70knot wind

Dick and Irene Craig
Wed 22 Dec 2010 06:41
We stayed 2 nights at the fishing port of Gansbaai, waiting for the gales to
abate. We were so glad that we had made the decision to seek a port of
refuge rather than continue onwards towards Cape Town and into the gales. We
heard subsequently of the problems which two other WARC boats, only a few
hours ahead of us, had faced.
We spoke to the manager at Hout Bay marina and he advised us that both
Chessie and Brown Eyed Girl had to seek the assistance of the rescue team
who sent out a boat to help them in on Saturday night. Chessie had no
steering as the rudder had been lost. Brown Eyed Girl could make no progress
against 70knot winds. They made news, the incident being reported in the
Weekend Argus and the Cape Times.
While we were moored safely at Gansbaai, tied for and aft to mooring buoys,
Mo and Bev rowed the rib ashore. The carburetor, which had been fitted at
great expense while we were in Mackay, Australia, stopped working the fourth
time the rib had been used, so it was not possible to start the outboard.
Checking the GRIB files, Dick was able to ascertain that there was a window
on Monday, which should give us time to reach Hout Bay before the next gale.
We left Gansbaai shortly after 5am and made good progress motor sailing past
the Cape of Storms towards Cape Town. There was plenty of wind but we used
the engines to maximize our speed, needing to reach Hout Bay before the gale
hit us. The Cape of Storms, still referred to by this old name by many, was
renamed Cape of Good Hope by Vasco de Gama or Henry the Navigator, depending
on which books you read.
We arrived at Hout Bay around 2.30pm, having taken down the sails just
before entering the bay. We were so pleased to have done this as it would
not have been possible once we were into the bay when the catabatic wind,
blowing at 52knots, hit us.
It took help from folk on the pontoons for us to get into our berth,
doubling up on lines and using six big, round fenders to protect the boat
from the pontoons. Despite the generous size of the fenders, they were
almost being squashed flat by the force of the wind against the boat.
Goodness knows how people manage with the regular sized fenders that are
supplied with the boat. These we still keep for use with fender boards,
where necessary.
A boat capsized just outside the marina confines, about a week before we
arrived. It had been impounded for the last two years for some reason. The
owner of the boat wasn’t bothered and the marina management was pleased.
Where once the fishing boats tied up and made it impossible for some of the
yachts to get in or out of their berth, the sinking of the boat has now
alleviated this problem.
The first two nights we were in Hout Bay marina, the wind whistled and blew
up to 55knots. The boat jerked, shuddered and squeaked. The noise of the
wind made sleep impossible.
We went ashore to buy a few provisions and to top up the mobile phone. As we
walked from the waterfront and passed the beach to the road, sand was in the
air, the eyes, the mouth, not to mention the road and path where sand dunes
had appeared. Bulldozers were scooping up the sand and moving it from the
road and path back into the sea..
Another two hundred metres and we were away from the wind and the sand,
strolling along in glorious sunshine. It was like being in a completely
different place.
Within 24hours of our arrival in Hout Bay, the wind was reported to be
blowing over 100knots off Cape Point. We fortunately had experienced only 25
knots of wind, as we crossed the line where the Indian Ocean and the
Atlantic Ocean meet.
We had read in the pilot book that the catabatic wind sometimes blew at
50knots here, making it impossible to stand on the pontoons. One had to
crawl if it became necessary to get about. We didn’t really believe this to
be the case, thinking that it was an exaggeration by the writer. However, it
isn’t just Hout Bay that suffers from this ferocious wind the same is true
of the other marinas in Cape Town.
We went to Seaport Supply, a chandlery in Cape Town and found the staff
there to be as knowledgeable and helpful as the Seaport chandlery opposite
the marina in Durban.
Thursday 16th December is a public holiday here in South Africa which means
that most business closes until around 11th January. This is not good news
as we have a lot of repairs and maintenance work which really needs to be
done before we leave here on the 8th January. With the assistance of the
marina manager and a live-aboard yachtie we manage to put into place most of
the stuff that has to be done. For this to work, it is necessary for us to
bend and twist to fit in with the guys who are going to do the jobs.
Thursday evening we went to Kirstenbosch botanical gardens where the Rotary,
in conjunction with various sponsors, had organised Carols by Candlelight to
the backdrop of Table Mountain and Devils Peak. There were 9000 people there,
all holding candles and sitting beneath the starlit sky. It was a great evening,
supported by people of all ages including families, singles and couples. Some
were wearing t-shirts and shorts, others were wrapped in duvets or blankets. A
lot of people had taken a picnic.
Saturday we drove out of Hout Bay over Chapmans Peak with its fantastic
views, to Simonstown where we visited the famous maritime museum. From there
we drove to a fish restaurant in Kalk Bay, where we had a super meal. The
location was pretty amazing. We had a sea view on two sides and a mountain
and sea view on the third.
After lunch we set off towards Stellenbosch. Taking the scenic rather than
the direct route, we drove up through the Franchhoek Mountains via Sir Lowry’s
Pass. The views were stunning. We could see False Bay and then suddenly, to
our surprise, we could see below us a huge, fertile valley.
We made our descent into the pretty and very fashionable town of Franschhoek
and onwards towards Paarl where we had managed to find accommodation for the
night. This time of the year it is very difficult to find accommodation or
to rent cars as with so many people on holiday, everything has already been
We spent a quiet and peaceful night, getting up in time for a swim in the
heated pool before consuming a sumptuous cooked breakfast and lots of fresh
Off again, this time to Mitres’s Edge, a boutique, family owned winery. We
had met Bernard at the Food and Wine Exhibition in Durban. More wine
tasting, this time we also had with us Lola, the lady of the house and the
wine-maker in the family. We tried a selection of wines, a rose and several
red wines, some aged and some young, before making our purchases.
Already it is 2pm so we take our leave and drive a few hundred metres to
Olivelli, a renowned restaurant which either owns, or is owned, by another
winery. Our table overlooks a huge lily pond where people are relaxing in a
couple of small boats. The wine was quite delicious so we then visited the
associated winery and bought some more wine.
Arriving back at the marina around 6pm, we man-handle the boxes of wine and
our overnight bags, from the car to inside the locked compound. The
assistance of the security guard is solicited and he managed to find a sack
barrow and to wheel the boxes to the boat. Now we have to find somewhere to
store it.