We left Fortaleza on the 3rdMarch. The last night there Pete and I went to one of those Argentinian steak houses where they bring around endless cuts of different meats on skewers that they carve on to your plate. Very nice and very cheap it was a good end to the stay. All the yachts managed to get out of the marina OK considering that there were anchor lines and mooring lines everywhere like a spider web. 

Heard an interesting conversation on VHF channel 16 (emergency channel) the other night. A 1000’ freighter communicated with 3 ARC boats that were in his vicinity. Peter from Exody (39’) informed him that HE was the stand on vessel!! (meaning the one that does not give way) Which technically is true but sounded very brave!

Friday 6: We crossed the line (equator) on Friday 5 March at 4.25. We celebrated withbowl of ice cream – Pete and I had Grand Marnier in ours but Galen didn’t have GM– he’s got health food poisoning from eating too many acaii berries (or whatever they are) in Fortaleza. Why can’t these young people just eat a good varied omnivorous diet washed down with lots of wine and stay healthy like all us old people? Been in and out of squalls the last few days. Going from no wind, to too much, to wrong direction, loads of rain, hot and steamy, cool –the works! It must be the northern hemisphere! Making good time though. We’ve had a few little bird hitch hikers the last few nights. One came in and tried to land on my head then wandered inside and hopped on the couch. Anyone who has sailed with me will know how happy I would be with bird poop on the upholstery -but he was very unafraid and was happy to be ushered out. I think he was either disoriented or attracted by the navigation and instrument lights – or just getting out of the rain.

Thursday 10: Good sailing days even though we were in a bit of a changeable weather system. Some time out when Pete had to snorkel on the rudder and prop again! Partly a bag and partly self- inflicted with a line! Pete lost his best swimming shorts to the current! I couldn't hove to properly because of the line around the rudder!

I think I saw an eclipse one morning. I was on the 4 to 7am watch and was just wondering what had happened to dawn when the clouds parted and there was a huge moon all lit up, craters and all, by a sliver of sun around the bottom edge. By the time I woke Pete a cloud had come and spoiled it. Just as well I saw what I did though, as I would have been wondering why we had no light till about an hour later than normal

We’re well in the northern hemisphere now and the first cloudless night I couldn’t recognise the sky at all! Even though I’m no expert on the constellations etc I must have imprinted the southern hemisphere patterns as it does feel quite disconcerting – as if I’ve woken up and someone has moved all the furniture around.

We’re making excellent time and should be at the tip of Trinidad in a day or so. There were two pirate attacks on yachts here last December we have been warned, so all the ARC boats are steering well north. It seems they were using two disused oil platforms as starting points and carrying diesel so did not have a good range for attacks. The local coast guard stepped up operations and there have been none since, but no one is taking any chances. They probably came from Venezuela and of course Trinidad does not want it’s tourism industry in ruins like has happened to other countries that haven’t responded quickly and aggressively. The pirates were armed, boarded and took electronics, life jackets, cash and jewellery but didn’t harm anyone.