POSITION REPORT ON MONDAY 23 OCTOBER
POSITION REPORT ON MONDAY 23 OCTOBER 2017 AT 0700
We’re safely tied up on the Visitors Berth in Richards Bay, South Africa. Here's what we did yesterday and overnight.
22 October 2017 Mozambique to South Africa (Day 4)
Dawn brought us 100% cloud cover; SE 10-15 winds and more than 1.5 knots of current with us. At 07:00, we had 120 miles to go, so there was no way that we would make it to Richards Bay before sunset. If we average 5.5 knots then we’ll arrive at dawn tomorrow. Once again, we’re having to slow down to arrive in daylight.
Entering the main port of Richards Bay at night is not a problem, but visiting yachts have to go alongside a concrete wall next to the Tuzi Gazi small boat marina and it looks like a tight place to manoeuvre. Some of the bigger, faster boats will get in about 21:00, which will okay as long as there’s someone around to help find a berth and tie up, but I don’t fancy attempting it in the pitch black after midnight.
The weather forecast is for the SE winds to back to the NE and increase to 20-25 knots overnight. This won’t be too bad because the wind will be directly behind us. However, with the Agulhas current pushing us south, we might struggle to slow down tonight, so we dropped the main sail and spent the morning bobbing along at 3-3.5 knots through the water (still 5 knots over the ground).
It was a very pleasant morning, the sun came out and the motion was comfortable. We even had a pod of dolphins pass by. It was a huge group and they were in hunting mode, leaping out of the water as they pursued their prey at high speed. They didn’t bother to come and play in our bow wave.
At midday, we were surprised to hear an announcement on VHF 16 for a weather broadcast from Capetown Radio. There are repeater stations all the way along the South African coast and we picked up the weather transmission on VHF 03 (other channels in the area are 01, 24 &25). We were 20 miles from the coast and it’s nice to know that we’re now within radio range of the authorities. Just after lunch, Glenys spotted land and we turned south, with only 80 miles of coastal sailing remaining to Richards Bay.
The wind slowly picked up during the afternoon and, by 16:00, we had NE 25-30 knots and 3 metre seas throwing us around. Our sail plan had been reduced to a tiny 3 sq.m. of genoa, but we were still doing 7 knots over the ground, pushed along by a 3 knot current. Fortunately, the wind dropped to 20-25 knots at sunset, so we were able to slow down a little bit.
Our friends on ”Jackster” had been gradually catching us up and, when they were within 20 miles, I was able to have a chat with them on the VHF. Jacqui had the GPS coordinates of an anchorage that “Yolo” reported (at 28°48.2S 32°04.7E, 8m deep), which is just next to the main channel inside the port. “Jackster’s” plan was to sail comfortably and anchor at this spot if they arrive at night.
I had not seen this anchorage when researching into Richards Bay and was uncertain whether the Port Control would allow visitors to anchor there, so I fired off an email to various cruising friends. Des Cason came back and said that the Port Control don’t care where you go once you have entered the port. Tom from “Adina” replied with GPS coordinates and depths, suggesting that we anchor a hundred metres further north than “ Yolo’s” position to keep further from the main shipping channel.
Glenys and I discussed this additional information and decided that we might as well sail at a comfortable speed and if we arrive at night we enter the port and anchor. We let out all of our genoa, our boat speed picked up to 5 knots and the boat’s motion became much more stable. I wish that I’d done my research a little better because we’ve wasted our time fighting to slow down all day.
By 21:00, the wind had dropped to N 15-20 and the motion was pleasant, apart from the occasional monster roll when a wave caught our stern. With a speed over the ground of 8 knots and only 40 miles to go, we’d be there in 5 hours. The sail just got better and better, the seas calmed down and we made good time, approaching the outer port limit at 01:30.
Before I could call the Port Control, they must have spotted our AIS because they contacted us and asked our intentions. They took basic details port of registration, number of people on board, etc and then gave us clearance after one huge tanker exited and another smaller boat entered. It’s a very busy port specialising in coal and there were a score of ships at anchor waiting their turn to pick up cargo.
On AIS, Glenys watched “Nathape” go into the Small Boat Harbour, so she called them up. They said that the harbour was brightly lit and there was a space for us on the concrete Visitor’s Dock. The wind had dropped and it was very calm in the main port channel, so we went past the anchorage and directly into the Small Boat Harbour, where we managed to dock in front of “Red Herring” without any dramas.
We collapsed into bed at 03:00. We’re in South Africa…