A windy passage from Brazil to Uruguay
Wednesday 2 September 2015 - leaving Ihlabela
At noon we set sail down the channel between Ilhabela and the mainland. As expected when sailing in the lee of a mountainous island, strong gusts would be followed by flat calm. At 3pm we reached the southern end.
Steak and salad for tea. I hate it when the wind is so strong it blows the lettuce leaves off your plate!
One reef in the sails, lumpy seas.
Thursday 3rd September
A wet day, light wind but lumpy seas. Barometer falling. Current is pushing us south.
The song 'Turn around bright eyes' is running in my head on a continuous loop with alternative lyrics 'Turn around Caramor, just sail straight to the Caribbean, where it is always sunny and warm.'
Friday 3rd September*
By 5am the wind had reached gale force, we furled the genoa and hanked on the staysail. Caramor is sailing well.
How strong does the wind have to be before albatrosses start dreaming of oak trees? Or is it when there is no wind?
Early afternoon we saw a fin, our first shark! It swam parallel to us for an hour or so. A little later we were hit by flying squid. A tight formation of a hundred or so flew over Caramor and three misjudged the course and crashed into the sail splattering it with ink. They had fluorescent green eyes.
Caramor's mainsail now 'decorated' with squid ink
Pesto and fresh avocado cheese ravioli for tea.
2am the next day
I don't know what is worse: not sleeping or being woken up by the alarm at the end of your three hour rest period, convinced it is your turn to go to sleep ... then the terrible reality kicks in and you struggle into your waterproofs.
Good day today, baked bread and wrote up the diary for Ilhabela but we ran out of time to sort out the photos and post it. Tomorrow ...
5pm Wind starts to strengthen and it is raining, one reef.
By 9pm we had three reefs in the genoa and no main. How do you know when to reef the sails? When albatrosses start looking happy.
Very wet night. Franco put his iPad computer in the oven to protect it from the lightning which is all around us. The theory is the oven would act as a Farraday cage. There is a high risk it will get baked by mistake.
Plenty of time to ponder the different theories on how to avoid being struck by lightning, some advocate dangling chains from the shrouds. I can see many reasons why that wouldn't be a good idea. Since none of the theories are conclusive, the best course of action is to ignore them.
North-East Force 6-8. Aries, the windvane self-steering was voted best crew member ... again.
Out of the corner of my eye I caught a glimpse of the big white albatross that had been flying around Caramor for the past hour. The updraft off a wave was propelling it towards the sail. To slow down, the bird stuck both feet out, just like a cartoon character trying to stop at the top of a cliff.
For the first few days the crew had looked windswept and interesting, later they just looked greasy.
Monday 7 September
By breakfast the wind started to ease. Where does wind go? I always expect to find a big pile of wind at the end of a big blow but I haven't yet.
The weather forecast suggests it is less windy closer to shore so we alter course.
Penguins 'flying' under water, albatrosses soaring above, a mirror image.
Japanese pumpkin risotto
Tuesday 8 September
Around 2am we sailed past the Brazilian southern limit. After a few months, a foreign country starts to feel like home.
We realised that the engine will no longer charge the batteries, something to do with a large wave that crashed over the cockpit pushing Franco and several gallons of water into the saloon. The tow generator is working fine.
The list of jobs to do in Uruguay gets longer every minute.
12 noon: 15 degrees Celsius - it feels cold.
The largest pod of dolphins we have ever seen swims with us for half an hour, dolphins everywhere.
Two reefs in the main and the staysail, it is blowing a hooley again.
No pizza. At this angle of heel the yeast won't rise as it no longer knows which way is up. Neither does the cook.
A red crescent moon rises out of the sea and a cargo ship crashes into it.
Fog - everything is dripping.
7am Land Ho! (Uruguay)
The temperature is dropping fast and by 6pm it is 11 degrees Celsius.
Aubergine and red pepper curry with rice. Not quite right. We are out of chutney.
At midnight, in strong winds and torrential rain, we picked up a mooring buoy off Punta del Este port. 7.5 days at sea and 956 nautical miles later, we had arrived in Uruguay.
* not a typo. Our log does indeed have two '3rd September'