St. Helena to French Guiana - Days 18 - 20

Right now David and Marcie are further north than this post reflects. They're close!
Right now David and Marcie are further north than this post reflects. They're close!

Day 18

Miles to go: 1,049

Another great 24-hour mileage run. The moon is nearly full, lighting up the clear night sky. The stars have bowed out, unable to compete with the moon glow. We are north of mainland Brazil now, a couple of hundred miles from Fortaleza, and not so far from Belem and the mouth of the Amazon River. That would be an interesting river to explore, but alas, not now. More time...we always need more time.

We got a disturbing email recently. Our oldest son, Brennan, took a 15' fall from a scaffolding and suffered compound fractures of his right fibula and tibia. He underwent two surgeries and a week of hospitalization. When he got home...he finally let us know. "Why the delay?", we asked, worried and upset. "Well, you're in the middle of an Atlantic crossing and you have enough to worry about plus there's nothing you could have done", was the reply. He'll be out of work and  laid-up for 12+ weeks...difficult for our workaholic son.

The cruising guilties have set in hard. Though we're back home by design for the momentous occasions and life and death events, we're not the kind of parents or grandparents or sibs or friends you can rely upon for "just being there". This is a lifestyle choice full-time cruisers make, I guess, and one we live with, but not always easily.

An interesting sidebar ... David broke his right leg climbing Mt. Kenya back in 1988. He was the same age as Brennan is now. I broke the same leg while hiking  in Colorado in 1995 ...and now Brennan's mishap. Must be something in the genes, huh?

One flying fish today for a passage total of 17.

Day 19

Miles to go: 914

Milestone: Less than 1,000 nm to go

Gorgeous sailing continues day after day and we're in awe of our luck and Neptune's largesse. The miles tick away, bringing us closer and closer to French Guiana and land. We tabulate our 24-hour run every day at 1000 hours (10am, for our landlubber friends). We both sit expectantly in the cockpit, waiting till the last possible second to log our distance run versus our distance made good. We calculate our miles and days remaining, then moan or congratulate ourselves accordingly.

Our friend, Miks from Maine, alerted us to "the last super blood moon eclipse in our lifetimes" last night. We couldn't remember what a super moon or a blood moon was, but we knew what an eclipse was and also a lifetime, so we planned to watch. David woke me from my 2100-2400 nap early, so we could enjoy it together. The moon was directly overhead and we craned our necks till they were strained and stiff, then got smart and stretched out on the aft deck with pillows for our heads. I popped a kettle of popcorn at 0100 and we munched while enjoying the lunar spectacle. We tried to take photos, but taking a long exposure night shot on a rocking boat just doesn't work well. The eclipse lasted for about 4 hours and it was just perfect in a mostly clear sky. If anything, the light, wispy clouds added to the show. Midst the moon's masking, we saw several shooting stars and finally found Polaris, the North Star.

We rearranged our watch times a bit, since David had spent much of his off-watch time moon gazing and eating popcorn. He fell sleepily into the bunk about 0200. I was fine for the first couple of hours watch, but had to sing and stay on my feet and do some exercises on my last hour to keep awake. Watching the eclipse was worth a bit of fatigue though. Thanks, Miks.

To celebrate our milestone: A "Less than a 1000 miles" picnic including calamata olives, smoked salmon pate, cracked pepper and herb crackers, white English cheddar, artichoke hearts and hearts of palm. Gourmet nibbles from the larder and easy on the cook and dishwasher.

And, lest I forget, one more stiff-winged flying fish in the scupper...18 total now.

Day 20

Miles to go: 785

It's positively steamy today... hot and quite humid...the breeze has lessened and it's just what you might expect traveling on the Equator and a portent of weather in the Guianas. I read that this is the dry season (good), but also the hottest temps (not so good). After freezing our butts off in South Africa (if only!), I'm not ready to start complaining about the heat...just yet.

We've slowed down considerably. The winds have remained the same, but we're pretty sure we've got an adverse current of a knot or two working against us. Without a working speed transducer and not caring enough to throw a log over the side to calculate speed through the water, we can only guess. For sure, we're going slower.

In anticipation of going ashore sometime in the near future, however, I painted my toenails today. Bright red...why be subtle? With the rocking of the boat, I got about as much polish on my fingers and toes as I did on my toenails, but for the 10' test, it'll do. David will tell you, grinning all the while, that no amount of nail varnish will improve the look of my feet, but it's a "getting near land" ritual thing that I do...getting into the mindset (and foot-set) of our impending arrival at French Guiana. I paint my toenails and David talks about boat chores and task lists.

By the way, he's already posturing for work vs. play days when we arrive with comments like "Boy, Marcie, the stainless really needs work, huh?" .. "It would sure be great to get some varnishing done soon, don't you think?" ... "I've been looking at the to-do list  and...and...and..."   (Not to worry...we'll have plenty of time for play. I've got my negotiating strategy all planned out.)

Flying fish count remains at 18

Days 21-23 ... will we ever get there?