- Distance (nm)
- Average (kts)
After months of hard work and planning, not to mention the last week of provisioning the boat for 40 days at sea, we are ready to go. However, despite our state of readiness, the weather has decided to finally show us what real winter is like in Cape Town. High winds, heavy rain and a 6 meter sea state convinced us to take another few days to relax before starting our passage to St. Helena.
Check back here for updates every day or two during our passage. Depending on our internet connection, we do the best we can to write something about our adventures.
Aside from this page, you can also check our Location page to see our exact position as sent out by our YellowBrick unit. The position will be automatically updated every four hours.
Here we are the day before our departure and I wanted to take a moment to give everyone a little idea of the immensity of provisioning a boat for a big passage like this. Imagine you had to buy everything you needed to sustain a family of seven people for 40 days. Breakfast, lunch dinner, snacks, drinks, etc. Now imagine you had to select food products that were easy to prepare while your house (boat in our case) was angled over at 15 degrees and moving. Think about having enough variety of dishes so that people would look forward to mealtime and not get tired of what you are serving. Consider having to keep vegetables and fruits fresh for the entire time while traveling through the equator during the peak of the summer heat. Hopefully you are starting to get the idea that Francesca (our chef) is a very, very special lady and a critical crew member. We're going to be eatin' good!
19-Aug - Departure Day
As usual, a few last minute things to fix (some corking that needed to be sanded a bit) along with Francesca running to the store and using our last bit of Rand to buy some fresh bread, etc. Then Clara was off with Alberto to perform the official duties at Customs, Port Control and finally Immigration. All went off without problems and by 12:5 we were tossing the mooring lines off the boat and maneuvering her to pass for the last time through the Clock Tower swing bridge and out into Table Bay. No wind but blue skies and reasonable sea state to motor in for a while. What a feeling to finally be off!! Later in the day we picked up a little wind and were sailing in the 2+ meter seas. With the light wind and sea state it was challenging to keep the sails filled so eventually back to motoring as we expected. Our watch system started at 14:00 and we fell into the routine of being at sea.
My watch ended at 00:30 this morning with a full moon shining on the sea and I was back on at 06:30 to start my next three hours. I was greeted at the helm by Oriol and a glorious sunrise. I've so missed seeing the sun rise while at sea. The clear air, light clouds and sparkling ocean just make you feel so special. About midday we picked up the wind again as our GRIB files indicated we would and finally we get to start sailing again. The seas have calmed down to about 1 meter and the apparent wind is 12 kts and we are doing 12-14 kts. FG is in her element and performing fantastically. The helm is light and the heel angle not too large so it is very comfortable (and fast!) sailing for us today. Everyone is starting to relax and enjoy this time together.
You can tell by the big smile on Oriol that he is enjoying the helm. This boat is fast and responsive despite the fact that she is loaded to the maximum with fuel, water and provisions for 40 days at sea. We don't have any official numbers yet (having too much fun finally sailing her!) but as an indication of her performance. I took a snapshot of a moment to share with you. So, with 1 reef in the main and the full genoa up... a TWS of 20.7, an AWA of 69 degrees and AWS of 24.7 kts we were doing 12.7 kts through the water (2m sea state). We're making good progress so far with unexpected winds from the northwest (so we were beating for a while) then the winds shifted to give us a beam reach and now they are shifting to be from about 200 degrees or so yielding us a nice reach the rest of the way to St. Helena. With about 1250 nm left to go, we might make it there by 5-6 days.
OK, a bit optimistic on the progress as the winds shifted during the night and we had to to head east for five hours. The winds are now coming more out of the southeast and are higher than forecast (25-30 kts). We are back in a 2m sea state and our VMG has dropped. Looks like we will have to gybe the rest of the way to St. Helena (for those non-sailors this means we can not just point the bow of the boat to St. Helena but have to 'zigzag' back and forth along our route instead). However not all is bad. The food is terrific as is the company onboard and all the systems are working well. A surprise to me was how long the vSat internet coverage lasted. We just lost it (about 650 nm from Cape Town). Now we'll have to use the Fleet Broadband unit for the rest of time until we get closer to Cape Verde. Nice to have a solid backup solution.
Currently: COG 282, TWD 150 @ 26kts, AWA -130, AWS 17, SOG 11.1kts, 1 reef in main sail, full genoa, distance to St. Helena is 1045
Wow, Friday already. We left Monday at around noon in Cape Town and now are over half way to St. Helena several hundred miles off the coast of Namibia. Progress continues to be good and the seas have calmed down nicely while the southeasterly trade winds are helping us along in a somewhat straight path to St. Helena. The weather started out cloudy and a little rainy this morning but blossomed into a beautiful afternoon and evening. Time at the helm today was spectacular with a light touch the boat effortlessly flew along at 10-11 kts steady all day with the occasion 'surfing' to 13 kts or so. Fun stuff. At sunset I got a nice photo of Iker on the helm obviously having a good time too. He's our 'Sailor of the Day'! Francesca is making pizza for us tonight as she will do every Friday (helps us recognize what day it is!). The crew chased down a leak in the crew shower drain and fixed it today. Just one of many little things that we are working through. So goes life aboard Feelin' Good.
Currently: COG 281, TWD 143 @ 24.1kts, AWA -138, AWS 14.1, SOG 9.2kts, 1 reef in main sail, full genoa, distance to St. Helena is 797nm
The South Atlantic has been good to us so far with wonderful and speedy sailing northbound. We are gybing back and forth along our course but hold a surprisingly good course direct to St. Helena. With the kind of speeds we've been able to maintain, we are really eating up the miles every day. Early this morning (5:00) the second reef went into the main and we started using the staysail. The winds were at a steady 30+kts most of the morning with big roily seas. Life onboard is tranquil with the crew taking turns at watch and then working on leather projects, splicing or fixing small issues that come up each day. In all of this we are well rested and healthy. Clara and the guys are looking over all the nooks and crannies of the boat to make sure there are no problems developing. This is a new boat and a new build so we expect to find issues. Aside from the first day of motoring, we only use fuel for the generator which is running about twice a day to allow Francesca to cook with the oven and for us to make water and charge the batteries. Our systems are very well designed and doing a great job of providing a nice place for us to be way out here in the middle of the ocean. The photo today is of me on the helm taken by Clara up on the boom. We each get about 3 hours on the helm each day and I relish each moment!
Currently: COG 329, TWD 143 @ 21.4kts, AWA -121, AWS 16.2, SOG 10.9kts, 2 reef in main sail, staysail, distance to St. Helena is 604nm
Took yesterday off from writing as too many other things came up (sorry about that). The weather has remained cloudy and cooler (not cold) and thought some of the guys are wishing for blue skies, I can wait as I know the equator will be plenty hot and we'll be thinking back to these pleasant days of sailing along without getting broiled! Bananas are the big item these days and they seem to play a part in a lot of what Francesca prepares for us. No complaints from me of the rest of the crew as it's all been fantastic. However, if they don't get used soon, they will be over ripe to point where we won't want them. There's a number of items that are 'starting to go' so here we are one week into the trip and just a few of the delicate food items are turning. Our refrigeration and freezers are working perfectly and so we have lots of food left to eat. That's good as we are only about 20% of the way back to Genova. We are closing in on St. Helena and hope to be there in the next 36 hours. Watch our track to see when we arrive. Our 'Sailors of the Day' are Eduardo and Carlos.
Currently: COG 285, TWD 154 @ 18.5kts, AWA -135, AWS 9.5kts, SOG 9.3kts, full main sail, genoa, distance to St. Helena is 229.8nm
We are about 50nm from St. Helena now and expect to arrive in the next 5-6 hours. Our wind abandoned us late last night and we've been on the motor now for the last 17.5 hours. It was motor or take two more days to sail the rest of the way. The side benefit of motoring is that the interior of the boat is more level providing a much easier time for Francesca to cook for us and much nicer sleeping as you have this gentle rocking back and forth motion. Fishing has been tough on the passage some far (yes, you can assume we've caught nothing so far!) however, word has it that there are thousands of Dorado that will be swimming around the spot we'll anchor in St. Helena so expect the fishing report to get better from here on out. Since we are motoring, we only need one person on watch so each of us stands in for 1.5 hours then we are off for a longer time. More time for projects, fixing things, reading and taking a nice shower. The comforts onboard are wonderful and I almost feel guilty for the comfort we have versus other boats making this passage. Well... almost!
Next report will be in St. Helena, 50nm to go...
28-Aug - Arrival
At 18:30 we pulled into our anchorage in the harbor just outside of Jamestown, St. Helena. We called in to see if we could come to shore for dinner and do immigration in the morning but were refused so we had dinner on the boat and the crew spent this morning cleaning the boat up from our passage. All the rigging and equipment was checked and everything looks fine to continue our next passage to Las Palmas, Gran Canaria. We took on about 680 liters of fuel to completely top us off in case we need to motor some distance in the doldrums of the equator. Located 1200nm from the west coast of Africa and 1800 nm from the east coast of South America St. Helena remains one of the most remote places on the planet. With no airport and only monthly service from the RMS St. Helena (one of the few remaining Royal Mail Ships) supplies are scarce. About 4000 people live here mostly in the Jamestown area (which seems like a lot to me as there's not that much going on here!). Our visit is short as we need to continue onto our next stop on this journey however the crew sees this as an opportunity for 'shore leave' so they're off to make the most of this unusual island.
See our next post, St. Helena to Gran Canaria 2013, to continue following us on our journey.
This passage was crewed by Art, Carlos, Clara, Eduardo, Francesca, Iker and Oriol
If you enjoyed this article please feel free to share it!