DreamCatcher

Catching The Dream

21 January 2018 | Royal Cape Yacht Club
15 January 2018 | Buffalo River Yacht Club
14 January 2018 | Buffalo River Yacht Club
13 January 2018 | Buffalo Yacht Club (as in the photo)
13 January 2018 | East London Buffalo River Yacht Club
11 January 2018 | Aghulas Current 60 nms from East London
09 January 2018 | Durban Marina
09 January 2018 | Durban Marina
07 January 2018 | Durban Marina
03 January 2018 | Point Yacht Club, Durban marina
31 December 2017 | Durban Marina
31 December 2017 | Durban Marina
30 December 2017 | Durban Marina
29 December 2017 | ZYC
26 December 2017 | Zululand Yacht Club pontoons, Richard's Bay
26 December 2017
26 December 2017 | ZYC
03 December 2017 | Zululand Yacht Club pontoons, Richard's Bay
23 November 2017 | Zululand Yacht Club pontoons, Richard's Bay
20 November 2017 | ZYC

Well......................

21 January 2018 | Royal Cape Yacht Club
Mart
the wind didn't particularly abate, nor did it back to the predicted North, so we were quite slow getting out to the current, into the wind, and spent a quite uncomfortable night: bashing and crashing, twisting and turning down the river that is the Aghulas current.
Poor Nicole survived until bed time, but the effort of undressing in her cabin proved her undoing and she was soon relieved of her dinner.
Conditions steadily improved the next day (including Nicole's sealegs) as the weather began to conform to the forecast. We were making good progress, if somewhat rolly, averaging some 9 knots for much of the time, and we passed Port Elizabeth to make the turn from sailing SE to nearly West along the bottom of the African continent.
All was well, except that the Friday deadline was looking wrong as the forecasts showed the wind off Cape Town picking up ever higher and ever earlier. We made haste with engine and sail working together to try get us in safely.
We approached Cape Aghulas as Thursday's dawn was about to break (around 0500), and we all mustered to experience this pivotal moment: leaving the Indian Ocean for the South Atlantic; from warm to cold, and finally turning North....eventually to Europe and home.
With Cape Town only 120 miles away it was a moment of special significance for Maggie and me. It could be said that we've come a long way together.
The change was amazing. We had left East London with a sea temperture around 24 degs C. Once past the Cape, it was soon to be 12 as we were picked up by the N going Benguela current! We were suddenly seeing seals and whales and great stalks of kelp - like tree branches - occasionally clonking the hull and prop.
Visibility was also challenged to around three miles as the famous fog hovered. Even the fabulous mountains, with the cloud pouring off the peaks, were obscured.
And so the day passed - at close to full speed with engine doing the 'grunt' work, and the reefed genoa adding that last three quarters of a knot, and the speed helping to steady the rolling as the cold green sea swell steadily rose under the push of the rising wind.
We had left open the option of running into Simon's Town in False Bay, as we would get there earlier than Cape Town, but the marina is open to the swell and still on a lee shore (ie downwind - making escape difficult if things went badly). Furthermore, we would likely have to beat out (sail hard against the wind) when we eventually left.....and we can only clear out of South Africa in Cape Town....and our Visa still runs out in six days!
It was still Thursday, and we had good hopes of arriving in Cape Town that night - ahead of our original target - but still feared that the incoming weather would beat us. The forecast was also even worse for False Bay, so we kept on, sailing past.
We finally turned into Table Bay around 19.30, as the sun was close to setting. The wind had dropped to a comfy 20 knots or so and the fog lifted to reveal the mountains in a lovely dusky glow.
Suddenly, we were thinking we'd be in and tucked up by 10, and focussed our cameras on the lovely scene as we bowled along, into the Bay, with about half the genoa out.
I heard the wind approaching and shouted for someone - anyone - to loosen the genoa sheet so that I could furl the sail.
Too late. The wind hit us and inside a couple of minutes - as we struggled to get the sail furled before the shaking and flogging wrecked it - the sheets twisting around themselves to make the task of furling harder still - the wind speed had doubled. It maxed at 42.8 knots.
From now on, we had solid wind of 30+ with gusts to 40+. Briefly it all went quiet and we hoped that was it, before we came out of the small wind shadow of a mountain and all hell was let loose again.
With the wind on the beam, DreamCatcher leaned over on her ears and the waves broke onto the hull to send chilling spray over the boat and into our faces.
The BBC weather forecast predicted that the wind would be back to 20 (from 42) by 11pm, so when we eventually got to the start of the final channel that led into the harbour, I called up Port Control to ask for permission to enter and to enquire what conditions were like inside.
''31 knots and gusting to 37'' he said, 'Hmmmm'' said I. ''That's not safe for us to have folks on deck fitting the mooring lines and fenders and manouvering the yacht. I think we'll stay out here for a while and see if things calm down''.
And that is what we did.....motoring up and down for half an hour or so before another yacht - the 53ft US single-handed Auntie - approached. I called up Eve and explained the situation. She said that she planned to anchor in shallow water outside the harbour breakwater and wait 'til morning.
This was a very good idea, so we decided to go closer in and see how things were. At the very least, we could anchor and get the lines and fenders set in safety.
It worked very well. The wind still howled, but we let out 50m of chain in 8m of water (!), set up the lines and fenders and turned in, setting the alarm for 0530 in the prospect of calm conditions to make the dash into the harbour.
It was 0130 by the time we hit our bunks, but I couldn't sleep. The wind still howled, and although DC held firm, and we had set an anchor alarm, I was up and down to check our position.
I must have dozed, because around 4, it was quiet, but by 5, the wind was up and rising, so when the alarm went off at 5.30, and I saw the cloud being blown off Table Mountain in solid streaks down towards the sea and us, I roused everyone.
Without even having a cuppa tea (a first!) we had the engine on, the anchor raised and on our way by 0545. Not before time: the rising wind was into the 30's and the engine was struggling to make any progress into the wind and waves. Fortunately, as we turned into the harbour, we were directly into the wind, which was gusting ever stronger, blasting spray off the crashing crests.
Just after we had entered the harbour and passed the starboard marker on the end of the windward wall, we were at the unsheltered mercy of the wind and I was seriously worried that I couldn't get the bow through the wind to make the next opening into the next - inner - harbour. All I could do was add yet more revs to the already straining engine - we probably needed 100 of the 110 horses at our disposal as we crept and crawled on our seagoing knees across the outer harbour, then into the inner Duncan harbour - which we also had to cross to get to the marina. There was't time to look at the wind speed, but later inspection had it up to 49 knots.
Fortunately, our allotted berth was vacant and a 'doddle' to get into except that somehow, it wasn't!
No matter, we (just about) turned around and approached again. This time, thankfully, three chaps assembled on the bucking pontoon to take our lines - we needed them all to keep the boat alongside and secure.
Boy oh boy! We could not have done that at night, and no other boat followed us in. Whoever was outside would have to stay for another two days as the wind just blew and blew, sometimes exceeding 50 knots! Thankfully, we were safe - we'd made it.

Murphy is a sneaky blighter (Never let your guard down)

15 January 2018 | Buffalo River Yacht Club
Mart
When we arrived in East London, last Thursday, we were the only non-local yacht. As can be seen from the various maps, the harbour has some active wharves, then there is a turning area with an entry into a dry dock, before a couple of hundred metres of river where the yacht club moorings are and then there are a couple of bridges, ending the navigable area for yachts.
We had a reasonable amount of room in which to anchor, and stay out of the big ship turning area and docks.
New yachts (including Gemeos) arrived in the night and into Friday - over a dozen in total, so many of them anchored in the turning area in order to have a safe amount of chain down and be able to swing with wind and tide without hitting a neighbour. We had taken an early decision to moor alongside the wharf (out of the way!).
Unfortunately, a cruise ship arrived on Saturday, so all the anchored boats had to move into the much smaller area. Thus, the amount of chain let out had to take account of the available room to swing, but all was well and orderly. The cruise ship left that same evening - Saturday.
All was well thoughout Sunday, with the weather reasonable before incoming cloud suggested rain, and around 5 pm last evening (Sunday), it did indeed start raining, and thunder was soon heard.
At around 5.30 a squall gusting to 30 knots came straight down the harbour.
Yachts started to move, one by one, as anchors dragged. The Norwegian cat fairly rushed backwards for maybe 300 mtrs into the moorings - the crew's frantic afforts with engine power, not enough to stop them. Fortunately, they were the only ones to suffer damage (to the moored boat) but there were several close calls as skippers shouted at wives and wives shouted back at husbands through the din as they all rushed to start the engine, raise the anchor, and get out of the bleep bleep way.
One crew arrived by dinghy from showers ashore - their boat planing at full speed to intercept their yacht as it was blown up the river towards the moorings.
The whole drama lasted maybe 15 minutes. We could only be spectators - except to take the lines of the heavy steel Belgian boat that joined us on the wharf.
Then it was all peace and tranquility again. It even stopped raining.
Today, under a lovely sunny and blue sky, the wind has steadily risen as forecast, maybe to 40 knots before it passes this evening. We are cleared-out with officialdom, awaiting the passing of the wind (what's new?) before we head off ASAP thereafter.
We hope to be slipped by 1800 as that wind will soon die to single figures, and we have 550 nms or so to go before CapeTown, where the next 30+ knotter is due Friday afternoon!
Given the light winds forecast - from behind, once we turn the corner to head west - I suspect we'll be giving the Iron sail another good run. We'll need to average 7 knots.
Pip pip!

Mentioned in dispatches

14 January 2018 | Buffalo River Yacht Club
Mart
This morning's weather forecast from Des:
Modesty almost prevented me from sharing this.....but only 'almost'! In any event, it is an interesting example of how things go:

Good morning East London and Port Elizabeth,

In medieval times the harbingers of bad news were burnt at the stake
but can't recall any one ever being rewarded for bringing good news. I strongly suspect there are two individuals in your group of yachts that seem to attract good weather ( my records since Reunion and the northern Moz channel points the finger at Dreamcatcher and Jackster)
as the suspected low pressures that were going to complicate your passage to Cape Town have miraculously disappeared. I realize things could and will change but I suspect these two "wizards" are at work!!
Or maybe it's just a case of "good things happening to good people - the jury is still out.
From late afternoon Monday in PE and after dark in EL you have mainly E/ESE 10-15 all the way to Cape Agulhas and Cape Town up to Monday
22/1 HOWEVER as tempting as it may be to take it easy you need to get around Cape Agulhas before Friday SE25-30 which will kick the sea up quite dramatically. Prior to this date there are short spells of E/ESE20 but for 3 hrs max at a time which will kick up the swell but will drop off quickly during the lighter conditions in between.

EL
Monday 15/1 1800UTC SE15
2100 ESE15
0000 SE10
Tuesday 16/1 0300 E15
0600 NE15

PE
Monday 15/1 1800 S10
2100 ESE15

Cape A to Cape Town
Monday 22/1 2100 SW10-15/S10-15

The f/cast for Cape A and Cape Town is right on the edge of the f/cast period but if this changes dramatically you can always detour to M Bay
.The f/cast indicates that the further you go off shore the more your wind speed increases so would recommend sticking close within sight of land.

Regards
Des

Bits

13 January 2018 | Buffalo Yacht Club (as in the photo)
Mart
Marine Traffic gives the maximum SOG for the leg from Durban to here as 11.9 kts, but then it only takes a reading at a random moment every minute or so. More reliably, it gives our average SOG for the entire leg from Durban to here as 9.1 knots.
Given how slow we were at the start, that is nothing short of phenominal!
The next batch of bad wind is on its way, with a local forecast of 40+ Monday afternoon, but that is thought to presage a favourable wind shift that will allow our departure for Cape Town, Monday evening. It may allow a single run, possibly to arrive sometime Friday. We hope so! If not, we'll have Mossel Bay to run into.

The leg of the trip?

13 January 2018 | East London Buffalo River Yacht Club
Mart
What to write? How to describe this leg?
Exhilarating? Astonishing? Fantastic? Even the Americans' favourite: AWESOME? The leg of the circumnavigation? Any and all of those.
To be honest, the first day - out of Durban - wasn't fun. The motion from the seas was uncomfortable, making us all feel 'dodgy'. The light wind (F3) held onto it's SE direction for longer than forecast, so persisted against the S to SW setting current which was running at up to 3 knots - like a river, really, kicking up 3m waves that had smooth gentle facing slopes, but nothing at the back, so DreamCatcher slapped and crashed into the following trough before the next wave repeated the pattern. It was also slow, and we fell steadily behind our targeted 7 knot average SOG.
As the wind moved round into it's most useless direction, dead behind us and stayed around the 10 to 6 knot range, we struggled to keep the reefed genoa filled as the wind swayed and the swell made DC weave from one side of dead aft to the other. We also keep the inner forestay permanently rigged, with the storm sail hanked on and ready to go, tied down in it's bag. As a result, when the genny is backed by the contrary wind direction, it rubs on that stay, risking damage, so we soon abandoned 'pure' sailing for motor sailing. The alternative of gybing down the coast wasn't practical given we were only 8 to 10 miles off and we had incoming weather systems to cope with.
We had an uneventful night, with lots of stars, and with Nicole and Jeremy both slotting into their roles with aplomb. They had been gathering ticks in my mental note book since minute 1 as I observed them coping with life aboard and with their approach to the various tasks and routines.
Result? One happy skipper and first mate!
Day two dawned blue and sunny. And by 10.00, the wind had begun increasing as the first system approached. It was now a F5 but settled ENE - dead aft . The current was also increasing as the contour of the seabed funnelled this river towards East London. This was now our target bolt hole. The morning's forecast from Des warned that the next system would not only not allow us to go all the way to Cape Town but would in fact make the reaching of Port Elizabeth in time too much of a gamble. We had discussed this with Jackster and Gaia during the 0800 radio sched. It was a simple decision.
However, we had all woken feeling better - our sealegs established. Nicole is quite often sick the first day, but she had survived with the help of a couple of stugeron. We were all mighty pleased for (and with) her!
And so the day progressed. A fabulous blue and sunny sky showed off the growing waves: increasingly white capped and soon to be trailing threads of spume amongst the spray induced rainbows that caught the sun as the growing waves curled and broke. The wind was now in the 30 knot area and with the current a consistent three knots, our traditional average 6-7knots of SOG speed was becoming 10, then 11. We were flying. Top speed 'records' were falling quicker than at any drug assisted Olympics! Our previous 14.7 was soon eclipsed by the 15s and we topped out at a heart pumping 17.9, while the wind topped out at 48.5 knots (F10). Waves may have been 6m high.
On board? We drank our tea with biscuits, smiles from ear to ear, the iphone shuffling the music library at an appropriate volume for the conditions: loud! Maggie made us sandwiches for lunch.
Thankfully, the new autopilot system coped utterly flawlessly (and almost certainly better than the old one) The whole day was simply life affirmingly joyous.
At the new waypoint, some 12 miles off the entrance to EL we started to make our way across the current, wind and swell. We had over 25 degrees of drift/leeway as all these forces pushed us southwards. With 28 degrees of magnetic variation also in play, the boat was pointing NW at 297 degrees to achieve the 242 we required.
With the sun setting into our eyes through a hazy murk, we whizzed past the sand duned beaches towards the harbour, trying to pick out a surf free zone between the breakwaters and the waves crashing onto and occasionally over them.
The harbour hosts the Buffalo River, which was ebbing into the incoming wind and sea, making the entrance 'boisterous', but we positioned ourselves and hand steered a safe passage through the chaos and into the harbour towards the moorings and anchorage of the Buffalo yacht Club, just seaward of the road bridges. As the evening closed in, the wind was still gusting to over 30 knots and was funnelled straight behind us.
Port Control had told us to anchor, but there was a space on the end of a pontoon. Unfortunately, there was minimal room to manoeuvre and after shaping up to go in forwards and /or backwards abandoned that idea as the risk of a serious foul up was too great. It was impossible to steer the bow through the wind without speedy momentum and bow-thruster. We decided to do as instructed, and anchor, which we satisfactorily accomplished at the second attempt.
We were 'fast', with 50m of chain and the anchor buried in mud. Our swinging circle would miss everything around us.
After N&J's delicious sausage stew dinner and a couple of beers, we turned in, to sleep like the dead.
Until about 0130 am. I didn't look for my watch.
Crash!
I flew out of bed and into the cockpit to fend off the German owned 42ft Jeanneau called Gemeos that had arrived from Durban. The skipper told me his propeller had an obstruction.
I couldn't see what that had to do with his anchor chain running under DC, threatening our rudder, with the boat itself try to scrape along our hull. The others soon joined me, and the engine was gunned to allow Jeremy to begin raising our anchor. If Gemeos couldn't move because his prop was fouled, we'd have to!
Imagine my surprise when he also raised his anchor and motored away!
Nevermind - we'll just re- anchor.
I confess: we were miffed, but by 2 the drama was over and with the girls back in bed, Jeremy and I had a cup of tea in the cockpit to ensure we were 'fast' once more.
Next day - yesterday - we upped anchor and followed a local catamaran and a French boat to moor alongside a wharf. Gemeos followed to moor up behind us, apologising (at last) for the night's fun and games. He repeated the story about his prop, compounded by having misread the depth to lay out far too much chain. Meanwhile, his genoa was in tatters, having been blown out in the storm. Apparently, he had bought Gemeos in Reunion, having lost his (new) catamaran on a reef there. 'Nuff said?
Securely moored alongside, we got on with the few chores that had arisen in the two days since Durban. One, our toilet had stopped sucking in any sea water flush the first use out of D! The pumping unit had been replaced in Brisbane, so it didn't seem to be a failure of that and actually, once taken apart, it only needed clearing of an obstruction to render it useable again. I hadn't the stomach to do that on the passage down! Jeremy polished some stainless - as he is again just now while the girls are shopping ashore and I write this.
Yesterday ended with a meet-up of several boat crews at the yacht club for a steak and sausage braai, a jolly good natter and one or three beers. Everyone reported personal record speeds. It was super - French, Mauritian, Norwegian and UK crews with a couple of locals. Sadly, no one turned up from Germany.

11th Jan -At sea day two

11 January 2018 | Aghulas Current 60 nms from East London
Martin
It is a gloriously sunny day - just magnificent, as we steam down the Aghulas current in winds gusting to 41 knots (so far). The weather window has closed, however, so we had the choice of trying to get the 220 miles to Port Elizabeth before 0600 tomorrow, or face 25 knots against this current, or get to EL. No choice, really. Three other yachts are out with us - Gaia from Mauritius, Jackster from the Uk and the German, Relax.
We keep in touch over vhf radio, sharing information and providing a reassuring safety net. Forecasting timescales with any precision here is a mug's game, so let's just say that we'll review what is the next step, tomorrow, but we have either to visit or get around Port Elizabeth and get around this SE corrner.... For now, we are enjoying a pretty majestic scene - running before the wind parallel but some 8 miles off the coast, in a fabulous sea covered with wind blown spume; the waves rushing up behind - threatening to break and poop the cockpit, the hi fi blasting to overcome the competition from wind and wave and the underlying throb of the engine. Sadly the wind is dead behind us and rolling from just a few degrees one side to the other. We tried, but the sails just can't stay filled and the motion in this swell is pretty 'rolly' with three to four knots of current running before a gale! The very last thing we want is a broach (being caught sideways on to breaking waves)! We could set up the spinnaker pole - but we're cowards! We'll burn some diesel. In a few hours, we'll have to start making our way across the wind and current, so with the wind firmly on one side, we''ll be able to sail then - still running before this gale, which isn't due to peak before tonight, when we hope to be tucked up inside the Buffalo River.
Vessel Name: DreamCatcher
Vessel Make/Model: Jeanneau 49DS
Hailing Port: Cowes
Crew: Martin and Margaret Rutt
Extra: We're only popping out for a sail. We've 'done' the San Blas, Panama Canal, Galapagos, Marquesas, Rangiroa, French Polynesia, Cook Islands, Tonga, Fiji, Tanna, New Caledonia and Brisbane; and up to Darwin so see you in........err....Durban.
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Created 15 February 2016