Day 10 (2023-01-13)
The day started calmly after the night of heavy rain.
The forecast update models we usually find to be more reliable pointed to two different situations. PWG said we would have barely any wind but CAPE levels and rain around 1000 while PWE said we would have a nice steady breeze that should allow us a pleasant sail but with very reduced CAPE levels and rain.
Well, our 9 days experience of this passage fought us that the truth had always been somewhere between the two models however, the difference between both had not been this clear in previous days.
So we placed our bets and decided to believe that the day meteo would follow PWG on wind and gusts maters and PWE on CAPE and rain.
With such a quiet and calm morning John decided we were going to put to use our 240v backup plan generator and have a morning coffee.
He set up the portable generator while I prepared a full recharging station for all devices.
Since the day our 240v system became inoperable, we had always had this alternative available, however, with the conditions we experienced most of the trip, the squalls always lurking on the horizon we had avoided using it, trying not to tempt fate more than we should have.
To be honest we would have never set on this kind of passage without a backup plan.
So, on the extremely calm morning of day 10th of our passage we enjoyed a great coffee!
We set about our tasks, mine was tidying up the saloon and returning all tools etc to its place while John’s was to organise the cockpit with all that needed to be dried and perhaps try and catch us a fish.
I powered through my tasks as best as possible as a light swell started to be felt, and the inside of The Dream temperatures raised to 30 degrees even with a few hatches open.
In the meantime, John’s luck fishing had not given any results.
Late morning as I’m already back in the cockpit we spot a fishing vessel on AIS called Capitão Caike, soon enough we can see him not even 2 nautical miles from us, so I decided to call him simply to say Bom Dia (good morning). The bloke quickly replied on the other side of VHF radio channel 16 in Brazilian all “chatty Cathy”, and after some nice animated talk, he kindly asks if there was any chance we could give him some more space as he is working hard chasing a school of tunas and is worried they will follow us making him lose this nice catch. He has been out here working for 4 days (we are nearly 36h from Fernando de Noronha, and he is from the mainland). After a bit of misunderstanding with Brazilian nautical terms I finally understand he is working with the current, and what he wants us to do is to mimic the same as we pass him to the West. We follow his request while seeing our rods constantly being nibbled by fish but never actually taken.
After several of these moments and well after clearing from the path of our Brazilian fisherman John decides maybe the lures are too big or not the right type and switches them from a “hard lure” to a smaller “squiddy” with a big hooks type of lure.
Within 15 minutes of the “squiddy” being in the water, we hear the big rod go zing!
I scream for John that was down below, he quickly grabs the rod and gives me instructions: first slow the boat down, second pack the medium rod and the hand line. With all that done I grab John’s life jacket and tether and put them on him while he fought the beast. With John safely tethered to the boat I proceed with grabbing the gaffe, the hook, the fish knives, the tray and the chopping board.
In the meantime, John has managed to reel the fish in nearly to the back of the boat, and all I can see is a slender silvery and blue long body.
This fish is not one of our usual catches. But he is cunning like a tuna and tries his luck swinging towards the side of the boat trying to maybe get to the sail drive (?). I quickly engage forward just enough not to let him go under while John reels him to the leader line. That is it, no matter how this fish now is destined to land on The Dream.
With the tiller pilot structure set up, we cannot drop the swimming platform and can only work on one side of the BBQ, a space too tight for both of us compared to our usual. I try desperately to get both the gaffe and the big hook with a long lanyard on the fish, but it’s just too high to get to him.
John decides to lift him by the line and long beak (wearing gloves of course) while I hold the rod with dear life I’m also tethered to the boat obviously).
With a swift movement, John lifts this huge fish onto the cockpit and boy the energy he had. During the split second pins the fish to the deck with force I grab the fishing knife and pass it to John. In a split second, Mr Fish is dead.
We look at our beast! It is gorgeous and will keep us fed for a long time, nothing will go to waste.
From the tip of the beak to the tip of the tail it measures 1.80 metres and weighs 8.5kg!
We set about preparing this huge fish for freezing (after all, one of the freezers has been empty and off since the first days of our passage when I moved all the pre-prepared meals to the main fridge). It takes the rest of the morning. Then the early afternoon is spent cleaning up the cockpit of all the mess thus created.
Once we conclude these tasks we declare that our bet on the forecast was right, the truth is between the two models. PWG on wind and gusts maters and PWE on CAPE and rain.
John goes and has his shower, I prepare a hot lunch/dinner. We eat our meal while appreciating the flock of birds that have been growing in numbers around our boat in the last few days. It started with just two of these brown birds, but now there are nearly ten of them flying gracefully around us. Each lap more daring of coming close to us. Ella is mesmerised by these birds.
I go and take my shower.
We enjoy more of this flying dance after, and then after the forecast update, just before sunset we settle for watching a couple of episodes of some tv series.
Night falls, and with it winds pick up a bit. With a few squall clouds around us in the expectation of what’s going to happen next we miss our chance to hoist the mainsail while we could still see what we are doing, and now as the swell picked up sailing upwind with Jib only will be extremely challenging for the Hydrovane and the tiller pilot. In this case, being extremely cautious was the wrong choice, but the levels of tiredness are quite high the risk is not worth we will just suck it up and motor through the night.
Shortly after we need to call a tanker on VHF as we are in course collision some 20 miles away, they hadn’t seen us yet but immediately reply they will adjust their course 5 degrees to starboard and keep it for at least a bit more than 1h or until they see us on AIS (Automatic Identification System) at a safe distance. They will call us back on the radio a couple of times all “chatty Cathy”, asking us if the distance is good for us and where are going. They seem interested to know we have been at sea for nearly 10 full days. They are bored.
We finally settle in for our night watches.
In the meantime, the flock of birds is even bigger and very noisy as they vocalise at each other while following us in the pitch-black night. A few times I wondered when one of these birds flies into the cockpit and causes absolute mayhem.
After a few rain showers, for the first time in this passage, we can see the stars.
As I finish my watch and John starts his, he notices one of the birds has managed to land in our lifelines on the port side and is sleeping. Unaware of our presence less than 50cm away and undisturbed by the reasonably strong motion of the boat. This incredible bird manages to sleep while riding the mechanical bull our boat seems to become nearly every night of this passage. Given all the noise they were making earlier, I wonder how many other of his friends are taking a ride with us sleeping after a busy day of showing off their flying skills on a gracious dance around us.
24h daily run 147 nautical miles.
***In the spirit of sharing our dreams and experiences we have shared this blog post in the NOFOREIGNLAND.COM website sailors community.