Toward Caribbean for the second time
If we should keep the possibility to choose the cold way back home via Greenland, Iceland and maybe Svalbard, we could not stay too long at Ascension Island. If we were going to sail north, we should sail across the North Atlantic before autumn was too close. During the first week underway from Ascension, we finally managed to make the plan for it to be ”the northerly route” back to Norway.
During the first week we also decided to aim directly for Martinique in the Caribbean. We would have loved to visit Barbados and we would have loved to see Tobago again, the two other alternatives we had considered, but we felt that we had to prioritize. Making too many stops on our way north could easily make too much autumn – giving too much “interesting” weather – when we were ready to cross the North Atlantic Ocean eastward from Greenland or southward from Svalbard/Spitsbergen. In addition we knew that our friend Bosse in s/y Sawubona – whom we got to know when we sailed around Cape Horn – was waiting in Martinique. Last we enjoyed Bosse`s company was when he visited us in Australia (by pane) after Eirik was born.
Almost unproblematic voyage
The first two weeks of the voyage toward Caribbean, which we believed would take us about three weeks, was a quick sail in steady trade winds. First after we had passed south of the Archipelago Fernando de Noronha, the wind became more unstable. The only problem these first two weeks – a problem that stayed with us all the way to Caribbean – was the lack of fishing luck. We did not manage to get one single fish on board. Most often the line snapped or the hook broke. With one occasion the fishing rood broke after fighting with the fish for 45 minutes. That there is fish in the South Atlantic we do know. The animals we caught on the hook were probably of the bigger ones. Looking back we probably should have replaced our fishing line with new line when we were in South Africa…
After arriving in Martinique, one of the first things we did was to buy new fishing lines. To be absolutely sure we also bought a “bullet proof” line, good for 900 pounds, that we could put into action next time we met trouble makers. Right on to the head sail winch should do it!!!
Around the world
Just before we passed south of Fernando de Noronha and altered the course more north toward Caribbean, we crossed our own wake – from when we sailed south from Fernando de Noronha toward Brazil in 2006. To sail around the world was never the actual goal for our long sailing voyage, it is more a result of the sailed route. Of course it was fun to cross our own wake – and of course we had a celebration on board!!! One round around took 44957 nautical miles and almost 6 years.
More to celebrate
A few days after the first celebration we crossed the Equator – for the fourth time since we departed Oslo in 2005. Coincidence made the Equator crossing day also to be Eirik`s 3-years birthday, Marius’ 1-year Christening day and Heidi`s and Eivind`s 1-year wedding anniversary – the day was 4. March 2012!
Almost rig over board
One evening after sunset a few days after the celebrations we heard a strange noise. At first we did not manage to find the source of the noise, but settled thinking it was something that had fallen over in the cockpit. The following morning Eivind was woken with the words – “NOW I KNOW WHAT MADE THAT NOISE…!!!” Eivind understood the seriousness of Heidi`s wakeup call and rushed up on deck. The rig was still standing but with an ugly bend in the area near the upper spreaders. The noise we heard the evening before was the intermediate shroud from the lower spreader to the upper spreader on the windward side that broke!!!
Luckily – the rig was still standing! With the greatest carefulness we secured the mast as good as possible with running back stays, check stays and spare halyards and spinnaker pole lift before we lowered the main sail. The rig had kept standing upright all night, but we could impossibly know how much more it would take before eventually ending its life on the bottom of the ocean…
With the rig temporarily secured and with the main sail on the boom Eivind climbed the rig with a “new” old intermediate shroud. First up to the upper spreader to put the shroud in to its hole in the rig there, then down to the lower spreader to connect the shroud with the turnbuckle on the tip of that spreader. The ocean was far from a mirror during the “exercise”… With the “new” intermediate shroud in place the rig immediately looked much better. We could hoist the main sail, and the crew could breath normally again.
Maybe it was the running backstays/check stays not in use but in such a position that they took the load when the intermediate shroud broke, or maybe it was because we were sailing with the main triple reefed, or maybe a combination of these – that was the reason to why the rig did not fall. The true answer to that question we will never know, but we felt lucky to sail on without any troubles!!!
The reason to why the intermediate shroud broke is probably that the rigger in New Zealand bent the terminal to get the right angle, when we replaced the standing rigging in Opua in 2008. We had sailed about 30000 nautical miles since then, but the Captain is pretty convinced that bending a terminal is not a very clever thing to do…
New intermediate shrouds on its way
With the rig back in a straight line we ordered new intermediate shrouds from Selden in Sweden via satellite email. Heidi`s parents were going to sign on board in Martinique and had available space in their luggage. Of course it would have been possible to manufacture new intermediate shrouds also in Martinique, but with the help from Selden we did not have to think more about that matter. Excellent!
Champagne, Cheese and baguettes
Since last we enjoyed Bosse of Sawubona`s company he had sailed his yacht from Uruguay in South America to Cape Town in South Africa together with a friend, before he singlehanded sailed directly from Cape Town to Martinique!!! What a voyage. But as Bosse said – “I had to try singlehanded, to find out if I could carry on alone, or if I had to find crew to do further sailing…”
When we sailed in toward Cul de Sac du Marin in Martinique we were looking forward to meet Bosse again. We tried to sneak our way close in on Sawubona to drop Heidi unannounced aboard when we discovered Sawubona anchored in the bay. Too bad Bosse discovered our attempt to surprise him when we were 15 meters away. Bosse had good stuff ready for the welcome party! Champagne, cheese, baguettes, fresh fruit – in addition to sweets to Marius and Eirik. What a welcome!! We had long and pleasant early late morning with reunion!
In Cul de Sac du Marin most things were like before, like when we visited the place in 2006. But checking in and out had become much easier. When we visited the Customs office we were placed in front of a pc – and a few seconds later we were given the clearing papers. It should have been that easy all over the world…
The week until Heidi`s parents arrived in Martinique passed quickly. With more than 5000 nautical miles sailed since Cape Town in January we had a few maintenance projects to do on Empire. We also helped Bosse preparing Sawubona for the hurricane season on land on her own. The Captain himself was planning to enjoy Sweden through the summer.
When Heidi’s parents and Peder (Eivind`s son) arrived in Martinique, we first “delivered” Bosse at the Departures at the airport. He was going to fly toward Scandinavia with same plane which Heidi`s parents and Peder arrived. With our family well installed on board we hoisted the anchor and set the course toward the bay just outside Cul de Sac du Marin. There our Danish friends in s/y Exabyte and our German friends in s/y Blue Callalloo waited to celebrate Peder`s 10 years birthday...