Showing posts tagged sailing

Be back soon … gone messing.

We pottered over to Pender Island for the night, a boat trip that was well over due.  LilyB had been tugging on her lines since the beginning of summer, eager to get back out on the ocean, and so were we.

After and hour or so of motoring, dodging crab traps and floating logs, we turned into Bedwell Harbour and dropped anchor.  I wanted to sit in the last rays of afternoon sun and read, while Robb wanted to do “boy-things” like get the dinghy in the water and test the motor.  

We both got what we wanted.

I’m not a soccer fan, but I get it — unlike American Football — and I enjoyed watching some of the action on TV.  Thank goodness F.I.F.A banned those dreadful vuvuzelas during the World Cup in Brazil.  

Ah, Brazil, where the nuts come from andwhere we made landfall 5 years ago after crossing the mad Atlantic.  We sailed to Salvador da Bahia, joined the carnival for a few days, filled up with diesel and then sailed across the Bahia to Morro de Sao Paulo.  We anchored in the lee of the tiny island and took shelter for a few days before we started our journey north.  Our first night back at sea was slow and tedious as we pushed hard against a fierce current hardly making any headway.  It was like trying to score against a great line of defenders.  We tacked east and west and back again, all night, only to find ourselves right back on the centre mark.  3 days later, we saw a gap and headed the boat into Recife.  Our next fixture was Fortelza and a marina just around the corner of the big bulge of South America!  

It was our last stop before tackling the Caribbean.  

We cast off those lines and left Brazil standing still in our wake laden down with diesel.  240 litres In the big tank, 60 litres in the day tank and 80 litres in cans on the deck.  Diesel and wind, nothing could stop us.  We were coached to stay well clear of the Amazon Delta and to head due north. We did and 11 days later we reached Trinidad.  

What about the doldrums? I hear you saying.  

Doldrums?  What doldrums? We never found the doldrums.  

We crossed the imaginary line with 35 knots of wind in the sails and never used one drop of all that diesel.  Not a single drop.

Diesel  0   Wind  35  

I’m not really into commercial holidays and their sentimental tributes,

but here’s to the ”Mother City” nestled in the arms of Table Mountain.

I took this photograph as we were sailing away.

We now live on the west coast of Canada.

You all live in the future.

A pile of books keeps the bedroom door open.  It’s one of those hollow-core doors, no good for slamming and it can’t keep secrets, not even when it’s closed.  But there’s no need for closed doors here, it’s just the two of us, so I plonked a pile of paperbacks in its path.  

Problem solved.  

A few of my favourite books make up that doorstop.  Some you’ll know, others not.  South African’s Behr, Brink, Galgut, Jooste, Malan and Zerbst might be new to you, but you’ll know Farley Mowat, that rum swirling, kilt twirling, feisty Canadian who had a very leaky boat!  One night at sea somewhere off the coast of Newfoundland he managed to stay afloat, but still he wrote that he was “fog-chilled, unutterably lonely and scared to death”. Fortunately Captain Mowat remembered that “rum is the known and accepted antidote for all three ailments”. He had a bottle on board (of course) so took three long slugs from it.  

Problem solved.

Farley Mowat has died, aged 92.  


Can’t get enough?  Follow that sign.

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.