We made the 1370nm trip from Jacare ( Cabadelo) to Ille du Salut in 8days and 3hrs , which is by far our fastest avr speed for a passage ( 7.02knots !) En route we clocked up 4 days over 170nm, and one incredible 197nm day! But before you all get either impressed, (or disbelieving), it is only fair to point out the amazing current that can assist one on this leg! I would like to roll it up and take it with me wherever we go sailing! It is mostly in the 1.5kn range, but I swear there were times when it got nearer to 2.5-3.0 knots. On our 197 nm day, we had received a boost from a 35 knot squall, which had us reducing sails to 2 reefs and a rag, in good time. But when it was all over, and the wind had settled back to 14-17knots, I did'nt feel the need to shake out the mainsail reefs, as our SOG hardly dropped below 9.0knots. It had to be the most painless way of sailing fast in a 39ft boat imaginable! We kept the two reefs in the main for the full 24 hrs. At 1.00am that night, after another minor squall, both our fishing lines were taken, and we had to furl the headsail away, to slow down enough to bring in the two Big Eye Tuna. Usually, we pull in the lines after dusk, as its not lekker to fight, gut and fillet a fish, just when you have gone off watch, and need to have a couple of hours rest before your next watch! I've also believe, that ones best fishing time is sundown, not midnight! WRONG! Falacy two, Tuna are best caught at 6-7knots .Wrong Again! These were caughtdoing 9-10knots, although it can be argued that the fish were also in a 3 knot current! That said, however, I did catch a Longfin Tuna in the Med, off Zephiro, doing 11 knots! Obviously , one has to slow the boat right down to give yourself a chance!
The anchorage at Ille du Salut is very rolly, and on the day we arrived, windy, dirty, and rainy as well!Lying in our bed that night, I could sworn we were in the middle of another 170nm day!
Yesterday, we spent the day doing all the post trip repairs we could. Genset impeller, High pressure wash down pump, Spinaker pole beak ( A McGyver job), and the fuel transfer pump (again!) Today was spent exploring the ruins of this old french Penal colony. It is only when you wander through the lightless solitary confinement cells , the rows and rows of what were steel frame cots, with their manacle chains in the walls , and the cells of the condemned, does the inhumanity of the Bagne system , (with its "Doublage", to extend by two, the sentence period for misdemenours), really hit home.
It would seem that "Papilon" was rather a collage of various prisoner tails, whereas, the counterfeiter "Flag" Legrange, certainly left his mark in the form of artwork in the chapel and elsewhere, much of it now in the museum in Cayenne. The eventually reprieved Dreyfus, spent a number of years on Devils Island, protesting his innocence from day 1. As we wandered around the complex, we were aware of a great deal of lawn mowing, repainting, etc, when suddenly a cruise liner appeared in the bay. This realy put the gendarmes and workers into overdrive, which left Mary and I free to explore to our hearts content. We collected a good dozen mangoes, as yet unclaimed by the large rodent type animals whose staple diet seems to be mangoes! These animals (Agouti's?), are about the size and colouring of a red duiker antilope, but are some distant relative to cane rats! We watched them fearlessly running around taking a bite out of each and every mango they could find ! We in turn were watched from the tree tops ,by some dark brown lemur like monkeys, as we looked around the old cemetary. These were the last resting places of wives and children of the gendarmes, not the prisoners.... their lot was to be tossed into the sea in an open, weighted coffin, for the sharks to remove ! Legend has it that the coffin was then retrieved , and used time and time again!
We left the Island to the Cruiseliner( "Rotterdam", out of Fort Lauderdale, and en route to the Amazon), and returned for a late lunch of Grilled Dorado, with Mango Salza, and a Caiperinha ,: in time to watch the raucous Macaws do their sundown flypast,while listening to "Fiona's Travelling Tunes", a special collage compiled for us, just before we left last year. We have now been cruising for exactly one year, and its unusual places like this, which make it so rewarding. Tomorrow we leave for Surinam for a few days, and then its on to Tobago.All our fellow cruisers, being French, have gone into Cayenne, but we are likely to all meet up again in the carribean in a few weeks .So long for now!