Anthem Adrift

14 December 2018 | Pijnacker, Netherlands
13 December 2018 | Pijnacker, Netherlands
11 December 2018 | Johannesburg Airport
10 December 2018 | Zululand YC Yard
08 December 2018 | Zululand YC Yard
07 December 2018 | Zululand YC Yard
06 December 2018 | Zululand YC
30 November 2018 | Zululand YC
29 November 2018 | Zululand YC
26 November 2018 | En Route Richard's Bay
25 November 2018 | En Route Richard's Bay
23 November 2018 | Bazaruto, Mozambique
22 November 2018 | Bazaruto, Mozambique
21 November 2018 | Bazaruto, Mozambique
20 November 2018 | Bazaruto, Mozambique
18 November 2018 | En Route Richard's Bay Day 5
17 November 2018 | En Route Richard's Bay Day 4
16 November 2018 | En Route Richard's Bay Day 1-3
13 November 2018 | Baly Bay
12 November 2018 | Baly Bay

The Tops

14 December 2018 | Pijnacker, Netherlands
Delft Bleu

Friday 14 December 2018

Riding a bike in the Netherlands is dangerous not because of automobiles, which must usually give way to them, but due other riders. You can't swing a cat without hitting one. There are 25% more bikes per capita here than in second place Denmark, one for every man, woman and child in the country and all of them seem to be out much of the time. The other danger is that most bike trails and thoroughfares have a canal running alongside filled, when not frozen, with .01 degree C water. Since a scarf is necessary in winter over the lower half of your face and nose, heavy breathing occasionally blows back onto glasses fogging them and causing temporary blindness (first person account). This would be even more serious if it weren't for ducks. They're in all the waterways so if you lose sight, but hear a quack just ahead you may be able to save yourself.

Rode the bikes yesterday into town of Delft, known for the blue and white earthenware everyone associates with Holland. Knock-offs from China can be bought at truck stops and Dutch restaurants all over the US. On real pieces the white is tin oxide glaze, hand painted then overglazed in blue cobalt oxide. Many people are apparently willing to pay astronomical prices for this authentic stuff. Like the Hummel figurines from Germany, which are also dear, they have limited esthetic appeal for vast swatches of humanity outside of their home regions.

Today we visit The Hague ("The" is part of the name and should be capitalized). It is the seat of government for the Netherlands ("the" not part of name), but not the capitol, which is Amsterdam - weird, huh? The city is also home to nearly all foreign embassies and to the World Court. It's butt deep in bureaucrats and politicians. This is a very old, historic city and Jan wants to go for the architecture and museums. Rest of crew more interested in numerous excellent restaurants and pubs that cater to the inevitably well-to-do, ruling, self-assessed elites.


PS Can't tell from photo, but plate is 616 euro, about 700 USD and not an antique.

The Low Country

13 December 2018 | Pijnacker, Netherlands
De Vang

Thursday 13 December 2018

We're in Pijnacker (PIE neh ker), Netherlands and it's cold, way cold. Don't do cold so of course we're riding friend's bikes to next town for breakfast in a windmill. Despite the quaintness of the idea this is nuts. As many of you may know, unlike cars, bikes don't often have heaters. Also, cafes here don't open until at least 1030. No hot beverage with caffeine until almost noon - how do the Dutch survive mornings? Pretty sure in winter they just stay under the doona until the sun comes up. They're above 50 degrees latitude so this doesn't happen until nearly 0900.

Although Holland is only a small part of the Netherlands it contains the major cities of Amsterdam, Rotterdam and The Hague. Half the country is below one meter height, about a third under sea level behind dikes. Highest point is 322 meters on its southeastern-most border with Germany. They refer to this as a mountain. Dutch language is similar to Africaans, which we also don't speak, but for some recondite reason virtually everyone speaks excellent English, which we do.

- Later

Nine minute ride to De Vang, the windmill, seemed to take forever. Fortunately about halfway there nerve endings in cheeks froze so they stopped aching. They open at 1030 and, although specializing in pancakes, serve eggs, but not until 1130. They do have coffee right away. It's served in thimble-sized cups probably on purpose so it takes an hour before you can ingest sufficient caffeine to prepare for breakfast. No idea when they eat lunch. It gets dark at 1630.


Hurry and Wait

11 December 2018 | Johannesburg Airport
Monday 10 December 2018 - Again?

Having nothing to do except arrange several maintenance items with yard, coordinate departure with immigration, prepare boat and psyche for extended truancy, pack for said absence and bid au revoir to friends at braai tonight in the club, noticed that "Cruising Friends" section of blog page was inexcusably obsolete. All but one has either swallowed the hook (this is painful, but only if not tired of cruising) or just stopped writing so will be eliminated without prejudice. We are fond of all even those who've become dirt-mongers.

After working all day at removal of bottom shoe, elimination of various impediments (pins and things) and best efforts by yard crew (involving a considerable amount of rotating and trepidatious banging), rudder remains attached to boat. Assume collar and top of shaft, both stainless, have become such intimate mates over twenty one years they are loath to part. Potentially beneficial heat would damage waterproof gland so introduction of appropriate chemicals has presumably been effected for continued persistent exertions tomorrow.


Yard guys finally got rudder off after unscrewing flange at top of post.. who knew? Thing should be rebuilt by 21st, at least that's the story. No work then until 2 January when it will be re-installed. This is a triumph of hope over experience, the audacity of hope if you will. What? He said that? Wrote a book and all? Oh. Never mind. Jannie (Africaans yard guy, pronounced Yahnee) and assistant Arno give evidence that this may actually happen. Boat crew scurried around all day disassembling parts to create access for work while we're gone, organizing mess to the degree possible, packing then got to airport early for flight to four hour wait in Johannesburg. After 20,000 flight hours and probably 5000 more just sitting around in airports the thrill is gone. Faster than sailing there, but way less fun. At least it's not in America, the bete noire of air travel.

Won't really be a sailing blog since we're away from the boat, but may write anyway just for fun. Location will follow bodies. For those prone to believe we anchor at night during ocean crossings, don't mind if you think we actually did sailed here, but sailboats are really, really slow compared to jets so we didn't have time and some of the places will not be near water, which is generally necessary or sailing tends to be even less efficient.



10 December 2018 | Zululand YC Yard
Sunday 9 December 2018

Nothing happens here on weekends and guessing that, like in Oz and NZ, productive activity ceases for at least three solid weeks around Christmas and the New Year (suggested to be 13 Dec to 8 Jan) for everyone to celebrate receiving presents, watching sports, eating too much and drinking themselves into a stupor, ummm.. that is to say the birth of the son of God. Think we'll be lucky to make Cape Town much before February.

In anticipation of this eventuality, full complement is planning flight to Amsterdam perhaps Tuesday to visit friends and enjoy a great city for a few days. Distaff members then continue to Ontario to see relatives over the holiday while maintenance section may return to Richard's Bay for supervision of what may or may not occur in the way of repairs. This discouraging assessment of likely events applies as well to onboard help who, although irresistibly lovable, are shiftless, lazy and prefer to put off any work until absolutely necessary. Yesterday was dreary and rainy, creating a perfect procrastination scenario to allow writing most, perhaps all, of this malarkey the day before.

Sunday in fact

Completed application and assembled various documentation to apply for South Africa visa extension, which must be done within 30 days of arrival. Tomorrow we nail down as possible what may happen to Anthem over next week for determining how long she can be left alone and then toodle over to immigration, besides hoping to advance our ejection date, to see if we can temporarily fly out any time soon or at all and be allowed back in. Rules are a smidge ambiguous and apparently open to local interpretation.


Elucidation by immigration official is that upon return even if current visitor permit still active we get another 90 days if coming from any other continent than Africa. This is best possible reading and, on off chance it's correct, we should be fine. Will continue to check and if true, entire complement will be thrilled and amazed. Stranger things have happened.

Above is important because boat will likely not be usable until at least middle January so entire crew may decamp for up to five weeks. This makes onboard maintenance division decidedly uneasy, but have been assured this will not impact timeliness or quality of work. Some of foregoing rabble are almost convinced and nascent nervous twitch probably due either fear of travel or aardvarks. Hope to make Cape Town before end of February.

Both Amsterdam and Ontario are enjoying temperatures hovering around zero Celsius. At the risk of being either pedantically redundant or redundantly pedantic, that is the freezing point of water (comprising about 60% of the human body, which adapts poorly to the slightest bit of solidification) and is to be avoided unless involved in downhill skiing, which according to Dave Barry is the sport that combines outdoor fun with knocking down trees with your face. We endorse a more benign point of view.


Same Difference

08 December 2018 | Zululand YC Yard
The Way We Were

Saturday 8 December 2018

Schematic from Hylas builder Queen Long Marine shows post extending through lower hinge to bottom of rudder, but this is not what is evident on our boat. Plus, Hallberg-Rassys, also designed by Argentinian German Frers, are built that way so imagine our surprise. OK, don't do that, it's not worth the bother, but we're convinced (stated with great aplomb) that this design is better because, although potentially not as strong under severe loads, if it does break there's still steerage and the whole thing isn't ripped through the bottom, which tends to lessen one's already tenuous enjoyment of the moment. One finds solace where one may.

After spending the first night on the boat in the yard on the hard, decided on the ignominy of getting a room ashore. Although surrounded by soil and always anchored in the same unchanging place with a regrettable stableness that makes walking difficult, dirt-dwelling is not without some minimal appeal. There are full flow showers, one pump toilets and, assuming one pays his bills, all the electricity needed or wanted regardless of battery charge. Although less fun and more expensive, cars are somewhat more convenient for accessing products and services than dinghies and feet. Temperatures can be better regulated, but stale air often results. Many things are done more quickly and easily, but opportunities for character building are woefully lacking and complacency is an ever-lurking specter. Admittedly, while being stuck in a single location with the same scenery, the same neighbors doing the same things at the same places on the same days is a way of life that a few eccentric people love, it's not for everyone.


Hauling Butt Not Quickly

07 December 2018 | Zululand YC Yard
Enough Rudder?

Friday 7 December 2018

Haul-out went better than one might have expected. Wind was half forecast and nudging boat out of slip with help from friend on dock and another in dink went according to plan. Entry into sling was also smooth as we raced into lifting frame to maintain steerage at a rate fast enough to see the whites of their eyes before engaging heavy reverse to stop. Setup to drag boats out is somewhat rudimentary involving a big trailer with straps, a tug and two shore-based winches. Takes awhile, but works fine.

Rudder condition more or less as anticipated with nothing left below lower hinge where shaft, an impressively stout chunk of stainless, had apparently broken off cleanly (not expected). Not so supporting frame that caused jamming and wild swings in heading until it too eventually broke off. Initial estimate for remediation is three weeks - not soon and liable to be longer as these things go. Christmas in Richard's Bay. Cape Town, a great city by all accounts, must plod along without us until January.

Richard's Bay doesn't suck, so no hardship. Notwithstanding a few quibbles, this is a very enjoyable and interesting place and not just because it means the end of long Indian Ocean passages... not saying that doesn't help. Some of best game reserves are near including Kruger as is Swaziland. Nearly everything is available for yachts and for sybaritic indulgences, such as crunchy peanut butter, tasty honey and good local wine. Cost of most things including food and adult beverage are very reasonable. Will probably extend initial ninety day visa to wallow awhile here until boat fixed before rounding the Cape to see what's shakin' over there.


Sa Fari So Well

06 December 2018 | Zululand YC
Game Park

Monday 3 December 2018

Misled in previous blog as there are neither bears nor tigers. Perhaps they're nearer Kansas. Lions though, we saw (all the big five except leopards) plus giraffe, hippo, zebra, warthogs and several species of herbivores, i.e. cat food. Wasn't expecting to see so much wildlife just driving through. Hluhluwe(Shloo SHLOO way)/Imfalozi Game Park is the oldest in South Africa, 60 odd years. It's open, rolling hills and some low forest with a river, mostly dry now, running through.

Cats are hard to observe because they spend the vast majority of their lives inert. All of our lions were just lumps of tawny fur out in the bush. Basically if they're not hungry or horny, they're asleep, particularly males that nap perhaps 20 hours a day, 24 after a meal. Females sleep a couple hours less to care for the kids and do most of the hunting. There's not much self-awareness as they apparently feel no guilt at being layabouts - none of the top two of Maslow's hierarchy. Their limited range of mental effort seems to be comprised of: hunger, anger, lust and sloth. Have no idea how they maintain sufficient muscle tone to chase down dinner. Toward afternoon one female raised her head to look at us, which might suggest curiosity, but it was probably just related to either anger at being annoyed or hunger, although suspect humans aren't very tasty. I mean, would you eat one?


While Jan went to have little tiny hairs ripped, screaming from her legs, balance of crew went malling to get a few groceries and a cup of coffee. She was delayed half an hour and half of mall, including the Mugg & Bean, was shutdown with loss of power. This is a regular feature of South Africa. Article from the BBC explaining that this is due many years of poor maintenance has been blocked from the internet. Instead are blamed theft, vandalism, illegal connections and the other guys. Power company officials have recently been given bonuses as blackouts have doubled from last year. It is possible to read the preceding, should you wish, as my coffee deficiency grumpiness rather than the slightest form of criticism or any suggestion that politically appointed managers may have funds available for early retirement.


Collection of wounded sail by sailmaker was delayed until today and now again until tomorrow due broken down truck that transports to Ullman Sails in Durban. Haul delayed from yesterday as well due logistics so that required tide height occurs in afternoon after NE wind forecast up to 30 kts. may begin. Maneuvering to slings with little rudder could be quite the adventure. The lift is a non-motorized Travel-lift type frame that is run into the water and pulled out by a tug. Braces to keep boats from falling over are logs. Let the games begin.


Creative Destruction

30 November 2018 | Zululand YC
Friday 30 November 2018

Oh my we had a good time last night. Dead soldiers littered yacht club deck. Issues of world shaking importance were successfully settled in a wonderfully entertaining manner. Regrettably, no one remembers details. Tonight is a braai (bar-b-que) at the YC sponsored by the OCC (Ocean Cruising Club). Augury for another brain altering event is conspicuous. There will be food early on, however, as opposed to last night when power went out, so perhaps not quite as high risk for synaptic dislocation. We await with bated breath... and a wee toddy at 1700 before meandering up that way.

Not squandering all of our time today we rented a car, shopped for the odd grocery, did laundry and arranged service for clewless genoa and free-range engine. Actually doing something productive is a self-esteem enhancing activity and we endeavor to do so occasionally whether we need it or not.


Bear the Pain

29 November 2018 | Zululand YC
Tuesday 27 November 2018

During afternoon put autopilot on standby to check rudder feel - no binding. Apparently not enough left to provide much water resistance either. Turning lock to lock made small difference in heading. Guessing bottom half of rudder is sleeping with the fishes at 2000 meters. The thing is hung on a structural skeg and could have broken off below lower pintle.

Although running engine at low RPM, current of 2 to 3 knots showed up so made good time to Richard's Bay. After determining that we had at least some control at low speed with no wind, maneuvered to close quarter, free, international dock around 0130, then helped a few guys behind us get secure. Can't believe we were first in. Finally got to bed about 0345.


After the one fellow working immigration yesterday handled a big ship he came over late to clear in eight new boats. Just had time for taxi to customs before closing then phone store and a few groceries. Rendezvoused with the other rabble at Dros restaurant, end of dock, drank too much adult beverage celebrating and didn't even twitch all night. Slept in until 0700.

After breakfast at Dros took taxi to Zululand Yacht Club to spend three hours arranging berthing, haul-out next Wednesday and visiting memberships while filling out enough paperwork to kill a couple of trees. They're in serious need of an efficiency makeover. Now waiting for easing wind coinciding with high tide to stage into berth before lift. Could happen tomorrow. Need very benign conditions due minimal rudder and can't predict weather a week away.

Southerly we were racing showed up last night and it's blowing a right hoolie. Cold, wet, gusty wind required adding extra lines and fenders to hold boat safely in position plus rain jackets and real shoes. Yesterday was as hot as the fifth level of hell (might be a different level - not up on my Dante). Today is another season altogether.


Wind eased enough to drag wounded vessel to Zululand YC at 0800 high tide. Arranged for most work so plan to get stupid at club tonight with other degenerates. Think we're celebrating Thursday, but could be some other important but obscure reason.

Going this weekend to see lions and tigers and bears, oh my!.. except for bears - there aren't any. Back by Wednesday when the fun begins.


We Were Having Such a Good Day

26 November 2018 | En Route Richard's Bay
Monday 26 November 2018

When things start going wrong... About 0600 there was a bang and we broached from straight downwind. Mainsail out to port was holding starboard side to windward and although we still had five knots of way, full helm would not begin to turn us back toward course. Started engine and was barely able with high revs to turn off, but steering very difficult and couldn't keep a heading so veered off to port. Main jibed over. Jibe Easy kept it under control, but then it went back the other way and boom apparently lifted pulling the vang apart. Only option was to lie ahull in 25 knot wind and peaky 2.5 to 3 meter sea. Got the main furled and boom secure, but steering still hard and unable to steer a course downwind within 40 degrees. By adjusting power and using aggressive rudder, control got a bit better. Jan then unfurled the staysail to increase windage forward, I put the autopilot on maximum response and it has been able to maintain within 10 or 15 degrees either side of a line toward Richard's Bay. Once stabilized, was able to go out, remove vang, which was doing bad things to our windscreen, and lash it to side rail. Hope auto pilot ram holds on working this hard. We do have a spare and if necessary could heave to periodically to rest. Would take too much strength and attention to hand steer for 18 hours straight.

Going to be interesting to find out what happened. Steering quadrant looks normal and don't hear any untoward noises from wheel pedestal or along cable run so have to suspect some structural damage to rudder. May have a haul-out in our near future to diagnose. Jan just suggested a possible cause. We could have hit a whale, which is not an unusual occurrence in this area, and bent the skeg or rudder. It's harder to turn one direction than the other so that makes some sense.

If that weren't enough, wind has come around to 150 off starboard bow (30 degrees from dead astern) and when we roll to port, helped by staysail, an engine RPM related vibration shakes the whole boat. Suspect broken engine mount. Could conceivably relate to steering issue. However, slight vibration was noted before only with engine running and sails up when getting smacked to port. Since we've been on port tack (getting smacked to starboard) for nearly the entire Indian it may not have presented so much previously.

Wind was originally to ease by 1400, about four hours from now, but latest indicates not until 1800. Then decreasing to eventually light and variable. That should help especially if the sea drops commensurately.

As sagely put by Captain Ron, "If it's going to happen, it'll happen out there". Words to live by.

Vessel Name: Anthem
Vessel Make/Model: 1997 Hylas 46
Hailing Port: Weeki Wachee, FL
Crew: Jack Warren, Janice Holmes
Jack: Formerly productive member of the community as a Northwest Airlines Captain who retired to become a drain on, and embarrassment to, polite society. [...]
While I will be delighted if anyone else enjoys these excursions into semi-intelligible foolishness, the primary purpose is personal amusement. This is not travelogue, cruising guide or philosophical exploration of anything in particular, merely random musing of a slightly twisted mind. Despite [...]
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Created 2 January 2017
Waterfall, etc.
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Created 19 May 2009

S/V Anthem

Who: Jack Warren, Janice Holmes
Port: Weeki Wachee, FL
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