The Alba Chronicles
Neville Howarth
Mon 12 Feb 2018 07:29



21:16S  04:55E


So far we've done 635 miles with 700 miles to go to St Helena. We did 145 miles in the last 24 hours.  We have 90% cloud cover and 12-18 knot SSE winds.  We’re sailing wing-on-wing doing 6 knots with a 1.5 metre swell.  Here's what we did yesterday and overnight.


11 February 2018   Namibia to St Helena (Day 5)

The wind slowly dropped overnight and at dawn, we had SE 10-15 knots with blue skies.  Unfortunately, a bank of clouds soon overtook us and we had our first light shower at 09:00.  Clouds always cause trouble when sailing.  These didn’t have any strong squalls, but the wind was veering all over the place and changing in strength from 5 knots to 15 knots as showers went past.


We pulled out the mainsail; we pulled out the staysail; we rolled the staysail away; we reefed the mainsail; we gybed the genoa; we gybed the genoa back; we pulled out the mainsail reefs.  By midday, the sun had come out, but all afternoon, we had to keep making 30° course corrections to avoid gybing as the wind veered about.


The weather forecast for the next few days shows 8-15 knot south-east winds, which should be nice as long as the clouds bugger off.  Yesterday, we had a good run of 158 miles and the water temperature is still rising – it’s now 20°C, which is nearly warm enough to go swimming.


During the morning, the snap shackle at the end of the boom sheared. The genoa sheet runs through this block to minimise chafe on the rope.  This is the second one that has failed since we left Cape Town and it failed in the same way.  A stainless steel bolt joins the block to the phosphor bronze shackle and the threads have stripped in the shackle – I guess that it’s long term galvanic corrosion.  I bought both snap shackles seven years ago, so they’ve had a good life.


We’re not having any luck fishing.  I put two fishing lines out on either side of our stern and I had our three birds set up on a 15 metre line in the middle .  The birds are little aeroplane-looking devices, which bounce along on the surface making lots of splashing, which is supposed to attract fish.  Unfortunately, while we’ve been veering about, the birds became tangled with one of the fishing lines and knotted themselves together with 40 metres of fishing line; 2 metres of wire trace and the lure.  It was a right mess and took me 20 minutes to cut it all apart to rescue the lure.


For dinner, Glenys made Navarin of Lamb, which she served with pomme de terre and petit pois – how does she do it?  After dark, the weather settled down and we had a fabulous sail all night with 15 knots of wind, rolling gently downwind at 6-7 knots.  Unfortunately, we’re near the end of the moon’s cycle, so it was a dark night, but at least it’s getting warmer – I didn’t have to wear a jacket or socks at night.