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Bristol 45.5 - AiniA
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Discussion Starter #1
Well they made it, but it was tense for a time. For those not following the story, my wife and I are heading around the South African coast. In Mossel Bay, which is 120 miles from Cape Agulhas the southernmost point in Africa and one of the world's great capes, I seriously injured my hand. I have returned to Canada for extensive treatment on my hand and we needed to move Ainia around the Cape because the harbour at Mossel Bay is just not good enough to leave the boat. The answer was that June would have to take the boat to False Bay near Cape Town. She recruited friends from an American boat named Serannity for crew and were off while I was winging my way north.

The first 225 miles went fine. They motored for seven hours or so and then had a really nice sail with SE winds in the 15 to 20 knots. The last five miles were shall we say, 'interesting'. The harbour is quite small with the docks close together and it became apparent that the could not enter the harbour as the winds increased to 30 and then 40 and then more knots. At the yacht club they recorded 56 knots. They tried to pick up a mooring near the entrance but the pendant seemed to short. They then anchored in 40 feet of water with 40+ knots. The Manson caught finally but they were in contact by radio with the yacht club and the local rescue station who did not want them out there since the conditions were not going to get better and might get worse. The rescue crew came out with their boat and several crew and helped get Ainia into a dock. All in all an exciting time (don't know how long it all took).

The conclusions:
The local people were great - we have found South Africans to be very helpful and interested in visitors
These weather conditions are not uncommon here. SE winds are focussed through False Bay with high land to the north and south. These winds continue over the land and back onto the sea near Cape Town - shown by the famous tablecloth clouds spilling down Table Mountain.
Most importantly, June did a terrific job. She has only been sailing for about five years and has tended to defer to me too much in the past. But she really stepped up and did a great job and was even asking a question about how to bleed an injector since the engine needed to be bled several times after a repair in Mossel Bay.
 

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Senior Moment Member
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13,282 Posts
Good news. Since she's sailed most of the way around the world, I imagine she is a lot more competent than most. :cool:
 

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Bristol 45.5 - AiniA
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Discussion Starter #4
Good news. Since she's sailed most of the way around the world, I imagine she is a lot more competent than most. :cool:
She has sailed more than 30k miles offshore which does build experience. She is also a very competent, smart, and when needed, tough person having grown up in China during the Cultural Revolution and getting a doctorate in engineering physics.

I forgot one conclusion in my first posting (hey, I am on drugs) and that is that the cruising community is generally quite wonderful and supportive of one another. It is an odd, sort of floating (sorry) relationship since you get close to people and then schedules/routes diverge and you lose track, but then you bump into them again 4000 miles down the line. People say they want to learn a skill like refrigeration repair, or sewing to pay for their cruising but I don't think that would work well in the offshore cruising community where you just help others when and if you can.
 

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Senior Member
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Hip hip hooray for June:):):)

Glad you are safe too
 

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I forgot one conclusion in my first posting (hey, I am on drugs) and that is that the cruising community is generally quite wonderful and supportive of one another. ........People say they want to learn a skill like refrigeration repair, or sewing to pay for their cruising but I don't think that would work well in the offshore cruising community where you just help others when and if you can.
Just a comment on the above.. I think it's very true that cruisers DO help each other as they are able and when that help is required - it's usually given selflessly, without expectations of repayment but a frequent result is perhaps a beer, a bottle of wine, dinner or a reciprocal favour. I think that's true of the offshore and coastal cruising communities, at least in our experience.

It would be very difficult, esp given that pretty much anyone embarking on a circumnavigation is necessarily pretty damned self sufficient, for anyone to 'pay their way' in that fashion.


Very glad to hear the boat and crew are safe in harbour again!
 

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Bristol 45.5 - AiniA
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Discussion Starter #9
Here is the latest poop in our little soap opera. I went to see the head honcho of the top hand program in the country, remarkable to see him less than 48 hours after showing up at emergency dept. The good news is that he thinks that skin grafts might not be needed at all. The docs in South Africa were talking about $20,000+ worth of graft surgery. Dr Graham, here said that there are three possibilities: major reconstructive surgery (highly unlikely), grafts (possible although he thought the skin would look worse after nine days if it was dead - to my eye the skin looks like something from a B quality sci-fi movie), and the skin just recovers on its own over the next month or so (most likely). His major concern is making sure I recover enough function to meet my needs for the future. Since sailing involves delivering a lot of power through both hands that means the rehab has to be right. I already had a session with an occupational therapist and will see again on Wednesday and probably Friday. Their goal is to have me in a splint with the fingers sticking out at 90* as the hand heels so as to avoid a sort of claw-like hand. Today the angles varied from 120 to 135*.

In terms of time, a best case scenario is probably going to be 4 to 6 weeks which means a March departure from SA (at best) and I just am not comfortable with that. Talked to June today and it is blowing 50 knots off Cape Town. Most cruising boats have already left and several more are going later this week. Our approach to this circumnavigation has been to act conservatively eg we went to American Samoa and Australia rather than Tonga and NZ to avoid gales (and did). March and possibly later is just too late in the season. The trades and depressions will have moved north making conditions much more hazardous than is prudent. SO, we have decided to leave Ainia in False Bay until next southern summer. We wii go back early and do more land travel in Southern Africa (Botswana, Namibia, and Victoria Falls come to mind) and make sure Ainia is completely ready to go - the Cape Town area, which includes False Bay is the best place in the country to get stuff done. Also an early start gives us more time to spend in the South Atlantic basin. Plus, June and are really missing each other (after five days). When you do extended cruising you are so intimately connected with your partner that it is hard to be apart.
 
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Thanks for that.... best of luck.
 

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Once known as Hartley18
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Courtney the Dancer
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Way to go June!!
Glad you got good news from the Doc, and it sounds like a good decision to wait.
Thanks for the update.
 

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Bristol 45.5 - AiniA
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Discussion Starter #15
Well, the Admiral flies home on Saturday and that is a very good thing some of us say. She ha being prepping Ainia for being left for something like 9 months in a harbour that is both well-protected and very windy. In the summer (now) dominant winds are SE but in the winter they will be NW. We have hired a 'boat custodian' to keep an eye on the boat. All dock lines are already doubled,10 lines in total, and the custodian asked that extra lines be left in the cockpit - I did say it is windy there.

This also brings up the question of dock lines and fenders on boats that do extended cruising. Generally you go months or even years without staying at a dock. South Africa is the clear exception to this. There are very few places to anchor along this coast. You have to anchor in the river at East London and you can anchor off the yacht club in Durban, but they charge and it is not much more to take a dock. You can anchor in Kynsna if you can get in. Other than that you can find shelter behind headlands west of Port Elizabeth but only for a night or so, when the wind switches you are completely exposed. Anyway, the reality is that many cruisers do not have enough, or big enough, fenders and may not have a huge sully of dock lines although lots of old sheets. We were fortunate because we were living in a marina in NYC and have seven fenders, including four very large ones. We had more than one set of dock lines but bought four more. In SA the standard for dock lines is something called PolySteel which is also used in the marine trades as well. It seems to be as strong as nylon the same size, has good stretch, but is slippery on the cleat. Speaking of cleats, this can also be an issue. We have 12 good-sized deck cleats and 8 of them are in use, the others are aft or mid-deck on the side away from the dock. If a boat had fewer cleats it would be hard to tie up in places like this.
 

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Bristol 45.5 - AiniA
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Discussion Starter #16
In answer to Hartley about lessons to be learned, I consider myself to be very careful and safety conscious and have more than 40 years of sailing experience. Even with all this it can still bite you in the butt - even if you are careful. I guess the first step is to identify that the situation is extremely dangerous. At the time I was more concerned about the boat than me, likely a mistake. I watched the boat's motion on several swells and it seemed to be straight in and out, except when I got my hand in the danger zone when it moved in and forward. June was there holding a flashlight and is very careful about me doing things. She did not even know it had happened until I told her. She was wondering why I had stopped working. It happened incredibly quickly and was over just as quickly, except for the bleeding et al. The lesson to be learned is that things happen, even when you are careful.
 

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Sea Sprite 23 #110 (20)
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I know what you mean about being careful and still getting hurt. I am a stage hand. A Stage Electrician, to be exact, for the past 20 years. This can be a dangerous job when things are good and an extremely hazardous one when things go bad... you have to respect the work, do your best to avoid getting hurt, and plan ahead for what to do if you do.

A small amount of fear never hurts.

That said, I can only wish you a quick recovery and hope that your time away from the boat is a blessing in disguise
 

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The lesson to be learned is that things happen, even when you are careful.
Know what you mean... after 30+ years in industry, moved to teaching... a couple of years ago a moment's inattention and I managed to nearly nip a fingertip off in a control valve.. Good news is that I'm pretty sure none of my students in THAT class are likely to be that careless.... and things have healed fairly well.
 

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Yep...You can be very careful and still get nipped or hurt.

30 years of walking on slippery commercial kitchen floors, sheet of ice walk in freezer floors, hot fryers and ovens, grease, razor sharp knives, slicing machines, mixers...I saw some horrendous accidrnts but was able to avoid them. I never really got cut with a knofe in all my years. Saran wrap box....jagged metal edge yes.

You can be as safe as possible, but the most important thing is to know what to do in case of the inevitable injury.

Thank goodness you are ok and you will recover.

dave
 

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Bristol 45.5 - AiniA
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Discussion Starter #20
An update for those who might be interested. Hand recovering, but slowly Probably two more months until it is close to normal. Had surgery about a month ago to remove wires from the broken finger and that wound should be healed in a week or so. The problem in the slow recovery is that I have to keep exercising (about 5x a day) all the joints in my hand and all the bending tears at the skin healing over, but the exercises are essential to the recovery. Anyway, it is coming, but a lot slower than the Doc in South Africa.

At this point, our plan is to leave here near the end of August to visit June's family and then travel by land to southern China and then through Burma to Thailand before spending some time with friends on a PDQ Antares. From there we will fly to Cape Town. The air fares (Toronto-Beijing and Bangkok-Cape Town) are not to bad if you shop around. Plus we enjoy backpacker style travel since you get more in contact with the country you are visiting.
 
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