Monday, January 28, 2013

All systems go

It looks like Twister will be ready to set sail for St. Helena Wednesday morning. Paul of SY Rebellion is also going to St. Helena, and we plan to depart at the same time and race. With my new sails, I don't think Paul stands much of a chance, but I took on as much water as I can hold to give him a fighting chance.
It's around 1650 nautical miles, and with the consistent southeasterlies the South Atlantic is known for, it should take us 12-16 days. There is a small chance that I will be so caught up in the glorious trade wind sailing that I will bypass St. Helena and go directly to Brazil. Just saying, if you don't hear from me for 30 days, that's why.
I'm pretty excited to sail into another ocean. The South Atlantic, like The South Indian Ocean, does not offer many rest stops, but on the other hand there will be plenty of time to catch up on reading and to practice celestial navigation.
Did I mention that Cape Town is windy? I don't think I'm exaggerating when I say that it blows over 30 knots here more often than not.
I guess that's all I have to say. See y'all in St. Helena.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

South Africa And Beyond

South Africa--What an interesting place! After having spent almost two months here, I haven't even scratched the surface, for lack of a better cliche. I don't really know what's going on beneath the surface, but I can tell there's a lot. Apartheid ended roughly a generation ago, but it's obvious that some of its legacy remains. On the other hand, the diversity of South Africa's people is wonderful (if you like that sort of thing). Desmond Tutu apparently coined or popularized the nickname, "The Rainbow Nation," and it fits. There are 11 official languages and seemingly as many ethnic groups. It tickles (delights) me  to walk down the street and hear Afrikaans (basically old Dutch), several varieties of English, and native African languages that incorporate clicking and popping sounds (for example Zulu and Xhosa).
Cape Town seen from Table Mountain

After a couple of days sightseeing around Cape Town (including the obligatory hike up Table Mountain, with fellow sailors Andrew and Diana--that is to say it's not obligatory to hike it with Andrew and Diana, only to get up the mountain), Alison and I rented a car and headed for wine country--specifically the towns of Stellenbosch and Franschhoek.  We managed to visit a few wineries, sample some tasty wines, and eat some delicious meals in two days. Stellenbosch and Franschhoek are charming and quaint (now 25% quainter) but also very homogeneous compared to other parts of South Africa I've seen. We returned to Cape Town via Betty's Bay, False Bay (where we saw Jackass Penguins on the beach in Simon's Town), and Hout Bay (scenic, stunning, and more stunning, respectively).  

Hout Bay

After Alison headed home, Paul and I ventured up Table Mountain again, this time with some of Paul's climbing gear. I had dabbled in so-called sport climbing many years ago, but this was my first time doing "trad" (traditional) climbing (where there are no bolts in the mountain so you have to bring your own devices for securing the rope to the rock) as well as my first time doing a multi-pitch climb. We selected route that was supposed to be relatively easy as we are both out of shape and I was climbing in running shoes. It turned out maybe a little boring for Paul and not overly challenging for me but still a lot of fun.
Paul leading the way
Boat projects have been going well--I was finally able to find parts and fix the roller furler, new anchor chain is in the anchor locker, I've installed an inner, removable forestay (backup in case the other one breaks, but also to be able to fly twin jibs or a hank-on storm jib), the masthead windvane has been replaced, and Twister has brand new mainsail and genoa (sails are relatively inexpensive in South Africa). Only a few chores remain before I'm ready to head north into The Atlantic Ocean.

Here's a rough itinerary for 2013:
January 30:  Depart Cape Town
February 13:  Arrive St. Helena
February 16:  Depart St. Helena
March 2:  Arrive Recife, Brazil
March 12:  Depart Recife
April 4:  Arrive Trinidad
April 14:  Depart Trinidad
April 24:  Arrive Cuba
May 8: Depart Cuba
May 10:  Arrive Florida
May 20:  Depart Florida
May 30:  Arrive Bermuda
June 10:  Depart Bermuda
June 25:  Arrive Azores
July 1:  Depart Azores
July 12:  Arrive UK
July 25:  Depart UK
August 1:  Arrive Norway
August - April:  hibernate

I've added a few more photos to the South Africa album.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Cape Town

Twister arrived Cape Town in the early hours of January 14, 2013. The passage from Knysna was uneventful and generally pleasant (at least for me. My friend Alison who's visiting, suffered a bit from seasickness). Exiting The Knysna Heads just after high tide was no problem (several days before, waves had been breaking across the entire entrance). We motor-sailed the first 18 hours I must confess. The second day was a bit rolly, sailing downwind in 20-25 knot easterlies with ~3 meter groundswell coming out of the Southern Ocean. We rounded Cape Agulhas, the southernmost point of Africa, around one AM on the 13th, so all we were able to see was the lighthouse, which blinks once every 5 seconds.* Fortunately we were able to enjoy The Cape Of Good Hope in daylight (and a good-looking cape it is) and lovely sailing conditions--close-hauled with about 12 knots of wind and smooth seas, going 5 to 6 knots with a current giving us a boost of one knot. We didn't see any penguins but did see many sea lions, relaxing on patches of free-floating kelp, frolicking, and doing sea-lion stuff. There was plenty of bird life a well--terns, gannets,cormorants, fulmars (?), etc. One highlight was dolphins surfing the bow wave at night, producing glowing trails in the bio-luminescence. Before leaving Knysna, I installed a new VHF radio which has built-in AIS.  AIS allows me to see the position, course, and speed (and sometimes a lot of other info) of ships (which have an AIS transmitter installed) within 10 to 20 miles of my position. It makes navigation in high traffic areas like Cape Town harbor, much less stressful.  Now looking forward to exploring Cape Town and doing some long-needed repairs on Twister (job number 1--fix roller furler). 

*That is a very useful navigational tool at night, by the way. Lighthouses all have different blinking patterns--at least the ones in the same area--which are listed on the charts. So if I'm in sailing from Knysna to Cape Town and see a light blinking once every 5 seconds, I know I'm passing Cape Agulhas. Of course with GPS and electronic chart plotters it's not as important as in the good old days, but it's always nice to get some on-the-ground confirmation of what the chart plotter is telling you. 

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Tuesday, January 1, 2013


Happy New Year, everyone! I've had a wonderful time in Speyer (Germany) with my friends Alex and Cati, their lovely daughters Nina and Natalia, my mom Berit and Cati's mom Theresa.

Here is an updated map of Twister's anchorages and moorings since leaving San Diego.

I expect to arrive Cape Town around Jan 10 and be there till the end of the month. Below are addresses for mail and parcels:

Parcels (ie fedex):

Lars Thoresen
SV Twister, yacht in transit
Royal Cape Yacht Club
Duncan Road
Table Bay Docks
Cape Town.
South Africa

Lars Thoresen
SV Twister, yacht in transit
Royal Cape Yacht Club
P.O.Box 772
Cape Town
South Africa