Sailing matilda

15 April 2013 | Rodney Bay, St Lucia
25 March 2013 | Union Island, SVG
10 March 2013 | Union Island, SVG
25 February 2013 | Speightstown, Barbados
18 February 2013 | North Atlantic Ocean - 165 East of Barbados
12 February 2013 | South Atlantic Ocean - 300 miles North of the mouth of the Amazon
03 February 2013 | South Atlantic Ocean - 260 miles East of Ilha de Fernando de Noronha
29 January 2013 | South Atlantic Ocean - 225 miles West of Ascension Is.
23 January 2013 | South Atlantic Ocean - 145 miles West of St Helena
16 January 2013 | South Atlantic Ocean - 75 miles from St Helena
10 January 2013 | South Atlantic Ocean
31 December 2012 | V&A Marina, Cape Town, South Africa
20 December 2012 | Hout Bay Yacht Club, Hout Bay, South Africa
24 November 2012 | Durban Marina, Durban, South Africa
24 November 2012 | Bluff Yacht Club, Durban, South Africa
16 November 2012 | Richard Bay, South Africa
11 November 2012 | 85 miles off Richard Bay, South Africa, Indian Ocean
08 November 2012 | Mozambuique Channel, Indian Ocean
02 November 2012 | La Port, La Reunion

Escape from Durban, Capers on the Cape

20 December 2012 | Hout Bay Yacht Club, Hout Bay, South Africa
Heather & Jonathan
The weather window mentioned in the last blog for once proved to live up to its promises and we made t'other side of the Cape in one hit. Not that it didn't have its excitement. The first night we got caught up in the middle of some serious electrical storms that were probably for me (Heather) the scariest bit of the circumnavigation so far. At one point we seemed to be surrounded by lightning bolts, and, true to form, Jonathan decided he needed to do something at the mast. Arrgh! Where were the rubber soled boots when you needed them. I am not sure what you have to do to get hit in a powerful electrical storm, I would have thought passing through the middle of one underneath the only tall metal thing on the horizon would do it, but we got through unscathed, only to have the whole thing repeated again about an hour later.

Funnily enough our biggest problem on the trip (unlike pretty much any of the other boats we have talked to) was that on the whole we didn't have enough wind, and then when it was there we deliberately slowed things down for a day or two so we could get around the Cape on the back of some strong winds ahead. We rounded Cape Agulhas in quiet conditions, only to see some major squalls in front, but amazingly we had timed it just right and in front is where they stayed. We ended up having to motor some of the way and it barely got above 25 knots when we rounded the notorious Cape of Good Hope. Upon arrival in Hout Bay, Umineko were there to greet us and they said it was the first day of little wind they had seen in the entire time they had been there (around a week). Sophie is also here and Juba has recently arrived.

Hout Bay is a pretty little cove nestled among the mountains on the other side of Cape Town. It is still very much a working fishing port, but has a lovely beach and also a reputation for great sea food which brings the locals out from Cape Town for a day out. We were welcomed on our way in with an escort of fur seals that have provided us with much entertainment since. In fact, I can't think of a more entertaining marina so far - it is impossible to get bored watching the pleasure boats taking tourists in and out to Seal Island (just around the point), the seals performing (some enterprising locals get tourists to pay them to get some of the seals to do ''tricks" for fish), and the fishing boats preparing to go out and coming in with their piles of fish.

Just after we arrived Caroline and David from Peat Smoke very kindly took us out in their car along the Chapman's Peak Road to Simonstown and beyond to Cape Point. This has to be one of the most scenic roads in the world and we picked the perfect day for it. Our first stop was to see the penguins on Boulders Beach, a sanctuary for the rare African penguin. Its an idyllic place and it was great to see penguins sitting on lots of eggs. (Shame we are a bit too soon to see the chicks). After that we went to Cape Point and I am proud to say we didn't take the funicular up to the top, but walked all the way. The cliffs are covered in these little Dassies, which are like a large guinea pig that technically is a kind of hyrax (apparently the nearest relative to the elephant - which I find very hard to believe). After that we encountered ostrich beach bums and hitch-hiking baboons - you have got to love the wild life here.

For the last two days we purchased double decker bus tour tickets - better then it sounds. It has taken us to all the major sites in and around Cape Town with a canal and wine tour thrown in. I think the highlight for me was watching Southern Right Whales performing off the beach at Llandudno from the top of the double decker. We also got to the Kirstenbosh Gardens, one of the great botanic gardens in the world, and a really interesting wildlife rescue bird and monkey park.

Today has been a bit of a chore day, but we did manage to get over to the other side of Hout Bay. Just outside the Bay there is a shanty town which has an initiative for the unemployed of making art and crafts out of - wait for it - used tea bags. (I am pretty certain I could be their major supply source for all their used tea bag needs.) The stuff they produce is amazingly beautiful and bears no relationship to its raw material. I resisted the temptation to purchase a bag bearing the legend, I Am An Old Bag, despite Jonathan's encouragement, but we are now the proud owners of some beautiful coasters that will definitely be a talking point in years to come.

We are due to move around to the luxurious V&A Marina in Cape Town proper on Saturday, but I shall miss this place. When we get there and in a moment of "we need to get fit" madness, we have signed up for two walks up Table Mountain and environs. I am not sure I will be up to the second one, on New Years Day, which is one of the most difficult ways up without rope, pick and crampons. It involves a rock scramble on a cliff face, directly underneath the summit of the cable car, assisted by embedded chains and footholds . Why can I not get it into my head that I am just not good with heights - what a way to start the New Year. Last year we climbed the Gros Piton at St Lucia for New Year's Day. I think I must have a death wish.
Vessel Name: matilda
Vessel Make/Model: Hallberg-Rassy 42E
Hailing Port: Portsmouth
Crew: Jonathan & Heather Howard
About: Jonathan and Heather Howard are now back in the Caribbean after completing the circumnavigation. matilda is now on the market and in May we will return to the UK with our friends on Peat Smoke.
Extra: matilda was re-launched in October 2011. Our circumnavigation took 15 months and we are now starting to think about getting back to work.

Sailing matilda

Who: Jonathan & Heather Howard
Port: Portsmouth