St Helena Northwards - Day One 14 21.104S 007 24.885W

Mike and Liz Downing
Fri 4 Apr 2014 16:29
On our way again. Left St. Helena yesterday just after 13.00 and currently heading towards Ascension Island. This could be a relatively short passage, a medium sized passage or a very long passage, depending on the conditions. Ascension is about 700 miles from St Helena so a relatively short passage. But, anchoring at Ascension is not easy or pleasant if there's a north west swell. If there is we'll probably keep going. We had quite big swells at St Helena yesterday morning and all the boats on the moorings were rocking and rolling. Getting ashore was quite a challenge as the little ferry boat was rising and falling about 3 to 4 ft against the steps with the swell. It was a question of grabbing one of the hanging ropes and waiting until the ferry was at the right height for the steps and making a leap for it. If you hesitated you were done for - suspended in mid air!

If we don't stop at Ascension then we'll head for the island of Fernando de Noronha, a small island about 200 miles from the coast of Brazil - the most eastern bit, where Brazil sticks out into the Atlantic. That's another 1,100 or so from Ascension. It's supposed to be a lovely island, but the anchorage there is quite exposed and rolly, and at least one of the boats we know went there and decided not to stop. It's also very expensive - £200 just to anchor for 3 nights and another £100 to go ashore. So if we don't stop there it's another 2,000 miles to the Caribbean. So we could be on a 700 mile passage, an 1,800 mile passage or a 3,800 mile passage. Good job we're well stocked up!

We've had good winds (12 to 18kts) since leaving yesterday, but with a bit more east in it than we would like to get both poles up. Nevertheless we did get them both up first thing this morning and with both genoas poled out and the main not being used, we've had a good start and made 140 miles in the first 24 hours. The seas are moderate, so not too bad. The position above is our noon position today. The forecast is for much lighter winds from later today, so we don't expect this to be a fast passage.

Had a bit more wildlife on board overnight. The first was quite a sizable squid (7 inches - we're not talking giant squids here!). We haven't had one of those since the Pacific. They can eject their blue ink and it's difficult to get the stain out of the teak deck, but this one had not done that before it expired, so not too messy to remove. Talking of mess, our second visitor left quite a bit! A black Noddy hitched a lift, sitting in the mainsail stack pack on the boom. With the main down, it's quite a cosy place to go. Being in the middle of the night we didn't know it was there until on changing watch we could see all the mess it had left on the deck and on the bimini. I went up to shoo it away, but it ended up on my wrist and wanted to stay there. So I came back into the cockpit with a Noddy behaving like a parrot! It showed no fear at all and ignored every attempt to get it to perch somewhere else. Eventfully it got the hint and flew twice round the cockpit under the bimini before heading off into the darkness. And it was dark - we have a small crescent moon for the first 3 hours of the night and then it's pitch black. However, the skies were clear and the stars were out in all their glory. Some northern stars that we haven't seen for a very long time!

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