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The Delivery Guy
John delivers new catamarans mostly from Cape Town, South Africa, to various destinations around the world - follow his next trip from London, United Kingdom to Fort Lauderdale, USA.
Problems at Sea
John
24/11/2007

Each boat I deliver develops a few problems whilst on delivery. This boat is no exception. Yesterday we had the spinnaker up the whole day and I was going to carry it through the night. The "little fellow" sitting on my shoulder told me to bring it down just before sunset. When we tried, we could not drop the spinnaker onto the deck as the outer sheath of the halyard had somehow chafed through and was now jammed inside the mast. This meant that we had to act quickly and I went up the mast on the main halyard and had to cut the spinnaker halyard to drop the "bag" onto the deck.

Let me tell you that going up a mast, at sea, is a daunting task on a mono-hull but on a catamaran it is outright dangerous as the mast is swinging back and forth very quickly as the boat goes over the swells - there is no rolling affect as there is on a mono-hull.

Well, we have recovered the sail with not a rip to it and recovered the halyard out of the mast. Now I will have to try and determine what caused the breakage and use what we can of the old halyard to jury rig a temporary external halyard to be able to sail with the spinnaker. It is a sail we cannot do without! Imagine what would have happened if I had decided to carry the spinnaker into the night - the entire halyard would have chafed through, the spinnaker would have blown forward and into the sea with the boat then sailing over it and ripping the sail to shreds.

On trying to get the spinnaker halyard out of the mast, we discovered that the starboard lazy-jack, which broke on the first day out of Cape Town in gale force winds, has jammed inside the mast and appears to be caught inside the mast. This is a problem and will need further investigation whilst in the calmer (hopefully) waters of James Bay, St Helena.

So, we are motor-sailing in a light easterly breeze, which looks like it will be with us all the way to the island. I have revised our ETA to an 18:00 arrival in James Bay.

From a frustrated crew, greetings until the next report.

Closing on St Helena
John
23/11/2007

We (Shaun and I) have been chatting to a number of our fellow hams in Cape Town over the past few days and have been updated on the news on the home front. Thanks to all that have been in contact with us. I must admit that the news of the high winds and flooding in some areas of the Cape were expected after receiving the weather updates on a daily basis to see what we were expecting - remember that we are now well north and only a couple of days out of St Helena.

On the sailing front (this is supposed to be a sailing blog), there is not much to report. The wind we had has died down to 18 knots from the east-southeast and the seas have flattened a bit to permit us to sail with the spinnaker again. At our current daily runs we should make James Bay, St Helena, on Sunday afternoon. We have all made the decision that, due to arriving on a Sunday and not being able to undertake the clearing-in formalities, we are all going to get stuck in and try and service both engines and undertake the few repairs that need to be done on Sunday afternoon and that will leave the Monday and Tuesday morning to explore the island.

Getting back to radio, I have once again been helping Gilbert of the marine radio station on the island (St Helena Radio) with some message passing exercises to give his staff some practice. Although I have met Gilbert, I have never visited the marine radio station and thus do not know the people I talk to each day. This time I will make an effort to pay a visit and chat to the folk that run the station.

On the fishing front, we have had no lines out since catching the two large yellow-fin Tuna. However, we will put them out again on Sunday morning. Whatever we catch will be used as gifts when we reach the island.

As mentioned above, we are under spinnaker and making a good 8 knots. Due to a few squalls coming through we drop the spinnaker at night and sail on the genoa or a combination of the genoa and "iron sail" (55hp Yanmar). Our batteries are not keeping a charge as they should and doing a bit of motor-sailing at night is helping charge them properly.

The above photo was shot by Shaun earlier - note the overcast sky, which we are hoping will clear as we get closer to St Helena.

With 350 nautical miles to St Helena, that's all for now folks - see you in a day or two. Regards from all aboard.

Strong Winds Again
John
21/11/2007

Yesterday morning we had a good breeze for a few hours and had our spinnaker up, taking us along at a good pace. Then the wind slowly picked up and we had to snuff the spinnaker before the wind became too strong. During this process Terry managed to get his ankle wrapped in the snuffers up-haul and nearly was raised "half mast". Fortunately he managed to extricate himself before being lifted off the deck but learnt a valuable lesson - make sure that you do not get entangled in any cordage!

We then sailed along happily on genoa alone, making good miles. During the evening the wind picked up to over 30 knots and the sea state again became confused with a building swell. By midnight we were down to a "handkerchief sized" sail and still bouncing along at over six knots. Conditions have not changed as I write this report.

The fishing lines have remained where they were - safely stowed in the gas locker. I think it would be folly to put out any lined due to the amount of fish we have in the freezer and the sea conditions.

Yesterday afternoon Shaun and I spent over an hour chatting to folk back in Cape Town and other parts of the world. Our thanks to those who came up on 14 237.5 KHz and took the time to keep us occupied.

Greetings from all aboard until the next report.

Drought Broken!
John
20/11/2007

Yesterday afternoon the "fish drought" was broken with both Terry and Shaun landing two great Yellow-fin Tuna (pictured above). They were about 35 kg each and our freezer, fridge and stomachs are full. Today a portion of the fish go into a pickle, which should be ready to eat in a few days time.

Yesterday afternoon at 16:00 Zulu Shaun and I gave a call on 14 237.5 KHz and spent about an hour chatting to Ham stations back in Cape Town as well as other parts of South Africa and even Germany, Italy and the UK. It was great to hear the news from back home and we will be up on the same frequency each afternoon at the same time. Special QSL cards will be printed and in the post in the New Year.

We also had sight and a chat to the other Moorings 46 yesterday afternoon. They were a few miles off our starboard quarter and appeared to be making some good mileage - not that we have not been doing well.

Each day I chat to Alistair (ZS5MU) on the South African Maritime Mobile Net and give our position and receive the latest weather updates. My thanks to him for his efforts over so many years, keeping us fellows on the oceans updated with the weather. Yesterday evening, as propagation was very good, I called in to Jack (AA3GZ) on his net and received the sad new that Gerhard (ON6BG) in Belguim had lost his wife to cancer. My condolences to him and his family. Gerhard has been assisting Jack with the Maritime Mobile Net in the North Atlantic for a number of years and has assisted with weather updates on my voyages over the years.

Well, on that sad note I bid you well until the next report. Regards from all aboard.

Valdivia Banks
John
19/11/2007

Tonight we pass directly over the Valdivia Banks, an underwater sea mount that comes up to 23 metres below the sea surface. The area is quite often populated by fishing vessels which means an extra bit of caution by the watch keepers. Fortunately the sea conditions are flat at the moment and we are motor-sailing in very little breeze, which means that there will be little turbulence when passing over the banks.

Yesterday we caught our first fish, a long-fin Tuna, which managed to escape the dinner plate by wiggling off the hook as I was trying to bring it on board. Pity, as it was a good sized one! At first light today we had the fishing line out again and by mid-morning had no takers to the lure. Terry and Shaun rigged up a second line with bungee and we have now doubled our chances of having a fishy supper - hopefully a decent sized long-fin will think that one of the lures looks delectable and "take the bait".

Also yesterday afternoon we started seeing an extraordinary number of Storm Petrels. We normally have a couple following the boat but suddenly there were 20 or 30 of the little birds swooping around us. A short while later we found the reason. We came across the carcass of a dead whale which was covered in birds, all trying to have their feast of blubber. This is something I have never seen before and was quite a sight. Remember that we are quite a few hundred nautical miles from any land and here were well over 100 birds of different species that had found this meal in the middle of nowhere! Amazing!

Tomorrow we should have reached our half-way mark between Cape Town and St Helena. Although there is no wind at the moment, the wind is due to start picking up around midnight tonight and should continue to strengthen into tomorrow. We can then expect two or three days of south-easterly winds of 25 knots, which will give us a good push towards St Helena.

Now for the radio hams out there. Shaun and I will be monitoring 14 237.5 KHz from 16:00 Zulu (UTC/GMT) for anybody who wishes to chat to us - that is 18:00 SAST. We are keeping a log and will be sending out QSL cards after the trip. And for those readers who have had QSO's with me this year, your QSL cards will only be send at the end of this trip as I have not had the time to post them all due to no "off time" between deliveries.

Today we also have our second time change for the trip and are now on Greenwich Time. The next time change will be only a few days after leaving St Helena.

The photograph above is of Terry trying to pretend he understands all the controls of the boat. Hey, he is making progress and we are still pointing in the required direction!

Regards from Terry, Shaheda, Shaun and myself, John.

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