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1-8th Feb 08 40-60 knot "Black South Easter"!! Cape of Storms indeed!

For a news item on 'Nereida' on Yachting Monthly website dated 31st Jan 08, paste this into your browser window: http://www.ybw.com/auto/newsdesk/20080031093957ymnews.html

This is most definitely the Cape of Storms!! I can sympathize with the ships of old trying to round the Cape heading South East - impossible on days like this!
I've seen southerly 40 knot winds for the last 2-3 days - even higher than the 'normal' 25-30 knots of most days since I arrived here nearly two weeks ago. I've had difficulty walking along the dock in the gusts & the noise makes it difficult to talk to anyone & be heard. Working on deck is almost impossible - & they expect the wind to get even stronger tomorrow! The waters of the Bay are angry-looking and waves are crashing almost over the railway track running beside the shore nearby.
I went in to Cape Town this afternoon to clear out in readiness for the wind to lessen enough to head south down False Bay before rounding Cape Point (at the end of the Cape of Good Hope peninsula) to pass Cape Town on my way north towards Namibia. I had a great problem getting the Clearance Certificate I needed, with the official wanting me to return in another day or so, since he said my clearance was only valid for the next 36 hrs - the fact that the wind is howling , making movement impossible just now seemed to be irrelevant to him.... as was the difficulty of the journey to Cape Town (railway takes two hours each way!)
Several boats came in to Simon's Town yesterday evening - they reported motoring most of the way from Mossel Bay - until they neared the entrance to False Bay when the winds increased rapidly to 30 knots or more. In Cape Town recently, a double-decker bus ended up on its side in a gust! The sky is mostly blue & out of the wind it's very warm but I've had to wear one of my warm Musto fleecy tops in the chilly wind.
I've been very busy since getting here- both organizing work to be done & also working on things myself, with the occasional break to be taken out sightseeing. The rigging has all been completely changed, with a lot of help from Selden of Sweden who kindly sent all the necessary fittings here. I'm also the proud owner of a carbon whisker pole - it will be interesting to experiment with using it going downwind & I'm lookinhg forward to using my new light-air spinnaker...
Baden here in the yard has made some lovely steel fittings for me - a bowsprit to hold out the foot of the spinnaker further forward than I could previously, a closure over the under-sized metal of the bow-roller fitting - hopefully the sides are now prevented from moving apart when in windy anchorages in future - and some neat little steel brackets to hold the soap & detergent bottles in place by the galley sink in heavy seas.. He also straightened a bent stanchion & is fabricating a mast fitting for the carbon pole end, to be used when the telescopic pole is stowed on the mast.
New & repaired sails & sailcover are being delivered tomorrow - although it may be difficult to hoist sails if this wind keeps up...
My electrical and shore power problems have all been finally resolved with the help of Gerry - turned out to be partly caused by a corroded water-heater element fitting which was leaking water onto the electric terminals - took quite a time to sort that all out, with great difficulty tracking down a replacement heater element..
Chasing people up & organizing getting items via the local chandlery (who have also made lots of trips and phone calls for me, trying to source things) has taken a lot of time each day... The cracked sides of a double Spinlock jammer have been replaced (after several hours of effort, taking it apart & cleaning corrosion away thoroughly) whereas replacements for the totally degraded Lewmar end-stops on the Genoa track could not be located - now on the list of 'to buy' for a later date - although 'friction-stop' parts were available. (They use the same soft plastic and are also falling apart after ten years of use, much of it in tropical sunshine).
The re-made SSB radio aerial connection seems to be working fine ... & amazingly, the line isolator & ferrites from the USA finally turned up at the Post Office - although the hassle with Customs is unbelievable. I've had to use an agent to sort out the importation, despite clearly being a 'ship in transit' even though the parcel total value is less than $100. I had to make a lengthy useless journey initially & now hope to have the parcel in my hands tomorrow.
A diver cleaned the keel today - and told me he'd freed the log impellor, so that saves me having to withdraw it from inside the boat to clean it. He'll replace the prop anode tomorrow.
Friend Andy came by to help with some of the work one day - I think he enjoyed 'messing about on a boat' although the poor thing didn't enjoy helping to move heavy diesel jerrycans around! Refilling the tanks is now complete - made easier, although time-consuming still, by using my favourite little in-line electric fuel pump. I'm really looking forward to having a clear cockpit for the first time in well over a week, now that I can re-pack the deep cockpit locker.
I was able to start my provisioning this evening on the way back from Cape Town with another boater. A lady comes to the nearby square every Saturday with excellent fresh fruit & veg so I'll buy that from her & I'm being taken to a supermarket tomorrow for the rest of my provisioning needs. I'm hoping that a gas shortage I've been told about won't stop me being able to refill a propane gas tank ready for my forthcoming long passages.
I've also been checking on forthcoming passage details north up the coast to Luderitz (Namibia)and over to St Helena.
Well, the wind is still blowing hard at over 40 knots from the south while writing most of this...

Friday 8 Feb
Nobeltec CD for 'Vista' on new PC is trapped with Fedex...
I've had no Internet wi-fi connection for over two days now.... 40-60 knot "Black South Easter" winds are making life difficult here in many ways.
I tried to fill propane tanks at Fishhoek- not possible, so someone is trying another place for me tomorrow - I've one third of a tank plus a spare full one - so may not be too critical. Also did some provisioning in Long Beach Mall Pick n Pay... a friend of Dave whom I met in Mauritius kindly volunteered use of his car & time when he, Dave & wife Colleen came to visit yesterday.
New sails were delivered but they hadn't dealt with mainsail cover which needs more work & could delay my leaving... that will be a nuisance if it means I miss a short weather window (still gusting up to 30kn at times now but seems to be lessening a bit). The weather is supposed to calm down but then come up again by Tue/Wed, they say.
There's been a big fire on the mountain above here - fanned by strong winds, of course - two helicopters have been picking up water to try to douse flames - but not being too successful. It's been a very stormy Simon's Town this week - there's lots of spume flying above the rough sea surface & the marina docks are jerking about rather worryingly.
I hope to feel more ready to leave after another day of sorting the boat out after all the work that's been done, although there's still lots to finish before I can feel completely relaxed.
Let's hope the wind dies down, as forecast, by Sunday/Monday... so I can leave.

Written by : Mike

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