Thursday, September 8, 2016

South to North Transatlantic, Suriname to Canada

This voyage started like many others, months later than I would have preferred. Boat maintenance and another delivery job pushed back my departure from Suriname until 09 July. While sailing the Atlantic in midsummer is quite pleasant, it requires constant vigilance regarding the weather as tropical storms may form at any time. Fortunately, the weather remained stable throughout the passage with tropical activity only beginning the week after I arrived in St John's Newfoundland.

The journey began on the tropical Suriname River

And the voyage concludes at Fort Amherst, St John's, Newfoundland

The trip began hot and wet. Sail was set at the sea bouy and Nomad reached right out into the tradewinds. With the strong equatorial current and the tradewinds on the beam it was necessary to sail on a very close reach to maintain a northerly course. Nomad would take a good blast of spray across the deck with nearly every wave making it impossible to open the hatch or ports for ventilation. For the first week of the voyage it was quite warm inside! The weather remained pleasant for most of the voyage. Reaching 41N it was a little cool at night. The next night a jacket was needed, then Nomad crossed onto the olive green waters of the Grand Banks  and it was time for long underwear and the wool hat, courtesy of the Labrador current bringing cold water down from the Arctic. About a hundred miles south of Newfoundland I encountered the only headwinds of the trip. A deep low to the south and a high to the north made for an east then northeasterly  wind for a couple of days. As the wind backed around, it forced me further west. I had sailed to within 80 miles of St Pierre and was considering ending the voyage there, but the wind backed around before I reached the Burin Peninsula. With the wind now firmly northwest and backing I tacked and resumed heading for St John's, arriving two days later with a stiff southwesterly behind me. It was during this time that I crossed my eastbound track out of St Pierre from 2014, closing the circle on Nomad' first circumnavigation of the North Atlantic Ocean.
Most days looked like this

Some days in mid ocean were like this
This was usually how most days started out

Twenty eight days and 2726 miles from Suriname to Newfoundland with no major problems or weather systems to deal with makes for a pleasant trip but not much to write about. It was fairly routine dealing with the daily repairs mostly due to chafe and the vigorous motion of being underway for nearly a month. I tried one of the stock safety tubes for the windvane, it only lasted a thousand miles before breaking, so it was replaced with a heavier gauge tube. Chafe wore through the windvane control lines several times. Chafe also caused the loss of the spinner on the taffrail log. Since replacements are getting hard to find, I decided to stow it before I lost another.
Land ho! For the first time in twenty eight days

Making speed along the Avalon Peninsula. St John's by sunset!

It was not all work and studying weather faxes. A nice singlehander sized mahi mahi grabbed the fishing line and it became three huge meals and a bowl of ceviche before it was gone.    I didn't trail the fishing line after catching that one, as I had eaten enough fresh fish for awhile!     I was quite happy to catch the smaller size fish.  A huge mahi mahi such as we caught on the trip across from The Gambia would have been difficult to handle singlehandedly and would have been way more fish than I needed. I was prepared this time with extra lime juice and kilos of salt onboard in case I caught the "big one".
Fresh fish on the menu for dinner. And breakfast, lunch and the next dinner. And snacks in between.

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