On to the West Indies

Donald Begg
Sat 6 Apr 2019 21:00
We sailed from Jacare on the high tide at 05.20 on the morning of the 8th March, up to the top NE corner of Brazil and round, into the ITCZ, commonly known as the Doldrums. So, some wind, some calm, numerous squalls of varying intensity, muggy heat, sails up, sails reefed, engine on, engine off. But on this leg we had one great advantage: the Guiana current, which helped us along with a strength of up to 2 knots. Daily mileages were 185, 175, 170 and similar.
This is an area with a reputation for aggressive fishing boats, not to say banditry and piracy. In consequence, three of us had decided to sail in company, heavy old Lydia with Pretaixte, a French X42, and Aranui, a Swiss X46. The two lighter boats set up a tough pace for Lydia to follow, and we were obliged to sail harder than had been our custom. But drama struck us when Niki, owner of Aranui, suffered a bad fall, broke ribs, and had to lie still and in serious pain. This left Karen, his crew, plus a young and inexperienced godson, to sail the boat. Karen rose to the challenge superbly. Pretaixte, whose owners are doctors, helped with medical advice and drugs. The three of us stuck even more closely together to make sure that Karen and Niki had moral support. We stayed well out to sea, and came across only the occasional fishing boat, one of whom came in close to have a look but broke off when he saw that we were a group.
We stopped for 24 hours at Ile Royale, alongside Devil’s Island or Ile du Diable, in French Guiana. Not much remains of the old prison buildings, but there is a brooding sense of unhappy history. Ghosts notwithstanding, we had an enjoyable stay at this remote location including dinner at the one small hotel/restaurant.
From there on we were over the Equator and into the NE tradewinds, sailing well on a beam reach with a good current still helping us along, daily mileages between 160 and 180. The American catamaran Cayuse joined our group, we had one approach by a fishing vessel, but it was not sustained. Before we knew it we were North of Tobago, approaching Grenada, and into Port Louis Marina on the afternoon of the 21st March. 
In Grenada, Lydia crossed her track for the first time, circumnavigation complete!
Distances were 1382 miles from Jacare to Ile Royale, a further 726 to Grenada, 2108 in all. This took 12.5 days, so an average of around 7 knots over the ground.
Two days after arrival at Grenada Graham Stoddart-Stones left the ship. We had a terrific sail together, from Richards Bay to Grenada, a cool 7000 miles. I think that he enjoyed it, and I am very grateful to him for his help and his company.