Luderitz, Namibia to Walvis Bay, Namibia - Passage Summary and Pictures

Don and Anne Myers
Thu 13 Dec 2012 14:49
22:57.057S  14:28.951E

December 9, 2012 - December 11, 2012

All I want for Christmas is my two front teeth.
Or, put more accurately:  all we want for Christmas is a steering rack with a full set of teeth.  Don disassembled the rack and pinion steering mechanism in a record two hours, and found one of the racks has two missing teeth.  The center teeth on the other rack are worn, but not missing.  It's no wonder, between our sailing adventures and those of the previous owners,  Harmonie has sailed nearly twice around the globe including diversions to New Zealand, around South America's Cape Horn and several trips across the Atlantic Ocean.  The center teeth on her steering racks should be tired.

The racks of Harmonie's rack and pinion steering.
After removing the cover on the lefthand rack, we could more fully see the damage.

Gap-toothed smile.
Don holding the steering rack with its two missing teeth.  At least it still seemed to be greased well enough.

Don ordered two new steering racks from Amel in France, and we're hoping FedEx will work its magic and get them to Walvis Bay without too much hassle or delay from Namibian customs.  Our guess is it will take one to two weeks for the parts to arrive.  So it looks like we might just get those two front teeth for Christmas after all.  If so, it won't take Don long to install them, and then we'll be good to go.  It's possible New Year's will be a very unique celebration at sea this year.  Maybe we'll dig out a few out-of-date flares and set them off at midnight just for grins.

Intended route vs. actual track.
It's hard to tell the difference between the two - you'd never know we lost the steering half-way through the trip (autopilots are wondrous things).

Passage Statistics:

Total nautical miles traveled - 258

Total time - 44 hours

Total time sailing - 24 hours (55%)  

Total time motoring and motorsailing - 20 hours (45%)  More motoring than we would have liked, but the wind took longer than forecasted to fill in on day 1, and disappeared for longer than anticipated on day 2.  Ah well, such is sailing.  We boating people are always busy whining about too much wind, not enough wind, or wind blowing from the wrong direction - but - there is always that promise of the perfect wind for the perfect sail which sits out there somewhere in the future like a carrot on a stick.  We did have more than a few hours of perfect sailing on this trip until the steering jammed and the wind died, so we really can't complain. 

Average speed - 5.9 knots (6.7 mph)  We spent a fair amount of time slowing Harmonie down while sailing to avoid a nighttime arrival (that's our excuse for the slow pace anyway).

Degrees of latitude traveled - 3.5 to the north   We are nearly in the tropics again, but with the cold Benguela Current making everything chilly, it's tough to tell.  One would think the Namib Desert would be warmer, but not with such a giant ice cube running alongside it.  After some investigation, we've learned the frigid Benguela Current is the reason the Namib Desert exists.  Instead of condensing over land, the moisture in the air condenses over the cold current waters before it gets to land.  This also explains why we've seen so much fog while sailing up the coast.

Degrees of longitude traveled - 0.5  Inching our way ever so slowly west.

Lowest wind - 3 knots (after the wind died on day 2)

Highest wind - 21 knots (24 mph)  Perfect for downwind sailing.

Highest cabin temperature - 72F (leaving Luderitz and arriving in Walvis Bay)

Lowest cabin temperature - 61F (night 1 - brrrrr)

Number of near-calamities -  one.  When something major like losing the steering happens, we can only be thankful that it didn't take place in the monstrous seas we experienced on the way to Mauritius, or when surfing down big waves in the Agulhas Current, or, or, or.  There have been many times such a failure might have turned into something more serious, so as much as we don't like dealing with a significant failure, we are grateful it happened in conditions benign enough for Don to disconnect the steering cables from the rudder quadrant without fear of losing a finger or two in the process.

Number of fantastic wildlife encounters - lots of seals.  There was hardly a moment when we didn't see a shiny black head or tail flippers or forward flipper poking out of the water around us.  Seals seem to spend an inordinate amount of time upside-down given the number of tail flippers we've seen poking up.  Here in Walvis Bay, the seals look quite comfortable curled up on the sterns of several nearby catamarans.  None have attempted to breach the fender barricade Don erected on Harmonie's stern though.  We learned the hard way in the Galapagos that the sea lions' nasty smell far outweighs their cuteness.  We can only assume their seal cousins share a similar stench, so we've decided it's best to admire them from afar.

The smiling Walvis Bay pelicans.
They were happy to see us until they realized we don't have a cooler of fish on board to feed them like the local tour operators do.  After waiting patiently for a few minutes, the hopeful pelicans left in a huff.

Up next:  the long awaited Simon's Town, Cape Town and Luderitz updates.