Catching The Dream

16 March 2018 | 20 miles off St Helena, South Atlantic Ocean
12 March 2018 | James Bay, St Helena
11 March 2018 | 90 miles SE of St Helena
05 March 2018 | South Atlantic Ocean
20 February 2018 | Walvis Bay harbour
18 February 2018 | Walvis Bay harbour
14 February 2018 | Robert's harbour, Luderitz, Namibia
10 February 2018 | Robert's harbour, Luderitz, Namibia
08 February 2018 | Luderitz harbour
29 January 2018 | Robert's Harbour, Luderitz.
26 January 2018 | In Benguela current, Namibian waters ,80 nmms from Luderitz.
21 January 2018 | Royal Cape Yacht Club
15 January 2018 | Buffalo River Yacht Club
14 January 2018 | Buffalo River Yacht Club
13 January 2018 | Buffalo Yacht Club (as in the photo)
13 January 2018 | East London Buffalo River Yacht Club
11 January 2018 | Aghulas Current 60 nms from East London
09 January 2018 | Durban Marina
09 January 2018 | Durban Marina
07 January 2018 | Durban Marina

March 16th - Some nuts off to Brazil

16 March 2018 | 20 miles off St Helena, South Atlantic Ocean
We set off to Brazil at 14.15(Saturday)- Fernando de Noronha to be precise. It's a marine Park some 200nms off the mainland. It's a risk as the swell can be bad, but we'll give it a go. St Helena has been very interesting and enjoyable, and it would be easy to stay longer, but there's a half reasonable wind, that has to be caught before it all goes soft again. It is likely that we'll get plenty of 'soft' wind anyway, so we need to crack on. The star of the show in St H was 187 year old Jonathon - a turtle that resides in the Governor's garden. An older, friendlier, and wiser old turtle it would be difficult to find. That visit was one of the many items of interest that we experienced on a most enjoyable full day Island tour alongside Dirk and Gretchen (Peregrine). Our driver was as interesting as the Island - 82 year old Robert! Sadly, our trip with James on Carpe Diem to swim with the whale sharks drew a blank - no sharks or even dolphins, but we had a nice sail! In any event, it has been great to see James in his home environment and to support his business, while benefiting from his inside knowledge and contacts. Sadly, my worsening knee ruled out any attempt at the 699 steps of Jacob's Ladder, although N&J managed it. So, back under 'prevented' main and poled out half genoa, and in the lull between rain clouds, it's Bye Bye St Helena - with it's many 'white infrastructure Elephants' (courtesy of the UK Taxpayer) and its super friendly people. Thanks to them for a great little stopover. Them, James and Hannah and their young Hernes.......and Jonathon.

Arrived off Jamestown

12 March 2018 | James Bay, St Helena
Just a quick note - we arrived around 0700. No dramas, and little swell, so a very easy and comfortable arrival . Currently moored within sound of the surf on the cliffs. It's dry and sunny and really rather lovely. were met by James from Carpe Diem who helped loop our lines through the buoy and gave a rundown (as a 'saint') of the immaediate what's to be done. he has set up a Yacht Services business, so is a handy guy to know. It's now time for breakfast before Offickledom awaken and need visiting.

Slowly does it

11 March 2018 | 90 miles SE of St Helena
Not much to report from this quiet leg, With reports of uncomfortable swell conditions in the bay off Jamestown, we decided to ensure a Monday morning arrival so that we can get Offickledom sorted and find a reasonable hotel/bnb for the duration. Sleeping is impossible on a wildly rolling boat on a mooring! So, steady does it. Fortunately, wind and sea conditions are very benign with only 10 knot wind and slight sea (out here), so we are also topping up the water tanks, and having lovely hot showers - all without being thrown around. Our friends on Alba have given some helpful tips about where to go and what to see ashore, plus our South Pacific Sea Mercy friends on Carpe Diem live in St H, so we should be in good hands. Happily, to date, the new electronics are doing what is required of them, which is a profound relief! Hoping to get email on the Island as the SSB is very limited out here,. This is being sent via the satellite link..

Would they...........?

05 March 2018 | South Atlantic Ocean
At the time of writing (Monday 14.40 UTC), we are 870 nms from St Helena: so approaching 1/3rd of the way. The sun is shining, the sea is back to the welcome deep blue of a warm ocean - after the pea soup colour around Namibia. Both the sea and air temperature have risen to a much more comfortable 'warm': we may not need boots and socks on watch tonight! We saw the first flying fish again yesterday and found them on the deck over-night. Their presence on board is usually heralded by a loud 'ding' in the night, as the poor wretch hits something metallic as it tries to fly over the boat in its panic to get away. The last week, or so in Walvis Bay was dominated by the two parcels of electronic bits from England: would they arrive .........here? and when? That and getting the boat ready to receive and install them. In the event, they teased us to the last hour, but eventually made it last Wednesday, for the local Ray guy Doug to install on Thursday with a little assistance from an old grocer cum accountant. What a joy, when it all powered up successfully! I having also installed the new tuner for the ssb radio, Doug returned on Friday to test that system and I was thrilled that it was rated as 'very good to perfect'. (ie as it had been in Yorkey's Knob, Cairns, Australia) Thus, we were able to clear-out with Namibian Officialdom Friday afternoon, and weighed anchor Saturday around 1pm. N and J had spent the morning the cleaning outsides eg the decks, the stainless and the dinghy, while Mags and I finished off our various jobs below: all getting DC as 'Bristol fashion' as we could. With so much dust in the air, after months of sitting in the grimy, coaly, sandy African air, and no fresh water to waste on washing down, she looks okay, but is not displaying her usual polished gleam. However, after the frenetic build up, our leaving was calm and very orderly after finishing the now cold pizza for lunch. That had been the doggy-bag left overs from our dinner in the newly re-opened yacht club on Friday night. There, we had dined with Dirk and Gretchen from Peregrine, who followed us out of WB on Sunday after completing their last-minute maintenance jobs. We now keep in touch each morning over the SSB. It took us a little over of an hour to clear the harbour, unfurl the sails and set our course to St Helena. The conditions were pretty good, with an apparent wind angle of around 60 degs at F4. From there, it just got better, staying solid in strength but slipping aft to settle around 90 - 100 degs off the port beam. It was cracking; and our newly cleaned hull rewarded us with a beautiful 8 to 9 knots! Except for the session between midnight and dawn, the wind has been pretty good to great and has given us the best sailing for months: mostly F4 from around 120 to 90 degs off Port. Sadly, at night, the wind has dropped to just about the level of slop and bang, where the swell takes the wind out of sail, which is then whip cracked back into shape at the top of the next roll. It's tiring, but no complaints: we have still been making 5 knots or so. It could be much worse! So, here we are - bowling along, Family on the hi fi ('My friend the sun') with forecasts promising much the same; slowly getting to grips with the new electronics, and addressing the odd teething problem or other issue as they arise. Life is good.......and getting warmer! What's almost as good? Brighton and Hove Albion 2 Arsenal 1 Yay!

Raymarine parts

20 February 2018 | Walvis Bay harbour
are on their way. Allegedly. An electronic chart that was sent to our Cape Town friends has still not appeared, but fingers crossed these two parcels should arrive next week. Mighty Mal has moved heaven and some earth to get this stuff airborne!
Meanwhile, I had the engine inspected by the local Yanmar dealer today, with emphasis on the turbo charger, but he is very happy with things as they are - which is very satisfying and something of a relief. We celebrated with a change of the engine oil and filter as well as the two fuel filters. Will do the gearbox tomorrow, while N&J start on the stainless again. In truth, it isn't at all bad, but it pays to keep on top and do it while we can.
Handily, today's mechanic knows someone who will dive and clean the hull at the weekend - all teeing up DC for the Big Push to Europe. We just need those bits of electronics.........

To Walvis Bay

18 February 2018 | Walvis Bay harbour
We left Luderitz around 12.30 on Valentine's Day for the 36 miles to Hottentot Bay, having decided to take the scenic route. At first, the wind was a promising 14 knots so we set the sails, but it soon declined.
As we were making water, we needed the engine on, so motor sailed until the sails flapped and banged, when we furled them away before anchoring in the wonderfully, evocatively, named Hottentot Bay.
The fog had never been far away, but the bay was on the edge of it, and the land was enjoying the setting sun. It was lovely. The land is just sand dunes, with occasional rock outcrops – just like the publicity photos! Nothing but sand dunes and rock, with the occasional wreck dotting the coast to remind you what it can also be like.
Along the way, we saw lots of fat cormorants and gulls, the occasional dolphin or two, plus lots of seals. The seals were mostly solo, but around 3pm tea-time, we went through a couple of groups of maybe 100. Obviously meeting for a chat and a cuppa.
Fast forward to the anchorage, we were soon to be joined at a good distance by our new US friends Dirk and Grechen on Peregrine (we first met them in Rodrigues) We had a late dinner before sitting in the cockpit to observe the effect of phosphoresence on the gently breaking wavelets alongside, as well as the swirling seals as they chased their fish supper.
Next morning, we awoke to a thick fog that was almost rain. We had listened to it in bed – dripping the condensate off the dinghy onto the deck. Apart from soaking the cockpit cushions, left out overnight, this was welcome – giving DC’s topsides a good rinse of salt and sand. Even the fate of the cushions wasn’t that bad a thing as it incentivised an overdue wash and rinse of the covers.
By 10.00, we were ready to leave Hottentot Bay – disappointed not to have seen hordes of hostile natives bearing spears and war shields on the ridgeline; as might have happened in a 19th century novel by H Rider-Haggard or somesuch!
Sadly, the fog persisted for the entire trip to Spencer Bay, such that we often couldn’t see the shore, but the 30 miles to this, the next protected bay, saw us arrive to anchor in the lee of a rugged rock outcrop around 2pm. The spot chosen was sufficiently out of the downwind of the seal colony we had passed on the way in.
The stink! Mamma Mia, what a stink!
There is an island in the middle of the bay, but that is colonised by cormorants, gulls and small penguins. The boat next door to us in Luderitz harbour had been a neglected fishing boat which had turned into a cormorant nesting site, so we know about that particular aroma!
The island is also the home to a chap and two assistants who tag and monitor the cormorants as a fish conservation service. Apparently, if the birds have to travel further afield, the quota of fish allowed to be caught locally is cut: makes a degree of sense!
Once anchored, we launched the dinghy and motored around to get a closer look at the seals, seeing a jackal lurking around the fringes, as well as another – a big dog, with a puppy – on the nearby beach.
Meanwhile, Peregrine were following in our wake and radio’d to ask if we fancied crayfish for supper. Apparently, some fisherman had come over to them after we had left Hottentot Bay (H Bay had a lot of pots out) and given them 6. They only needed two for themselves, …..so it was fresh crayfish in garlic butter for our supper! Sadly, the fog came in again and was soon dripping big drops everywhere – so dinner was had inside DC’s saloon.
It has also become extremely chilly out! (Not England in February – chilly, but for us tropical birds, it is downright cold!)
On another level – just in case you are thinking that this is all cricket, cray-fish and skittles – the next day actually began with a blocked toilet. That was (had to be!) sorted by 08.30. Then, a small leak was discovered in a food cupboard: the chain plates needed tightening down (again) after the new rigging: all before breakfast and designed to remind me how much fun sailing really IS! Yay!!
We left Peregrine rocking and rolling in the swell as we left around 0900, leaving the birds and penguins on Mercury Island to port. We waved to the solitary figure on the verandah of the building there. He waved back.
The fog had lifted, but still threatened a few miles out; although the sea was reasonably calm and the wind light, so we motor sailed again, topping up the water tanks that had been depleted by the lenghth of stay in Luderitz.
This leg was an 'overnighter' to take us at least the 170 nms to Sandwich Bay or on to Walvis Bay itself. It would depend on what we found at Sandwich Bay, where there is a lagoon with seals and flamingoes.
The day was mostly cloudy, but dry, although the wind was never above 10 knots, rendering the genoa pretty useless and the mainsail half furled to reduce any rolling in the modest swell. It wasn't unpleasant, but when I left the cockpit around 7pm to have a nap before the 10pm watch, there was an ominously dark cloud ahead.
Imagine my delight when I came on watch at 10 to find the sky completely cloud free and the phosphorescence amongst the most amazing i've seen.
With no moon, the sky and stars were so vivid, but it was the sea that captivated as the slightest disruption - whether tiny wind blown crests breaking, or DreamCatcher's wake, or the shoals of fish - startled by our presence; the light show was just magical. To see the fish as darts and trails of light rushing like snakes away from us, or the swirls of light like twirling galaxies in space, as a pair of seals twisted and turned under the water in the chase for food. Sadly no tell-tale torpedo trails to herald the inrush of dolphins.
Unfortunately, this only lasted an hour before that fog - never far away - crept across the sky to progressively blur the stars before obliterating them all; in time for Maggie's watch at midnight. She had to be content (and was) with just the aquatic light show.
With the Benguela current adding a knot or more to our base speed, we arrived off Sandwich Bay around 0800, which had dawned sunny and reasonably clear (the fog is never.........) As we approached the shore, the wind and swell fell away completely. Unusually, the electronic charts were way off - by a mile or more - so we made our way very carefully towards the shore before anchoring for an unusual but excellent breakfast of Maggie's fried egg sandwiches!
With the visibilty closing in, and with time on our side, we decided not to stay, but to press on to Walvis Bay. This was a good decision, in that we had a very nice sail, albeit not that quick, but relaxed and gentle. We even flew the new UPS sail (a 'cruising code zero' for the cognicenti) and experimented with various wind angles.
For the numerous 4X4's rushing along the beach on trips from Walvis Bay, DC must have looked great with the red, white and blue chevron colours of the big foresail pulling us steadily along in the slight wind and sea.
About and hour from the harbour, we doused the sails and packed the UPS away and motored the final miles with the watermaker finally topping up the tanks for the uncertain period we would be in the harbour here.
It was a really lovely, sunny, relaxed and enjoyable end to the last of our coastal hops around the South of Africa. The friendliest of Port Control Officers welcomed us into the harbour, and we made our way around the many ships anchored here to the small boat anchorage off the yacht club, where we found a spot to drop the hook.
By 1830, the dinghy was down and we were ashore at the Anchors restaurant and bar for an early couple of beers and dinner.
Welcome to Walvis Bay, Namibia!

Vessel Name: DreamCatcher
Vessel Make/Model: Jeanneau 49DS
Hailing Port: Cowes
Crew: Martin and Margaret Rutt
Extra: We're only popping out for a sail. We've 'done' the San Blas, Panama Canal, Galapagos, Marquesas, Rangiroa, French Polynesia, Cook Islands, Tonga, Fiji, Tanna, New Caledonia and Brisbane; and up to Darwin so see you in........err....Durban.
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