Starblazer - 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. read more...
Starblazer - 27/11/2015 - East London (South Africa not UK!)
We had a fantastic sail for a few hours early on Wednesday morning, averaging over 9 knots.For an hour our speed didn't drop below 10, isn't a favourable current a wonderful thing?Suddenly, soon after 0600, the wind died to next to nothing prior to changing direction from NE to SSW.We had expected the wind shift a few hours later.Though the wind wasn't that strong our speed over the ground added to the apparent wind strength, bringing it up to 20 knots almost on the nose.In wind like that the engine struggles to propel us at 5 knots though the current continued as we headed inshore.The risk with wind over current is that it can kick up steep, nasty seas which tend to stop the boat's forward momentum.Our original anticipated stopover was Port Elizabeth but we decided it was silly to bash. read more...
Starblazer - 24/11/2015 – Weather Window? More like Revolving Doors!
During the past week in Richards Bay the most common topic of conversation was the weather.As I mentioned in my last blog, Monday’s window slammed shut on Tuesday, time enough for one boat to sail overnight and reach Durban safely.The next ‘window’ opened Wednesday or Thursday evening but had slammed shut again by the next evening however three more boats made it to Durban.The only real advantage of a stopover in Durban is that the next leg to East London is shorter but you still need a 48 hour window.On Friday evening the remaining skippers met at the club for a ‘Happy Hour’ to discuss the GRIBs and a promising looking window on Monday which should allow us to reach East London and, possibly, Port Elizabeth.The sky darkened and rain looked very likely which led to a number of skippers. read more...
Starblazer - 17/11/2015 - Our first week in Richards Bay
The first few days here sped by in a whirl of activity, beginning Monday evening with the Braai, BBQ to non South Africans.Monday evening is the only night both the bar and kitchen are closed so the club provides charcoal and allows members and visitors to bring alcohol onto the premises.The Braai area is set out with 6 brick built hearths, tables and chairs.We had an enjoyable evening talking to other yachties but gave up fairly early because our body clocks were on La Reunion time (2 hours ahead of South Africa) plus we needed to be up and ready to leave by 0800 Tuesday morning.We slept very well.Tuesday we went on a trip to a game reserve about 2 hours drive away.This reserve has all of the big five: elephant, giraffe, buffalo, white rhino and lion; we saw all but the lion.We also saw. read more...
Starblazer - 14/11/2015 - Beating the clock
The narrow band of favourable current continued as far as the Agulhas Current which then swept us south towards our destination.We had some lovely, fast sailing maintaining an average of over 7.5 knots with Exody within 10 - 15 miles of us for the last two days.The 2 knots of favourable current was a great help as the wind slowly dropped, the 'knock on' effect of reducing winds was calmer seas so we could still sail sail relatively fast.Big seas tend to throw the boat around and hamper progress, in 30 knots of wind we struggled to make 5 knots through the water on Wednesday when we also had a 1.5 - 2 knots current against us!Approaching the Agulhas Current, up to 50 miles wide, we set a course for Cape St Lucia, north of our final destination.The current can flow at 5 knots though we. read more...