The Alba Chronicles
Neville Howarth
Mon 26 Mar 2018 10:19



03:54S 36:59W


So far we've done 235 miles with 1,120 miles to go to French Guyana. We did 140 miles in the last 24 hours.  We have 100% cloud cover, rain and 10 knot veering winds.  We’re motoring at 5 knots with a 1 knot favourable current and 0.5 metre seas.  Here's what we did yesterday and overnight.


25 March 2018   Brazil to French Guyana (Day 2)

The wind dropped after dawn and we bobbed along until I cracked up at 11:00 and started the engine.  Just after lunch, we turned the north-east corner of Brazil and started to head north-west.  Probably due to a land effect, the wind veered to the south and increased enough to gybe the main and start to sail again.  We were only achieving 3 to 4 knots boat speed, but we had about a knot of current with us, so it wasn’t too bad.


With hardly any wind, it’s blisteringly hot during the day, even in the shade of our bimini.  When I went for my afternoon kip, I had to have a quick cold shower and then a fan running above my head to be able to sleep.  The best time of the day was an hour before dark, when the temperature dropped to a comfortable level and we had dinner. 


When the wind is light, we have the genoa poled out and a preventer on the main to minimise the sails bashing and banging as we roll in the waves.  However, there’s still some serious snatch forces on the mast and gear.  This morning, while I was in the saloon, I heard a metallic clink on the deck. I scurried up and found a broken piece of u-section stainless steel, about 6mm wide and 25mm long – very worrying.  After searching the mast with a pair of binoculars, I discovered that it was part of a stainless steel thimble from the rod kicker wire – not an immediate problem, just another thing to go on the To Do List.


The wind dropped again over the afternoon and at 16:00, we had to put the engine back on for a couple of hours until the easterly 10 knot wind filled in, allowing us to sail wing-on-wing.  The first half of the night was lovely, with a half moon and fluffy white clouds.  The wind was consistent at 10-14 knots, and we were gliding along at 6 knots in the calm seas. 


Unfortunately, at our 01:00 watch change, a huge black cloud system overtook us and the wind backed by 30 degrees, forcing me to gybe the main.  The wind had picked up a little, so I put 1½ reefs in the main.  10 minutes later, the wind veered by 30 degrees and torrential rain started, soaking me through as I struggled to install the rain flaps on the bimini, while gybing the main back to port.


To add to my woes, I could see the lights of a fishing boat about quarter of a mile to starboard, restricting my ability run downwind. The wind increased over 20 knots, so I was glad that I’d put in a precautionary reef and then 10 minutes later, the wind died completely, forcing me to run the engine for an hour.


And then another rain shower came along and the wind backed by 120 degrees, putting us hard on the wind - we’re only 240 miles from the equator and back in the region of tropical squalls.