Thursday, 9 April 2015

Brazil to Barbados - A Passage Diary

Our longest passage to date - 2000 miles and 16 days a sea. I thought I would keep a diary, as a record of how the passage progressed day to day, including notes on what we ate, as fresh stores diminished over the course of the passage.
Overall we had a really good passage, making good time and keeping up good spirits through out.

Day 1

Easterly F4 – Almost dead downwind, full main and poled out jib.

Lunch: Egg, tomato, carrot and tuna salad.
Dinner: Scrambled egg with potato, tomato and onion.

Waved goodbye to paradise. Saw one last turtle alongside while motoring out of the harbour. Hoisted main and poled out jib top. Everything good! Loving sailing downwind after 1500 miles upwind from Rio. Spent most of the day sleeping.

Day 2

Noon to noon: 140 NM.
Easterly F4.

Lunch: Toasted ham and cheese sandwiches.
Dinner: Courgette and cabbage curry.

Sailing well without touching a rope for 36 hours. A knot of current with us, so making great progress. Last night the tricolour broke. This morning I took apart every connection and put it back together the same way, as it all looked fine. Now it works. I wish I knew how I fixed it...

Day 3

Noon to noon: 137 NM.
Easterly F3-4 – A little less wind. The speed dropped below 5 knots for the first time.

Lunch: Instant noodles and sausages.
Dinner: Forgot to eat.

Saw the lights of three boats last night. Could they be pirates!? I considered turning off the lights to hide, then considered even if were pirates (and not actually fishing boats) they would have a radar anyway.

This morning we found out we had committed flying fish genocide. A shoal of 29 perished on our deck last night.

Day 4

Noon to noon: 95 NM.
North Easterly 2-3 – Slow sailing with some motoring.

Lunch: Hot dogs and home made relish.
Dinner: Pasta with courgette.

Slow night of drifting and flapping sails with a bird taking a lift on the stern. Directly under the sun during the day. No breeze to cool us down. No clouds and no ice cream. Going slowly crazy.

A temporary passanger

Day 5

Noon to noon: 103 NM.
Northerly 3-5 – Why are we in the trades sailing upwind!?

Lunch: Ham and cheese toasties again.
Dinner: Cabbage and chicken stir fry.

Crossed the line last night. Big ceremony and Neptune regaled with gifts. A line crossing ceremony requires some challenge for polywogs (those who haven't crossed the equator before.) so Giulia had to eat a flying fish! 

Not Tasty...
Neptune was satisfied (as declared by his representitive on Auriga, Matt) and Giulia was bestowed the status Shellback.

Neptune costume inspired
by Simon Walsh
This morning the wind backed and we are sailing upwind. Reasonably fast though, and we finished the first 500 miles and had popcorn as a treat.

Day 6

Noon to noon: 99 NM.
North Easterly F4-5.

Lunch: Tuna Sandwiches.
Dinner: Chicken and pea couscous. Chicken came from a pouch we bought in Salvador. It was really good. I wish we bought more!!

Not much happening today – sky overcast and the boat is sailing herself. Both crew lying around all day. Wind freshened in the evening to F6 so good progress.

Day 7

Noon to noon: 123 NM.
North Easterly F4 and dropping.

Lunch: Twice boiled egg sandwiches. Don't ask...
Dinner: Meatballs and pasta.

Cloud cover all day. Slow sailing and motoring in the evening. Some weeds floating in the sea. Passed a patch so dense big I popped my head up and it looked like we hit an island! Did a real double take.

I fished up some weed.
It did not look tasty.

Day 8

Noon to noon: 108 NM.
North Easterly 4-5 decreasing to nothing – Some motoring overnight.

Lunch: Tuna and cheese sandwiches.
Dinner: Pasta with tomato, garlic, olives and capers.

Another overcast rainy slow day. Really loving the Doldrums. Sky cleared in the evening. First night of many I predicted wrongly tomorrow it might be sunny again...

Day 9

Noon to noon: 114 NM.
East North Easterly 4-5 – Finally bearing away to a good broad reach.

Lunch: Scrambled egg on toast.
Dinner: Pasta pesto.

So much for the clear sky last night. Raining all day. Very weird this morning. Extremely confused seas. Big swell from every direction. Waves almost spiky and the breaks jumping skywards. Felt like strong tidal overfalls but we are in 4000m of water! Could not find an explanation. Maybe several swells from different directions? Maybe two different currents meeting? It only lasted half an hour.

Day 10

Noon to noon: 132 NM.
North Easterly 4 - 5 (with gusts in random directions under the thunder clouds).

Lunch: Mini hotdogs.
Dinner: Sausages and instant mash with onion gravy.

Intense rain all day. Nice that the weather is finally clearing up eh? Too humid to close the companionway hatch, so it has been raining into the boat, onto my bed. Both tried to sleep as best as possible, given the damp. Needed after a night of big stormy clouds and squalls.

Day 11

Noon to noon: 129 NM.
North Easterly F3-4 – Full sails and a nice reach.

Lunch: Tuna, carrot, onion and caper salad.
Dinner: Cabbage curry. Cabbage keeps for ages, and can be cooked in a remarkable number of different dishes.

The sun is shining!! Auriga turned into a washing line with drying clothes on every rail. Sad sailing fact though: salty clothes never quite dry, however sunny it gets.

Day 12

Noon to noon: 118 NM.
North Easterly F4-5 – 1 reef in the main and sailing fast.

Lunch: Crackers with olives, pickled onions, tuna and cheese. All the fresh bread is gone.
Dinner: Salty pork in madeira sauce. Bleh! Horrible. Couldn't get the salt out of the cured pork. Almost too salty to eat.

Both a bit depressed this morning as we found the so called “equatorial counter current”. A knot of current with us turned into a knot against us. We spent the morning ploughing through pilot books and texts on voyage planning to find out where the reverse current runs, and whether it would be worth our while to take a detour inshore.

Late afternoon as a treat we made fresh popcorn in the pan and watched the sunset with a can of beer. Idylic.

Day 13

Noon to noon: 132 NM.
North Easterly F4-5 – Still going fast with 1 reef and jib top. Everything feels well set up.

Lunch: Cheese and onion pancakes.
Dinner: Cabbage, carrot and baby sweetcorn stir fry.

Little sleep last night. Huge patches of weed floating past and clogging the paddle of the self steering gear. Had to keep getting up to go and poke it off.

Long trails of weed to catch props, keels,
rudders and wind vanes.

Everything a lot more promising though. Our detour to dodge the counter current paid off and we are back in the fast lane of the Guiana current. Great wind, and the current with us. We are absolutely flying!! Feels like we'll be there tomorrow. Passed 1500 miles and less than 500 to go :)

Day 14

Noon to noon: 179 NM – That's a new record for Auriga!!!
North Easterly 5-6 – Hanging out all available sail – Loving the feeling of speed!

Lunch: Instant noodles for Matt and canned veg for Giulia.
Dinner: Fishcakes and coldslaw with the last of the cabbage. The remaining eggs have all gone off, so there were none for the fish cakes, and they didn't glue together quite as they should.

Woke last night to a scream “Eeeeeeek! - I touched a bird!!”. Confused? I was at 4am. It turns out Giulia saw a piece of fabric flapping on the sprayhood and reached out to investigate. It was actually another avian passenger, and she grabbed the unfortunate bird's wing. For the rest of the night the bird sat on the back of the boat and yelled “waaaahh!” at us as a warning every time we emerged to keep a lookout.

The favourable tide dropped off during the day but by lunch we had covered a stunning 179 NM, an average 7.5 knots.

Day 15

Noon to noon: 143 NM.
North Easterly 5-6 – A 3m swell running with us. Jib top down and No3 jib up to keep the boat balanced a little better. The self steering system was struggling with the big waves.

Lunch: Sliced salami and crackers, served with pickled onions, olives and cheese.
Dinner: Pasta with garlic and oil.

Slower progress with the strong current dying but we are almost there so spirits are high. We saw the first, and only, dolphin of the passage. A little baby one, who didn't stay around for long.

Today I finished a sewing project I have been working on for a few days, repairing the ensign which tore in a squall a while ago. Happy with the job – I hope it holds together for a while.

Day 16

Noon to noon: 117 NM.
North Easterly F5 decreasing to F3-4.

Lunch: Sliced salami and crackers again.
Dinner: Chili with couscous.

Last day at sea. Looking forward to cold beer, ice cream and maybe a fresh shower. Oh, also it might be nice to do some laundry sometime before we have to spend too much time with other people who have not just stepped off a boat unwashed after 16 days at sea.

The wind got a little light but it doesn't make much sense to hoist more sail. We can't arrive before morning anyway as we have to enter the port and clear through customs during opening hours.

Day 17

Noon to arrival: 127 NM.
North Easterly F3-4 gusting F6.

Lunch: Fresh fishcakes, from a bar on land!!

LAND AHOY at 0100 this morning!!! We moored in the cruise ship dock before lunch. Not exactly designed for yachts, and there was some amusement when a worn out Giulia couldn't climb up the sea wall off the boat. The overweight port official was asking “Id she not familiar wid vessels!?” Lets say he almost got thrown in the sea...

Cleared through the friendliest customs in the world. Stamp in the passport and a lecture on their favourite places in Barbados!

Finally anchored in Carlisle bay. The type of Caribbean beach you dream of. White sand and crystalline turquoise waters. What a place to arrive! Crawled up the beach to Dee's bar. Some of the tastiest, most welcome fresh food in over two weeks and a rum punch in our hands before we could even speak. A Bajan welcome beyond expectations. Dee's bar, and the local crowd will have to wait for a full blog entry later!


  1. Interesting menu! Day 9 was probably due to Amazon outflow and mix of salinity

  2. Sounds like a real adventure! Makes life here in Blighty seem banal in comparison.
    I would like to know why after your inadvertent genocide (a la Life of Pi) the menu for days 4,5 and 6 weren't flying fish poached, grilled and fried)?

  3. There's nothing - I've bought everything I want. I don't like yachts or anything; you know, I'm not a yacht person, and I've got pretty much the nicest plane I'd want to have. visit #cozmoyachts Thank you