Cape Town to St Helena
15 November 2010 | South Atlantic
We departed the V and A Waterfront marina on Saturday October 30, just after 13:00 local time, this after spending the entire morning in as boat number three to tank up with diesel at the duty free fuel dock - yep, three catamarans all leaving at the same time and more or less on the same route. There was a 46' Leopard charter boat leaving for Tortola with Karl and Maria on board (delivery skipper friends of mine), Scolamanzi, a private 46' Leopard owned by Dr Scholtz and us. The charter cat was not going to stop off in St Helena but Scolamanzi and ourselves intended to.
On board is myself, Dylan Le Roux as first mate, and crew members Conrad Smit and Juan Dormehl. This is to be Dylan's first Atlantic crossing, together with Juan. Conrad has done the trip before.
The first couple of days out of Cape Town we had good winds and were sailing with our genoa only, making reasonable speeds. However, on day three the wind died and we thereafter had very light winds for the next five days - all very frustrating as we had to motor-sail to keep the boat moving, using up precious diesel doing so. Ah well, at least the batteries received a good charge!
The following two days we experienced head winds as a front moved across our sector of the south Atlantic. We were able to do some sailing but found we could not raise the main sail fully, due to a faulty halyard block - we thus had to sail with one reef in the main, loosing the full power that this sail could provide. Another problem we encountered was the locking nuts on our hydraulic steering rams both came loose and we lost steering on two occasions - once on the port rudder and once on the starboard rudder. The first incident happened at 02:00 in the morning and I had to spend over an hour in the small rudder compartment, repairing the problem as best as I could. The next day the same thing happened with the starboard hydraulic ram, but fortunately during daylight hours.
The result of the above ram failures was that we could not properly align the rudders and they remained in a toe-in position for the remainder of the leg, basically acting a breaks. However, we have now repaired the problem whilst at anchor in James Bay, St Helena. We have also pulled the main halyard and replaced the halyard block with one that is locked and cannot twist the halyard, preventing the full hoisting of the main sail.
When departing Cape Town, I had not fully installed my HF radio, as we simply ran out of time. I intended to complete the installation the first day or two after departing. However, this was not possible as I found a break in the antenna co-axial cable and thus had to wait until we arrived in St Helena, where I could repair the cable and complete the installation. This has been done and we should have some updates to the blog and daily position reports posted to the shiptrak.org site from now on. Lets hope it all works properly as I cannot properly test the HF radio whilst in James Bay as the high cliffs of the island do not allow me to get a good transmission to the Winlink stations. If it does not work, we will just have to continue using the expensive satellite phone for basic updates to our family members and friends.
I am typing this on Monday morning, November 15. The crew are off on a quick tour of St Helena and, as soon as I have posted this, I will be going ashore to collect a few loaves of bread and some rolls, clearing out with emigration and then we should be ready to set sail around 15:00 once the crew have returned from their tour and brought some drums of fresh water back to top up our tanks.
So, for now, regards from Dylan, Juan, Conrad and myself, John