Welcome to the first new post since the last Cape to Rio adventure in 2014!
With fond memories we look back and remember the special moments we shared during our voyage, have a look at the video!
Well it’s a over week since we docked in Rio and, I still feel the effects of the sea legs every now and again. I am now sitting in my office again typing up the final blog and it’s hard to believe that not so long ago, I thought we would never get to the end of our crossing. Well that’s life!
The few days that we spent in Rio went in a blur! We had to have a few celebratory dinners and lunches while enjoying the sights… and we certainly did. The skipper, Mark was left to sort out Hot Ice and await his new crew for the return journey. He has plenty of repairing to accomplish and he should be busy. The rest of us visited the local hot spots, like Copacabana and Ipanema beaches as well as the Christ the redeemer statue. Mike was the first to head home on Thursday, followed by Shaun and Warwick on Friday and the rest of us on Saturday.
I would like to say thank you to all of you that supported us on the Blog and the wonderful comments of encouragement, it turns out we have quite the following with more than 5000 visits from 2000+ people worldwide, all helping to spread awareness and support for IMAGINE .It truly was a lifetime experience for us and we are all glad to have been able to share it with you.
Very big thanks to Siobhan Nel our travel agent for managing all the changes. If anyone is looking for a good corporate or personal travel agent I can recommend her any time. firstname.lastname@example.org
A big thank you too my fellow crew and the skipper for their support and friendship through the journey and for supporting my cause IMAGINE.
Finally a very big thanks for all those generous donations made to IMAGINE. A target of raising R30 000 was set, and steadily throughout the days the donations poured in,andI can now proudly and with great appreciation say, that we achieved our target of R30000! We currently stand on over R45180!!It was the experience of a lifetime for me, and doing it to raise awareness and funds for IMAGINE just made it all the more memorable. I will keep you all posted on the final amount achieved.
Thank you all for your comments and encouragement along the way, I have this blog as a lifetime reminder of my adventure, and your kind words and generous donations.
Imagine and you can!…. and I have had a lot of time to think. 🙂
Paradise! Wow how beautiful is the coastline leading to Rio Brazil, and then you have Rio! Our first sight of land in 31 days was instant relief.
I woke at 6am hoping that land was in sight but was disappointed. Our wind had dropped to under 5 kts. and then slowly out of the low lying cloud as if a dream, mountainous outlines started to emerge from the ocean in the distance. The shapes slowly got bigger and by 11am the majestic headland of Cabofrio was on our starboard bow. Such excitement and over and above the shear headland the wind had picked up and we were sailing at an unbelievable 8 to 10 kts. If only we could have traveled at this speed for some days on the rest of the crossing. The crew was visibly excited and in the course of 8 hours I took over a thousand pictures. Hot Ice is designed for heavy winds and it was living its dream for a change! The coast line between Cabofrio and Rio is very picturesque, back by mountains and fronted with endless white beaches and scattered islands. We arrived at the entrance to Rio at sunset. After such a long tiring journey it was like entering a wonderland. The orange sky surrounding the mountains and bays that make up Rio de Janeiro. Sugarloaf Mountain standing guard like a towering colossus. It is a peak situated at the mouth of Guanabara Bay on a peninsula that sticks out into the Atlantic Ocean. Rising 396 meters (1,299 Ft.) above the harbor, its name is said to refer to its resemblance to the traditional shape of concentrated refined loaf sugar. It’s amazing to see these granites and quartz rocks rising straight out of the sea all-round the bay.
We could see the silhouette of the statue of Christ the Redeemer up on Corcovado, a huge hill looking down on the city and the bay. It is 30 meters tall. As the night came in so did the statue light up in pink and purple before turning white.
On the way in some of the crew started to worry about being met by a boat that would tow us onto the mooring as we did not have an engine and we were not sure whether there was enough wind to take us all the way to the yacht club. Our ladies were put onto the case by email and at the same time we contacted the organizing committee to enquire about the procedure to enter and support we might expect. I suggested that we follow the procedure given to us in Cape Town and call them on the radio at 25nm out. There was an instant response! They would notify the committee and we were to standby. As we got closer, we called again and said we were getting close and was the tow organized. For a minute or 2 it seemed that there was a miss understanding and nothing had been organized but after reiterating the need for a tow, miraculously one was on the way. As we round the island into the bay the wind died. We proceeded to take down the sails and no sooner than this was done we were informed over the radio to look out for a red boat on its way. We saw it in the distance and as it arrived we were greeted by a fabulous surprise as our wives and girlfriends, that had been frustratedly waiting, had managed to get on to the tow boat. Hellos were screamed and the tow lined attached. The champagne was popped and we began to celebrate. The next hour under tow to the mooring pasted in a flash but not before we all stood at the back surrounding the skipper as he steered singing “itsy bits tini weeni yellow polka dot bikini” led by Shaun.
On to the mooring we went and the ladies poured on to Hot Ice bring more champagne. Shouts of celebration and relief, filled the bay. We had made it! A quick tour of Hot Ice for the ladies and straight back onto the ferry with our bags that had been packed since the early morning. We need to feel terra firma under our feet ASAP. As we arrived a long side the jetty, Jean jumped on to land first and was followed by the rest of us. Those first few steps were very wobbly and we staggered like drunks to a table nearby.
Babbling like excited children we began to relate our stories. The beer arrived and we did not move for a while from of those comfortable seats. We had completed our challenge!
Dinner was served and most of us had fish and chips and beer.
From terra firma till tomorrow
Land ahoy! At the end of today we are only 30 nm form what we hope will be our first sighting of land in 31 days.
I woke up at 5.30am to fantastic winds and the first completely overcast day in some while. We were travelling at 7 kts and for the entire day it varied between 6 and 7.5 kts. Everyone aboard was quite upbeat and for the first time in a while there was no sleeping during the day. There was a constant banter in the cockpit. Later in the afternoon the sky cleared and we had a perfectly clear blue sky so even the sky was not being iffy today.
As we approached late afternoon we started to see the first oil and gas rigs on the horizon and by 10pm at night they lit up the sky in all directions. We counted 22 of them at one stage surrounding us. They are huge and lit up the sky like mini cities, while the occasional one burned extra bright as they burned off excess gas.
Warwick, an environmental engineer and activist at heart felt obliged to share the following: That man is drilling for oil in 3km of water shows how energy hungry our consumer driven society has become. Sure big industry can clean up their act – each time we switch on a light, take a bath, get in the car, buy something, we’re voting for the future of our environment. The choices we make as consumers can pressure industry to become more eco- friendly. Getting creative at home can also make a big difference – we can all reduce, reuse, recycle. As we’ve seen over the last month on the Atlantic it’s a beautiful world out here; let’s save it for the kids! And if protecting the ocean isn’t enough encouragement to use water wisely; the person you Love is 72% water:) We finished the day with a 120 nm to go which means if the wind holds approximately 20 hours to Rio! We should get in just after midnight tomorrow.
Our food has lasted quite well considering we have spent an extra 6 or so days more than planned. We ate our last vegetables for dinner and our meat situation is down to packets of bacon and mince. The refuse is now piling up under the floor boards and the plastic drums, into which we shove plastic and other non-biodegradable items, are starting to swell from the rotten gas inside. We throw only biodegradable into the ocean the rest we have to store on board. You can’t imagine the amount of waste 7 humans can create in 31 days when you have to store it!
Ric is no longer and Kevin is back after shaving his head bald. He has retained his beard and so has the rest of the crew so far.
Will’s son is still sitting pride of place in the cockpit and although he has flown around the cabin a few times, he is still looking remarkably good. Speaking of flying around the cabin – we had a “man overboard” last night – Mark flying out his bunk head first and crashing onto the cockpit floor which bought about some laughter. The only damage was a sore head and interrupted dream.
Jean made roast chicken pieces and butternut for dinner.
The evening breeze kept us cool and the stars and gas fires kept us entertained.
The saying goes “All good things come to an end” but on the other hand “All good things come to those that wait”. MMM that beer smells good!
From the gas fields of Brazil… Till tomorrow
Position [22 59 S 41 31 W]
Nearly there, imagine that! The end is insight and the wind seems to be holding and might even improve for that last 24 hours of what we think will be 48 hours. I woke at 7.45 am (remember we are still on UTC) with the sun rise. The real time for our position should be 5.45 am. I joined Shaun on deck and we were joined by Mike a little later. The skipper was sleeping in. We decided to get the main up again as the wind was picking up a bit.
Overnight it was doing about 4 kts so not so exciting but at least we were moving. The main stayed up until around 11 am when the wind seem to drop again and the main started to flap. Our sails both the genoa and the main are too heavy for these light winds and flap quite easily. This flapping is extremely noisy but also can potentially damage the sails and rig. Hot Ice tends to lurch and roll as well as the sails back. Jean was insistent that we put up the tiny spinnaker we have left to support the genoa and was convinced we gained considerable speed as a result. In any event it did make us a little more stable in my view. We continued like this for the rest of the day and evening making way at 4 to 5 kts heading straight for Rio.
The early morning ritual seems to be coffee for most. Mike and Mark prefer the strong tar like stuff, Jean his own brand mixed with hot milk, Shaun as it comes and Warwick and Kevin have tea. Nothing happens until they have had their morning fix. I drink water so I keep it easy.
The fantasy of the crew about what they will be looking forward to most when they land are similar. Apart from seeing wives and girlfriends, it’s a proper porcelain toilet with room to swing your legs, a decent “hot” shower and proper “non-moving” bed but the single most important thing in my mind is actually to be able to sit or be stationary comfortable in one place.
Even as I am writing this blog I am swaying from side to side with half a buttock stuck on the seat while a leg is stuck sideways jamming me in place.
The rest of the day was like Groundhog Day again –reading, sleeping, joking and generally chatting. Generally I think everyone started to realize we were getting there and were trying to remain upbeat.
Mike made curried mince and rice for dinner which turned out to be earlier than expected as we decided to turn our clocks back by 2 hours to Rio time.
We are now 4 hours behind South Africa and 2 behind UTC.
We still have caught no further fish and none that we have eaten on the entire trip.
It has been amazing how little wild life we have seen on this trip and if this is as a result of man’s destruction of the environment it is truly sad. Last night, though, at about 10.30pm as I sat on deck with Mike doing our watch, a lone black bird came into settle on the boat. It was a black Noddy. It found it difficult to settle on a perch but was determined to find somewhere. It took about 10 minutes to find a suitable place.
From the slow boat to Rio… till tomorrow
Prize Giving! What an evening we had! The spirit of team work, the success of the challenge and personal reflection one gets from achieving ones dream. For some it’s
the race, for others it’s the time that it was done in and for others it’s crossing the ocean for the first and last time but more importantly all part of the small
band of sailors and people that have crossed an ocean in a small sailing yacht. Yes we shared in this and we are still out here! Our prize giving was spent 370nm from
Rio aboard Hot Ice. A beautiful starry night, great company and completely out of control. The weather gods will decide when we arrive. It now looks like Tuesday
night or Wednesday morning! We are now officially retired from the race and can start our engine, if only we had one! We have completed 4655 nm which is 8621km. 8
trips from Johannesburg to Cape Town in a rickshaw at 12km per hour.
I and the crew of Hot Ice personally thank all our supporters and the generous contributions to Imagine! Let’s get that target of R30000, after all we did destroy our
spinnaker so that you would have more time to pledgeJ Gaamon…! Gaamon…! We even missed the prizing giving and gave up that cold beer…ouch!
We had steady wind today varying between 4 and 5 kts. We are at least heading in the right direction (west) even though it’s slow. It’s such a relief to not have the
baking heat and it makes the sitting around a lot easier. Most of us are in better moods today, and the banter is not as strained. We are still managing to get along
quite well as a team although I am sure some people have used restraint.
Mike did try and wake up Neptune with some bio-plus but it did not work. The sea is not as flat as the previous days but it is certainly not anything to do your
washing in. Talking about washing, I am amazed that we have tons of washing hanging off the back of our boat daily. Sometimes we look like a refugee boat it’s so
much. I have only 2 pair of shorts I have worn the whole trip so far and wash them as required. I think when some crew get bored they go and do there washing!
Jean and Mark made chicken and roast potatoes for dinner and T-Rex was played again. Metal Guru was written by Marc Bolan and is a festival of life song. One of the
verse describes being “all alone without a telephone” i.e. no one to call for help. This aptly describes our situation at present. We just have to keep going and we
will get there.
The evening was filled with idle chatter as we waited for an increase in the wind speed which did not materialize. Mike, as you will recall, after day 4 was not going
to sail again, and after day 10 was going to buy a Catamaran, on day 29 is now buying a 30 foot mono hull to do the Cape to Rio 2017. This time he wants to win on
handicap. It’s amazing how the human mind works. Well let’s see Mike!
Imagine and you shall achieve .. till tomorrow.
Position [22 18 S 36 56 W]
After getting some wind overnight and managing only 53 nm in 24 hours we were hoping for better today. A light breeze took us into day light but by 9am had dropped altogether and we were sitting again. If you looked at us from the outside or out the window of a plane you would probably thought what an ideal setting – a yacht in the middle of nowhere, beautiful sunny day and calm seas. This was far from the truth on board. The heat came in slowly and soon we were baking. We don’t know what th temperature was but we guessed over 38 degrees Celsius. The sea was as calm as the second day but there was obviously a different swell as Hot ice was rocking the worst she has on the entire trip. At the best of times it is difficult or nigh impossible to find a comfortable position to sit, but combined with the heat and the rocking it was impossible. It was a battle of wills for the crew to keep calm and not show their frustration.
Apart from trying to sleep and read during the day which proved to be challenging, we occupied our time coming up with schemes to get off the boat. At thousand miles
return trip to the mainland there are not many viable alternatives. We did finally see 2 ships yesterday and we chatted to an ore carrier going to Brazil from China explaining our position. He seemed to find it quite funny and suggested that we should definitely make Rio in 5 to 10 days. We cheekily asked him for a tow and he
declined, which we knew he had to do. But it offered us some light amusement for a few minutes.
We swam a bit but it was difficult as there was more blue bottles in the water than the previous day and they seem to be attracted by the splashing.
The late afternoon could not come soon enough but until the sun is low in the sky it does not seem to lose its heat.
Warwick made a tuna pasta for dinner. Mike and I shared the last piece of steak with bacon and eggs.
We were hoping that we would get an evening breeze but it did not arrive as planned. It was not until 9pm than sudden we got a system and went from nothing to 7 kts.
All seven of us were standing behind the helm shouting with joy and relief. After a good half hour it settled back to 4 to 5 kts for the rest of the night.
Relieved .. Till tomorrow.
Position [22 33 S 34 59 W]
Becalmed! There is nothing to describe being motionless at sea after 26 days especially when the heat is beating down on you all day. With the rising of the sun what wind we had disappeared and we started to bob. There was no point in putting up any sails as they flapped, bumped and groaned as they were thrown around by the rocking of the boat. The sea was almost flat with the occasional light swell. We can’t do anything about either as we have no motor to ride on. We know we can’t make cut off on the 1st so motoring is what we would have done today. Talking to Mark, the skipper, he has not been stuck like this very often either as normally he would motor under these circumstances. No one is speaking much and it is difficult to read. Everyone is moving around from one place to another trying to find a better cooler place.
Mark made bread to keep himself occupied and later found him sitting on the floor in the galley as this was the coolest place being close to water. We swam quite often but there is jelly fish in the water that are following us and Kevin and Warwick have been stung. The water is very warm and you have to dive down a few meters to get to refreshing cold water. Then back on board to the heat and boredom! Shaun stayed in the cockpit focused on willing the wind to appear. At one stage we had 7 squalls surrounding us but none of them managed to find us and bring the rain and wind we were hoping for. Finally at 5.30 pm Shaun leaped up ran outside and started to
pull out the genoa. A squall had found us and we managed to sail along for 30 minutes and cool down with the drizzle it brought. Everyone suddenly appeared in the cockpit excited with the sound but slunk off again when we returned to the bobbing. I can’t wait for the sun to set to start cooling down. Our weather forecast indicates we should get some wind in the evening which did not materialize until 11pm. It was so slight that we barely moved making 1.5 to 2 kts.
Early evening Warwick cut the letters of RIO into Kevin’s hair at the back of the head. I guess he knows he can shave it off as he normally bald. I now call him Ric as the “O” is not so well done. Shaun made his famous pasta for dinner. It looks similar to all the other pastas we have had out here to me though and I made another plan. I think some of us have lost some weight. It hard to know when you are seeing everyone so closely on a daily basis. Although we are eating well, the portions are quite small. The rocking and rolling of the boat even when you are sleeping must have your muscle working and using energy. There was the crash diet for some at the beginning of the trip when they did not eat for 4 days due to sea sickness as well. I was not one of those though.
As the sun set the humor on the boat came back and we chatted and listen to the obligatory T-Rex. Everyone slowly went to bed and left me on deck as I had the 10 to 12pm watch. We needed to keep watch especially carefully and if we saw any ships coming our way put on the deck lights etc. to make us as big as possible. It difficult to move ourselves out of the way without wind and a motor. We have not seen a ship in quite some time now. Jean and Warwick claim they heard whales the previous night but did not see them and I was hoping they would return in all their splendor.
Parched out at sea .. Till tomorrow
Position [21 48 S 33 56 W]
Day 26 of our transatlantic crossing and it’s another one of those groundhog days again. The day sailing wavered around the 6 knots sometimes drop right off. It is starting to become unbearable hot. I can’t imagine what it would be like without a breeze. Over the midday section, there is now not much activity as everyone finds a cool spot to lie in.
We had our first proper rain storm since early in the race. It came at 5am and lasted 20 minutes. We rolled a way the genoa as a precautionary measure as these storms are unpredictable and can suddenly become huge on you. This one only got up to 25 kts. So no great shakes.
Marks back has been playing up and he is taking strain. Hopefully it improves overnight. It is very hard on board to stretch properly and the uncomfortable standing and sitting positions don’t help any aches and pains.
We have had further lures taken off our lines but no fish yet. We spent the large part of the day yesterday trying to unsuccessfully coax them in. Jean constantly tinkering with the lines.
The mood is positive but land can’t come soon enough! Unfortunately we have a few days to go yet. We expect to be there now on the 2 or 3rd February.
The evenings are long now and it gets dark for us around 9pm. The cool breeze, the beautiful unpolluted sky, the constant lapping of water against our hull and the silence is surreal.
Kevin and Jean made a beef stir fry for dinner and came out glistening with sweat. The kitchen is not a place to be in this heat.
I stayed up late lying on deck gazing at the stars. It astounds me at the number of satellites in our skies. In a brief half our looking straight up I spotted 7. I can only think we are starting to clutter up space. I saw 2 shooting stars and one so bright and close you could almost reach and touch it.
From a lack luster Hot Ice… Till tomorrow…
Position [21 40 S 33 02 W]