The time has come for us to do a “shake down sail” to further test the boat – and ourselves – before the ocean crossing. We decided to spend a few night at anchor in Langebaan, a very nice bay some 65 nautical miles north of Cape Town. Sailing from Cape Town to Langebaan is tricky, you need to carefully time your coming back when there’s a depression that brings north westerly winds. Otherwise you will be beating for 10+ hours.
We decided to set sails on Monday the 3rd and come back the following Thursday, when a front was expected. Unfortunately for us, Monday we didn’t have the expected south easterly winds. The wind was very light and the swell was very big, so we had to motor sail all the way.
And after all these years of sailing, I “joined the club”. Yes, I felt sea sick. First time in my life. It was horrible. Being sea sick it’s worst than catching a cold and having a fever. When you are sea sick you just can’t function. You can’t even think straight.
If it can be of some consolation, after I threw up I recovered pretty fast. But still, it’s something I should learn to manage. We tried to put up the spinnaker in the afternoon, in 8 knots of wind, but the swell was so big that it was slowing us down and the spinnaker couldn’t fly. So we had to bring it down. And that’s when I felt sea sick, after working on the trampoline putting the spinnaker back in the bag. The only positive note of the sail north was that we saw countless whales.
Once we entered the bay, everything changed. We headed to Kraalbaai, dropped the anchor, and relaxed. The anchorage was beautiful and we were the only boat there.
The next morning we took the dinghy on the beach and we had a beautiful walk. There were only a few vacation houses on the beach, still deserted because the holidays period hasn’t started yet. When we got back to the dinghy, to our surprise, we found a big sign next to it saying “Private Property. Do not Trespass”.
When we landed on the beach we remembered seeing that sign in the bushes, next to a house. So, while we were hiking, somebody must have taken from the bushes and planted it in the sand right in front of our dinghy.
So we decided to get back to the boat and start cooking for lunch. After a short time, a dinghy with a couple of kids with fishing rods approached the boat. They said their parents send them to our boat to apologize to us for putting that Private Property sign in front of our dinghy on the beach “they thought it was rude”.
And to apologize they gave us all the fish they caught, all cleaned up and ready to be cooked. We had a great lunch! We should be trespassing more in South Africa, if the punishment you get is fresh fish!
The next day we decided to move to Mikonos, a small tourist resort that vaguely resembles a Greek village up north in Langebaan. Yuka tried to start the engine and the alarm went off, the battery icon on the engine display lighted up and the rev meter started shacking. The engine itself started and seemed fine. So we started to troubleshoot and we realized the problem was that the Sterling battery charger wasn’t working. Was there a way to by-pass it? We didn’t know. Luckily we had cellular coverage, and we were able to speak to the electrician who installed the system and we learned how to by-pass it. Once we did that, the problem was solved. Well, we still had to understand why the Sterling failed, but at least we could use the engine again. We’ll have the problem fixed once back in Cape Town.
So we went to Mikonos but the north west swell there was too much to anchor, so we decided to take a berth in the marina. Once we tied up, a few berths down from our slip, we noticed a beautiful boat, a Shearwater 39. Same as the one built by my South African friend Allan. It’s because of him that we decided to start our adventure from South Africa. We would have missed so much otherwise.
The sail back to Cape Town was magnificent. This time we timed it really well, the North Westerly winds arrived as expected and it was all a downwind, spinnaker sail. Ahhh! What a difference! Flying a spinnaker I feel a little beat like if I were kitesurfing. And the Captain looked happier too!
So all in all everything went well. Back in Cape Town we fixed the Sterling and now we can say we are ready for the crossing. The boat is ready. We are ready. The date of our departure from Cape Town has been set: Sunday December 16.
Namibia here we come!!!