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Fernando da Noronha (Brasil), our Leg 3 stop

Mindelo (Cabo Verde)- day1

After celebrating Father's Day on March 19th with Emma and Anna at Praia Sao Pedro on the south side of Sao Vicente, on Wednesday 20th at 10am we set off for the longest and perhaps the most difficult stage from Mindelo to Ilha Fernando da Noronha.
1300 miles, strong winds for the first 3 or 4 days, then the approach to the ITPCZ, the intertropical convergence zone, nicknamed Horse Latitude or Doldrums, the Equator crossing and Neptune's meeting!

Departure with a sandstorm arriving from West Africa.
Reduced visibility and wind gusts at 37 knots.
We enter the Channel between Sao Vicente and Santo Antao with a very strong wave and a constant wind of 28 knots.
The swell does not allow us to take our usual pace to sail at the same speed as ocean waves.

So we decide to mount the pole to have more stability and safety having reduced the mainsail to 30%. While maneuvering the downhaul, the pole, under pressure from a more violent gust than the others, breaks the attachment to the mast trolley and fortunately falls without touching either Marco or Olvier.
Serious damage, because in the enormous equatorial zone without wind it would have been very useful to us.

In reality the trade wind that crosses the Barlavento islands of Cabo Verde, Santo Antao and Sao Vicente is standard for this season, between 18 and 24 knots but in the channel between the two islands it accelerates furiously. As we move further away, sailing south on route 198°, the trade wind weakens more and more until the morning when it regains strength but with a less powerful wave than the Leg 2 from Lanzarote to Cabo Verde.

day2-21 March

@12h15 we decide to gybe following course 220° and We Set up of the FFR a special code zero that allows us to sail downwind up to 170° with a reasonable speed to overcome the atlantic swell.

We begin to encounter the famous Sargasso, first a few tufts of these algae that develop on the surface at these latitudes and in the direction of the current which will lead them to the Caribbean. Then there are real greens extending over 200m2.

They are the bête noire for hydrogenerators that we have to lift and clean almost every hour because otherwise the propeller doesn't turn and doesn't recharge anything.

Due to continuous interruptions in recharging the hydrogenerator, the voltage of the batteries drops below the limit we have set ourselves of 25.30V. We turn on the generator but after a while it turns off. I'll go and see what the patient has. In Mindelo we started it and it worked on trial for over 15min.
I try to bleed the diesel supply circuit but after a short while it turns off again.
Doing this work at night with a swell is not exactly simple, I'll leave it for tomorrow.

day3-22 March

Wind decreasing; We set up the FFR+Staysail for more thrust. Waves smoothes out a bit.

Days pass with daily rituals, wave and wind weather analysis, choice of the course and sails + adjustments, meal preparation, rest, readings and some Starlinkata... calls or messages with our small world of followers.

Before dark the rule is to lower the FFR and open the Genoa for greater safety in case of gusts of wind during the watch.
When it is time to start the rest shifts, as often happens, the wave returns from 140° with respect to the boat which causes the genoa to lose pressure and therefore little speed.
I'm in the cabin, I hope Olivier is active and weird but nothing.
At 2am after 6 hours of NOT sleeping, it's my turn and I gybe immediately. Now the wave is well parallel to the stern, pushing us and not making us roll!

day4-23 March

We woke up early at 8am to hoist our "turtle FFR" with staysail together but the hoisting was only completed at 9.30am because Olivier wanted to change tack by hoisting it without physically moving it on deck from port to starboard. Marco had to endure the wave not because of him.
I decided not to gybe in the evening and continue on port tack for 195°; right choice because between sunset and night our friend Aliseo always rotated to the NNE allowing us a course of 182°. I therefore decided to leave the FFR and staysail hoisted but with the mate's watch available in case of emergency. I offer not to sleep in the cabin and stay in the cockpit all night to be ready for emergencies.
I adopt my rest system following REM sleep, 30min naps followed by 50min wakefulness. Better than in the cabin where on average the noise of the waves on the hull and hull reaches over 70dB.

Batteries don't hold much charge due to one of the two fridges having a thermostat that is acting up and always charging, freezing our vegetables as well.
I turn on the Generator for an hour, repaired it after having dismantled the pre-filter and bled the entire supply hose well. Batteries go up from 25.20V to 27.20V.

day5, 24 March

From dawn to 8.30am cleaned sargassum 10 times.
Batteries not fully charged, average 25.40.
Helmed from 8am to 10.45am, music played to cheer me up.
Sky clear for this Sunday. Powerful sun. Luckily the wind freshens. We are fast since yesterday 7->8kts.
In the last 60 miles the average has been 7.6=182nm/24h.
Activated WindVane mode on the Autopilot; Genial! It means that the Autopilot do not follow the course you decide to follow but the AWA, the apparent wind angle of the sails.
Closed FFR, only Genoa. Reinforcements expected at 20kts until Tuesday morning.
No dinner for everyone, too wavy!

day6, 25 March
2nd sleepless night.. one of the worst!
9pm We jibe on starboard tack but dance for 3 hours. Re-gybed at 00h00, much better now .
Course 195°, speed 5.6kts , Batteries @26V
Done 1k miles from Mindelo.
Still 704 miles to go =  5 days

We are entering into the ITCPZ Intertropical Convergence Zone better known as Horses latitudes. Very large area with little wind but possible frequent very powerful tropical storms. That zone during the rest of the year is very large, over 1000 miles in latitude and wide from West Africa to Brazil. But this season it seems thinner and less focused towards South America. However, be careful not to get caught with so much canvas and carefully analyze which route to take to enter where the band is thinnest and therefore has the least possible engine!

Busy sailing with messy and often wicked waves.
Strong wind. Sargasso non-stop.
Cooked pasta with pumpkin and ricotta salata with great risk of spilling out boiling water.
Maintained 70% of main sail and all out Genoa.
At 5.30pm helmed for 1.30 with great fun surfing at 10 knots. But realizing that the sea was getting worse we  reefed the main 50%
I willsShifts for last from 02h00 to 05h00.
Olivier first starts @ 8pm. Time to fall asleep and I understand that the sea and wind have gotten worse. Not even my legs can stay still on the mattress but they wag their tails.
I feel like getting up to to reef but I'm stoned...
Suddenly I feel like the motionless boat is no longer immersed in the water, the autopilot is stopped.
Half an instant later I am catapulted out of my bed...I understand that we are in full sail on the opposite edge due to....
It's only 9.30pm. I go to the dinette and meet Olivio who has left the cockpit to come and call me....Pius healed at 30 degrees with the mainsail and Genoa on his neck, fortunately we had the preventer on the boom and we saved him.
Olivio mutters agitatedly that we need to take control of the boat again... What a brilliant intuition!
I don't answer him and I immediately take the helm that he left with Autopilot engaged in those conditions! Another genius.
I just tell him that we have to start the engine... it's the only way.
He doesn't even have time to finish the sentence and he starts the engine but not hearing the engine turn he tries again but the engine is already running, risking stripping the starter motor!
We are sailing with AWA 50 degrees with the wind blowing at 28 knots with waves. Marco also arrives.
The superVolvo allows us to get back on starboard tack without having to do a 360° with the preventer to be recovered with the mainsheet collided outboard, close the Genoa to tack on the other tack, maneuvering for at least 10 minutes.
I reduce the sails and we resume the initial seems that the wind hasn't changed...I ask to Olivier what happened.
He explains to us that the wind collapsed and turned but he didn't know by how many degrees and in what direction and the autopilot disengaged on its own (fortunately I think otherwise we WOULDN'T have him anymore either).
I return to the helm and make no further comments because I understand the subject and his poor predisposition to react to the effects of a change in conditions. Marco, on the other hand, doesn't give up and fills him with questions without too many answers.
I re-set the course and we check the sky and its cumulus clouds which in reality are blacker and more concentrated cumulus clouds isolated from the rest of the altostratus.
They are the ones who take away and put back energy.
The alarm seems to have disappeared but Marco and I remain alert. The sloth on the other hand, since it's 11pm, can't give up a few moments of his rest, so he says goodbye to us and goes to his cot. 

day7, 26 March

Marco is on duty and I stay in the dinette looking for interrupted rest. I collapse until shift would start at 02h00 but Marco didn't feel like waking me up....;)

All's well that ends well but tomorrow WITH CALM ZEN mandatory de-briefing well done. At 05h00 Olivier returns on duty. I summarize the situation for him. And I stay in the dinette to rest but at 06:00 I hear the sails flap several times, Olivier doesn't worry too much....; for him sails and boats are optional and not the essence of our navigation. So I ask him what's happening that shakes everything. I don't waste a second and yell at him from below to luff and take the helm. He just luffs but without helming. I get up quickly and took the helm in my hands and look for speed and adjustments and first of all I open the mainsail and Genoa... have they been reduced to such an extent by not letting Pius  advance?
After the episode, in the early morning with everyone awake, I dedicate a good quarter of an hour to what in modern times is called a DE-BRIEFING. I find calm and ways to talk especially to Olivier without addressing him directly. The day continued peacefully . Wind is calming down but less than expected which gave 10 knots in the evening instead of the real 15. We are preparing for the equatorial night with rain and lightning expected for tomorrow morning. Before my 1st shift I decide to jibe to sleep more peacefully with a more stern wave. Small cumulus clouds and some scattered showers begin to pass through.

day8, 27 March
Wind decreasing, apparent wind collapse. Sails flap.
At 02h00 I start the SuperVolvo at 1400rpm before Olivier takes over.
Rule for everyone, every 10/12 hours bring it to 2000 rpm to clean combustion residues in the turbo.
Quiet day with sea finally flattening out after 72 days of navigation!
Light drizzle at 7am and then almost all of the morning and afternoon. Humid heat.
Foot rash worsens. Towards the evening it was still raining, as it was heavier, Marco and I took advantage of it to take a rain shower... but as soon as we were soaped up, the sun appeared.
Marco and I prepare the Neptune sketch.
Equator cross expected at 10.30pm!
I'm increasingly feeling that I can no longer afford not to rest at night especially when Olivier is on duty.
It is from sailing between Puglia and Sicily that I understood that he does not have great sensitivity about how to preserve it and how to react in the event of meteorological changes. I don't think I can continue with just 2 as crew...
I'm very tired today, without making up for the sleep I lost during the night. I talk about it to Olivio who, surprised, tells me <<but you have sleeping problems or I sleep like a log... >> . I would like to tell him that he is my problem!
Dinner: boiled potatoes and Sant'Antao cheese.
10pm. The equator is approaching. Touching the plotter I don't realize that I have deactivated the autopilot and the boat heads east....I resume the route but lost the intersection with the Equator wp that I had saved.
10.20pm. I wake everyone up
10 minutes to do it.
10.30pm we are passing the Equator...let's asking Neptune to let us passing through!


day9, 28March
@ 5.00 am I resume my shift, here the sunrise is exactly at 6am and the sunset is at 6pm
at seven, only after 1 hour the sun is already more than a foot above the horizon. The heat is felt but this morning a nice SE breeze confirms that we are in the southern hemisphere with the first SE trade winds coming from the Cape of Good Hope in Africa.
Mainsail and engine at 1500rpm.
After an afternoon of reading and studying papers I realize that Recife is not a good place to stop. Marco finds Joao Pessoa the Capital of the State of Paraìba. There's a small marina called Jacaré Marina (Crocodile Marina) run by Nicolas a frenchman. Let's contact him.

In the late afternoon engine again, GV and mainsail off, wind down again. Until dawn.
At night 3 South American crows came on board for 8 hours and close to broke our StarLink sat antenna! GRRRRR...

day 10, 29 March
Approach to Ilha Fernando da Noronha at dawn.

And a nice tuna fish get caught finally by Olivier after 4900 miles!

Tot tracks 4850nm from Ravenna, in 73 day

11.30 am anchoring at FdN. 70m. chain on 15m depth.

At the Harbor Master Marcus's cabane to do Police and Marinha do Brasil control


  • meo

    wow . curiosità : temperature minime la notte ? lo stretto di magellano presenta difficoltà di navigazione e correnti del mare particolari per via dello scioglimento del ghiaccio ? a bahia riempi la stiva di rhum e cachaça ..

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