01/12/2015 – Plans are not set in stone!

We left East London on Saturday morning, the other four boats left as planned on Friday afternoon. It will be interesting to compare notes with them because the seas were still quite big and confused on Saturday but the wind was weak and we motored south, waiting for the wind to arrive. We managed to find the current which we carried, or rather it carried us, past Port Elizabeth at up to 4 knots plus, of course, our boat speed. Saturday evening on the radio net we said we were aiming for Mossel Bay. This may be only about 10 degrees south of the Tropic of Capricorn but it was cold, especially during the night; clothing suitable for a channel crossing at the end of May was called into use! For me that included thermals, ski socks, fleece top, Musto fleece lined mid-layer salopettes and a Gill waterproof and windproof dinghy top, finished off with a fleece lined wooly hat sold to golfers in the UK. The GRIB files John downloaded on Sunday morning suggested that the weather window had in fact opened, allowing us to make straight for Cape Town. There were some strong SE winds forecast for Thursday and we didn't want to have to round the Cape of Good Hope in those conditions so we altered course towards Cape Agulhas. Sunday was a far more pleasant day, the seas were flatter and we had showers. We also wore T shirts and shorts, at least until the sun went down. I was a little concerned that the barometer dropped 10 mb during the day, usually a warning that the wind is likely to shift from NE to SW though the GRIBs didn't show this. The wind died away during the night and we passed Cape Agulhas in almost a flat calm during John's 0200-0500 watch. The sun rose at about 0515, barely peaked above the low lying clouds before disappearing in fog! Visibility decreased quickly, from a misty 2-3 miles to about 50 metres. I was very thankful that we can overlay the radar image on the plotters so during my watch I kept my eyes glued on the plotters. The first problem boat, almost certainly a fishing boat, had AIS and a very small CPA (Closest Point of Approach) so I altered course 20 degrees to starboard to widen the gap. According to the radar, we passed with half a mile between us but he was invisible. The next target, probably also a fishing boat, didn't have AIS so I tracked him on the radar and altered course to starboard, again to widen the gap. He passed within half a mile down the other side, also unseen. At about 1000 John called up a ship about 12 miles ahead of us to ask about the visibility, they replied that they had 6 cables, about 1,000 metres. Within 20 minutes our visibility had improved considerably, thankfully. Unfortunately it was blown away by a stiffening breeze from the WSW, not what we wanted at all. It's expected to die overnight and go round to the SE by tomorrow morning. We are now entering False Bay, between the Cape of Good Hope to the west and Cape Hangklip, and intending to anchor in Pringle Bay. Why, you may ask, when we are so close to Cape Town? We do not want to arrive in the dark, the moon doesn't rise until about midnight and the shoreside lights will be very confusing. On top of all that, we have to negotiate two lifting bridges. We'll grab some sleep then up-anchor at about 0500 so we can see the Cape of Good Hope as we round it and arrive in the marina at about lunch time. That's the current plan! Joyce Post script: 1700 We are safely anchored and enjoying a well earned Happy Hour! The beach looks gorgeous, the ribbon development of holiday homes not so great. We had a seal come to inspect us as we motored in, now terns are diving in to the water around us.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *