Across the South Atlantic

Donald Begg
Tue 19 Feb 2019 18:33

We sailed from St Helena at teatime on the 30th January.
The Pilot says “This route is generally a dead down wind run onto the coast of Brazil...Talking to those who have done this leg to Salvador, they all agreed these were some of the best sailing conditions they had met”. I join the agreers. The sun shone, the wind blew steadily from the East, the worry was that there wouldn’t be enough, never that there would be too much. We flew the classic trade-wind rig of poled-out headsails, an efficient and stable rig which comes at a price: you roll like a pig!
My previous record for flying twins was twelve days in the Pacific. We beat that this time. For thirteen days we didn’t change a sail, we didn’t use the engine for propulsion, we didn’t use the autopilot (the hydrovane was in its element), and we didn’t unroll the mainsail. The lowest daily mileage was 104, the highest 161. I had high hopes of not furling the twins until we were inside the Bahia de todos os Santos, but no such luck, on the thirteenth day the wind finally abandoned us, and we motored for 18 hours up to the Centro Nautico marina in Salvador da Bahia.
We had no excitements and saw disappointingly little wildlife. We got to know all each other’s stories, we cooked (mainly Mark), we read, we practiced noonsights on the sextant, we became familiar with  the Southern Cross, the weather grew warmer.
The mileage from St Helena to Salvador was 1917, we arrived on the 13th February in just under thirteen days, an average of 6.22 knots.
So, in 37 days we did 916 miles from Richards Bay to Cape Town, 1718 miles from Cape Town to St Helena, 1917 miles from St Helena to Salvador, 4551 miles in all. Say 30 days at sea, an average of 151 miles per day.
Now for a caipirinha or two, and a bit of shore time.