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The Delivery Guy
John delivers new catamarans mostly from Cape Town, South Africa, to various destinations around the world - follow his next trip from London, United Kingdom to Fort Lauderdale, USA.
The Departure
John
28/12/2009

I had intended to depart Cape Town on Saturday December 26 but, due to the boat not being completely prepared, we only threw off our mooring lines at 07:30 on Sunday morning and motored out of the Elliot Basin and ultimately, the Port of Cape Town.

We spent the first five hours motoring into a 5 knot north westerly breeze before the direction changed and we were able to roll out our genoa. The wind picked up over the following hour and we have been able to sail on the genoa alone since lunch time yesterday, with our noon to noon run being a comfortable 166 nautical miles - not bad as we had no main sail up!

Shortly after 10:00 this morning (Monday, December 28) we had the main up and are averaging 6.5 knots. About six miles to our port we have a large bulk carrier that has been overtaking us for the past few hours but, other than that, only the occasional fishing trawler was spotted during the night.

Nobody was feeling too bright last night and thus our main meal for the day was sandwiches. However, everybody appears far more comfortable today and I have planned a pasta dish for tonight - baked macaroni and cheese. I also assembled one fishing line this morning and we have that trailing off our port hull. Maybe we will end up having baked tuna pasta instead - let's see what the fish have to say about the matter!

The distance from Cape Town to St Helena is 1699 nautical miles. However, I have plotted a course to the east of the Valdiva Banks, an underwater mountain that lies exactly half way, which should add an extra 12 miles onto the distance. Often there are a few fishing vessels over the banks and we want to avoid them and the extra swell that is generated around the banks. We should then make landfall in St Helena on Friday or Saturday next week, hoping that the winds stay more or less favourable for the first leg.

So, from Joy, Greg, Louis and myself, John, I bid you well until the next report in a few days time,

Cape Town to Tortola - Mid December
John in sunny Cape Town
19/10/2009

We arrived back in Cape Town before the Annapolis Boat Show had even started, which was a pity as both Hardy and I would have liked to have a good mooch around the show to see what was new. Ah well, maybe next time!

I am having a bit of a break whilst Hardy is preparing for his first delivery of a 46' Leopard to Tortola. I wish him well and know he will be a good delivery skipper.

My next delivery is scheduled for mid December and should be a 46' Leopard from Cape Town to Tortola. This one I am especially looking forward to as my 1st Mate will be Louis Makendlana, the Logistics Manager for TUI Marine (South Africa) in Cape Town, a great guy who is eager to do a long trip. Also on board will be my partner, Joy, who has never ventured on board one of the delivery boats. It will be an experience for her as she has now retired and will get a firsthand look at what I have been doing for all the years. I am still looking for a crew member for the delivery and hope to have that position filled in the next couple of weeks.

Our route will be from Cape Town to the island of St Helena. Then on to Sint Maarten for a short stop before sailing on to Tortola.

Summer has arrived in Cape Town with the days getting warm and the sun is up until quite late. I have a number of tasks which I am undertaking at home, which is keeping me busy and out of mischief. So, I will only post the next blog update around mid November.

In the mean time may you all keep well and, for those out there sailing, let the wind always blow in the right direction. John

The Final Chapter
John
01/10/2009

It is Thursday October 1 and local noon (GMT/UTC -4). We have 281 nautical miles to Annapolis and should arrive about noon on Saturday morning.

Over the past three days we have been bashing our way into a steep swell with headwinds varying between 10 knots and 35 knots. It has not been much fun! However, we have relatively flat seas again and only a very light breeze from our starboard forward quarter at the moment, with the prediction for the wind to swing to the southeast tonight, become light and variable for about six hours and then start building from the south-southeast into Saturday morning.

In the blog comments I was asked why we cleared into the BVI's in Virgin Gorda and not Tortola. The answer is simple - we have no tender and in Tortola yachts are expected to anchor off the ferry jetty and use their tender to go to the customs and immigration offices or take the chance of going alongside the ferry jetty and being chased away before you can clear. In Virgin Gorda you simply dock in the marina next to the customs and immigration office (you get one hour free docking), walk over a field, do your clearance and then walk back to the boat and sail to Tortola. The customs and immigration staff in Virgin Gorda are also far more friendly and it is a pleasure for a yachtsman to deal with them.

Right, back to the present (and future). On arrival in Annapolis we will have sailed 7573 nautical miles. We departed Cape Town on August 6. On October 3 we will have been away for 58 days. Of that, we lost 9 days in ports (actually about 9.5 days), which means the delivery took 49 days at sea. This equates to an average of 154.5 nautical miles per day or an average of 6.44 knots for the entire trip. Not bad for a small 38 foot sailing catamaran!

What about the boat? This boat is different from most other catamarans I have delivered. It is slightly narrower than the norm, if there is something as a "norm". She is also light and a person feels the buoyancy when in large seas. Remember always, she is only 38 foot. The internal layout is very good, offering far more space than the Leopard 40 in the saloon and cabins. She sails well, having quite a large rig for a 38' cat. The rest you will have to see for yourself as there will be two at the Annapolis boat show and, I am lead to believe, one at the Cape Town boat show.

This is the last blog entry for this delivery as I have to start packing up my communications gear and getting the boat ready for handover. I hope you have enjoyed sailing along with us on this delivery. And for those that have a betting streak and bet we would not make it in time for the show, sorry you lost your bet. So, we aboard A4001 wish you well - greetings and fair winds from Hardy, Andries and myself, John.

How Do We Do It?
John
27/09/2009

During the trip I have had a few emails asking how we get our weather and other information whilst at sea. It is really quite easy with modern technology - all you need is an email facility, either via HF/SSB radio and a Pactor modem or via the email facility that you get free with an Iridium satellite telephone.

There is a service called "Saildocs", which is basically an Internet site that you send an email to, requesting certain documents, and the server then sends you the requested document back to your email address for you to download. "Saildocs" call themselves "for the bandwidth impaired", and they are just that. The service is free and from it you can request GRIB files (computer generated weather files) and a host of other weather related files from around the world.

For instance, we have just had the development of TD8, a few hundred miles west of the Cape Verde Islands. I found this out by sending a request to Saildocs for document ABNT20.KNHC, which is the Tropical Weather Outlook file and is updated by the US National Hurricane Centre in Miami, every 6 hours during the hurricane season. On receiving this document I could see that TD8 had formed and that it had been allocated a separate report, WTNT23.KNHC. I then requested that report and have all the information to track and follow the TD. It also gets updated every six hours and thus, I will be requesting the document three or four times a day until the storm is no longer a threat to us.

To find out more about Saildocs and the information available, send an email to info@saildocs.com and see what it returns - follow the instructions and you will have a lot of info at your fingertips. Rob and Goltz, hope this information helps with your forthcoming trans-Atlantic trip.

Now, back to life aboard A4001. We knew from report from boat up ahead of us that we would experience periods of no or little wind. We have a deadline to reach Annapolis and our intention is to make the deadline, although we are cutting it rather fine due to the delays off the African coast. We have hit our first "light and variable" period. The sea is flat with just a little ripple on it and we have our "iron spinnakers" working at full throttle. Due to there being no wind, it is also HOT but with the flat sea we have all the hatches open and get a good flow of air through the boat. As we progress north, we should also start experiencing cooler airs, which we are all looking forward to. Remember, we come from a cold southern African winter and the heat and humidity of the tropics is a bit of a shock to our systems!

Between the Brazilian coast and Barbados we had seven swallows spend one night on board. They all sat in the rigging and were gone at first light the next morning. We are now a few hundred miles off the US east coast and have had another swallow come to rest on the boat. From the above photo, you will see that he/she is a friendly little fella and took to Hardy quite happily. Let's hope the little fella survives as I once had five on board on our way to Tahiti. Unfortunately, we had to bury them all at sea.

Regards from the three of us - Hardy, Andries and myself, John.

Zap . . . . Bang!
John
25/09/2009

As you will (should) gather from the above heading, we are sailing in some pretty severe electrical storms, with the lightning striking the water, at times, not very far away from the boat. We are all holding our thumbs (and Andries other parts of his anatomy) that we do not get a direct strike. So far, so good!

We departed Tortola on Thursday morning, just as it was getting light - a full eight hours sleep the previous night worked wonders to revive our tired bodies. My thanks to the staff of the TUI base for all their assistance with the service of the engines, repairs to some small items and the replacement of our forward bi-colour navigation light that had decided to visit Neptune, somewhere off the Brazilian coast, and did not return.

At the moment we are averaging about 7 knots but I do not think that speed can be maintained for too long as, looking at the latest GRIB files I have just downloaded, there is little wind up ahead and, at times, that light breeze is going to be right on the nose. Looks like the "iron spinnaker" will be working again later today (Friday September 25).

Yesterday I spoke to Piet, the captain of the three cabin Leopard 38, which is three days ahead of us. He reported light headwinds but still making good progress to Annapolis. David, on the Leopard 40, was two days from the entrance to Chesapeake Bay and Gavin, on the Leopard 46, is a day and a half ahead of us. We are still the tail runners but are making good progress. I calculated an ETA of October 3 when we were a few days out of Walvis Bay, Namibia, and we seem to have kept to that ETA quite well.

With our GRIB download I also downloaded the latest tropical weather discussion sheet from the NHC in Miami. There is a small development a few hundred miles west of the Cape Verde Islands which we need to monitor as it moves WNW at between 10 and 15 miles per hour. Let's hope it just stays a tropical wave and does not develop into a full blown cyclone.

The above was written during my 03:00 to 06:00 watch and it now just before noon. The thunder and lightning has stopped and we have just been through a nice wash-down squall. Although we have sufficient water for a daily shower, Hardy decided to use the squall for a good rinse down - fortunately he did not lather himself with soap as the squall was passed so quickly that he would have had to resort to the tank water to get rid of the soap.

And now it is time for me to wish you a constructive or lazy weekend. You decide. Just remember that we are out here working the boat 24/7. Regards from Andries (no longer holding that other piece of his anatomy), Hardy (just off watch) and myself, John (getting ready for our noon position report).

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