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Date: 13 Mar 2014 15:54:00
Title: Still doing maintenance in exotic places!

And the wind blew, and blew and blew and blew, and then it blew some more! Getting away from Cape Town is not easy as we've only had a couple of days each week when the wind stopped blowing 40kts and it would be have been possible to leave. But so far we haven't been ready for those days, what with new problems to sort out and things on our to do list taking a lot longer than we had planned. A couple of the new issues were having to replace the solenoid in the gas locker (luckily we bought a spare last year) and having to repair the staysail halyard that had chaffed partly through. Slightly annoyed about the halyard as I found it when going up the mast to check things over after the riggers had finished. They should have spotted it a long tome ago. The staysail was the one sail that, as it was relatively new, we didn't take down, so didn't get to see what was going on up at the head of the sail. Apart from where it had chaffed through, the dynema halyard was in good condition, so the riggers end-to-ended it, re-spliced it and put a protective sleeve over the area that gets the wear. But all that took several days. We re-caulked 6 areas of the deck, each only about 10 inches at most. The caulking sealant is supposed to cure after 24 hours and normally does. 3 days later and it was still sticky. So on the fourth day, it being no better, we scraped out the caulking that we had added, opened a new tube of sealant and tried again. This time it was a little better, but it's still not set properly. So we've covered it over, so we don't walk on it and spread black all over the boat, and are hoping that in time it will finally cure. Quite a few deck dowels have had to be replaced too. It started with 22 and we felt pleased that the deck was looking good. Within 2 days there was another 5 to do, which we did, and in 24 hours another 5 to do. With all this sunshine and dry wind, the deck dries out and the dowels are popping off. If we hadn't got sticky caulking on the deck we would have soaked the deck to try and stop it happening.

The good couple of days last week allowed a trial sail out into Table Bay. Having had the rigging replaced, we thought it would be a good idea to at least try it a little before we head out to sea. Unfortunately there was very little wind so it wasn't that much of a test. But it was a good test of the radar as two miles out, Cape Town and the whole of Table Mountain had disappeared into thick fog. The weather here doesn't seem to do 'gradual' - it's literally blowing a gale or not blowing anything; it's clear or it's foggy. There doesn't seem to be the gradual transition from one state to another - it just happens instantly. In the fog we did see a few penguins that popped up along the side of the boat, but not much else. Luckily Cape Town was still there when we headed back in and the city was clear. The fog never affects the city (or at least it hasn't so far). We're still working hard to leave at the next opportunity. The whole of this coast for several hundred miles is an acceleration zone with very frequent strong winds and rough seas. If you can get away out to sea and clear the strong coastal winds then things settle down. About 300 miles north the weather systems of the Cape have less impact and the south easterly trade winds start to dominate. So we're looking for a weather window of 2 or 3 days to get well clear.

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