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
Safe on Mooring
The approach to the channel was fairly rough, with heavy seas and squalls regularly passing through. As darkness approached I noticed on the radar 4 or 5 targets at the SW corner of the island, between me and the passage. I passed it off as rain clutter until an AIS syhmbol popped up next to one of the blips. It turned out to be 6 tankers at anchor. My initial plan was to sail around the entire group but fortunately after an hour of thought on the matter I decided at the very last moment to cut through the group and make directly for the channel. Had I not done that I would have spent another hour beating my way to the channel from SW. I rounded the corner of the island into the channel and found myself in a different world, as I had hoped. There was very little swell and the wind dropped so much that I had to drop all sail. The SW corner of the island (named Isla de Sao Sebastiao) has a series of high hills, the highest with a height of 1302 (meters, I presume), and these heights seem to have blocked and diverted the strong winds that I had experienced out at sea.
I started the engine just before entering the channel and found myself doing 4 knots at 2000 rpm with no problems with wind or current.
I worked my way toward the yacht club 9.3 miles up the channel. The laptop navigation software was invaluable because I was not always able to pick up the widely spaced channel lights against the background of shore lights. I kept a constant eye on the depth because if I found myself in less than 27 meters of water I would know that I had strayed from the channel. As we approached the main shipping jetty I encountered a breeze of 13 knots apparent, meaning that it was actually 9 knots. So much for my fear of the channel acting as a wind tunnel.
As I approached the main jetty I disabled the AIS alarm. Sailing through the pack of tankers outside of the channel I had narrowed the criteria for alarm to 6 minutes to penetrating a security ring of 1 mile (vs 24 minutes to a 2-mile ring) in order to minimize the alarms. But I was passing so close to so many ships it was either shut down the alarm or put up with the alarm noise for the next 30 minutes. As I approached the jetty I began to hear a "poom poom poom" sound that I assumed was coming from some machine in the jetty. Fortunately when I am in this situation of close quarters navigation I am like a Jumping Bean constantly going round and round and checking and re-checking everything. I must have passed through the companionway 100 times, literally, running between monitoring the electronics below and piloting (i.e. actually seeing what was happening) above. On one of the jumps out to visually check our heading I noticed that the "poom poom poom" sound was louder. I looked to the shore and saw nothing then I glanced ahead and could not believe my eyes. A large workboat of some sort, about 60 or 80 ft long, was beginning to cross my bow maybe 50 ft ahead of the boat. I disengaged the autopilot, turned the wheel hard to port and thought "Shit, I would have run into the guy and had I been 100 ft further ahead he would have sliced me in half." At 11 PM this guy had decided to cross the channel. Whether or not he knew I was there I can't know. Maybe he knew where I was and had control of things. ... I know that it's academic, but you would think that traffic along the channel would have priority over cross channel traffic. As for me, even if I had left the AIS alarm working I still would not have spotted this boat because I just assumed that all boats raising the alarm were moored. As for not seeing anything when I first heard the "poom poom poom" sound, all I can say is that this boat's indistinctive lighting was totally lost against the lights of the large jetty facility. This incident reinforced my Jumping Bean approach to close quarters navigation. Had I stayed at the nav station conning the boat with the electronic facilities I probably would have slammed into that work boat.
Not long after that I was below checking the numbers and I noticed that the heading was moving steadily to port. I ran to the steering station and found that for the first time in this passage the Autopilot had "gone walkabout" and disengaged. By the time I got to the wheel we were less than 2 minutes from slamming into the side of a tanker at the jetty. This second incident sealed my style as a Jumping Bean kind of navigator.
When we got to the latitude of the club I went to manual steering, cut down the engine rpm's, and headed toward the club. Soon I spotted the sail boats. When I got close I could see that they were in the floating slips of the marina and I turned to port looking for a place to drop anchor. Then I saw a mooring. In fact, there were several moorings, all in fairly deep water of 10 meters. I made several passes to pick up one of the moorings, which I must say is a difficult job at night because one must snag the eye of the float with the boathook and then hang on for dear life. (Think about it. You must orientate the hook correctly then get the hook into the eye of the mooring float in the dark as the boat passes by. VERY difficult.) Soon there was a motorized dingy playing a spot light on me. I figured that it was a club security guard trying to frighten me off and my reaction was "Screw it, I've had a long trip and am determined to pick up a mooring." After circled around several times trying unsuccessfully to pick up the mooring the dingy approached me playing its spot light on me. I played my spotlight not on him, but on my own boat and then on me, giving a friendly wave. To cut a long story short, we communicated through a huge language barrier. I let him know that I was an Australian boat arriving from Argentina. He mentioned "boya" and I eagerly said "Si, Si". "Puede aduyarme?" (Can you help me?) I said in Spanish, showing him my rope and hoping that he would understand. He spoke to someone on his hand held VHF radio then he headed off to a mooring, illuminated it, and I knew what to do. When I drifted next to his dinghy he had the mooring float in his hand ready to hand to me. I put my rope through the loop then asked him his name, which he told me was "Leonardo". "Ah, Leonardo DiCaprio" I replied, which made him smile. I shook his hand and thanked him for helping me. He rattled off some Portuguese which seemed to be a request that I contact the club tomorrow. I explained that I hoped to stay 2 or 3 days, needed to visit the Aduana and Immigration to get entry into Brazil, and Yes, I would visit the club. He seemed satisfied with that.
Question: Who would expect this kind of help from a yacht club at 11 PM at night?
The boat was secured on the mooring just before midnight. Before shutting down for the night I spent 20 minutes hoisting the Brazilian courtesy flag off the starboard crosstree, and the quarantine Q flag off the port crosstree. I also unfurled the Aussie flag at the stern. I even remembered to turn off the masthead tricolor and turn on the anchor light. However, it had been a long wet day, I hadn't had a bath since Argentina, and my clothes were saturated with perspiration, so I had a cockpit bath. It wasn't a timid sponge bath but more like The Works. Under a gentle rain (which is very helpful in a cockpit bath) I shampooed my hair and gave myself a rather leisurely bath using copious amounts of fresh water. I then went into the cabin, dried off, and put on fresh, clean, dry clothes. The shave would come tomorrow.
Then I visited the wine cellar at the V-berth area and brought out a bottle of Syrha which I have found to me very flavorful and mild. It's 2.40 AM, the pork stew has been heated in the pressure cooker and it's time to eat then hit the sack.
So All is Well with Pachuca and her skipper.
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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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