Thursday, October 13, 2011

Sailing Andando - Trinidad to Panama (Part 1)

 It was  Monday morning, 3rd of October 2011, and we were ready! I think I was feeling more ready for this crossing than for my own Atlantic crossing. Was it only because I`ve been there before? Was it because I was only allowed a crash course of preparing? I can remember, with Catlyn still brand new and the factory still battling to smooth their first boat out, it took us months to get ready, and then not. It took me months to rent my house, it took me months to say goodbye to my dog…   Now I only had two weeks to get Andando ready to go, and Catlyn ready to stay!

Catlyn stored on the hard at Peakes in Trinidad for 3 months

Andando ready to go

Old friends, new friends and almost friends were holding onto our five mooring lines .With lots of warm hugs and a bag of lollipops from Veronique (Yacht Grainedo) they were just as excited to share our moment. Michelle, and Marco`s friends were waving good bye. Earlier we said good bye to Samuel and Correen, (Yacht Ercolausa) and Marco gave his French girlfriend a shy hug with her brother being the good friend.  The tall lanky Leon from Yacht Isa bowed to a line, while giving us his time, when we know he is busy helping his sister and her family to buy a boat. Mark and Tania, the sellers of the boat, Yacht Blue Diamond, were still looking after Andando with a careful eye. They were excited about what  will be in their new future, and looking forward spending a night in a hotel. Larry and Marlo from Yacht Beatrice, sat on the wall watching us, sharing this moment like Larry shared his precious `boerewors` with Marco. And of course good hearted John was there while Jo-Anne was taking a last photo of us thrilled to be alive! We waved good bye to Martin, the last ex-Andando crew, sitting on Eros,  a beautiful charter yacht, polishing her prestine woodwork. Even Joe got a hug from a blonde…

Everybody waving farewell

The emotions were immense.  I recalled the day ten months ago, December 2010, in Port Owen, SA when Alan and Urshula waved us good bye on our journey… How would we like to see them again !!!

 We have the Big Blue of the Pacific Ocean ahead of us. Our Skipper opened the bottle of Italian champagne. On our own with a prayer in our hearts we blessed Andando, and prayed our family an unforgettable journey!

As soon as we left the protective bay, reality struck in big swells on the beam and squalls all over!

After a night with not a lot of sleep, I stood in the heads, trying to `toothbrush` the foul taste of seasickness out of my mouth, when I looked up into the mirror. My eyes grew wide and big! Right there was a swirling waterspout through the port hole! I stumbled upstairs on unsteady feet to find the rest of the crew gawking at this monster sucking up the water from the sea! The big black clouds and monster were aiming straight towards us! Johan revved up the engines and a little boat tried to get as far away, as it can, from it. It is scary to look at Nature controlling the world,when you are on a little boat on a very big ocean…  Hmm, nice introduction to us, on our first day at sea!

We are lucky with fair winds from behind between 10 and 15 knots ESE most of the time, and Andando is sailing like a dream! Our average speed of 6,5 knots with a maximum of 13,5 knots! Very easily she reaches speed of 7 and 8 knots. I do hope Catlyn is going to lose some weight while standing on the hard in Peakes Yard, Trinidad.

No one else is losing weight or planning to lose some, so we were delighted to enjoy the young Dorado for lunch, cooking it the way Annemarie from Wayne (student friends from some time ago) taught us.

It is already four days at sea, and slowly I am feeling alive again. Very dedicated I started with some stretching exercises, and maybe it is enough for today. 

The crew are taking strain from very little sleep, but as soon as someone spots some dolphins, their energy just flows through all of us, and we cheer them on to entertain us playing around the bow. Joe is bending and stretching low to take some footage to show you the wonderful world we share with dolphins.  Amazing, this little waterproof GOPRO camera he bought.

Thunder and lightning are all around us, giving us a little scare for the past two nights. It is quite a fearful sight when they split open the skies around you, and you know that you have nowhere to hide.

Marco woke up during the night, saw the lightning and still full of sleep, stumbled with his new Nintendo 3DS (birthday present in advance) and popped it in the oven! We can afford to be without a satellite phone or a Garmin handheld, but what are we to do without a Nintendo? That is if lightning struck....

It is already Saturday morning, and when the sun turned the clouds pink in the east The Wind went away. After blowing so nicely for days it decided to take a break. We had to motor the whole day and night. I am sure The Wind was just contemplating on how much He will blow tomorrow? We enjoyed the calm around us....while it last.

Ps. We took our own barbeque with. What is an South African without a barbeque -- no good !!!. Andando is equipped with a lovely barbeque, still safely stacked away in its box. Hopefully our own barbeque will fit in my suitcase...

Our Skipper gave into our begging and we even swam in the blue ocean and Joe used the opportunity to film underwater.

Again as the sun set right in front of us, the lightning started, again all around us. And then The Wind knew what it had to do!  “Change to the West, or South-West is best!” We were faced with strong wind between 14 and 20knots, and sailed close haul with the main and the genoa out.

Little migrating birds were seeking  a safe place to sleep for the night, and somewhere on the vast ocean this white drifting thing gave them shelter from the night and the wind. Four of them seek safety on Andando, and Marco was the happiest boy at sea! They were so exhausted, just reached the safety of the deck and then the boys took them in their hands, and bring them into the boat, and put them safely in a bowl filled with double ply toilet paper.

Three of them were sleeping soundly for the whole night, but the fourth one was somewhere on the upper deck. We were just hoping that he will also be safe when a big wide winged hawk circled Andando, also looking for a place to rest. He tried out the Simrad Radar ball on the mast, but it was just too slippery and he had to settle for the stanchions.  Trying to keep his balance with the wind pumping and the boat rocking, he gave up and circled the boat again. The danbouy has to do.  He was balancing with his wings open wide just above our heads on this long pole swinging and swaying in the wind. We were still entranced by this big bird balancing on this pole, when he sped forward right onto the deck!  He found the forth little swallow!  We sat in awe! We were part of a God catching moment, with a hawk catching moment, with a boys catching swallows moment…
Can somebody please tell us the name of this beautiful bird...we have not seen it ever on the ocean...AND WHILE CATCHING ITS PREY ????

I remember somewhere in the Bible it says something about God looking after the little swallows! With the lightning flashing  and smashing all around us, we felt so safe. God is watching over three little swallows on Andando tonight, and I am sure He won`t mind looking over us as well!

Phoebe, stayed with us when the other two swallows flew away when the sun started to tinge the clouds.  I started searching the boat for little insects, and regretted sweeping the floors yesterday. She was so hungry, that she pecked the few insects I could find on the deck, from my finger. By now I am sure you gathered that Phoebe is the name Marco gave the one little bird who decided to linger for a while longer.  She hopped down the steps to the lower cabins, sitting on the soft bed for a while, having her quiet time, only to fly back to the saloon landing on our laps, our heads or in our lunch. She found a red bean in our stew, and after her tummy was so full she hopped over to the stove, just to sit on the foil and to catch a wink in the gentle heat. She explored everything, the red button on the TV remote fascinated her, or our Skippers` glasses, as soon as he lay down to take a nap.  She hopped out to the aft deck, but quickly returned to the warmth of the saloon, and only when Joe sat at the helm, did she fly out to sit on his lap.

We thought we lost her when she flew off to the blue sky, but she circled and flew right back into the saloon just to rest on my knee again. This little creature was loving us, and we were loving her right back. But late afternoon she gave two shrill chirps, went to sit on each one of our heads, and then she took to the blue sky. We hoped that she would come back, just like the time when she went out to say hallo to another swallow, but this time she really left to carry on with her journey.

I don`t have to tell you that we were sad, and every time we saw a swallow, we hoped… But Phoebe went on her way, but she told all the other swallows she met, about us, and it is a new day today, and already three little swallows are all over the boat, eating our leftovers from breakfast…

Two days later and Andando became the shelter for the homeless! She is sheltering four free spirits, taking them on an unforgettable voyage, creating a memory forever. She sheltered 14 little birds up to date.  They flew in and out of the saloon, shared our breakfast or lunch, and sipped the spilled (on purpose) water on the kitchen top. Some stay for a while and some are even sleeping over on the drying rack, just to leave us again, with their little wings flapping around us in a farewell.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The black and white bird is an Osprey