Adventures in Sailing

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.

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