Sunday, September 27, 2015

Nomad Across The Atlantic, The Gambia to Suriname

Nomad set full sail as soon as she was clear of the  docks at Banjul with an ebb tide helping here along. By sunset the tide had slacked off and the wind became light, out of the west. Not wanting to drift through the local fishing fleet barely making way, I started motoring west to get away from the coast and it's fishing boats. The forecast called for light west winds veering to the northwest by the time we crossed the longitude of the Cape Verde Islands. This was Nomad's first ever tradewind passage, and it was to be the easiest passage she has yet made.  Once solidly into the tradewind zone, it was 21 days of 15 to 25 knots of wind on the starboard quarter with no sail handling other than dropping a few panels on the main as the wind picked up every afternoon and putting it back up late in the evening.

 Kris was catching a number of  smaller fish that were good to eat and several remora fish (not so tasty, we started throwing them back in the ocean) that would suction themselves to the deck when
brought aboard The best fish of the trip was a mahi mahi that measured 150 cm from nose to tail.
The biggest mahi mahi yet on Nomad
The best bait for mahi mahi

Sailing north of the South American continent and closing the coast brought us into huge fields of sargassum seaweed that would foul the fishing lines and taffrail log. The seaweed would also accumulated in great bunches on the windvane's water paddle and cause the safety tube to break. This was becoming a big problem because I had broken the last spare belt for the autopilot and after breaking three safety tubes for the windvane there was only one of those left. Fortunately the schooner balances very well and we steered by hand for a few days with only occasion input from the person on the helm.

Large mats of sargassum overloaded the windvane
Heading into the Suriname river from the sea bouy, we encountered a large squall while working through the entrance channel. This was the first rain we had since leaving Morocco many months before.  It was rainy season here when we arrived and the heavy rains became a daily part of life for us here for the next two months until the dry season began.   Nomad was salt free in a very short time and the many months accumulation of  red dust from West Africa on the sails and lines soon washed away.

Clearing into Suriname was a painless process after we got the boat settled in and a good nights rest. Formalities need to be done here within three or four days of arrival, a pleasant change from be met on the dock freshly in from the sea.  Now it is time to enjoy watching hurricane season pass by to the north with no possibility of being hit by one and catch up on some much needed maintenance  and boat projects.
Anchored in Domburg Suriname watching the sunset over Paramaribo

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