DAY 7: TUESDAY 4th November 2014
Nothing much happened today, besides sailing that is. We unfurled the reefs at dawn and sailed with full canvas all day. Wayne kept the boat sailing along while I sat in the cockpit chopping vegetables then proceeded to cook a few meals for the coming days. It’s much easier to have food ready to warm up. We’ve managed to sail without using the engine for a couple of days now. Winds between 8-25 knots are blowing us along, although the average is between 10-15 knots. We’ve not had any northerly winds the entire trip; mainly south or southeasterly, and the northerly current to the east of us is almost gone. A fresh grib this morning shows a low will pass south of us on Wednesday evening. This will send large seas and strong winds from the south. Already the swell is quite big in this part of the world. We can no longer hear Kantala or Freja on VHF. The best reception we had was hearing them 82nm away. We even saw Coruisk pop up on AIS 140nm away! Each day we speak with Brian to see how he’s going and share position reports. If we can’t reach each other we send reports via SMS. Last we spoke he was 170nm behind us.
Still no luck with tuning in to Durban HF station Peri Peri. I can hear callers give their position reports, but nothing else. We’re also trying to hear the South African MSI station, but haven’t picked them up clearly either. We did in fact manage to pick up VMW – the meteorological radio station from Wiluna in the north west of Australia! Oh, how we miss Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology!
It’s getting colder now that we’ve dropped down in latitude. It’s sunny though and warm during the day. But there’ll be no more deck washes on the remainder of this trip! On night watches it’s nice to curl under a blanket with a good audiobook.
Before the expected low tomorrow night, we also expect to have no wind on Wednesday. The calm before the storm?
Day 7 distance: 102nm
Crew condition: looking forward a BIG juicy steak!
DAY 8: WEDNESDAY 5th November 2014
No wind again, as expected. We motor sailed from late evening until the morning. With a slow low passing to the south of us, the forecast was for up to 25knots in our region, and 40+knots closer to the centre of the low. That sort of wind against the fast-moving southerly Algulhas current can produce big standing waves. The chart reads “Abnormal waves up to 20 metres high, preceded by a big trough, may be encountered off the east coast of Africa…”. Imagine sailing over waves that big! That’s about the height of a six storey building! But of course that’s the worst case scenario and I’d be extremely disappointed to say the least if we sailed into something like that!
Finally we managed to hear Peri Peri net at 8.101MHz and I spoke with Robin and passed on our position. It was nice to speak with someone out here in the middle of nowhere. He then relayed our details to Roy in Durban (we could hear him but he couldn’t hear us). Roy then gave us the forecast for the coming days, which concurred with our grib data. Once the low has blown by, the subsequent days look favourable for a run to our destination, still 485nm away. Coruisk was now 220nm behind us.
As we weren’t sure how bad the wave conditions could be in the current, we decided not to mess with Mum Nature, and agreed to hove to for 24 hours while the low passed by. Approximately 140nm east of Inhambane we set our storm sails and hove to.
The day was actually a calm, pleasant day to float around. We didn’t do much. We slept. We had a nice lunch. Watched a pod of whales passing by. Listened to audiobooks. Watched the dolphins at the bow looking to play but Blue Heeler wasn’t joining in. Slept a little more. We waited. Right on cue by 9.30pm the 5knot northerly shifted to 20+knots from the sou’west. Head on! The seas grew in height. Massive waves shoved at us, slapping the hull, but our sturdy vessel held its ground, so to speak.
The winds peaked to 30knots in the wee hours but it wasn’t the wind that concerned us. Deep troughs opened up and lifted us high before passing beneath with a swoosh. Bottles and plates rattled in the cupboards, while new squeaks were audible from various nooks and crannies.
Once the worst passed in the wee hours, at 5.30am we turned towards Richards Bay on the back of the low. Blue Heeler had drifted 15nm east overnight so we didn’t advance at all on day 8. Hopefully by the time we reach the current the wind will be from the northeast as forecast and less bumpy. Fingers crossed we’ll get to Richards Bay by Monday. A low will form on Sunday but it doesn’t look like a strong one at this stage. Bacon and eggs for breakfast today!