By Grant Chapman.
After a morning spent in iffy winds of no more than 8knots the afternoon proved more promising with winds gusting up to 15 knots during sporadic squalls. With each squall we also received a brief drenching as the heavens emptied bucketfuls of rain onto us. Judging when to start bearing off and manning the spinnaker sheet to depower the big purple bag became more of an art than a science with good timing providing us with some good boat speed with little disruption to our course.
Karmen in Grant’s office sent us a whole lot of Portuguese phrases and words as text files in an e-mail which we started practicing during sail setting and trimming down times throughout the day. Cathleen and Chris very enthusiastically asked Grant to test them on their newly discovered language each time they had learnt a section with some hilarious consequences as they came to grips with some very strange sounding words with all sorts of squiggles in very strange places on the letters. Peter said that all he needed to know was “Onde fica cerveja, por favor?” which we had worked out for our skipper should mean “where is the beer please?” We came up with a conspiracy to teach one of the less interested crew members a key phrase that we would tell them meant “which way to the topless beach please?” but if we could manage the right Portuguese would actually be “I would like to go to the toilet on your beach please”. This kept the language fundis amused for ages as we came up with more and more ridiculous things to translate for the unsuspecting other crew members.
In the late afternoon just before sunset we tried the big orange gennaker – a sort of spinnaker that is attached to the bow of the boat by the clew in one corner of the foot of the sail as opposed to being attached to a sheet for control like a spinnaker is. The other end of the foot is attached to the sheet as opposed to the pole used for the spinnaker. The gennaker has the advantage that it can be used when the wind is on a beam reach which we can’t use the spinnaker for. We only had the gennaker up for about an hour though when a big gust blew and we became overpowered quite quickly, even though we let out the guy to depower it. We also noticed that there was a tear in the gennaker near the foot of the big sail so we decided to bring it in and only sail on white sails for the night, at least until the wind stabilized and backed more to give us more of a run to let us use the spinnaker again. It also didn’t make sense having the more powerful gennaker up at night when there were only two people on watch because things could go wrong very quickly without sufficient attention being given to it. Sailing at night always added a greater sense of risk than during daylight hours as we were well aware that moving about on deck at night presented its own dangers, even though we religiously donned our PFDs and tethered ourselves to the boat.
We battled to get a stable satellite connection to transmit e-mails and get our GRIB files for most of the day but then suddenly we got a good connection just after dark. For supper we had the dreaded soya mince and pasta but with some additional spicy sauces it became more palatable. We really needed to land another fish.
The night sky was obscured with clouds, preventing us from taking our sights on the stars with the sextant which we would need to do the next evening, weather permitting.
There is a place available on Rotary Scout for the return trip to Cape Town for anyone interested as 3 of the crew will be flying back from Rio, as originally intended, but only 2 will now be flying to Rio to join the boat. The departure from Rio will be on about the 3-4th of February and will be going via Il Grande, an island about half a day’s sailing from Rio where a night or two will be spent taking it easy and living the island life. The journey back will take about 3-4 weeks in all and the cost will be the same as what everyone else originally paid, i.e. R5000 which includes all meals but excludes the flight to Rio which is about R6000. Anyone interested should please send an e-mail to Mark Jennings at firstname.lastname@example.org with their credentials, such which scout group they are associated with as well as sailing experience etc. The person will also need to have a valid passport and get a yellow fever vaccination.