North to Ascension

We made the decision to continue from St Helena to Ascension Island rather than carry on with the World ARC to Salvador. There were many reasons for this. For me there were three key reasons; first it was a shorter route to the north of Brazil and meant we could much better break the journey up en route - great for those that get seasick; second, and probably more importantly, we could fly to Brazil’s Salvador any time we liked, but not so to Ascension Island where there are no commercial flights; third, Salvador held no appeal whatsoever, it’s a city and why would someone like me trade that for an unknown remote island? Meanwhile from a sailing perspective, Matt liked the route as it avoided the few hundred miles of sailing against the wind up the coast of Brazil and gave us good downwind sailing north. Not going to argue with that!

As it turned out we weren’t the only ones thinking this way. Mad Monkey (UK mono with Mark, Helen and son Josh), Cayuse (USA cat with Hal, Marsha, Hayley and Matt), Smoke and Roses (USA cat with Dan and Agnes), and Aurora Polaris (Norwegian mono with Tjere, Pia, Helen and Martin), all of whom had also stopped in Namibia, made the same decision. We were now five, and we named ourselves the Gobows (greyed out bunch of wanderers). This, because the WARC had greyed us out on their tracker!!

Happy to have had longer in St Helena than we would have had if we carried on with the WARC , I was still sad to leave. However, we set sail on our 700NM, five day journey in light winds and under quite dramatic grey skies. This was soon to turn to a beautiful day and stunning sunset, where I managed to get a couple of pics of Cayusse as they literally ‘sailed off into the sunset!’

Cayuse sail into the sunset….

Cayuse sail into the sunset….

With a downwind sail, we had planned to use the spinnaker, which we’d had mended in St Helena, but found that it had been rolled upside down. Unwilling to risk putting it up, we put out the Code Zero instead. This was going terribly smoothly until late afternoon when we heard something PIIING, then THUDDD!

On deck right by the mast, we found two halves of a bolt that had sheared off. Using my zoom lens I took shots of all the bolts on the mast and spreaders, but we couldn’t pin it down. That was the end of us using the Code Zero - too risky not knowing exactly what was happening up the mast!

The bolt from that ‘PING-THUD!’

The bolt from that ‘PING-THUD!’

While sailing we had a scheduled radio net every day with the Gobows. We decided before we set sail that we would do a daily trivia quiz as well for a bit of fun. Each boat gave out tow or three questions, and 20 minutes later we re-grouped to give our answers. It was a load of fun and broke the afternoon up nicely while we racked our brains for good questions and for the answers. Try some questions:

  1. How many stripes on the US flag and what do they represent?

  2. What is the name of the furthest town from the sea in UK?

  3. What are the colours of the Azores courtesy flag?

  4. What are the four lobes of the brain?

  5. What is the name of the person that invented the flushing toilet?

  6. Colombus discovered Grenada in 1848; what did he name it?

  7. What are the rodents on Devils Island called?

  8. What is the name of the first island Napoleon was prisoner on, before he was moved to St Helena?

  9. How many flags has Texas been ruled under, and what are they?

  10. What is the name of the star closest to earth excluding the sun?

  11. What are the names of the two egg-laying mammals?

  12. Name four capital cities beginning with W.

Ok - you get the idea. We had a lot of fun over that each day!

Final hours to Ascension - we had to motor!

Final hours to Ascension - we had to motor!

As it got hotter, the winds got messier for the next couple of days with 30-40° angle changes happening in seconds - but it kept us on our toes. I wasn’t on my toes enough though the next day, wrapping the spinnaker pole around the staysail line!! Good one Syd - that’s the end of poleing out for the rest of the journey! It’s going to be interesting to see what we can do with that on Ascension Island.

Our last few hours at sea we lost the wind altogether and had to motor. We could see Ascension in the distance as it got dark, and made our way in at midnight, me up at the bow using the spotlight to ensure we avoided the unlit fishing boats and large pipeline that Hal on Cayuse had warned us was there. Being a speedy cat with downwind sailing they had made it in daylight so we were lucky to have their warnings and help getting in.

Nearly there!

Nearly there!

Sunset over Ascension as we come in - position as per the chart pic to the left

Sunset over Ascension as we come in - position as per the chart pic to the left

On waking this morning after a short sleep, this is what we saw………..

Ascension you look fascinating!

First sights of Ascension the morning after our midnight arrival

First sights of Ascension the morning after our midnight arrival

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