Richards Bay to Cape Town
Written by Carol Smit
Sunday, 1 April 2012
Zack and Magda arrived at our house early in the morning. We said goodbye their son, Michael and then Ryan, our son, dropped us off at Lanseria Airport. We had a light lunch after landing at King Shaka Airport an hour later. We rented a vehicle and took the highway to Richards Bay - Zululand Yacht Club where Vagabund was waiting for us. I unpacked my husband, Francois and my clothing and packed it in the cupboards and drawers. We stayed in the port side. Zack and Magda occupied the starboard side. All the paperwork for trip was completed. We did our last shopping at Richards Bay for water, cool drinks, bread, biscuits, etc. Packed groceries away safely. That evening we ate stuffed jalapenos @ Mojitos for supper. We spent the night on board Vagabund at the Yacht Club.
Monday, 2 April 2012
Before we set sail we gathered together in prayer. We departed from Zululand Yacht Club in the afternoon. There was a South Easterly blowing and we sailed under power. Before we reached Durban I was feeling a little queasy. The wind changed direction as we passed Durban and Magda was cooking steadily in the kitchen while Vagabund was making her way through 3m+ swells. Magda thought the sea was quite calm. I sat watching Magda in the kitchen from outside and didn’t even dare to help, as I just needed to sit in the fresh air for as long as I could.
Zack went down to the lee portside room where all the fishing tackle is kept and started to carry out the rods and boxes of lures. Our men were in for some serious fishing.
I didn’t get to taste Magda’s good cooking that evening. By the time we reached Durban I was lying in our room hugging a bucket and this continued for the whole night. Magda came down to my room with some ginger biscuits and water. She said that I had to try and consume some of it to prevent dehydration. I had taken the medication beforehand but nothing seemed to help.
I could hear the laughter over supper and I could hear the commotion and excitement on board above me when Francois caught a big Dorado and I just wanted to go up and see what was going on, but by this time I did not have enough energy to lift myself up off the bed. They were all having so much fun. I was feeling very sorry for myself and felt really embarrassed that I had no control over it. We each had a time schedule for night watch. From 17:00 I should have done my night duty at the helm, but fortunately, Francois is a night owl and he managed on his own. Eventually I fell asleep and woke up in the morning feeling quite refreshed.
Tuesday, 3 April 2012
When I woke in the morning, Magda was on duty at the helm. I felt fine, but my stomach felt as if it was bruised and instead of having porridge for breakfast, I climbed into the dry rusks and let it settle before taking any liquids. For a while I could sit outside to get some fresh air.
Later the day the sea became quite rough. The MSC “Candice” cargo ship passed close by. We had a following sea and even in 25 knots I was able to help Magda in the kitchen.
Vagabund is a beautiful yacht and she handles beautifully too, even in rough conditions such as these. Behind us it seemed as if there was a wall of water, which was about to break over us, but it just kept pushing us forward. During the last 24 hours we had travelled 185 nautical miles. As Zack said, we were surfers and no longer sailors. We said grace and had a light lunch. After lunch we relaxed and did some fishing. When night fell it became quite chilly so we got dressed warmly for the evening. During our night duty I made some popcorn in the microwave oven and we drank warm “cup a soup” instead of water. One or two vessels passed by, but overall, the traffic was quiet. At 22:00 Zack took over from us and we had an early night.
Wednesday, 4 April 2012
We woke up just before 06:00 to the smell of coffee. Magda was on duty at the helm, and as usual, ready to spoil us. We had some porridge for breakfast and then Magda went to lie down. Francois and I took over at 07:00. Most of the time I would be at the helm. Francois would complete the logbook. I was still battling to find my sea legs and filling in the logbook was just too much concentration while we were moving.
The sea state was really rough and seemed to be getting worse. The waves were slapping and occasionally breaking against the port side of the boat and spraying right over the top. We pulled the window/screen down at the side of the helm to keep ourselves dry.
Still Vagabund handled very well. We picked up a school of Yellow Fin tuna. Zack caught a skipjack tuna, which he bled and Magda laid it on ice for a while and made sushi for lunch. This was a first for me. I often eat sushi, but usually when it is made with salmon or prawns. The tuna was good.
We spent the rest of the afternoon in the saloon. The sea seemed to calm down slightly by dusk, but we still had a force 5 wind from behind.
Thursday, 5 April 2012
After lunch Zack and Magda went down to rest, but Zack was awakened from his slumber when Francois had a hook up with a Marlin while passing Cape St Francis. There was so much unexpected excitement on the yacht. We had not expected to find marlin that far down the coastline. The reel was screaming. Zack came running to see what was going on. The marlin leaped out of the water a couple of times, but managed to free itself.
During the day Zack and Francois did some map work and planning and Magda would plan on her ipad.
Francois lost the one glass of his spectacles.
There was a cold front on the way and we needed to reach the harbor in Mossel Bay before the front came in. We still had a following sea but very rough and the waves were breaking at the stern of the boat. Zack decided to change course and stay closer to the land to prevent too much wind on the beam. Zack installed double jibe protectors. At dusk we decided to take the main sail down because it was difficult to maneuver the yacht to stay out of the way of the bigger ships.
Friday, 6 April 2012
It was still dark when Magda woke us up. The sea state was still rough but we could see the lights in the Mossel Bay Harbour. Magda radioed the Harbor Master but when we arrived in the marina there was limited space.
We popped in at the Yacht club, where we received a warm welcome and had a bite to eat. The restaurant Manager and his wife were very friendly and they went out of their way to accommodate us. We then returned to Vagabund in the harbor, but we were unable to access the mooring, which was allocated to us as there was a large Chinese ship blocking the entrance to the yacht club walk-on moorings. Our only other option was to go around the harbor and find a spot in the bay. The police came alongside Vagabund and directed us to a mooring ball, which we could pick up. It didn’t take us long to discover that the mooring ball was not secure at all and Vagabund began to drift out to sea taking the buoy with us.
We went after the drifting mooring buoy to bring it back to the bay and decided to cast an anchor instead in front of the Yacht club.
Saturday, 7 April 2012
We took the dingy to reach the beach in front of the yacht club. We explore Mossel Bay and bought some groceries. The sea was calm and it was a beautiful day. That evening we were spoiled with a beautiful sunset.
Sunday 8 April 2012
Early morning the wind starts to pick up. Even in the bay outside the yacht club the sea was rough, so we set an anchor alarm on more than one ipad for ample warning in case we were to drift. We decided to stay on the yacht for the day instead of going out. It was cold and windy so Magda made some delicious curry and rice. This whole trip we were very aware of the Lords presence and His power and control over us. One of the fisher boats anchors started to drift and asked permission to go into the harbour on anchor.
The four of us sat around the table and watched movies on the laptop one after another till late that night when the wind died down and we are comfortable enough to go to bed.
Monday 9 April 2013
At the crack of dawn, Zack and Francois cast their fishing lines in the water while they were busy cleaning the boat. Magda cleaned one side of the yacht on the inside and I the other. Once we were done we had a warm shower and went for a pleasant stroll through the Bartholomeus Diaz Maritime museum.
We took a walk around the shops and lastly, the train restaurant, where we enjoyed some sundowners and “waterblommetjie bredie” for supper. We had a beautiful view of the bay from where we were sitting and looked out over the water where Vagabund was anchored.
When we returned to the yacht, Zack and Francois wasted no time to get fishing again. They caught a little shark that evening.
Tuesday 10 April 2012
Magda and I took a taxi down town to do some shopping at the mall. Zack and Francois had a few beers at the train restaurant. There was plenty of fun and games when we had to make our way back to the yacht. Francois and Zack slipped on the rocks and had to swim to the dinghy. Francois’ iPhone also went for a swim. We had a braai at the yacht club before returning to Vagabund. This was our last night at Mossel Bay as the weather window started to open for us and we were able to move forward again.
Wednesday 11 April 2012
Early morning we left Mossel Bay taking a course to go over a seamount for some serious fishing before turning to Cape Agulhas. Reaching the seamount late afternoon it was still too deep for fishing. The wind starts picking up.
By dusk things began to get rough and things became quite hectic on the yacht. Traffic was heavy and it seemed as if the big ships had no respect for a smaller /sailing vessel. Either that or their equipment on board was not in working order. He trimmed the sails and altered course to avoid collision, but one ship repeatedly cut in front of us, as if the captain just didn’t realize we were there at all.
This led to chaos in the middle of a stormy sea, which resulted in quite a bit of damage. Zack and Francois were hard at work trying to sort out the sails at the bow, while Magda was strapped to the mast holding a light for them to see what they were doing. I was at the helm and once again very nauseous. Magda was so brave, but I was so nervous for her part and I prayed so much for God’s mercy, for the sea to calm down and that our husbands would think rationally, be kept safe and not go overboard. We were up most of the night but our prayers did not go unanswered, because eventually the wind died down slightly and although conditions were still rough, we managed to take control of the situation, but we lost the screecher in the process. It was a long night and we were all tired and ready for bed. Unlike other nights, instead of lying awake, I fell asleep quickly. I have come to realize that the only thing that helps to relieve motion sickness at sea is to lie down and sleep.
Thursday 12 April 2012
The rest of trip was quite pleasant. We passed Cape Point. The sea was beautiful and calm.
We passed the 12 Apostles. Before we passed Hout Bay we came across so many dolphins and seals. The dolphins swam and played alongside with Vagabund, swimming under us and playing in the front of the bow. This continued for quite a few miles. The sea remained calm and we were able to sit on the trampoline and chat and take photographs.
We arrived at the V&A Waterfront. Magda made the call on the radio to have the swing bridge lifted for us to enter the harbor. We picked up a walk- on mooring in the marina outside the Cape Grace hotel.
Friday 13 April 2012
We rented a vehicle and we visited the sail factory in Milnerton where we took the screecher in for repairs. The workshop was massive. They allowed us to remove our shoes and walk on the surface where they do their cutting and stitching. This particular day they were making sails for one of the Wind Spirit cruisers in the Caribbean.
Zack and Magda took us to all the fishing tackle shops, Sea Port and other yachting shops etc. That evening we found an Indian restaurant at the waterfront, which served some good curries.
Saturday 14 April 2012
Once again we cleaned Vagabund inside and out, washed the linen etc. Zack climbed up to the top of the mast for a general checkup on the mast instrumentation.
We walked around the shops at the waterfront. I did some shopping for the grandchildren and family at home. In the evening we dined at an Italian restaurant. Zack and Magda went for a ride in the big wheel.
Sunday 15 April 2012
We returned to the airport for our flight back home. Ryan, our son was there to collect us at Lanseria airport.
We had come to the end of a wonderful and exiting experience. This has been the first passage that Francois and myself has done and we can’t thank Zack and Magda enough for affording us this opportunity. One only has to spend time on the ocean to appreciate God’s greatness and power. One has to treat the sea with respect. The ocean is enormous and so majestic and God holds all this water and turbulence in His hands. I refer Isaiah 40:12 - “Who has measured the earth’s water in the hollow of His hand.” ……. Verse 15 – the nations are but a drop in the bucket… And so He has control of all of us too. Zack and Magda will be leaving us soon to continue with the next leg of their journey and no matter how big their troubles may be, God will be in control. All of the water of the ocean is in His hands and on top of the ocean is a tiny speck, - Vagabund with Zack and Magda inside. We wish them very many safe sea miles.