30 June 2012 | ASCENSION ISLAND
30 June 2012 | ASCENSION ISLAND
28 May 2012 | St Helena, South Atlantic Ocean
28 May 2012 | St Helena, South Atlantic Ocean
25 May 2012 | Riviera Beach, Florida
23 May 2012 | Riviera Marina, Riviera Beach FL
23 May 2012 | Riviera Beach Marina, Riviera Beach, Florida
21 May 2012 | En route to Riviera Beach, Florida
20 May 2012 | En route to Riviera Beach, Florida
19 May 2012 | En route to Riviera Beach, Florida
18 May 2012 | En route to Riviera Beach, Florida
17 May 2012 | En route to Riviera Beach, Florida
16 May 2012 | En route to Riviera Beach, Florida
15 May 2012 | En route to Riviera Beach, Florida
14 May 2012 | En route to Florida
13 May 2012 | Destination:Riviera Beach Marina, Riviera Beach, Florida
12 May 2012 | Destination:Florida
11 May 2012 | On the way to the Caribbean
RODRIGUES TO MAURITIUS(video)
08 October 2011 | PORT LOUIS, MAURITIUS
BUT...BUT...YOU LEFT YOUR SHOES...(essay)
06 October 2011 | Port Louis, Mauritius
BUT...BUT.....YOU LEFT YOUR SHOES!
The night before my arrival in Port Louis saw me trying to slow down Shearwater - I was ahead of my ETA for a daylight arrival. At about 2-3 AM I rounded the tip of the island and at about 5 AM I 'heeved-to'(stop the boat with sails up) to wait for daybreak.
Daylight came and I requested permission from Port Control to enter the harbor - I proceeded to the customs dock. Two hours and about 20 pages of documents later, I headed to the marina....a small modern complex. But, to my consternation, it was absolutely overflowing with boats...each space had 2-3 boats, side by side by side.
The very free and easy policy of the marina stated: 'Find any spot you can, first come first served.'
And with that, started the problem...
There was NO spot left for a catamaran.
That is....except one. This was between two other cats, on the outer wall, barely enough room to get in, a spot that had fenders still hanging, a water hose still connected and... a pair of old shoes. Clearly someone was coming back. But the marina steadfastly insisted on its policy of 'no reserved spots'. And so with great difficulty, and somewhat reluctantly, I worked my way into this tight spot.
So I waited and I waited......and then finally, it came: a big yellow motor boat, a loud fog horn and shouts of the most modest sort rang out: GET THE F___ OUT, THAT'S MY SPOT, YOU A__ H___. The 'owners' indeed had arrived.
ME: "But....but, lets talk and figure out ...."
HIM: "GET THE F___ OUT!. I PAY FOR IT, THOSE ARE MY FENDERS AND MY HOSE! I AM A MAURITIAN!"
By now this irate language, ringing across the waters, had brought the notice of the yachtsmen of the marina who, assembling en masse at the side of Shearwater, proclaimed back to the irate motorboater "THERE ARE NO RESERVED SPOTS!!"
The Police arrived.
And then, in a very different way to which I am accustomed, they began mediating this exploding conflict. Different in the sense that they listened more than they talked. Listened and listened, they did. Finally, in a very quiet, almost hushed manner, pronounced the verdict: "We cannot interfere with Shearwater. He has absolute right to the spot, no matter the fenders, no matter the water hose, no matter the shoes, THERE ARE NO RESERVED SPOTS"
Angrily, the motor boater, in a final effort, put a man on shore who waded into the solid resistance of the assembled yachtsmen, but quickly gave up and in exasperated fury pulled all his fenders off the wall, unscrewed the hose, and stormed off... leaving his shoes.
And so...the police left, security went back to their rounds, the yachtsmen wandered back to their yachts. It had all been settled: 'THERE WERE NO RESERVED SPOTS'.
But...but....what about the shoes!?.
ARRIVAL IN PORT LOUIS
02 October 2011 | The Island Of Mauritius
Its the day after my arrival in Port Louis, Mauritius. Certainly a bustling town with a good mood that permeates all. The arrival was in the early morning hours of yesterday after a night of slow sailing and then 'heaving to', (stopping the boat by pitting one sail against another and both against the rudder) and waiting for day break to actually enter the harbor. This will be very short but to be followed by hopefully some video of a tour of the island that may take place tomorrow. Am at the main wharf and Shearwater is tied up securely and, with no anchor to drag, I hope to catch up on a little sleep.
ON THE WAY TO MAURITIUS
30 September 2011 | 170 miles east of Port Louis, Mauritius
The Indian Ocean is treating us better these days. Since leaving Rodrigues yesterday during the morning, the local sea gods have dealt us 15 knot winds, some manageable swell and bright sunny days. Not that I trust these particular characters but for now, a much better crossing.
When approaching land and embracing the ironclad rule of 'no entrances at night' there is always the question...do I hurry and perhaps make it (if not its a long nights wait at the entrance) or do I slow down and add that extra night. Well, after a bit of back and forth, I have taken the main down an hour ago leaving the jib to do the work and will arrive the day after tomorrow in the morning 'con calma', as the Italians would say.
And now that funny word.....propagation - well suffice to say its been very bad lately making it almost impossible to send and receive messages through the radio, including this one. These radio waves are very fussy about just what route they take through the ionosphere and of late have been singularly unenthusiastic. They seem to like the night better, so once again in the dead of night I will attempt to send this post and see if its to their pleasing.
But for now...a comfortable quick crossing to the independent island of Mauritius, barely 30 miles long and 20 miles wide, an island Joseph Conrad called "sugary pearl of the Indian Ocean".
ARRIVAL IN RODRIGUEZ ISLAND
22 September 2011 | Port Mathurin, Rodriguez Island
After 14 days, I finally arrived in Rodriguez Island yesterday. I have to say, that the crossing was rough and tested my resolve at many points - and that opinion is shared by all sailors that did it during this time. As it turns out, there are about 6 boats making the crossing now, all with final destination: South Africa.
Yesterday's day break saw me indecisive as to whether I wanted to stop at Rodriguez or continue on to Mauritius. But a weary feeling finally led me at 9 AM to swerve north, put up as much sail as I could, go as fast as I could and head for the anchorage here....which had to be accomplished by dark....otherwise a long night outside in the rough ocean waiting for daybreak. Shearwater came through underscoring her strong suit...when you need speed, as I did yesterday, she is hard to beat. This may come into play in the most dangerous part of the voyage - its coming up...closing in on S Africa and then of course rounding the cape.
The entrance to this Port Mathurin was a bit of a nail biter...the electronic charts(maps) that I use, as do many others, were completely inaccurate for this islands approach. That is to say, that the map's positioning of buoys, reefs and land is not, in fact, where all those entities are, as confirmed by GPS. (For those of us with GPS in our cars, it would be similar to having the GPS tell us to go through rivers, ponds, buildings and mountains on our way to our destination-that, in fact, being the correct path....but... the map on which it is superimposed is wrong.) But with a few accurate GPS waypoints entered into the chartplotter one simply had to accept a position of blindness, ignore the hazards as the MAP presented them and go from one waypoint to the other - trust your GPS instruments!
Then it was to the big concrete wall/pier and the wait for customs and, while waiting, I learnt that my timing was not the best as the next morning comes the once-weekly cargo vessel that berths at that wall and needs the full harbor to maneuver in. So dutifully at 6 AM all yachts left the harbor....back out to sea...and returned after the ship was safely secured. And tomorrow, no one is sure if we must repeat this little dance when the ship leaves.
But the day is setting, its peaceful in the harbor and Shearwater is quiet. And slowly I unwind.
SHOOING A WHALE AWAY
19 September 2011 | 2-3 days from Rodriquez
Ah, what a perfect day, at last. The Indian Ocean has showed her other face cognizant perhaps of the beating she dished out last week. Sunny all day, 12 knots of wind, smooth seas and so I practiced. For, very soon comes the Cape of Good Hope, a famous and sometimes treacherous place, a place that calls for the ability to make quick changes in strategy, sails, routes, etc. in reaction to quick changes in the weather, ie. a gale every four days apparently-yikes! So how to get a sail up quickly without the classic method of turning on the engines, putting her into wind, stopping her, make the sail change, and reverse the procedure. How to keep going and get that sail up?
But all thats for later.... for now, as though to confirm the new welcoming aspect of this ocean, I was visited by a smallish whale last night. In my berth I heard a strange snorting whooshing sound-actually like a horse sneezing. Leaping out of bed, I ran to the port railing and there she was, sidling up to the port hull. The dark shadow then dove ever so smoothly and for the next hour swam under Shearwater, between the two hulls with only her massive tail visible off the stern of the boat with a whooshing snort every 3 minutes. What a gift, until I realized that one errant flick of that massive tail and my rudder could be bent to uselessness...well what to do?
But then, what choice did I have? How do you shoo-away a whale!