Showing posts tagged sailing

A narrow road snakes its way up the hill from the harbour — we’re on St Helena Island, 1690nm from Cape Town —we follow it to the top and stop to catch a glimpse of the cold Atlantic Ocean cradled between her breasts.  The swell is gentle and rolls in slowly while a bank of clouds hangs over the water like an albatross.  

Everything is still, but we’d rather be back on the boat.

I smile like The Cheshire Cat when I look back at these photographs.  

I smile because 

(a) I took them — which means I was out there.  We were out there.  We crossed the Atlantic on our 43’ sailboat.  Crazy.  There were times when I wondered why we were doing it.  It was rough.  We kept watch each night for weeks — without sleep — dodging squalls with wind gusts upwards of 35 knots.  The days were not much better.  We had a following sea and we could not let it catch us.  

We had to watch our back.  

We couldn’t slow down.

"There are perfectly good aeroplanes," I said to Robb one night after throwing the cockpit cushions down the companion way (for the third time) and slamming the hatch closed so that the torrential rain would not flood down below and then quickly grinding in the genoa sheet before the sail could be mauled by the wind, "there are aeroplanes."

"But I’m scared of heights," he said and smiled while his knuckles turned white with his grip on the wheel.

I smile because

(b) I survived to tell the tale.



Twinkle Toes.

The sun’s out, I should be dancing!

You know what I’m saying! - I never got enough of those Atlantic crossing stories. 

I hear you .

(Reblogged from laventdunorde)

Rewind 5 years:  1 January 2009

We left Cape Town on our sailboat Summer Loveon the Cape to Bahia Race. You can see Table Mountain below and the notorious South East wind pummelling the race banner and clouds spilling over the top like a table cloth.  This is Cape Town in January. There is always wind, lots of wind, that’s why I never wore a skirt.


About 3 days out of Cape Town we found the SE Trades and although conditions were not perfect — they never are in the South Atlantic Ocean — we safely found Brazil.

This year’s race, which started on 4 January, tells a very different story.

DefenceWeb reports:

The ability of the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) to respond in times of emergency has yet again been ably demonstrated, this time by the Navy which at about 10am today arrived in a stormy Atlantic Ocean to assist yachts in distress on the first leg of the Cape-to-Rio race.

“There are at least two yachts in distress and another three experiencing problems,” Captain (SAN) Jaco Theunissen said.

“The yachts are approximately 120 nautical miles north-north-west of Cape Town. One, SY Bille, transmitted a Mayday using a satellite phone while the SY Ava transmitted an Emergency Position Indicating Beacon (EMIB) at 4.45pm and 4.30pm on Sunday.”

The race website reports Bille had mainsail problems and were proceeding back to Cape Town for repairs. The yacht was de-masted with serious injuries to some crew. One of the injured later died.

The first night at sea for Cape-to-Rio contenders was a stormy one with reports of 40 to 60 knot winds and swells of up to six metres.”

Read more.

They sailed straight into a gale.

My heart is in my throat.

The mist came creeping through the firs this morning, as if on tip toe, and engulfed the nestled boats.  Everything’s opaque.

My new clothes line is a little less salty than the previous ones!  

While sailing, the laundromat was a great place to meet other cruisers who, when we met for happy hour, I knew were wearing clean underwear.

And then there were those laundromats that I avoided at night, the ones which had this notice:

"Please remove all your clothes when the light goes out."  

Bucket List

On the safety check list issued by SOLAS (Safety of Life at Sea) all vessels over a certain length are required to have a zinc bucket on board as part of their safety equipment.  This bucket can be used to bail water, douse a flame or start a fire (in the bucket) to draw attention to the smoke.  

So, we had a bucket on Summer Lovesimilar to the one pictured above, but with a lanyard and without the embossed dragonfly.  

Should I mention that, on a boat, said bucket needs to be accessible and disposable, not brimming with bottles, or is that obvious?   

The Rule of Beers

Take one out.  Put two back.

Labour of Love — A Gift from my Mother

It took me a while to break the news to my mother that we were going cruising. I knew she would ask all those questions to which we had no answers and I knew she would worry — that’s what mother’s do!

Once my Mom got over her initial sadness, and stopped imagining us slamming into waves the size of whales and stopped picturing the keel of Summer Love being ripped off by a partly submerged container and realized that we’d sooner get run over by a taxi in Cape Town, she set to work and made us this beautiful quilt.

Starting with the mariner’s compass my mother carefully cut out around the pattern pieces and sewed them together. She pieced together the stars, the planets and the sunbursts before adding the rows of flying geese — her subtle way of suggesting that we too fly south during the long, cold winters.  

We have returned, only twice in the past four years, but delight in this gift every day.

Note to self:  Perhaps we should take the hint!

[Top photograph: Quilt on Summer Love

 Middle photograph: Quilt on Lily B]

Speaking of penguins … if you sail out of Cape Town with the  south easter on the stern, 6 hours will get you to Dassen Island —home of the African Penguin.  Here we are anchored at House Bay, where where you can dive off the boat and pick up West Coast Rock Lobster (Crayfish to South Africans) in rocky crevices hidden by kelp.  If you stay overnight EVERYONE does anchor-watch.  If the wind changes from SE to NW (which it often does without notice) you could end up on the beach.