I am currently in Durban, South Africa, aboard a 53 foot catamaran called Ultima Life. I have been here since Wednesday 26 May, with my First Mate, Willem Greeff and crew member, Dylan Le Roux, getting the boat ready for delivery from Durban to Cape Town, a trip of about 850 nautical miles. When we get to Cape Town, the boat will be prepped for a further delivery to a destination the owners are still to decide - most likely to the Mediterranean.
We should have all in order later this morning (Monday, 31 May 2010) and depart Durban as there is a pretty good "weather window" for the next few days. Let's hope the weather stays favourable so that we can, at least, get down to Port Elizabeth.
More as we progress - regards Willem, Dylan and myself, John.
17/04/2010, Cape Town
It is sad to say that I am no longer going to undertake the delivery to Belize. This is due to personal reasons and I have decided to take a bit of a break from deliveries and will be "pottering around" at home in Cape Town. However, I will be out sailing again later in the year and will then start the blog again.
Hi folks, sorry for not updating the blog sooner but after arriving in Tortola I had to do a quick dismantling of my com's equipment and get stuck into cleaning the boat and getting it handed over a couple of days before it was scheduled for handover. TUI needed the boat for charter as they had overbooked and were short of a boat. So, whoever was the charterer, they had a new boat in good condition.
We also had to get back to Cape Town and had to juggle our flights a bit due to one flight being cancelled due to one of the aircraft having technical issues in San Juan and then had to overnight in Atlanta (with no luggage), due to delays caused by the severe snow storms crossing the northern sector of the USA. Oh, cannot leave out the fact that Joy and I were detained in San Juan by the Homeland Security folk as Joy had been issued a business visa for the US instead of a tourist visa. Both Louis and Greg had the same visa but had no problems. Obviously the Homeland Security fellows we had to deal with were board and had to create some work for themselves. It took some time for them to sort out their internal problems and release us to continue our journey.
I am not going to expand on the trip but thank all concerned for their help and assistance when the occasional thing went wrong.
So, what is ahead, you ask. Well, A1128 is a Leopard 46' charter boat to be launched around March 23. Handover is around March 29 and I expect to depart Cape Town for the TUI base in Placentia, Belize, around 10 April. It is a trip of just over 7000 nautical miles and I will be doing the trip four-up. Renier Grobbelaar, who did a delivery with me to the Seychelles last year, is 1st Mate - and a very capable one too! As crew there will be two young lads, Cuan Nicolay, who has some sailing experience in South African coastal sailing, and Stavros Yiannakis, who we will teach how to sail within the first 24 hours out of Cape Town - he has no sailing experience but has some experience with power boats. Our route will be to St Helena and then to St Vincent before the final leg to Belize.
Join me and the crew in April as we wend our way north west and through the Caribbean Sea to the worlds best barrier reef (sorry to those "down under" - yours may be bigger but it's not better!) and the land of Maya ruins. I will update the blog a few days before departing so, until then, keep well and thanks for following my adventures. If anybody wishes to drop me an email, they are most welcome to do so - the email link is near the top of the right-hand links column. Regards, John.
On Monday morning at 11:20 (15:20 UTC), we crossed that line on the chart that divides the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, when we sailed through the St Vincent Channel, north of the island of St Vincent and south of the island of St Lucia. There was no celebration other than to summon Louis and Greg to assist in repairing two of our reefing lines. Then, up with a double reefed main and off we went again, now tracking more north on a course for Sint Maarten, where we have to collect gear for the boat. We expect to arrive there on Wednesday.
On the day before, Sunday, we had our first fish since St Helena - three of the buggers within an hour! Two Wahoo where the first to take the lures and about three quarters of an hour later a nice sized Dorado decided to visit and partake in trying to eat our nice bright pink lure. Big mistake! He is now "chilling out" in the freezer whilst we pigged ourselves on one of the Wahoo for dinner. Photo above of Louis with his prize Dorado.
Whilst at sea I use the HAM Winlink system for my email. One of the things you can do with it is put in requests for information - one being the 30 closest HAM equipped boat closest to our last posted position. I requested the report this morning and noticed M0SAE (Oceans Dream) was in St Lucia. Oceans Dream is an Admiral 40 owned by Adrian and Jackie, which I helped to deliver to Trinidad about a year ago. I popped off an email to Adrian and an hour later he was calling me on the marine VHF. We had a brief chat and it appears they are enjoying the cruising life after they had spent many months with problems with the boat after arriving in Trinidad. Go for it guys - enjoy the boat and cruising life.
Our ship spotting competition came to an end about 100 nautical miles from Barbados. Louis made the top sightings with 20 ships, I came second with 18 ships and Greg last with 16 ships. So, Louis gets his bottle of Caribbean rum after we arrive in Tortola.
As I type this, we have just sailed past the island of Montserrat, which is spewing volcanic ash into the sky and with huge landslides of ash tumbling down the side of the volcano. It has been quite a sight for everyone as I am the only person on board that has seen a volcano before. At the end of the day it actually just means that we have to scrub the boat more as we are now covered in a fine grit - everywhere, including inside the sail covers.
Well, the washing will not be long off. We will arrive in Sint Maarten in the small hours of Wednesday morning and be able to do the boat wash and fill our water tanks. Oh, what bliss it will be to be able to shower ever day from now on. Remember, this is a charter boat and has no such luxuries as a water maker - all our water is in tanks and those were last topped up in St Helena.
Hope the above updates you in the delivery. Regards from Louis, Greg, Joy and myself, John.
Over the past few days we have been slamming into oncoming seas, so much so that I have been worried that the banging may destroy the computer hard drive, and thus have refrained from normal computer use. Earlier today the wind, and thus swell, changed back from ahead to the beam and we are having a slightly smoother ride.
We crossed the equator on January 25 at 12:32 UTC whilst at 042 degrees 42.7 minutes west. That was at 09:32 local time and thus held off popping the cork of our bottle of bubbly until our dinner. This was Greg, Joy and Louis first crossing and all gave a tot of their bubbly to Neptune, as is the tradition.
Then it rained, and continued doing so for a full day. At the same time we crossed the ITCZ and have been having north easterly winds that have swung to come out of the north on occasions.
On St Helena, if you ask a child where milk comes from, they normally answer "out of a box". This because there are no milk cows on the island and all milk is imported. Well, our saga regarding fish is similar. Ask the crew where fish comes from and the answer will be "out of a tin". This has been my worst trip for fishing! Normally, we have to refrain from putting the lines out as we catch too much. Since St Helena, not one miserable fish other than a few dead flying fish on deck in the mornings.
Our bird life has been quite good with large numbers around the boat at all times. We have also had a few nights with a Noddy or two landing on board to spend a few hours clinging precariously to the rails. Then they fall off when we go over a large swell and start the landing process again, which can take some time if the wind is blowing.
Of course, the report would not be complete without mentioning the dolphin that come and keep us entertained for ages as they perform their antics off the bows. They really are quite marvellous creatures but do like human contact. Once the crew leave the deck, the dolphin are off to do some fishing, or whatever dolphin do when they are out in the ocean by themselves.
We are slowly closing on our waypoint just south-west of Barbados, which means that our ship spotting competition will be coming to an end. As the score stands, Louis has 19 ships, Greg has 15 and I have 16. With about two days to go, it will be interesting to see who gets the bottle of Caribbean rum.
As things are going, we should reach the channel between St Vincent and St Lucia sometime on Monday. Then it is about a two day sail up to Sint Maarten, where we have to pick up the boats load-gear before an overnight sail to our destination, Tortola. We should reach Tortola on February 5 or 6, depending on the winds we experience in the Caribbean.
I hope the above has brought you up to date on what is happening on board Moorings A1119. Regards from all aboard - John