It has been quite a while since my last post. I would like to blame slow internet and lack of time but it is actually due to laziness and unwillingness to write. Sorry about that.
I am currently in Chaguaramas, Trinidad. Arkona II is on the hard for the second time since my last post. This time it is for long term storage. Just outside Chaguaramas I crossed my own path which means I have sailed around the world. I will fly from here to Sweden. Arkona II is now for sale so let me know if you are interested in buying her.
After my last post I received the cylinder heads on Reunion and left for South Africa as soon as I had put the engine back together. There was talk about tropical storms developing so even though we did not have a lot of wind we decided that it was better to make a little bit of distance than to stay and make no distance. It did not go too bad. It took us 19 days to sail about 1500nm which is slow but we did not end up in any really bad weather. At one point we had around 30 knots of wind from behind with quite big waves but averaged 3.5 knots. This was just south of Madagascar where the current is not supposed to be eastbound. It was however and also the hull was very dirty. Considering how much time people spent talking about weather windows when leaving Reunion we thought it might get rough at some point. But it did not. The last day before arriving in Durban was a bit worrying though. In the morning I got a weather update from my father saying it would be northeasterly winds for a few days. When approaching the Aghulas current that is exactly what you want. The “freak waves” that can occur there are due to the strong southbound current with strong southwesterly winds. Apparently the waves can get up to 20 meters high and be very much like a wall. In the afternoon the barometer and the turning of the wind told us that there might be a southwest gale coming. I contacted my father again and the forecast said that it was supposed to be southwesterly winds until morning. Not to strong but up to 25 knots. This would not have been a problem if it was not for the fact that we were in the area where the Aghulas is supposed to be strongest. The exact area we did not want to be in. It is at the 200m contour line. We had around 3 knots of current when the wind started changing so it was good but we decided not to closer to shore in case the current was stronger there. It turned out fine and we sailed downwind (pointing north) with only a bit of genoa and still made it south by a couple of knots. In the morning the wind turned back and we headed for Durban again. Only problem was that we went to close to land and managed to find the counter-current which is northbound. So just like the whole Indian Ocean we were going very slowly.
Being so late we though the marina in Durban would be empty. It was full. There had not been a good weather window to go from Durban to East London in three weeks. Most yachts that we had seen on Reunion were still in Durban. We had to anchor which was not very nice because we had winds of up to 40 knots from southwest sometimes and the anchorage was not protected from that direction. Fortunately we had good holding and could spend Christmas ashore with the other sailors. It was nice.
Pierre signed off in Durban and I did not have another crew coming to join me. Durban to East London is not the best leg to start sailing alone. Fortunately a French boat named Amasia with four young guys arrived just before New Year. They are the first people to sail around the world with an electric engine. Check out Eco Sailing Project if you are interested. Since they were having two guests joining them to Cape Town two of their crew (Pierre and François) decided to help me out instead. I also tagged along for a trip to see the wildlife of South Africa. It was awesome. We saw the big five and some other nice animals. Rhinos are fat. Hippos are fatter.
We left Durban on a Monday. The plan was to go to Port Elisabeth in one go but we did not make in the weather window we had. We did about 10-11 knots most of the way because of the Aghulas current so I can see why southwesterly winds should be avoided. We stopped in East London for a couple of days instead. East London was not a very nice place. It was even more segregated than Durban. And Durban was bad. The people at the marina office in Durban sent us to a mall to go to an ATM. It took about 15 minutes by taxi and there were only white people there. There was an ATM just across the street from the marina but they did not consider it safe. There was also a kind of police station just next to the marina so I have a hard time believing anyone would try anything in that area. However, the white women working in the marina office gave me the impression that they would not get out of their car with black people around. And East London seemed worse.
The good thing about East London was that I managed to buy 10 liters of antifouling for about 100 euro. In Reunion they sold 7.5 liters for 700 euro.
After East London we had a long window which took us all the way to Cape Town. We had a really nice trip and no funny business past Cape Aghulas or around Cape of Good Hope. It was really nice getting back in the Atlantic Ocean. The first day in the Atlantic was more exciting than the whole Indian Ocean. We saw whales, seals and lots of fish and birds. I did not see one whale in the entire Indian Ocean. I can understand the whales though because the Indian Ocean sucks.
When we approached Cape Town the wind started picking up. We arrived in the afternoon which is not recommended. The last five miles we had gusts of up to 60 knots. The plan was to go to Royal Cape Yacht Club (RCYC) but when we entered the second harbor basin we stopped moving forward. Fortunately we got directed to V&A marina where the wind was not as strong. Since I knew there were small swing bridges involved in getting there I was very sceptic. I also knew we would have the wind from the side when passing them. It turned out OK anyway and we got a well-deserved beer before the sun set.
In Cape Town I hauled out to clean the hull. The crane in RCYC broke down quite often and when it worked the wind was usually too strong for them to operate it. This meant it took a couple of weeks extra to get it done. With 20 cm to go when Arkona II was going back into the water, the crane broke down again. After a few hours they decided to cut the slings.
I had a very good time in Cape Town. Together with Pierre and François I walked up to and across Table Mountain. We also went to Robben Island to see the prison were Nelson Mandela was held.
I cleared out on a Friday. I was going to leave on Saturday but then I met the people on Obelisk and Miramis. I met Jesse on Obelisk in Cocos Keeling but I had only heard of Miramis and “the other Swedish guy”. The Swedish guy was Conny and he is sailing with his Japanese wife Mai. Jesse was accompanied by James and Natalia (who I also met in Cocos) and his father Herb. Instead of leaving on Saturday I got delayed until Monday.
I and Miramis left at the same time heading for St. Helena. It started out fine for the first night. After that I managed to get two waves straight on the laptop I use for navigation and break my two autopilots within two days. After spending a whole night trying to fix the autopilots I took down the sails and went to sleep. When I slept I still had to get up every 15-20 minutes to look for ships. Fortunately I found the problem with my main autopilot after a few hours of sleep. When I took my spare autopilot apart two electronic components fell out from the control unit.
Contrary to what I thought would happen I did not start talking to myself for several days. I did however talk a lot to the waves, autopilots and assorted deities. Often in a loud voice with words I should not repeat here.
Sailing on my own was fairly easy. A lot of times along the way we have had inexperienced crew so I was used to do most of the stuff alone. The watch keeping was the only thing I was a bit worried about. The AIS does not work properly (it sometimes stops sending) and I do not have the battery capacity to use the radar all night. I started out sleeping 15 minutes at a time. Getting up to check for ships and checking the wind. I thought this would be very exhausting and my backup plan was to start the engine for a few hours now and then so I could use the radar. This was never necessary. After a few nights I started sleeping for 20 minute intervals instead. Mostly because there was no traffic and when there was a ship I could see it for more than 20 minutes before it got close. I still thought I would get tired after a while but I felt good after about 8-10 hours of sleep every day.
It took 15 days to St. Helena. It was a nice trip. I did not go insane.
St. Helena is very relaxed and calm compared to Cape Town which was very welcome. The people are very friendly. It was nice to get back to the island mentality where everyone says “hi” and wave to each other on the street.
I arrived on St. Helena just a day after Miramis so I spent a lot of time with them. The water was really clear and warm compared to South Africa so we did a lot of snorkeling. We also went to see the house Napoleon spent his last years in and of course the tomb where he was buried.
The highlights of St. Helena were the whale sharks. I have been looking forward to swimming with these massive creatures for the whole trip. We had the luck of seeing two of them. One stayed with us for the whole time we were there. According to the experts it was 8 meters long. It was quite hard to keep up with her pace even though she barely moved her body. Amazing creatures.
Once again I cleared out on a Friday. Once again Obelisk arrived and I did not leave until Monday. We know now who the “evil companions” are.
The leg to Salvador took 16 days and was fairly uneventful. I did not catch a single fish. I had a big marlin on the hook but I lost it. I also had a small mahi-mahi that I managed to release (it was too small) but I did not catch a single fish.
The weather was steady and nice.
Arriving in Salvador felt good. A new continent and having crossed an ocean by myself. Clearing in was not fun though. Since I arrived at around 07:00 I thought I would be able to clear in before lunch. The taxi driver dropped me off at the customs office instead of immigration which I did not realize. The people working there saw that I needed to go to immigration but they did not speak English. I had to wait 30 minutes before a women arrived who could tell me to go the right office. I walked for about 10 minutes and then asked a security guard for directions. He sent me back the way I came. I found another place to ask. They sent me past the first place. Then I got sent back again. This time to a fourth place. They tried to send me in the other direction again. I almost gave up but went back to the customs office. They drew me a map. I went to that place (which was the second place I visited before). They sent me on to the first place I visited. The security guard I first talked to let me in and showed me to the immigration office. I had been walking back and forth for 1 hour 45 minutes. In the sun. I should also mention that you have to wear pants and proper shoes when you visit these places. After immigration I went back to customs. They had lunch. For 2.5 hours. The cold beer I had after that was one of the best ever. I have never heard of anyone else having problem clearing in but they gave me a hard time.
I had a really good time in Salvador. Obelisk arrived (surprisingly since they were not going to Brazil when I last talked to them). Two of my cousins (Sebastian and Filip) arrived the day after Obelisk. We all went to Morro de Sao Paulo with the boats which was awesome.
We also met a Swedish guy named Göran who took me and my cousins fishing with his boat. We did not have any luck with the fishing but we had a lot fun.
When everyone had left I stayed for a couple of more weeks, enjoying some time in Salvador and on Itaparica with some new friends.
The plan was to leave for the Azores as soon as my cousins flew home. Since I realized I would not be back in Sweden until August I changed my plan. Coming back after the summer would be very depressing and I was a bit tired of sailing. So I changed the plan and sailed to Trinidad instead. After all, the goal was to complete my circumnavigation, not sail to Sweden. This gave me some more time to enjoy Brazil.
I left Salvador with the intension of going straight to Trinidad. It was about 2500 nautical miles. Since the start was quite easy I ended up doing as planned. It took 22 days. There was quite a lot of rain but no rough weather. I also caught a few nice mahi-mahi which was good for my self-esteem.
It does not feel very special to have sailed around the world. Most of the people that I have met the past year have also done it by now. What does feel good though is to actually finishing something that was started 5 years ago.
I will try to write another post when I have been home for a while. However, considering how lazy. I am when it comes to this blog, I would not hold my breath.
Finally I would like to thank everyone who has helped along the way. Especially my parents and my sister and her family. Without them I would never have made it this far.Thanks everyone!
Here are the pictures: