Eventually it looked as if one was materialising on New Years Eve so we carried out the procedure to get our "flight plan" on 30 December. This involves filling out the form and taking it in turn to the marina office, Port Control, Immigration, Customs and back to Port Control, getting the form stamped in each place. The Port Control office then fax the completed form to the control tower where it is valid for a departure within 36 hours.
In the event the New Years Eve weather window did not look so good in the morning, so trip aborted. The next window was on Sunday 3 January. However this would be outside the flight plan's 36-hour limit. The Port Control office was to close at 1200 on the 31st, opening again on Monday 4 January. The marina office telephoned and confirmed that, because of the holiday, the flight plan would still be valid and this proved to be the case.
Once we found the south-setting Agulhus current, under the band of cloud, we were making up to 11 knots over the ground with generally easterly or north-easterly winds and travelled 600 miles over the ground to Mossel Bay in 3 days and 5 hours.
Dias museum (green roof) and yacht club (right foreground)
Leaving Mossel Bay the wind was south-easterly 10-15 knots until we returned to the Atlantic Ocean, passing south of Cape Agulhus at 0935 local time on 10 January. Wind and sea then gradually increased as we headed west.
However, at about 2300 a big wave broke over the stern of the boat and into the cockpit. Water flooded in through the vents in the aft cabin, soaking Susan in her bunk. As it had been relatively benign up to then the main hatch was open so a minor waterfall came in and onto the chart table. Richard, who was downloading a weather forecast on the work surface aft of the navigation area was missed, as was the computer, but the chart was soaked and the AIS (Automatic Identification System) was no longer operating, so we had to increase a visual watch for ships.
Friends were concerned as our AIS signal disappeared and, by coincidence, our position reporting via the Iridium Go had ceased as the power supply plug had pulled out some time earlier and the internal battery had run out.
As we closed the coast north of Cape Point katabatic winds off the mountains were up to 50 knots - the most we've experienced at sea. It was also cold. Full foul weather gear with a fleece underneath. Rather like a spring night in the English Channel but this is high summer at 34° S.
|Approaching Cape Town|
In the event our friends on Gosi went to find marina staff who came out to the boat, took us in to view our allocated berth and then returned in a work boat to assist us. The wind conveniently dropped, we got into our berth without assistance and once we were tied up the wind increased to its normal level of 25-40 knots. Most evenings it was blowing 35-40 knots in the marina (i.e gale - severe gale, Beaufort 8-9).
It's taken a couple of weeks to dry things out and get the boat ship shape again.
As all sailors are we are relieved that tackling the Agullas current is now behind us - it certainly sorts the men from the boys!