Thursday, December 18, 2014

Making Great Time!

Great photo of Martin with AMARA in the background.
I got a great email from Martin today.  They are making great time and it looks like they will arrive in Grenada just in time to meet Lily and me when we arrive on the 26th.

Email update:

"We are currently crossing the ITCZ  the Inter-Tropical Convergence Zone about 300 nautical miles off the coast of French Guiana.  This is where the wind from the Northern Hemisphere and the wind from the Southern Hemisphere meet and creates a belt near the equator of unsettled weather and sometimes the doldrums with no wind.  We have had plenty of wind, and some bouncy seas as I think the swells from the north are colliding with the swells from the south.  We also have had a lot of rain and rain squalls, but fortunately, no lightening.  At least it helps to wash down the boat, but things are definitely damp and muggy.

We also threw a celebration for John crossing the equator the other day.  We sprayed him with shaving cream and doused him with a bucket of water, before presenting his official certificate for becoming a Shellback.

We have been making good time doing 200+ miles per day and currently have 929 nautical miles to go to Tobago."

Tobago is about 100 miles from Grenada, so it looks like it will be a piece of cake for them to make it to meet Lily and me.  We were worried that Lily and I would be drinking pina coladas by the pool for a few days waiting for them to arrive.  Looks like Martin will get to join us instead!  

Meanwhile, here are some great photos of the gang while visiting Fernando de Noronha that I thought you would enjoy.

The men enjoying their Thanksgiving dinner while at sea.
A little dessert after Turkey dinner.
Famous David and his mooring expertise.
John and a tank on Noronha.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Quick Update

I just got word that AMARA and crew are going to skip the Amazon and head to Forteleza, Brazil for a quick fuel stop and then off to Grenada in time for Christmas!  I think after reading updates and other cruisers experiences on the Amazon that it was wise to at least not do it in our boat.  :)


Wednesday, December 10, 2014

What's happening in Fernando de Noronha

AMARA will be heading to Brazil to the mouth of the Amazon.
Yesterday, Monday, we spent the morning "checking into Brazil" as the officials weren't working on Sunday when we arrived.  The Brazilian Federal Police handle the immigration paperwork here, and after the paperwork was finally done, they gave us a ride to their favorite restaurant where we all had lunch. They have become our good friends.  

After lunch we did a two tank dive in the National Park, and observed a big red snapper grab an octopus for his lunch.

This morning we went for a ride in the AMARA tender and filmed the local spinner dolphin by holding the GoPro camera underwater; we got some great footage.  We then toured the coastline inside the National Park boundary. 

Several hours later, the National Park Police stopped by AMARA and told us that it is illegal to take a boat into the National Park, and tried very hard to give us a ticket.  We had no idea about the "no boating" rule as the charts just say not to anchor there, and the local tourist map doesn't say anything about not boating in their list of Park Rules.  We were then escorted to Park Headquarters to meet with the Park Director who spoke a little English.  The director initially said that it should be obvious to us not to bring a boat into the Park.  We carefully explained that it isn't obvious to a visitor when the rule isn't posted in any of their literature.  It also isn't posted on the Marine chart, and not mentioned when you check into the Port.  He finally understood and accepted our rationale, and we were able to be on our way.

Following that adventure we spent some time at the beach were we watched a "Footvolley" match (beach volleyball where players only use their feet) and then a beauty contest.  To top off the evening, we went to every ATM on the island (3) trying to get money so we can pay our $460 departure tax in the morning.  No luck at any ATM even though the locals could withdraw money.  Hopefully tomorrow our teenage friend, "the money changer" might rescue us or we won't be leaving Fernando De Noronha anytime soon.


Sunday, December 7, 2014


I got a quick email from Martin this morning.  He let me know that he and crew have made it safely to the island of Fernando de Norhna right off the coast of Brazil.

He said the minute that they hit the harbor, dolphins came up close to the boat to welcome them to Brazil. Doing what anyone would do, John and David jumped in for a quick play with these playful little friends.
John swimming with the dolphins.
Once anchoring, they quickly boarded AMARA's tender and headed to land only to find out that their ATM's don't work on the island.  However, they quickly learned from a teenager about the "underground money exchange."  They quickly obliged and soon had money in hand and looked for lunch.  After being at sea for two weeks, the first thing that they wanted was a good salad.
Hydopnic lettuce
As soon as I get more details, I will share them.  For now, I am so glad to know that they have made it to their destination, will get rested after some much needed sleep, have money in hand and are on land eating their greens.


Thursday, December 4, 2014

50 hours, uh... 62 more hours to go!

I got another update from Martin yesterday that I thought I should share.  This email doesn't bring me as much happiness as other ones because he breaks the news to me about my special spinnaker.  Read on...

"After having faithfully pulled AMARA along nonstop for a week, our beloved blue and red spinnaker, that Kym personally designed with big white stars, blew apart last night in heavy winds.  It's not easy pulling a 70,000 pound boat over the swells at 10mph.  She had previously received battle scars during both her Atlantic and Indian ocean crossings, but had carried on.  It is currently unclear whether major surgery can patch her up again, but that will have to wait until she can visit a good surgeon back in the United States.  It kind of reminds me of the horse "Little Blacky" in the movie True Grit who faithfully carried Kim Darby and Rooster Cogburn until she finally was completely done in and collapsed.  I'm grateful I got to spend a few minutes alone with her at the top of the mast the other day.

551 nautical miles (or 664 regular miles) to Brazil


When I spoke to Martin last night the computer read that they were less than 50 hours from Isle de Fernando de Norohna, Brazil.  Although toward the end of our conversation, the computer actually bounced up and it read that they had 62 hours to go.  What?  Actually, that happens a lot.  Winds change, the boat slows down and everything on the monitors read higher, rather than longer.  When you're sailing you start to have a love/hate relationship with it.

I think the crew is a little more anxious to get to land and do some much deserved diving after traveling so long at sea.

Let's just not talk about my spinnaker for awhile...


Monday, December 1, 2014

Letters from the South Atlantic Ocean

Another letter from Martin!  I have to say, I talk to Martin almost every night (thank heaven for technology and satellite phones), however; I always love an email from him giving me an update on their day.  I thought this one was definitely blog worthy.  Enjoy...

"...This morning we noticed that the water temperature has climbed a full degree since yesterday.  As a result, there has been a dramatic increase in the number of flying fish (a million or so) and the fishing today was much better than it has been.  We are now restocking our fridge and freezer with tuna and mahi-mahi.  They will be on the menu for plenty of more dinners on AMARA.  

The air is also warmer, and we are bringing out the sunscreen!  It is hard to believe that we have sailed 2,500 nautical miles since Cape Town and are now only 600 miles south off the equator.  The Trade Winds have have been fairly steady from the south east and are now usually between 15-17 knots.  This makes for beautiful sailing and we are moving along very smoothly as we head straight downwind,  flying our spinnaker around the clock for the last 6 days.   We even have an additional .5 - 1 knot of current helping us right toward our destination of Fernando De Noronha, an archipelago just off the coast of Brazil.  We have 875 nautical miles to go and should arrive in 5 or 6 days on the 7th or the 8th.

Attached is a picture that I took yesterday from the top of the mast with our spinnaker flying.