Final Call S A

Sat 15 Dec 2007 22:38

South Africa

Our final destination and potentially the most dangerous area we would be sailing through, after 8 months we finally filled our departure form in Helle Ville Madagascar with the words South Africa Richards Bay as our next port of call. We were all a little sad to think that this was to be the last stretch and Our little trip from Auckland was almost over but like all good plots the best was left to the final leg , we were going to be sailing around the Cape Of Good Hope one of the worlds great Capes

 I do hope that is going to keep you reading at least until you get to the pictures. Richards Bay is usually the

Port of entry for most of the cruising boats because whichever area of the South Indian ocean has been your

Route, all tracks back into the Atlantic lead via South Africa, and Richards Bay is the first port of entry and

A very welcoming port it is to. All the boats arriving have tales to tell of the areas they have been visiting

So it was great to spend a few evenings chatting away at the chilly evening brai`s [Bar BQ] we had all been

Used to the tropics and the SA spring evenings required trousers shoes and jumpers.  Richards Bay had one

Other great attraction it was close to a good Game Park so a day or two out on Safari was easy to organise.

Will managed to get himself off into the wild trekking for a few days, the rest of us just did a one day tour.



   The major factor whilst sailing around the coast was the combination of current and wind, The Agulas current runs at up to 5 knots in a SW direction and if as happens about every 4 days you get a wind blowing

From the SW of any strength the seas created can be very large. So whilst in Richards Bay you have constantly to be watching the weather forecast looking for opportunities to move on to the next port very

Frustrating given the fact that if we had continued we would have made it to Durban 12 hrs after the time

We had arrived in Richards Bay. The SA authorities have a complicated system of  clearing in and out of each port which must be followed. So I finally picked my time filled in the forms and chose to sail straight

To East London a distance of 350 miles missing out Durban altogether, The 5 day forecast gave me the

Impression that their would be adequate time to complete this section. But as is the Norm things never quite

Work out exactly as planned. No pun intended. As we got up to Durban we received the news that in 24 to30hrs time the next SW winds would be coming through strong and that we would not have time enough to

Reach our destination so we pulled into Durban and spent a further 3 days sitting at Anchor in the harbour

Whilst the weather sorted itself out. During our stay in Durban harbour I was happily minding my own business writing an email to Scottish Colin the one who single hand idly pulled our anchor from the depths

At every stop across the Pacific, just in case you had let his heroic deeds slip your mind. When I was roused

To take a look above in the cockpit, it was obvious immediately that a major thunder storm was fast approaching and before I had time to go back into the boat and close hatches down things began to kick off.

Within a few moments I was standing at the wheel with the engine running fast, steering into wind  the anchor  still into the mud of Durban harbour, for the next 40 minutes that is where I was fixed .  Boats all around were dragging their anchors and general chaos ruled thunder and lightening added to the drama and at the end Penguin was full of rainwater that had entered through the still open hatches but none the worse from the flash storm in which the winds had been blowing between 50 and 60 knots. A fare amount of damage was caused at the yacht club jetty’s which would take a couple of weeks to put wright but after ten minutes drying

Up with a towel all was back to normal on Penguin the computer had survived because the wind had blown

The rain straight into the boat and the computer was at the Nav desk at the side with Colins half written mail still waiting to be finished.

 So after our little enforced wait we where given the green light from Fred the local weather expert and all round saviour for cruisers. We where keen to get a move on, and with good winds and fast current we had a chance to break the 200 mile barrier for 24 hrs noon to noon. On the trip from Durban to East London a distance of 265 miles Penguin covered 226 miles on the GPS log and 217 from noon fix to noon fix. So at last the Barrier had fallen but we had had everything in our favour.

 From East London we had a short hop of 145 miles to Port Elizabeth were once again we waited to get the all clear for what we hoped we be the final charge to cover the last 450 miles around the capes and into Cape Town.

  A weather window as they are known appeared and we made a start on the trip on the 4th of dec but within

8hrs of setting off we were warned that things would get grim within the next 12 hrs for a brief period and that we would be sensible to pull into a sheltered bay and wait for a SW blow to go through we would then get a period of winds from the East which would keep the seas a little flatter. So once again we took the advice offered and pulled in to wait for things to sort themselves out.  And so finally on the 5th dec we set of  once again to get to Cape Town, This time the forecast was for SE winds they just might be a little stronger than we would ask for but they where coming from the perfect direction. At 0530 on the 7th we rounded Cape Agulas the most southern point of the African Continent, this is also the point where the warm Indian ocean collides with the cold Atlantic on its way up from the Antarctic, as a result there is an abundance of wildlife to observe feeding in the rich waters. As we rounded we Gybed onto the starboard tack but still sailing goose winged and headed for the Cape of Good Hope.  The sail up to and around the cape could not have been any more perfect. The wild life performed on Queue with Whales putting in an appearance, Seals and dolphins, also came to check us over. The scenery was superb the sea added its bit and the wind blew all day between 25 and 35 knots so once again Penguin raced through the miles covering 192 in the last 24 hrs before getting into Cape Town Harbour. It is always the case that there is a final hurdle to negotiate before the trip can be completed and the boat is secure and everyone can relax and get some sleep, and true to form

coming into Cape Town harbour would be no different. As we approached the breakwater at the entrance to the harbour I sent Jacky a text saying we were just about to enter the harbour, She would be glad to hear that

we had made it safely. It was by this time about   2200hrs the wind had been blowing hard through the Gorges down onto us on the sea and as we entered the harbour we had about 45knots blowing straight on to

our bow, we hope that their would be some protection inside the harbour from the winds but no, as we approached the Cape Town Yacht Club up at the end of the Harbour the winds seemed t be worse not better

their was no chance that I would be able to manoeuvre Penguin onto a marina mooring. So I radioed to the Port controller to tell him of our plight and he kindly gave us permission to use any vacant dock in the port

as a temporary refuge overnight. The problem being that they where for ships to dock on not sailing yachts

we could hardly reach from the deck up to them. At last we choose a dock close to where an oil rig was being

refurbished, this being a 24 hr a day operation there was a number of workmen around who volunteered to catch or lines and make them on to the dock cleats whilst we settled Penguin against an enormous black rubber tyre.  So finally at around Midnight on the 7th dec Penguin was moored snugly to a dock .Job done at last a couple of days to relax and savour being in Cape Town and sailing around Cape Of good Hope.