Tin Tin's Sailing Calendar

Friday, 23 February 2018

The Diamond Coast

Thursday 22nd February dawned under heavy cloud and with a dying wind. The Atlantic high pressure had steadily dropped all night and as it did the cloud came in. We raised the Parasailor and on a dead run made our way slowly north at 4 to 5knots. Eventually the wind died and the sail came down for the night. We motored steadily along, except that the engine kept suddenly dying unexpectedly. Rather worrying since we had just had it officially serviced by Volvo in Cape Town. Possibly water in the fuel we took on there.

Mark produced an excellent Malay curry for supper, which we washed down with Phoenix beers. I am definitely recovered fro my sea sickness!

Now at 2am the wind has picked up again and I have unfurled the Genoa. We are now about 10 miles from the Namibian coast and all along here there are huge dredgers scooping up diamond bearing sands washed down from the Orange River which forms the border with South Africa.

The chart shows a red line about five miles offshore with scattered signs like purple circles with three lines out of the top. On investigation these are marked as Minefields! Keep Out! It seems as though the diamond mining activity is protected with rather lethal defences. Or could it be a cartographic misunderstanding about the word "minefields"?

Wednesday, 21 February 2018

Farewell Cape Town

Dawn was lightening the sky as we finally slipped out of the luxury of the V& A Marina at 06:15 on the 20th of February. The previous day had been spet in replacing the feed pump for the watermaker and dealing with other last minute items. I gave my MyCiti bus card to the security lady before we left as it still had credit on it.

It was great to finally be heading north after a delay of 3 weeks here. Table Mountain gave a massive backdrop to Cape Town as the first rays of the sun painted its ramparts pink, and shortly afterwards the sun came over the mountains to the east and warmed us.

There was no wind initially and we motored steadily out past Robben Island until we could finally set sail at about 11:00. We were soon making 9knots with 30knots of wind fro:the south east.

It took a little time to settle back in to living at sea. Our familiar lunch time began o remind us, as always at the cockpit table, with cabbage and trail mix salad, bread and butter, and other side dishes such as garlic hommous, or tomato and onion. Big seas from astern and an occasional splash on deck. The cold water of the Benguela current makes the air chill, and despite the sun I soon needed my long thermals, two fleeces, full Musto sailing suit and woolly hat to stay warm. Mark, meanwhile, has determinedly stayed in shorts!

We have seen lots of terns diving for fish, then little Haviside dolphins peculiar to the southwest coast visited us, with blunt noses, and little triangular fins. They have a distinguishing white ventricular trident, which is three white stripes, one each side of the tail and one below. Later we were visited by larger Dusky Dolphins and began to see albatrosses gliding fast and low on huge narrow wings, with a thin black margin to the white underside these may be the Shy Albatross. We also see large dark brown petrels, as yet unidentifiable.

Our first night came, and I decided that with the strong wind we should furl the mainsail and carry on under Genoa alone. It also allows us lay our course better downwind without fear of a gybe. It's always amazing how it seems relatively peaceful heading downwind in big seas, but turning to windward to reduce sail one suddenly feels the full force of it and is reminded of how hard it would be to return that way.

It's annoying that it's taking me time to regain my sea legs, and I'm feeling rather queasy and struggling with my appetite at meal times. So I have been sleeping a lot off-watch but also reading "Papillon" in readiness for French Guyana. It's an astonishing story, and one that has gripped me not least because it is autobiographical and deals with Caribbean places that we have visited such as Curaçao and Colombia.

It was my turn to cook supper tonight and despite feeling a bit rough I managed to produce beef and onions (tinned) with rice, spiced up with garlic, fresh onions, peppers and so on. Pudding was simple.. we had the luxury of frozen blueberry yoghourt as the freezer is working well in these cold waters.

Now I'm on the 9 to midnight watch with the crescent moon slowly setting in the West and the sky full of stars, with Orion leading us north, and the Southern Cross bringing up our rear. We are 50 miles or so off the coast with occasional cargo ships passing us within a few miles. Ahead where the coast bulges out to meet us from Namibia I can see lots of fishing boats on the AIS screen, clustered on the 100 metre depth contour.

Our new batteries are behaving well, but we were advised to change the charger settings, and now it takes at least 4 hours to recharge. I will have to judge whether this is the right way to operate to maintain their life.

Friday, 9 February 2018

Madagascar from space

This wonderfully clear image of southern Madagascar was acquired for my birthday by my kind friends at DMCii who are keeping an eye on me as we circumnavigate. The false red colour indicates the invisible infrared signature of vegetation. Tin Tin is probably not visible in the 20metre square pixels!

Wednesday, 7 February 2018

Will President Zuma depart before Tin Tin's?!

This morning  we walked round to Immigration and confessed that we were still in Cape Town.  The lovely lady in charge stamped our passports and kindly refrained from making us repeat the entire umpteen-page document circus of clearing the boat in and out again.

Relieved, we sat in a waterfront Café and read  the newspapers.  I was surprised to find that President Zuma's State of the Nation Address had been postponed by the National Executive Committee.  This rather suggests that his time in office may be finally about to come to an abrupt end.

I rather hope that we might witness this long overdue response to State Capture, and see Zuma and other perpetrators brought to trial and some meaningful punishment meted out. Maybe in the next few days!?

Water, water everywhere and not a drop to drink!

Meanwhile the Cape Water Crisis continues.   Today I saw people buying their ration of 5 litre water bottles in the supermarket The newspaper photographed others of all races queuing to fill bottles at a spring.  

 I spoke to some elderly cruise ship passengers from Hull today, and they said that their ship leaves port at night in order to find clear ocean water where they can run their desalination plant.  

The newspaper printed someone's suggestion to tow an iceberg up from Antarctica, and it would be interesting to see a feasibility study for that.

Ironically Johannesburg has been experiencing abnormally heavy rain and flooding.

One age-old remedy for drought is announced with a banner advert across The Cape Times newspaper with sponsors logos from all major water industry players. There will be a three-day event called "PRAY FOR RAIN"!

I hope it works!

Friday, 2 February 2018

Water Crisis in Cape Town!

Cape Town is counting down to Day Zero when there is no water left in the dams.... Water restrictions are now at Level 6 and everywhere there are ingenious posters exhorting everyone to cut consumption below 50litres a day.    The central business district and hotels are given priority to keep tourism and business going.   The borehole companies are working flat out to drill wells for private houses and businesses, but these need to be regulated if the aquifers are not going to run dry.  Seven big desalination plants are being installed but not fastbenough and non are more than 50% complete.

In the midst of all this Tin Tin has a similar crisis!  Our watermaker has failed and we need new membranes.  I've now spent two days trying to find people who could help to get replacements. A few minutes ago I finally found someone who could get us two out of the three membranes needed. They could get here between next Tuesday and Thursday next week. So we just might get away by next Friday!

I considered sailing on without the watermaker, but we have some long voyages ahead and it may be difficult to get water to the tanks when at anchor in St. Helena! Then there's South America ahead and this repair will be harder to accomplish.

So here we sit in Cape Town, trying not to be despondent and to look on the bright side of staying longer in this lovely place with all its excellent technical and social facilities.   After all I do not have any deadlines for once😁!

However, having already completed outward clearance formalities, I will now have to clear back into the country and then clear out again next week so that we are not illegal immigrants!

Thursday, 1 February 2018

Local Hero

I went to meet our hero, Sibusiso Mvalo, at Checkers Seapoint to thank him for rescuing us from knife wielding muggers.  He's a very brave man.  He had only been working at Checkers for 1 month on New Years Eve and was walking home from work because his own money had gone missing that day. I'm glad we were able to give him what 
we had to help him too.

 I was interested to learn that he had been a Scout and had been on camping trips on Table Mountain,  and is a keen sportsman.

Then I was delighted that Pieter Engelbrecht, the new CEO of Shoprite, (shown below) was able to call the radio station and promised several things he could do to recognise the excellent character of one of his newest employees; a profile in the Shoprite magazine, an award for bravery, and most importantly help with access to further training to advance his career. 

Pieter Engelbrecht rose through the ranks in Shoprite, so perhaps he can help Sibusiso do the same..........