02/08/2013, Cape Town South Africa
We arrived in Cape Town toward the middle of the morning. Our entrance into this historically significantly harbor was a little less traumatic than that of so many important explorers who saw Cape Town as a the gateway to Asia.
As we approached the harbor we called the Yacht Club on our cell phone and got our berth assignment. The marina manager then emailed a copy of the marina map to us to show us where our slip was located.
Unfortunately his email arrived about an hour after we were already tied up in our slip but the manager also sent some men out to point the way for us.
It was blowing about 25 kts when we were coming in to dock and the fairways in this marina are very narrow. Turning quickly enough to get into our berth and then stopping our forward motion quickly were both challenges. Thanks to lots of good help on the dock we got in without a scratch.
We managed to get tied up but it took us close to half an hour to get adequate spring lines set up so we could keep the bowsprit from overhanging the dock too much when the wind pushed the boat into the slip. The winds in this harbour are very well known and have broken a lot of dock lines over the years.
I think we have it all sorted now. We doubled all the critical lines so the legendary winds of Cape Town should not harm the boat. We are lucky that the slip we are in is one where the strong winds push the boat away from the finger we are tied to;
Checking in was a piece of cake. We did not have to visit any government office. The whole process was handled in the Yacht Club office by a very friendly lady named Diane.
We had two packages waiting for us here.
One was a new top terminal for our new roller furler. We had some issues with the alignment of bolt holes on the part than came with the furler. The manufacturer shipped a new part and it was sitting here waiting for us.
The other box was from our friend Gonzalo who sent me a fresh supply of his incredible sun screen product called "Total Block". He air freighted 5 bottles of it from Peru. Gonzalo is one of the amazing friends we have made on our voyage around the world.
Total Block is the best sunscreen I have ever used. Its not greasy and it really works. If I miss a spot when I put it on I know it by the end of the day.
We are very excited at the possibility of Gonzalo visiting us when we get to Cartegena. Gonzalo's company operates manufacturing plants in Bogata where he frequently visits and we are hoping that one of his business trips is close to the time we will be in Cartegena. We have not seen him since we left Peru 3 years ago.
The Royal Cape Yacht Club is a large club with a very large marina. Its only a short distance between the club and the downtown area but the neighborhood is rough and cabs are advised.
Another cruiser dropped by today and told us about a car rental outfit that is very inexpensive so we might rent a car for a couple of days to get the worst of our provisioning done.
It's now early evening here and the winds have started blowing. We are glad we doubled up the lines but the 40 kt gusts in this marina are not nearly as bad as the 30 kt gusts at Zululand Yacht Club where the chop came into the marina across a couple of miles of exposed bay. Here the marina basin is compact and crowded so there are a lot of other boats to buffer the violence of the wind.
I also tied off the wind generator blades so we won't be dependent on its electric break system to keep if from overspeeding in the hurricane force winds we expect to experience while we are here.
The setting of this marina is stunning. Table Mountain looms over the harbor and its very moving to realize that the same vista probably had a very similar effe impact on Captain Cook, Captain Bligh, Captain Flinders and countless others who sought safe harbor here and did not even have cell phones to get help from the marina manager.
This harbour was fought over for a couple of centuries. It represented a citidel that was seen to control access to the riches of India and the Spice Islands. It was a stopping point for ships bound for Australia, India, and Java.
When I read about the history of this place I get the impression that sometimes it was seen as a critical supply station and other times it was seen as something worth controlling so enemies could not use it.
Tomorrow we start exploring.. I think our first explorations will be the local supermarkets and marine supply stores. Then we will branch out and start to see Table Mountain and the historical sights.
Several people have told us that Cape Town belongs in my list of the best cities in the world. Right now that list has San Francisco, Sydney and Vancouver on it. Ill let you know in a few days if Cape Town is list worthy.
02/06/2013, Seventy miles from Cape Agulhas
This passage is turning out to be a lot easier than either of us expected.
We were able to sail most of yesterday and made good progress but shortly after Shawn took over the watch at 1 AM the wind died to about 2 kts and he started the engine until I got up this morning and the wind started to build. Its not strong but its pushing us along as fast as the engine would and the wind is nice and quiet.
One nice thing about running the engine for a while is that we have lots of hot water for showers. On our passages we make a big effort to keep the shower free of provisions. That requires a lot of discipline since its a large contained space that would be very handy for stacking things like cases of beer. But having the ability to take a hot shower no matter what the weather is worth a lot in terms of the morale of the crew on a long passage.
The seas are very calm. We have not seen a 1 meter sea in over 24 hours.
There are rain clouds on both sides of us but none has managed to get to our location so we are sailing along under our own bubble of sunshine.
There are a lot more gas production platforms our here on the Agulhas Bank than are shown on our charts. Fortunately they are very well lighted so they dont present much of a hazard to our navigation.
Back when we were in Peru I rigged up a pump that we can use to empty the galley sink completely when we are on a port tack and the bottom of the sink ends up below the water line on the boat. In rough weather we had sea water shoot out of the galley sink drain blasting the drain contents (not pure sea water) all over the place. So I came up with the idea of installing a big valve in the drain line that will either let the sink drain by gravity or shunt the drain line through a diaphragm pump that can be hand operated from the sink. When its in the pump configuration water cant get back up the drain line.
That idea has had its problems when junk in the drain line blocks the outlet hose of the pump. Coffee grounds are usually the culprit. I can take it apart and clean it out but don't like to do that at sea.
The pump got blocked shortly after we left St. Francis and then the rubber diaphragm got a hole in it so Ill have to rebuild the pump in Cape Town. I guess all the exposure to detergents in the dishwater is hard on the rubber pump parts.
I am glad it broke on a short passage as it will be a lot easier to rebuild it in port than at sea on our long passage across the Atlantic.
I am working my way through a book called "Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood and the Prison of Belief". It got good reviews on line and apparently has the church of scientology really pissed off. I consider the latter an even stronger endorsement than the reviews.
For those of you who dont know Scientology is a religion made up by the science fiction write L Ron Hubbard back in the 60s. It has lots of famous members like Tom Cruise and John Travolta. It's one of the wackiest religions imaginable and is actually just a big money making machine for the benefit of the church hierarchy. That in and of itself is not a novel idea.
Hubbard is dead but others have taken over. They even managed to bring the US Internal Revenue Service to its knees with a tidal wave of lawsuits. The IRS backed off from their challenge against the tax exempt status of Scientology as a religious institution.
Its an interesting book. It is amazing how gullible people can be and how spineless our government can be when it comes to protecting its tax payers against frauds who avoid taxes by claiming to be a religion.
There is an excellent episode of Southpark that explains the entire belief set of Scientology. It's a really weird religion.
02/05/2013, Edge of Agulhas Bank
We have been running the engine for about 36 hours but are just starting to see some wind coming up. Of course the wind is starting to build from the SSW which is not the direction it was forecasted to come from.
My day has been very exciting. I took a nap.
I was up at 8 AM to relieve Shawn but when he woke up again, shortly after noon, I climbed into the bunk with my kindle and promptly fell asleep for 3 hours. That is not exactly the sort of adventure on the high seas that we expect but it a pleasant relief from bouncing around and getting wet.
As we approach the Agulhas bank we can see that there are a lot of gas production rigs out here that are not on our chart. For some reason they do not put AIS transponders on these rigs which does not make sense. I would think one of their biggest worries would be getting hit by one of the ships that steam right past them. The shipping lanes are within a couple of miles of these rigs. They probably have someone keeping a constant watch on shipping traffic to make sure none if the big guys gets too close.
We have seen a lot of shipping traffic. By the time we see them on our AIS receiver they are on a course well clear of us so I am assuming they see us on their gigahertz radar long before we see them either visually or on the AIS receiver.
It is interesting to get the details on each of them from their AIS data. Quite a few of the northbound ships are headed to Singapore but their route is not aimed at Singapore. I guess they run up the coast of Africa a ways before heading across the Indian Ocean.
Another ship I saw today was head straight to Argentina from wherever it started. The AIS signal tells you the destination but not the port of departure.
Last night for supper Shawn opened one of our jars of home canned Transylvanian Goulash which is a really good boat meal since you just have to heat up the goulash and make some noodles. Its made with pork, sauerkraut, and sweet paprika. I got the recipe using google.
We will make up quite a few jars of that prior to starting out on our Atlantic crossing.
I just started building a provisioning list for our upcoming passages and it's a big one. We are planning on doing minimal provisioning at our stops between Cape Town and Cartegena, Columbia. Of course, eating some meals ashore, at our stops, will reduce the provisioning a little. The total trip, including stops in Namibia, St Helena, Ascension Island, and Barbados will take at least 3 months. Provisioning for this leg is a bigger challenge than any we have faced since leaving the states.
It's going to take a lot of home canned and commercial canned food, beers, sodas, staples. The numbers get staggering, especially when we are trying to think of where we will store all the provisions. We have to find space for 16 boxes of breakfast cereal, 24 liters of HT milk,, 90 liters of soda and probably 14 cases of beer. In addition to buying and stowing all the stuff we have several days of pressure canning curries, goulash, stews and chicken. We even have 8 kg of biltong on our list. We also need places for all the TP and paper towels we will go through in three months at sea.
For our friends who have not been to South Africa I plan to do a blog entry on biltong but want to do that when I can include some pictures. Biltong is the African version of American jerkey, or dried meat. Its way better than anything I have ever had in the states. In addition on the dried sliced beef, lamb and ostrich they make dried wors (sausage) in several flavors including chili (great with cold beer) garlic, and once called cabinosi that is sort of like a long skinny salami. They are all really good.
We have been told that we will not be allowed to bring biltong back into the states but neither of us sees that as a problem since the only way any would survive that long is if we forgot where we stored it.
In addition to the provisions we take on board we are hopeful that we will catch a few fish on our way so Ill probably invest in a new rod and reel in Cape Town. Over 4 years in the tropical sun has taken its toll on the fishing gear.