The Alba Chronicles
Neville Howarth
Sun 25 Mar 2018 10:50



05:04S 35:02W


So far we've done 95 miles with 1,260 miles to go to French Guyana. We did 95 miles in the last 21 hours.  We have 80% cloud cover and 10-12 knot East winds.  We’re sailing wing-on-wing at 5 knots with a 1 knot favourable current and 0.5 metre seas.  Here's what we did yesterday and overnight.


24 March 2018   Brazil to French Guyana (Day 1)

The alarm went off at 06:45.  It’s strange how the sound of an alarm clock makes you want to stay in bed, but time and tide wait for no man and we wanted to leave a hour before high tide.  It took us a couple of hours to get the dinghy on deck and tidy up after two weeks at anchor, but at 09:00, we started to pull up the anchor. The anchor chain was covered in thick, slimy growth, so it took 10 minutes to try to wash off the worst of it.


The sky was overcast with lots of showers around us and no wind.  Motoring down the river was uneventful and the tide had just started to push us out as we headed out of the ship channel.  There was a one metre swell coming in from the north, but with hardly any wind and not much current, it was fine.  The channel is only 10 metres deep and I would imagine that if there was a strong on-shore wind and an outgoing tide, it would be unpleasant.


There was a light 5 knot wind from the east, which just about filled the mainsail as we motored north. The afternoon was muggy, but the clouds eventually moved west over land and the wind picked up enough to sail at 16:00.  Unfortunately, we had a slight 0.5 knot current against us, but we should pick up a favourable current when we turn the corner tomorrow.


As soon as we’d hit the open sea and settled down, we changed the ship’s clocks forward one hour.  Over the past two weeks, while on Brazilian time, the sun has been setting at about 18:00.  This is great for the tourists listening to Bolero, but a bit too early for our watches.  We should now have the sun going down as Glenys goes off-watch at 19:00 and sunrise should be about 06:00, which is perfect.


Glenys produced my favourite Brazilian meal for dinner – rice, beans & chicken.  On our last two long passages, I’ve become constipated because of slight dehydration and the lack of exercise - sitting around all day doesn’t help the digestion.  Glenys has decided that the solution is to increase our fibre intake by eating more beans.  Of course, flatulence may then be a problem, but Glenys has read that the proper soaking of dried beans overnight, removes the starch and reduces the production of gas.  We’ll see how it goes.


It was a pleasant night with a 10-14 knot east wind putting us on a beam reach at 5 to 6.5 knots. We followed the edge of the continental shelf about 15 miles offshore, where the depth drops off to thousands of metres, trying to find the elusive current.  By 02:00, we had up to ½ knot with us.  There were quite a few cargo ships following a similar route, so we had to keep a good watch – not as relaxing as the trip from St Helena where we didn’t see anything for days.