Round the Cape

Donald Begg
Fri 25 Jan 2019 14:59
We were itching to go, but the wind was whistling up from the wrong direction. Des Cason said that the wind would start to turn on the Monday, better wait till Tuesday. I said let’s go at 6pm on the Sunday and give it a try. That time came and the boat and crew were ready, but it was blowing old boots from the South. Executive decision, we’ll have a nice dinner, some sleep, and we’ll sail at 4 am on Monday 14th. And so we did, motoring out into a light headwind with a lumpy but navigable sea, not a cloud in the sky, in tune with the optimism of our spirit.
We motor-sailed for a day and a half against a weak wind. I had hoped for some more favourable current, but now that we were round Cape St Francis we lost the Agulhas, and even had a knot or so of the cold Benguela current against us. By Tuesday afternoon the Easterly wind was building and we were sailing. As we approached Cape Agulhas, lost in the mist at first light on Wednesday morning, the wind was up to 30 knots and the sea was rough, but we were making 8 knots in the right direction. We rounded the Cape and Lydia was back in the Atlantic after a little under 3 years.
The only wildlife were seals, but lots of them. They lay on their backs on the rough surface, asleep, flippers in the air, occasionally lifting an incurious head to watch us go by. Where were the great whites?
Every crew seems to produce a cook who shines above the others. In our case, Mark is clear winner. He did amuse us with a touch of finesse, a knob of butter on each plate before dishing up spag bol. Try keeping that on your plate when balancing it on your knee in rough weather.
I had thought that after Agulhas we would get a bit of lee and calmer conditions as we approached Good Hope. Nothing doing. We went scooting up past the “Cape of Storms” and got no respite till abreast Hout Bay with the stupendous Table Mountain ahead.
We berthed at the V&A marina in Cape Town at 10.30 pm. 434 miles from Port Elizabeth, 916 from Richards Bay.
We didn’t want to tarry, the ARC fleet had an 8 day start on us, Mark and I had already done Cape Town, bad luck Graham. So on Thursday the 17th we went through the laborious check-out procedure, 5 sets of documents at 4 locations, took on fuel, and were ready to go by teatime.