Posted on Sep 10, 2018
I visited Belize for the first time in 1993 and I was fascinated by it. A virgin country from an environmental point of view, inhabited by happy people and with a dream sea. In that year I spent two holidays in Belize: in the summer with a very dear friend and then again for the end of the year with my family and the group of divers friends and non divers with whom in those years I used to have holidays together.
On both occasions we stayed in San Pedro, Ambergris Cay, so I had a "sedentary" knowledge of Belize with the exception of an unforgettable excursion to the famous Blue Hole and to the Lighthouse Reef atoll.
Since I turned myself in a sea vagabond, I returned to Belize in 2014, en route to Panama and then again in 2017, but in both cases only for a few days and always and only at Lighthouse Reef, with the only goal to scuba dive again the Blue Hole.
So this year we came back to Belize with the idea of exploring every single atoll, every single island, every single village on the coast, but also the enchanting hinterland which is characterized by lush nature and presence of Maja sites.
Compared to the 90s, as normally expected, a lot has changed. San Pedro has grown a lot, many atolls now have their own small resorts, other centers along the coast have born and are gradually developing their tourist offering, but everything still retains the same taste of the past. No huge buildings, no shopping mall, no casinos.
We note instead a great respect for nature. An effective waste management, a religious attention payed to the reef conservation
The dives are all just outside the coral reef. They start on a backdrop of about 8/10 meters, where gullies carved in the coral proceed transversely to the barrier. It is the kingdom of Red Snappers, of lobsters, of Lion Fishes, of colorful morays and nurse sharks. Continuing towards deeper bathymetries, groupers, barracudas, manta rays and turtles join the stage. Then, around 30 meters deep, these small canyons sink into the blue. A wall that descends vertically up to 50, 60 meters deep. Here begins the reign of the great pelagic fish. Tunas, huge Eagle Rays, Jackfishes and sharks of all shapes and sizes, including the Whale shark that chooses Belize for its fertilization rituals in the period between March and June.
Posted on Nov 20, 2016
Bonaire was a unexpected surprise.
We're always very sceptical when it comes to the Caribbean.
We don't want to be a snobish, but we feel that many of the Caribbean islands have lost their charm, that exotic taste they had. In many aspects I find the Aegean Sea today much more charming and exotic than most of the Caribbean islands.
But Bonaire had a different taste.
First of all, a spectacular sea, the outcomme of a maniacal attention and respect to the environment.
Whereas anchoring is banned everywhere, the Island is full of very secure buoys to more.
Even scubadiving sites are provided with buoys available all along the island.
However most of the Diving Centre prefer to reach the dive sites by car and along the road that rounds the island many signals indicate the access to the beach to reach the dive sites.
We rented a car to make a tour around the island and we could not notice any building exceeding 2 floors.
Even the real estate development follows aesthetic logic coherent to the original architecture of the island.
Only regret the short time available: definitely a place to come back.
Posted on Oct 21, 2016
3 months have flown by and they were really not enough to get to know what more than a country is a real continent.
One nation and 1000 cultures, casual encounters, extraordinary people which I shalll not forget.
This last stretch from Natal in Brazil to French Guiana 1.400 miles long, was one of the most comfortable ever.
With the favor of the winds, that in this period still blows with a southern component, we made it in 6 days and 12 hours, not bad considering that in the last 30 hours the wind was always below 6 knots.
A very easy crossing weather wise but dealt with a bit of concern. Unfortunately the Brazilian coast from Fortaleza till the estuary of the Amazon river has been lately theatre of some piracy. Before leaving, we have also asked for instructions and advice to the Brazilian Navy Base in Natal, but we have been told that they were not aware of any piracy dangers along the coast of Brazil. Unfortunately the reality is different and on the internet you can find various testimonies of boats chased and cught by pirates. I have no desire to relive the experience we had on November 24th, 2014 when, off the coast between Honduras and Nicaragua, we suffered an attack from a pirate boat,.
So to avoid as much as possible this risk I have developed a strategy on 4 points: 1. Stay out of trouble. The vessels used by this type of piracy, at least in this part of the world, are mostly fishing boats which assalt the sailing yachts crossing their fishing area. So in order to avoid their areas of work, I drew a route to remain ouside the 1.000 meters deep countours and at least 100 miles off the coast of Brazil. 2. Blend in. There are a few things to do in order to avoid being seen in the sea, the first is to be out of sight, the second is to overshadow the Radar Deflector (normally an artifact in metal that boats bulit of composite material or wood use to be visible to other vessels's radar. The third is to leave the navigation lights off at night. 3. Identify the enemy. I have outlined a safety zone around Angelique II with a radius of 8 miles and I set an alert on the radar in order to be informed of any vessel entering this zone. 4. Run away. If the vessel entering this safety zone would be anything but a sailing boat or a bigh ship, I would have changed course and speed with the aim of bringing the intruder again out of the safety zone, meaning running away and putting as much distance as possible from the potential pirate. With this strategy and a little bit of anxiety we left. It's the anxiety the saddest aspect of this whole thing. Aware of the quality of the vessel on which I sail and of my knowledge, I never develop anxiety when we set sails for a long passage, even when we face the Golfo de Pena, Cape Horn or the Drake Passage. But these bloody pirates put me on a really unbearable anxiety mood. I spent 4 days of tension and every time that the alarm played I relived the moments of that 24 November 2014. I run in front of the radar, trying to locate on the screen the boat intruder in relation to our course. Than I run on deck with binoculars in hand, trying to spot visually the intruder to determine if he is a safe intruder or a risky one 8 times out of 10, the boats which entered our safety zone were at risk. So I had to choose the route which considering the wind and the position of the suspected vessel would allow me to develop maximum speed and to increase the distance with the intruder. Target speed 14 knots. All this normally last 20 minutes, after which the distance between us and the boat was again safe and mostly the intruder most of the time risulted to be on a different course.
The first stop in French Guiana was the Ile du Salut, 3 Small Islands, sadly famous for their criminal bath that inspired the famous novel "Papillon" of Henri Charrière the namesake movie with Steve McQueen and Dustin Hoffman. We stayed a couple of days and than we covered the last 100 miles up to Saint Laurent Du Maroni from where I'm posting. For the first time in these 5 years I've dealt with a crossing without my wife on board. I am the commander and I have all the necessary experience to lead our Angelique II in any part of the globe. However, all of a sudden I understand how important is her presence on board. I'm not talking about the obvious reasons of the heart, the fact that having been together for almost 10 years which 5 of these sharing our life h24, which makes me feeling as someone cut and took away half of my body. I am thinking instead about the relevance she has in respect of management of our boat. Any maneuver I decide to do, even if I don't ask for help, she would always be there ready to intervene, knowing exactly what to do if something goes wrong. When aboard her senses amplify and I have not yet understood for what primitive instincts, but she can perceive sounds or even, vibrations which i would not and which as a rule are signs that something is not working in the right direction. Not to mention her reptile "instinct" thanks to which she feels the presence of other boats even before the radar. And then questions like, are we fixing the running back stay?Is the Alarm Radar on? What about using the dagger boards? I would answer: of course my dear I was right on the point of doing it. Where, instead, 90 times out of 100 I hadn't even thought about it. Thank God just other 600 miles and she will be back on board.
Posted on Sep 26, 2016
It was the first race of Angelique II and we decided to participate only for a mere reason of economic convenience, but in the end turned out to be one of the most enjoyable experiences of this period in Brazil. The race runs every year between Recife, a city of the Brazilian Northeast and Fernando de Noronha, one of the most exclusive and beautiful islands in the entire Atlantic Ocean.
The small Fernando de Noronha is a nature reserve where access is strictly regulated. With a boat you pay a fee of US$ 70 per day which must be added US$ 30 per person per day. Madness. Not to mention the cost of living on the island. A liter of diesel at 2 euro and jewelry style price at the supermarket. By participating in the regatta, instead we would have paid "only" 250 US $ per person having the right to two weeks of free mooring in the marina in Recife, access to Fernando de Noronha for 5 days and participation in all entertainment events before and after the regatta.
We also were told by friends which it would be relatively easy to find a paying crew, to participate in the regatta.
Refeno, at least by Brazilians, it is considered the most important Offshore regatta of South America!
The week before departure we were pampered by the Yacht Club Cabana in Recife which organizes the race. Parties, banquets, and two beautiful and charming angels of the Organization, always available to mediate the unique demands of the Brazilian Navy.
But the past week in Recife has also given us the privilege to welcome on board Amyr Klink one of the great adventurer of this century, who arrived in Recife to take part in the race with his Parati II and having learned from the common friend Julio of our participation to the event, wanted to meet the two crazy Italians who have reached the Antarctic Circle aboard their catamaran! Amyr (http://www.amyrklink.com.br/en/biography/) has achieved really great goals , like being the first to cross the Atlantic by rowing (1983) or circumnavigate the Antarctic polar circle in solitary. Thanks Amyr
This edition saw 52 participating boats competing over a distance of about 337 miles with a mean apparent wind of 18 knots from about 70 ° to starboard. Angelique II has covered the distance in 29 hours and 45', winning in her class (catamarans over 14m) and ranking 3rd in the overall standings in real time. The two boats ahead were sadly only seen at the start: Camiranga a giant 68-foot carbon fiber monohull which completed the race in 19 hours and 56 'and Jahù II, a 40-foot composite catamaran (AC style 45) no engines, who finished the test in 24 hours and 52 '. Fourth place a Farr 42 who finished the test in 34 hours and 22 ‘!!
Posted on Mar 22, 2016
We did not teleport Angelique II from the Falklands to Cannes, we simply arrived in Piriapolis, Uruguay, passing from the duvet to shorts and flip-flops. Here it is early autumn but the beach is still crowded and walking along the promenade we have been hit by the fragrances of tanning and sunscreens that have made my wife's spirits rise to a thousand. Yes, it's time to give us a few days of rest and tranquility, our Cruise at the end of the world ended.
It has been a long year. To me the strongest experience of my life.
The places we visit, the people we met will have a permanent space not only in my memories but especially in my heart
Posted on Mar 21, 2016
Position: 43 ° 48.66S; 056 ° 08.35W
4th day at sea, still in the grip of the Roaring Forties. We have run only 500 miles since we left, an average of 125 miles a day, almost half the average we are used to. But we are sailing very conservative.
It is one month already since the day of the accident and the exposed parts of the lamination might begin to soak water. To make the situation worst, I found out we have a problem with the forestay. At least 2 of its 18 stainless steel wires have gone, so we have to be careful in these last 500 miles that separate us from our destination. We are heading to the Piriapolis marina which has the largest travel lift of the Atlantic Cost of South America, but not enough to dry dock Angelique II.
So we still need to find a solution.
We left Stanley at 3pm on the 13th of March with 30 knots of wind on a broad reach, but as early as 05:00h the following morning, the wind gradually dropped and until this morning at 04:00h.
We had not seen a sea like this for over 1 year. The temperature is raised further up and now in the cabin we have 26 degrees, a real pleasure.
We expected the arrival of a low system for today, which promptly arrived around 09.00h, with winds over 30 knots from the North, or exactly on our bow.
But from tomorrow early in the morning we should find ourselves on the tail of this low pressure and we should experience favorable winds for another 24 hours.
The last 2 days we should have moderate winds from the second quadrant.
ETA (Expected Time of Arrival) in Piriapolis is 22 of March in the morning.
March 20th 2016,
38 degrees of South Latitude
Finally out of the Roaring Forties and another 230 miles ahead of us. Complicated days. Valentina reminded me that last year when we entered the Roaring Forties we experienced strong winds reaching 74 knots. It was March 9th, we were sailing in the South Pacific between Easter Island and Puerto Montt and we were at 39 degrees South Latitude, the wind came from our stern, Angelique II was at the peak of its efficiency and its crew in good shape . The Southern Oceans were welcoming us. On March 17th, at about 44° Latitude South, the same Oceans said goodbye investing us with a storm which this time came from the bow and found a wounded boat and a tired crew. For over 24 hours we were beaten by winds always above 40 knots, with a wave of around 6 meters and with the fear that something could give way. The day after the storm overcame us with the wind veering to south, but with thunderstorms that followed each other every 20 to 30 minutes accompanied by pouring rain and gusts of wind which would go from zero to over 40 knots Fortunately, once again, Angelique II proved to be better than her crew and overcame all this with no further damage. Yesterday the expected high pressure finally arrived, bringing sun, 26 degrees in the cabin and also little wind.
So we proceed slowly between 4 and 5 knots. The good news is that this beautiful weather should accompany us to Piriapolis, so waiting to write an end to this long chapter of our The Lifetime Cruise, we rest, read and watch some good movies. Simple activities with which, for over a year, we could no longer entertain us, at least during navigation.
Posted on Mar 13, 2016
We are ready to set sails. 1,100 miles of sea ahead of us to get to Piriapolis in Uruguay. This is our destination. Buenos Aires must wait, we need to immediately dry dock Angelique II and let the damaged areas to dry before starting with the repairs.
1000 miles to get out fro the “Screaming Fifties and the Roaring Forties” and say goodbye to this intensely lived year at the end of the world.
It's time to get some warm weather again.