Cape Town to Walvis Bay
6th November 2012 Tuesday
Last preparations to be done. Steve to do the last of the canvass work. Heinz with the last of the electrical to be synchronized. I off to the airport to drop off the car and to meet Michael and Jacques. Sms’s to everybody that this is now the beginning of our dream. A dream that started with Zack’s farther. He only dreamed about this and pass it on to his son. When I met Zack it was part of his dream and become part of mine. Normally it is kids that have a dream and parents let them follow their dream and spray their wings. Now it is parents that follow their dream and our kids that have to let us go and follow our dream
While sitting and eat lunch all together, I received a phone call of Libby from Offshore Sailing Academy to wish us fair winds and safe sailing. Her email received a little bit later includes a attachment that was a confirmation that we are in God’s care. That He will watch over us. Ps 91:4 he will cover you with his feathers. He will shelter you with His wings. His faithful promises are your armor and protection.
There is absolutely nothing to fear about tomorrow, for God is already there. This picture and message are on the corner of my laptop from April 2010. Everyday a reminder of Ps 17:8 “Keep me as the apple of Thy eye, hide me under the shadows of Thy wings…” With this email it was a confirmation that on our dream God will keep us under His wing.
Jacques prayed for us at the table. Everybody gathered around our yacht for the last things to be done: slip lines etc. Greetings. A last hug from Michael. For me very emotional to stand in the embrace of our son and to feel his arms around me. They were standing on the jetty when we left the marina.
We left Cape Town harbour at 16h00. Rudi followed us on Catarina with a crew: Deslynn, Rudi and Deslynn daughter, Neil, Jennifer, Richardt, Michael and Jacques. We went up south and turn Vagabund to hoist the G2 sail.
The logo of Tecroveer was displayed on the G2. “Clean water for future generations”. We belief that the purpose of our lives are to clean water.
Tecroveer was started by Zack’s dad and now our son is part of Tecroveer as the third generation. Where everybody working for Tecroveer become family. Tecroveer is bigger than any person. A legacy of clean water. To go on even if we are not there. Tecroveer as a team part of our dream. To be the backbone that is part of our world.
With the G2 up en presenting our logo, Tecroveer as a team is part of this adventure.
After a while and some photos Catarina turn back to the harbour. We phone our daughter Zandia. To hear her voice before we are to far offshore for using our cell phones.
The wind was steady at 14 knots and fall down to 6 kts behind Robben Island. It pick up again to 18 knots and with the new extension and the G2 we are doing 9.2 to 9.4 knots. I clean the salon area and get everything ready for the night shifts. We have bought some take away pizza and pasta to eat the first day. Everybody can eat the first day when they feel hungry and to let your body settle and getting your sea legs.
At 19h00 we decided to take the G2 down because the wind is going to increase to 25knots at 3h00 the next morning and we are sailing offshore around Dussen Island close to the shipping lanes and with the genoa is easier to make course alterations than the G2. With the headsail we only get about 5 knots but is was fine because it gives us time to settle in.
It is so much different than passages along the coastal waters in the Indian ocean. There it is a small weather window and all the limits are pushed. On those passages it was always max sail for the wind plus one engine to get max speed to get as quickly as possible to get to the next harbour before the weather window closes. Now the first leg is about 12 days to Saint Helena under sail.
Zack spend some time to get all the overlays and settings on the plotter and was taking the first shift. Zack being a night person and I a morning person, it made sense to do the shifts according to our nature. The other person taking over when you are tired. Normally I take over between 2 and 3 in the morning till about 6 or 7.
At midnight inside of Robben Island and outside of Dussen Island the boat traffic was busy. Loose sideways waves break occasionally over the side of the yacht.
7th November 2012 Wednesday
At 02h00 we were in the mouth of Saldaha Bay. We passed a big cargo ship and a fishing vessel passed 0.5 nm from us. At 4h00 the wind start picking up to 17 knots and we do now about 7 knots with only the headsail. At about 7h37 we were about 27 nm West of Cape Columine. We set navigation to track to WP 27º26,112 S, 13º30,743 E. The sea state was improving with the sea temperature 12,2ºC. The solar panels break even on power absorbed at 8h00.
Helping with the nausea and not drinking any tablets was eating ginger bon sweets and drinking ginger infused tea (ginger is a natural remedy for motion sickness). The tea and sweets with ginger assist in alleviating nausea and motion sickness.
During my morning shift and Zack taking a nap, I could not yet read, but instead listen to a cd of Garry Kietsweter.
The wind blow steady between 18 to 25 knots and we were doing about 7.3 knots with the headsail. On the different screens were different overlays (split screens) that make it easy to navigate from inside the saloon. On the TV screen was the tracking and radar screen. Above on the Raymarine E7 plotter was a picture outzumed of where we are going together with all the info like wind speed, depth, SOG etc.
We have the AIS system. AIS – Automatic Identification System. A shipboard VHF transporder system which enables ships to exchange ID, position, course, speed and other essential data with other nearby AIS equipped ships and shore stations. AIS is only mandatory for larger commercial vessels. Pleasure craft are not required to have AIS but it make a significant contribution to safety and collision avoidance. You can track a ship from miles away and start doing a course alteration if necessary. You can only start seeing it about 5 nm away and if the vessel is traveling at about 15 knots you do not have much time to change course.
Even with the sun shining brightly at 12h00 it was still very cold because of the sea temperature. I was sitting in the corner of the saloon with a blanket, where one was able to see the front and side through the window. A nice spot where observation can be made visually outside and the screens can be watched as well. No land was in sight. Only water with waves with white crest on all the sides of Vagabund. The sea was a deep black blue. The sky has a few thin clouds and was a pale blue color. The waves passes sideways from the back and sometimes slams against the hull with a bashing sound.
At 14h00 we hoist the screecher and was doing about 8.6 knots in the 18-24 knots of wind. At 17h00 the wind has increased to 30 knots and the sea swells were much bigger. We decided to take the screecher down and change to the headsail for the night. With only the two of us we put safety first and change to the headsail, because one person can handle the headsail alone on his night shift.
With the inhauling of the screecher we have to work smarter because we were one hand short to handle the screecher in stronger wind. We fasten an extra sheet round the cleat to a winch to pull down instead of an extra hand. With the deploying of the headsail the one sheet came loose and the headsail was flapping in the wind with the other sheet ripped out on the other side. We manage to inhaul the headsail, recover the loose sheets and deploying the headsail again.
I was wet and cold after all this exercise on the front deck. Being splashed with cold sea water as waves were passing through. I took a warm shower. Thank’s Rudi for a bath shower in our bathroom. Even with the sea state that was rough you can sit down on your knees and shower. I made some curry and rice and we sit down for a warm hot meal with tomato salad on the side. We listen to music and watch the sun go under. We sms our GPS position to Michael and talk to him to confirm that the sms system is working. The satellite phone was only working if you go outside because we did not have an external antenna. Every night at 18h00 we will go outside to send the sms and wait for his sms regarding the weather for the next 2 days.
At 21h00 the wind picked up to 38 knots and it was at gale force with huge waves of about 3-4 m with breaking crests. We were surfing the waves at about 19 knots. We were overpowered and made the headsail smaller to about 50% and put the engines in reverse gear. Now we are doing about 8 knots coming down the slope of the waves. Zack was taken a nap for an hour before his night shift that lies ahead. At 23h00 the sea state was still rough with occasional breaking of waves on the port side but the wind decreases to about 30 knots.
8th November 2012 Thursday
At 01h22 Zack deployed the headsail to 100%. The sea state was more stable and the wind have calmed down to 22 knots. A may day was sent out by Yacht Elanga (2 persons and a dog) 10 hours ahead of us (68 nm). They have activated their EPIRB and was in a distress situation. A boat closer accept the may day and react as the relay boat with Cape Town Radio. We plot there position on our map. They were on our course. The VHF radio was not clear and only parts of the conversations regarding the situation could be heard.
05h30 the sea state was calmer but the waves were still large (about 3 meters) and the wind about 20-23 knots. We have taken down the headsail and put up the screecher to get most of this wind. We were cruising now at about 7 knots.
According to the VHF info Yacht Elanga was about 9 nm ahead of us. Going back to Port Nolloth at a speed of about 3.4 to 4 knots. We call Cape Town Radio to offer assistance if needed.
At 12h15 the sea state was calmer and we changed the screecher for the G2 and was sailing now at 8 knots with wind speed of 14-18 knots. The water was warmer at 14ºC and was a blue turquoise color.
Zack get busy with his fishing gear and put some lures into the water. At 15h53 we crossed the border of Namibia. We were sailing at about 9 knots with the G2 in a wind of 18-22 knots. The whole day on the radio you can follow Cape Town Radio confirming the position of Yacht Elanga. It is an assurance that if something happened that there is ongoing help till you are safe in a harbour.
Late afternoon Zack caught a yellow tail. Big enough for us for dinner with savory rice. At 19h00 the wind was blowing at 20-22 knots and become too strong for the G2. We decided to take the G2 down for the night. Even in 22 knots wind it was difficult to bring her down. A gym session of an hour. We deploy the headsail at 100% and was doing now only 5.2 knots. At 20h20 the sea state become rougher and the wind gusts up to 28 knots. Now and then a side wave breaks over Vagabund with seawater that covers the side windows of the saloon on port side. It was the right decision to be conservative for the night.
At 22h00 I was sitting with a cup of rooibos tea, listening to a Gary Kietswetter cd. My favorite past time. Only with one earpiece, so that I can still use all my senses of hearing, especially at night when you can see nothing. The sky was overcast and the night pitch dark with the only sound the water bashing against the hull of the yacht and the noise of the wind through the sheets.
At 23h45 a tanker Olesya was about 0.5 nm on starboard side, less than an hour away. We change course 10º to port with the CPA that change to 1.6 nm.
9th November 2012 Friday
At 01h14 the sea becomes calmer and the wind was now 14-19 knots and we wee doing about 5.1 knots with the headsail.
After sunrise it was cloudy and overcast. We rather start the port engine to help loading the batteries. With the port engine running we have hot water and it helps the headsail so that our speed increases to 6 knots.
Our average speed for the trip was 6.8 knots. We only want to be in Brazil the 10th December because our visa is only for 3 months. Flying back to South Africa the 8th March 2013. We decided to divert to Walvis Bay because there was enough time left. We set a new waypoint.
Zack put the plotter on tracking to the waypoint to get a line on the plotter and after that back to auto pilot. With the tracking the auto pilot is jerky and by taking it off the line was still showing on the plotter and it makes it easier to navigate.
At 11h00 the wind was about 15 knots. We hoist the G2 instead of the headsail and were doing about 7.4 knots. Normally we eat at 12h00 the rest overs from the previous night. I made paella with the savory rice, left over fish and a tin of mussels.
The sea state was calm and the sky was partly overcast. It was cold during the day and after sunset every day the temperature falls further. At 14h15 a tanker High Nefeli was passing us at 0.78 nm. She was on her way to Durban at 155ºT doing 11.7 knots.
At 15h45 the sea state become rougher and we take the G2 down and switch to the headsail. At 20h30 we have to close the saloon door due to waves that occasionally break at the back of yacht and the water running up over the cockpit area splashing water into the saloon.
I did the early evening shift and was listening to gospel music worshipping. Zack came up and confirm that we have to put a declaration up on Vagabund for what we stand for.
Zack took over at 22h00 and was doing the middle night shift. I woke up just after midnight due to sounds that have changed. I am now used to the wind and the waves. The wind was howling and the waves was bashing against the yacht with so much energy that each time she respond with a shockwave going though her as she absorbs the energy. The following sea with waves about 3-4 meters has to go underneath her hull causing loud slamming sounds. Occasional rogue waves jumps on us from the sides, splashing onto the saloon windows. I was struggling to sleep. Zack on duty has to inhaul the headsail to a storm jib size because we were surfing down the waves making 11 knots with the headsail in the 34 knots wind. By reducing the headsail it has a big impact to reduce the speed of surfing the waves. The wind was gusting up to 38 knots. Tonight it was the sea state that was far more worse than the wind.
10th November 2012 Saturday
At 04h30 the wind was blowing at 25-30 knots and the sea state was steadily stabilizing. It was very cold and still pitch dark with the sky overcast. I was very tired after a rough night with lack of sleep and when Zack took over at 6h30 I slept till about 9h00. Zack then slept until about 13h00.
While Zack was sleeping I was working on our drug register. We have bought our medicine from Ysterplaat Medical Supplies. I have received the bags with medicine the day before we have left Cape Town, but have not yet organized the bags. I write on each box what it was for and the dosage. I group all the type of medicine together and enter the S4-S6 scheduled medicine into the drug register. On the medicine list I write in which bag the medicine could be found. It took about the whole day to complete this task. I did also make sure that in our medicine cabinet with our day-to-day medicine that there is no medicine beyond expiring dates.
At 14h00 we put up the screecher. The wind was blowing at 16 knots, the sea state was calmer but the pressure kept on dropping. At 8h00 it was 1011 and now it was already 2008 mBar. With the dropping of the pressure it means that another storm is building up. We phone Michael to get the weather. The wind is going to calm down to 10 knots during the night but wind is going to be strong on Monday.
At 17h00 the pressure was started to rise again and the sea was very calm with the wind only at 10 knots. We put the G2 up and was only doing about 5 knots.
At 20h00 we prayed together on the trampoline and declaring spiritual authority of Jesus Christ over her and marking her with anointing oil. That everybody boarding Vagabund will feel His presence in the spiritual realm. Soli Deo Gloria.
We work out the distance left to Walvis Bay. We want to be there before dark on Sunday. We are left with 120 nm. We need to do an average of 7.4 knots. With both motors for 16 hours at 2500 rpm we will use about 100 l fuel. At 23h00 we took the G2 down and start both the motors. The sea was very calm and the wind was only blowing at 7 knots.
11th November 2012 Sunday
We did not have a flag for Namibia. I did have some paint and cloth and decided to make one. On my ipad I did have an image of the flag. I draw the different lines and paint the flag in the different colors. This is only a temporary flag because the colors were not rain resistant.
With the motors running it was a peaceful lazy day. Zack keep himself busy with his fishing gear.
We arrive at Walvis Bay about 16h00 and anchored in front of Walvis Bay Yacht Club. That evening Zack was enjoying an Eisbein and beer for dinner.