03/02/2012, Atlantic Ocean
It is day 6 of one of the longest ocean passages on the planet that we will probably ever attempt as a family. There is currently bugger all wind and a raging storm 2 miles away bearing down on us at 0300. All in a night watch for the crew of Chaotic Harmony.
The trip across the Southern Atlantic Ocean from Cape Town in South Africa to Grenada in the West Indies is a tad long at over 5300 nautical miles but we have broken it down with a stop at St Helena Island to soak in its olde worlde charm, friendly atmosphere and history after the first 1800 nm. There is still 3500 nn to go from there to Grenada.
We were going to break it down with a stop at Ascension Island but there is nothing there for any of us except hull cleaning fish so we altered course for the West Indies. We do not have visas for Brazil, (Australia is demanding visas so the world is increasingly visa needy of Australians) so we cannot stop there or if we did we would be looking at stiff fines so we continue on our way to the West Indies.
How long does it take to sail 3500 nm ? Depends upon your boat, the way you sail it, the wind speed and direction and the sea conditions and of course the safety aspect. The wind is light, or has been most of the time and is below 15 knots and is right along our couse line. That is we want to go north west and the wind is coming from the south east. Great if you are a square rigged vessel but pathetic if a fractional rig catamaran and do not want to tack down wind for 3500 nm so it is up spinnaker to use as a square sail. OK thats everything except the safety aspect. It is a waxing moon and light night winds with thunderstorms as we enter the areas of storms south of the doldrums. Do we keep flying the kite or do we motor or what do we do if we want to keep moving at night? We go against our instincts to provide safety and fly it at night and keep a double watch on the weather.
We become expert at gybing the spinnaker at night, feeling the cooler winds before the shower and storm to douse the sail and prepare the genoa and even main if needed. Believe me these are big, tiring and stressful jobs at night.
So how long will it take if speed equals distance divided by time. We go along at 7 to 8 knots on a spinnaker run but fall down to 2 at night for a few hours so we average 5.3 knots at present. (Down a lot from our 8.5 average in the Indoan Ocean) So 3500 divided by 5.3 equals 27 and a half days. However we know we will get moderate north east trade winds when we cross the equator this time of year so we make allowance for that as CH loves it on the nose and we give her an amended average of 6 knots giving lets say 24 days. We need tio take it easy though as "Momo" was dismasted there 2 days ago so give in 24 hours for reefing and the trip will be a possible 25 days so we are now officially 1/5 of the way to the rum soaked, bikini strewn beaches of Grenada.
02/25/2012, St Helena Island
St Helena Island
We leave St Helena for Ascension Island at lunch today after 9 days on the lovely paradise. It first looks like a barren rock but is full of exceptionaly friendly and interesting people and the history is to be marvelled at. It goes back to the 1600's and most recently was Napolean's exile after Waterloo.
The locals are a mixture of people with what appears at first to be English accents and which were originally but it has evolved into something worse than the Australian dialect and very difficult to grasp.
St Helena is expensive but worth the stop. No beaches, just rock and history. The RMS (Royal Mail Ship) St Helena is their only form of transport into and out and it arrives every few weeks bringing cargo and mail. No airstrip so no flights. Not a good place to get sick. There is a hospital and a dentist that we used and several shops winding into the narrow gorge that is Jamestown.
The main source of foreign income seems to be visiting yachts although a cruise ship arrives today swelling the population from 5000 to 6500. Should be interesting.
Ascension is 700nm further on so we are planning on stopping there before the Caribbean as we need visas to land in Brazil. Only Americans and Australians require them so I guess the Australian beaurocracy has up set these people at some stage.
02/12/2012, Atlantic Ocean
Hi everyone, We made it to the Western Hemisphere while at 20.7 degrees south latitude. So far the South Atlantic ocean has been very good to us with no storms or even gales of note. We are a few days away from St Helena Island where we will stay for a few days to soak in the atmosphere left by Napolean then onto Asom there to cension Island about 650nm further NW as the turtles are laying.
From there to Fernando de Noronha on the NE tip of Brazil before hitting the Caribbean Islands for some fun in the sun. Fernando de Noronha is reportedly one of the prettiest spots in South America and our only stop in Brazil as we will spend the most time in Venezuala, Panama, Mexico and Columbia for the big places and thousands of little islands in between.
We are currently sailing with a brand new Leopard 46 going into charter in the Caribbean. have not seen them yet as they are 15nm away but we will meet at St Helena and gain some cruising info on the Caribbean.
Will try and send photos into the web from St Helena
02/09/2012, Atlantic Ocean
My Journal of Africa.......Gill
We arrived at Richards bay from Mauritius on 04th November 2011 and found the mall where I bought a rubber snake and a slingshot to scare off the monkeys which were going onto peoples boats and stealing food. The snake was green. Dad hung it
up in the cockpit and it actually worked! Our boat was the only one that did not have monkeys aboard.
"WHISKERS", the catamaran tied up next to us said the monkeys stopped coming onto their boat as well.....
My slingshot fired jellybeans and dried soya beans at bits of bread I put in the water and also at Marnix from "INO" who chased me and gave me a Doctor Shock. I had just shot him in the butt and ran like crazy but he caught me.
After a week in Richards Bay we left at midnight for Durban.
During the sail we were kept company all day by Humpback whales and schools of dolphins, plus Dad got snotted by a whale.(that means he got squirted by whale snot)
We arrived in Durban on 11th November 2011 11/11/11, (Rememberence Day) and the next day I went up to the yacht club and found a games room called the youth room where I met a kid called Sheldon from "Robins Nest", another kid called Lennard
and his sister Emily. Later on I met two sisters (Aussies) called Millie and Ella from "MUNEERA".
after a few weeks in Durban we went on a trip to a safari! Where we stayed in cabins and saw Rhinos, Giraffes, Buffalo, Buck and a Elephant's butt.
One Saturday we all went to the market with Gerald and Dianna from "WHISKERS" and I adopted a kitten called TIZER (his original name was Tiger). The rest of the time in Durban was spent going to Braai's (BBQ's) and then there was Christmas. I got
two PS3 games, a new laptop, a blue sailing knife to wear on watch and a photo frame plus a heaps of other stuff.
While in Durban we hired cars and went to game parks and the Drakensberg Mountains and I patted a Cheetah. All in the rain. Durban had lots of death, robberies and order issues.
We left Durban on 04th January 2012 for Knysna which only took about 2 days and nights as we found the Agulhas Current and got an extra 5 knots of boat speed. We were lucky with the weather and made it in one hit as sometimes it takes weeks to
get around the bottom of Africa. The weather is very bad here. On the way we saw more whales, dolphins and lots of birds. It was like a documentary movie. Going into Knysna was tough. There were breakers and huge waves of water. It was horriffic
but when we got in it was calm. We tied the boat to the visitors wharf and went and had breakfast in the yacht club with Joseph and Marci from "HORIZON" and Steve from "ROVER of TACOMA"
Later we went out to anchor and I spent lots of time at the Internet cafe in town. A week later we left for Hout Bay.
Knysna was very pretty. At Knysna we hired a car, I went cycling up a moutain with "INO" and I talked to the elephants at the park and it rained again so we had pizza.
Two days at sea and boom; we arrive at Hout Bay after going around the Cape of Storms as well as Cape Agulhas, where the Indian and Atlantic Oceans meet. Dad, Keely and I jump from one ocean to the next. wow.
At Hout Bay the smell is horrid because of the fishing fleet and the African Fur Seals. They gave us the very end berth (which sucked because it got windy at 68 knots). We had power and water here and ate at some fish restaurants and Dad and I had
our birthdays here then after two weeks we left for St Helena Island in the middle of the South Atlantic Ocean. So here we are now. It's good to have birthdays.........
01/27/2012, Hout Bay
Houston; We have a Teenager
27th January 1999. Gill came to stay and it has now been 13 years that we have had to enjoy this delightful, gas filled young man.
Gill turned 13 in Hout Bay, Republic of South Africa and we all wonder where we will be for his 14th. He was well visited in the present department with a PSP from us, a great stash of food from Joseph and Marci of "Horizon", a great outfit from the wonderful folk of DEAN Catamarans and good wishes from just about everyone at the marina as well as those from Oz.
It is blowing about 35-40 knots from the SE and our outer berth is a bit rock and rolly but we have just had cake and it was absolutely great so life is good at present. Gill is looking forward to having more responsibility on the boat and I am looking forward to the extra help. Gill has grown to about 162cm so is catching up quickly. I was hoping that I would not be overtaken for a few more years!!!!!
29th. Dad turns 57 and wishes he had done this trip when he was 12 going on 21!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Oh well better late than never. Birthdays are great in the sailing community. Greetings and wishes galore and even some presents..............................(thanks Joseph and Marci and Steve and everyone else)
01/22/2012, Hout Bay
Knysna to Cape Town
Well we have reached our last port in the Republic of South Africa and evidently we saved the best till the last.
We left Knysna heads with an easy exit through very dangerous waters and headed for Cape Agulhas, the most southern part of the continent of Africa with expectations of at least one good storm either there or Cape of Good Hope which is further north. Cape Agulhas is the cross-over for the Indian and Atlantic Oceans and has an inordinate amount of ship wrecks and is actually called the Cape of Storms. We rounded in a 15 knot SE'ly wind and relatively flat seas. So flat that there was a fishing boat at anchor 6 miles off the coast. These South Africans are crazy but very good sailors.
There is NO safe anchorage if the winds come up but we had a dream run as usual until we rounded Cape of Good Hope and the fog settled in. Visibility reduced to around 50m at best and ships everywhere on the AIS and radar so being discreet we modified our arrival port to Hout Bay just south (10minutes) of Cape Town and this is a grand little port. We picked up the last berth in the marina and now boats will be turned away as there is no safe anchorage here with winds every few days exceeding 30 knots and last week, 60 knots. Last year the top gale went to 93 knots. Fingers crossed......
We took a guided bus trip to Cape Town to report into the authorities and had a fantastic tour of Cape Town and Table Mountain and we will hire a car and do the wineries this week as well as the National Park of Cape Point. Beautiful is the only description.
Some maintenance to CH and we will be ready to sail early February to St Helena, South America and the Caribbean.
Gill's birthday on the 27th so we have a party to look forward to and a teenager aboard. Gill is off mountain climbing with Marnix of "INO" in a few days so is becoming very adept at all sorts of daring do.