05.02.09 – from good to bad and back again

Funny how a small thing can change your day. The unsolicited hug from an errant daughter does wonders. So it is with Tainui. When she picks up her skirts and flies, our moods do likewise. We have been beating N along the coast past Macae – short offshore tacks and then long, oblique hauls right in onto the beach. My gift last night was a 20 degree wind shift, which allowed us to sail along the coast without tacking, effectively shortening our journey by 30 percent. A bland night, shorts and T shirts in the cockpit, brilliant moonlight, calm seas and 22 knots of breeze. We danced and surged along at 7 knots, all 16 tons of us. The rush of the seas was truly mesmeric and the boat beautifully balanced, steering herself unaided under full sail. I wish her owner had such balance and could steer himself unaided. I realise Tainui is the only yacht beyond which I have had no dreams of a next, better one. I have no wish for any other boat.

Now swallow those words John! By 4 am we were being tossed around in one of nature’s special washing machines – the shallow chaotic waters off Cape Sao Tome. A long and very shallow bank extends 10 miles offshore at this corner of Brazil. We split our mainsail from luff to leech and are motoring ever so slowly round the bank in steep confused seas. We have a fresh wind and no steadying sail. Everything is wet and glistening. Great gouts of spray slap us in the face. There is nothing to do now except hang on, vomit, curse and wait till for sun to appear. We’re motoring at 2.6 knots. It was an old sail, ready for another suicide attempt. I think it may have succeeded this time. We have a spare on board, so it is not the end of the world, just another pain in the arse to deal with. We will need shelter to sort the new one out. And the first shelter is 80 miles up current and up wind.

We’re getting a bit sick of this.


Shouldn’t get depressed though because it is a sunny day and the seas have eased a good deal. Brazil’s knobbly coastline is a soft silhouette 25 miles to our left – an endless succession of Glasshouse Mountains. On our right we see empty ocean, although on radar there is clearly much activity further offshore – the oil rigs. I saw one early this morning but there are lots of them out there.

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