Dos Gatos Itinerary from Cape Town to Florida

April 25   
May 5
May 8
May 19
May 21
June 1
June 3
June 12
depart Cape Town
arrive St Helena
depart St Helena
arrive Fernando de Norha
depart Fernando de Norha
arrive St Maarten
depart St Maarten
arrive Florida

From Ginger...

> Yes, I survived an Atlantic Crossing. I sailed our new
> boat from Cape Town, where it was built, to Florida.
> Here is my story.
> Imagine going 7642 miles at 6-9 miles per hour and you
> have it in a nutshell. It took 48 days, including 6
> days on 3 different islands. We sailed, or motored if
> there was no wind, 24 hrs a day, every day. Most of
> the time we were all alone on the ocean. We went 4
> weeks without seeing another boat or ship. We only saw
> a few birds at sea. Visiting dolphins were our only
> company. So you see there really isn't much to tell.
> But let me start at the beginning.
> Martin and I arrived in Cape Town in early April. It
> took 3 weeks to check the boat and outfit it for the
> crossing. Since we had never crossed an ocean we asked
> the yacht builder to find a delivery skipper. This is
> someone who makes a living sailing boats to places
> when the owners don't or can't sail it themselves.
> This skipper had 25 years experience and was only
> slightly younger than me. I began to suspect that this
> might be an interesting trip when he told me he rarely
> takes the boat owners along. He likes to deliver the
> boat in "pristine" condition, meaning he doesn't use
> the amenities on the boat, like the shower, marine
> toilet, water maker, oven, sofa, bimini, tables... You
> get the picture. He only splashes in the ocean or
> stands out in the rain to bath. I'll let you figure
> out the alternative to a marine toilet. However he
> said that since I was an owner (and paying him for the
> delivery) he will not be so strict with me. (He
> measured my water consumption and only slightly
> complained when I took a very quick shower every 3
> days!)
> My apprehensions increased when the skipper brought
> his girlfriend of a few weeks aboard. She didn't know
> how to sail and she told me she didn't know how to
> cook, except in a microwave! So the crew consisted of
> the skipper, his girlfriend with no experience, me
> with a little experience and an 18 yr. old boy who had
> been to sailing school and raced Hobbie Cats. (Martin
> opted out of the first 6 weeks of the crossing.) The
> young kid was a good deal for the skipper. He worked
> for free just to get sailing experience. In fact the
> kid had to pay his own airfare if he wanted to return
> home.
> Stocking a boat for 4 people for 7 weeks is quite an
> ordeal. We went to a Cosco like store and bought 2 and
> a half flat bed trollies of food. In addition he got 2
> huge boxes of eggs that had been oiled and never
> refrigerated. They last for 6 weeks if you turn them
> every week. We also took about 60 lbs of potatoes, and
> and 15 lbs of onions. He bought 25 Gerry cans
> (holding 20 liters each) of diesel, enough to get us
> there if the wind failed.
> For some reason, for the first several days everyone
> sleeps most of the time when they are not on watch. I
> was seasick. I would help a little
> with dinner, barf up lunch, and go to bed. The bright
> side - I lost several pounds.
> After the first night of motoring we put up the
> spinnaker. It was my first experience with this large
> unpredictable sail. Every time the wind changed
> direction or speed (even slightly) it tried to rip
> itself apart by wrapping around the forestay. I began
> plotting my revenge - a ceremonial sail burning at the
> end of the trip.
> Things improved greatly after the first week. I could
> keep some food down, we were getting better at cooking
> on a rocking boat, the spinnaker no longer haunted my
> dreams, and the weather was getting warmer. I began to
> enjoy the quiet sunrise watch as well as sailing in
> the moonlight.
> After 9.5 days we reached St. Helena. I really enjoyed
> our island visits. They don't have a marina or dock so
> we anchored in the harbor. There is a water taxi that
> will come to your boat to pick you up if you call them
> on the radio. Customs officials came to our boat after
> we anchored. It was fast and easy. The people are very
> nice. We went ashore and climbed the 729 steps to the
> top of the hill near the dock. The next day we rented
> a car that wouldn't even qualify for "Rent a Wreck".
> As we drove up the hill exhaust fumes filled the car
> and it died! We managed to get it started and drove
> around the island, stopping at Napoleon's grave (he
> was exiled and died here). Since it was Sunday
> Napoleon's house was closed but the skipper said it's
> worth a visit. We also visited the governors' mansion
> where we saw Jonathan, a 150 yr. old giant land
> tortus, mating on the front lawn. Island life
> certainly agrees with him. You can also go wreck
> diving with the local dive operators. The local (and
> only) restaurant is really part of Anna's house. It is
> quite good. She keeps an interesting book of comments
> written by visiting boaters. Hey, even the QE2 stops
> at St Helena every now and then.
> Eleven days later we stopped at San Fernando de
> Noraha, an island off the coast of Brazil. We heard
> you could swim with dolphins, however the government
> has outlawed this practice. The spinner dolphins did
> escort us in and out of the harbor. Since we didn't
> have a dinghy we swam ashore. The customs guy sits in
> a booth near the road at the harbor. He stopped us but
> we said we didn't have our passports because we swam
> in. We must have really looked bedraggled because he
> asked us, in broken English, if we wanted a shower. He
> did let us walk to town after we told him we were
> having engine trouble and needed some spare parts (a
> little fib made up by the skipper). Later the skipper
> swam ashore with our passports in a waterproof bag. He
> forgot to bring the boat registration papers. He told
> the customs guy he was "too old and grey" to swim back
> out to the boat so the customs guy just ignored our
> presence and never officially checked us in. Also it
> was Friday and the skipper pointed out that we would
> be gone by Monday when the supervisor returned. We
> walked to town (about an hour) and spent the day
> trying to call home and change money. Some places
> take credit cards but the small shops and vegi market
> did not. We finally changed $30 at the local dive
> shop! We had a nice dinner on a Visa card and swam
> back to the boat.
> The only other stop we made was St Maarten. It was
> much more "1st world" than the other islands. Martin
> was there to greet us. Boy was I glad to see him. I
> spent quite a while just standing in the shower in his
> hotel room. My first real shower in 6 weeks! Martin
> joined the crew as the "kid" got off the boat to start
> his new career on a tourist boat in the island.
> The final week was nice. The skipper had relaxed his
> rules by now. I had a shower every 2 days now! Martin
> and I practiced handling the sails by ourselves,
> except for the pesky spinnaker which ripped just
> before we landed at St Maarten. We did have one
> mishap. Lightning knocked out our wind instruments
> near Cuba. We did not get a direct hit but it was
> enough to make the radar act up.
> On the morning of June 12 we motored into Longboat Key
> where we will spend the hurricane season getting ready
> to go cruising in the Caribbean.


Photos from the trip