Sailing Around The Cape Of Good Hope – Days 3 & 4


Day 3

00:00- The wind is starting to come out of the south now. It’s nice and light, about 10 knots so perfect conditions really. I cut the engine off and unfurl the genoa. Delos is now cruising along at about 7 knots and perfectly happy. Over the next hour the wind builds from 10 to 15 to 20 knots. Now Delos is really crashing along with full sail, speed 9 knots. I hand the helm over to Karin and head downstairs for a little rest. If the wind comes up anymore we’ll need to reef.
01:00- We start seeing a constant 25 knots and it’s a bit too much for full sail. Karin wakes me up to give her a hand. It’s our rule that you never wake the person up about to go on watch, that way they start out fresh and rested. Since Brady was up next I was on call. Reefing Delos is pretty easy, no need to head on deck in the middle of the night. It’s all a matter of using the mechanical and electrical furlers from the cockpit which is something I absolutely love about Delos. We’re able to put reefs in the genoa, main, and mizzen within just a few minutes and I’m back to dream world.

02:00- The wind continues building out of the south and Karin reports 30 knots solid, gusting to 35. Seems like our old friend the Cape still has a few surprises for us. The forecast calls for 15-20 but 30 is pretty common. We decide to just go to the third reef on everything in case it continues to build. We shorten sail WAY down and Delos stands back up, still doing 8 knots. The ride is much more comfortable but we’re still going fast and since we need to head upwind to maintain our course we are now slamming through waves. 9 waves will glide right by us, but then the 10th will catch the bow at a weird angle and SLAAAMMMM! It’s a little unnerving and not comfortable. The entire boat resonates with the impact of the waves and you can’t help but think of the stresses on the rigging and hull. But she’s built for the ocean and we’ve seen worse.

11:00- I awake dazed and confused. I had watch earlier this morning but my mind is cloudy and I really can’t remember it well, a sure sign of sleep deprivation. With the roaring wind and slamming I find myself dreaming that I’m in a car crash. And it really feels like that when the waves hit us. Then there’s the sound of winches, of sails being unfurled and trimmed. Karin must be handing the watch over to Brady and it’s his turn. At this point I can identify every single noise from my bunk. The primary winches resonate their creaking through the entire cabin when they are eased. It’s a very deep and powerful noise. The electric furler up front makes a slight whirring noise. When you hear this followed by flapping sail, then the grinding noise of the winch it means someone is shaking out a reef. The conditions must have improved! Either that or I’m still dreaming.

14:00- It’s my watch again and the conditions really have changed. The sun is out, the water is flat, and we are motor sailing yet again. It’s warm enough to read without a shirt on. It’s hard to believe we’re in the same ocean that unleashed her fury on us last night. How quickly it changes. We’ve been motoring for a few hours now to maintain a speed of 6 knots. We checked weather again and have decided to make a run for Mossel Bay, about 180 miles further west, by-passing St. Francis. If we maintain 6 knots we will arrive tomorrow, hopefully before the sun sets. This puts us in about 8 hours ahead of the nasty forecasted Westerly that’s headed this way. We definitely want to be in the anchorage for that as its forecasted for 30 knots which probably means in the 40’s.

15:00- The wind returns as forecasted out of the S, then clocks around to the SE. We cut off the engine and roll out the genoa. We’re now cruising at 7.5 knots right on course towards Mossel Bay. Awesome! Hopefully it holds for the next day to get us there.

Day 4

22:00 The wind is now fully out of the east and blowing a solid 25 and we are MOVING! On course and just cruising in perfect downwind conditions with the genoa poled out on port. The forecast has been pretty spot on and our ticket to Mossel Bay has arrived!

24:00 Our average speed for the last few hours has been 10 knots, which is pretty good for a heavy cruising boat like Delos. The waves have built and I guess them to be on average 3 meters. There is also a 4 meter ground swell out of the south. When these two meet it creates these gigantic pyramid shape waves that are crashing all around us. When one of these decides to form at our stern we get a major boost and its surf city! Now we’re talking 15 knots of boat speed and super stable as she lifts out of the water and heads down the face of the wave. What an amazing feeling to blaze down one of these in the middle of the night! Really quite surreal.

02:00 I awake in my bunk shivering, for the first time in a very long time I’m actually cold on Delos. It’s about 18c and much colder with the wind chill. Just a few inches away on the other side of the hull I can hear the smooth sound of the water rushing by. I guess we’re still cruising and on course.

06:00 Brady wakes me up for watch. I swear I set my phone but maybe I’m going crazy. Nope, it’s set but for some reason has frozen and needs a reboot. Looks like my Asian Super Phone I purchased in Borneo years ago for $100 is on its last legs. Bummer, really liked that phone. I wander out on deck to find a beautiful, sunny day with clear blue skies. The wind has come down a little bit we still have 12 knots out of the East. Conditions are perfect and I make myself a gigantic cup of coffee to clear the cobwebs and settle in for my morning watch. All is quiet and Delos is sailing herself so I grab my copy of The Count of Monte Cristo. Shout out to the crew of S/V Carib Cannibal for giving me the read. I’ve seen the movie but never read that book. So far it’s an awesome read!

08:00- The wind finally dies and leaves us bobbing around. Time to motor as we’re only about 30 miles away from Mossel Bay and we need to get there before the Westerlies pound us in the face.

09:00 Karin comes on watch and I decide to take a nap in the sun. What a life out here :). We only have about 25 miles to Mossel Bay. Not quite as exciting as sailing but our Volvo is moving us along at 6 knots in the right direction. ETA for Mossel Bay is now 14:00. I downloaded the latest weather forecast over Predict Wind and it looks like the Westerlies end tomorrow night around 23:00. Just a quick little spell. We may only spend 1 night in Mossel bay before heading out again if the forecast holds.

02:00 Dropped the hook and safely anchored in Mossel bay to wait out the weather. We are all pretty tired and will probably spend some time napping. Beyond that no plans :). We will probably hang out here until Thursday night or Friday morning then get underway again.

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