Dec 98 Updates

December 8, 1998, Richards Bay, South Africa
Well the time has come to make a run for Cape Town.  The wind is shifting around into the Southwest and we’ll be making a dash down to Cape Town. This is by far the most challenging leg we will experience by all accounts. The combination of current and winds will keep us sharp and watchful.  As a matter of fact, about a week after we arrived here in Richards Bay, a 90 foot fishing boat was capsized and sunk only 10 miles out at sea. Thirteen of the crew didn’t make it home.

A number of other cruising boats are waiting for the same opportunity and it looks as though we will be part of a 15 to 20 boat pack to Cape Town.  We’ll keep everyone updated via the PinOak SSB e-mail system which still works only sporadically.  Look for another update in the next day or two which will detail our exact departure.

December 9, 1998, Passage to Cape Town, Day One
Time: 20:00 hrs
Wind: 11-12 kts NE
COG: 227 deg
SOG: 7 kts
Barometric Pressure: 1016 mb
ETA: Unknown
Position: Longitude 031deg 14.79 E    Latitude 30 deg 00.57 S

Conditions: Winds light out of the NE @ 10-12 kts.  Skies overcast with a misty rain in the air. Seas still confused but developing a pattern from the NE.

Highlights: So far it seems we picked the right time to leave Richards Bay. Once we got out of the harbor it was still blowing SW @ 18-20 knots with about a three-meter swell from the same direction.   A bit uncomfortable for a while, as we were beating into the wind and waves.  By early this afternoon the wind started to shift to the SE, East and then NE. The barometer seems to have dropped a few millibars from 1019 but is holding at 1016.  Still searching for the current.  With any luck we should see anywhere from 3-5 knots sometime tonight. We are now running wing on wing with a full main and the # 2 genoa poled to port.

December 10, 1998, Passage to Cape Town, Day Two
Time:   21:30 hrs
Wind:   8-10 kts NE
COG:   230 deg
SOG:   11-12 kts
ETA:   Undetermined
Current:   4-5 kts
Barometric Pressure: 1018 mb
Position: Longitude 28 deg 12.41 E     Latitude 33 deg 06.28 S

Conditions: Wind a little light and on the tail but the current is still pushing us along at up to 12.5    knots SOG.   Overcast, but clearing. Seas moderate to 1 meter.

Highlights: Although we still have not experienced the treacherous weather this coast is notorious for, it has not been without excitement.  This morning at 06:15, just 15 minutes into my watch a big black cloud moved in bringing with it rain and wind.  First the wind shifted to the north, backing the main (with a preventer on it). After pulling the main midships we rolled in the jib (poled out to port) and waited to see what would happen. Before we could reef, the wind gusted to 47 knots from 30 and literally tore the clew clean out. As I watched in horror the main ripped the entire length of the foot right to the tack. Uh oh!Blown Mainsail

As the saying goes, a chain is only as strong as it’s weakest link.  In fact, the clew straps were the weak link in the sail, so it was only a matter of time before something happened.  Bill had requested the straps be replaced along with the others in Australia, however, it was not done. I guess now’s as good a time as any!

At the moment we are just a few miles west of East London and have decided to keep going.  All the indicators are saying that the weather will hold for at least another 36 hours.  Plenty of time to cover 130 miles to Port Elizabeth. We may even try for Knysna if the current pattern holds.

December 11, 1998, Passage to Cape Town, Day Three
Time: 10:10 hrs
Wind: 16-18 kts E
COG: 269 deg
SOG: 6.5 - 7.5 kts
Barometric Pressure: 1016 mb
ETA: Port Elizabeth – 15:00 hrs
Position: Longitude 026 deg 17.49 E     Latitude 33 deg 54.53 S

Conditions: Winds moved east @ 15+ kts. Skies overcast but clearing. Seas moderately rough @ 4-6 feet.

Highlights: Woke up this morning to poor visibility with rain and drizzle.  Still motoring to maintain as much speed as possible.  Lost our current in the middle of the night as we began to move closer to land.  The weather faxes and voice forecasts still look good but we have decided to duck into Port Elizabeth anyway.  Better to be safe than sorry.  At least it’ll give us a few days to see the area while we wait for the next weather window.

December 12, 1998, Port Elizabeth, South Africa
Lucy tuckered out
We decided to duck into Port Elizabeth to see what we could do to have the mainsail repaired. Looks like we’ll have to wait until Cape Town.  The crew is resting up (especially Lucy, she was just tuckered out!) and will head out again in a few days.  Meanwhile, the time ashore gives us some time to explore.  We’ll be looking to meet up with a regular web site visitor, Doug Stannard, that lives here in Port Elizabeth.  Which brings up another visit we had in Richards Bay. Jim Schill and his family dropped by to visit (with a case of Castle Beer in tow!). Here’s his original e-mail:

From: Jim Schill
Date: Sunday, July 19, 1998 5:04 AM
Subject: Travels to Cape Town

Hi, my name is Jim Schill and for the time being I am living in Pretoria, South Africa working with the US Embassy under a contract. I am a sailor from King Harbor (Redondo Beach, CA).  Have been tracking you folks for about 9 months now and love your logs.  FYI, I was with the US Embassy in Fiji in 1986-88 and sailed a boat called the Dove around there.  If you wish, kindly let me know your estimated arrival date in Cape Town and I will fly down from here to welcome you all. Who knows, may have some good Castle beer on hand at that time.  All the best and keep up the good sailing.

Jim Schill

Thanks Jim!  We’ll have more for everyone later. Check out the latest E-Newsletter for more info on our stay in Richards Bay.

December 17, 1998, Port Elizabeth, South Africa
Time:   20:30 hrs
Wind:  11-13 kts East
COG:   255 deg
SOG:   6.5-7.0 kts
ETA:   Tomorrow evening
Current:   0.5-1.0 kts
Barometric Press: 1019 mb
Position: Longitude 025 deg 15.48 E  Latitude 34 deg 14.33 S

Conditions: Winds steady @ 12-15 kts. Skies overcast and occasional rain.  Seas still calm with a slight SE swell rolling under us. 

Highlights: Left Port Elizabeth this afternoon at 2:30 PM and headed into winds out of the SSW @ 14 knots. Winds turned SE to East as expected, allowing us to sail about 120° off. As we were motor-sailing, the extra speed was bringing our apparent wind down and causing the sails to flog.  Not much you can do when you’re trying to maintain as much speed as possible. Though the barometer is staying high at 1019 mb the forecast is for 35 knots out of the SE with rough seas.  Not a problem as long as it really is out of the southeast.  At this point, our only concern is all of the freighters around us steaming by at 20+ knots. I don’t think Bob will be getting any sleep on Gypsy Spray tonight.

December 18, 1998, Passage to Cape Town, South Africa
Time: 09:58 hrs
Wind: 15-16 kts East
COG:   283 deg
SOG:   8.0-8.5 kts
ETA:   5:00-6:00 today
Current:   0.5 kts
Barometric Press: 1019 mb
Position:   Longitude 023 deg 17.71 E   Latitude 34 deg 17.05 S

Conditions: Winds now due east @ 20-22 kts true.  Skies partly cloudy.  Seas a little confused and building slightly.

Highlights: We never got the 35 knots and rough seas that they were predicting. Instead, we had 15-20 knots right on the tail. Running most of the night with just the main and the engine. Poled the jib out at first light and gained 1.0-1.5 knots of speed.

All the indicators, including the weather faxes and voice forecasts are pointing toward the wind shifting to the SW tomorrow morning. This is in line with what we expected so we will stop in Mossel Bay as planned.  We just found out that the slip we had reserved at the marina there has been taken and that they may not have room for us there.  Not much we can do at this point except see what happens when we get there.

Jeff added some new content. Seems he found an old disk with some files we thought we had lost in our hard disk crash last year.  He polished them off and here they are:

Equipment List: A short list of some of the items we have onboard.
Nov. 96 Enews: Here’s the very first edition that we actually sent to our friends and families.
Jan. 97 Enews: Caribbean leg of trip.
Feb. 97 Enews: The Out of Bounds inaugural Enews!
Mar. 97 Enews: Shoving off to Panama.

December 21, 1998, Mossel Bay, South Africa
I think the whole crew would agree with the statement Mossel Bay is cursed.  From the moment we sailed in here things have been going wrong.  Here’s what’s happened. 

1) Bill takes a ride across the boat on the boom when we jibe due to a rather large wave on the way in to the harbor

2) Having located a slip, I attempt to steer the biggashboat in with 25 knots of wind on the beam.  Result; aborted attempt due to too much wind, not enough room to maneuver.  We receive a rather ugly gash in the bow from a big steel boat next to us as I try and pull away.

3) Due to the easterly swell we cannot anchor outside the breakwater, leaving our only option to tie up to the concrete pier with all the fishing boats.  Result, a very uncomfortable night due to swell and big black tire marks on the starboard side.  Gypsy Spray ties up to our port side and gets away with a clean hull. 

4) Early the next morning we are kicked off the pier because we are in a charter boat’s place.  We gladly leave and anchor outside the breakwater.

5) Once there, the wind finally shifts to the southwest and blows 30 knots across the deck taking one side of our aft dodger (unsecured) with it.  We watched it sink and disappear before anyone could grab it. 

6) As we were not on the dock we attempt to make water, only to be foiled by a fouled high pressure membrane on our water-maker.  We hope we can clean them and not have to be replaced.

oobmosselbay7) Seeing as we need our dinghy to get to shore, we roll it out only to find that the work that was supposed to have been done to it in Richards Bay was in fact not done at all.

8) After putting the dinghy together and dropping the engine on, we come to find that the gas fitting on the fuel tank is cracked. Not too much of a problem, except if it fails and the motor dies, we’ll be blown off shore.

The good news is that it looks like we have found our weather window to get us to Cape Town and we will hopefully be leaving today. At this point we really need a break, so we’re crossing our fingers for the best.  The last thing we want is to spend Christmas in Mossel Bay!

December 22, 1998, Cape Agulhas, South Africa
Time:   21:45 hrs
Wind:  13-15 kts SSW
COG:   252 deg
SOG:   7.0-7.5 kts
ETA:   Wednesday Evening
Current:   None to 0.5 kts helping
Barometric Press: 1019 mb
Position: Longitude 021 deg 00.27 E  Latitude 34 deg 38.76 S

Conditions: Winds lightening as they shift to the south.  Seas continue to roll in @ 3-4 meters. Skies clear and sunny. Barometric pressure rising steadily. 

Highlights: We pulled the hook and departed Mossel Bay at 06:00 hrs this morning under a light 15 knot breeze from the SW.  We had been waiting for the wind to let up since yesterday afternoon.  The barometer was rising and all the weather info we had indicated we would have a 2 day window to make it to Cape Town before the next southwester blew in.  As we wanted to leave as soon as it started to let up we spent most of the night getting up to check every few hours.  Thought we sailed into quite a large swell, the waves were spaced far enough apart that is was not too uncomfortable a ride.

As I write this it is just before 22:00 hrs and we are 18 miles from Cape Agulhas, the most southern point of the African continent.  Less than three weeks ago, all the boats with the Around Alone Race sailed just south of here en-route for Auckland New Zealand.  Tomorrow we will round Cape Point, AKA The Cape of Good Hope and enter the Atlantic Ocean once again.

December 23, 1998, Cape of Good Hope, South Africa
Time:   11:07 hrs
Wind:  20 kts E
COG:   298 deg
SOG:   7.0-8.0 kts
ETA:   17:00 hrs Tonight
Current:   None
Barometric Press: 1014 mb
Position: Longitude 018 deg 27.31 E  Latitude 34 deg 26.67 S

Conditions: Winds blowing from the east @ 20-22 kts true. Skies mostly clear.  Seas actually calming down a bit as we round the Cape.

Highlights: Last evening was for the most part uneventful save the usual ships passing close by.  Rounding the Cape of Good Hope was by far the most exciting moment to date on the Indian Ocean crossing. I speak for the crew when I say that there is no love lost leaving the Indian Ocean. In any case here is Bill’s log entry as we pass Cape Point (Cape of Good Hope).

11:07  298° - We are now due south of the “Cape of Good Hope” officially known as “Cape Point”, it is the demarcation line which separates the Indian and Atlantic Oceans.  We are now back in the South Atlantic.  The cape itself is stunning!  Wind E-20 kts. Seas 3-4 m.  Sky clear.  40NM from Cape Town.  Lat S 34° 26.67 Lon E 018°27.31  YAHOO! I think we’re all ready for a little Christmas cheer in Cape Town!

December 24, 1998, Cape Town, South Africa
We have made it to Cape Town!  The Indian Ocean passage is finally behind us and Christmas upon us. After two years, we have again touched the waters of the Atlantic Ocean.

Our plans include a big dinner out with Bob from Gypsy Spray and some crew from one of the BT Global Challenge boats. Bill, as is his somewhat custom, penned a Christmas Poem about the Indian Ocean passage.  Read what he has to say in the “Bill’s POV” section.

Merry Christmas to all and thanks to everyone that has sent us e-mail saying that we are in their prayers.

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