05.04.09 – joyous trades to Cayenne


a morning's collection

a morning’s collection

Today is sunny with an easier, steady NE trade allowing dry decks. We still have some fruit – pineapples, melons to go.

Trade wind sailing. We haven’t touched the sails for 4 days now, except for playing the mainsheet. Aries is totally at home as we lope along at 7 knots with dry decks. We are doing a steady 8-9 over the ground thanks to a wonderful current. There is a mesmerising interplay between sound and movement. The rush of the seas down the port side, the settling noises of unhappy locker contents, familiar creaks from the Walder boom brake, the grunt of mainsheet block, the occasional thump of a sea on the starboard bow. The motion is easier but there is still more NE swell than our wind can account for. We surge forward in the puffs and there is harmony in the complex motions of swell, sea and heel.

We have stopped counting hours, miles and degrees. Time is again suspended. Until now this pleasure has been just a distant memory.

We’re finally out of Brazil territorial waters. I am not sad, although the memories are very rich. Samba, manioc, camaraon and bean stews – ciao, ciao.

Dawn today was lovely as always. Cool, fresh, filled with promise. Delicate tangerine sky Turner would be proud of. So different from the Salvador marina misery. A pleasure to do the morning rounds – pick the flying fish off the deck (could we fry them, do you think?), oil our trusty Aires, check boat bits and pieces, drop my reworked metamucil over the bow, put on the coffee and wake D. He slept all night with my blessing. For once, he was just tired I think. His chronic cough is better. Now he’s steering and we’re ghosting along in a zephyr. We’re in from the ocean and the water’s turned khaki. We may have to dawdle around off the bar tonight because our charts are old and it is a shallow and difficult entrance. We’ll see.

After slopping about with slatting sails and no wind, a magical NW breeze appeared at lunch time and gave us a fast smooth reach into the Cayenne approach. A magnificent frigate bird hovered overhead and terns came by to inspect Tainui. Extensive shoals and a 2 knot cross-current would have made this approach a more anxious one without GPS. With only 5 metres under our keel I shudder to think what it would be like in strong onshore winds.

Sighted Petit Cometible Island at 1130, picked up the dazzling sectored leading light and as darkness fell we motored into the excellently lit channel. In warm, soft drizzle we tied up at the jetty at 8pm and by 9.30 I was in bed with Pletnev’s Scriabin. Blissful sleep.

As always, the sudden absence of noise and motion comes as a shock, a very welcome one. You feel you have to whisper.

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