Tenerife to Brazil – Day 27

Reading: Peter Duck (Arthur Ransome)
Weather: NE 2-4 – variable. Sunny and hot …
Thought for the day: It’s best not to take the ‘time to arrival’ figure on the chart plotter too literally …
Evening meal: Chilli con carne
Course: 260-280oC
Distance covered: At 1200 we had done 3,682 miles with a distance to arrival in Brazil of 477 miles
Wildlife headcount: Where is everything? Once again, just a couple of small birds ….

It’s probably best not to look too closely at the ‘time to arrival’ (TTA) on the chart plotter, but when you are less than 500 miles away, it is difficult not to! What in any other circumstances would be a very long passage has now just become a few days. When you have been at sea for nearly a month, it is surprising how much your perspective of passage making and time changes. The trouble is that, as we start to close the land, the wind is, not surprisingly, more variable. This morning it had dropped quite a bit so we shook the reefs out of the main and mizzen. This, along with a slight increase in the breeze, reduced the TTA from over four days to three and a half days. However, every time we slow down it goes back over four again, so we have to be disciplined not to keep looking. At five knots we do 120 miles per day, but at 7 knots (which we have often been doing on this leg) that goes right up to 168 miles per day – hence the TTA bouncing up and down like an over-excited child on a trampoline (an analogy perhaps appropriate to our mood as we close land!).

Our next waypoint – currently a bit over 300 miles away – takes us just southeast of Cabo Frio. This is the point to the east of Rio de Janeiro and from there on we will keep closing the coast for a further 140 miles or so to our final destination around 30 miles to the west of Rio. Apart from a couple of islands further north, this will be the first land we have seen in nearly a month, so the excitement is palpable. I am not sure how much of that excitement relates to Rio as a destination. More of the anticipation seems to relate to internet access with a lot of talk about updating Spotify playlists, checking in on What’s App and downloading more books. I guess that is a sign of modern times.

After a relatively quiet day, the evening watch got a lot livelier. After a couple of hours the sky went completely black. Being just after a new moon it was quite dark anyway, but this was the sort of total darkness you might get down a coal mine. Any difference between sea and sky vanished and with no horizon visible, it was quite disorienting. To help us overcome this the weather then decided to orient us with one of nature’s most spectacular light shows. Every so often a blinding swathe of light would flash on illuminating all around for a fraction of a second, teasing us and then vanishing as quickly as it had arrived. A reminder of the power and majesty of nature, as if we needed it! Though we did get a little rain, we avoided the worst of it, but we did get the wind around the squalls and so Jet was called. With the deck lights on we changed from the big jib to the number one jib – a precautionary measure in case of further squalls.