18 January 2012 | Simonstown, South Africa
My last post left us in light winds and calm seas on the night before arrival. How quickly things changed.
Yesterday, mid-day, and about 20 miles from entrance winds are light, sun is shining - all ok.
I approach the mouth of False Bay, sudden increase of wind to 20-25 knots - all still ok.
About 10 miles from the harbor at Simonstown, winds have climbed to 30 plus knots.
Visibility decreasing. White caps and breaking seas.
Call my friend Ben already in harbor. Conditions? Berth availability? Winds increasing, no berths, must anchor.
5 miles from the harbor, winds have increased, now near 40 knots - Im worried...
Called the harbor on VHF for an escort in case the wind overpowered my attempt to anchor close to shore.
I call the Navy Base
The wind is now sustained 40-45, spray inundates the boat.
Luckily I hear Cape Town Radio on the VHF in unrelated matter.
If I can hear them, maybe they can hear me.
I call them, they answer. I tell them my concerns, ask if they can rouse the Navy Base for an escort.
Now, one hour from landfall...wind steady at 45.
I cant turn back into wind and breaking seas, must go forward.
Cape Town radio calls, has alerted the NSRI, (the national rescue organization), to the unfolding situation.
Shortly "RESCUE 10" is seen making her way to Shearwater.
We talk on the radio, the captain indicates he understands the physics of a wing mast - will standby.
They come along side Shearwater and put a man on board.
A marina boat appears bringing Ben whom I had called earlier - he jumps on board.
Now there's genuine concern.
The winds are gusting to 50, we have reached the harbor - small water spouts everywhere.
As we approach the anchorage, all agree that anchoring now is impossible.
The Navy calls, offers their concrete wall. I jump at the offer.
I guide Shearwater nose first, into the wind, up to the wall.
Lines are thrown from both bows.
"RESCUE 10" pushes my starboard side toward the wall.
Not enough power to overcome the wing mast.
The winds now hitting 54 knots.
The marina boat pushes "RESCUE 10" and together they manage to get Shearwater side to wind, against the wall.
15 docking lines later she is secure.
And, as the crewman from RESCUE 10" is about to jump back aboard his boat, he remarks: "That was a good call on your part." And then, "By the way, what was the highest wind you noted on your instruments?" And when I answered "54 knots", he gave a rather wistful look and said: "To bad, not quite a record, welcome to "hurricane alley".
Note: I want to thank and congratulate "RESCUE 10" on a superb performance. In about 2 hours of wrestling Shearwater to the concrete wall in 50 knot winds, not only was there no damage, there wasnt even a scratch!