We have now accepted the insurance company's settlement offer. Although it only covers about 50% of the damages sustained during the lightning strike and other major expenses incurred, I decided it would be best to settle the matter. We sustained lightning strike damages and submitted our insurance claim some 15 months ago and it has been a major struggle to reach a settlement. Failing this, the next step would have been to issue summons and due to the substantial amounts involved, the matter would be heard in the High Supreme Court. This would be a extremely lengthy and very costly exercise - and probably with no clear winner at the end of the court case. So although we did not get everything we believe we should have, the settlement will go a long way towards getting the repairs done.
It's lonely out here! So please comment as we love to hear from you.
The workers in Trinidad have now completed the charcoal colour coats of paint to the hull and they are now busy flattening these coats of paint - sanding it with a very fine grid sandpaper. This is a required process for the three clear coats of paint which needs to be spray painted on top of the charcoal base. The three clear coats will create a deep lustre in the finished paint work and help protect the charcoal base.
Once the clear coat have been applied, Garth Walker will apply the anti skid paint on the deck. This is detailed work and requires a lot of careful masking to paint the anti skid patterns over the entire deck. To minimize heat absorption, we opted to do the anti skid in a light grey colour - white and black paint mixed in a 9 to 1 ratio.
We have to postpone and delay our world cruise indefinitely for another day as I have to return to South Africa once again. Due to Britsie's ill health and recent developments with our previous company, I have to return and see what can be done to manage the company. Flights are already booked and I will land in Johannesburg this coming Monday morning. We will then meet the people who bought the business from us and discuss the way forward.
Quite frankly, we do not have any desire to become landlubbers nor business owners again and will surely miss our life on the water. Revelations will go into long term storage here in Chaguaramas, Trinidad and hopefully it will not be too long before we can return and resume our world cruise.
Pursuant to a lighting strike on Revelations, we started getting quotes for all the repair work to be done. The list was long as most of the electronic and some of the electrical equipment was rendered useless. These quotes were submitted to the insurance company and they duly appointed a assessor to assist in this matter. I was hoping that the insurance claim would all be done and dusted at the end of our one month trip back home. But not so fast; the assessor now wants more other suppliers to look at the work and give their opinions. This will now cause further delays in getting the ball rolling and repairing all the damage.
After a hectically busy time in South Africa, I'm back on board Revelations here in Trinidad. Sue is still in South Africa and will hopefully fly back here within the next three weeks. I say "hopefully" as there has been a number of developments. Britsie, her father is critically ill in the hospital's intensive care unit. The latest setback is that his one lung collapsed and he can't breath on his own. He will undergo an operation tomorrow morning and as it is, he is very weak and frail. In his current condition, the operation is very risky and we can only pray for the best outcome.
Whilst we were in South Africa, we launched an urgent High Court action against the people who bought our company. We were successful in our application, the judge gave us our company back and there is a high possibility that we have to delay our world cruise and return to South Africa and manage the company.
So instead of having a nice break, meeting friends and family, we had a hectic time. We mostly ran around meeting with attorneys and advocates preparing for the court case - the remainder of the time, worrying and visiting Britsie in hospital. So there is a high possibility that Sue will remain in South Africa and not return to Revelations soon.
We left Cabedelo on the outgoing tide at around 09H00 and slowly motored down the river to the open sea - yacht Entheos not far behind us. As we got near the harbour mouth the the water started changing to a milky green colour and there was a slight swell. We motored for about 2 nautical miles off shore before first raising the main sail and then unfurling the jib - then setting the course north east away from the coast. We easily and quickly settled into the sailing routine and by day two, we were in good sailing rhythm and mode.
Sue would do the 18H00 to 24H00 hour shift allowing me to get some sleep and I would do the 24H00 to 06H00 shift. From 06H00 to around 09H00, Sue would steer the yacht whilst I catch a nap for a couple of hours and I would then take over until 18H00 allowing Sue time to take care of other yacht duties, prepare food and also take a break. It is hard work for two people alone to sail a big yacht like Revelations and it was tiring. For the first 5 days we had some good winds, mostly between 10 and 18 knots and we made good progress - on some days in excess of 180 nautical miles.
After rounding the corner of Brazil, now heading almost a straight line to French Guiana, we considered stopping at Forteleza and get the B&G technicians located in Salvador to come and fix the problematic auto pilot. After discussing this amongst ourselves for a while, we radioed Entheos about our intentions to which they indicated that it was a good consideration. As we got nearer to Forteleza, we realized that whilst we would enter the marina before sunset, Entheos who was some 20 nautical miles behind us would only arrive after dark and given all the problems (theft, break-ins, crime, etc.), this was not a good situation. This would mean that Entheos will have to anchor outside the marina and only enter in daylight the following day. It is whilst anchoring where almost all the yachts calling at Forteleza gets robbed and often get beaten up in the process by armed men. Sue and I then agreed to rather sail all the way to French Guiana and to skip Forteleza all together. I once again radioed Entheos to notify them of this problem, but whilst detailing the Forteleza problem to Bertie, he interrupted and out of nowhere announced that they intended sailing to a place called "Lencois" on the northern Brazil coast and stay there for about five days. Considering the several months we waited for them to get their yacht repaired whilst in Salvadore, this unilateral announcement came as a surprise. But we were happy with this new situation as there has been a number of incidents, under lying tensions and disagreements between us, best not dwelled upon - this meant that we could now finally forge ahead on our own.
We then changed course by some 20 degrees more northwards, headed for deeper water and a straight line to French Guiana. Contrary to the weather predictions, the wind was on our starboard beam and we had to drop the spinnaker and raise the main sail and unfurl the jib. We had some good speed runs and for the first 3 days we covered 160 to 190 nautical miles per day. As we got near the equator, the wind shifted and substantial dropped in speed - we were clearly entering the renown doldrums. We raised the spinnaker again and were content with the much slower pace - we were still making good boat speed in relation to the wind speed. At night, squalls (rain clouds) would overtake us and the wind speed would then increase dramatically - from a mundane 7 knots it would increase to 15 to 18 knots. For an hour or so each time, things would get a bit hectic as the boat speed increase accordingly and everything was wet.
On a dark moon less and cloudy night, on the radar we saw another squall approaching us and I went through the usual preparations - close all the hatches, pack all the loose item in the cockpit away, put on our foul weather gear to prevent me from getting drenched. But as I found out later, this squall was very different and much more powerful than all the other squalls. The wind speed increased as expected, it went to 9 knots for a couple of minutes - steadily increasing to what I expected at around 18 knots. When the squall was directly overhead, the wind speed rapidly accelerated to 25 knots! That was when things started to really get hectic on Revelations - Sue was asleep and with the autopilot not working, I was at the helm working hard to keep the yacht on course. Unable to leave the helm to either call Sue to come and help or drop the spinnaker, all I could due was steer Revelations on a course where the full force of the wind had the least effect on the spinnaker. I managed this for around 10 minutes, but then the wind increased yet again - now blowing 30 knots and gusting close to 35 knots. It was during one of these gusts that all hell broke loose - the spinnaker exploded with a loud bang and were crazily flapping around in the wind. The already lumpy seas where whipped up in a state of confusion, it was pouring buckets of rain and the wind was howling - it took us an hour to lower the remains of the spinnaker, sort out the entangled sheets on the front deck and stow everything away. That was the end of our beloved spinnaker - a mistake on my part for under estimating the power of the squall.
So it was back to the mainsail and jib, although we did not loose much boat speed it was not as easy steering Revelations as it was with the spinnaker. We sailed like this for another two days and then the topping lift (the sheet holding the boom up) broke. This did not effect anything much as the fully deployed main sail was holding the boom up. The remaining piece of the topping lift coming out on top of the mast entangled itself around one of the shrouds, this meant that it would not fall back down the mast and it would be easy to later run a new sheet through the mast back to the boom. We sailed like this for several days doing a mundane 4 to 5 knot in boat speed. Whilst the boom was swinging around occasionally in typical sailing fashion, I noticed that the base of the mast would move slightly every time the boom would come up short. I have never seen the mast doing this before, this was disconcerting and I decided to drop the main sail and proceed sailing with the jib only. Again, we did not loose much speed with only the jib powering Revelations and everything seemed alright. But two days later, when I looked up the mast, I noticed that the remaining topping lift untangled itself and fell down in the mast - so now we have a piled up sheet within the mast. I tried pulling out from the base of the mast - but it is stuck and any further pulling will probably caused additional damage.
We encountered a strange magnetic anomaly close the French Guiana continental shelve. The compass completely swung upside down - North now pointed to South and vice verse. For around an hour or so, we were stumped by all of this, with the chart plotter saying one thing and the compass saying the opposite - clearly something was badly wrong. But what is wrong, which instrument was incorrect and which one was correct or were they both wrong. In the middle of the night, overcast and with no moon causing complete darkness, unable to see land and take bearings - for awhile we felt completely lost. I was rattled and was quite concerned that we might be sailing to some unknown destination. We brought Revelations to lie a hull , now virtually standing still and drifting with the current, I rigged up a portable GPS device and connected it to my laptop and navigation software. That was when we found out that the compass was totally incorrect and that the now North was actually South. With this new found knowledge, we made a couple of mental adjustments and continued sailing - this time without taking much notice of the compass. Some 80 nautical miles later, the compass slowly swung to the correct heading and a couple of hours later, things went back to normal. But it was a strange and new experience - feeling completely lost.
Still three days away from Ilse du Salut, the port engine started using water. At first, I thought that the water pump sprung a leak due to a worn out bearing. So I filled the inter cooler up with fresh water - but one day later, the warning light once again came on. Upon closer inspection, I found oil within the inter cooler and this meant serious trouble - oil in the water cooling system and water in the lubricating oil. We shut the port engine down and for the rest of the voyage only used the starboard engine. We finally sailed into French Guiana waters and a day later tide up at a floating buoy at the Isle du Salut. We now have an extensive list of repairs to be done when we reach Trinidad & Tobago - although I will try and get the starboard engine overhauled whilst we are here.
Entheos managed to get their US visas and collected them at the US Consulate this afternoon. So we all plan on departing Recife tomorrow sometime in the afternoon. Our next port of call is Cabedelo about 60 to 70 nautical miles north from here. We will sailing 10 to 15 nautical off the coast due to fishing boats, nets, other potential problems and hazards. We will therefore sail around 90 nautical miles and should be there sometime late Friday morning. Once we arranged internet access, we will post here again - cheers until then.
Sailing under spinnaker, we did around 11 knots with the wind almost directly from behind at around 15 to 18 knots. The waves were also coming from behind – about at 4 and 5 o’clock. All of a sudden, from this direction a big wave passed under the yacht lifting the starboard stern, the port bow dug deep into the water and with this, Revelations started surfing the wave doing over 15 knots and then started to broach to starboard. The yacht leaned over at one hell of an angle and for a couple of seconds it felt as if she was going to capsize. The starboard hull was clear out of the water and the autopilot was not quick enough to counter act by steering to port. By the time I sprung into action disengaging the autopilot and to steer to port, it was all over and the yacht correct herself. That was quite close! Too close! Next time around, when doing those speeds and with waves coming from that direction, I will have a drag device in the water.
With my somewhat incapacitating injuries, we decided to head back to the bay of Salvador and once again visit Itaparica for the weekend. We motored out of Enseada de Garapua bay and after some distance from the shore, we turned north and once again headed towards Salvador. We raised the spinaker and within a couple of minutes adjusting the sail for optimum performance, we were sailing at 11 knots in 14 knots of wind. Although the sea state was rough and choppy from the strong winds the previous evening, it felt exhilirating and good to be on the move again.
We have been moored at Terminal Nautico Da Bahia in Salvador, Brazil for just over a month now attending to a range of issues such as repairs, breakages, medical (dentist) issues, stocking up, re-organizing and resting. The marina is kind of OK but certainly not idyllic in any sense - to the contrary, it is dirty, noisy and located in the old business district next to the commercial harbor. Despite these drawbacks it is without question the most central location to moor in Salvador with suppliers a short hop by taxi all around us. Here are a lot of youth delinquents and other riff raff hanging around the area making it unsafe to venture out at night. To date, barring going shopping for supplies and hardware, we have not really explored or seen much of Salvador or it's surrounding areas. The internet situation here is really bad and at time it takes hours to just download a couple of emails. We have also been talking to suppliers back home in South Africa as we need to import some goods.
We have slowly been gearing up and getting ready for the next leg of our voyage. Now fully stocked with food supplies and with most of the essential repairs done, Revelations is ready to go. But Entheos is still struggling getting the critical engine parts before she can take on the open ocean. So we are all kind of stuck for the time being waiting for parts to be imported and then still to be fixed. This will give us the time to also courier some goods we need from Brent in Cape Town. we anticipate that everything will be sorted within the next 2 to 4 weeks and we will then depart sailing up the Brazilian coast to our next port of call which is Recife - a sailing distance of around 400 nautical miles.
Here is a picture of Terminal Nautico Da Bahia - can you spot Revelations?
Some of the places we intend visiting have high bridges spanning the waters under which we will have to pass, so it is imperative to know our mast height to ensure we have adequate clearance. So Joe hoisted me up the mast and I lowered a long piece of string from the top of the mast down to the deck. Pulling the string tight, he then made a mark on the string which we measured later and found that the mast was 19 meters in length. We then measured 1.7 meters from the base of the mast to the waterline - this give us a total mast height of 20.7 meters. The means we can effectively pass under bridges with a height clearance of 21 meters and above. Bridge height clearances are indicated on navigation charts but one has to be mindful that the heights specified are at low water datums - one therefor have to subtract the height of the tide to work out the actual clearance. Failing this, there is a risk that the top of the mast will collide with the bridge probably causing extensive damage to the mast. So here I am hanging from a rope at the top of the mast some 20 meters up in the air. So whilst I was up there, I took some pictures and video.
We did not sail non-stop to Salvador, Brazil - we also had lots of fun along the way. We deployed the dive boards, made a rope bridle which we attached to the yacht, cruising at around 5 knots - we went dive boarding. We video recorded several of these episodes - this one, the camera (GoPro) was turned upside down and we think the video result is quite unusual. Hope you enjoy it as much as we did!
The internet speed here is Salvador is beyond slow! It takes more than 30 minutes to download a simple text email of around 200 words! So whilst the marina's wifi is down, it is an uphill struggle to get anything done on the website. So although we have stuff to share with you all, it takes forever to get it posted - for example, this video took no less than 7 hours to upload. Then during this time, we had to start over afresh a number of times as the connection was broken.
Anyway, enough bitching! Here is a video of Revelations sailing in the mid Atlantic ocean. The wind was around 8 knots, the sun was shining, the ocean was an amazing blue and the visibility in excess of 50 meters under water. Hope you enjoy! (Near the end of the video, on the upper right side of the video, look for the small fish swimming along with Revelations)