Cape Town to St Helena - Day One 32 38.072S 016 51.069E

Mike and Liz Downing
Fri 14 Mar 2014 14:02
We've chosen our weather window and hope it's a good one! At 15.00 yesterday we said our farewell to Cape Town and started our journey north, the first passage being to the island of St Helena - 1,700 miles to the north west. It was a beautiful day as we looked back on Table Mountain - not a cloud in the sky. Alas there was also no wind, so the passage started with 5 hours of motoring in a calm sea with a gentle south westerly swell. The calm sea did make it good for watching wildlife as we crossed Table Bay and the wildlife did put on a good show. Lots of fur seals popped up, sticking their heads way out of the water to see what was going on, and quite a few just lay on their backs with their flippers in the air. No, they weren't dead. Don't know why they do that unless the water is so cold (which it is) that they want to warm their hands and feet up in the sun! Quite a few African Penguins came to the surface within a few feet of us and a pod of Dusky dolphins came to play round the boat. A whale blew a few times in the distance and we motored through several flocks of sea birds resting on the surface. So all in all not a bad show.

The wind then came up as darkness fell and we sailed under our big outer genoa until it was in the low twenties and switched to the working genoa. The wind reached the high twenties for a while and the sea rose to 3 to 4 metres with the occasional breaking wave roaring across behind us. Starting later in the day we decided to sail under-canvassed during the night, just to get back into the swing of things. The one advantage of leaving later in the month than we had hoped is that we've missed the new moon and now almost have a full moon. And with no clouds it was a beautiful night sailing under the light of the moon. But no clouds meant nothing to keep the warmth of the day in. The temperature plummeted and it was mighty cold, despite having 5 layers of clothes on including thermals! We encountered several ships during the night and called up a couple that were going to pass very close to check they had seen us and were going to maintain their course. Both responded positively, saying they would keep clear, which was good. Although as a sailing ship we have the right of way, we do our best to keep out of their way if we can. Today has been another beautiful day with not a cloud in the sky. The wind has dropped down to around 10-12kts and we're making around 5.5kts under both headsails (the outer genoa being poled out to windward). The good news is that the sea has gone down and we're not rolling as badly as last night. Having the second genoa up also helps balance the boat and reduce rolling. Although it's sunny, it's still not very warm and we're looking forward to the temperatures going up as we head north (that still doesn't sound quite right). We're in the Benguela current which is a cold water current bringing cold water up from the south, so that doesn't help the temperature. It runs up the West coast of Africa and does help the speed a little. It's not fast like the Agulhas current on the East coast, but gives perhaps 0.5 to 1kt and every little helps! The position in the Subject heading is our noon position today and we covered 110 miles since 15.00 yesterday, so an okay start.

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