Thurs/Fri/Sat 26-28Nov09 Days 48-50 One squid... over the Greenwich Meridian...

I'm being forced to stop in Cape Town for repairs - with rod-kicker gone and the first reef line disappeared inside the boom somewhere out of sight - just to add to all other many other things that could do with fixing - it's the sensible, safe decision to come to... A great shame, & I'm not exactly happy about it, but there we are... "Plans are made to be broken" ...One thing sailing (and cruising, in particular) teaches you - is to become flexible but always to be safe.... I'll continue across the Indian Ocean just as soon as all repairs are completed.

Selden and Najad are being very supportive and acting urgently to help get replacements sent as fast as possible. There is a boatyard at the Royal Cape Y.C. and I'm very lucky that Tom, ZS1TA, with whom I've been in contact up to 3 times daily recently on the S. African Maritime Mobile Net, is himself a sailor and has already been extremely helpful organizing possible workers for me in advance of my arrival. He's done a lot of ocean racing himself and is a member of RCYC so he understands my problems. He has also been very helpful to me in discussing weather issues as I've been approaching the coast - he knows the S. Atlantic weather systems well, having crossed between S. Africa and Brazil several times.

(The S. African Maritime Mobile Net operates on the 'ham' frequencies on the SSB (HF) radio & is a safety 'Net' - they are in touch with the S. African Coast Guard and weather service and give boaters approaching SA the latest weather info and help them make a safe approach, especially important across the Agulhas Current off the E. coast. Very kind of them to give up their time in that way!)

As soon as I get in, I also have to send off my Iridium phone to the UK supplier to test and replace what's faulty. The phone has been misbehaving for ages: not taking incoming calls/dying/going blank/not responding to key presses/re-booting all the time ...totally unreliable - what a major time-waster it's proved to be! But when I can't connect using the SSB radio, for weather info and emails, it's the only alternative - and was supposed to be a reliable one. It will be good to get that fixed.

Thursday 26th November 09

What a wonderful day's sailing! I was on a high!! Blue skies, beam reaching in good wind, calm sea.... even a squid that landed on deck to be fried with virgin olive oil for a Thanksgiving hors d'oeuvre that lunch-time... calamari a la naturel!! Also celebrated passing over the Greenwich Meridian around 11am... We're now in the East, not the West!

Looking at the weather grib files, I'm expecting to be headed by SE winds on Sun/Mon - so I'm heading a bit more S now..trying to get a better angle for approach to Cape Town - which has to be from SW due to the strong N-flowing Benguela current, the prevailing SE wind + SW swell.

Friday 27th November 09

Cold, wet, drizzly & miserable under grey skies in slight fog.... total change-around from yesterday's blue sky, sunshine and fast sailing..!
There's a chill in the air with the sea temperature at just 16C..and I'm having to wear warm clothes....
The wind switched suddenly from NNW to SW in no time at all around 1pm so then I had to gybe which is always a bit complicated... but at least it wasn't with 30-50 knots of wind!!!...
At least the albatrosses and petrels were back ... I must get a seabird book!!
Mid-afternoon, I suddenly noticed the upper starboard lifeline was dangling - it had come undone at the bow - so I had to deal with it urgently...

Saturday 28th November 09 - DAY FIFTY TODAY!!!!!

Gusty conditions under grey clouds, although it was sunny to start with.
Later, it turned completely cloudy and it's now very bumpy with the increased swell. Difficult to make our course, with the wind backing gradually from SSW to SSE over the day. It's likely to back more overnight, which will force us well north of our preferred course.
Problem may well become not to be set too far N for a SW approach to Cape Town.... Will just stay as close-hauled as possible and see where wind takes me...

DMG noon-to-noon:
Thursday: 115M (By Log: 126M)- No wind until 6pm on Wed - but excellent speed from then on - 7.6-7.8 knots of boatspeed often!!
Friday: 149M (By log: 160M!) - Reflecting some excellent sailing in around 20knots of N-NNW wind, gusting to 25kt in early morning
Saturday: 120M (By log: 140M -) - Wind shifted to SW from NNW 1pm Friday - so heading into wind but well-reefed down and banging in to swell a bit.

Written by : Mike

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