When the curtain comes down it's not quite over.

Sun 9 Dec 2012 16:37
Sunday, December 9th 2012 18.00hrs Cape Town time.
Position 33:55S 18:26E Royal Cape Yacht Club Marina.
Delighted to report our safe arrival in Cape Town after this short but challenging leg of our adventure. Please forgive the following paragraph of sailing technobabble and whinge.
The idyllic sailing conditions of two days ago never last forever, and indeed, as we ran up the coast after rounding the Cape of Good Hope the breeze got up, and strengthened further as we began to turn east towards Cape Town, and under a range of hills called the Twelve Apostles. Indeed under a very reduced rig we were pressed down in quite an alarming way on several occasions. With some relief we found conditions improving dramatically as we rounded Green Point, to see the amazing Table Mountain spread out above the cityscape. Suddenly hot in our weather gear, we were surrounded by pleasure craft, with sunbathers on board, strung out along the beachfront. We relaxed and snapped happily away at the mountain top, now covered by a rolling curtain of cloud: the tablecloth, we have quickly learned. Annoyingly the wind returned, and we had to put the cameras away. Then, having gained permission to enter the harbour, we rounded the breakwater to be met with 40 kts of wind on our nose. With the engine straining away on full revs we inched forwards, blowing first on way, then the other. Despite the short fetch of water within the harbour there was an appreciable chop, and of course spray everywhere. Gradually we crossed to the inner harbour, and the Marina entrance opened up: but there was no let up in the wind, and we doubted our ability to moor up safely in these conditions. Rather than retreat to heaven knew where, we pressed on into the marina and did a 'recce.'. There was one free end 'T' pontoon which we could approach from downwind and which might just work. We then had to turn around in a very narrow channel, and this bit went well, and gave us a little confidence, so we retreated to the open part of the harbour to set our fenders and mooring lines. The wind seemd fiercer still, and it was all that Geoff could do to keep position. Moreover the fenders wouldn't stay in place, and were being blown about like little flags! We returned to our chosen mooring place, but were distracted by a couple of helpers who indicated a free finger berth: much tighter, and with the possibility of ramming the main pontoon with our bows. But the idea of assistance was attractive, so we changed our plan at the last moment. A very tense few moments passed, the bows did indeed hit the pontoon quite hard, but we were finally secure, and as far as I can tell, undamaged. Our glassfibre bow seems much stronger than the softwood rubbing strake on the pontoon! 'Oh, you should never try to come in when the curtain is down: katabitic wind off the mountain'. Simple advice from dockside, not available in the cruising guides!
And now we are just tourists, Geoff has three more days to explore South Africa, quite a challenge. We may rent a car, but not sure that we will get up as far as the Sahara. I have a lot to do, our berth is temporary, and I have to find somewhere to leave Fleck until March, then there is some maintainance work. But for three days we both deserve a break. We have been in touch with our friends Anika and Harry, and will be meeting up, perhaps tomorrow. Cape Town is indeed a beautiful City, and there is much to see within and around: we are lucky boys!
Richard and Geoff
P.S. Blogs now suspended until mid March, Happy Christmas to all our readers, but please note that Christmas cards are, very unfortunately, not available in South Africa.