First of all, HELLO WORLD!! It is so good to be in contact again. From 16 December until now, you have been able to see our blog-entries, but we could not see the blog or your replies. We LOVE your comments, please keep them coming. I will endeavour to answer back more often now that I´m online again.
I am sitting in the Library of the “eehatchicloebee da Degke” which is the correct pronunciation of IATE CLUB DA URCA, which means the Yacht Club of Rio de Janeiro. After our own internet attempts and power cable problems kept me from blogging, I was delighted to find this free service!
Now, back to our entrance into Rio. Most of you know that we had engine trouble on the way here. After trying everything we could think of to coach it back to life, at some point we had to aknowledge that it was really dead. This was the point at which Frans started planning the GREAT SAILING APPROACH TO OUR FINAL ACHORAGE. He told us many, many times what we would do, what the yacht would do, how we would counter the wind, what sails we would use, who would let down the anchor and when etc. I do believe it was mostly to re-assure himself that it could be done.
Well……………., it turned out, THAT was not the biggest problem we would actually have.
We spend a glorious two days making great speed. (So great at times that we were a bit fearful of the waves splashing and the new creakings in the boat). South America sighted! A Dolphin pod visiting us! Great excitement! All round congratulations! We were so pleased that we reached the 44th Latitude before the really nasty, forecasted winds started up. We were more than ready to do the last 22 miles into the bay. It was around 20:00 hours on Thursday, the 5th of February, so Frans would be able to start working on Monday. Yahoo!
Marike and I took the first watch that night. The wind quickly and quietly died down. We were able to make between 0,5 and 1 kn sailing close to the wind. With Marike at the helm, we were making the most of it and letting Frans catch up on some much needed sleep. (The whole of the previous two days he spent in the cockpit, watching for anything that could go wrong). Just after I took over the helm, I managed to stall the boat by turning into the wind. Right at that point the wind died down completely. The rest of the night’s adventures are all summed up in our GPS track showing many squiggly loops. At the end of Frans’ morning watch, we were 2 miles back from where we were when my watch started.:(
Friday, 6 February : The wind came up again – very little – it didn’t even turn the windvane. We managed to coach about 0,5 kn out of Shang Du. It is a great pshycological improvement if you move at all AND in the right direction! At about 15:00 the wind died again. Nothing! Nada! Heeltemal niks! Ag tog! There were a few little islands on the horizon that marked the entrance to the Rio Bay. They didn´t go anywhere, but neither did we. We HAD to do something! Frans decided to launch Shampoo with it’s 2 horse-power engine and tow our 26 ton yacht. It worked! Well… at 1 nautical mile na hour. But again.. much better than nothing.
This was the way in which we spent the next 3 hours. Frans in the Dinghy up front, someone on the wheel in Shang Du, while I read the helmsman’s current book out loud to entertain them. The only break Frans had was when he needed to refuel his little engine. Fortunately we had enough petrol. We did have tanks full of diesel, of course, but that lay totally useless. Eventually a bit of beam reach wind came up and Frans could retire onto Shang Du. We were definitely NOT going to tow at night.
We crept on with the new breeze at more than 2 knts sometimes, knowing that at this rate, it would take us nearly forever, but each little wind had us praise God and lifted our spirits just so.
During nightwatch we suddenly had a great bit of wind generated by a magnificent thunderstorm on our portside. Unfortunately the wind was again from the front, and we had to beat to use it well. We did some amazing sailing, but did not make a lot of progress, as tacking meant sailing to and fro in a zigzag, getting only slightly closer with every zag. When I left after my watch, we were still sailing strong, but alas, during the night, the wind died. This time the funny squiggle on the GPS at least did not go back any further, we were just where we left off when the wind died. I woke up to find Marike and Karin Jnr. in the cockpit, having allowed Frans some much needed sleep. Marike was steering and they were trying to keep each other awake, but the morale was really, really low.
Saturday, 7 February: I sent Karin Jnr. to bed – she was sooooo tired – and kept Marike company while we drifted a little bit. Presently Frans came up and declared that we would do the towing thing again. By now we were very close to the entrance to the Bay and there was more than one fishing vessel out for the morning. All the motor vessels around us looked so fast and strong! We thought that the towing thing would have a two-fold purpose. One, we would be moving albeit slowly and two, other people would see that we were really desperate! We had about 10 miles left to do. We did accomplish mission 2, but whenever we passed other boats, they just waved at us. Maybe we looked like we were really enjoying this! Frans spent a gruelling 4 hours in the sun on the Dinghy! He covered his head and knees with towels against the sun. It was baking down on us in the cockpit in the shade and he was all out in the open. He was definitely VERY heroic in our eyes.
After he successfully towed us throught the opening into the bay, the wind at last picked up! Thank you Lord! Lots of wind in the Bay it seems. We had some really glorious sailing after that. It was even in the right direction with a lovely beam reach on port side. Only with the final approach did we have to tack again and even though there were many tacks, we were all boosted and ready for that GREAT SAILING APPROACH TO OUR FINAL ANCHORAGE that we have been preparing for so well.
We are now safely anchored and praise God for His provision throughout.