We made it out of Simons Town as planned at 2 AM on Thursday. There were some contrary winds and seas as we went down to Cape Point, and we got an unexpected wave as we made the turn which doused the boat with salt water. This was all in the dark, until we got round the point and we passed Cape of Good Hope with winds and seas abaft beam and sailed past it with skies getting brighter. We sailed for an hour or so, and then the winds were cut off by the mountains and we motored the rest of the way to Cape Town. We had beautiful clear sky conditions as we passed Lions Head and Signal Hill and magnificent views of Cape Town and Table Mountain as we entered the port.
We had light winds, as were forecasted, coming out of Cape Town on Thursday afternoon after we cleared out of South Africa and got our fuel. I was relieved to be gone because of a rather unpleasant conversation, with the general manager at the Royal Cape Yacht Club over unexpected fees he charged for our “immigration mooring” we used for 4 hours. More on that another day. We managed to get a quick visit in with friends from s/v Kilkea and Callisto during lunch. We sailed out past Robbin Islands (the island where Mandela was incarcerated), and even got a last phone call from our friends on Kilkea who were on a nearby beach and saw us sailing.
Through the night we continued to have light and finicky winds, and we raised and lowered our sails a couple of times, sailing and motor/sailing our way gradually north. The next day was similar conditions, although we sailed a bit more – albeit slowly. By the evening of Friday we were well past Saldanha Bay, past a Cape which has a bay jutting into the coast north of it called St. Helena Bay. We were expecting the winds to change sometime after midnight.
Finally after 3 AM we got some nice 15+ knots winds from the South! We already had our sails up, but had to tack. We were soon making a very comfortable 9+ knots and were turned towards St. Helena. Unfortunately, less than two hours later, something bad happened. There was an unusual wave which came from our beam (side of the boat). Not gigantic, like a big speed bump. And the winds had gone a bit lighter. It caused our now lax main sail boom to bounce. This is normally not a big problem, but this time our mainsheet traveller had a catastrophic failure and the attachment to the car broke! Fortunately, I happened to have a preventer tied off the back because I was trying to reduce the slaps earlier. As a result, the boom did not go wild and cause bigger problems. I had noticed the loud bang when it happened and ran out to look and saw the boom in the wrong position. This was a serious problem! It was a definite show-stopper for the Atlantic Crossing. We would have to get it repaired.
So, I woke Karen, now about 5 AM on Saturday, and we quickly got some lines attached to the boom and using winches got the boom centered and tied off. Then we lowered the mainsail, and its weight, along with the ropes we had used, and the boom vang, kept the boom in place. We quickly decided we did not want to sail all the way back to Cape Town (now 200 miles behind us), so we opted for Luderitz, Namibia. Which was 320 miles north of us.
We were now going down wind, and the winds picked up. We were actually able to sail with just the jib at a reasonable speed most of the way, with some motoring to help. We made it to Luderitz today, Monday – two days later, at half past 5 AM and anchored.
Now we just need to clear into the country, order parts, get them shipped here (in days or a week we don’t know), and then repair, refuel, re-provision, and leave. The good news is that it breaks up the first leg of the trip a bit, and Karen added that it means we get another country in our passports!
Here’s a map of our location, which is home to diamond mining (even the boats near us hunt for diamonds on the sea floor):