14 December 2012
04 June 2012
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
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


23 November 2011 | Richards Bay S Africa


18 November 2011 | Richards Bay
After a last night at sea before touching the continent of Africa, I am now safely in the Marina, Tuzi Gazi in Richards Bay, South Africa. We traversed that river of water, the Agulhas Current, without incident, and arrived in a calm sea, foggy and rainy at 0730 this morning.

With our feet firmly on South African soil, we were greeted by an South African sailor who said: "Congratulations, you have completed the most difficult leg"...indeed the leg of maximum vulnerability.

With a boat silent and still, I look forward to a peaceful sleep.

Thank you for staying with me.


16 November 2011 | 85 Miles from Richards Bay
With 85 miles before the mainland and 55 miles before I must cross that famous river of current called The Agulhus Current, the decision is made and, come what may, we will make this last final dash to the coast of Africa. With two fronts somewhere, a small one closer to Richard's Bay with SW winds up to 20 knots and a massive one packing winds of 45 knots, it became clear that simply getting in, somewhere, was the priority. Taking the longer route to Durban only increases the chances of meeting something horrible. I still dont know for sure if I will meet the smaller of the two fronts tonight. I have edged north for the last 24 hours in anticipation of the current taking me south at 3 knots and expect to meet that river in about 9 hours or 11 pm. Its a very narrow band where the current is the strongest, about 15 miles, and we pray no southwest wind is there at that time to whip it into a frenzy. Then its a short 30 mile hop to Richards Bay.

This arrival has a certain poignancy for me. It was on a late night about 50 years ago that we as a family boarded a Pam Am flight out of Salisbury, Southern Rhodesia bound for the United States. In all those years, I have never returned and as I put my foot on African soil once again tomorrow, I will recall those visions of a 9 year old boy that still remain so perfectly intact in my mind.


16 November 2011 | Closing in on Durban or Richards Bay
It would seem strange that at this late stage it seems that I cant make up my mind between Durban and Richards Bay, the latter being 80 miles northward. Here's the problem. I had decided to divert to Richards Bay based on the weather turning sour, again the SWesterly, in the Durban area just when I was to have arrived. it seems that my ETA in Richards Bay is also being threatened by another SWesterly exactly, again, when I was to have arrived.

Im now motoring to get me closer to the mainland. Im headed from a point slightly south of Richards Bay to a point 30 miles north to take into account the strong current I soon will be experiencing. However, if Richards Bay becomes impossible and the window opens up for Durban I will immediately head south. With a favorable wind direction, NE N, I will plan to ride the current down and make full use of its 3 knots favorable south flowing current.

At the present time I have enough diesel to get to both Durban or Richards Bay. But, I must not meet anything unforeseen where I would have to use unexpectedly my supply except to head me toward one of these ports, ie if I have to fight a storm and use the engines.

So, my last weather report before I have to make a final and somewhat irreversible decision is tonight in a few hours.

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15 November 2011 | closing in on Durban, 370 miles to go
All the weather forecasters were wrong! Yesterday evening came with the calm assurances that the front that was headed from the coast would not reach my position. Well, it was not to be. On the stroke of midnight the moderate wind out of the west transformed as the front approached. Before I knew it I was hit with 30 knot winds out of the south west....another SWester! but this time much bigger. For the next 7 hours, the wind ranged between 25 and 30+ knots. Unfortunately, the seas transformed as well until we had 20+ foot seas making this a maelstrom that will be difficult to forget. In order to slow down from the 15 knots Shearwater was reaching out went two warps, then a third. And finally, when she still was too fast, I braved the violently rocking boat and breaking waves and took down the main. By this time it was 4 AM. I rested until daylight to find an angry, nasty ocean that I had only seen the outlines of during the night.

It is interesting to note a difference between my monohull friends also in the same maelstrom, and Shearwater. When they become overwhelmed they 'heave-to' - means stop the boat and sit. Unfortunately, on a catamaran, one has to do the has to 'run' with the storm - extremely tiring.

While Shearwater did very well, and sustained no damage, it has emphasized the vulnerability of the situation. This place down here next to the notorious southern ocean is...well powerful, wild and completely unpredictable.

Ah, to be sitting in an armchair in front of a crackling fire........

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14 November 2011 | closing in on S Africa
With less than 500 miles to go to Durban S Africa this is what is uppermost on my mind. As the weather there can and does change from one 12 hour period to the next, and as the weather forecasts become more accurate the closer we get, we can begin to project Shearwater's position with ever increasing accuracy.

I am now drawing a line from the boat to 30 miles NE of Durban. Im doing this because of that famous 20-30 mile strip barely 50 miles from shore where the current runs south from 2-5 knots. By following this line we will offset that drift south. On the bigger map, the concern is the general current that pulls south in this whole area-much slower but, in a 24 hour period, it can put one in an untenable position too far south. Hence one has to constantly 'crab' north to counter this.

Winds,in the next few days, are predicted to be more healthy, in the 10-15 range. With this increase Im now projecting arrival in Durban Friday into Saturday. However we are getting off to a slow start as this whole night(Monday) the winds are coming out of the west...directly on my nose....means slow progress once again.

As one's actual arrival time can now be predicted with greater accuracy, of utmost importance (and a sleep robbing obsession) becomes the famous Agulhas Current, that same 20-30 mile strip mentioned above. One simply must NOT cross it when a southwest wind blows. Current flowing south against wind blowing north = steep waves. With a SWest wind at 15 it is apparently very uncomfortable. With 20-25 knots it is dangerous. With 25-35+ it can be catastrophic.

And lastly, being single handed, entering a harbor at night is, as Ive said before, not a good idea. So, added to all the other considerations is trying to time it for a day entrance. If not, this one time, I might enter in the dark.

So those are the navigational challenges ahead. Obviously I have never done this notorious leg before so all this has now to go from theory to practice.
Vessel Name: Shearwater
Vessel Make/Model: CONSER 47 Racer/Cruiser Catamaran
Hailing Port: West Palm Beach Florida
Mango is a smart, funny, sensitive and totally unique wheaton/sheepdog. . He is my partner on this patently undoglike voyage but remains cheerful about the whole affair. [...]
Extra: Shearwater is a 47 foot, very sleek and light catamaran. She is part of a fleet of 11 that were built - its a sister ship of Shearwater that holds the unofficial speed record. 31 knots! Of the this fleet, only one has we are on the side of good odds!

Port: West Palm Beach Florida