Day 133, Year 6 Atlantic Passage, Day 30-Arrival in Grenada!!!

Day 133, Year 6 Atlantic Passage, Day 30-Arrival in Grenada!!!
Date: Sunday, March 6, 2011 (1730 UTC)
Weather: Beautiful, Sunny Day; Wind NE 10-14 knots
Air Temperature: 82 degrees F
Latitude: 11 59.761 N
Longitude: 061 45.789 W
Miles Traveled: 3928 + 1878 S Africa to St. Helena
Location: Prickly Bay, Grenada

Passage Statistics St. Helena to S Africa:
3928 miles in 696 hrs 50 mins (29 days 50 mins)
Sailing Hours-616 hours 25 minutes
Motor Sailing Hours-80 hours 25 minutes
Average Speed-5.6 knots per hour

TOTAL Passage Statistics S Africa to Grenada:
5806 miles in 1036 hrs 10 mins (44 days 3 hrs 10 mins)
Sailing Hours-935 hours 30 minutes
Motor Sailing Hours-100 hours 40 minutes
Average Speed-5.6 knots per hour

Whoa! What a lot of miles and hours and minutes. And what a challenging passage! But the bottom line is that we are here in Grenada after 44 days at sea. We are safe and sound and are anchored beside a boat we know from Sail Indonesia. We met Howard and Judy Wang in Darwin and ended up in Ao Po Marina in Thailand together later that year. They went through the Red Sea to the Mediterranean last year and came across the Atlantic this fall. We had heard from other friends who read our log, Jean and Ken of Renaissance 2000, that Judy and Howard were here, so it was no surprise. But it was a wonderful feeling to pull into the anchorage and have friendly faces waving hello to greet us.

Forty-four days at sea is a long time and after arriving and inspecting Windbird, she shows the wear. The waterline has tons of gooseneck barnacles at the stern and for about six inches above the waterline Windbird looks like she decided to grow green hair. This is really a green algae that is very hard to remove. I learned this the hard way when we arrived in the Marqueses in 2006 after only 22 days of passage. I found the only way to get this algae off is to spray it with Clorox, let it sit for a few minutes, and then wipe it off. The Clorox kills it and it then no longer adheres. I’m afraid to think what the Clorox might do to the Alwgrip paint job we had done in Thailand, but I am even more afraid of the almost impossible task of scrubbing it off without the help. The other signs of wear are more serious. We have the blown-out mainsail, the frayed lower aft stays on both the port and starboard sides, the broken toggle that connects the inner forestay to the chainplate, the Dorade box top and the cowl vent that are missing because they were swept overboard by a staysail sheet. I think that that sums up the damage. So we’ll start dealing with this first thing tomorrow morning by visiting the sailmaker here in the bay. One day at a time, we’ll get Windbird back in shipshape condition. We owe that to her for getting us here safely.

Once we arrived here at 10:50 am this morning “our time” (7:50 am local time) we scurried about doing all the things you have to do when you arrive in an anchorage after passage. The bedding is taken off the passage berth and the main saloon is returned to a living area. The dinghy has to be lowered and lines need to be coiled and stored. Not long after, Howard and Judy came over to say hello and offered to go to shore to see if the Customs and Immigration Office was open on a Sunday. They returned with good tidings. The office was open. So we headed to shore to check-in and to visit with Howard and Judy. The Prickly Bay Marina where the Customs Office is located is tiny, but there is a tiki bar and a small restaurant. We all had a cold drink and then went back to our dinghies to head further into the bay to Spice Island Marine. This is the “working” part of this bay where Budget Marine (like West Marine) is located along with many other yacht services. Nothing was open today, but we got to see what is here. We walked out to the main road and down the road to the “Blue Machine”-the local ATM-and got our first EC (Eastern Caribbean) dollars. We then walked back to Spice Island Marine and decided to keep on walking toward True Blue Bay. Actually we were looking for some place that was open to have a bite to eat. We eventually ended up at Dodgy Dock. This is the name of the bar and restaurant at a beautiful little hotel on the waterfront. I had a Caesar salad that was big enough for at least two people and Mark had a cheeseburger and fries, and again the portions were huge and the presentation was elegant. It was a fun afternoon with friends.

I can’t end this log without mentioning the “interesting” sailing we had the last 24 hours of the passage. Just when we needed to slow down to make sure we arrived in Grenada in daylight hours, the negative current that had plagued for seven days disappeared and came back as positive current that got stronger with every hour. Yesterday we furled all the sails and were still moving along at 4.9 knots with 13-15 knots of wind under bare poles. At one point we had 3.8 knots of positive current. It diminished somewhat the closer we got to Grenada, but enabled us to “sail” in with no sails. And that was a good thing since we no longer had a mainsail!

And last but not least we want to wish a very happy birthday to our friend Alan Kanegsberg from Concord, NH. Alan and his wife Helaine toured New Zealand with us in February and March of 2007. Alan and I celebrated our birthdays on New Zealand’s south island that year and we went on a tour of Milford Sound on Alan’s birthday. It was a wonderful experience, even though it was cloudy and rainy, and I’ll never again have a birthday without thinking of Alan. Happy Birthday!

110306 Day 133 Grenada–Passage from St. Helena to Grenada
110306 Day 133 Grenada–Walk to True Blue Bay

Day 132, Year 6 Atlantic Passage, Day 29-One Blogger to Another.with Love

Day 132, Year 6 Atlantic Passage, Day 29-One Blogger to Another.with Love
Date: Saturday, March 5, 2011 (1730 UTC)
Weather: Overcast; Winds E 15-20 knots
Air Temperature: 82 degrees F
Latitude: 11 46.285 N
Longitude: 060 29.160 W
Miles Traveled: 33848 + 1878 S Africa to St. Helena
Miles to Go: 78!!!
ETA: 0615 Atlantic Time in Grenada, 0515 Eastern Standard Time
Location: Passage from St. Helena to Caribbean (Grenada)

This has certainly been a birthday with mixed emotions. During my Midnight Madness shift, just after the bewitching hour, I looked out to port to see if there were any ship lights. I saw no lights, but I saw something that looked like a terribly torn white bed sheet hanging down from our mainsail. It took a second to connect. “That’s not a torn sheet, it is our mainsail torn in pieces.” My heart sunk and I ran down to get Mark to lower the main. This was not something we were counting on and financially it is going to be a stretch, maybe too big of a stretch, to get it replaced. We are hoping it can be repaired, but I have to say it looked pretty tattered last night. So that was the first of my birthday presents that caused a few tears of sadness.

When I came on watch at 5:30 am there was another ‘surprise’ waiting for me. Mark had dug out the old Happy Birthday banner that we have used over and over for years and he had it hanging in the cockpit and he had used a headlamp to shine on his gift to me. I had admired a pillow cover that I saw in Simon’s Town with an embroidered elephant on it. I don’t know how he managed to buy it without my knowing, but he did. It is a special type of loop embroidery work that is done in South Africa and I am thrilled to have an example of it. This lifted my spirits a little, but I was still pretty down about the mainsail. Then at 8:30 am I went below to send and receive email. We have been close enough to civilization for a week now that we have once again been able to send and receive morning and evening, whereas before we had only been able to get out in the evening. Five emails came in and then I had to shut down to get on the radio for the 9 am sked. For the second day in a row we were not able to make contact. We could hear voices and even recognize them, but not understand the words. So I went back to the email to read what had come in and bring in the last two. There was an email from Alan and Helaine Kanegsburg saying that we probably already knew about a piece on our daughter Heather’s blog site. And they said if I didn’t know about it, the first thing I should do when I get to an internet connection is the check it out. Then an email came in from Heather. It was a copy of the blog entry she had posted on her blog site. She had decided that it was an appropriate entry to wish her mother a happy birthday by talking about the daily web logs I have posted for the past five and a half years. It was the most beautiful tribute I could possibly ever imagine to receive. And this birthday present caused more than a few tears of joy.

If you care to read the whole entry you can go to Heather’s National Public Radio sponsored blog site at But I’ll copy some of the message here so you can get the idea. Allow me to introduce one of my favorite bloggers, my daughter.

“Allow me to introduce one of my favorite bloggers: my mom.

Five and a half years ago, my parents retired from their careers as a
teacher and a public radio station manager and took off on the voyage of a
lifetime ­ sailing around the world on their 42 foot sailboat, Windbird.
It’s something they talked about the first night they met. It’s the stuff of
fairy tales and romance novels. But my mom has chosen to tell the tale in a
different medium.

Since the day they departed, my mom has kept a ship¹s log with daily entries
noting their location, miles traveled, the local weather, and (more
importantly) giving a detailed accounting of the day¹s activities and often
my mom¹s thoughts and emotions. Each day, she uses their ham radio and some
fancy software to send her text-only missive bouncing around the globe to a
server here in the U.S. that automatically posts the entry on my parents¹
website, . Although my mom was
baffled the first time I used the word, it is a blog in the most literal
sense – a web log. It is also a shining example of the ability of blogs to
forge powerful connections between people and places, regardless of

The piece goes on to talk about those connections. Reading it made all the worries about the mainsail simply melt into the background. As I wrote back to Heather, the really important things in life have to do with our connections to people. Mainsails can be replaced or repaired, but our connections to people must never be broken. This is web log #1,559 that I have written since leaving Boston in October 2005. Tomorrow we end the long passage from South Africa and begin a whole new phase of the Voyage of Windbird. We will be back in familiar territory but the adventure is not over. Even when we return to Cape Cod in late June, I think I’ll keep on posting logs. Re-entry into the “real” world could be quite interesting, so stay with me.

Right now Mark is down in the galley preparing a birthday dinner and baking chocolate chip cookies-my one request for my birthday. We have had no baked goodies on this entire passage, trying to cut down on the calories while in the sedentary mode of passage. But I know I’m going to splurge tonight.

Day 131, Year 6 Atlantic Passage, Day 28-Can’t Get It Right

Day 131, Year 6 Atlantic Passage, Day 28-Can’t Get It Right
Date: Friday, March 4, 2011 (1730 UTC)
Weather: Overcast, Squally; Winds E.ENE/ESE 10-24 knots
Air Temperature: 81 degrees F
Latitude: 11 07.400 N
Longitude: 08.30.119 W
Miles Traveled: 3721.98 + 1878 S Africa to St. Helena
Miles to Go: 201
Location: Passage from St. Helena to Caribbean (Grenada)

No matter what we do, we can’t seem to get it right. The wind speed has been going up and down, and up and down since a squall passed over about 7 am. The wind had been coming consistently from the E since Wednesday evening, but this morning it made a 30 degree shift to the N giving us ENE winds. Then it clocked back to the E and kept on going to give us ESE winds for a couple of hours. It is now back to the E but the speed keeps fluctuating making it difficult to control. The day has been totally overcast until I started writing this log. Right now for the first time today, I can see clouds with a little blue here and there and the sun is actually trying to peek through. Maybe there is hope. We have tried sailing with the headsail furled using only the main. We have centered the main and tried sailing with only the headsail. We have reefed and furled the headsail a couple of times today and in the middle of the night we were going so fast at one point that we had to reef the main. In other words, we are earning our keep here, trying to move forward–not too fast, but not too slow-in order to reach Grenada during the daylight hours on Sunday. But the conditions are making this increasingly challenging. Even the seas have not been helpful. Just when we don’t need to go faster, we now have a positive current. We’re sailing as far downwind as possible to keep anywhere near on course and in so doing, the two to three meter seas roll us from side to side. The good thing is that we still have not had to rely on the engine AND we have only two days to go, really just one full 24-hour day, plus 12 to 18 hours of the second day. Onward!

Before I end this log, I have some birthday reflections to share. First, Happy Birthday to my brother-in-law Joe. When my mother was living, she and Joe shared the same birthday. If Ollie (my mother’s name) were still living she would be 103 years old today. She died just shy of her 90th birthday and I’m sure one of the disappointments of her life was that I was so stubborn that I delayed my birth until the wee hours of the morning after her birthday. I could have been cooperative! I wonder what she would think about a daughter out here sailing around the world. She loved to read romance novels with settings in different countries around the world. Maybe she would have enjoyed this trip vicariously. I’d like to think so.

Day 130, Year 6 Atlantic Passage, Day 27-Slogging Along

Day 130, Year 6 Atlantic Passage, Day 27-Slogging Along
Date: Thursday, March 3, 2011 (1730 UTC)
Weather: Partly Sunny; Winds E 15-20 knots
Air Temperature: 82 degrees F
Latitude: 10 13.262 N
Longitude: 056 33.195 W
Miles Traveled: 3592 + 1878 S Africa to St. Helena
Miles to Go: 327
Location: Passage from St. Helena to Caribbean (Grenada)

I don’t think we are going to get those consistent NE trades that we thought we’d have for this part of the trip. And even if we did, the big, sloppy seas are back and the negative current is staying strong at a knot to a knot and half. When we should be moving at 6.5 knots, we are only going 5 knots or less with full sails flying. This morning Mark thought we had a dilemma as the winds had increased overnight to 18 to 24 knots for a period of time. He was afraid that if this continued, we might start going too fast and reach Grenada in middle of the night between Saturday and Sunday. Then the winds settled down and the negative current that had lessened some through the night kicked in stronger than ever. That solved that dilemma. We aren’t sure why we are getting the winds and seas and negative current, but after listening to the celebration Bahati had as they crossed the equator two days ago, I think Neptune is unhappy with us because we didn’t give him the proper offering when we crossed this time. Both Bahati and Traversay gave offerings of scotch and rum while we just had a toast with our South African beers. If there is a next time, we will definitely pull out the rum.

We are now right on target for a Sunday morning arrival. So we have a few hours less than three full days to go. This means I won’t be in Grenada for my birthday, but it will give me one more night to try and complete the photo projects I have been working on and to get the website update ready to post. Our homepage should have been updated when we arrived Richards Bay, but that never happened. I have the various pages (homepage, updated sailing itinerary for 2009-2010, sailing itinerary for 2011, planned route for 2011) just about ready to send to our son who will get those on the website for us. It’s a little late, but better late than never.

Getting the website documents updated prompted us to spend time this afternoon taking a look at the mileages between the different Caribbean islands we are hoping to visit on our trip north from Grenada to St. Martin. And I’m still working on Windbird’s Guide for Caribbean Crazies (that’s Mark’s family that will be traveling with us beginning March 19. In addition, tonight I hope to choose the photos that will go on the homepage of the website. Trying to choose a handful of photos from India, Chagos, Madagascar, and South Africa will be no easy task. All were a photographer’s delight and choosing just the right Hindu festival photos, the best Red-footed Booby photo from Chagos, the best underwater photos from Chagos and Madagascar, the best lemur and tsingy photos from Madagascar, and the best wildlife photos from South Africa will not be an easy job. So this is how I will fill the hours left between here and Grenada. Last night I didn’t get as much done as I had hoped. During my Midnight Madness watch the winds piped up to 24 knots and kept me busy adjusting course constantly as the winds would go from 16 to 24 and then back down. Then when I came on watch at 5 am Mark pointed out a glow on the horizon to port. He assumed it was a ship, so I had to watch carefully. Just before 6 am the glow to port just suddenly disappeared. I feared it was a fishing boat that had turned off its lights, so I went below and turned on the radar. There was nothing on the screen. So I went back out into the cockpit and in a few more minutes the glow reappeared as bright lights to starboard. Now it was much closer to us. From the lights, it looked like a fishing boat rather than a cargo ship. I don’t know if the boat had turned its lights out as it passed in front of us or if it was just in a blind spot, but whatever, it now looked like it was heading toward us so I got Mark up for a second opinion on what to do. By the time we had watched for a few more minutes, it was obvious that the boat was heading south about a mile away from us. So all was well, but that little activity took an hour and half of my “work time.” I was probably more concerned than normal just because we haven’t seen anything out here for so many days. But regardless, I’m hoping for a quiet night tonight so I can watch less and work more!

Day 129, Year 6 Atlantic Passage, Day 26-Under 500 Miles to Go

Day 129, Year 6 Atlantic Passage, Day 26-Under 500 Miles to Go
Date: Wednesday, March 2, 2011 (1730 UTC)
Weather: Partly Sunny; Winds ENE/E/ENE 10-15 knots
Air Temperature: 80 degrees F
Latitude: 09 21.412 N
Longitude: 054 35.090 W
Miles Traveled: 3462 + 1878 S Africa to St. Helena
Miles to Go: 454
Location: Passage from St. Helena to Caribbean (Grenada)

We have just over 450 miles to go. We snuck under the 500 mile mark at 0630. As a comparison, it is about 500 miles from Grenada to St. Martin and we plan to make that trip in three weeks. At our present speed we have four more days which will put us into Grenada on Sunday. Other comparisons show that it is about 630 miles from Newport to Bermuda. It is 475 miles from Florida to North Carolina and only 640 from North Carolina to all the way to Cape Cod. At one time, all of these sounded like LONG passages to us. But right now, after coming almost 5400 miles from South Africa, any of these passages seem like a walk in the park. And even though the weather is not really cooperating with us as we had expected, the 450 miles from here to Grenada just seems like a long day sail (with a few nights thrown in). The hardest part is that is now seems so close but is really still so far away. I keep myself so busy that the hours pass quickly, but I think the passage is starting to take its toll on Captain Mark. He is ready for landfall.

The winds are no longer consistent. We had ENE winds most of the night, but then from 5 am to 9 am, the winds came directly from the East. Then they slowly backed to the ENE once again. With only 10 to 15 knots aft of the beam and with the one knot negative current still tagging along, we can only go about 5 knots. But the swell is down to one meter and it is gentle, no more waves bashing into the side of the boat. We are two days behind our projected 10-day countdown we started on February 22, but we are getting there. Four day to go.

Day 128, Year 6 Atlantic Passage, Day 25-In Like a Lamb

Day 128, Year 6 Atlantic Passage, Day 25-In Like a Lamb
Date: Tuesday, March 1, 2011 (1730 UTC)
Weather: Cloudy Early Turning Sunny; Winds NE 10-15 knots
Air Temperature: 80 degrees F
Latitude: 08 30.106 N
Longitude: 052 38.801 W
Miles Traveled: 3334 + 1878 S Africa to St. Helena
Miles to Go: 580
Location: Passage from St. Helena to Caribbean (Grenada)

February sure went out like a lion, but today March came in like a lamb for us. In response to my rodeo ride log yesterday our son-in-law Jed wrote, “This is why de Balboa called the Pacific Ocean what he did: “Tepre Pacificum” (peaceful sea) by comparison.” This Atlantic on this passage has been anything but a peaceful sea for us. So Jed’s email prompted me to take a look at a Captain’s Rambling that Mark wrote during our long passage in the Pacific from the Galapagos to the Marqueses, and sure enough, he talked about that peacefulness. “There is a calming peacefulness to this kind of sailing. There is the soft swishing sound of the boat cutting through the water, and a gentle cooling breeze that makes the warmth of the sun feels welcome.” That passage was exactly half the distance of this one, at 3000 miles instead of 6000, and we had fifteen other boats within 200 miles of us that we kept regular contact with via HF radio. On this passage we know of seven other boats who left South Africa with a week or two of our departure, but we are hundreds of miles ahead of all of them. Traversay is the closest, but they are still at least 500 miles behind us. It has not been a passage of “calming peacefulness” but all in all it has been a good passage. We have not had to run the engine much at all compared to the Pacific passage and that is a comforting fact financially. With the cost of diesel these days, not having to do a major refill in Grenada is a real plus for this passage. And today we have had a bit of that peacefulness, so maybe the passage will end on a calmer note.

Just after sending the log yesterday, we had another of our early evening fire drills. This time it was the inner forestay AGAIN. We have not been using the staysail but the temporary fix we did a few days ago was evidently not strong enough as it broke loose again. So Mark had to put on his life vest and braved the raging seas to try and secure the stay with the staysail roller furler attached. I finally had to go up and help, so in the end we were both soaked with salt water but successful in getting the stay secured. On the way back down the deck, I was looking up to inspect the inner forestay on the port side that has been frayed since before St. Helena. While doing this I noticed the wires on the outside of the aft lower stay on the starboard side are now frayed as well. Mark stayed on deck to attach a 5-to-1 pulley around the stay coming down to the chain plate as extra support in case the stay should actually break. We are just hoping that everything is going to hold together until we reach Grenada. You can never be sure, but we feel like we have things fairly well secured. After that little affair, it was time to eat and time for first watch. Just as Mark came on for the 7:30 to 10:30 pm watch, those sloppy, sloshing, swashbuckling seas abated a bit and by the time I came on watch at 10:45 pm we were sailing nicely-no more wild ride. This morning dawned with an early morning sky full of “mackeral” clouds indicating an approaching front, but the skies cleared early and it turned out to be a gorgeous day with a bright blue sky and a few puffy whites. The “mackeral” clouds are cirroculumulus clouds and look a bit as if someone took hundreds of cotton balls and arranged them in rows with just a little space between rows for the blue to peak through. But the sky cleared early and was clear all day. As I am writing this log, however, there are clouds gathering high above and in front of us. But for now, we are sailing along peacefully with 10 to 15 knots of wind a little behind the beam. The wild swell has reformed itself into a gentle swell, but we still have that negative current with us. We are now making about 125 to 130 miles a day and expect to arrive in Grenada on Saturday or Sunday. So the countdown is down to four or five days to go.

We heard from our friend Zbyszek in Australia this morning that another yacht has been taken by Somali pirates. Here’s what Zbyszek wrote, “This time it is a Danish boat with eight onboard, including three children (12-16 years old). I do not know the name of the yacht as the information is very fresh although the yacht was taken on February 24. I just can’t express what I feel right now.” As Zbyszek, it is hard to express how deeply we feel for the people on that boat. We will be anxiously awaiting further word on what is happening with this situation. We can only hope that it will not end tragically as did the Quest hijacking, especially with the children onboard.