Thursday, February 9, 2017

Durban: cleared

        A little after 5 p.m. Thursday.  I’ve just come back to GANNET from my last fresh water shower and iced drink for a while—the drink a double gin and tonic at the Point Yacht Club bar.
        I cleared with the officials this morning.  I remembered this being more complicated in Durban than it needs to be, and today I had to visit five different offices, three of them twice.  This is more than usual.  Two return visits were due to a miscalculation of my port fees.
        Immigration apparently intends to send an official to the marina at 0800 tomorrow morning to be certain that I actually depart.  This has not happened in the past and perhaps is due to my having cleared for St. Helena, a foreign port.
        After dealing with bureaucracy, I Ubered to the shopping center for lunch of grilled calamari with a side Greek salad and a Naked Mexican, and to replace some of the provisions I have consumed while waiting this week.
        Back on GANNET I dragged the Torqeedo from aft of the port quarter berth and fitted it.  It started at the push of the button.  The battery showed 99% charge.  I removed it and charged it briefly until it showed 100%.
        You are not supposed to sail in the entrance channel here.  I did sail in.  I’m not sure the Torqeedo has enough range for me to power all the way out.  I’ll go as far as I can, then sail.
        I also re-tested all the tiller pilots.  All are working.  I’ll start with a Raymarine because I am more familiar with it and it is easier to control from the cockpit, but expect to shift to the Pelagic before Sunday.
        The forecast, except for Sunday, is acceptable to good.
        With the current and wind behind us, GANNET should cover some distance on Saturday.
        I have generally been treated well most places, but I have experienced exceptional courtesy and hospitality in Durban, most notably from Chris Sutton and his family.  I thank them.  I thank everyone here, at the marina and at the yacht club, for making my stay so pleasant.
        I’m about to activate the Yellowbrick, so I don’t forget in the morning.
        If all goes well, the next entry may be about three weeks from now from St. Helena.
        I wish you joy.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Durban: Fernando Pessoa and me; departure

        If you google ‘Pessoa statue Durban’ surprisingly you will get me.  I took one of the photographs that appear at the top of the page and if you scroll down you will find my journal entry of October 1, 2008, headed, ‘Fernando Pessoa is still being ignored.’
        Now, thanks to my friend, Chris, you have both of the great writers together.
       Two years ago Fernando Pessoa was, briefly, remembered in Durban when his statue was defaced in an anti-colonial movement.  Charitably one might say this was ill-advised.  More accurately that it was stupid.  I doubt the vandals had ever read a poem Pessoa wrote or even knew who he was.  Portugal had colonies, but South Africa was not one of them, and Pessoa was a child when he lived here while his stepfather was the Portuguese consul.
        The paint has been removed.  
        Were I Pessoa I would have worn it with pride as a symbol not of my shame, but of those who splashed it on me.
         I expect that today Fernando was again ignored by all who passed him, except for Chris and me.


        The wind has been blowing 20 knots all day, gusting 25.  This front should blow through tonight, and if when I wake tomorrow the wind projections are not much changed, I will clear with the officials for a Friday morning departure.  The forecast is not for the seventy-two hours of wind on or aft of the beam I want, but it does not appear that I’m going to get what I want this year.  
        We can expect to encounter 20+ knot headwinds on Sunday that, hopefully, will last only twelve hours.  I will heave to, lie ahull, or head slowly out to sea until they pass.  Do not be alarmed if GANNET’s Yellowbrick positions  show no progress or even go backwards.  
       We will probably face another twelve hours of headwinds on Tuesday.  It is my intention to ride them out as well.
        I plan to clear Durban for St. Helena and not stop along the way unless I have to.
       The distance is about 2500 nautical miles and should take about three weeks, depending on how often I have to heave to or lie ahull.
        Being tied to the dock is not getting it done.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Durban: someday, forever; Friday

        6:00 p.m.   An hour ago I poured a libation, in this case an unusual for me rum, Bacardi Carta Negro.  Although rum is traditionally a sailor’s drink and was given daily in the Royal Navy, I don’t drink much.   It is too sweet.  Yet in curiosity I bought a bottle a few days ago.  
        From the label I quote:  Bacardi Carta Negro blended using rums between one and three years in heavily charred oak barrels, then shaped through a secret blend of charcoals, to craft a dark rum that has a bold and intense taste.
        I think the claim is true, but it is still too sweet for me.
        I stood in the companionway an hour ago sipping my first plastic of Carta Negro—I’m not going to pour it overboard—listening to Mark Knopfler’s PRIVATEERING, and noticed the name of the boat two slips over from GANNET.   Usually there has been a boat between us.  The name:  SOMEDAY FOREVER.  A great name.  Ambiguous.  I see several interpretations.  Add a comma and it resonates:  someday, forever.

        I have had my small influences.  Over the decades I’ve sold some bottles of Laphroaig.  And now I take perhaps forgivable pleasure that people in many distant parts of the world are checking wind forecasts for the South African coast.  
        I am almost afraid to do so myself because what I last saw is a good possibility of a Friday morning departure and I don't want to find a change.
        As regular readers will know I firmly believe in not doing things at the last minute and in the value of having a couple of days to sit and contemplate your boat to be certain that you have not forgotten something.  Well, I have had more than enough such time.  Some details can’t be sorted out until you are at sea.  Everything on GANNET that needs to be done in port has been.
        I did a couple of minor boat chores this morning, then spent the day mostly reading INTO THE SILENCE:  The Great War, Mallory and the Conquest of Everest.  An interesting book, though some of you will know that I don’t share the delusion that we conquer mountains or capes:  we merely transit them; and if done honorably that is enough.
        I had my laundry done last week.  To avoid going to sea with a bag of dirty clothes, I am wearing passage clothes and alternating underwear and tee-shirts that I wash in the shower.
        I won’t wait much longer.

        Someday, forever.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Durban: the Super Bowl; waiting

        The Super Bowl started at 1:30 a.m. local time.  I woke once during the night, turned on my phone and saw Atlanta far ahead late in the third quarter, so it was with considerable surprise that I learned this morning that the Patriots won in over time.


        Slow, steady overnight rain ended this morning, after revealing a leak around my rebedded forward hatch.  I think it is one of two bolts that I will rebed again with butyl tape.
        Now in early afternoon the wind is still,  Sounds of traffic ashore are muted.  GANNET quietly bobs an inch or two.
        I have downloaded a new GRIB with LuckGrib, checked Durban, East London, Port Elizabeth, and Cape Agulhas in Windfinder Pro, run Windytv, Meteo Weather and VentuSky.  They all tell the same disappointing story:  no period of 48 hours without another low with 20+ knot headwinds for the foreseeable future.
        It blew 25-30 knots from the southwest here yesterday afternoon.  I don’t want to start off that way, but maybe I will have to.
        For now, I continue to wait for something better.

Friday, February 3, 2017

Durban: on hold; an open boat circumnavigation has been made

        The GRIB which was perfect last night was far from perfect when updated this morning.  Not even forty-eight consecutive hours without headwinds next week.  So I'll wait until Monday and see what it looks like then.  Although GANNET and I are eager and ready, we may be here a while.
        Craig of LuckGrib wrote that perhaps in the old days I would have sailed anyway.  I wouldn’t have.  Not on this coast.  I’ve carefully picked my times here and not had trouble.  I suppose in 1987 I did so by viewing the daily weather map in the local newspaper.  How last century.  But then it was.
        For the first half of the seven hundred miles from Durban to Cape Agulhas, the course is southwest.  Around Port Elizabeth the coast and course turn west. I’ll leave when I have the likelihood of at least seventy-two hours of wind on or aft of the beam.  Or when I get fed up with waiting.


        When I wrote the ‘decked’ entry I was not aware of the remarkable circumnavigation made in 2013-15 by the Swiss/French sailor, Yvan Bourgnon.  
        Not much has been written about this voyage in English, but I did find a brief article here with an internal link to another article and photos.
        That is unquestionably an open boat.
        I have been surpassed, which is what is supposed to happen.
        Two things particularly interest me about Yvan's voyage:  how he transited Panama, and that he was jailed, as was I.  Obviously a risk of open boat voyages.
        I salute Yvan Bourgnon and thank Matthias for bringing his voyage to my attention.
        I have updated the ‘undecked’ entry.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Durban: reconfiguration day; tentative departure date; additions

        This morning I filled the four five gallon/19 liter jerry cans with water and reconfigured GANNET’s interior from harbor to passage mode.  This took a little over two hours.  When I walked back from my shower I observed that the little sloop’s bow is down to the very top of the anti-fouling.  Today was the first day I haven’t shopped in a week.  Nothing more needs to come on board and any bottles of water or cans of liquid that do will live between the pipe berths until consumed.  I will sleep tonight on the port pipe berth and on one or the other of the pipe berths for at least the next two months.


       I presently use LuckGrib to download GRIBs twice a day, morning and evening.  While the forecast is not as favorable for as long as I wish, if it remains largely unchanged, I plan to clear with the officials on Friday for an 0800 departure Monday morning, February 6.
        I’m not sure I will be able to make Port Elizabeth before the wind heads us, but I should be able to reach East London.  And, depending on conditions, I may heave to or head offshore until the wind again becomes favorable.  It is not impossible that I will sail directly from Durban to St. Helena.
        I created a new default Yellowbrick tracking page for this year and turned the Yellowbrick on to send a couple of positions.  GANNET’s tracking page is  
        I’ve again deactivated the device and will turn it back on before I depart.  It is set to send a position every six hours.
        Previous year’s tracks are still viewable by clicking on the event window to the left of center at the top of the page.


        Last month I added an update to the Introduction to the main site, and today I added the items I love to the lists page.
        I also reread the Credo.  Sometimes I get it right.


        I’m tired of shopping and working.  I want to go sailing.


        The photo was taken from the viewing platform at the top of the arch at Durban’s soccer stadium built for the 2010 World Cup.  Chris drove me there yesterday for which I thank him.  The view is spectacular, as is the stadium.
        The entrance to the harbor is just this side of the headland.