Misto - November 23-30, 2018: From Richards Bay to Cape Town
At last we are here in the beautiful Mother City of Cape Town, with the mountain towering over us and every shop and restaurant that you could wish for right on our doorstep at the V&A Waterfront. The getting here was challenging and one of the more difficult passages we have completed.
Departing Richards Bay in the early morning we did encounter some big swells and confused seas. For some reason the stretch of water between Richards Bay and Durban is one of the most nauseating, creating a strange motion, however a few hours out it all settled down. The conditions were favorable and we reluctantly decided to bypass East London and keep on sailing. Our reluctance was due to the fact that we have good friends who live at Kidd’s Beach close to EL, but decided we would make a plan to come back to visit as our priority was to get to Cape Town.
We were sailing in company with Blue Pearl and on November 25 it looked like we might be able to go straight through to a Cape Town, but the gribs were showing some SW wind around Agulhas and The Cape of Good Hope, and after seeking advice from our local contact we decided to divert to Mossel Bay, whereas Blue Pearly decided to continue.
In Mossel Bay we anchored in the bay, after deciding that the concrete harbor wall with enormous tractor tires on it was not to our liking. The local yacht club, while very welcoming, were unable to accommodate catamarans. Soon we were joined in Mossel Bay by Callisto, Mischief and Pinta, the latter two boats being accommodated by the yacht club. The weather was frankly miserable, cold and rainy and we watched the weather carefully as the anchorage is untenable in an east wind.
The decision to depart or rather stay in the harbor was a difficult one, and an east wind was forcing us to choose one or the other. Eventually on November 28 at 4 am we departed Mossel Bay and had to beat into wind of over 20 knots, as well as adverse current and swells for about 8 hours. Honestly, we did reconsider our departure, but decided to continue. In the afternoon the seas died down considerably and the wind started to slowly swing to the south, but we continued to motor and motor-sail quite hard as we wanted to be in Cape Town by 4 pm the following day to avoid very heavy forecast wind.
By Cape Agulhas we were motor sailing and conditions were good, with none of the very confused seas that Blue Pearl had reported. Eventually around Cape Hangklip we could sail and we did get some heavier winds of up to 38 kn as we crossed the mouth of False Bay, setting a new surfing speed on Misto of 18 kn! As we continued around the Cape of Good Hope conditions continued to moderate and we had a beautiful day sailing up towards Cape Town in very calm conditions, arriving in time for the 3.15 pm bridge openings into the V&A marina.
This stretch of coastline is very challenging to navigate and it’s unlikely that you will ever achieve it without some heavy weather and bad seas. Conventional wisdom dictates to do the latter part of trip in SE or E wind which is what we did. Others were successful in light SW wind. We could try to re-evaluate or decisions of the last few sailing days, but in the end what matters was our safe arrival in Cape Town, where we are now working on the boat, arranging to meet up with old friends, and just enjoying the local atmosphere.