Day 1 Miles to go: 349
We maneuvered past the lines of fishing stakes at the mouth of the river to the GPS waypoint that marked the location of the missing Essequibo sea buoy, then raised the sails and pointed Nine of Cups towards Trinidad. We skirted around numerous fishing boats with their mile-long nets. The depths remained in the 3-5 fathom (18-30 feet) (2-10m) range for miles and miles. It took hours before the brown of the Essequibo finally gave way to the blue-green of the Atlantic.
Our route would take us northwest off the Guyana coast and then well off the Venezuelan coast. Piracy off Venezuela has been an issue for yachties in the past few years, so our course kept us further east and offshore to avoid any unpleasant encounters, as well as avoiding the mass of oil platforms off Trinidad's western shores.
The blazing sun, scattered-cloud sky and fine breeze stayed with us. We beam-reached the day away and the night, too. Fishing boats were out in great numbers through the night, but none closer than bright pinpoints of light on the horizon. One ship passed … miles away. Had it not been for the AIS, we might not have noticed it at all.
We took turns napping. The first couple of days at sea are always the worst for fatigue. No seasickness (thank all the sea gods!) despite constant 6-10 (2-3m), short-period waves knocking us on the aft starboard quarter. Solar, wind and the prop generator kept the batteries topped up. A fine first day for the last leg of our Cape Town to Trinidad passage and the last sail of 2015.
Miles to go: 200
The ENE tradewinds held true and we coasted along in the 6s and 7s with all sails full all day long. We saw a few ships and a few fishing boats, but nothing very close. We idled away the day with chat about the to-do list for Trinidad, the to-buy list for the USA and all the activities we had planned once we were back in the States. We'd be flying home in a week's time and there were considerable chores to accomplish, including getting Cups hauled and settled in Chaguaramas before we left.
The weather was beautiful until nightfall. It always seems the night is the time Neptune chooses for squalls and challenges. We had determined that we were going too fast to arrive at a decent hour in Chaguaramas. Trinidad Customs and Immigration is notorious for charging overtime rates when a yacht arrives outside of business hours (8am-4pm). We wanted to arrive mid-morning. At our current speed, we'd arrive around 11pm. We chose to double-reef the main and the jib … that only slowed us down to 7 knots. It rained off and on with gusts to 30 knots.
Beyond squalls, a harried night was punctuated with heavy ship traffic, oil rigs/platforms, Venezuelan fishing boats constantly yacking on Channel 16 and flying fish landing on the deck including two in the cockpit. Ralph and Joe were distant relatives of Bob the Stink, it seems, and stopped by quickly to say hello. David promptly chucked them overboard. A small bird perched on the lifelines and bummed a ride for about an hour, then took off without a peep.
Not so far to go now. One more night and we'll be in Trinidad.