Day 63: The End

As dawn started to creep over the horizon, the shoreline grew and the buildings started to reach for the sky.
The current here was an absolute beast. Osiyeza was flying towards Salvador.
At 15km from the shore it felt a lot closer but because I was heading at an angle down the coast and I was getting closer but at a very slow rate. This was a frustrating feeling being so close yet taking so much time to get closer.
Then the wind died and as a parting gift it started to blow offshore. I just chuckled to myself. ” You’re not going to get the better of me” 😜
As I got within a few kilometres off the beach, I started to see current lines marked with trash. Typical of any coastal city. Rubbish in the water leaving Cape Town and now here but I was amazed at how little there was during the crossing.
I eventually got within a few hundred metres of the shore and paddled towards the meeting point with the locals. Bruno, my biggest local supporter who has set everything in motion in Salvador, arrived in his red RIB to welcome me and do a live Instagram feed of the whole arrival.
As I popped around the corner into the bay, there were so many paddlers and boats waiting to welcome me in. Even the Navy was there. Wow what an amazing sight.
A kilometre later I was guided into the Porto Barra Beach where I tied Osiyeza to a buoy. I could not beach her with the keel still attached which meant to get the Guinness World Record for mainland to mainland, I would need to swim unassisted to the beach.
Not sure how this was going to work out with the legs not having done much for two months I dove in and headed for the shore. I also had to have video evidence that I swam unassisted so I held a video camera in one hand.
The beach was packed with people. There was not a free patch of sand. Eventually I touched the sand and walked out of the sea like a drowned rat.
What happened next was sureal.
Bruno shouted something to the folk on the beach and slowly the entire beach was clapping and cheering. Some folks even came and took pictures and said “drowned rat”.
My legs were a little wobbly and Bruno held onto to me as he escorted me into the Galerie Vivo, his kayak club and cafe where I was given an Açais to eat and coconut to drink. Nothing could be more local than these. The Açais is frozen fruit ice cream. The problem I had was it was so cold. After not having anything cold for 64 days this was a shock to the system. I could only eat it slowly and not too much of it. Delicious as it was the ice cream headache appeared immediately.🙃
After some interviews I paddled Osiyeza to the yacht club where guys were waiting at the slipway to take Osiyeza out of the water. I had to tell them I needed to drop the keel before I could take her out of the water. Not an easy thing to explain when neither of you speak the same language. It took me only 20 minutes to unbolt the keel. I dived under and attached a line and float so we could retrieve it later. As I removed the last of the three bolts the keel slipped effortlessly out and dropped to the sea floor.
A rubber duck arrive and we towed Osiyeza to the slipway where six guys were up to their shoulders in the water waiting to guide her onto a dolly and a tractor was ready to pull her up the slipway. I was a little nervous of all this. There were even small waves washing up the slipway. As we approach the slipway I also dived in to help and lift the rudder. In a flash Osiyeza was up safely on the hard. I guess they have done this before. Absolute pro’s. Next was the keel which with, a little muscle, was reunited with Osiyeza on the dolly.
Wow what an incredible yacht club. I am told it’s one of the most prestigious clubs in Brazil and I could see why.
Here the Navy came to do a lovely interview and talked about their vision of the Blue Amazon. Cynthia from the Major’s office came to congratulate me. The mayor has invited Judy and myself to be their guests on Tuesday at their VIP section at Carnival. This is the first time since the pandemic that it’s taken place so it’s even a bigger deal than usual. How exciting!
News must travel quickly. Walking around the yacht club I was being treated like some sort of celebrity. I was being asked for selfies. How utterly bizarre but flattering at the same time.
I was then whisked off to the police/immigration to get my passport stamped. It was certainly the fastest I had travelled this year sitting in the back seat of the car. It took ages to get there and back with many of the streets closed due to Carnival.
The police officer turned out to be none other than Bruno’s brother. ,😂
Later that evening Judy and I went for a walk to the beachfront to see a bit of the Carnival action. I think I am going to need all the stamina I can muster tomorrow when we join the festivities proper. Can’t wait.
Today was a day of many firsts.
First time this year I have:
Stood on land
Worn footwear
Been in a car
Drank a beer
Ate a pizza
Had air-conditioning
Thank you for joining me on this adventure.
It’s been a absolute blast. ❤️

Day 62: The Race

This will be my final blog while at sea. My next blog will be after my arrival.
You probably saw yesterday’s pictures of the birds resting on my arm last night. Wow, what a special experience that was. They have no fear of humans. A very privileged interaction. I eventually had to shake them off. They hung on well until I really flapped my arm.
Nothing about the crossing had anything to do with a race, but the final two days have turned into a race against time and tide.
It’s quite a challenge to give anyone an ETA. There are so many factors, especially for a human power craft.
The bay of Salvador is massive, which lends itself to strong tidal currents filling and emptying every six and a half hours. I need at least an hour to get Osiyeza to the marina. High tide is at 15:20, so I need to get to the point by 14:30 at the latest.

Last sunset

If I don’t make it I will need to find a sheltered anchorage to wait till 09:00 on Monday morning to paddle the last 5km to the marina and my wife.
Oh, did I mention the wind also changes to a SE, which could push me on shore before the point? Nothing like a challenge in the dying moments.
You can see why it’s a race to get to the point around lunchtime. Don’t get me wrong, I have no issue spending another night with Osiyeza, but there is so much to do and see. It’s CARNIVAL, after all. 🎉(I actually just want to see my lovely Judy)
If you have been following my track, you would note that Robin set me up for a NE approach which is with the wind and current. The current is helping me in the race with up to 1.8kmph.
The glow of the city light on the clouds is much brighter than last night, and I can pick up many radio stations with my cell phone.
Soooo close.
I have not really thought about the end of this trip yet. I will do that tomorrow as I get closer to the bay. Living in the moment. I have seen lots of fish life. I even saw a large bait ball but could not see what was trying to chow them. The plankton has been thick in patches, and I delayed making some fresh water till it cleared up a bit.
The lights of Salvador light up the skyline. I can see individual lights and buildings now. (01:00 local time) The current has whipped me along, making a massive improvement to my ETA and my race result. 🙃
Now the issue is changing the arrival time for the local officials. The Navy, fighters, lifeguards and local paddlers are planning on escorting me the last few km. I may be forced to anchor somewhere to wait for them. Sorry to mess you all around.
Not sure if I want this to end or if I do want it to end.
Interesting conundrum.
Amount raised for Operation Smile: An incredible R503,521
This will change 92 children’s lives forever.
Thank you to everyone who has supported this cause and still continuing to do so.
Click here to change a smile.

Day 61: ETA

Humidity through the roof. It was a very calm day with a slight ENE wind which, once up to paddling speed, could no longer be felt. Inside the cabin it was unbearable, especially if a squall was overhead and the hatches were closed.
There is also a pronounced current pushing in a southerly direction.
A new stress has been steadily moving in. The ETA! The estimated time of arrival is something everyone wants to know. I don’t blame them at all but it is one of those things that changes.
The one concern is arriving on an incoming and high tide on Sunday afternoon at 15h30. The pressure to get to the point about an hour before then will be best. It’s about an hour’s paddle for me to get to the yacht club marina, which is my final destination.

The different approaches into Salvador

I put some good time on the paddles and will only really know how good the day was when I check in with the team tomorrow.
The cloud formations today have been different. There are big cumulonimbus clouds about. Just before sunset, I could see lightning and hear the thunder coming with a big dark cloud formation.
I can see the clouds on the horizon in front of me are flowing white from the city light. That’s pretty cool. The first sign of Salvador. I also managed to pick up a local radio station using my cell phone. I am close!
As the evening progressed, the lightning and thunder moved overhead. It seems to be sheet lightning, so there is nothing to worry about, but I do not enjoy a thunderstorm at sea. You just never know.
My hitchhiker’s are back on the aft deck and roll bar making far more noise than the thunder!
Down to the last two spoons of coffee. Eeek.
Raised for Operation Smile: R424,587
Smiles changed: 77
Click here to donate

Day 60: carnival is calling

The excitement on Osiyeza is palpable. Freshwater usage has gone through the roof. The crew have started to scrub off two months’ worth of grime. The air is filled with sweet perfume, manly musk deodorant, and the sink plug full of hair. Old Greybeard may be using his secret weapon and dabbing on a bit of Old Spice.

A selfie with my safety harness

Nurse Honeydew has been trying on her bikinis 👙 but she says she looked better many years ago. After seeing pictures of the Carnival, she took a pair of scissors to her bikini and turned it into what I can only describe as dental floss.

A much younger Nurse Honeydew in a bikini

Young Tighthead’s eyes were out on stalks when he saw her in her Carnaval outfit on the aft sundeck, trying to get rid of the old tan lines.

Whenever I switch on the satellite connection, the two of them have about fifty pings each from their phones. I wonder if it’s WhatsApp messages but more likely, it’s that Tinder app.
The world’s biggest street party is only a few days away, and the crew are more excited than a kid getting a new puppy.
I just had an early morning chat on Cape Talk radio with Lester again. I was pleased my hitchhiker’s kept quiet for it. Shew, they are a noisy lot when another bird tries to land. I think there are seven sitting on the aft solar panel right now. I’ll try to get some footage of them when daylight comes.

Two and a half days to go. ETA Sunday afternoon/evening Brazil time.

Coordinates: -12.387930° latitude -36.239300° longitude

Raised for Operation Smile: R409,773
New lifechanging smiles 75
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Day 59: The beauty in nature

A full 24 hours without a rain squall. How novel!
The conditions have been very calm. Almost no swell and a light Easterly wind. With these conditions, I am not quite hitting the 100km daily target, but it’s not a race, but with people starting to ask for an ETA so they can put things into place, it does add a certain amount of new pressure.
I am still aiming for Sunday 19th.
Albert keeps track of the power management system on board, and today he said very pleasedly, “you have enough battery power to get to Salvador should the solar panels stop working”. After what we went through on the first attempt, you can understand the relief behind his message. 🔋⚡
I am trying to sort out a flight for myself, but prices have increased. A single flight ticket to Cape Town flying home on the same flight as my current wife is more than a return ticket. Might have to take those comments of “why not paddle home” more seriously at this rate 😜

Red sky at night a kayakers delight

Last night I was standing in the hatch looking at the stars when I got a little fright as a bird shrieked just above my head. This seems to be their SOP (standard operating procedure) before coming in for a landing.
This little guy was no more than two feet above me. For some reason, I stuck my hand up underneath it, and as he came lower, he bumped into my hand. To my surprise, it grabbed on with its feet.
I now had a bird sitting on the back of my hand. It was not concerned at all. Almost as if this normally happens either that or it’s a bit doff. I suspect it has no idea what I am besides an odd perch.
I slowly lowered my hand to the cockpit and moved my hand under my paddle shaft, forcing it to stand on the paddle shaft. There it sat for a while, trying to digest what had just happened. Maybe it figured it out, but soon it took flight and went to land on the aft solar panels, where it stayed till daybreak.
The wildlife I have experienced on this trip has surpassed all my other Atlantic crossings. It’s because I am much closer to the water and not 2m above the water but mostly because I am going so dam slowly compared to a sailing boat.
I get to watch each blue bottle or the tiny specks of plankton shimmering in the sunlight slowly move past me. Schools of fish spend days following along. Flying fish to the Blue Marlin visits. Dorado and Pilot fish all share the ocean alongside Osiyeza and now being a mobile bird perch. All very special experiences.

Richard’s final run into Salvador.

Day 58: Big News

Big news.
My lovely wife Judy is coming to Brazil! How lekker is this? With the help of friends and family, they got her a ticket. Ah, I can’t wait to see her on the dockside. I hope she is strong enough to hold me up when I step ashore 🤞
A ship called Supra Oniki was bearing down on my position, and with the nagging red error light still intermittently lighting up on the AIS, I called them up on the VHF. I asked if they could see Osiyesa on their screen, to which he confirmed. He then asked if I wanted him to go behind me. I said no, please hold his course and not to worry if we are getting close as I wanted to take a picture. He just laughed and signed off.
The crossing was about 0.3nm which some may feel is close, but for Osiyeza, it’s still miles away. Close is when you have some of their paint colours down the side of your boat!😜
Wet, Wet, Wet. Nothing to do with music but rather with my epidermis. My feet are wet most of the time, and every now and then, like a lizard 🦎 it sheds what it no longer needs.
Late afternoon, I was again playing hide and seek with the long-line fishing buoys. It was going fine as each mark has an AIS transponder, so even in the dark it’s relatively easy to miss.
Well, this sting of buoys had two more unmarked buoys in between the AIS buoys. Faak!
The fishing boat always pulls the line in one direction, so the buoys move at random speeds between 0.2 and 2 knots.
I passed one on the port side at about 80m. I guess not much would happen if I were to make acquaintance with it. The rudder would simply push up and not catch on anything. The keel could possibly hook the buoy and line, but Osiyeza would either spin around releasing the line, or the buoy would be pulled under. Osiyeza would probably flop over onto her side, and the buoy would pop out on the other side.
Anyway, it looks like those were the last between here and Brazil. Just two shipping routes to slip through before I can get my eyes on the prize.
I opened the next food bag and found a little surprise. A can of Bully Beef/ corned beef. My mind is a wonderful thing. I had forgotten that I had put it in one of the bags, so it WAS a surprise. I ate about half of it during the day but gave the rest to the fish. I don’t remember it being so salty. Mentioning salt, I have not added any salt or spices to my meals. I guess that’s why it tasted too salty. Only popcorn 🍿gets either cheese or perri-perri spice. Haven’t had any for a while. Maybe on Thursday when it’s calm again.
Thank you to each and every person, corporate and foundation that has donated to Operation Smile. Please don’s stop digging deep and helping those in need.
To donate click here

Day 57: Dishwasher duties

The friendly school of fish 🐟 spent another night cruising alongside us. I wonder how much longer they plan to stick around.
Washing dishes must be one of life’s great wastes of time, yet an unfortunate necessity. Although I once heard someone saying they find it therapeutic. We, humans, are a clever bunch (read lazy), and now the dishwasher machine takes care of this for us.
The only issue with a dishwasher is in the skill of packing it. Done correctly, it can be packed to the brim, and every dish comes out clean. Packed poorly, there will always be those dishes that remain fouled and end up being hand washed anyway.
Usually, one person in the family ends up in charge of the packing to avoid the second stage of handwashing. I take on this title at home, and I also do this when we visit the in-laws.
Many years had passed when I found out that someone else in the in-law’s household would repack my masterpiece when I was not watching.
I was devastated! Felt inadequate!
I made a fuss and vowed never to pack it again. After a little discussion, the guilty party agreed not to repack the dishwasher.
Why do I tell this story?
By the time I see another dishwasher, three months will have passed, and I am not sure if my skills will have survived.
All I have used on board Osiyeza are four items.
An enamel cup.
Silicone spoon.
Square Tupperware 500ml.
Silicone zip lock pouch.
Washing is a dip in the seawater, shake under water and then shake out the water.
Not sure just shaking it will cut the mustard next time I visit Ma & Pa in Langebaan 😜
Early in the afternoon, the conditions calmed down enough that I decided to go for a swim. I had company in the form of a blow-up flamingo 🦩 although I had no drinks for it to hold while in the water. Being carefree and just living in the moment is a wonderful feeling.
Around sunset, I had a new visitor. It was a full-size Dorado that looked to be about 1.5m long. He spent the early part of the evening cruising around Osiyeza and every now and then, would leap out of the water and come down with a tremendous splash. Stunning colours of green, gold and blue.
Getting closer to the land, we had our first hitchhikers. Two birds decided to take a break for the evening. One sat on the front deck, and the other on the rear solar panels. 🐦
I heard a scratching noise while lying in my bunk. It was the typical sound of a bird’s feet trying to get a grip and keep balance. Neither were particularly concerned with me taking pictures of them.
They took flight just before sunrise.
The solar panels are self-cleaning with the amount of water that washes over them. The cabin top, not so much.
The moon 🌝 is still very bright when it rises, and now that I am sleeping the other way around, I use an eye cover when the moonlight is pouring through the hatch.
‘T’ minus 6 days.

Day 56: this is the show

Stop taking yourself so seriously.

Cheer up.
You had better have a good time because this is not a rehearsal
This is life. This IS the show!

Day 55: dangly bits

Just before sunrise my new friendly school of fish moved off to start feeding. The Sooty Turns arrived a little later and the show started again. Each day there are a few more birds that join the party. I wonder where they go for the night?


It was a joy watching them swoop one after the other trying to pick off a flying fish. A fish came flying towards Osiyeza and me. One hop. Second hop. Oh this is going to be interesting. Big fish chasing underneath and the Sooty Turn’s chasing a flying fish right towards us.
On the flying fish’s third hop out if the water it suddenly saw us and tried to adjust its trajectory, but it was too little too late. Thud! Right into the side of Osiyeza. Poor bugger must have a fat headache.

When I log on to the internet via the Thales VesseLINK supplied by AST I can’t be outside for safety reasons. I am not sure what radio waves this omnidirectional antenna uses but there are warning decals suggesting to keep at least 1.5m away when in use. It’s not ideal since the temperature inside is always around 35° during the day.
So when you are WhatsApping me remember I am naked and sweating like a trooper.
Sorry for the visual. 😜

Today was one of those days that seemed to drag on just that much more than the others. I guess it’s just one of those things, or maybe the Billy Connolly audiobook that I started has not been that enthralling yet. 📚

The paddling conditions by comparison have been great so I expect to slip over the 100km mark. Yesterday was a little shy at 95km but good enough for me.

Weather Router Robin and I have been discussing the final approach to Salvador which is still looking like the 19th of February. The current forecast is for a possible bumpy ride with a strong NE wind. It’s still more than a week away so it’s not a given yet.

I decided to try the cabin fan in a different position. I used some cord to hang it in its new position. It is now lower down and blowing cooler air into the cabin instead of circulating the warm air already there. When I lie head first the fan blows straight on my dangly bits. Who knew a little fan could give so much comfort. 😍 Why has it taken me 55 days to make this change. Better late than never!

A Marlin buzzed around Osiyeza at sunset. I thought this might chase away my gang of friends, but they cruised along side all night again.

coordinates -13.410130°, -31.841320°

Day 54: Sooty terns

Having crossed another timeline and moved four hours behind South Africa, I noted that there are no real celebrations when crossing lines of Longitude. The celebrations are mostly geared towards lines of Latitude like the equator.
When crossing the equator for the first time on the ocean, there is usually a visit from King Neptune to punish you for not asked not asking permission to cross the equator, followed by some humiliation of sorts as a punishment and then the celebration.
Someone on board would dress up as King Neptune and conduct the proceedings. Usually, it’s the Captain as long as he has crossed it before.
I just received a picture from Ken, who, with two mates, owner Howard and Johnny, were punished by me as King Neptune on our way to Barbados. This was December 1999, when I still had hair that was not grey.
Today the Sooty Terns, thanks for the ID, returned and repeated their yesterday’s performance. It was the same rowdy bunch from yesterday. I know this because they introduced themselves to me. They seem quite curious about this object Osiyeza and its human. They would fly close up to inspect us before swooping off to catch more flying fish. It generally spends most of the time three swells in front of me.
There is a definite art to managing the “black bucket”. It’s not a particularly thick-walled or strong bucket, so you can put your weight on it. Those stubborn kids really cause you to have a full-body workout. Legs and arms fight the pitching and rolling to keep the weight off the bucket and important bits aimed in the correct place.
The depth of the pool is another key element to the overall experience. Too much water, and you risk a splash over or soggy toosh. Too little, and clean up gets messy.
I have a rope attached to the bucket so I don’t lose it when I put it into the water. At my slow speed, it’s unlikely to pull hard enough to endanger me.
On one Rio race, we were about a day out from the finish, and one of the guys was collecting sea water off the stern. He had wrapped the lanyard around his hand a few times so the bucket would not be able to pull away.
We had the big spinnaker up and were charging along at 10kt plus. He tossed the bucket into the sea, but it did not fill, but sort of surfed the wake behind the boat. He jiggled the lanyard a few times until the lip of the bucket caught the water, and the bucket instantly filled with water and turned into a sea anchor. The pull of the bucket was so strong, and with the lanyard held fast around his wrist, the poor chap was yanked off the yacht, following the bucket into the ocean.
It was a very frightening experience for the crew; the only thing that saved his life was his bald head. When we were motoring back and forth, desperately looking for him, someone spotted the sun shining off his bald head like a signal mirror.
If you were wondering, I don’t wrap the black bucket lanyard around my wrist even at ½kt.
The moon rises later each day, so before it does, the stars are quite literally out of this world. This evening I was treated to the school of fish that have been driving the flying fish into the air for the birds to chase, swimming alongside Osiyeza.
There must be just less than a hundred in the school. They are only swimming in the area that the Starboard (green) navigation light is shining on the water.
They glow a translucent white, and they surf each little swell in unison. They are faster than Osiyeza, so they turn around and then repeat the process. I have been watching them and looking at the stars for a few hours, absorbing this very special moment.