15/11/2010, 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
10/10/2010, Cape Town
Since delivering Ultima Life to Cape Town, she has been used buy the owner and his family on a regular basis. I, on the other hand have been pottering around at home and doing some boat work for owners at the various marinas in and around Cape Town. My last project was to assist the Australian owner of the new Leopard 46 "Scolamanzi" prepare his boat for the first big sail - crossing the Atlantic from Cape Town to Chaguaramas, Trinidad. Scolamanzi is really a fantastic boat and now well fitted and equipped. She is due to depart Cape Town at the end of this month (October).
At the same time as Scolamanzi departs, I should be departing on the same route with Ultima Life - Cape Town to St Helena to Chaguaramas.
As I write this blog entry, Ultima Life is being used by the factory as a "show boat" on the Cape Town International Boat Show in the V&A Waterfront Marina, which ends later today. From next week I will start to get her prepared for the delivery and slowly provision her for a 4-up crew. At the moment I have to still find a fourth person to help on the delivery, which I should have sorted out by the end of next week.
So, that is what is happening in this part of the world at the moment. More updates closer to the departure date of 1 November.
21/06/2010, Cape Town
Port Elizabeth is not my favourite port to stop in - it is dirty and we arrived to find that there had been a big storm in February, which had destroyed most of the marina. Due to this we tied up against a few fishing boats that are used for squid fishing. In the long run this was not too bad as you then do not have to pay for mooring fees. The yacht club was operating well and a new caterer has been appointed since my last visit about a year ago. They offer a much better service and it was great to be able to relax on the deck with a beer and some decent food.
We waited out the front that eventually passed on the Tuesday afternoon and through the night. At 08:30 on Wednesday we took our lines off the fishing boat and called port control to get permission to depart, which was granted with no delays. Then out to a very bumpy sea for a few hours until we were able to start heading west after rounding Cape Recife. We now also had the wind and swell on the port quarter, making conditions a lot smoother.
It was a pleasant sail at first, then some motor-sailing as the wind slowly died, followed with a lot of motoring again. I knew that a large front was again heading in from the south Atlantic and we monitored its progress each morning and evening. It appeared to slow down a bit and as we approached the most southern tip of Africa, Cape Agulhas, I decided to try and beat the front to Cape Town - a good decision as the front was big and we did manage to get into Cape Town just after 07:00 on Saturday morning.
So, Ultima Life is now in the V&A Waterfront, in front of the Cape Grace Hotel. The owner is still to decide when and where he wants the boat eventually taken. In the mean time it will be used for local sailing with family and friends.
Until the next delivery - John
We departed Durban at 15:00 local time after Graham Walker, a fellow delivery skipper, very kindly drove me to the port authority building to do our clearance. After clearing the channel, we slowly nudged our way offshore, through the counter current that runs up the coast, to the continental shelf where we picked up the main Agulhas Current that runs strongly down the east coast of South Africa. It took just over 5 hours to pick it up with our speed changing from 4.5 knots to just over 7 knots within a matter of minutes. No wind so one of the iron spinnakers assisted pushing us southwest.
On Tuesday we were off the Transkei coast and lost the current for a good 12 hours - basically I came a little too close to the coast so we again nudged Ultima Life to about 18 nautical miles off the coast and picked up the current again. It is now Wednesday morning as I write this blog entry and at first light this morning we had the port city of East London on our starboard beam.
Every day we monitor the weather broadcast by Cape Town Radio on the VHF and I also do a couple of downloads via the Winlink email system. At the moment there is a cold front approaching the Cape. So, we are making for the Algoa Bay Yacht Club in Port Elizabeth, where we will wait for the front to pass. I will then also be able to do a better analysis of the weather for the next few days and see if we can make Cape Town in one section or if we have to do another stop. We should make Port Elizabeth in the early hours of Thursday morning.
Otherwise our trip is quite boring with just a lot of shipping thrown in to give it a little bit of interest. I will post another update from Port Elizabeth in a day or so. Regards from Willem, Dylan and myself, John.
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.