31 August 2017 | Aug 31st. Anchored in lagoon off Direction Island, Cocos Keeling
30 August 2017 | Aug 30th. Anchored in lagoon off Direction Island, Cocos Keeling
29 August 2017 | Aug 30th. Anchored in lagoon off Direction Island, Cocos Keeling
28 August 2017 | Aug 29th. Anchored in lagoon off Direction Island, Cocos Keeling
28 August 2017 | Aug 28th. Anchored in lagoon off Direction Island, Cocos Keeling
25 August 2017 | Aug 25th. 2800 nm from Cocos
24 August 2017 | Aug 25th. 400 nm from Cocos
20 August 2017 | Aug 21st. Flying Fish Cove Christmas Island
20 August 2017 | Aug 20th. 100nms from Christmas Island
17 August 2017 | Aug 18th. 470nms from Christmas Island
17 August 2017 | Aug 18th. 470nms from Christmas Island
17 August 2017 | Aug 18th. 510nms from Christmas Island
15 August 2017 | Aug 16th. 780nms from Christmas Island
15 August 2017 | Aug 15th. 850nms from Christmas Island
13 August 2017 | Aug 13th. Ashmore Reef
11 August 2017 | Aug 11th. Indian Ocean
09 August 2017 | Aug 9th. Timor Sea
06 August 2017 | Anchored in Darwin Harbour
06 August 2017 | Anchored in Darwin Harbour
05 August 2017 | Anchored in Darwin Harbour
Murphy is a sneaky blighter (Never let your guard down)
15 January 2018 | Buffalo River Yacht Club
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.
Mentioned in dispatches
14 January 2018 | Buffalo River Yacht Club
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.
Monday 15/1 1800UTC SE15
Tuesday 16/1 0300 E15
Monday 15/1 1800 S10
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.
13 January 2018 | Buffalo Yacht Club (as in the photo)
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
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.
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
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.
That's the way
09 January 2018 | Durban Marina
.......... to do business!
Monday: Phone call at 0805 to say that the parts had arrived in Durban, awaiting the courier to deliver to the dealer; meanwhile someone was working in the Marina, so would be visiting DC shortly to check out the job.
The next call was just before 0900 to say that the items had been delivered, so once the recce visit was completed they would be starting the install. The Guys arrived a few minutes later to check out and draw a diagram showing how things were configured. This was reported back to the main man who arrived with the new parts some 20 minutes later. I just had time to clear the two main lockers to allow access.
A brief discussion followed with the main man agreeing what needed to be installed and where. After my deposit was paid, he cluttered off. Mags and I followed shortly after to meet up with the Weather Man – Des – leaving the two techie chaps to fit the bits.
THAT is the way to do business…..especially since he responded to my initial email and phone call during the ‘closed for Christmas and New Year’ break, ordering the parts during that same window.
And why not? One very happy customer, work for the guys, and money in the Bank.
Why is it so unusual?
Today, Tuesday, we on DC were up early to give the new system a sea trial and calibrate the compass. This was soon achieved and with Jeremy on the helm, we were soon back alongside and snugly moored.
A couple of issues had been noted before the guys had left yesterday, so they were soon back to make the adjustment. With them finished, Mags and Nicole went to get final provisions while Jeremy got some stainless polished and I oiled and tweeked the steering cables before putting the back lockers together again, re-stowing the spare fuel and tidying up the cockpit………Just in time for the girls’ return and lunch.
The Ray guy Steve called by for payment after lunch, which delayed us a bit, leaving scant time to get clearing-out admin done in time for us to leave tomorrow. We had little over an hour. Even so, we managed it….with three minutes to spare! A new record?
So now, as i type, we are finalising preps, taking last land based hot showers, and hoping to get an early night. The weather is promising a mixed bag of little wind and lots of wind, but maybe….just maybe……we can get all the way around in one jump. So that’s our target. We’ll be monitoring the situation with Des’s help. It may not come off – but we’ll give it a go. It’s about 820 nms. we have to give 3 hours notice, so hope to leave around 10am