Sat/Sun 5/6 Dec09 Rough 'washing machine' conditions...

Saturday/Sunday 5/6th December 2009 Rough 'washing machine' conditions...

Email from Steve & Pete on "Berrimilla" (to the north of "Nereida") sent early Saturday:

"Not having fun!"

I emailed back: "You can say that again...!"

..and that pretty well sums up from Friday night until late afternoon Sunday when things finally calmed down...

"Berrimilla" had continued...... " boatbreaking sea, easterly wind 20-30" ... They were clearly getting the same conditions as "Nereida"!!

They were NW of the Cape & so also being caught by the current around the Cape which is strongly north-setting .... but they're now looking for the same W winds forecast for Mon/Tues as I am to get them in to Cape Town. That strong current showed itself much further away than I expected - about 300mls or more to the SW of the Cape..

We've been so unlucky - it's unusual for a H pressure area to be well S of the Cape (giving E-SE winds north of its centre)), rather than further N (giving W winds here), and as for the high pressure area not moving for several days running - unheard of.... ! Those W winds should have been there on our approach to give a nice run into Cape Town from the SW ... not this time...!! The usual SE winds were blowing very strongly close to the Cape and we were caught well offshore by strong E -ESE winds for several days running - which over Saturday made the seas really rough. Moving about safely became very difficult with the boat being picked up by the big seas and flung down on her beam regularly ... I'd reefed right down but even so we were well heeled over, being on a very close reach to keep as good a course as possible. I kept standing in the companionway, gazing out at these big waves ... just to convince myself that we were OK, despite the conditions, and the boat was coping fine - which she was.... But I didn't do much cooking.....!!

Of course, Fate stepped in, as usual, and radio propagation became really awful, meaning that I was unable to be cheered up by my usual enjoyable daily chats with Tom, ZS1TA, in Cape Town, my SA Maritime Mobile Net contact, himself familiar with the problems of sailing these waters & who's been a great help both with getting up-to-date weather info & with contacting the people I'll need for repairs etc when I get in.

By Sunday afternoon, the pressure had dropped a lot and seas and wind were both down .. so it looked as though the low pressure area to our WNW, also static for several days, was finally on the move to the ESE - to bring the wind which would get us out of our 'trap' ....

Having had several days of frustrating long tacks SSE/NNE trying to get closer to Cape Town, it'll be nice to make port... ETA (hopefully!!)early Tuesday .... over a week later than originally expected!

Sat: On starboard tack, noon-to-noon DMG: 85M, actual 110M. To CT:298M - only 18M closer in 24 hrs!
Sun: Still on same starboard tack, noon-to-noon DMG: 109M, actual 113M To CT:199M - 99M closer over past 24hrs!

At 1900 GMT Sunday, as I write this, we're 170 miles away from Cape Town, but the wind has now died down to just 10 knots, ahead of the low... Could be a slow day tomorrow...

Written by : Mike

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