Day Three to Luderitz…..
Cold and Wet
May 21st, 2013 (Eastern Hemisphere)
After we gybed the main yesterday, we were pretty much right on course and had stronger than predicted winds (yet again!). Initially, it wasn’t blowing too hard so we put up the spinnaker again. Shortly thereafter of course, the winds piped up into the low 20 knot range and we were galloping a bit too fast; hitting 9-13 knots. It’s a long boat ride and I don’t want to stress out the boat and the crew, so we took the kite down and went to a single reefed main with full genoa to port (starboard tack). We rode this till mid night on a cold, lumpy dreary day.
Mid night last night, the winds started to shift to the East so we rolled up the genoa and motored. With the mainsail up, we were going around 7 knots. At 6 a.m. this morning, the winds shifted to the NNW at 20-25, right on the nose with 60 miles to go. No fun. We rolled up the mainsail, and bounced for a few hours and the wind has now settled back to 15 knots from the NNW. Still not the greatest ride, but we will be in Luderitz in about 4-5 hours so we’ll get over it.
This is a small coastal low pressure system that the “Skeleton Coast” is known for. It would play havoc with an old sailing ship as difficult as they were to maneuver. With our “iron genoa’s” (aka motors), no worries mate. Currently, there is a much bigger low pressure system out in the South Atlantic and we don’t want to find it. It has the same conditions we are now in, but much stronger with winds to 40 knots. As such, we’ll be sitting in Luderitz and watching the weather to see when the South Atlantic High re-establishes itself and gives us the green light for the jump to St. Helena. Were making water before we get to Luderitz as the harbor is very muddy, I don’t want it clogging up the filters. IF it calms down a bit, we’ll do the wash in the machine and otherwise we’re just reading and relaxing and looking forward to a good night’s sleep inside the well protected bay. We’ll top up fuel and watch the weather. Getting ready for the start of the big jump; off to the mid Atlantic island of St. Helena.
Scott and Nikki
Half Way to Luderitz…..
May 20th, 2013 (Eastern Hemisphere)
Yesterday started out with light winds and predicted to essentially drop off to very little. However, as I have come to learn, the timing and direction of the GRIB (Gridded Imbedded Binary Files) that we use as computerized weather is accurate. The strengths of the winds are not.
Usually, the strengths are under reported by around 5 knots, sometimes a bit more. Yesterday we had winds of 15-25 knots most of the day. The computer said 12 and dropping.
As such, we flew the spinnaker with the full main and all systems worked well. We had some exhilarating surfing between 9-12 knots. As we’ve a lot of ocean to cover, I didn’t want to shake our rusty sail handling out in the middle of the night, so we took it down at sunset.
The direction of the winds is taking us a bit offshore, but we’ll gybe this morning when Nikki gets up and be headed almost exactly at Luderitz. We’ve 200 miles to go and should be there by tomorrow afternoon.
Someone quickly knock wood, all systems seem to be working just fine (thank you very much!). A few little bug-a-boos. Our new wind speed/direction instrument is too quick to react and we haven’t been able to dampen it. I also think it’s out of calibration and is reading the winds a bit too high.
My “eye” sees 12-14 knots on the water, the instrument says 18-21 knots. Looks good, but isn’t as helpful as it should be.
It was COLD last night. We saw 49 degrees F!!! (9.4 C), It’s now 0745 and still pretty chilly. No clouds but lots of haze for which this coast; known as the “Skeleton Coast” is famous for. Heavy fog like London or LA can be the norm. Yes my UK friends, LA gets heavy fog! (And the water is COLD!).
The Skeleton Coast was so named as in the old sailing days, lots of ships wrecked here in the low visibility conditions. It didn’t help that the area was virtually unpopulated for hundreds of miles north of Cape Town up the coast to Namibia and Angola.
The day before we left Cape Town, a 46 foot Catamaran on a delivery across the Atlantic hit that heavy fog off Dessen Island. They went aground where the boat still is! Two out of every three catamaran’s in the world are made in South Africa. Almost all of them sail across to the Caribbean or to Europe; most for the charter markets. Robertson & Caine is the world’s largest manufacturer and makes all the boats for the “Moorings Charter Group” of which “Sunsail” is the parent. They have lots of boats leaving Cape Town all year round. Some with more experienced crews than others!
The sun is rising, the coffee is hot, the generator purring.
KIT, position report out in about an hour.
Scott and Offwatch Nikki
Cape Town and off to Luderitz, Namibia….yet again!
May 18th, 2013 (Eastern Hemisphere)
We were able to get out of the V&A Marina on the 0930 bridge openings. There are two there. The Bascule (which in French means draw bridge) and the Swing Bridge. This is a long walkway that is spun 90 degrees along it’s entire length to open. The tourists waved, so did we and with a call to Cape Town Port Control said our good byes.
Now, I’m back tracking a bit as I forgot to put this in the blog where we left Cape Town the first time.
Every time I undertake a long voyage, I either have the rig (mast, boom and all it’s wires) professionally inspected or do it myself. I always however like a second set of eyes on it. When in Indonesia last year, friend John Wolstenhome of “Mr. John VI” took a look and gave me a good report.
As we were about to leave on a 5000 mile (7500 km) trip, I has Associated Rigging do the inspection. They found a small crack in our staysail tang aloft. I’ll put it in the photo log when I catch up. Anyway, they fixed it and we were then … good to go. Unfortunately due to our steering failure and “boom, boom” we had to return. I thought Associated did a great job the first time and was happy to have them do the boom repairs when we returned.
Yesterday was a typical get away day. Everything was ready to go. HOWEVER, the day before was anything but. I have rarely come across Immigration officials who are an intentional pain in the rear; but we found her…
When Nikki and I went to clear Immigration, she asked us where the boat was? Our clearance paper said, the “V&A Waterfront”. She informed us we needed to move the boat 3,000 meters to be “inside” the Port Authority or she couldn’t check us out. No one has been told this in years! She wouldn’t budge. Now it sounds easy enough to move the boat but think it through. Power cords, water disconnects, all the dock lines, two bridges (each way!) and negotiating a small tight anchorage and docks at the Royal Cape Town Yacht Club. And, we weren’t their slip tennant, so we would have had to A) Find a space which is very tight there and B) Pay fees, etc. C) NOT be able to go back to the V&A. Hence, this was no small matter and would have taken most of the day.
The Marina Mgr at the RCYC was very creative and assured Immigration that we were “too large” for their current dock space (which was true BTW!) and is why we were at the V&A. “Oh, she said, if they’re too big for your docks, then we’re allowed to clear them”. This wasted about 3 hours and several layers of stomach lining. The day before we leave on a long trip is like getting the Space Shuttle ready. One hick-up and your aborted for who knows how long? Remember: Winter is Coming and we had a weather window issue. Further, Immigration should have cared less where the boat was; it’s Customs who want to be able to inspect if they want too. They almost NEVER do. This was a first for the V&A management. They say, they’ll try and get it fixed. Another boat we know came in the Immigration office right behind us. They were 60 miles north of Cape Town. Guess what they got told! They are still there as I write and will be for at least another 7-10 days now due to the weather. This is the kind of stuff that makes cruising unpleasant and it was totally a power play and as they say in the UK; “Jobs-worthiness”….. Nuff said…
We had lovely weather for our departure and from Dessen Island (about 35 miles north of Cape Town), we sailed all night in 10-15 knots of wind. We gave it up once we could no longer maintain 5 knots boat speed. The swell is up due to big Southern Ocean storms, but fortunately, they are not near us! US Sailing Vessel “OZ”, Steve and Pat are about a half day ahead of us. We made first contact this morning with the SAM HAM Net which assists we boaters in weather across the Atlantic. Once across the pond, we’ll be able to get the Maritime Mobile Nets which will do the same from the other side.
So, we’re back to motoring for the moment, expect to be in Luderitz on Tuesday afternoon….
I think I hear a song?….:-)
Scott and Nikki
Back to Cape Town & Repairs…..(Winter is Coming!)
April 23rd – May 18th, 2013 (Eastern Hemisphere)
The weather window was really cooperative. We could have had blasting headwinds but blessedly, we were able to fuel up and motor the 72 hours back to Cape Town.
Once at the V&A, we assessed the full damage.
The boom was broken or bent in three places. The back end and bearing, the front yolk and mid support would all have to be replaced. Parts were ordered from California. The really good news was that Southern Spars, the largest mast manufacturer in the southern hemisphere is in Cape Town and they were actually able to perfectly straighten our mandrel! If necessary, they could have actually made a new one right here.
New and Bent Front Yolks……
New designed mid boom roller guide section, support and repaired mandrel…..
New rear plate and “outer bearing”. This new bearing is much thicker and the welds are on both the inside (not shown) and the back of the plate. This bearing would not have sheared off!…..
Where you see my fingers are custom cut outs for storing the spare battens in the unused (on our system) hydraulic galleys.
The traveller system was upgraded to a Harken system (made in the USA). The most critical lack of confidence was of course, the steering system.
Steering: It took about 5 iterations to completely resolve. First, it was determined that air in the system is what caused the failure. Second, Meridian Technologies took over and really went over the system. They made custom pistons for our steering rams and used a “gas/liquid” seal. Not only did the get the steering completely tight (responsive), but they managed to fix the rudder synchronization issue as well. Thank you Denver, Steve and Tony!
Next, the boys from Associated Rigging took over and did a great job of repairing the boom and re-installing it. A new “Tylaska” main halyard shackle was installed as well and this eliminates the twist in our 2:1 main halyard completely. This shackle is twice the strength of the previous one which bent in the “boom, boom, boom, boom” debacle. Thank You Warren, Andre, Wiseman and BJ!
Re-installing the boom with two halyards. It weigh about 140 kg (300 lbs)……
Repaired Sail by Quantum of Cape Town, re-hoisted……
While were had the opportunity, we had the transmission cones “lapped”, repaired our port head, go the boat washed, waxed and the bright work polished.
We now feel confidence in all the new and re-worked systems.
We did get some R&R as Nikki took us to a lovely evening at Madam Zingara. A dinner and show combination of Cirque de Soleil and The Rocky Horror Picture Show…. It was lots of fun and quite an experience.
Kathy and Steve Searle….. Steve is a Marine Electrician extrordinaire. He installed the new auto pilot systems and we became fast friends…….
Our hostess with the mostest…..The Madam herself…..”Oh Rocky”….
WINTER IS COMING (for all you Game of Thrones fans (and you know who you are!!)
The first big winter storms are expected in Cape Town mid next week and we will leave tomorrow early to get north of them…….Yep, back to Luderitz! We’ll wait a few days there perhaps for the South Atlantic High pressure system to re-stabilize and then head directly to St. Helena. St. Helena is most known as the island of exile for Napoleon Bonaparte after his second attempt at taking over the world.
Updates will start on the 18th from “at sea”. We will not be able to post any photos while underway, but will try if we get internet anywhere along the way. It will be very sparse as we’ve only 4 stops planned in the next 5,000 miles (7,500 km) to Trinidad. Those will be: Luderitz, St. Helena Island, Ascension Island and Fernando de Noronha-Brazil.
Dinner tonight at the grand re-opening of the “Bascule Restaurant” here at the V&A…..then rest and away!
Feel free to write!….
Scott and Nikki
April 13th – 18th, 2013…..(Eastern Hemisphere)
The sail to Namibia turned out to be a 72 hour motor boat ride. The good news was that it was calm, the AIS was working well and we could see any vessels either on the AIS system or radar. The plan was to stop in Luderitz, re-fuel and head to Walvis Bay; 235 miles further north. From there we would visit the famous Sossesvlei Sand Dunes of Namibia. These are extraordinary as they are amongst the largest dunes in the world and they can be pink or red in the morning light.
We arrived in the sleepy mining town of Luderitz and explored it pretty thoroughly in about 2 hours….:-) We waited for the weather window and set off for Walvis Bay two days later.
Nikki at the Luderitz Visitors Center. This was a bit of an oxymoron btw!
Then all heck broke loose. First, the steering failed while sailing almost dead down wind. This in retrospect was due to a technician in Cape Town who improperly bled the hydraulic system. Once this happened, we attempted a course correction manually and the steering was so loose that the boat couldn’t be controlled. We did an accidental gybe and when the boom came across, it broke our traveler system, the preventer system and most importantly, sheared the back bearing right off the boom and that was that. Other damage occurred, but would be far more minor. The drama of the moment was that it was blowing 25 knots and building. The main had to come down and therefore lowered onto the deck (we couldn’t roll it into the boom per usual). As the boat was unmanageable due to the steering failure, the main sail blew overboard twice (half of it). The sail weighs around 200 lbs (100 kg). Amazingly, Nikki and I were able to maneuver the boat so the wind would start to blow it back onboard and finally after about an hour and a half struggle (with the wind now at 30+ knots), we got it on the deck. The steering seemed to re-habilitate itself. This was due to the air bubble finally working through the system. We had to motor 10 hours at 3.5 knots against 10+ foot (3-4 meter seas). We re-arrived at Luderitz at around 8pm and promptly went to bed. It was quite a day!
Bent Boom Mandrel…. (This wasn’t the half of it!)
The next morning, we determined it could only be fixed in Cape Town (a back track of 475 miles!). On a boat, that’s like a drive from LA to Chicago!
We quickly found that we could get a rent-a-car in Luderitz and decided while the wind blew, we’d re-arrange our Sossevlei trip for the next day. All the plans fell into place; fortunately for us.
“Big Daddy Dune” If you look close, you’ll see a person at the very top of the dark section and others at the bottom right…..
Dune Hike…… We didn’t go all the way up Big Daddy, but you get the picture; a truly slippery slope
We drove 6 hours each way and stayed in a lovely B&B recommended to us by Kathie and Dave of “Sunflower”. Hoodia Lodge see: http://www.hoodiadesertlodge.com The owners were lovely, the food delicious and the accommodation delightful.
We were very lucky in the boom incident that it wasn’t worse and also at how or plans to visit Sossesvlei managed to work out in a B&B that was booked solid for months!
Next…..Back to Cape Town for repairs and some R&R at the V&A!…..
Scott and Nikki
Cape Town & Departure Preparations…..
March 21st – April 12th, 2013 (Eastern Hemisphere)
Nikki and I went up Table Mountain which is nothing short of spectacular. See :http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Table_Mountain Despite the animals and other natural wonders of South Africa, this IS the most visited place in the country. The views world class from both the bottom and the top. It is considered one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World.
Scott at the “bottom”……(V&A Marina aboard Beach House)
As all good things must end. Our time in Cape Town was running short. We spent some time with Dave & Kathie of s/v “Sunflower” and had a lovely evening aboard Beach House with Steve & Kathy Searle, Davie & Kathy and us. One weekend, Nikki’s friend Sandra came to visit from Jo-Burg.
Nikki and Sandra…..(Girls just wanna’ have fun!)
We got the fuel system sorted out, the new auto pilots seemed to be performing well. However, the steering has been an issue since New Zealand. The rudders don’t align after a certain amount of time and we had this looked into. Unfortunately, this would become our future disaster!…..
Good Bye Cape Town…. We will miss you and look forward to another visit in the future. (Little did we know how soon it would be!)……. The sail to Namibia turned out to be a motor boat ride and got us north of the South African weather pattern where winter would soon approach.
Table Mountain from Table Bay en route to Luderitz, Namibia…..
Touring Cape Agulhas & The Winelands…..
One of our highlights at the Mymering Guest House (aside from his lovely wines!), was Andy’s daily 90 minute hike. It keeps us all young, but in Andy’s case, you’d never know that was even necessary.
The dogs, all five of them, came along for the trek.
The B&B here was fabulous, a huge bathroom with free standing tub, heated floors and towel racks; a magnificent view of the Franschoek Valley reminiscent of the wine country of France.
Simon’s Town to Cape Town…..
March 15th, 2013 (Eastern Hemisphere)
It was time to finally move the boat the 50 mile trip from Simon’s Town in False Bay to Cape Town. By car, this trip takes about 35 minutes as it’s only about 17 miles. But by boat, we had to go 15 miles south to get around Cape Point/Cape of Good Hope before heading north to Table Bay.
We had a decent weather window and decided on a very early departure as to not get to Cape Town too late in the day.
The sun rose as we rounded Cape Point – Cape of Good Hope and we played “Lighthouse” in honor of Cindy. The song is by James Taylor and if you’ve never heard it, it’s sweet and worth the listen. It was one of our all time favorites and spoke much to the way we felt about coming more than half way round the world…… There are over 2000 known ship wrecks along the coast from Cape Town to Port Elizabeth. A distance of only a few hundred miles.
Cape Point Lighthouse – South Africa. Just before Sunrise………
Table Mountain from the South……. You can see the Cable Car station at the top left of the mountain. It’s the little blip on the end of Table Mountain….. A spectacular site from the sea.
This photo was taken from the V&A “Eye” A modern ferrous wheel at the Mall……”Beach House” is behind the green building
A tradition of the old sailing ships was to give those who had never seen Table Mountain from the sea a small gold coin on their first viewing. Nikki and I had learned that from reading James Michener’s “The Covenant” (THE definitive book on the history of South Africa and we highly recommend it). Nikki’s Gift upon our arrival……
Some of you might think it looks like Chanukah Gelt!….:-)
The trip was easy enough, our new auto pilot worked well and we were docked right next to Dave and Kathie Blanding on “Sunflower”…. One more side trip of the area and the real work begins to get off the dock and toward the Caribbean! Next, the Wine Region tour and Cape Agulhas……
Stay tuned, Scott and Nikki
Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe…….
March 9th – 11th, 2013 (Eastern Hemisphere)
Well we had such a good time in Namibia (and yet a bit of time before we would be off to Cape Town with the boat), so Nikki suggested we fly to Victoria Falls on the Zimbabwe/Zambia border. This waterfall made famous by the one and only Dr. Stanley Livingstone. (As in…..”I presume”). It is about 800 meters wide along the Zimbabwe/Zambian border and is on the Zambezi River.
Livingston was the first westerner to see the Falls when on a “mission” to darkest Africa. It was quickly decided that we would go to the Zimbabwe side as the Zambian side (where the actual small hamlet of Livingston is) requires a Yellow Fever (World Health Card) to get back in to South Africa. Yellow Fever itself is not contagious amongst humans, it is mosquito born. But as South Africa is in a “near endemic” area, they wouldn’t know if they were having an epidemic or if someone had contracted it while out of the country. Hence, we opted for the town of Victoria Falls on the Zimbabwe side. Ironically, it is believed that Livingston died of Malaria and Yellow Fever some years after he introduced this natural wonder to the Western world.
The view is really from the Zimbabwe side looking toward Zambia. Victoria Falls……..
The main falls were running so hard, we could barely photograph them. The ideal month is September/October. Running then “hard enough”, but not so as to make it RAIN constantly.
It was a quick turnaround type trip as we would soon be moving the boat from Simon’s Town to Cape Town, but it was well worth the flight. While we were there, we had an opportunity to go on an Elephant Ride! This was one of the highlights of the trip. It’s a reserve where rescue elephants are brought too and believe it or not, a few years ago, a male bull elephant brought an abandoned baby into the camp and promptly disappeared. It was feared the Mother had died and the Male somehow knew the baby would be taken care of here.
This is “Janet” with Scott, Nikki and our Guide……
We had a very large Cheetah come near our group and Janet became somewhat ferocious as her baby was with us. Interesting experience to be on the back of an Elephant that might charge at any moment! Our guide had things well in hand…..we think? At the end of the experience, we got to feed the elephants by hand and that was a treat for both them and us. I will add lots more photos when I get to the Photo Galleries, but at least here you can get a feel for the experience.
Scott and Nikki (next – Simon’s Town to Cape Town)…….