Mar 31 - Repairs have worked

Pos: N03deg28min / W044deg09min. We ran the engine earlier and the FW pump pulley turns fine. Unfortunately, a slight metallic sound can be faintly heard, no doubt the new key in a very doubtful keyway holding it in for the present. Because of this, we've decided to go directly to Chaguaramas to affect proper R/R. The weather forecast looks favorable; brisk NE winds the entire way. Yesterday's noon to noon run was 164 mi, so we're making good time.
Pic: Matt making more lures.

Mar 30 - We'll have to wait a bit longer

Pos: N02deg26min / W041deg50min. It was a boisterous day sailing, winds 18-20 for most of it. Our speed has been in the 6's-7's, so today wasn't conducive to starting the motor. Coolant is in the system and all the hose clamps have been checked; it's now up to the small key in the keyway to see if the entire repair holds.
Pic: Michael & Matt working on the water pump pulley.

Mar 29 - What's that noise?

Pos: N01deg23min / W039deg37min. For the last 3-4 days we kept hearing a metallic sound when running the engine and routine cursory checks didn't prove helpful. Strange metallic sounds and engines - not a good thing....This morning, I dove into the engine room and discovered that the FW pump pulley housing had come loose and was just spinning around with the belt. Hmmm. The pulley nut was jammed on the shaft of the pump, so dismantling the entire assembly was necessary. Of course, that meant all the coolant was lost as hoses had to be removed, but I finally got the pump off by late morning. Matt and I were able to remove the shaft nut, but the pulley housing had an elongated hole in the stainless set ring, no doubt from not discovering and fixing the problem early on. There was no key in the keyway groove, and I eventually found it, completely by chance, with a magnet sweeping the bilge while looking for one of the pump housing nuts that had dropped there. Fun and games. The key was elongated and had apparently spun out of its groove; a new one was needed. We carry bronze square stock aboard, so cutting it down to size and shaping wasn't all that difficult. The pump has been remounted, but I'm waiting until tomorrow to put the final shaping to the key and housing ring. Fortunately the wind has cooperated today, and we've had NE 12-16, with gusts to 18, all day. The pole was dropped earlier, and we have a double reefed main, staysail, and about two thirds of the Yankee out, and are going along smoothly at 5.4-6.4 knots; the wind is about 60-80 degrees off the bow, not too uncomfortable. Well, that's the report for today. Pump repairs and coolant replacement continue tomorrow, along with, hopefully, a happy Perkins.
Pic: Michael working in the cramped engine room.


At 1141 this morning, we crossed the equator at longitude W037deg14.214min. The weather cooperated, we had a proper crossing ceremony giving thanks to King Neptune and his dominions, and enjoyed a nice snack. Sue figured this was our sixth equator crossing! Of note, Matt's been with us for three of them! We'll maintain this same heading (about 305-310 deg T) for another 1-2 days before making a more northwest turn towards either Devil's Island in French Guyana or possibly go straight to Trinidad...we'll decide soon. A special day; it's good to be back, and AWA. Tech note: for new readers of our blog, if you press "Where we are," located at the upper, left portion of the home page near "Our pictures," a red button will mark our route (taken from the "Position reports" I submit) over whatever time period you choose in the option box. Enjoy!

Mar 25 - Enroute

Pos: S03deg24min / W032deg53min. We departed FdN this morning, very glad to get away from the rolly anchorage. Overall, I wouldn't rate this stop as a "must-see" destination. It's very expensive; there's a daily fee for the boat to be anchored in the National Park, as well as a daily fee for each crew member on top of that. Further, meals ashore are $15-20++, lunch or dinner. Beer or drinks are likewise expensive. Provisioning is OK, and diesel is available for about $6 USD/gallon. Rental cars are all over the place. They're dune buggy type things, and go for about $50 USD/day, although I suspect a bit of searching would turn up a less expensive cost. The allegedly slow internet was completely down while we were here, so no comments there. A 40+ knot squall came thru the other night. It was complete white-out conditions, and the size of the waves was impressive. They knocked the large, steel marker beacon of the small harbor entrance off it's mooring chains, which then capsized upside down! The anchorage is very rolly to begin with; that night it was just ugly. At this time, we're enroute to Isle du Salud, just across from Devil's Island, in French Guyana. This will be about a 1400 mi passage, as we're going a few hundred miles north of our rhumb line to try to get thru the ITCZ (inter-tropical convergence zone) on a more direct angle across it, rather than along its axis, before turning towards IdS. We're hoping to avoid at least some of the heavier squalls and thunderstorms the ITCZ a few degrees north and south of the equator latitude usually brings; we'll see how it all works out. From the latest weather forecasts, it appears we have about another 36 hours of motoring before the wind fills in. AWA.

Mar 21 - Safe arrival Fernando de Noronha

Pos: S03deg50.01min / W032deg24.49min. We anchored in Santa Antonia Bay just after daybreak. Using just s scrap of jib, we rolled down our line, trying to keep our speed between 3-4 knots so as to arrive after dawn. This entire 1100 mi leg was a mixed bag. We certainly had some good sailing, but also had light air, fickle wind and a lot of rolling and slatting of sails. It's hard to get Infini moving in 4-6 knots of wind behind us, but she did surprisingly well. We did motor for a bit in those times with absolutely no wind, when my patience ebbed and I ignored "THE LOOK" that the Admiral gives me any time I suggest using the iron genoa. I believe her quote is we're a sailboat..." Yes, I know, but sitting there doing less than 2 knots, having to hand steer because the autopilot won't steer in anything less than 2.3 knots of boat speed...well, it ain't gonna happen. This is why we carry petrochemical in our fuel tanks. At any rate, in the "man vs fish" category, we had 2 keepers (mahi-mahi), and returned 3 smaller fish (mahi-mahi and yellow tail tuna). In the "to be repaired" category, we sustained 3 broken sail slides due to severe slatting, along with 1 possible broken batten, but I can't really tell about that yet. We've already planned for the main and Yankee to go off to the sailmaker for routine maintenance and repair when we get to Trinidad. In the SSB email category, hooking up to Sailmail was almost impossible, but I did manage to do so a few times. Our Winlink connection seems much more stable, and I've been able to connect every day or so. Overall, everyone's fine and glad to be here. Although just anchored, we can tell the anchorage here will be extremely rolly, but it'll still be a nice change for a bit. We haven't decided how long we're staying here; more later.

Mar 17 - Happy St Patrick's Day!

Pos: S05deg57.38min / W026deg11.42min. It's been a beautiful day sailing today. The wind got a bit brisk; we saw 30 knots, but it was dead behind us, so we ran with the full main and no headsail. Winds are forecast to moderate over the next few days...we'll see. In a previous blog entry, I mentioned "cotter checks". Today, routine surveillance, again, paid dividends as we found a crack in our starboard aft, lower turnbuckle, It's not all the way thru the turnbuckle, but with crevice corrosion, you never know. I've rigged up an extra SS wire strop and hitch to support the stay anyway; tomorrow I'll dig out the spare turnbuckle, but hope to be able to wait until we're at anchor in 3-4 days before replacing it. We've been enjoying lots of fresh fish, prepared pan-fried and poke. The humidity and heat are definitely rising; we're down to swimming suits and T shirts most all of the time. AWA.

Mar 16 - We're half-way there

Pos: S06deg16min / W023deg54min. Today marked our half way point to Fernando de Noronha. Sailing has been fine, usually in the 5-7 knot range. Matt landed a 4' mahi-mahi this afternoon; our freezer's filling up. AWA.

Mar 15 - Enroute, a typical day

Pos: S06deg43min / W020deg30min. During the night we picked up a favorable SE wind, 15-20 knots, and are now aiming at Fernando de Noronha. Our watch schedule is 3 hours on, 6 hours off, beginning at 1800 hours. Sue does a SSB radio net with other cruisers at 1900, and I've been attempting to hear our 0630 HAM net; no joy there. We've still had little success with Sailmail and have been using our Winlink connection. By 0500, water is on for coffee. I usually let Matt sleep thru the 0600 wake-up call if nothing's going on. Yesterday, I had to wake him as a ship was on AIS and closing with us. His CPA (closest point of approach) was 4 miles, but I had to get on the 0630 net and don't take anything for granted; we needed a visual watch on that ship. Matt's got two fishing lines in the water early on, but so far, no luck. We all do a lot of reading, swapping books with other cruisers or at book exchanges where we find them. "Cotter checks" are done twice daily, sunrise and sunset. This is where we look at wire terminal ends, sail stitching, cotter pins and rings, and generally check the rigging, lines and anything else. Any required small repairs or changes are addressed during the daylight, when possible, as are sail changes. Of course, it doesn't always work out that way! Have I mentioned food? We eat well aboard Infini, and our reefer and freezer (5 cu ft each) hold a lot, as do our pantry and dry storage lockers. The day goes by quickly; we still enjoy the sunrises and sunsets. Of note, as we're heading northwest, sunrise is getting later in the morning; today it was at 0720 hours. The color of the Atlantic here is a kind of cobalt blue, just beautiful. There are still birds fishing, way out here so far from land. So, hope this brief description gives some idea of life aboard; we hope you're enjoying your time as much as we're enjoying ours!

Mar 12 - Departure for Fernando de Noronha

It was an interesting morning. The iPad locked up and we were unable to get into any of our programs, including one of the navigation programs we use. Hmmm. I managed to sort that out by getting on the internet one last time, doing a Navionics chart program update, and crossing my fingers. Success. Aboard, I wanted to run the watermaker before departure and it was good that we did. One of the plastic fitting to the low pressure gauge snapped right off, and water was pumping into the bilge. Hmmm. Got that sorted out and all's well; can't carry enough spare parts. Finally, at 1245 we slipped the anchor and were off. Winds were SSE-SE 15 knots and the sun was shining; it's about 1100 miles to Fernando de Noronha, a National Park off the northeast coast of Brazil. Matt hooked a black jack fish 5 minutes after we left, but released it; we hope that's a harbinger of good fishing to come.

Mar 11 - Touring Ascension Island

We joined our friends Etienne and Denise of sv La Luna for a road tour of the island. Car rentals are arranged thru the Obsidian Hotel as well as the petrol station. First, we drove up the nearby hill to see the view. The switchbacks were numerous and the road steep and narrow, but it only took a few minutes to reach the top. Leaving there, we went to the BBC Atlantic Relay Station. There, we had an informal tour with one of the engineers and learned the history of the Transmitting and Power Stations. The site serves as the main electricity and desalinated water supplier for the island's 800-900 residents. It also receives radio programming from London via satellite link, and feeds it forward to Africa and South America stations. After, we had a cheeseburger at the Two Boats Village before going to Green Mountain to hike to the bamboo forest and Dew Pond. This was a good trek up and around the mountain, and again, the views at a height of about 2800' were awesome. It was quite muddy in several sections, but we were able to rinse off when we returned to the residence house of the farm. It was late afternoon by the time we searched for the lava caves. After one false start just above Wideawake Airfield, we drove a bit further before finally seeing a small sign for Commodore's Cave. Ascension is a very small island, and aside from a few volcanic cauldrons and other hiking areas, other interesting things to do concern the local wildlife; birds, fish and turtles. It was an enjoyable day, and we returned aboard to prepare for departure in the morning.

Mar 10 - The dreaded St. Helena / Ascension roll

Our first night here in Clarence Bay was comfortable with very little roll, as the wind was constant. Take the wind away...our second night was not fun with the sideways roll. Some yachties on the VHF have stated they think the roll here in Clarence Bay, Ascension is less than that at St Helena, but I disagree. Of course, hull shape has a lot to do with roll, but even the cats are rolling here. Given time, I guess you get used to it, but time is something we didn't get upon arrival. It appears our faxed permit paperwork, along with that from several other yachts, never appeared, although we have proof of successful fax transmission to the office here. Maybe they need to get a new fax machine? At any rate, we were granted 3 days, and graciously assured that an extension would be no problem should we desire it. Island time; no worries. Aboard, I was kept busy repairing a leak on the high pressure side of the water maker system; even bronze fittings eventually wear out with constant immersion in salt water. As I was handling that chore, Matt went trolling in the dinghy and hooked up a nice mahi-mahi. A sign ashore said that if you can't catch fish around Ascension, you can't fish. Wish they had a T shirt with that on it. Turtles swim nearby the boat daily, and there are hundreds of black fish we call pirhana fish, although they're actually a type of trigger fish that eat coral, or whatever you throw overboard, including your toes; I have the nip to prove it. A few more particulars of the island. Ascension is not as developed for tourism as is St Helena. Rightly so, as this serves basically as a military installation, not a tourist destination. There are a few small stores with very basic provisions, but not the fresh fruit and veggies found at SH. Restaurant meals at a few places in town must be ordered in advance for service; hours are varied. There is one small bank (no US personal or travelers checks accepted), and wifi internet may be obtained at the hotel, 5 pounds for one hour, or 10 pounds for 24 hours; only good at the hotel, not aboard. The dinghy landing is, we think, a bit easier than SH, as long as there's no significant swell. A stern anchor must be used on a long line, and a long bow line is tied to a SS railing; you'll figure it out. Officials are found at the shipping office just up the road on the right side from the landing, as well as in the Police station. Georgetown is a small town; anything out of town requires a car rental (15 pounds a day).
Pic: Sunrise arrival to this volcanic island.

Mar 9 - Ascension Island

Pos: S07deg55.24min / W014deg24.732min. We had a good, but somewhat slow, passage here, but all went well and we arrived early morning yesterday. Ascension Island is a very small island, about 800-900 people here, mostly American and British military. The airport runway here used to be amongst the longest in the world, as it was used as a potential emergency landing strip for the US space shuttle. We've seen, and swam with, the green sea turtles that are coming here to lay their eggs on the nearby beaches. Fishing has been good, and we caught a nice yellow fin tuna just offshore the island; we threw back some other, smaller species we couldn't identify. Last night, we hosted happy hour aboard Infini, with the crews of Mantra, La Luna, and Quickening joining us. Matt prepared a delicious Hawaiian tuna poke dish (thanks Ray and Mona!), and we enjoyed a congenial gathering. This morning, we cleared in with Customs & Immigration, as well as Port Control; officialdom is easy and smooth in these parts. Our plan is to explore here a few days, probably leaving later this week for Fernando de Noronha. AWA.

Mar 5 - Slow going

Pos: S12deg00min / W009deg50min. These first two days have had very light winds pretty much directly behind us. Things have finally picked up a little bit, with the SE wind filling to 10-15 knots. We'll pass our half-way point to Ascension Island later today. There are other boats which have departed St Helena, and we have an informal net at 1900 UTC on 8134 USB; always nice to know who's going where and what's happening. AWA (all's well aboard).

Mar 3 - Enroute to Ascension Island

Pos: S14deg35.0min / W007deg12.7min. After a one week visit, yesterday morning we departed St Helena Island bound for Ascension Island. This is a 700 mile passage in the SE trade winds. AWA (all's well aboard).