider my plan.
As I wanted to reach home by May I decided against sailing to Falkland Islands.
I do have a thing about remote islands and I wanted a final destination for my journey, so I took a course towards Tristan da Cunha. This also meant that I got much better winds than trying to sail north from Rio. And I would reach the borders of the Southern Ocean.
This island is difficult to visit as you can only anchor outside the harbour and only in good weather.
The sail to Tristan was great with mostly strong winds, and I got a sense of the southern ocean as the air and water temperature dropped and the whole atmosphere slowly changed, much to my liking. I also had some kind of whales swimming with Caprice for a while. They were not porpoisses but up to 4 meter in lenght.
Tristan da Cunha is truly magical. It is symmetrical in shape and towers up above the sea with majestic lines and the vulcano top straight in the middle. Absolutely beautiful! It is the most remote inhabited island in the world so I was pretty excited to see it, at the same time being aware that a visit entirely depends on the weather so I prepared myself for the worst scenario, that being just seing it from the water.
The day we where closing up on the island the wind was pretty weak so I was running the engine to get there before dark. Then a funny sound apperared and the engine cut out. I spent hours trying to fix it. I am rubbish with engines but I did everything I could figure out from the instruction manual. Eventually it started but only to cut out again after 20 minutes.
It was then dark as I approached the little lights from the settlement so I hove to for the night and sailed into the anchorage in the morning. I was REALLY lucky with the weather because the anchorage is not att all protected and the harbour entrance is subjected to the big swells from the Atlantic, meaning that you can only drive in and out of it on certain days. My rubber dinghy without an engine was entirely out of the question.
So I anchored up at about 10 in the morning Sunday the 6th of March on the koordinates given to me by the harbour master. The weather was beautiful, sunny, slight chilly but light wind.
A boat came to pick me up at about 12. This was lucky again as it costs £120 to hire one for the day but they where out anyway and so very kindly they didn’t charge me anything.
Tristanians are English citicens, and have had a commuinity there since the early 19th century, consisting of different shipwrecked people. A very interesting story.
Conrad, whom took care of my port clearance, remembered Sven Yrvind visiting the Island in Bris in the 70s (?) Conrad was then 13 years old.
After Conrad had cleared me in and stamped my passport with a beautiful Tristan stamp, Dawn, the head of tourism took me under her wing and I had an unforgettable day on this stunning and unique island. It was a Sunday and Dawn’s only day off so it was ever so kind of her to give me her time and she and her family made me feel so welcome.
I have never been is such a calm place, everybody I met had such a calm aura about them. The small village has one bar in which we had two drinks, one little shop and that is it.
Dawn, her husband and her daughter took me on a little drive to see the potato patches where all the familys has a little summer hut in which they often spend the weekends. It was the cutest thing I have every seen!
Amber, the 10 year old daughter told me that they where 4 children in their class and 25 students in the entire school. Nobody has mobile phones on the island. It was really a little paradise. Instead they communicate with VHF.
They keep cattle, sheep and chickens and Dawn very kindly gave me big chunk of lamb, potatoes, eggs and homegrown tomatoes for my onward journey. I lived very happily on lamb and potato stew for a few days. And those eggs where amazing!
At about 5 in the afternoon I was driven back to Caprice in a zodiak. You really need a fast boat to be able to drive in and out of the harbour entrance with big swells coming in. And you have to chose the right time, just after one wave and before the next one comes crashing in.
The plan was that I was to be picked up by a fishing boat in the morning to spend one more day on Tristan.
However, in the morning they called me on the VHF to say that the swells had grown and no boats could enter the harbour that day nor the following day.
So I had no choice but to anchor up and go. It made me realise how lucky I had been to get one day ashore, an experience I will never forget.
We had our first gale a couple of days after leaving Tristan. It was supposedly 14-19m/s (I have no wind meter onboard). Unfortunately it was from the North so we couldn’t go quite where we wanted. Caprice sailed very well on a beam with 3rd reef and a tiny bit of front sail. The Aries steering very nicely. As soon as I tried sailing a little more onto the wind we got violent hits banging down into the waves. It actually broke some of the interior wooden beading in the front cabin….oh well! I quickly came down wind. The gale went on for 2-3 days but it was fine. The waves where not as big as I had anticipated.
After that I got becalmed for about 4 days. That was a test for the patience!! And with no engine of course!
Then finally we hit the SE trade winds and we had steady winds the last few days to St Helena where I now am.
I have a lovely little yellow book – Pocket Atlas of Remote Islands – with stories of 50 remote Islands. I have now ticked off 2 of them. Not too bad!
Funnily enough this book proved very useful as my supposedly worldwide navigation computer is missing the charts of Tristan and St Helena. At least I have a drawn map of the Islands in the little yellow book!
An engineer came to look at my engine and as the flightwheel is jammed he said it needs to come out and taken completely apart to see what parts it needs. The parts would then need to be shipped here and so the whole affair would be costly and take a lot of time.
I have decided to keep sailing and hope to get the engine fixed in the Azores. I just have to hope that I don’t get becalmed for too long around the equator or the Azores high.