Adventures in Sailing

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.

Leave a Reply