27/03/2011, South Atlantic
We intended leaving Cape Town around the 17th of March, once the factory had rectified a few safety issues. However, this was not to be as the factory took longer than thought to make two major changes to the boat. Then we had the first of the winter cold fronts approaching the Cape and decided to sit in port for a few more days, rather than bash ourselves into oncoming seas. So, we pottered around the Elliot Basin and did what board crew do - visited the restaurant just outside the basin and had a few pints whilst waiting for better weather.
Then we decided to depart in the early hours of Thursday 24 March. A few minutes after midnight I was up and ready to go - however, a thick bank of fog had rolled in over Cape Town and I could just see the bows of the boat. Not a good idea to depart with no radar or AIS! So, I went back to my cabin and fell asleep again.
At 06:00 I was up again - the fog had lifted and we were ready to go. The crew were woken with a hot mug of coffee and the dock lines cast off. With port controls permission granted, we were off at 07:00.
Now let me go back a bit in time. When we received the boat from the factory staff, we brought it to the Elliot Basin and plugged ourselves into the mains system to ensure that our batteries were constantly at their peak. I did not think of re-checking the charging system off the main engines, which had worked fine before receiving the boat.
Now go to our second morning at sea. First thing in the morning I started our port engine to give our batteries a charge - engine runs fine but zip charge to the house batteries. Shut down the engine and start up the starboard engine - zip, nothing, no charge! Fortunately this boat has a generator on board and we thus charged up our house batteries using the generator, but cannot continue doing the charging this way.
So we sat down, contacted the Cape Town office and informed them that we had the problem and were now changing course for the small port of Luderitz in Namibia and needed repair assistance.
As I write this blog entry, we are about 35 nautical miles from Luderitz and I have just notified the port control, via Luderitz Radio, to expect us in port at about 17:30 local time this afternoon. Let's hope that our Cape Town office has organised some electrician to give assistance first thing in the morning (Monday 28 March).
So, the start of our delivery has not gone quite as planned, but we will get there! Besides the problems, I helped Josh to set up a fishing line at 06:00. Within 10 minutes he had a small "skip-jack" landed. An hour later he had landed a reasonable size long-fin tuna. So, tonight we are having fresh tuna for dinner and the skip-jack will most likely be given to one of the port staff in Luderitz.
Unfortunately, not too much to report on except that Dave and the crew can pop over to Kolmanskop, a small abandoned mining village just outside Luderitz, which has become part of the desert and quite a tourist attraction. I am sure they will enjoy the quick visit before we get all our systems up and working again and head out for St Helena.
Until the next blog entry, regards from all aboard the Leopard 44.
15/03/2011, Cape Town
John has given me the privilege of adding a few words to the blog, so here goes. First, let me say that delivering a Leopard from Cape Town has been a dream of mine for several years, and I'm excited to be able to do it under captain JohnT.
While I sat on airplanes, John, Josh and Mathys managed the lion's share of the prep work. We've spent the past couple of days finalizing the list: Perisables, installing HF radio, loading fuel jugs, etc. Only a few items remain on the list: Fresh produce, couple of parts from the factory, some official paperwork.
The anticipation of departure is starting to take hold. We will set sail in the next day or two.
01/03/2011, Cape Town
Well, the crew selection has come together rather quickly, which I am extremely happy about. As First Mate I have Dave Ross from Quebec City in Canada. He should be arriving in the next week or so, but I am sure he will need a day or two to get his internal clock set to South African time.
Then there are two crew, Josh Nuttall-Smith from Francistown in Botswana and Mathys Strydom from Pretoria (South Africa). Basically, there will only be Mathys and myself who will need to pop into a consulate in SA to obtain Schengen visas before we depart. We will organise the visas early next week to get them all sorted and out of the way.
So, now all we need is for the boat to be handed over to us sometime next week and then start the preparation of the boat and provisioning for the trip.
I had somebody contact me yesterday, saying that I was "nuts"! Well, I cannot disagree with them totally, but the reason they claimed me to be "nuts" was that they thought my route was going to be up the east African coast and via the Red Sea to the Med. I am not that "nuts" - the route is to St Helena Island, Ascension Island, Cape Verdi Islands and up to Gibraltar. Then through the Med to the port of Fethiye in Turkey, where we do our clearance and then do the final sail to Gocek, where the Sunsail marina is.
So, until the crew all arrive in Cape Town, keep well and stand-by for the next instalment to the blog. This time, whilst at sea, I will try for updates every few days and get Dave to give his contribution as well - it is always interesting to get the views of somebody else!
27/02/2011, Cape Town
At the moment I am waiting for a Sunsail 444 to be handed over from the R&C yard so that I can start prepping it for delivery to Gocek, Turkey. The boat is the third hull of the new Leopard 44 design and has already been launched at RCYC, Cape Town.
So far I have two young lads as crew but am still looking for a 1st Mate for the trip - anybody interested can contact me on the email link on the right of this post. Once we get closer to the time of departure (about two weeks from now) I will update the blog and get it going again.
11/12/2010, Northern South American Coast
As I type this, it is Saturday evening and we are basically drifting with a 6 knot breeze, doing around 2.2 knots towards Scarborough, the main port of Tobago. Basically, we are heading there, hoping to make port sometime on Monday, to clear into Trinidad and Tobago and take on much needed fuel. We will then motor-sail overnight to Chaguaramas, arriving early on Tuesday morning.
This will be my final posting from the boat as we need to hand it over to the owner on Wednesday morning and get quite a lot of work done during the day. I also need to dismantle my HF radio, which is used for these posts, and pack all our equipment for our flights back to South Africa.
Thank you for those that have taken the time to read my posts and follow the delivery via the Internet. Although the posts have been far and few, I do appreciate those that have taken the time to follow the journey.
Dylan and I will most likely be travelling back home early, leaving Trinidad on Wednesday night. Conrad is heading to Venezuela to do his tourist thing and Juan wants to head up the Caribbean island chain to see what work is available. I wish them both well on their respective journeys and it has been a pleasure having them both on board for the trip.
When I get back to Cape Town I will do a final summery of the delivery and post it to the blog. I wish you all well and thanks for taking the time to read the blog. Regards from Conrad, Juan, Dylan and myself, John.