|We spent a lot of time in their neighborhood!|
Everyone was watching the weather and having daily discussions regarding it. There was a major concern about a gale that would greet us as we approached the east coast of Africa. Since we have to sail across a very fast southerly Aguhlas Current, our route had to take us north of the entrance to Richards Bay so we wouldn't be carried past the it. The Aguhlas Current is somewhat like the Gulf Stream off the east coast of the USA, except this one flows south instead of north.
|Are we going the wrong way on a one-way street?|
On Friday morning, the boats began pulling out one by one since we could only have one boat in the marina entrance at a time. It was called a Gate Start where we went out on our own, put up sails and marked our time when we crossed the Start Line.
|The sea was settling and the sun was setting. Good!|
Once the package was in hand and having had the autopilot repaired - actually it was only a loose bus connection, we were ready to head off to South Africa. The engine was warming up and Dennis was casting off the lines when I realized there was no navigational data on the chart plotter! YIKES! Stop, stop, stop was my call.
We sought out the electronics technician who had worked on the autopilot. He came right away and check everything until he found that the NEMA connection was not firmly seated. It felt snug when we checked it but obviously we didn't know that it wasn't in all of the way. So we were finally ready to leave but we were three hours behind most of the fleet.
The first 36 hours of the passage were awful: strong winds after we got away from land, high swells and lots of chop. Passage Diet time again! Fortunately, after the first 36 hours, it settle down enough to have a good sail for a while.
Then we hit the doldrums: no wind! The sea had settled down some, but we couldn't sail so on went the motor. We ended up motor sailing most of the way to South Africa over the eight days at sea. We could have sailed at a very slow pace, but there was the gale looming at the end. It was essential to be in the harbor before 1800 on Saturday. Therefore, we put the pedal to the metal.
And there was a lot of shipping traffic as once again we were crossing the main shipping channel between Africa and Asia. At times the screen was covered with ships converging on the same area. We managed to safely dodge them and always gave way even when we had the right of way. We prefer to be at least 1.5 nm away from them, especially at night. A couple of times we were as close as three-quarters of a mile. The skippers were very nice when we called them on the VHF to determine how they wanted to cross our path and what course we should take.
|A lot of traffic night and day!|