Show back on the road, onwards from Richards Bay

Donald Begg
Wed 23 Jan 2019 08:08
On Friday 4th January Graham Stoddart-Stones and Mark Curtis joined the ship.
The name of the game for the passage South to Cape Town is the catching of weather windows. There are few ports of refuge, and none for the 250 miles between Durban and East London. The weather, meanwhile, is dominated by the regular formation of lows which send the wind whistling up against the 5 knot Agulhas current generating waves that are untenable to a yacht. To add to the piquancy on this occasion, the World ARC fleet were already gathered in Cape Town 950 miles away from us, ready to restart the rally on the 9th January. This would now inevitably be without us, but the question was how close behind them we could get.
So we were ready to go on Saturday the 5th. But a low was passing through. Des Cason, amateur router and local weather expert, said Tuesday, maybe Monday if you must. So Monday it was, sailing on the high tide at 05.00 and motoring into a contrary but decreasing wind with a lumpy sea. The wind slowly turned to NE as forecast, we found the current, and we part motor-sailed and part sailed, zooming past Durban and later East London, speed over the ground anything up to 11 knots, midday to midday distance 217 miles on our first day, 186 on our second.
Conditions were quite pleasant. Introducing new crew to the ship I played the one piece of music that I have on board, mainly songs of the melodic type that I like...ok, nothing much more modern than 60’s. The crew brought to mind the apocryphal tale spun by my Dutch shipmates. An Arab terrorist is caught and sent to Cuantanamo Bay. His American captors tell him that his interrogation will be beefed up with torture, but torture of a modern kind with multiple choice. So, choice A or choice B, A will be to listen to Donald’s playlist, ...”B, B”, shouts the terrorist.
Problems? The generator, always the first to go, ran for 10 minutes and then cut out. And the mainsail had not been re-bent on correctly, so it spent a few moments flying before the wind before it could be tamed.
After two days and 482 miles the weather window was closing, Mossel Bay looked like a step to far, so it was Port Elizabeth, and the Algoa Bay marina, where we moored in the evening of the 9th January.