28/07/2011, South Atlantic
I have titled this blog entry after the military command to revert to how you were before something happened. In our situation, it means we are now cancelling the change of destination to Fort Lauderdale and reverting to our original destination of Tortola. We are also "taking our foot off the gas" and sailing the boat as it was intended, as there is no further desperate rush to get there, although we are still proceeding at an above normal speed.
So, we have a little niggle with our roller-furler and are now going to make a quick stop in St Helena so that we can undertake the necessary repairs in the shelter of James Bay. We have already braved the choppy seas and serviced both engines - actually, that should read "Byron braved the choppy seas and serviced both engines".
Over the past week we have not put any effort into trying to catch any fish as our effort has been put into keeping the boat moving as fast as possible. But, from today, the lines are out at sunrise and will be put back at sunset. Unfortunately, we have missed the area of the long-fin tuna and are now in an area where the Bonita is more common, with the occasional yellow-fin tuna or Wahoo found. Bonita is not the best fish to eat, other than in the form of "tuna-mayo" or as fish cakes. And talking of fish, we have yet to see any flying fish. I think the water is still too cold for them and we will most likely start seeing them after St Helena when we start getting the warmer equatorial waters.
During the past week we have been freezing - it has really been colder this trip than previous ones at this time of the year. The news from back home is that the South African interior has also been suffering, with unusual snow falls in the interior of the country. As we get closer to the equator, things should start to improve and night watches especially, should become more pleasant.
During the early hours of Wednesday morning we passed over the Greenwich Meridian and thus entered the Western Hemisphere. Wihan has made an Atlantic crossing before but this is the first time that Byron has crossed the meridian. We had a small celebration but await the "big one" when we cross the equator, which will only happen when we are off the Amazon delta in a few weeks time. At the moment our clocks are set for UTC or GMT and we are thus two hours behind South African Standard Time, with another four time changes to go before our arrival in the Caribbean.
All is well on board and we all send greetings. John.
24/07/2011, South Atlantic
Well, we certainly have had a varied first six days at sea. We started off with the first few days with no wind at all, something that rarely happens in the south Atlantic in the middle of winter. Then we had a day of about 15 knots out of the south-southwest, which later changes to 30 to 35 knots out of the southeast. Then the winds dropped for about 12 hours and we are again with 25 knots out of the south-southeast. Due to the winds, we have been having some quite good noon to noon runs.
Yesterday, Saturday 23 July, we crossed the Valdiva banks, a ridge of undersea mountains that runs from the African continent out and down the centre of the Atlantic. Fortunately, we crossed during a period of relative calm and encountered no oversized swell. This can be an area of very large seas if you do not cross in the right place.
A couple of days out of Cape Town I received an email from the TUI office in Cape Town, informing me that our destination had changed from Tortola to Fort Lauderdale. This is no problem, except they want the boat there by 31 August, which means that we have to really push our daily runs to the limit to be able to make the destination by the given time. There is another problem in that Byron, my 1st Mate, was only issued a US C1 visa by the US Consulate in Cape Town. We need to verify if he can enter the US by boat on that visa and depart by another means of transport.
Due to the need to keep moving as fast as possible, we are going to have to forfeit our planned stop at the island of St Helena and rather stop in Fortaleza, Brazil, to top up our fuel and water tanks. As we progress across the Atlantic towards the northern coast of South America, we will experience days of little or no wind and have to burn a lot more diesel to keep us moving to be able to make the destination on time. More about this in a future blog posting.
We have had two fishing lines out for a couple of days and have had a couple of strikes, but no fish landed. Maybe the sea state has been too rough for fish to feel obliges to sample the delicate flavour of our plastic squid lures. Once things have settled a bit, I am sure a nice Dorado or two will do the honours!
Yesterday we celebrated Byron's birthday - he turned 25. Unfortunately, with no beer or alcohol on board, it was celebrated with a good cup of hot chocolate. We will buy him a round at some port to complete the celebration. We do have a bottle of sparkling wine on board, but that has to be reserved for our equator crossing, which is still a few weeks away.
So, you all have the news from aboard the good ship Moorings A5012. Until the next blog post, regards from the three of us - Byron, Wihan and myself, John.
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