Monday, December 24, 2012

Video: Sailing from Cocos Keeling to Rodrigues

I'm taking advantage of my friends Alex and Cati's fast internet connection  to post a video from the passage between Cocos Keeling and Rodrigues (before the forestay parted):

And here are some videos from Hluhluwe-Umfolozi game reserve:

Monday, December 17, 2012

Knysna (pronounced nice-na)

Another lovely passage, East London to Knysna. Took the predicted 3 days. I thought I was going to make it in two at one point but was becalmed for the better part of a day. I did find more current and Twister set a new speed record: 10.7 knots (with sustained speeds of 10.2 knots), resulting in another 160 mile day (the first day).
Evening Sky Southwest of East London

Cape Gannets
The wildlife gave the feeling of the Southern Ocean:  Cape Gannets became numerous, a humpback whale swam nearby, a group of seals (sea lions? they had ears) curiously inspected Twister as we were becalmed south of the appropriately named Cape Seal, and the occasional Jackass Penguin popped up.

Knysna Heads
Becalmed ca 40 miles to the Knysna Heads I unsailorly decided to motor to try to catch the last hour of incoming tide (going through the entrance to the Knysna Lagoon, The Knysna Heads, requires near slack tide to avoid the strong tidal stream) the next morning. Fortunately I had neglected the starting battery and couldn't get the engine going (tried raising the decompression levers and assisting with the hand crank but to no avail) so I was forced to wait for wind which arrived gradually the next morning. Had a lovely sleep that night (I was out of the major traffic lanes at that point) and a nice sail to Knysna the next day. I put up the assymetrical spinnaker (hereafter, A-sail)--the biggest sail I have--to give Twister a little boost and make sure we arrived near the end of the afternoon incoming tide and enjoyed the beautiful scenery as I got closer to the rugged coast. The Knysna Heads are truly spectacular I wish I had taken more photos but was occupied with keeping Twister in the middle of the passage (not one to be attempted in big swell). Once inside the lagoon, the water was flat and I sailed amongst the powerboats towing kids on inner tubes and the faux-paddle wheel sightseeing boats, up to the dinghy dock at the Knysna Yacht Club where my new friends Mike, John, Grant, and Leon (whom Bridget and I met when we arrived East London. They had sailed from East London to Knysna the day before) caught my dock lines (after a couple of failed attempts at sailing up to the dock, one where I tossed them a line without properly securing it to Twister, so the whole thing went in the water). They kindly handed me a cold beer before I even stepped off the boat. So, definitely a good first impression of Knysna.

I've added a few more photos to the South Africa album (hopefully it's accessible now)

Thursday, December 13, 2012

East London to Knysna

Twister arrived East London yesterday afternoon after a 2-day sail from Durban. Bridget and I had a pleasant passage which included a 160-mile day and  a top speed of 9.7 knots courtesy of the Agulhas Current, Albatrosses and petrels, thunderstorms, a yellow-fin tuna, and lots of ships. Today Bridget is flying back to Saudi Arabia and I will be sailing on to Knysna this afternoon. It's about the same distance as Durban to East London, but with less current, so I expect the passage to take around 3 days.

More photos from South Africa

Sunday, December 9, 2012


My friend Bridget came to Richards Bay (I had been writing Richard's, but I think Richards was actually someone's last name) Nov. 29. The next day we joined Paul, Dino, and Sasha and drove to Hluhluwe/ Umfolozi game reserve where we saw 4 (lions, elephants (enormous ones and baby ones), rhinos, and buffalo, but no leopards) of the "big 5" as well as warthogs, impalas, giraffes, wildebeests, velvet monkeys, baboons, zebras (one with only a stub for a tail, but which he continued to wag to ward off the flies), african hoepoo bird, and possibly hippos among others.  Back in Richards Bay, we managed to get in a couple of surf sessions and frisbee tosses before moving on.

After a meal of curries, including the local specialty, bunny chow (curry in a hollowed out chunk of bread), Twister departed Richard's Bay Wednesday (5 Dec) evening. After tacking for several hours to get around all the ships anchored by the harbor entrance, we set a course for Durban. The Agulhas gave us a boost for awhile and Twister was cruising at 7 to 8.5 knots until we encountered a counter-current and light winds.  Orion and Taurus were standing on their heads (from Bridget's northern hemispherocentric perspective). After many hours of sailing in place, the northeasterlies increased and allowed us to sail 4 to 5 knots against the current.  Bridge baked scones for breakfast.  We saw one albatross and lots of white-chinned petrels.

Andrew and Bridget on top of world cup stadium 
Approaching Durban, we sailed wing and wing until we accidentally backed the mainsail. The boom was held in place by a preventer, but when the wind caught the right side of the sail again, a large hole along a seam was the result. Repeating this procedure more or less tore the sail in two (fortunately along the seam, so it was easy to repair). Durban is Africa’s biggest and busiest port. There were numerous ships anchored off the harbor entrance. Turns out one was not anchored and we had to get out of its way. Once inside, we enjoyed a nice sail (using only the jib as the main was retired) through the calm waters of the harbor. We were approached by water police who instructed us to maintain our course and speed as one of them jumped aboard. Turns out we were not speeding, they just wanted our boat's details. We arrived Bluff Yacht Club at the western end of Durban Harbor ca 28 hours after we departed Richard's Bay. There we saw Imvubu (who I'd met in Rodrigues) and tied up to the same pontoon.  The port of Durban is very industrial, of course, but the waterfront area is lovely. Andrew from the yacht Liquid Blue at Bluff Yacht Club was kind enough to drive us around on a tour of the sights, including his favorite surf breaks (which we surfed) and the stadium built for the soccer world cup.

Today is Sunday the 9th of December and the forecast looks good to move on to East London or Port Elisabeth tomorrow morning. Should be a 3-day sail.

Photos from South Africa.