Adventures in Sailing

Tim

Fishing

We have 2 fishing rods. One is a good off-shore rod and reel that we purchased at the KingFisher in Durban. The other is a smaller rod & reel for smaller fish. We also purchased some 100 Kg line and very heavy duty bungee cord. I created a bungee fishing line by putting the 100 Kg line through 2 meters of the bungee, pulling the bungee to 4 meters and tieing the line. I should have taken a photo, it is hard to describe. I will make another one. At any rate we caught a couple of good sized YellowTail KingFish with the bungee line. The bungee really tires the fish out and they are easy to pull by hand with the thick line. We also caught a couple of birds on the fishing lines. One I managed to get off the line, leaving it with just a tongue piercing. The other one went under the water and we had to cut the line, it never re-surfaced. A couple days later I went to check on the bungee fishing line … and it was gone. Snapped clean off. Now I’m not sure what size fish was able to snap that 100 kg line, but I probably didn’t want to find out either. I have another 2 meters of bungee but no more 100 kg line. I will make another one when I can get some good line again. That bungee is the most expensive thing. It costs $20 / meter in Durban.

We did catch a couple of SkipJack Tuna. The first one wasn’t that big and when we cut it open it had a lot of white spots (parasites) in it. We decided to toss it back. The other was much larger (60 cm long) and 15-20 kg. It was tough reeling it in. It also had a few white spots inside but the fishing book said they were not harmful to man so we kept it. Anastasia has become quite good at pulling (not cutting) all the meat off the bones. The freezer was full with fish meat after that.

Cape Town to St Helena

Sunday, 1 January 2017

In the morning we were busy getting everything ready to depart. It was time to check out. Now there are 5 steps usually. First you need a paper from the yacht club saying that you don’t owe anything. Then you go to Port Control to file a flight plan and other paperwork. Then off to Customs and then Immigration. Finally on the way out of the harbour you radio Port Control to request permission to leave. So at 11am I did the necessary paperwork at the yacht club and walked (20 minutes away) over to the Port Control office, only to find out they were closed and would be closed for the next 4 days. Hmmm… well I don’t give up easily. I decided to go ahead to Customs anyway to see what they said. They never asked for our Port Control papers as they spent a lot of time figuring out the passports. Anastasia wasn’t with me as her visa had expired and she had to remain on the boat the last few days. And when we checked into Cape Town they stamped my passport with an exit instead of entrance stamp …. finally it was attributed to human error as the computer showed it properly, they had just put the wrong stamp in my passport. So then to immigration, no problems. Okay … so everything is done (well pretty much), lets just go!

By this time the Cape 2 Rio race started (2pm) and lots of boats were out in the bay watching the start. As we readied ourselves to depart the boats started to return and we saw that we were going to have to wait a bit to leave as it is very tight quarters in the yacht club docks. Finally at 3:30 pm we were ready to go and the majority of the boats had returned to their berths. We started the engines and prepared to untie the mooring lines. There was a bit of a wind blowing but we made it out of our very tight berth without too much trouble. So now, do I radio our departure or not? When we had arrived (2am in the morning) I had tried to radio in our entrance to the harbour but there was no response on any channel I tried (16, 14, 12). I decided to take advantage of the confusion of the race starting and just leave. That way I would avoid any questions about whether I had filed a flight plan at Port Control. Nobody seemed to notice us and we were off.

We motored out of the harbour and into the bay. We put out the genoa, hoisted the main stail … and where did the wind go? We played with the sails for awhile trying to coax some speed out of them but we started to drift so turned on one engine for a few hours so that we could get out of the bay to where the winds were. Finally around 9pm we had steady wind and pulled out the genoa for the night. The wind picked up to 18-20 knots and our speed was 8-10 kph which was plenty for the night.

Monday, 2 January 2017

The wind came up and we took down the main sail. We were making good speed with just the genoa out. Towards evening we decided that the wind had come up enough that we should take the genoa in half way. Our timing was good as 20 minutes later the wind picked up a lot more. However, when we went to take in the genoa we discovered that the lines inside had become tangled and we were unable to furl it in. We tried a couple times to loosen the ropes and fix it but it did not work. By now it was quite windy / wavy and the full genoa out was making me nervous. There was nothing to do but head into the wind and completely remove the furling lines and rewind them properly. It took us a bit of time but we got it done and we were able to wind the genoa in finally. We left out 1.5 meters which was enough for the next 2 days.

Tuesday, 3 January 2017

Fairly good winds at 25-30 knots. We had just a bit of genoa out all day and were making good speed. The seas were a bit rough but not to bad.
There were a lot of waves crashing over the boat. One wave filled the back cockpit area with a few inches of water. The coolers were floating around. Fortunately, there is lots of drainage in the cockpit and it cleared within seconds. A few of the hatches seals leak a bit and need to be fixed. For the most part they just need to be cleaned off and a light coating of vaseline on the seals.

4-7 January 2017

Mostly uneventful days. We sailed with the auto-pilot mostly. We were able to use an App on the phones / tablet to control the Garmin display / auto-pilot which it easier during the night. Anastasia became comfortable with steering the boat by herself, which gave me some much needed sleep.

Sunday, 8 January 2017

Happy Birthday Anastasia! Not to much of a celebration. We had our first drink on the boat since we had left Cape Town. Two drinks was enough, everybody was tired already.

January 9-16 2017

We continue in the pattern of sailing with 3 hours shifts. Then sleep or eat depending on how tired / hungry you were. Nothing to exciting for the most part. At some point we decided that the auto-pilot was draining the batteries to much and the weather had turned nice enough to just hand steer. I amused myself by watching the water temperature go up a bit every day. When we started it was 19.5C and by the time we arrived it was over 23C. The sun would raise the surface temperature by up to half a degree over the day.

We see lots of flying fish that glide for several meters before going back into the water.  Every couple days we find another one somewhere on the boat.

17 January 2017

Winds have been light for a few days but I have avoided using the engines as long as we are making some progress and the boat is going more or less straight. I put the number of hours remaining to St Helena on the large Garmin GPS display. Everyone started focusing on steering better to keep the time down. We all wanted to be there already.

18 January 2017

Winds were up and down a bit. Watching the hours remaining, it looked like we could make it to St Helena the next day if the wind held. I decided that if the wind dropped to much we would put on an engine so that we could make it. Early in the morning I heard Anastasia turn on an engine, the wind had dropped to almost nothing.

19 January 2017

We motored the rest of the way to Saint Helena, but also put out the Genoa when the wind picked up to make some extra speed. We were very excited to see the first sight of land. There really was an island where the GPS said there was. Whew! As we neared Jame’s Bay at 6:15pm local time, I radioed in our approach. I was informed that Port Control was just closing and we would have to remain on the boat until 9am the next morning when the Port Control would come out to our boat. It was fine with me, time to have a beer and relax for the night.

Here are some photos of the first view of land.

Our approach to James Bay, St Helena.

New Years in Cape Town

By the time we had reached Cape Town, Sean and Brody had decided they had enough of sailing. So they got on a plane back home on New Years Eve. It was sad to see them go. Anastasia and I weren’t sure we wanted to go without at least one more crew. I went on the Cape2Rio website and sent an e-mail to all the people that were still looking to be crew for the crossing. I only had a couple of responses but we did find someone (Marion) to join us for the trip to Brazil. She is originally from Reunion Island and has been hitch-hiking (hitch-sailing) around for awhile.

Here we are on New Years Eve.

I think these guys were sea lions basking in the sun beside us.

There was a bit of a celebration at the Royal Cape Yacht Club where we were staying as it was New Years Eve and the Cape To Rio race was departing the next day. We had decided we would depart on the 1st of January as well if we could get everything ready and our paperwork done.

A few photos of the Royal Cape Yacht Club and the view from it.

Port Elizabeth to Cape Town

We left Port Elizabeth, South Africa early (4am) on Christmas Day 2016.  It was going to be a 5 day trip.

We have had 2 fishing rods out and a line with a bungee behind us most of the way.  On the 28th it was getting dark around 9pm and we decided to pull in the lines before our shift was over and Brody took over the helm while we slept.  As I started to pull in the hand line (with bungee) I thought I could see something on the line.  Sure enough there was a nice fish on it.  Still not sure the exact name.  Richard said it was a Tippee but I couldn’t find anything on Google with that name.  We are hoping for more fish soon!

We saw dolphins several times but this was the most we saw at one time.  It was the 29th of Dec and as we looked out we saw about 30 dolphins coming towards the boat.  It was quite the scene.  We watched them swim around the boat for about 20 minutes before they departed.

On the 29th we rounded the Cape of Good Hope which is the southern most part of Africa.  The mountain views were amazing.

It was getting late on the 29th and it looked like it would be past midnight by the time we arrived in Cape Town.  We were trying to decide if we should find a place to anchor for the night and continue in the morning or just continue and try to find a place in the dark at Cape Town. Again Richard came to our rescue and found a contact at the Marina where there was a berth we could stay in.  We arrived around 1:30 am on the 30th.  Now it is very tight berths at the Royal Cape Yacht Club and we have a big boat.  Fortunately it was dead calm as I’m not sure I could have made it in there otherwise.  Our boat is longer (15 meters) than the distance between the boats so maneuvering into our spot was challenging.  I have learned one thing about steering catamarans.  If you are going slow don’t use the rudder, keep it straight and use the engines to rotate (on the spot) and slowly maneuver into place.

We tied up, and I opened a beer.  Whew…. was a long trip.

Christmas in Port Elizabeth, South Africa

As we made our way into Port Elizabeth the winds were blowing 20-25 knots and steering in the harbour was difficult.  We needed to find a place to moor the boat, but everything was full.  Someone saw us looking and radioed that we could tie up beside them.  It was a fishing boat Pegasus, that was tied up against another boat, which was tied up against the dock.

We didn’t venture far into Port Elizabeth as everything we needed was close to the marina.  The beer at the Yacht Club was a bit over priced (for South Africa), we found the Angling Club next store much nicer.  We met a Dutch boat that was at the East London with us as well.  The boys made some new friends at the angling club.  Overall our stay was uneventful, we made the necessary repairs and planned the next leg of the journey.

We checked the winds/weather again and again … the weather looked best to start on Christmas day for the passage to Cape Town.  We had Christmas Eve dinner at the fishing club and prepared for an early morning (4am) departure Christmas Day.

East London to Port Elizabeth

We had a 36 hour weather window to make it from East London to Port Elizabeth.  It should be a 20 hour sail in good conditions.

We pulled up the anchor in East London around 9:30 am and started motoring towards the harbour entrance.  Once outside the wind was very low.  We expected this and had planned to motor for the first 1-2 hours until the winds picked up.  Well, the winds never did really pick up.  We motored throughout the night.  In the morning the winds were still very low.  I decided it was time to fine tune the auto-pilot as it was not setup properly.  It took me about 20 minutes but after that the auto-pilot was running perfectly.  The wind picked up a little and we unfurled the Genoa.  By the time evening approached the wind had tied and it was back to motors.  In the morning I woke up and assessed our timing.  We weren’t going to make it to Port Elizabeth in time.  So time to throttle up the engines.  We motored making 10-12 kph now and were back on schedule.

As we entered the large bay where Port Elizabeth is we saw an island named “Bird Island” on the charts.  We decided to stop and check it out.  We lowered the anchor in 10 meters of water, but I was not comfortable with leaving the boat anchored in the conditions we were in.  So the boys took the dinghy towards Bird Island.  It wasn’t long before they turned back as there was no real place to land a small dinghy and the stench of bird poop was overwhelming.  So we stowed the dinghy, pulled up the anchor and continued towards Port Elizabeth.

 

At this point there was no way we could reach the marina before dark.  They had already told me that the marina was full, but I might be able to find a fishing boat to pull up beside.  The prospect of searching the harbour in the dark for a place to moor the boat did not appeal to me.  We decided to look for a place within the bay to anchor for the night.  We found a small island (St Croix Island) and anchored on the leeward side of it in 20 meters of water.  Then we noticed that there were thousands of small penguins covering the rock island.  Very cool.

Today we are off to the marina to find new ropes for the main sail.

Durban to East London

Our first trip departed Durban, South Africa on route to Cape Town, South Africa. I was a little slow turning on the tracking so we lost the first bit of the route.

We left pour mooring at Bluff Yacht Club at 5:45pm (16 Dec 2016). There was little to now wind the first night and we ended up turning the motors on low just so we were making progress.

On 17 Dec 2016 around 2pm the Up-haul snapped in 7 knots of wind and the main sail (2 reefs) came crashing down. It appears that there had been some chaffing and the weight of the sail caused it to snap. Will replace with a stronger rope in Port Elizabeth. We took a few minutes to assess our situation and decided to continue on with just the Genoa.

By the morning of 18 Dec 2016 the winds had picked up to 20-25 knots and we had reduced the Genoa. As the day went on the wind rose to 28-33 knots and we had the Genoa down to 2 meters. The boat was very stable and there was no concern. However, we were 40 km offshore and had to start making our way back towards the port which meant going 45 degrees to the waves (3 meters). We put the engines on low and that provided us with more stability and better direction.

As we entered into the port of East London we radioed for permission to enter a couple times of channel 9 and 16. There was no response. We later found out that they use channel 12. At any rate we continued in and found a place to anchor near the closed yacht club.

Today (20 Dec 2016) we will be departing East London for Port Elizabeth.  It should be a 20 hour sail and we have a weather window of about 36 hours before the wind changes direction and storms move in.  We will be using the engines if we need to hurry up, but it appears we have lots of time.

First Day Sailing

Well, that was a great day of sailing.  Len and his son Jay showed up early to take us on our first sailing excursion.  It was blowing 20 knots so we motored out into the main part of the harbour so that we could hoist the sails for the first time while pointing into the wind.  We made some adjustments and radioed the harbour master asking for permission to go out for a day sail.  Permission granted so off we went.  We motored out of the harbour and then  … we were sailing 🙂

Now the seas are quite a bit more rough than in the harbour.  With the sails up all the way and the genoa up we were making 10 knots easy.  We went down wind as far as the stadium then tacked our way back to the harbour entrance.  A good pre-test of the boat’s capabilities.

Now you may be wondering why Sean didn’t write this post.  Well, that story starts the night before at the bar a couple of marinas over.  He had quite a few drinks and was in no shape to crawl up onto deck for the entire experience.  Brody & Anastasia did pretty well.  Myself I thoroughly loved the waves and movement of the boat.  A nice change from the quiet marina.

We were sailing!!!

Our New Braai

Here in South Africa the word “Braai” is used for BBQ, both as a noun and an verb.  Here in Durban, South Africa we found it very difficult to source an all stainless steel BBQ for the boat.  We did find a nice one but it was intended for an outside patio and was HUGE!  I did think about it for awhile then decided I needed something large for a boat, not large for a house.

Finally Stephen at SkiPort Supply was able to get one from Cape Town for us.  It is a very nice Chef camper BBQ with the optional yacht rail mounting.  At first glance everything looks very sturdy and well made. Upon closer inspection there are a couple things I don’t like about it.  First of all it comes with chrome grills.  I mean what were they thinking?  I will get them replaced when I get a chance.  Second there is no latch to keep it closed when under way.  Okay that to I can probably fix later.  The third thing was that there is no thermometer on top.  I think I can get one of those later as well.  But if you look at the price we paid, it is an insane amount for something not having all those options already.  Oh and it probably needs a cover as well.

Everyone was looking forward to a BBQ tonight so I had to make sure I had everything required to hook it up.  We picked up a 5 kg fiberglass tank.  Now the tank has one fitting and the BBQ has another.  So I picked up a new hose and fitting to put on.  Also filled up the propane tank (the guy had never seen a fiberglass one before and took a long time to actually fill it).  We hooked everything up and had a successful test light of the BBQ.  It was going to be a good night 🙂

We picked up some very nice steaks at the Pick n Pay (local grocery chain).  We sparked up the braai and waited a few minutes for it to warm up.  Now it didn’t seem to warm up very fast.  We played with it awhile turning it off and on, making sure both burners were lit and decided to put the steaks on anyway.  We didn’t actually time it, but nobody felt that the inside of the bbq was very hot (although the top was).  Eventually, the test cuts revealed a nicely done steak.  They were very thick (3.5 cm) so they did take awhile.  We sat down to enjoy the steak as the rest of the meal had already been finished long ago.  Wow these steaks were very juicy and flavourful.  We don’t actually have steak knives yet and regular table knives were sufficient to cut through them.  So maybe this Braai was awesome after all.  We will have to try it again before making a final decision.

 

Internet

As I adjust to life on the boat (boat still on land) I am having to realize that internet as I knew it is gone. 🙁

At home in Ottawa I had 150 Megabytes / second down and no limits …. we easily reached 2 Terabytes / month of downloads during the summer with everyone home.  Now this is more than some cities have in the remoter parts of the world.  I am now happy if I have 5 Megabytes / second download but that doesn’t happen very often.  Sigh

I did purchase a wifi and cellphone range extender called the Wirie (http://www.thewirie.com/).  It claims a range of 14 km for wifi for connecting unlocked wifi on shore.  I haven’t tried out the cellphone extender bit for it yet.  It definitely extends the range of the wifi a lot on land.  I have temporarily connected it to one of the railings but it is recommended to be mounted 1.2 meter above the roof.  I will figure out a permanent mounting once the back rack (with solar panels) and the mast are installed.

The Wirie Pro

The Wirie Pro