08/10/2011, V and A Waterfront, Cape Town
You most likely thought we had departed Cape Town and were "on the high seas". And that is just where we would have been if we had not found a serious problem with the water maker on board. On Friday we cleared out with customs and emigration and returned to the boat to prepare for the Saturday morning departure. We started up the water maker and noticed a leak on one of the valves. An hour later the Spectra agent, Bruce, was on the boat to tighten up the valve and noticed a leak on the high pressure pump. He stripped down the pump and found a serious break on the pump casing.
So, the long and short of the story is that a new casing is being flown to Cape Town by Spectra in the US and should be ready for installation first thing on Monday. The moment it is fitted and everything re-checked, we will cast off our lines and head off towards St Helena Island, a passage of 1699 nautical miles.
However, due to the delay, we may have missed our weather window and not be able to get far enough north before the next front approaches the southern African coast. If we see we will not be enough north and will be affected by the frontal system, we have the opportunity to head for the port of Luderitz in Namibia to wait out the front for a day or two and then continue to St Helena Island.
Due to the delay we also put off getting our final perishables on Friday. So, today being Sunday, the Davies family have been out doing the final perishables shop. Pat and I have been changing diesel filters on the engines and doing some last minute checks on the systems. We are now just waiting for the water maker to be properly commissioned and checked and we should be off on the first leg of our journey.
So, until we do cast off our lines, greetings from all aboard. John.
08/10/2011, V and A Waterfront, Cape Town
I have been back in Cape Town for over a month now and slowly preparing the privately owned Chez Patrick, a Leopard 46, for delivery to Grenada.
On board will be myself, Pat and Sherryl Davies (the owners) and Gareth Davies. We are planning to depart on Saturday 15 October and having just had a look at the seven day forecast, the 15th looks good as a departure date. The planned route is from Cape Town to St Helena Island, where we will spend a few days, and then on to Prickly Bay, Grenada, in the southern Caribbean, a trip that should take six to seven weeks.
So, as we get closer to departure, I will post another update. Also, Sherryl should be keeping her blog running at the same time. It has just been formatted and thus it will take a bit of time to get it going "full steam". It will be found at: http://www.sailblogs.com/member/yachtletters/
Greeting for now - see you all in a few days time. John
01/09/2011, The Caribbean Sea
I have been a bit lax in posting the final blog report for this delivery, but here goes.
We cut into the island chain and thus the Caribbean Sea, just south of the island of St Vincent. We had lost the current that was assisting us up the north coast of South America and were burning quite a bit of diesel to keep ourselves going and on schedule. However, we were low on fuel and I decided to pop into the company base located in a small lagoon on the south side of the island. So, at first light we entered the lagoon and tied up on the jetty. There was another delivery boat there, also making a quick stop for fuel. However, we took out a pack of sausage (for Dave - boerewors) and a pack of chops (for Dave - Karoo lamb cutlets) and the six of us had a true South African braai that evening.
At first light we were off again and able to sail with the wind just abaft of the beam - these boats love that wind. The next morning I came off watch at 06:00 and handed over to Byron and immediately hit my bunk. At 08:00 Byron woke me to let me know that he had picked up a mayday call on the VHF for, what he presumed to be a small fishing boat. There was one problem - he had no idea where the boat was as all the calling was in French. We were off the island of Guadalupe, which is one of the French islands. After about 15 minutes later the MRCC Guadalupe gave the position of the fishing boat in English and we realised were only six miles away. A very confusing time was spent on the radio to the MRCC - the person on watch did not speak very good English - and then we were asked to proceed to the location of the fishing boat and stand by them until the Guadalupe rescue boat arrived. So, what was wrong with the boat, you ask. It turned out to be a small ski boat with two persons on board, that had drifted 28 nautical miles offshore after running out of fuel the previous evening.
After waiting for six hours for the "rescue boat" to arrive, we again set sail and headed towards Sint Maarten. Let me explain that the "rescue boat" was just another fishing boat with a big outboard engine. What happened after we departed, I have no idea other than the knowledge that help had arrived.
So, we were delayed into Sint Maarten, but made it just after 10:00 the next morning. And we found Luke Tod, a fellow delivery skipper and his crew waiting to head off in a 38 foot cat, also for Tortola. Well, after a nice burger and chips, we departed St Maarten for the overnight motor-sail to Tortola. An hour later we had three members of the Dutch Coast Guard on board, having a chat and a quick inspection of the boat. Half an hour later they hit on Luke and were quite happy with his boat as well. As the sun rose in the morning we had Virgin Gorda in front of us and made for Spanish Town where we spent an hour legally doing the customs and immigration ritual and were in the BVI's. Two hours later we were tied up in Wickhams Kay and at the end of our deliver.
We fly home on Sunday morning, arriving back in Cape Town on Monday night - a long and tiring journey. So folks, that's it for this delivery - check back in mid October for the next delivery, which should be a lot more interesting. Thanks for reading my reports and regards from Wihan, Byron and myself, John.
25/08/2011, North Atlantic
We are slowly getting to the Caribbean and this morning have only 750 nautical miles to go to Tortola. This being said, we are going quite slowly this morning, recovering from a really wild afternoon yesterday and through the night. Yesterday we had a slow build-up of really nasty looking storm clouds all around us with some heavy rain showers. Then, as night started, the lightning starts, the wind slowly changed direction from coming from aster, all the way round to dead on the bows. Then the wind picked up to over 20 knots and the heavens really opened up and it poured down.
The problem was the wind coming directly from where we wanted to go! This created some really nasty short and steep waves that we started to motor into. Not very comfortable! So, around 20H00 I decided to cut the engines, roll up all sail and just drift with the current and wind for a few hours. It was still not comfortable but the wind slowly dropped and shortly after 22H00 I re-started a motor and we slowly banged our way further towards our destination whilst the rain still came down in buckets. At midnight I handed over the watch to Byron and then he handed over to Wihan at 03H00. It was my turn again at 06H00 and I awoke to a flat sea, blue sky and only a couple knots of breeze out of the northwest.
So, at the moment we are motoring towards St Vincent - we may have to make a "pit-stop" there and purchase a few litres of fuel to get us to Sint Maarten and Tortola as this mornings GRIB file shows mostly motoring ahead. Also in this mornings download is an indication of a tropical depression developing near the Cape Verde Islands in the east Atlantic. This is the birth place of tropical cyclones or hurricanes, as they are called in the North Atlantic, and I do a twice a day download of the summary of tropical weather for the north Atlantic. If the depression does develop, I need to keep a constant watch on it and plot its track to ensure that we do not sail into its path at some stage.
We will start doing some cleaning and polishing of the boat on Saturday so that when we arrive in Tortola, most of the cleaning work has been done and we are free to do the final hand-over of the boat to the owners, relax a bit and then hop on a aircraft and start the long tedious journey back to Cape Town. But, until then, there is plenty to do. As soon as this report has been sent, I will be starting some baking - we need some fresh bread and I need to bake half a dozen bread rolls for our hamburgers tonight. So, for now, greetings from Byron, Wihan and myself, John.
20/08/2011, North Atlantic
It is going on for 2am and I am on watch. There are no ships around but we have become a mini aircraft carrier - we have twelve birds sitting on board, hopefully enjoying the rest and free ride. They are all, I think, called Common Noddy. So, what does a guy do when alone with a bunch of birds at 2am in the morning - you chat to them! Firstly, they are not too interested in me chatting to them and give the occasional growling type of chirp if I get within six inches. But they really seem to think we are an aircraft carrier.
The squadron leader seems to believe that this boat, with its long roof, make an ideal landing strip. I think their biggest complaint was about the designer, who had this idiotic notion to plant a fake aluminium "tree" in the middle of their landing strip - and then to run a whole bunch of cables and ropes from it to just make their landing a bit more difficult.
We even have "Lookout" Noddy sitting on the spreader. Let me explain that the spreader is a wide chunk of aluminium, like a branch, sticking out of the "tree trunk", about halfway up. There is no surface for "Lookout" Noddy to hold onto, so, he comes into land, which takes about ten minutes of tight manoeuvring, then tries to hold on, which he manages for about five minutes before he falls off with a squawk and much swearing. He then goes through the whole process again and again. I say it is a "he" as no female would try what old "Lookout" does when there is a perfectly long and far more stable landing strip a few metres below!
Then you think: "John's been smoking something illegal!" Nah, just boredom! Basically, we ran out of wind last night and are motor-sailing, hoping for a bit of a breeze at first light. The prediction is for about 14 knots, which will be nice if it materialises - at the moment we only have about 8 knots, which is just not enough to sail with the spinnaker.
We have around 400 nautical miles to our next waypoint off French Guyana and then another 500 odd to a waypoint just next to the island of St Vincent, where we will enter the Caribbean Sea and then head up the island chain towards Sint Maarten before crossing to Tortola. For those that do not know and think I do not know how to spell, the island of St Martin/Sint Maarten is divided into two parts - St Martin is the French side and Sint Maarten is owned by the Dutch.
So, now you all know where we are and what is happening on board (which is not much). Wihan and Byron send greetings, as do I - John.