4,832 Nautical Miles - Buenos Aires to St. Lucia.

4,832 Nautical Miles = 5,561 Statute Miles = 1.4x length of the Amazon = 22% of the circumference of the earth = 650 hours of sailing

This was not our original plan. When we bought Field Trip, we planned on having her professionally delivered to Charleston, SC. From there, we would ‘play, learn, experiment’ and figure it out.

After ‘hitting the proverbial wall’ at work, plans changed. We decided to move to Argentina, watch the boat being built, and actually sail her – with captain and crew – to the United States.

The first part of our trip from Buenos Aires to Ilha Grande, Brazil was great. We had an excellent captain and crew – made some lasting friendships, and had a great time. I’ve written some about this first leg of our journey here.

The second leg of the journey, Ilha Grande, Brazil to St. Lucia was also great – but we had a small wrinkle. The third crewmember had an issue and we ended up doing the last (and longer portion) of the trip with Captain Martin and myself.

Some of the comments I received when telling people about our updated sailing plans were: 'You're crazy.' 'Seriously?' and a couple of expletives sprinkled in for effect. The big unknown was weather. Given the time of year, most of the weather to Natal is forward of the beam - creating an uncomfortable passage. Put another way, Jimmy Cornell says this passage is ‘best avoided’ during January. Gentlemen don’t sail to the wind…unless you are on a delivery.

I was a little apprehensive. Not about safety - but the dreaded 2 on, 2 off schedule for weeks on end.

Unless you push yourself, you'll never know what's possible – and believe most things are impossible.

It was the best experience. It wasn't terribly hard - after the first 48 hours. Once in the rhythm, I was never really that tired, and Martin and I functioned very well as a team. They key is sticking to the schedule. Your body adjusts.

Overview of Route

Ten Observations


Routes


Lesson Learned:

Fisherman off coast of Brazil
I was responsible for route & weather planning. The biggest lesson learned is to pay particular attention to forecasted currents, and work hard within reason to maximize this to your advantage. Specifically, I would sail closer to Natal on the turn north (Carlos you were correct), and leverage the stronger currents (up to 4kts) vs. 30 - 50NM offshore where we had 1kt - 1.5kts of favorable current.

It is critical however, to make this turn at dawn so you can visually see the fishing vessels, as the currents are closer to shore and within the fishing zone.


Marinas


Best: 

By far, Bahia Marina in Salvador. Pikin (previous captain) highly recommended this marina, and for good reason. It has been the nicest Marina - including Rodney Bay – I’ve seen so far. We had exceptional service, the facilities were impeccably clean, and there was a great atmosphere. It also had the best place to eat excellent food for very cheap ($5USD for lunch - huge plate of food).

Value & Service: 

Mooring ball at Porto Frade with dock master Hector. It was excellent. This was a great recommendation from Pikin and Diego. The help from Hector exceeded expectations, the location was beautiful, and the prices reasonable.

Worst: 

The Marina de Gloria in Rio de Janeiro was terrible. The water looked and smelled worse than a sewage treatment plant. There were floating dead fish, oil and fuel streaks everywhere – mixed with a constant nasty stench.

Ports of Call


Surprise: 

Salvador lighthouse
Salvador exceeded expectations. Despite the domestic unrest and military helicopter patrols, we met some great people and had a blast exploring the city. It was beautiful, had excellent food, and overall was a good experience. I'd definitely stop in Salvador again if I were sailing north from Brazil.

Disappointment: 

None. They were all unique, every stop interesting, and we had a blast.

Technology


Technology on a boat is a complicated matter. Not because it is hard, but because it’s technology. It’s very easy to become complacent and over-rely on technology. It’s a navigational aid. It will break – probably at 2am as you are navigating tricky waters. You must always be prepared (i.e. paper charts, dividers, dead reckoning, compass, etc.) and have redundant systems if they are critical to your passage.

Surprise: 

Martin my captain – really took a liking to the technology and was a fast student. We had a good time joking back and forth. To say the least we balanced each other with technology and paper charts (grin).

Takeaway: 

Redundancy is critical. Technology will break. If you are using technology for weather forecasts - you must have at least two ways to download data.

For us it was the KVH V3 antenna and the SSB Pactor modem. When our V3 fizzled out – we relied on SSB. Between the two, we always had weather and were connected to family and friends via email.

Facebook


Surprise: 

I actually enjoyed using FB. I dreaded setting up the account. Getting all the friend requests, and opening up beyond the more formal LinkedIn (grin). It worked great, and I had fun figuring out ways to provide close to real time updates while underway.

Tip #1: Setup your facebook account to accept updates via email. This is easy to do, and works great. Any device that can send email (including photo attachments) will be posted on your home page.

Tip #2: Setup FB to use SPOT or similar. As we posted updates via SPOT Connect, a link with a map showed up on my FB wall.

Tip #3: Setup FB to email you comments made to your postings. In my case, I setup my SailMail account as primary so I could use this easily over the satellite connection OR SSB/Pactor Modem. Cool stuff.

Provisions 

Captain and crew enroute to Brazil

Keep it simple. We (I) over engineered the spreadsheets on this one. We have everything logged, expected consumption rates per week, fancy formulas, etc. In the end, we just ‘loaded up’ and have been fine. In fact, months later, we still have a TON of food we bought in Argentina and Brazil. What I thought was maybe 4-6 weeks of provisions turned out to be at least 4-6 months of non-perishable food.

People


It is hard to put my finger on this. In short, there are two categories of people we’ve met sailing. Freaks & Free Spirits. No disrespect here, but some of the folks sailing out here are more than just a little ‘off the wall eccentric’. Humorous and fun to meet, but freaks to the core.

The other category are folks just like most of us, willing to take some risks, wanting to explore, and have a keen sense of adventure. This category includes entrepreneurs, physicians, executives, and lots of other backgrounds – all which seized an opportunity and are working hard to make it happen and do something different.

Insight: 

The majority of Antares owners fit into this second category. It is a great community of like-minded individuals – most with similar backgrounds – pushing the limits on comfort zones and making it happen. It’s exceeded my expectations in getting to know this great group of people.

Fishing


Feast: 

Secret Sauce
When you are into fish, you are into fish. We got crazy with the Mahi Mahi just south of Rio Grande, Brazil. Fish everywhere. We’d drop our line in, and in less than 30 seconds we’d get a hookup. It was great.

Famine: 

It can be fairly crappy at times. We’d go for days and not get a bite…using the same lure - Secret Sauce - we’d lit up the Mahi Mahi with earlier in the week. Partly I’m sure due to my novice skills…and partly just to plain ‘luck’. In the end, we ended up catching Wahoo, Mahi Mahi, Tuna, Bill Fish and Baracuda.

Takeaway: 

Buy the The Cruisers Handbook of Fishing. It is exceptional.

Sailing


Biggest ‘Ah Ha’

There’s nothing like it. Sailing will change you - your perspectives, expectations, sense of normal, outlook on life, and sense of community.

There is a zone you get ‘into’ when you’ve been at sea for long periods of time. I can’t put my finger on it, but it’s a Zen of sorts - low stress (most of the time), relaxed and very enjoyable.

Takeaway: 

You can’t rush sailing - You can’t rush life – Slow down.

Antares 44i


Expectations: 

Overall the boat has been great. It’s a boat. Boats have problems. We were bound to have problems, and did. The up side - Antares has been excellent in getting the items fixed.

Surprise: 

How well she sails. I know this shouldn’t surprise me…especially since we bought the boat. Here’s the deal. There is ‘NO WAY’ anyone can really know a boat in a day, or two, or six. You must live on the boat, test the boat, break the boat, fix the boat, tweak the boat, and sail the boat in all weather conditions to really get to know her and see how she ‘really’ performs.

We can sail reasonably well to the wind (35deg apparent), easily tick off 200+NM days with 15kts+ of wind, click off 150+NM days in 10-15kts - all at a various points of sail.

After sailing over 5,500 nautical miles we can confidently say we are very pleased with Field Trip and the ‘Over the Horizon’ support from Antares. We wouldn’t own another type of catamaran. Period (well, maybe the 66ft Gunboat - grin).

Conclusion


Would I do 2 again for a long passage? You bet. Would I do 2 knowing weather is forward of beam for most of trip? Nope. No need to check that box again.

We have 1,500 NM miles left before we get to the US. We are creating a mini documentary of this last leg of our trip to the US. Stay tuned.....

St. Lucia at last! - "Between the Pitons"

Comments

  1. Envious Mark. Not only of what you and your family are doing, but also your inspiration to all of us to not let life pass us by.

    David K.

    ReplyDelete

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