Adventures in Sailing

Getting Ready

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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!!!

The Toxic Beach

Yesterday we beached the boat at the Bluff Yacht Club to get some work done on it that couldn’t be done while it was in the water. Unfortunately this isn’t a beach that you’d want to swim in as the water is filled with all sorts of chemicals and oils. All the pollution has turned the beach into this toxic soup, you step in to brown muck and leave a trail of black oily footprints behind you, and don’t even get me started on the smell of it. Another thing the water is so bad that if you look at the water while its nice and sunny out the water turns a rainbow color, which is beautiful until you realize its because of all the oil in the water, and if you motor around you leave a trail of black behind you as your boat stirs up all the pollution just under the surface of the water. Well anyways its day two of us being beached here as the work unfortunately took longer then yesterday but we hope to be leaving here around 4pm when high tide comes back in. Will be quite happy to be off the beach as the last 2 days have been like living in the Crazy Kitchen(only those of you from Ottawa will probably get that reference) as the entire boats been on a steep slant and its difficult to position myself when I sleep to not roll off my bed. Anyways you might have noticed but one of things we’ve fixed was that our bottom step was in the water, we’ve raised the step so it’ll be above the waterline now and no longer have this useless submerged step.

Well anyways that’s about all I have to say about that, gonna be a fun Halloween chilling here on this 45 degree slope.

Cut The Rope

So the last post was a little lacking in text and this ones a little lacking in photos as I didn’t have much time to snap photos so I guess it all evens out haha. Well where do I begin, I guess I can start with today we nearly crashed MissChief into the shoreline.

Well gonna have to back up a bit now and start from the beginning, so basically today the sailing school wanted to use the dock today so we were like, yeah sure we can move. So we moved out to the buoy tied up nearby and there was no other buoy(cause we ripped it out last time we were on the buoys cause we’re so heavy) so we put down an anchor out the back to stop us from swinging about. But we didn’t have an anchor chain so we just tied one of our anchors to one of our friend Calvin’s rope, attached it to the winch put in the dinghy and put the anchor down a decent distance away. So we anchored had no problem and then the sailing school was done for the day so we got ready to head back to the dock.

We tried to lift the anchor out by going over it with the dinghy and pulling it up by hand, but we had no luck so we undid the buoy and went over the with the whole boat and tried winching it up.  And that’s when problems started as the line just got stuck and we were like okay just keep trying to winch probably just stuck on the rock,but turns out while in neutral our propellers slow down but they don’t actually stop so the rope had gotten all wrapped around the right propeller and the tiller. So now due to undoing ourselves from the buoy only the anchor was holding us and we soon begin to drift into the shoreline only being a few meters away from crashing into a stone wall. The wind was quite high, we were stuck to the anchor still, we couldn’t turn and we had only left propeller.

After Tim went in the water and attempted to untangle the rope with no success, we were just about ready to cut the rope and sacrifice the anchor but then Richard motored over and helped us cut the rope past were it was tangled and pull up and salvage the anchor. With the weight of the anchor off the tiller it managed to loosen off enough for us to turn(very slow turning though as the tiller was still bogged down by the rope) but the right propeller was still too tangled to start. So battling against both the wind and our impaired steering we had to try to re-dock the boat and although we managed to dock we came in too fast and too much of an angle and we lost a big chunk of paint off the front. Fiberglass doesn’t appear damaged though fortunately so good news there. Although a very stressful experience we learned alot today and also lets give a big round of applause to Richard who really saved us today, he both saved our anchor and then roped his dinghy to our right side to act as our right propeller to get us to the dock.

P.S. We also managed to run over another buoy in our attempt to get back to the dock, MissChief really doesn’t seem to like Buoys


Finally an Actual Sailboat

So its taken me waaaay too long to write this, been having trouble thinking of what to write so I’ll just keep it short. Sails didn’t arrive on the 21st, but fortunately they came in on the 24th early in the day. They were wrapped very small but it takes several people to move them and even then it was no easy task. The Ullman Sails guys were pretty professional so we got the sails up in just a few hours, fortunately problems were minimal so not much to talk about.

P.S. Sincerely apologize how long these posts have taken to be published, been a stressful few weeks.

Anchors and Beer

Hasn’t been the most eventful week as we’ve basically just been waiting for the sails to come in but we’ve had some interesting things happen. On Tuesday our anchors came in and we managed get them on the boat without dropping them. Tim’s been up the mast several times setting up the radar and getting lines prepared for the sails. Tides have been quite high, the dock keeps getting submerged in water making it quite a wet trip to the car. On Tuesday we also had another boat pull up in-front of us and I ended up talking with both them and our other neighbors for quite a while.(Although then Tim had to be lowered from the mast so I had to you know go back and help with that.)

Later that day we invited them all over to have some beers and hangout, they told us about lots of stuff that we had to do while we were still in Durban. Visiting the market, going to water park, swimming with sharks, you know that sort of thing. We have yet to take them up on any of their offers but hopefully we can make time to do some stuff with them before we leave Durban. The day after we decided to go down to some South African bars.

First we went to Dropkick Murphy’s which there food was quite good and I have to say in Africa they don’t fuck around with hot sauce, there is two setting not hot and hot, and when they say hot the mean its goddamn hot. We then had a few beers and wandered off to look around the area for another bar to go to, we then found House of Curries which was a very interesting bar as it was divided into different sections that had completely different vibes, one section looked like a family restaurant, one a traditional looking bar, another a more rustic bar, a club, and overlooking it was a more modern looking bar at the top. We had several beers and I talked to this guy named Dylan who offered to take us fishing and teach us how but I haven’t gotten back to him on that yet. Sails should be coming in tommorow, fingers crossed its actually gonna happen then.

Meeting with the Sail Makers

Today Tim, Nastya and I went over to Ullman Sails early in the morning to meet with the guys making our sails. We arrived and went up to the office and met with the manager of the branch and he told us that they had already begun cutting the sails for us and we should be on track to have them finished in around a week! The manager then told us that it was really rare for them to have the sails made this quick but because we came at a time when there was no queue they didn’t have anything else to do. We then signed the papers for the sails and paid are deposit, then the manager took us for a short tour of the facility and gave us all complimentary tote bags.

After we got back from Ullman’s the wind was quite calm so Tim decided it was a good time to try going up in the chair to install the radar mount. Fortunately we had no issues with that, no tragic accidents or anything. Brody and I then went to getting water out of the bilges which was quite messy as the pump’s hose kept coming loose sending water EVERYWHERE. After the bilges were finally drained we then had to use every old towel we had to wipe up the bilge water covering the room.

Just Waiting On The Sails Now

So Graham came yesterday and he went back to work on the mast, although before anything else was done we had to untangle the lines at the top, so we hoisted Graham up in “the chair” all the way up our 18 meter mast. We then proceeded to finish fastening everything down and getting everything in place and then came the boom. By that I meant we all lifted up the boom and got it attached to the mast without anything going boom. The boom was longer then we originally thought it was as it just barely doesn’t hit our solar panels at the back of the boat and it casts a bit of a shadow on them, which is something we’ll probably try sorting out at some point. Graham then went for another trip up the mast in the chair to install some stuff at the top and then he was finally done his two hour job which ended up taking around four working days.

After Graham left we took MissChief out for a spin for a bit and all of us took a turn steering as we motored around Durban.  After an hour or so we headed back and unwinded for the night. Today the sail makers came out and measured out our sails and they gave us a quote smaller then they had originally gave us so that was quite good, fortunately they came out fairly early in the day so we got some more time in to practice driving the boat but we didn’t stay out very long this time as a storm was coming in. Here’s to hoping that maybe, just MAYBE we won’t have a dose of that Africa time on the manufacturing of the sails.


Two Hours

“Two hours, that’s all it will take for me to assemble the mast” -Graham, the mast rigger

We’re now on day 3 and Graham’s still finishing things up…

Well where do I begin, we woke up bright and early at 6am on Tim’s birthday, we had some pancakes and looked out the window to see that the fishing trawler we were waiting to move had not yet moved. With that we had no choice but to either tell everybody to cancel today or find a new area to set up the mast, being Tim’s birthday and the numerous delays we had already suffered we did not want to give up that easily. So we saw a space that we might just barely fit in farther down the harbor and went to go contact who was in charge of that spot and he told us that a fishing vessel was occupying that spot but he’d be gone till later in the day so we were free to use it till then. So Tim dropped me and Brody off at the harbor to catch the ropes when he brought the boat in but as soon as Tim left the fishing vessel rolled up into its spot as its job for today got cancelled due to bad weather.

So Tim came back to pick us up and we tried to figure out something else, then we asked the Kevin the manager of the crane company if he could put the mast on us down at Dormac’s harbor (where we launched the boat), he told us that he couldn’t because in order to get the crane close enough to raise the mast properly he would need to be able to bring the crane onto the concrete jetty which he wasn’t allowed to by Dormac. So know we went to Dormac to ask for permission to bring the crane on their jetty and fortunately enough the guy we talked to was nice enough to give us permission for no charge.

So now that we finally had a location it was off to notify everyone where it was going down and then we hopped on the boat, removed the mooring and we were off to back where we began. It was a little difficult to moor on the high dock of Dormac as it was meant for large commercial ships but eventually we managed to secure ourselves. As we docked everyone was waiting for us, crane, the mast rigger and Len, the crane quickly hooked onto the mast and lifted it up onto the shore so the mast rigger could start assembling what was left to finish on the mast. We helped the mast rigger with anything he wanted us to help with and still the two hours he claimed this would take quickly passed and soon it was nearly dinner. The crane driver was tired of waiting around and finally left and this was when we knew we were staying the against the concrete wall of Dormac for the night.

The next day Graham and the crane operator arrived again and Graham got to work on the mast some more and before we knew it, it was 2pm and Graham still didn’t look ready to hoist the sail. This is when Kevin the owner of the crane company came down and asked what was taking us so long and that the crane was going to have to go do a different job soon. So Graham being rushed by Kevin tried his best to rush his process and by 3 we were hoisting the sail! So we hoisted the 18 meter behemoth and it took a good hour to fasten everything down so the crane could finally let go and leave (an hour late for its next job). We finally started to look like an actual sailboat even though the mast was only fastened in place and not actually finished. It was getting dark and quite windy so we decided it was best to not travel back to Bluff that night and so we stayed another night at Dormac.

Today Graham came down and started at it again setting up the mast and soon ran into issues as due to the rushed job the day before some of the ropes were tangled, some we were able to fix from the ground but some we’re gonna need to send someone up the 18 meters to fix the rest. Graham finished what he could today and we headed over to Bluff, we docked without any hiccups and now we’re having some beers to celebrate the mast being hoisted and being out of Dormac (again). Here’s hoping Graham can finish up on Monday so the sails can be measured on Tuesday.

The Bluff Yacht Club

The last few days have been pretty relaxed as the stress of getting the boat in the water is finally at its end. After we docked on Friday we had originally moored onto two buoys but the morning after everybody but me had left on the dinghy and went to the store for various supplies and I was stuck alone on the boat in the middle of the water as i noticed we were rotating a substantial amount as I would look out sometimes and front was facing Bluff and others the rear was facing Bluff. I spun round and round for a couple hours as i waited for the others to get back and when they did the boat that was in our spot had been moved so we were able to properly dock. So we went to remove our mooring to the buoys and as we went to remove one of them the whole buoy came up! It seems the old ropes couldn’t hold us and must have just tore sometime during the night. After that we successfully docked at the public dock of the Bluff Yacht Club without any problems.

Although the Bluff Yacht Club isn’t the largest Yacht Club in Durban nor the best guarded but it’s probably the safest due to it being in a more isolated area then the other ports. The people here are very friendly and are happy to help with anything you might need, when we docked many came over to help guide us and get us tied up properly. Its got many people working on building or repairing their boats throughout the place and things are always happening. The place has a canteen where they serve some great food and a bar with very cheap drinks and a very friendly barkeep. Hopefully we will be getting our mast up tomorrow but we’ve come to expect delays here in South Africa so who knows if it will happen then or later.

SV MissChief is Launched!

Unfortunately we didn’t get in the water yesterday due to high winds and the fact that the crane company we hired turns out didn’t have a crane available cause the one they were gonna use broke down, but we delay no longer today is the day. Crane got here half an hour late which worried us a bit but it did finally make it, the winds were blowing in the right direction and seas were relatively calm. It took a good hour or two of preparation as the crane checked, and double checked many things to make sure nothing would go wrong and then after much deliberation we got strapped up and were lifted up and although it was quite spooky hearing the sounds of the ship groaning from being lifted up nothing broke and the boat was lowered into the water with both Tim and Len atop it. After an inspection of the interior Len and Tim found no leaks and the crane let go of Misschief and Misschief started its engines and it was off.

Brody, Nastya and I planned to use the dinghy to board the ship once it was in but instead they decided to go straight to our destination without us, so we made the decision to follow after them with the dinghy as opposed to deflating it and putting it in the car. We had some real troubles starting it because Tim was the only one who had practiced starting the engine and we had only briefly watched. Eventually some of the workers that helped get the boat in the water came over and walked us through it and thanks to them we got it going and we were off. We managed to catch up to MissChief at the Bluff Yacht Club as they were trying to find a place to moor. Unfortunately our planned spot to dock was being taken up by another vessel so we had to instead moor to two buoys for the day. Now we’re going to have some beers and some braii to celebrate finally being in the water.


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