19/07/2011, South Atlantic
We departed Cape Town on Monday afternoon with just a touch of cloud in the sky and the lightest of breeze out of the west - certainly not enough wind to sail by. Earlier in the morning I had downloaded the latest seven day weather forecast, which had predicted very little wind for the first few days and a southerly breeze out of the south when about 300 to 400 nautical miles northwest of Cape Town. True to the forecast, we have been motor-sailing since our departure.
Wihan has been the only person that has suffered a bit from motion sickness. Actually, I think it was more from nerves than the motion, as he was already a bit pale before we had cast off our dock lines. He is now fine and appears to be enjoying himself - he did manage a double helping of macaroni cheese for dinner this evening (Tuesday night).
I have started reporting into the South African Maritime Mobile Net, run by Graham ZS2ABK from close to the city of East London on the South African east coast. This is a Ham network that has been in existence for well over 30 years and is one of the radio networks that I have been reporting to for many years. I pass on our position and current weather and in return get the prediction for the next 24 hours as forecast by the South African Weather Service. This is a great service that I can use in conjunction with the weather information I also get from the US NOAA weather service.
Tomorrow morning we are going to put out a fishing line for the first time and try our luck in catching some nice long-fin Tuna, although we can only really afford to catch one for dinner as our freezer is well stocked and there is little space to pur much fish until we have had a few meat dinners to start making room for the fish.
Well, enough waffling from me - I am on watch until midnight and need to keep a good eye open for any other shipping in our vicinity. So, cheers for now from Wihan, Byron and myself, John.
17/07/2011, V and A Marina, Cape Town
I am again ready to cast off lines in Cape Town, this time heading for the island of Tortola, the capital island of the British Virgin Islands in the Caribbean. The boat is a new Leopard 44 and destined for one of the charter fleets in Roadtown.
There will only be three of us aboard with the first mate being Byron Price and the crew member being Wihan Greeff. Both Byron and Wihan have quite a bit of sailing experience with Byron having spent some time sailing on the east coast of Africa and Wihan having already completed a previous Atlantic crossing to Tortola.
The boat is moored in the Victoria and Alfred Marina in Cape Town at the moment and has been fully prepared and provisioned for the delivery - we are only waiting on a spinnaker to be delivered on Monday (18 July) and then we clear out with the necessary authorities and will be off. We only plan a quick stop at the island of St Helena for some fresh water and vegetables with the final run all the way to Tortola with a "pit-stop" in St Maarten to pick up load gear.
I will be updating the blog once or twice a week to keep you all informed of what is happening aboard. Cheers for now from John, Byron and Wihan.
12/06/2011, Marin-Turk, Gocek, Turkey
From the above heading, you should realise that we have arrived in Fethiye, received our papers from Sunsail and found that we are now called "Don't Panic". After our check-in at Fethiye, we motored the final two hours to the Marin-Turk Marina at Gocek and tied up to the Sunsail section of the marina. And what a spectacular place Gocek is!
Now, getting back to the new name of our boat, can you imagine if you are out sailing, you hit an underwater object, and the boat starts sinking. You panic - and then get on the radio and put out the call "Mayday, Mayday, Mayday - Don't Panic, Don't Panic, Don't Panic" etc. What do you think people listening to your call are going to think? It is similar to the joke about the yacht giving out a Mayday call saying "we are sinking" - the German Coast Guard keeps monitoring the call and on the third call, folds up his porn magazine, grabs the microphone of the radio and simply says: "and vot are you sinking about?". Ah, the humour in language!
And now, getting back to Gocek. The little town is really a lovely little village, that now only caters for the "yacht" fraternity. And when I say "yacht", I mean from the little sail boats to 100 metre plus motor yachts. Apparently, like Fethiye, Gocek used to be a small fishing village - it no longer is. It is purely yachting associated. There are half a dozen marinas in the bay, with Marin-Turk being the second biggest. And for Johann aboard Scholamanzi, it has a haul-out facility that will easily take an L46 and a well secure hard. It also is in the process of building accommodation blocks for those who are not as adventurous as we are. There is a small supermarket and a lovely restaurant and pub. The only thing missing is an ATM. But, if you are not too lazy, a ten minute walk into the "town" gets you to many more restaurants, pubs and quite an array of shops. And a few ATM's.
Dave has a flight out of the close airport of Delamar on Monday morning, having to get his taxi at 03:00 to be able to catch his flight on time. I leave at the respectable hour of 17:00 local time and fly to Istanbul, where I catch the Turkish Airlines flight to Cape Town via Johannesburg. Josh is remaining in Gocek and has been offered an engineering position with one of the Sunsail flotillas out of Gocek. He is really looking forward to the experience and I think he will do well in the position.
This is the last blog entry for this delivery. I hope my ramblings have been enjoyable and you have been able to follow what has been written without too much confusion. After returning to Cape Town I will be able to sort out my next adventure, so watch this space. Regards from the brilliant crew, John
05/06/2011, Aegean Sea
No, we have not arrived as yet, but are scheduled to arrive at 08:00 local time on Tuesday 7 June. This is the "port of entry" where we are due to meet the manager of the TUI base from Gocek, to get the ships papers and registration, clear customs and immigration, and then sail the remaining 15 nautical miles to the base.
Our crossing of the Aegean Sea has been quite spectacular with us passing many small, and some not so small, islands. There has been a lot of shipping passing us but not many sailing boats. The lack of seeing sailing boats is most likely due to us being far out to sea rather than in very close proximity to the islands and their small anchorages.
At the moment we have very little provisions over, but enough for six or so dinners. One great discovery was a lost pack of boerewors in the freezer, which had remained hidden under a pack a Wahoo. We have decided to keep the sausage and see if we can cook it on a braai (BBQ) when we get to Gocek - a rare treat and enjoyed by all on board.
This will be the last blog report from the boat, as I am going to have to dismantle my HF radio and equipment as soon as we clear-in in Fethiye. I may have time for a final report sent from land, as I will be in Gocek for a few days before I fly back to Cape Town.
I hope you have all enjoyed reading the bits n bobs of life aboard during the past couple months - I have enjoyed putting the information out there for you to follow the journey. So, on behalf of Dave Ross (First Mate), Josh Nuttal-Smith (brilliant crew member) and myself, John (guy in charge), I bid you well until the next blog entry.
02/06/2011, Mediterranean Sea
From Sardinia we headed towards the northern coast of Sicily, passing just south of a small volcanic island called Ustica, which is about 30 nautical miles north of the Sicilian capital city of Palermo. We had a reasonable current helping us along and made the waypoint during the night. The watch keeping was "interesting", in that there were a large amount of fishing boats in the area, all with nets marked by flashing strobe lights. In daylight we were passing more islands on our port side, heading towards the Straits of Messina. When passing the final large group of islands we passed a number of yachts with the Sunsail logo, all coming from the Sicilian mainland - there must be a Sunsail base there somewhere.
Just as it was getting dark on Wednesday evening we made our approach to the straits and called into the traffic control to notify them of the start of our transit. For those not aware, the Straits of Messina is the narrow section of water between Sicily and the Italian mainland. It is quite a busy stretch of water with a large amount of shipping traffic making use of it. Have a look on Google Earth to get a better idea. The transit only took just over three hours but all three of us were on watch to ensure we did not get in the way of any of the main shipping. It was an experience for both Dave and Josh - I have done the transit previously.
Soon after midnight we were through the straits and are now heading east-southeast towards the Aegean Sea and Greek waters. All going well, we should get there by Saturday night. We then have to cross the Aegean Sea and complete our delivery on the western coast of Turkey, with an ETA of Wednesday June 8.
At the moment we have no wind and are motoring, averaging 5.5 knots. When I say "no wind", I mean just that - the sea is flat and like a mirror. These conditions should remain until tomorrow evening and then we should, if the predictions are correct, start picking up light head winds, which should build to about 15 knots by Saturday evening. Hopefully we can get into the Aegean Sea before the winds get too strong as the winds in the Aegean are light and from the south, which will suit us well. We then have another three days to the Turkish port of Fethiye, where we will clear customs and immigration before sailing the boat the last 15 miles to the small harbour of Gocek, where the Sunsail and Moorings charter company have their base.
Before I sign off, I need to mention that since leaving Sardinia, we have come across so much garbage floating in the sea, it is frightening. Most of it is in the form of plastic bags and plastic sheets with many bottles and plastic containers thrown into the mix. The human race is really messing up the environment with no care in the world. We, on the other hand, have a number of garbage bags in our forward lazarette, ready to dispose of at our next port of call.
Now you know where we are and what our schedule is. So, until the next blog report, regards from Josh, Dave and myself, John.