(Above) Capt. Eric Forsyth and the Fiona
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From Capt. Forsyth, at sea--I picked up Denis and Kieron today at San Juan airport. Both are experienced sailors and plan to complete the cruise by sailing to Long Island. We will do a little sightseeing and leave on Tuesday or Wednesday.
From Capt. Forsyth, at sea--Here is a photo of Eric anticipating a 39th Birthday celebratory rum punch at Foxy's Bar, Jost van Dyke, British Virgin Islands.
From Capt. Forsyth, at sea--Fiona arrived Marina del Rey, Fajardo, PR, at lunchtime on the 18th. Lovely downwind sail from Culebra. The boat is in slip 1079. Helena and John signed off. I am now waiting for Kieron and Denis, who will arrive on the 20th.
From Capt. Forsyth, at sea--Wednesday turned out to be sunny and windless. We powered from Anegada to Great Harbour, Jost van Dyke, with a swimming stop at Sandy Cay. Naturally, we had my 39th Birthday dinner at Foxys. Later they had a Karaoke with some very talented people singing to the tunes. It was very nostalgic for me as Edith and I spent a good deal of time in this neck of the woods when we were younger. I even met the sister of Lionel Chinnery, who once played the guitar one New Year's Eve on Maverick; I think it was 1962/3.
From Capt. Forsyth, at sea--Helena and John rented a car and explored Anegada. However, there are only about three miles of paved road. I did some boat maintenance and bought the obligatory postcards. Cindy and Ashley from the UK joined us for Happy Hour. We counted about 50 anchor lights in the mooring area--this place is getting popular!
From Capt. Forsyth, at sea--Today we had a lovely sail from Virgin Gorda to Setting Point, Anegada. We anchored in eight feet to windward of a clutch of bare boat charters that used the moorings provided for neophytes. We dinghied ashore using the same outboard engine on the inflatable that Edith and I used when we cruised here with Colin in 1968/69 aboard Iona, namely the 46 year-old Seagull. While ashore, we investigated the the small gift sores and had a couple of beers. The poor people who live here have to make a few bucks in the season, which is just ending before the hurricanes come. However at $50 for a lobster dinner we decided to eat on board. After supper we watched Irving Johnson's epic movie of his trip round Cape Horn in 1929.
From Capt. Forsyth, at sea--Fiona arrived Virgin Gorda on Sunday morning. Unfortunately, we had problems with the dinghy engine and finally used the old Seagull, which ran fine after 46 years. By the time we had cleared customs and immigration, it was too late to make the sail to Anegada as the reef is dangerous unless the sun is high. We plan to sail to Anegada on Monday morning.
From Capt. Forsyth, at sea--Fiona left Fort Louis marina at mid-afternoon on 12 April. On board; Eric, Helena and John. We are enjoying a wonderful sail across the Anegada Passage under a full moon. We are broad reaching with a 12 to 15 knot wind from the northeast. We expect to arrive Virgin Gorda about 8 am. After clearing Customs and Immigration we will head for an anchorage at Anegada Island.
From Capt. Forsyth, at sea--Helena and John arrived on the 10th and signed up as crew as far as Puerto Rico. This is the second time they have crewed during the 2013/14 cruise. ETA Puerto Rico is April 18. We leave St. Martin on 12 April for an overnight passage to Virgin Gorda.
From Capt. Forsyth, at sea--For the record, Fiona sailed about 3,600 nautical miles from Ascension to St. Martin. The trip took 27 days. The log has died, so the distance is figured using the GPS great circle distance and adding 10%; this is probably conservative. The total trip distance from NY is now 20,545 nm since July.
From Capt. Forsyth, at sea--Here are a few pics from the from the cruise to St. Helena and Ascension Is. The leg from Ascension to St. Martin in the French West Indies covered 3,600 nm and took 27 days.
From Capt. Forsyth, at sea--At Fort Louis Marina, Marigot. Today, we removed the damaged mainsail and bent on the storm main. Eric Freedman showed-up; my old pal off Kimberlite, and gave me a lift to St. Marten Sails, so that I could get it repaired. Mathieu winched me to the masthead and I was able to repair the broken tri-color navigation light. Mathieu booked a flight to Nicaragua and will leave on Saturday. I had my first shower in quite a few weeks. We ran a few loads through the washing machines here at the marina.
From Capt. Forsyth, at sea--Fiona arrived Fort Louis marina at Marigot at 8:30 am 2 April. Unfortunately, it was only 7:30 am local time. After a lot of screwing-around, we finally got tie- up, Med style, at slip F9. More details later.
From Capt. Forsyth, at sea--We sailed slowly most of Monday in light winds. That got us close enough to St. Martin so that as night fell, we could power the remaining distance. We adjusted our speed in order to arrive at the Fort Louis Marina at 8:30 am local time on 2 April. We now have about 32 nm to go with about 15 gallons of fuel remaining, which should be adequate as the sea is calm.
From Capt. Forsyth, at sea--It is very frustrating--as we near our destination, the wind has completely disappeared. We spent a few hours sailing at a stately 2 knots, wing and wing, yet now we are under power. We do not have enough fuel to power all the way to St. Martin, which lies 108 nm ahead. Thus, at some time on Monday we need a win. I will save 10 gallons of fuel for the last few hours before we arrive at Marigot Bay for maneuvering along the coast. To complicate matters, the constant slatting of the mainsail finally resulted in a 4-foot tear, which I hope won't propagate. I hope to arrive Marigot on Monday, but I suspect we will be too late to enter the marina, and we will anchor for the night.
From Capt. Forsyth, at sea--Light winds today: only 10 knots. We have been sailing slowly, wing and wing, at about 4 kts over the ground. As we approach the Caribbean islands, this is the plan for the endgame: We will sail through the passage between Antigua and Barbuda, pass the south side of St. Barts, sail along the south coast of St. Martin, hang a right at Point Basse Terre, and enter Marigot Bay. The north-end of Antigua is 239 nm to the northwest. St. Martin is 330 nm ahead, our ETA is Tuesday.
From Capt. Forsyth, at sea--High winds this morning interspersed by many squall; ,we tied a second reef in the mainsail. The erratic wind made life impossible for "Victor the Vane," our faithful self-steerer. Now things have calmed down; we shook out the second reef. We are sailing nicely on course at over 6 knots. Today, we put the ship's time back an hour to GMT minus three hours. I discovered that Mathieu had never seen a Marilyn Monroe movie, so tonight we watched the classic, Some like It Hot. St. Martin is 452 nm ahead.
From Capt. Forsyth, at sea--Squalls this morning, which upset the wind pattern for an hour or two. Then increasing winds in the afternoon. We are now sailing with reefed mainsail and jib. The forecast is for strong winds tomorrow. The crew from St. Martin are John and Helena, who will sail to Puerto Rico. They crewed in Brazil last year. We are 612 nm from St. Martin. All well on board.
From Capt. Forsyth, at sea--A quiet day: a couple of squalls upset the wind for a while but we have been sailing nicely. Now that the moon is rising later, the stars have shone with a brilliance you only find offshore. The Southern Cross has faded and the familiar northern constellations are reappearing. We are 727 nm from St. Martin.
From Capt. Forsyth, at sea--Today, the wind dropped to 10 kts and veered, so we are on a run with the jib boomed out to starboard, wing and wing. This is a slower point of sailing compared to the reaching we enjoyed the last few days. I baked the first loaf of bread since leaving Cape Town. St. Martin is 876 nm ahead.
From Capt. Forsyth, at sea--It seems like a good time to post the daily report: the GPS has just clicked over to show 1000 nm to St. Martin. With any luck we will be there in a week. Although on average the wind has been down today, we are still sailing well on a starboard reach. Every day we throw a half dozen flying fish over the side who have been unfortunate enough to land on the deck instead of back in the sea. All well on board.
From Capt. Forsyth, at sea--Winds of about 15 kts today until late afternoon, when the wind dropped. Curiously, Mathieu and I were sitting in the cockpit having a Fiona Cocktail when an enormous wave broke on board. The average wave height was two to three feet but this one towered over us; we were both unharmed but soaked to the skin. A good example of extreme statistics. St. Martin is 1138 n ahead.
From Capt. Forsyth, at sea--Earlier in the day, the wind faltered for a while, but now it has come roaring back and we are moving along at over 7 knots. Today, we moved the ship's time back an hour, a reflection of our steady progress to the west. We are now on GMT minus 2 hours. St. Martin lies 1305 nm ahead. All well on board.
From Capt. Forsyth, at sea--We are still sailing well with strong winds on the beam. Today, we discovered the remaining cans of Heineken had all developed pinhole leaks. The small leakage of beer on the drinks locker nurtured a cloud of inebriated but happy fruit flies. Now they are all over the boat. We watched a modern version of the Kon Tiki story tonight. St. Martin lies 1446 nm ahead.
From Capt. Forsyth, at sea--We are still enjoying great beam winds. Yesterday to today, noon to noon, we made good 170 nm towards the waypoint, a record for this cruise from Cape Town and pretty good for an old-fashioned, heavy cruising boat. We have been sailing through acres of Sargasso weed, the clumps lie in lanes parallel to the direction of th wind. We tied the first reef in the mainsail after Happy Hour, the forecast calls for 20 to 25 kt wind and we are going quite fast enough. It is 1617 nm to St.Martin.
From Capt. Forsyth, at sea--Another cloudy day but with a good wind. Actually it is cooler in the cockpit with a cloudy sky. We are making excellent time, I think we have picked up a boost from the Equatorial Current. Yesterday to today noon to noon, we made good 152 nm to St, Martin, which now lies 1784 nm ahead. All well on board.
From Capt. Forsyth, at sea--It was a day of overcast skies and occasional rain and squalls. Nevertheless we had a good wind and kept moving. In the 24 hour period, noon yesterday to noon today we sailed over 140 nautical miles. St. Martin is now 1944 nm ahead. All well on board.
From Capt. Forsyth, at sea--We had a good sailing day, the has been Northeast at 12 to 15 knots apart from interruptions caused by a couple of squalls. For entertainment we watched Kenneth Branaugh play Shackleton in the story of the Imperial TransAntarctic Expedition. St.Martin lies 2087 nm ahead. All well on board.
From Capt. Forsyth, at sea--We seem to be on the northern edge of the Doldrums - mostly light northeast winds since early today. We sailed 20 nm south of St. Peter and Paul Rock this afternoon. I visited them during the 2011/12 cruise. At Happy Hour Father Neptune was our guest - he presented Mathieu with his line crossing certificate. We are 2198 nm from St. Martin, all well on board.
From Capt. Forsyth, at sea--As I write we are crossing the equator at Longitude 28 deg 31 min west. Time 21:35Z. We still have about 80 gallons of diesel and so we should make the Northeast trade winds at about 1 degree north with fuel to spare. Our ETA at St. Martin is 5 April which is 2308 nm ahead.
From Capt. Forsyth, at sea--Just before midnight last night we entered the doldrums, a region of calms and rain squalls. We have been running the trusty diesel since then, the GRIB forecast indicates we have a couple of hundred miles before we find the southeast trade winds on the north side. Unfortunately we also ran into a counter current which is setting us back by half a knot. Hopefully we will run out of it and find the favorable Equatorial Current as we get further north. We put the ship's time back one hour today; we are now on GMT less one hour. St. Martin is 2399 nm ahead. All well on board.
From Capt. Forsyth, at sea--It was HOT today--94 F in the cabin at lunchtime. One reason is that we have caught up with the sun; today we sailed past the sun's declination, so it was directly overhead. Our latitude now is 2 deg 13 min south; the sun is behind us at 2 deg 49 min south as I write. The wind is still light. We changed a jib sheet and performed other minor maintenance. It is 248 nm to St. Martin. All well on board.
From Capt. Forsyth, at sea--Another quiet day, but we are moving along on light, but steady winds. Fresh potatoes, tinned ham and beans for supper, then we watched The Great Gatsby. The waxing moon makes the early night watches a delight. Lots of lightning far ahead tonight. St. Martin is 482 nm ahead.
From Capt. Forsyth, at sea--I am afraid to report our wonderful wind petered-out early this morning. In fact, the wind has gone down and down--finally after Happy Hour, we started the engine. We cannot afford the fuel to run for long. Yesterday to today, noon to noon, we had the best day's run since leaving Cape Town: 140 nm. It is 2,703 nm to St. Martin.Last night four birds hitched a ride.
From Capt. Forsyth, at sea--At last the wind came--at lunchtime today the wind backed and increased to 15 knots. We put Fiona on a port reach and have averaged 6 knots since. For three nights we have had avian hitchhikers perched on the radar and stern rail. They are grey with a white feather over their eyes. Come sundown they settle down for their nightly ride; they know where to find us. St. Martin is 2,807 nm away.
From Capt. Forsyth, at sea--A quiet day, with a stern wind of 8 to 10 knots. We are averaging 100 nm a day with the light winds. St. Martin is 2929 nm ahead. All well on board.
From Capt. Forsyth, at sea--Another quiet day of gentle sailing, with a breeze from the stern of about 12 knots. In the afternoon, the wind veered and we gybed in order to maintain course to the first waypoint, which is just north of the equator. Gybing is not so simple, as we had to shift the whisker pole from port to starboard. We are now 3,016 nm from the approach to St. Martin. Spaghetti for supper, then we watched a movie. All well on board.
From Capt. Forsyth, at sea--We have enjoyed a great sailing day; 12 knots of wind from the south east. Victor the Vane" in charge of steering. All well on board. St. Martin is 3133 nm ahead.
From Capt. Forsyth, at sea--Fiona weighed anchor and left Ascension Island at 2:40 pm, local time; bound for St. Martin in the French West Indies, 3,272 nm distant. ETA 1 April. On board Eric and Mathieu. Sailing nicely wing and wind.
From Capt. Forsyth, at sea--When we anchored in James Bay, Ascension Island, Jon and Mathieu decided to check in to the Obsidian Hotel. The next day, Jon liked the luxury so much, he quit the cruise and will fly to UK. Mathieu and I will sail Fiona to St. Martin; we plan to leave on Thursday. Today, we took a tour of cindery Ascension, conducted by Tony from the Conservation Centre. I think the most amazing thing is a tropical rain forest on the peak of the highest mountain--and man-made, too.
From Capt. Forsyth, at sea--Fiona anchored in James Bay, Ascension Island at 14:10 local time (UTC) on 3 March, 2014. It has taken a week to sail and some times power from St.Helena. We will stay two to three days and then leave for St. Martin, French West Indies.
From Capt. Forsyth, at sea--Overcast today, which was a welcome break from the heat. The wind remained light from the southeast; we sailed mostly wing and wing, sometimes a broad reach was needed to hold the course. Ascension Island is 75 nm; we should be there before sunset Monday. All well on board.
From Capt. Forsyth, at sea--We have enjoyed a light, but steady wind all day giving a us a run, wing and wing. At an extended Happy Hour we drank our rum while watching Woody Allen's brilliant film, Midnight in Paris. Mathieu, being French, particularly enjoyed it. Supper followe:; chicken curry with canned fruit for desert. Ascension lies 161 nm ahead.
From Capt. Forsyth, at sea--The newly-rigged mainsail has helped our speed, but no matter how big the sail is, it still needs a wind, which has been very light. We made good a hundred miles, noon to noon, in the past day, but that includes a few hours with the diesel running. We are 267 nm from Ascension Island.
From Capt. Forsyth, at sea--Another day of very light winds. But we attempted a little compensation by removing the storm mainsail, which had been bent on since the Falklands, and bent on the full mainsail. The forecast shows 5 to 10 knot winds over the whole area as far as Ascension Island. We have been running the diesel on and off. Ascension is 360 nm ahead. All well on board.
From Capt. Forsyth, at sea--We had a very quiet day, with a light wind that never exceeded 10 kts, and was mostly five kts. The sea is calm, the night sky brilliant, the rum is holding-up, so what's to complain about? All well on board; Ascension is 469 nm ahead.
From Capt. Forsyth, at sea--As usual, we could have used a little more wind, but tonight we are sailing nicely, with about 10 knots of wind on the port beam. The sea is calm. We had spaghetti for supper and afterwards watched a movie: Judy Dench as the Last of the Blonde Bombshells. Ascension Island is 547 nm ahead. All well on board.
From Capt. Forsyth, at sea--Fiona is leaving St.Helena today, bound for Ascension Island, ETA Saturday.
From Capt. Forsyth, at sea--Fiona moored in James Town Harbor at lunchtime, 21 Feb.
From Capt. Forsyth, at sea--Fair winds all day have propelled Fiona ever closer to St. Helena--we are now only 57 nm from the approach way point. From there, it is about two hours to the anchorage at James Town on the northwest corner of the island. Our ETA is just after daybreak on Friday, about 6:60 am local time.
From Capt. Forsyth, at sea--The wind seems to have deserted us--for 12 hours, we have been powering slowly over a calm sea. I hope we can refill our jerry jugs at St. Helena. I should have mentioned yesterday that we crossed the prime meridian on the 17th. Today and tomorrow are Birthdays: Jon is 50 today and Mathieu is 24 tomorrow. We had a combined party at Happy Hour, I baked a carrot cake, the Birthday Boys blew out a candle each and we knocked back a celebratory rum, or two.
The wind has picked up as forecast and we are moving nicely.;We had the first rain since we left Cape Town. Mathieu was 24 today; he called his parents in France on the Iridium phone. St. Helena is 179nm ahead, our ETA is Friday. All well on board.
From Capt. Forsyth, at sea--For the past two or three days, the main communication link between Fiona and the outside world, Sailmail, has been faulty. This was due to computer problems at the receiving station in Africa. The effect was to delay FNN postings and to have weather forecasts delivered after the forecast period had past! The weather, in fact, had hardly changed: sunny with very light wind. Today, we dropped the sails for a swim break; the water temperature was 80 F. Progress has been slow but steady, St. Helena lies 357 nm ahead.
From Capt. Forsyth, at sea--We have had great sailing today, with a fair wind that very slowly diminished. Now we are jogging toward St. Helena at 3 knots, with no perceptible wind. Mathieu trolled a line today and caught a fish about 18 inches long. After photos, we threw it back in the sea. We could not determine the species. Chicken curry for supper. Distance to island is 555 nm. All well on board.
From Capt. Forsyth, at sea--We have sailed into an area of calm again, although I hate to do it we have used the engine today for about five hours. St. Helena lies 461nm ahead.
From Capt. Forsyth, at sea--The past day and night has seen some great sailing--at night we have a full moon, by day the wind has picked-up and we are sailing near hull speed. There really is nothing better than sailing downwind on a warm night with the moon dodging between the clouds. I got an email today from a friend in NY to tell me they have had 55 inches of snow so far this year and more coming. Well, it's a tough life, sailing here at 25 degrees south, but someone has to do it! St. Helena is 699 nm ahead. Fair winds, Eric
From Capt. Forsyth, at sea--The forecast was half right: the wind speed did increase in the morning, but later it dropped. The direction also became erratic and we moved the whisker pole from port to starboard and back several times, to keep Fiona sailing downwind wing and wing. We have been averaging about about 100 nm per day, with winds of about 10 knots. St. Helena lies 815 nm ahead. All well on board.
From Capt. Forsyth, at sea--Another quiet day: Mathieu and Jon continue to refine their celestial navigation skills. We passed a large sea turtle that waved a flipper. The forecast for tonight is for slightly stronger winds, 15 knots--that will be welcome. Spaghetti for supper. 918 nm to St Helena. All well on board.
From Capt. Forsyth, at sea--Another very quiet day, with winds not even reaching 10 knots. We powered some and sailed some. The sea is so calm that, even with only 8 knots of wind, we sailed at 4 knots, which should get us there in the end. Jon lowered his underwater video camera under the boat for some nice shots of the prop slowly turning, yet the fishes stayed out of range. We are 1017 nm from St.Helena. All well on board.
From Capt. Forsyth, at sea--A day of contrasts: complete calm until mid-afternoon--we powered over a flat sea.Then, a nice westerly wind developed and we sailed on port tack over the same calm sea. The Jon/Mathieu navigational team took noon sights and today came within 3 minutes (a minute equals a mile of latitude distance) of the GPS, which is very good. St. Helena lies 1108 nm ahead. All well on board.
From Capt. Forsyth, at sea--By lunchtime today, the wind picked up a little and since then, we have enjoyed a port reach over a calm sea. Jon and Mathieu took a noon sight and got the boat's latitude to within a minute of the GPS! A remarkable coincidence; celestial sights are rarely accurate to better than about five minutes.
From Capt. Forsyth, at sea--Another quiet day; very light winds until mid-afternoon, when they picked up to about 12 knots, from the south. We set the jib on the whisker pole to port and ran wing and wing until supper time, when the wind backed and we adjusted the sails for a port reach. Jon and Mathieu tried their hand with a sextant today. Tomorrow we will take a noon sight if the weather is fair. St. Helena is 1333 nm ahead.
From Capt. Forsyth, at sea--We have made little progress today, with very light winds, sometimes on the nose. In the afternoon, the sea ahead started to boil as a feeding frenzy developed. It was impossible to know what kind of fish were involved. Now, we are far from land, the sky at night is brilliant, with stars once the moon has set. The Milky Way lies north/south and the Southern Cross hangs over the stern. St. Helena is 1416 nm ahead. All well on board.
From Capt. Forsyth, at sea--Fiona is making good time, under clear skies, with a 15-knot breeze from the southwest. We are now 1510 nm from St. Helena. Spaghetti for supper. All well on board.
From Capt. Forsyth, at sea--Fiona is underway again! We left Cape Town just before lunch on 5 February, 2014. Crewing with Eric are Mathieu and Jon. Once clear of the wind shadow of Table Mountain, we picked up a fair wind as we headed for St. Helena, 1640 nm distant from our present position. Our ETA is 17 February.
From Capt. Forsyth--Jon Lihou joined the boat today, bringing the crew strength up to Eric, Matthuie, and Jon for the trip to St Martin, which is planned to start Wednesday. The steering system is fixed--we hope--and we plan a short sortie tomorrow to check it out and also refuel.
From Capt. Forsyth--Mathieu joined the crew on 28 January; he will sail as far as St. Martin. The third crew member, Jon, is expected on 1 February. Steering repairs are not completed yet.
From Capt. Forsyth--Capt. Forsyth's latest Newsletter about Fiona's Antarctic adventures has now been posted here.
From Capt. Forsyth--Simon left the crew list today, 16 Jan, and flew to Canada. The parts sent by Colin arrived yesterday via FedEx, and today, David and I fitted the new universal joint, so now the emergency tiller is functional again. A local rigger is preparing replacement parts for the wheel steering system. Yesterday, David, Bob, and myself, took the train to Simon's Town and toured a submarine. Today, we ascended to the top of Table Mountain via the cable-car, after we fixed the emergency steering. I have two crew signed-up for the leg to the Caribbean. They will join the boat after David and Bob sign off next week.