Sailing from Cabo Verde to French Guiana and Suriname – Day 11 (Wish You Happy New Year 2018!)

(January 1, 2018) New Year’s Eve Wine Toast at sea! We joked about our New Year’s resolutions and started the New Year 2018 with a good laugh. In previous years, I used to go over my old resolution, review, and modify it to make a new one. Sailing in a rough sea, I postponed this task until we arrive at our destination because I want to be sitting down without rolling my body due to the heavy waves. One resolution for sure is “Diligently Keeping good habits and bluntly getting rid of bad habits!” John said his resolution is to drink no more than 5 bottles of rum in any 24 hour period, and shave at least once a month.

Talking about our 2018 sailing plans, we changed our destination from Suriname to French Guiana because our original schedule is too tight to sail to the South Pacific this year. Last June, We had some paint damage from another boat that drifted onto us at night. In July, crossing the Atlantic from Bermuda to the Azores, we have a plate at the top of the mast that got bent. Crossing the Atlantic this time, we have turned the jib pole into a bent up pretzel. We are on low of the boat spare parts and we need to restock them by ordering from the USA.

We originally planned to haul out the boat in Saint Martin but it got damaged by Hurricane Irma badly. By talking to a Marine Service in Trinidad, we tentatively have a plan to haul out the boat in Trinidad and repair all the problems that happened by crossing the Atlantic Ocean twice in 2017. We have a long to-do-list of the boat repair work. Modifying our original schedule, opened us up to a different set of opportunities.

There are three adjacent countries between Brazil and Venezuela in South America: French Guiana (France), Suriname (Used to be Dutch Guyana, Independent Now), and Guyana (Used to be British Guyana, Independent Now). Changing our original plan, we are looking forward to taking time to see these countries. It is also easier to visit these countries sailing from the Atlantic East rather than sailing down from the Caribbean. The rest of our route is depending on the repair work in Trinidad. In a month or so, our fun time will be replaced with running around in a Boat Yard.

Right now, we need to get to French Guiana safely. We are almost there.

Kay Chung @0800 UTC on Tuesday, January 02, 2018
GPS Position @N07.34/W48.35

Posted in Sailings

Sailing from Cabo Verde to Suriname – Day 10 (Sleeping During Sailing)

(December 31, 2017) For the previous two nights and days, we have rarely slept because the boat was moving like a crazy horse by confused seas. Despite putting cushions by my sides and wedging myself tight to sleep, have I rarely slept for two days. It is the loud bangs and whirly movement that has kept me awake.

In order to help myself fall asleep, I tried a deep belly breathing exercise; breathe in 4 seconds by inflating my belly, hold my breath for 16 seconds in the center of my body, and breathe out 8 seconds by deflating my belly? It usually works like a charm but it didn’t help.

With not enough sleep, I become irritated easily. I asked John for a sleep-aide pill even though I am a person who does not care much for taking medication. I also had two glasses of wine and slept in the salon sea berth. For the next 18 hours, John took three watch shifts (total 18 hours) while I was sleeping.

I feel much better today and we have less than 400 miles to go!

PS: We are still sailing with a double reef and a smaller size Jib sail making 6 to 8 knots moving speed.

Kay Chung @0800 UTC on Monday, January 01, 2018
GPS Position @N09.23/W46.56

Posted in Sailings

Sailing from Cabo Verde to Suriname – Day 9 (Sailing Heavy Weather)

(December 30, 2017) The wind has been blowing hard. We have been sailing with a double reef and a smaller size Jib sail. High waves frequently bang the side of the boat. It feels like someone hits the side of a house with a big sledge hammer. The sound also reminded me of a gun range. We haven’t had a peaceful moment to relax.

We previously met many sailors who cross this route. Everyone told us it was the easiest sailing trip. For us, it has been a very difficult trip. We are not sure why? Maybe we approached this trip with an easy mindset? Different weather different time? Or maybe we just are too stupid to sail downwind even with a jury rigged jib pole?

The sky finally cleared at night. For the first time during this trip, I watched near full moon brightening the sea. I briefly gazed at the thousands of stars but quickly came back inside of the boat because I did not want to get splashed. Sooner or later, we will be in a safe harbor. About five more days to go.

Kay Chung @0800 UTC on Sunday, December 31, 2017
GPS Position @N10.43/W45.01

Posted in Sailings

Sailing from Cabo Verde to Suriname – Day 8 (Flying Fish on the Deck)

(December 29, 2017) High waves bring an occasional salt water splash into the cockpit; even worse, it dumped salt water inside the companion way this afternoon. It was unexpected. Not wanting any sticky salt water residue, I wiped salt water and cleaned with fresh water using a rag. We have been sailing between 6-9 knots with 8-11 feet waves and random swells beating us on the rear side. We are little off our course but it has been sailing smoother than when we used the jib pole.

Earlier, I made six Burritos with Salami because there were six Tortillas in a bag. Tortillas are good for months unlike fresh bread from a bakery. I found Burritos are simple to make and easy to eat in a rough sea. It needs four hands to make them at rough sea so that food doesn’t fly all over. I borrowed John’s hands to hold things.

At twilight, I came out into the cockpit and decided to enjoy my dinner, Burrito. Strangely, I smelled fish. Looking at the surrounding area, I found a small flying fish had landed on the deck. Touching it to throw it back into the water, it jumped. It took three attempts for me to make it jump back to the right place, the ocean. About five minutes later after having my Burrito, I heard a loud sound. What it can be? Then, I saw another flying fish right behind of me. It was struggling and jumping over and over splashing fish water on me as well. This time, I brought a spatula and made it jump back to the ocean. I am not sure how long they can survive out of water. It must be quite long because when they fly, they can fly a long way above the water. I hope they survived.

It has been a daily routine finding dead flying fish on the deck. One morning, there were nine of them. I wonder how many there will be on the deck now? I won’t be walking on the deck at dark. Waiting for daylight to inspect the deck, rigging, lines, and all including dead flying fish.

***Next morning there were 49 flying fish dead on the deck. John said that during his watch he heard what he thought was rain; it was all the flying fish landing on the deck and flopping around until they died. I felt sorry for them as he threw them overboard, but I am sure that something in the ocean will eat them.

Kay Chung @0800 UTC on Saturday, December 30, 2017
GPS Position @N09.31/W42.14

Posted in Sailings

Sailing from Cabo Verde to Suriname – Day 7 (Passing Halfway Point)

(December 28, 2017) It seems long but we just passed the halfway mark! Our average speed for the first 1,000 miles is 6.4 knots, making an average of 150 miles a day. We have had two critical boat issues: Autopilot and Jib Pole. Having a spare for the Autopilot Compass Module, we fixed the autopilot problem. When the jib pole got bent in half, we replaced it with a spinnaker pole. We are hoping no major boat issues for the rest half of this trip.

Prior to departing Cape Verde, we waited for an extra three days for good weather but it has not been in our favor: wind and waves have not been in sync. Because of it, downwind sailing didn’t really work for us. We finally stored the spinnaker pole on the rail and decided to sail without a pole. We will jibe the sails as needed.

This trip has been tiring. We have not slept much but we have eaten lots of Wahoo fish: Wahoo Sashimi, Ceviche, Stew, and Wahoo Burrito. My next recipe might be Wahoo Fish Chowder. Having limited freezer capability, we tried to eat the Wahoo catch as early as we can. We still have some fresh fruits and vegetables on the boat. Unfortunately, I had to throw five tangerines and two apples. We are on ration control for fresh fruits.

Kay Chung @0800 UTC on Friday, December 29, 2017
GPS Position @N08.58/W39.48

Posted in Sailings