This blog is about planning and preparation for a circumnavigation of the world in a 39-foot sail boat followed, hopefully, by a diary of the actual circumnavigation. You can track the progress of Pachuca by visiting http://www.pangolin.co.nz/xtras/yotreps/tracker.php?ident=VNW5980
Monday, July 16, 2012
Final Run to the Anchorge
At 9.30 AM we were at 24S40, 045W54. We were 45 miles from a key turning point that I wanted to make before the wind backed, and a total of 85 sea miles from the anchorage. In the past 24 hours we had made good 140 miles, our best day yet. I was so surprised at this number that I double checked everything. The coordinates that I had logged fell exactly on the track that we had made. The barometric pressure was steady at 1023.
The wind had held up well and I had let out sail twice in order to maintain our boat speed above 6 knots. There was a reason for this.
The evening's grib file predicted a steadily weakening wind throughout the afternoon and evening. After midnight the wind would back to the NW and after that a low would pass overhead giving us a spell of rain and variable winds. I figured that I had a shot at making the anchorage before midnight and I thought that it be worth the risk.
Looking at the charts I saw that the risks were not particularly high. I would approach the Ilha Bella from the south, follow its clean (i.e. no reefs or islands sticking out) SW coastline to the south end of the shipping channel then make the 10 mile run up the channel to the anchorage. The anchorage ran to the NNE then made a dog leg at the ship jetty and headed north. I figured that I would have protection from winds from the SE, E, and NE.
Visibility and distance perception are always a problem at night and these nights had been totally black with no moon whatsoever. However, the channel was properly marked with lights and was 0.4 miles wide, with enough water for the boat to move outside of the channel if needs be. I expected to get a lot help from the shore lights.
Once I got to the anchorage area outside of the Ilha Bella Yacht Club I would drop anchor as soon as I found a suitable place and worry about picking up a club mooring after daylight.
I would go in using the radar, and on the laptop I would have OpenCPN, with its dedicated GPS antenna, for monitoring my progress. I would also be running MarinePlotter with its dedicated GPS antenna and monitor the progress of the boat against Google satellite images of the area. There is nothing like a real pictures for getting a feel of an area.
Of course I fretted about the dangers. Would there be a strong tide in the channel? Would the wind be strong as it funneled down the Sao Sebastiao channel? I would have to wait and see. I had noted a couple of contingency anchorages along the way, and I could always turn tail and run,
There would be some preparatory work to be done. The anchor would have to be connected and mounted on the stem roller. The mainsail would have to be raised to give me better speed in the fading wind, fast tacking, and upwind capability. I'd have to put up the Brazilian courtesy flag and the Quarantine flags. I'd have the boat hook and rope ready in case I got a shot at a mooring.
The wind speed dropped an hour later to I took the opportunity to set up the anchor. Before I started I reminded myself how dangerous the job could be and how it warranted all of my focus and attention. The biggest danger is when dragging the chained up anchor from the mast to the stem. Were it to go over the toe rail it would be a disaster if it caught my life line on the way out. Anyway, the job got done safely and I considered it to be the most important one of the day.
But back at the cockpit I saw that the wind had backed to the East hours before predicted and I would have to raise the mainsail and beat to weather. I did that putting the sail up to the first reefing point. But not long after the wind piped up and soon we were making over 7.2 kt to 050T. These were excellent numbers but the boat was over canvassed and on her ear. I knew that this was only a temporary surge but I figured that it would happen again, so I dropped a slab to the no. 2 reef. While I was doing this I saw 2 fishing boats cross my stern.
When the boat settled down we were making over 6 knots and headed for the Sao Sebastiao Channel. However, I had the engine running at 1500 RPM and wasn't sure what its contribution was to our speed and heading. In any event there was a problem with our heading. Between us and the channel was a no-go zone used by the Brazilian navy for target practice using live ammunition. I didn't want to give ground and pass to the west of that zone, because that would leave me in a pocket south of Sao Sebastiao with little (by my standards) sea room, and possibly having to battle my way upwind. Instead I would pass to the east of the area to position myself upwind of the channel entrance. Unfortunately a tack of 20 miles would be required, meaning a loss of 4 precious hours.
The wind conditions improved and at 4 PM we were making 6-7 kt to 050T, enough to clear the test range area without a tack. Now the problem was the incessant clanking of the anchor as the bow dipped into oncoming waves. There were 3 loops of rope holding it down and there was no danger of structural damage to the boat, but the noise was annoying nevertheless. This anchor problem is a tradeoff of the design of the boat. In Australia I might try a Delta anchor, which would be lighter and easier to manipulate on the foredeck. Anyway, at the moment we were on track for a midnight arrival.
Instead of going completely around the test range area I decided to save myself probably 90 minutes and at 4.30 PM I fell off the wind 40 degrees and laid a course for the entrance to the channel. This cut off one of the corners of the area but I had not heard any firing and would have been amazed had the Brazilian nave decided to conduct firing exercises just before dark on a cloudy, drizzly, and gusty day. At 5.30 PM we were at 24S09, 045W32, about 15 miles from the entrance. As soon as I turned off the wind the anchor quieted down as well as just about everything else. But we got regular visits from squall winds and after the last dose that took us to 7.3 kt and threw the steering 20 degrees to stb I rolled in most of the headsail and would rely on the mainsail for the drive. The wind was slightly aft of the starboard beam so I no anxieties about an accidental gybe. I remembered to put up the lazy jacks before it got dark.
I would try to send the blog entry at the usual time, about 8 PM, but was hoping to send another entry not too long after midnight advising that we were safely at anchor.
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- Official Clearance into Angra
- At Enseada de Sitio Forte
- At Marina Bracui 22S57.010, 044W23.687
- Ilha de Paqueta (2S59.586, 044W24.465)
- At Ilha Da Gipoia, 23S03.809, 044W21.321
- Another Night at Enseada de Sitio Forte
- A Day at Praia de Proveta
- At Ilha Grande
- Departure for Angra
- Last Day at Ilha Bella
- More Preparations
- Mercury Outboard Running
- Trapped On Board
- Clearance Into Brazil Done
- First day at Ilha Bella
- Safe on Mooring
- Final Run to the Anchorge
- Fair Wind and Following Sea
- Quieter Night, Great Day, Reasonable Progress
- Another Tough Night with Good Progress
- Half Way, and Storm Trysail
- Rough Night, Good Progress
- Hard Night
- Tracking for Pachuca - by Stephen
- Variable Wind, Fighting Current
- Difficult Night but Good Progress
- Sailing Well
- On the Way
- One More Night
- Cleared to Go
- Clearance Blues
- Fridge Follies and Boat Ready
- Firm Departure Time
- Settled Marina Account
- Wine Supply
- Progress with Refrigerator
- Saved My Bacon
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