Heading South from Durban - Day Five - ARRIVAL - 34 11.475S 018 26.075E

Mike and Liz Downing
Thu 12 Dec 2013 21:57
With the wind increasing from behind, both headsails were rolled away and the little staysail set as the speed was still too fast and we didn't want to arrive in the dark. It was not until the staysail was reefed (rolled) to less than 50% that we got the boat down to the speed we wanted and it was just as well that we did. The entrance to False Bay, with the Cape of Good Hope to the west and the Cape of Hangklip to the east, is a wind acceleration zone and it got up to 38kts and stayed there for half an hour. But with so little sail up it gave no problem at all and the further into the bay we went the wind dropped off and was down to 15kts by the time we reached Simon's Town. By 08.00 today Aurora B was safely tied up in the False Bay Yacht Club marina in Simon's Town.

What a fantastic trip we have had. A passages of 788.1 miles in 4 days, 19 hours. An average of 6.8 kts or 164 miles per day. The most remarkable thing is that it was non-stop. According to the locals that doesn't happen, the weather windows are just not long enough at this time of the year. But this weather window was. It was closing behind, but stayed open ahead and we, and the dozen or more other boats that made the passage at the same time, were very lucky. Having arrived we've heard more stories of boats waiting weeks for weather windows and even then experiencing very strong winds and big seas, and still having to make stops in East London, Port Elizabeth and Mossel Bay due to south westerly gales. Apparently it's been years since anyone can recall a yacht making the whole passage from Durban to Cape Town in one go, with one person saying it hasn't been done since Eric Hiscock did it, and that would be around 58 years ago! I'm sure that's an exaggeration, but it does show how rare it is. There is an SSB net run by a local South African who provides weather information for yachts sailing around South Africa and he was so excited and enthusiastic. We had yachts over 100 miles behind us and he was saying to them: "keep going, keep going, the window is still good, the window is still good, keep going, keep going." (He repeats himself a lot when excited!) The last messages we heard from him was: "the weather's changing, the weather's changing, be somewhere safe by Saturday, be somewhere safe by Saturday."

We had this berth booked from 20th December and thought we would struggle to get here by than, so to get here by the 12th was quite a surprise. Luckily the berth was already available and we shouldn't have to move now until next year! We've not explored yet, but coming in from the sea, Simon's Town looks a real picture with pretty houses built up the slopes of the hills that very closely surround the small town and harbour. It looks an affluent area and the marina and yacht club buildings are far better than the others we've experienced in South Africa. Again, the locals are saying that it's a far nicer place to stay than in the heart of Cape Town itself. The water here is crystal clear and locals swim in the marina every morning. They wouldn't survive long if they tried that in Durban! There's also a lot of wildlife here. We almost ran over a seal when approaching the marina and there's a penguin colony 15 minutes down the road. Flocks of cormorants stay in the marina overnight and head out into False Bay during the day. With winds constantly blowing from the south, there's a bit of a surge coming into the marina so the boats are all moving on their ropes. It's not a problem at the moment, but if accompanied by the very strong (52kts!) winds they've been getting before we arrived, it might be. We shall have to wait and see.

radio email processed by SailMail
for information see: http://www.sailmail.com