Kiribati 36 Green Nomad Meets the Equator

In 1997 we left Fortaleza, Brazil, bound for Tobago, in the Caribbean, on a 1450 NM trip that was to be the first big passage on our first boat, also named Green Nomad. We had more green in us that in the name of the boat, were full of anxieties and did not know what to expect on that first trans-equatorial trip.

Leaving Fortaleza with the First Green Nomad in 1997

And surely enough, it was an awful trip, very wet, with the doldrums extending for many hundred miles in width and inconstant winds, rain squalls with strong winds that made it impossible to keep any amount of sail up during the calms without the risk of an accident. I had the impression that no more than 45 minutes rest could be had at any time.

After that trip we understood that protection on a following wind passage had to be on the aft side of the dog house, not in front, and made a cockpit enclosure with canvas and pipe when we stopped in Trinidad.

On the way out of Cabedelo, 2015 with the new Green Nomad

Now, in January 2015, almost 18 years after that first long passage, we found ourselves in Cadebelo, just some 500 NM further South along the Brazilian coast than Fortaleza, and ready to undertake the first really long passage on the new Green Nomad, our home built Kiribati 36. Even though no Ocean is crossed, this passage at the same 1450 NM length is nonetheless longer than the one that usually is the first Ocean crossing that many boats arriving in Cabedelo from the Cape Verdean islands undertake, and because we choose to sail at really large distances from the coast to avoid small boat traffic and risks of piracy, the conditions are those of open Ocean crossing.

This time we were forewarned that the passage could be unpleasant as trans-equatorial passages normally can be, and the boat had been built using the previous 18 years of experience, and therefore had a well enclosed dodger where we could stand our watches and read, think or do whatever we wanted to do in comfort.

The dodger has protection from the aft side, important for downwind passages.

And then the weather was infinitely better than that we had experienced in 1997, and we had a very enjoyable passage almost all the way to French Guyana, where we anchored off the marina in the port of Dégrad des Cannes. Just reaching the equator line we started having some typical Inter Tropical Convergence Zone weather, with overcast skies and rain squalls, but none of those, spare the ones from the last night approaching Cayenne, too strong.

Good trade wind conditions were the norm. In detail our protected watch spot.

Another big difference was that Marli did not get seasick, and as a result my weight loss program suffered a setback.

Bread making at the equator!

And our Windpilot Pacific windvane showed that can steer Green Nomad better than we can, and the combination of the two, Kiribati 36 and Pacific windvane is one to recommend highly. We now can enjoy the passages with no constant battery voltage checking and with the peace of mind that comes when wind shifts do not pose the risk of a back winded mainsail on an autopilot steered boat with no vane connection. The last night approaching the coast had quite strong winds and in order to avoid having to get out and jibe the mainsail in pitch black conditions I set the vane to nearly 180 degrees apparent wind, with the boom totally opened and held by a preventer, and the boat steered like on rails.

Setting the wind vane for the first time.

… and leaving it on until the arrival!

We came to French Guyana to meet old friends, with whom we sailed in the Pacific Islands around 2002 to 2005, and to know this exotic tropical French outpost, where Brie Cheese on Baguette and Bordeaux wine are mixed with mosquitoes and anacondas.

Joceba, the yellow boat, with the first Green Nomad in Vanuatu, 2004. We meet again now in French Guyana!

Eduardo, or Edi, our friend from Joceba, who is now pursuing his dream of making custom knifes while living in Guyana with wife Claudia and son Angelo.

Green Nomad did excellent daily runs for one like me that sails with a book in his hand and will not fight for an extra half knot until the next morning, as the whole idea of cruising for us is one of peace and no stress, which can be had with no asking at any moment, so why look for it when all is well?

Even in the equatorial routes we can have our share of strong winds. Here Green Nomad is all reefed down and still going at 6 to 7 knots!

With no engine use at all save 2 hours on departure and 4 hours on arrival, we managed to keep 5.5 knots average for the trip, including 2 or 3 days when there was very little wind. We are having to review our old estimates of 100 mile days from the first boat, as Green Nomad seems to consistently be a more than 5 knots boat.

Full canvas up, nice ride and peace!

We plan to know more of French Guyana, and are even considering buying 2 mountain bikes to explore the surrounds and then go on to Tobago.

Green Nomad at anchor in the Mahury River, French Guyana!

Life here in Dégrad des Cannes is quite social, with many live aboard boats, and we are quickly remembering how good at parting the French are. The first one had 50 people on the dock with tarps to keep the tropical rain out and some very animated conversations in broken French, with some red wine to mask the inhibition.

Meeting old and new friends in French Guyana.

When arriving here we got this nice surprise from our client Jone Martins, the first pictures of the second Kiribati 36 sailing in Porto Alegre! We hope that more of our sister-ships get out here and meet us on the great blue!

J-One sails in Porto Alegre. One more Kiribati 36 on the go!

Click here to know more about the Kiribati 36.