We ran into Jamestown today to get checked out and do our last minute internet and shopping. This is somewhere I would like to return to some day. St Helena’s people are so nice and friendly. Everybody we passed asked us if we were “alright” and seemed genuinely interested in us being there and having a pleasant experience. Although it’s small, It’s definitely one of the friendliest countries in the world. Technically it’s a British territory, but the local people sure give it a home town feel.
We returned to our boat after paying our water taxi fees, 46 pounds for the week for all 3 of us. We had the back of our boat tied up to the mooring buoy behind us, so I dove into the water to untie it. When I jumped in, 2 things happened. First, I noticed something black flash below in the water as I jumped in and before I got my mask and snorkel on. When I got it on, it seemed to be some kind of larger fish and I noticed there were hundreds of minnows huddled underneath our boat, trying to blend in to the keel and rudder in a tightly packed group. It reminded me of Finding Nemo, where the minnows would make certain shapes in the water. They were trying to blend into our boat as if they were part of it. A small group of much larger fish were on the hunt. They had the shape of tunas, but they were lighter and probably only 12-16 inches long. But they would swim quickly under the boat, trying to get to the minnows and the minnows were quite freaked out. The 2nd thing that happened was I noticed a stinging on my belly when I jumped in the salt water. I had gotten a rash earlier in the week from my shirt and I assumed that rash was back again. It seemed to be some kind of reaction to the detergent used on my shirt combined with my sweat.
I swam over and tried to untie the line on the mooring, but it was too taut for me to untie the bowline, so I asked Carol to untie it from the cleat on the boat. Once it was loosened, I was able to untie the bowline, although it was a bit of a challenge and I think I must have rubbed my belly against the mooring. Under the waterline the mooring had a bunch of submerged growth on it, similar to those types of plants and growth you would see on a coral. I didn’t think anything of it at the time. I went and got my GoPro to record the minnows and hoped to get some of those larger fish in action, but my battery was running low, so I’m not sure how much I actually got filmed. I got out of the water and rinsed off, noticing the rash on my belly seemed to be getting much worse. As we pulled out of the harbor, my belly started to warm up and burn like an allergic reaction to something and it was much worse than the rash I had gotten earlier in the week. At this point, I started thinking maybe I got it from rubbing up against the growth on the mooring.
We started treating it as if I had been stung by a jelly fish. It was hot to the touch and it actually hurt quite a bit. We looked in the first aid book and decided to treat it as such. We made a mixture of baking soda and water and put it on the swollen area and left it on for 20 minutes. We then rinsed it with hot water using a paper towel, and I took some Benadryl. I tend to be sensitive to Benadryl and it typically knocks me out. Within 30 minutes, I was out, which was probably for the best as the pain of whatever it was on my belly was not comfortable. I slept until it was my shift at midnight. The pain has subsided a bit, but the area on my belly is still quite tender and I will continue to monitor it.
Those poor minnows. As we left the harbor, motoring at about 5 knots, they all tried to follow us to stay under the boat, protected from the larger fish, but they couldn’t quite keep up, and then the water started ripping on top as the hunters started taking them out and having a feeding frenzy. It was sad watching them trying in vain to keep up with us and their numbers dwindling as they were picked off by the dozens by the larger fish. Oh well. The circle of life, I suppose. I noticed when I was closer to them in the water that they would even come over and swim around me, hoping for my protection from the hunters. Poor minnows. Smile
It’s 3 am now, on the midnight shift. We’ve been motor-sailing since we left. Currently, the ocean looks more like a lake. The moon is very bright and earlier it almost looked like daylight out here. You could see everything. Now the moon is hidden behind some clouds ahead and it’s peeking through some of them about 1-2 miles ahead. It kind of looks like a stage up there with a spotlight on it. The wind is blowing but maybe only a knot or two. Enough to make the mainsail squeak back and forth as we motor-sail along. It’s a pleasant evening. The light breeze is cool, but not cold. I’m wearing shorts and a sleeveless shirt and no socks or shoes. We are obviously moving towards the equator.
I went to sleep at 4 am and slept through until around 10 am and my belly no longer hurts. I’m really grateful as it seemed to be some kind of allergic reaction and I wasn’t sure how far it would go. I definitely didn’t want to go back to St Helena to seek medical attention.
Somewhere during my sleep, we turned off the motor and have been sailing all day. The wind has been light so we have been sailing with the asymmetric spinnaker. It’s such a great work horse when the wind is light and has been pulling us through the water from 3-5 knots all day and now into the night. Typically, we take this sail down when it gets dark because it’s complicated to pull down if the wind gets too strong. However, we looked at the weather and decided it would be okay to leave it up all night. The ocean is still, much like a large lake at this point, and I’ve been on shift since 8pm. The sail has been killing it all night so far. It is now 11 pm and once in a while the sail luffs, but for the most part it keeps us moving forward at an acceptable speed.
I may have forgotten to mention in past blogs or posts that we have decided to bypass Ascension, the island about a week’s sail north of St Helena. After reading more about the anchoring and disembarking processes we decided it wasn’t really worth it to visit there for a few days. We have now set our course for Brazil and should be there in 14 days assuming we can maintain our speed. We are heading for a port in Northern Brazil, I believe is called Cabedelo. If you look at Brazil and imagine it as a breast, Cabadelo is around the nipple area. It is frequented by other cruisers and is known as a safe place to stay compared to the rest of Brazil. We’d rather avoid any problems if we can. After we leave Brazil we’ll be sailing out about 100 miles to avoid any problems along the coastal areas and head north to French Guyana, and from there to Greneda. The owner of this boat will be ending his journey there and plans to try and sell his boat there. I will be looking for another boat to go on from there to western islands and on to Panama to complete my circumnavigation.
Our current position is 14 15.75 South 08 42.13 West for those of you who are GPS inclined.
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