After nearly 6 weeks cruising along the South African coast from Richards Bay stopping along the way at East London, Port Elisabeth and Mossel Bay, the fleet gathered together for Christmas and New Year’s eve at the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town, from the beginning of December until they departed on Saturday 07th January for Salvador via St-Helena.
After their Indian ocean crossing the participants were pleased to be back in a big city the first since leaving Australia some 4 months ago, with the delights of a a marina surrounded by shops, shopping mall, food market, bars and restaurants; not the "worst place to be" as Elizabeth on Caduceus commented. .
Most of the fleet spend a good month at the V&A taking this opportunity to go exploring in South Africa, visiting the Kruger National Park,and also tasting the famous South African wines along the Cape Town Wine Route. Hiking to the top of Table Mountain when the wind was not too strong, to watch the sunset or alternatively to the top of Lions Head were other popular activities for some of the younger, fitter crews. Robben Island and the famous southern tip of the African continent at the Cape of Good Hope were other attractions of Cape Town Province explored by crews. Over Christmas, Katarina chose to stop on their way to Mossel Bay and celebrate Christmas with other boats they have met earlier during their cruising, whilst some skippers decided it was time for them to fly back home to be with their friends and family. Finally for New Year’s Eve the ralliers organized the now traditional World ARC New Year’s Eve pontoon party, this year around Wishanger II, where everyone brought something to drink and to eat, dancing and enjoying the beginning of the New Year until late into the night. The following morning kicked off for some with a "bloody mary" prepared by Bob on Barbara Jean, where the famous breakfast cocktail is known as a "boby mary"!
After a relaxing "vacation" in South Africa, the fleet was starting to get ready for their last ocean crossing of their World ARC circumnavigation, taking them across the South Atlantic Ocean via the island of Saint Helena, one of the few places on the route only accessible by boat, then returning to the South American continent where they made their first rally stop exactly one year ago in Santa Marta, Colombia.
The week before the start crews were busy getting the last repairs done, provisioning, looking at the weather but still took time to have some fun, with Golden Dragon organizing an informal dinner at the Mzansi restaurant located in township in Langen, where participants discovered another side of Cape Town with the opportunity to learn about the music art and dance of his diverse country. Following that Mearra Nieida organized a Dragon-boat race inside the harbour, where two teams paddled for an hour in a fun race - great exercise before going back to sea! On the same day of the rally participants also enjoyed some tapas and finger food as well as wine, beers at the MarEsol restaurant for the Welcome Cocktail Party.
Finally on Friday the day before the start, all the skipper’s attended the regular pre-start skipper’s briefing to receive the information they needed to sail the next day to Salvador.
On the day of departure only 6 boats managed to take the start as the day before some crews had picked up a sickness bug, whilst other boats had to wait for repairs. On Saturday at 1100LT the following boats took the start: Firefly first boat to cross the start line was followed by Resolute II, Carango, Mearra Nieida, Katarina and Trillium all comfortably sailing dead downwind with 2 reefs in the main and the genoa out having between 22 to 25 knots of wind from the SSE
Four other boats, their crews having recovered from their bugs, set-off after being delayed by 24 hours. Into the Blue, Wishanger II, Paradise Found and Barbara Jean are now back at sea for the next 1700NM to get them to Saint Helena.
The remaining boats - Exocet Strike, Caduceus, Golden Dragon, Blue Flyer, Overseas Express and Belafonte - are expecting to depart for Saint Helena on Wednesday if the weather allows and should be catching up with the fleet either in Saint Helena or in Salvador.