Heading South from Durban - Day Four - 34 58.205S 020 04.635E

Mike and Liz Downing
Wed 11 Dec 2013 15:20
And yes, we're still going, and now going north! North west to be precise. At 13.00 today we passed 8 miles south of the southern most tip of Africa, Cape Agulhas, and have said goodbye to the Indian Ocean and are now back in the Atlantic! From now on it's north all the way, for thousands of miles! Well it would be if we were not stopping in Cape Town. Actually we're stopping in Simons Town and have a berth booked there for Christmas and New Year. It's in False Bay about 20 miles south of Cape Town as the crow flies (perhaps that should be gannet!), but about 55 miles by sea as you have to go south out of False Bay and around the Cape of Good Hope and up the coast a bit. That raises a point that not many people know! (And we didn't until studying the charts for this passage.) The Cape of Good Hope is not the most southerly point. Cape Agulhas is about 80 miles to the south east and the southern most point. The Cape of Good Hope marks the western side of False Bay and so is already quite a bit up the west coast.
Having rounded Cape Agulhas we had 80 miles or so to go to Simons Town and with the wind still behind us, going too fast and would arrive in the middle of the night. So we've reefed both headsails to slow down to about 5.5kts and hopefully that should get us in at first light tomorrow morning. Most of the trip has been in overcast skies, but last night we had stars for the first time and a moon for a while, and today has been sunny. With a clear sky at night it's been more than a bit chilly (downright cold!). So we've been well wrapped up in our foul weather gear, with a blanket on top! So when on watch we've been all snuggled up and with a little tranny listening to all the tributes to Nelson Mandela which have been played throughout the last few nights. Being no more than 20 miles off the coast, we pick up a few of the main radio stations. Perhaps it was due to the moon being out, but we had no phosphorescence whatsoever last night. What we did have was a lot of commercial shipping, all heading to go round Cape Agulhas. Most of the night we had 10 or more ships showing on AIS and had to call up a couple, both of which changed course for us.
We (and all the other yachts) were apprehensive about the sea state around Cape Agulhas, but the weather was kind and with the wind at around 15-20kts the sea state was not a problem. The wind and waves have bent round the Cape and are both right behind us as we go north west, which is good. The wind might come up later to 30kts or so, but if it does, being right behind us is the best place for it! The noon-to-noon run was 133.2 miles, almost identical to yesterday. Not surprising really as once we had worked out how many miles to go and at what time we wanted to pass the Cape and arrive in Simons Town, we've been controlling the speed to make those times. With the wind behind that's not so difficult to do.

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