FROM THE LOG #93

Fernando to Trinidad
Circumnavigation completed

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Fernando de Noronha lies about 4° (240 nm) south of the Equator on a longitud of roughly 32°20'W. A straight line on a chart to Trinidad in the southern Caribbean Sea would indicate a true course of around 300°. However, as the Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ), or more commonly the doldrums, along the Equator have been found to reach as far north as 5°N between longitudes 30W and 38W, it is usually accepted that a crossing of the Equator from Fernando should be done on the same longitude as Fernando, which would necessitate a straight northerly course for the first 4-5 days. Not only, is the doldrums supposed to be at it's narrowest on that course, but also the area will be crossed at right angles, giving a shorter time in transit. Only after the doldrums, an area of variable winds, calms and squalls, has been past, perhaps at about 2°N, a course for your final Caribbean destination should be set. So much for theory. Because we had planned to make a stop at Devil's Island, of Papillon fame, in French Guyana, we wanted to stay closer to the South American continent, and therefore, on departure on the 10th of March, we took the rhumb-line, a course that indicates the shortest distance between points and steered 300°T, later crossing the Equator at 39°W.

Chart on bulkhead Chart

As usual on longer trips, we marked each day's progress on a chart hanging on a saloon wall. Above on the right we seem to be off French Guyana.

Our friends on s/y ELAINE, who departed from Fernando one day before us, did it by the book and went straight north. Their main reason may have been, that they did not intend to stop en route and their destination was further north than ours, either Barbados or St Lucia. However, they didn't get any more wind during the first week than Scorpio. On the contrary, during our daily contacts on the SSB-radio we found out that our velocity made good (VMG) was, surprisingly, somewhat better than Elaine's, who is a much faster yacht. We had fewer calm days and probably more favourable currents.

AIS target Radar target Visual target
AIS target Radar target Visual target

AIS is a very usefull instrument and it is mandatory on the big ships. This is the second season that we have AIS aboard Scorpio and we think it is worth every cent we had to pay for it. We can now spot all the big ships hours before they get close to us. Radar is also useful, but it is not running constantly as is the AIS. Radar does not give any information about the target either, such as it's name, heading speed, etc. On the photos above we can see a ship approaching from port both on the AIS and on the radar. On the photo to the right this ship is crossing our course behind Scorpio's stern. The radar is often useful also when trying to find out how much rain an approaching cloud is packing, see photo two paragraphs below.

map

As noted above, our plan was to stop at Devil's island, made famous by the novel and movie Papillon, in French Guyana and also, maybe, in Suriname and Guyana, but we ended up going non-stop. We passed only 30 miles outside of Devil's island, but it was in the middle of the night and the sailing was good, so we decided there was no point in heaving too waiting for daylight, particularly as the seas were quite heavy.

Rain on radar Wing on wing
Radar showing heavy rain Wing on wing was the regular sail configuration

Initially believed to be a 9-10 day trip of about 1,200 nm, this leg became a two-week affair of about 2,000 nm - actually one of our 6 longest legs on the whole journey. But after we had left the doldrums behind the sailing was quite good and the current favourable.

Repair of pump Repair in engine room
Fixing a compressor's circulation pump Something is wrong on the engine alternator

On every longer trip some things break down and the items-to-fix move up and down the priority list depending on how vital that particular item is considered. This time we had problems with the circulation pump of the fridge compressor, the autopilots and the alternator, but we managed to keep them all running.

Crews Inn Marina
Scorpio is just to the right of the centre of this photo - at Crews Inn Marina in Chaguaramas harbour.

Approaching Trinidad we had covered about 12,000 miles since leaving Thailand roughly a year ago, despite having left the yacht in Mauritius for three months. We had crossed the Indian Ocean, rounded South Africa and its capes of storms and crossed the Atlantic Ocean without any serious problems. But the journey wasn't over yet ...

In the evening of March 23 we entered Galleons Strait between Tobago and Trinidad and concluded that our circumnavigation was completed. (Last time we were in the same spot on December 20, 2000 on the way from Tobago to Grenada.) We would arrive in Chaguaramas, Trinidad, the next morning .

Two hours later we had a fire in the engine room. This is worth it's own story, however. But it was a close call.

Crews Inn Marina At the dock in Chaguaramas

We arrived in Chaguaramas on the Sunday morning of the 24th of March 2013. Because of the fire at midnight the mood aboard wasn't quite as high as we had expected a day earlier and the circumnavigation celebrations were down scaled to a dinner ashore. We found a berth at Crews Inn Marina, where we stayed for two weeks and on April 8 we hauled out at Peakes Yacht Services. Scorpio would get her regular yearly mainetenance and, most importantly, the damage caused by the fire would be completely repaired. The last week we stayed at Peakes hotel, The Bight, just 100 metres from the yacht.

The Bight Hotel at Peakes Shipyard.
We stayed here the last week.

Building a protective cover for Scorpio.
Gives protection from rain and sun.

And adding a tarpaulin to further
reduce temperature inside.
The CD's are supposed to scare the birds.

The 2012-13 season is now over. Our cruising adventures will also soon be over as Scorpio will now be for sale. This may take some time off course, and until then we will continue with this lifestyle and also to keep this web site running.

But first it is time for a vacation away from cruising. See you all next (2013-14) season. We'll be back in October 2013.

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