On our way to French Guiana
Sun 7 Mar 2021 00:21
Updated 06.03.21 00.10 hrs
Hello readers/followers and welcome back to the wheel house on Dawnbreaker where I have just taken over from Capt. Lars and am about to start my 2nd night watch of this leg - "Cabedelo, Brazil to St. Laurent du Maroni, French Guiana".
Our sail plan had been to head due North and follow the Brazilian coastline (about 15 - 20 miles offshore) for the day until we reached the "corner" and then turn more westerly and direct line to French Guiana, however the wind and currents were giving us such a good ride that we continued on our northerly track for a further 12 hours before turning, which means we are now in deep water (2 - 3,000 metres) about 100 miles from shore.
Other than dodging Fishing Boats during the first night (when we were closer to shore) the sailing has been very easy and when I took the helm a short while ago I was delighted to see that we have travelled 212 nm in the last 24 hours - a fraction under 9 knots per hour. The computer system is predicting us arriving at our next way point, at the mouth of the River Maroni, sometime on Thursday (11th March), but let's see how we go. We still have to cross the Equator (more later) and will be entering the ITCZ (Inter Tropical Convergence Zone) otherwise known as the "Doldrums" where the winds of the Northern and Southern Hemisphere meet and often cancel each other out, thus leaving us poor sailors with little or no wind, a situation called being "becalmed".
Unfortunately while I was snoozing earlier I missed the "very close" visit of a pod of Dolphins, but luckily Kenneth captured some delightful video footage which we will post when we have some "internetability". So with not that much "sailing" news for the blog I may as well fill my time, and steal yours, by telling you all the latest gossip from Jacare Marina and then give you details of our departure and "The Race".
In order to set the scene I will describe the area at the end of the pontoons which is called the "Jacare Marina Village", the "Key Players" and the "Residents/Visitors".
The Marina Village is a secure compound/complex consisting of a keypad controlled entry gate/entrance, a lovely semi covered courtyard area where there are pretty pastel coloured tables and chairs. Surrounding the courtyard is a "U" shaped structure consisting of the Restaurant/Kitchen/Bar, the Toilet and Shower Blocks, a room equipped with beds for people to sleep in (more later), the Marina Managers Office, an alcove set aside for a bring/borrow/deposit/take library and a very long computer work desk/bench. Then there is the Laundry Service and a small Chandlery.
The key players are -
"Nicholas", the owner. A French guy who bought the marina a few years ago after having regularly visited it when he was organising Atlantic crossing Regattas.
The "French Chef" who prepared us a most delicious Fish Pot for our last supper.
"Cleavage Lady" who works in the kitchen and prepared and served the more basic foods (Burgers/Salads etc)
"Pretty young Lady" who was very good at serving ice cold beers and Caipirinha.
"Smiley Guy" who always had a half smoked cigarette in his mouth, and was responsible for local works and maintenance.
"Washer Woman Lady" who, as her name suggests, ran the laundry.
"Night Security Guy" who I kept waking up and scaring, on my late night/early morning visits to the village in order to get some "internetability".
Residents/Visitors to the Marina are
"Crazy German Guy" (early 30's) who has a lovely looking Catameran moored near us with some funky underwater stern lights. He is the most anarchy minded person I think I have ever met, assures us that he will kill anyone who tries to vaccinate him, seems to survive on French Fries cooked by "Cleavage Lady" and a month ago kicked his crew of 5 young Italian travelers off of his boat for apparently no reason. He really is one of those people you hope never gets access to a firearm. We have wondered how someone with his youth and lack of charm has managed to have such a lovely boat/lifestyle but maybe rich Mummy and Daddy are just pleased to see him "travelling".
The "Kicked Off Crew" have been staying in the "bedroom" in the village and, after many weeks of trying to sort out what they are going to do next, have got flights to Kenya where one of their group has family.
"Lovely Swiss Family" in S/Y (Sailing Yacht) Mirabelle (who we last saw in Cape Town) with their two young girls, who spent many hours in the evenings watching the Minion and Toy Story videos that I have on my iPad (Don't ask !). They headed out early on Monday for Antigua.
"The Normal Germans" a couple of guys and a woman who wore the most fantastic lycra shorts who have been at the Marina so long that they are having to take a short trip to Paraguay in order to leave and then re enter Brazil to keep their immigration status in order (unlike us !!!)
"Capt Jaques" and his partner "Me Me" or "Just Me" (more later) who it turns out are from Brittany (France), have been sailing the Oceans of the World in their pretty little boat called "Gamine" for the last 12 years and have been at Jacare Marina for the last 5 months and have even had some eye surgery done whilst in Brazil.
I originally thought they were Brazilian because of the most perfect "Bon Dia" that I used to get from Jaques. However on Tuesday, after the "Feds" had left us under Marina Arrest, "Me Me" became very interested in what had happened. It transpires that they haven't checked in with the "Feds" either (for the last 5 MONTHS !!!) and were planning to leave in the next day or so.
We swapped email details and I agreed to update them on the result of our visit to immigration the following day (Weds).
I forgot to mention in my Facebook post that the "Young Buck" immigration guy had actually done me/us a favour with the 100 Real fine. The going rate is 100 Real per day, we were on our 6th day, but he only "booked" us for the 1 day (3rd March), so "Me Me" was rather concerned for the well being of her Credit Card.
It was agreed that the co ordinated, 5 agency, raid on us when we were leaving on Tuesday did not happen by coincidence and most likely was that Immigration had picked up on our presence when Jeremy had to visit them on Monday morning to get his transit Visa, and this then explained the unusually high Marine Police presence in the Marina area which "Me Me" had noticed on the Monday afternoon when the "Dawnbreaker Crew" were emptying Carrefour of Beer, Wine, Nibbles and other ancillary foodstuffs.
We also agreed that because slack tide was at 7am the following day (Thursday) and the chances of the "Feds" being up and about that early were very slim, that "Gamine" would slip her lines and sneak out to sea then. "Me Me" then discovered that the "Normal Germans" had inadvertently taken her one and only iPhone charger with them when they flew off to Paraguay the previous evening. So in the time honoured tradition of helping a fellow sailor I gave her mine and will have to rely on using Kenneth's until we get to Grenada, where hopefully I can get a replacement.
O.K. - With me so far ? ..... Good.
At precisely 8.04 am Thursday 4 March 2021, having noticed that "Gamine" had gone, Kenneth and I released the final 2 "springs" (ropes) holding Dawnbreaker to the pontoon and "sprang" from said pontoon onto Dawnbreaker with the grace of Gazelles from the Transvaal. It took us about 10 minutes to tidy up the boat (put fenders and ropes/warps/lines away) and we then just relaxed for half an hour as Capt. Lars navigated us along the estuary with the assistance of both the engine and the strong outgoing tide. By 9 am we had the main sail up and 10 minutes later we were passing the channel marker buoys and heading out to sea.
What happened next was amazing - At 10.55 am I spotted something on the horizon about 5 nm ahead, at our 2 o'clock, BEFORE "Eagle Eyed Kenneth" did - It was a Mast.
Capt. Lars immediately forgot we were cruising up to French Guiana, changed course and ordered the sheets to the Genoa and Main Sail be trimmed, Dawnbreaker heeled over and .... the race was on.
45 minutes later and we had closed in on our prey - "Gamine". I exchanged pleasantries with "Me Me" on the radio, swapped lunch time menu details and took photographs. She thanked us for passing on her lee side and not "stealing" their wind, and then 40 minutes later they were a spec on the horizon behind us. We were making 9 to 10 knots and they, with only their Genoa up, 5 kts.
Farewell friends - Fair Winds and Calm Seas on your way to Martinique.
So now - if you are still awake and continue to have the will to live, there is just time for me to tell you that it is 3.30 am and my supper time.
I will then be busying myself preparing my "Outfit" for when/if I meet Neptune at the Equator.
Stay Safe, Smiling and Strong. Look after one another. Remember to Breathe and Smile.
Deck Hand Pete