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Wed/Thurs 20/21 Feb08

I'm now (Wed) 2 1/2 days out from Cape Town, headed up to Namibia before crossing over to St Helena & then Brazil. We're 'creaming' along nicely at 7.2 kn in nearly 20kn from S, with the occasional spurt as we try to surf in the building 3m SW swell. There's a little bit of helpful current - I always like to see that!

I've seen quite a few different birds (lots of terns here) but it's frustrating not having an adequate bird book with me!

Had a weird sight mid-morning: we passed through a deep pink portion of seawater - & there were lots of other pink areas in sight - no obvious jellyfish/seaweed cause (the water was coloured - it was not something floating on top) & depth was 166m, so I wonder what it was due to. I wonder if anyone reading this has a good idea?

The wind & seas got up really strongly last night and there was a really heavy dew with everything on top, cockpit included, sopping wet. We nearly shipped water into the cockpit several times, with frequent, slightly-breaking crests on big, quartering swell. I stayed mainly down below & cooked myself a nice meal! With the wind well over 20 knots, I went to reef down & had a bit of a problem - turned out one of the newly-sewn tapes attaching a sail batten end to a mast-track car had come adrift...
grr!! So much for relying on professional (Quantum, in Durban) expertise... I'm glad I'm headed to Luderitz (Namibia) before my Atlantic crossing - I'll have to deal with it there. Interestingly, the shallow alarm went off frequently last night in the swell - the water disturbance clearly causing that .... but that wasn't the case the other morning...!

Early in the morning, I noticed the vang/mast connection was coming loose - had to tighten it up quite a bit to stop movement in the swell - black metal dust marks from the wear were visible on deck.... not good news! I'll have to keep a good eye on that.

Sailmail connection for emails seems to be working reasonably but not Winlink - I'm having to use my (fast!) Iridium data connection for that (for my regular daily Position Report).


It has been grey, damp, cold & murky all day, brightening up a little around midday.

There was supposed to be a lunar eclipse overnight, being full moon - but it was way too foggy to see anything!! The cold, dripping fog came with nightfall last night when I was off the Orange River and the S.A./Namibia border. I found several ships around, some at anchor, some under way - but none were seen through the fog, only on the AIS screen, with radar not very helpful. I called some to make sure they knew I was in their path or to check if they were at anchor... !

At least the full moon lit up the fog - it was almost like being in early evening twilight all night long - helpful for working on deck when I had to take down the whisker pole with the wind having changed direction - I ended up motoring for some time in almost no wind.

The Captain of 'Delmar Atlantic' was very helpful & informative. I'd called him up near midday on VHF16, having heard him talking to another ship nearby, to ask if he'd mind chatting a bit when he wasn't too busy with his work. I wanted to find out what all the ships around were doing & to get some local info - on shoals etc!! He told me that diamond-mining was what they were all concerned with - the bit on his ship's drill was 7m across and 80 (or 800??) kg in weight & most ships were converted
from diving operations. (I'd seen a ship, 'Neptune Explorer', with a high drill-rig on deck slowly coming towards Mossel Bay in January on its way to Cape Town for maintenance - it was moving no faster than 'Nereida'!) He also reassured me about shoals in the area - "no problem" so long as I was over 1-2 miles from shore. He reckoned my shallow depth readings were caused by the numerous big shoals of fish hereabouts - I've certainly seen lots of birds going after fish here. He also gave me some
useful advice on Luderitz & the entry there. I should have asked him about the red-coloured patches of sea I saw...

I'm keeping well-reefed down to keep our speed to below 5 knots in order to make Luderitz in daylight tomorrow morning. I'd looked at the distance yesterday and realized that, since we couldn't guarantee keeping up an average speed of well over 7 knots to get in before nightfall today, going slowly was the only viable alternative....

Written by : Mike

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