05/06/2009, La Port, Reunion
"We are in Reunion at the moment, waiting for a 40' boat to catch up to us, before we head off for the last leg of the delivery, about a week from here to Mahe.
Radio email conditions have been "up and down" but the main reason for not posting to the blog is that I have not been well. I developed a severe chest infection and fever after leaving East London, which has cleared after a course of antibiotics.
The two week sail from East London was a bit rough - we had 8 metre swells the first 24 hours out, but were able to sail the boat. In total we have only sailed for 37 hours! The rest of the time has been under motor or "motor-sailing" - and that is all the way from Cape Town.
The wind from Reunion to Seychelles looks good on the GRIB files and it will be the first time we will be sailing more than motoring, something foreign for this boat and the crew. We have caught about four Dorado on the trip, all of them smaller than what we catch on the trip to the Caribbean - but they do make an excellent meal.
We have no internet access in Reunion and the port where we are is mostly small fishing boats but also has a few local yachts. It is very pleasant but everything costs an arm and a leg - it is French! The only thing for which there is no charge is our berth in the marina!
We leave on Thursday afternoon and will then wait at sea for Miles Webb, the skipper of the 40' catamaran, to catch up to us. He stopped in Madagascar to obtain fuel as he did not think he would make Reunion to purchase fuel. We will then sail the last leg in close proximity to each other as we will be sailing the last few days in waters that have an increasing amount of piracy."
This was the last news from John before disaster struck on their last evening in the marina, when John's computer and personal GPS unit were stolen while they were asleep. The loss of the GPS poses no safety risk at sea, because the yacht has its own system, but the loss of the computer means there are no longer email facilities on board.
John has reliable radio and satellite phone communications and I will post any news from the crew on this blog.
As you will gather, the weather that we expected originally on Tuesday, then Wednesday, then ????day, was delayed! So, we are still sitting at the Algoa Bay Yacht Club waiting for the cold front to reach Port Elizabeth so that we can climb on its back with a good westerly blow. And blow it appears it will as the predictions are for 45 knots at 35 degrees south but only 25 knots at 33 degrees south for next week - guess we will be sticking to 32 to 33 degrees south as we make our easterly. However, thank goodness we are already in Port Elizabeth as the wind, this weekend, is predicted to be in the region of 50 knots out of the west off Cape Agulhas!
So, what are we doing? Well, as the youngsters say, we have been "chilling". I recon that us old sods call it, diplomatically, "very little". We have been doing quite a bit of reading, listening to music, tweaking the electronics on the boat and other non-stressful jobs. Basically, we are all ready to throw off the lines and head east after topping up our water tanks. In the evenings we have been having a braai on the yacht club lawns as it is cheaper to cook that way than make use of the local restaurant.
Today (Wednesday 13 May), I hired a small car so that Luke, Yoni and I could drive to Addo and see the elephants. From the above photograph you will gather that we saw plenty of them together with a host of buck, warthogs, one wildebeest and, remarkably, one magnificent lion having his midday snooze under a thorn tree. It was a fun trip as I have never been to Addo. Renier is staying with his brother, who lives in Port Elizabeth, and will only be returning to the boat on Thursday afternoon.
Now let's get back to the weather. Today's prediction still has us departing on Friday but we need to track north a few degrees to miss some of the storm force winds. It appears that it will be a rough first four or five days so I need to keep a constant watch on the weather forecasts to ensure we are far enough north.
Well, that's the news from Moorings A1095 - a further blog report when we head out to sea from Port Elizabeth. Regards from the gang - John.
Port Elizabeth is a very friendly city and we have been joining the locals in not doing too much in the form of hard work. The engines are serviced, the Raymarine VHF radio is fixed (the installers never soldered the centre core of the co-ax cable), the fuel tanks have been topped up and the boat has been cleaned. We now have one new problem in that, when filling up the fuel tanks, we found that the starboard tank leaked and the overflow has ended up in the starboard bilge. We had to get some detergent to break down the small amount of fuel and then flush it out.
Miles Webb, the skipper of the 40', arrived just after noon on Friday and we assisted him onto his dock - the last one the ABYC has that a catamaran can fit onto! He then checked in with the yacht club after which we sat down and downloaded the latest seven day weather files.
The title of this blog is "Departure", something we have now decided that will only take place around Tuesday afternoon. For the winds to be favourable we need westerly winds to be able to get about 400 nautical miles offshore. This means that we need to leave on the back of a cold front and one is due to come around the Cape on Tuesday.
So, over this past weekend the crew has been off to see a movie, visited some nightclub and generally taken things easy. We have also used the braai facilities of the club and had a couple of braais and a few beers to wash down the food. As mentioned above, this is a really friendly club with all facilities available to the visiting yachtie.
The photo above is taken from the balcony of the ABYC of the small craft basin.
Well, until we depart, regards to all the readers from Reinier, Yoni, Luke and myself, John.
At dusk we rolled in our fishing line with not anything, other than a few gulls, showing any interest in the lure. So, it was pasta for dinner, cooked expertly by Renier with the sun setting on the horizon behind us (photo above).
Then it was into the night watch again with myself doing the 18:00 to 21:00 watch and the 06:00 to 09:00 watch this morning again. Before the sun rose ahead of us this morning, we had about 12 calamari boats around us with their high intensity lights on - it looked quite a sight!
Shortly before 11:00 we rounded Cape Recife and headed north into Algoa Bay and the Port Elizabeth harbour where the Algoa Bay Yacht Club is situated. We had a berth booked for us by Louis Makendlana, the Operations Manager of TUI Marine in Cape Town, and tied up to the marina at noon local time. We are going to stay here for two nights and depart early on Saturday morning and hope that the winds are more-or-less as predicted in the download I just did. I will check the weather again tomorrow to ensure the systems are remaining stable for us.
So, we are tied up in the ABYC and sampled a few of their beers - amazingly, they taste the same as those in Cape Town! The facilities are fantastic with a small pub, restaurant and a lovely covered balcony area overlooking the yachts and general harbour. Our thanks to the fantastic hospitality offered by the club so far.
This afternoon we need to check our VHF radio as there seems to be a small problem with it, top up our diesel and determine how much we have used motoring for the past three days. We also need to service our engines - then have a few more beers.
So, whilst we undertake our tasks, regards from all aboard Moorings A1095.
Our first day had us recording a distance of 134 nautical miles to noon. Not that bad considering that this was achieved under motor alone. Yesterday at 13:30 local time I tuned in to Alistair (ZS5MU) just south of Durban and gave him our position and local weather conditions. In turn we received the prediction for the next 24 hours, which sounded like very much the same as we had been experiencing the previous 24 hours - very little wind.
However, soon after 14:00 we had a very light breeze of around 10 knots develop out of the southwest and we were able to pole out our genoa and gain about half a knot in speed. Hey, that is not much but it all adds up at the end of the day!
We have not put out a fishing line as yet as we are motoring quite close to the shore and have been experiencing a lot of kelp floating around. Some time was also spent pulling the kelp off our rudders during the day. Imagine continuously hooking these large chunks of kelp on the fishing line! The kelp is thinning out and I have made up a line which will soon be trailing behind us with a bright pink lure attached. Let's hope for a nice fresh fish for dinner tonight.
Yesterday we also motored past a rather large pod of whales which kept the crew fascinated for some time. Fortunately we did not have any come too close to the boat. The thing about passing close to whales is that there are always birds around as they feed off the churned up kriel and other small edible sea life. With this pod, there we actually a few thousand birds - a lot feeding but most just sitting on the water with full bellies.
Last night we had some good stars visible between the patches of cloud. The Southern Cross was high off our starboard beam but I must admit that I did not recognise any of the constellations. I do have a great program for my computer but forgot to load it before departing. It is a pity as so much time is spent on watch at night with not much to do and being able to identify the constellations would while away the hours.
Talking of night watches, as we are 4 POB (four persons on board), we have a very easy watch schedule which rotates all the time. We stand a three hour watch and after a night watch you have nine hours off but after a day time watch you only get six hours off. This allows a person to have each forth day off after standing the midnight to 03:00 watch, which I personally find the worst watch. That person then next stands the 21:00 to midnight watch.
This morning Renier woke me during his 06:00 to 09:00 watch as we were off George and approaching a fleet of small fishing boats that were anchored off a small bank, about 20nm off the coast. They were all using hand lines and thus we did not have to deviate too much distance from them. Soon after this our line was in the water but, now at noon, the only interest in the lure has been a couple of gulls.
I chatted to Alistair again this morning and learnt that a South African couple on a small yacht had been rescued well west of Tristan (30deg 15minS 023deg 31minW) by the Brazilian Navy as their yacht was taking on water from below the water line. The couple are radio hams and their distress signal was picked up by the South African Maritime Mobile Network - Graham (ZS2ABK). It is really comforting to have these HAM's on the air and listening to us yachties on the high seas. In another incident a small yacht was found south of the island of St Helena with a broken safety harness attached to the mast and the single-hander not on board. A sad end to the yachtie.
Well, on that sad note I wish you well and report we are all safe and sound and now off the coast of Plettenberg Bay. Regards from Renier, Yoni, Luke and myself, John.