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Bristol 45.5 - AiniA
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Discussion Starter #1
Have been very busy of late so not active here or in keeping up the blog so better provide an update here. Reason for being busy is two-fold: getting ready to cross to the Caribbean and working on a new book with very tight timelines. (I write high school textbooks on the side and my publisher kept delaying a meeting for a publication decision and then approved the book and shortened the timeline. Going to be writing busily all the way across the Atlantic and then hauling the boat probably in Feb/early March in Grenada or Trinidad so I can get home to finish the book. Worth it in the long run but a PITA right now.)

The boat was in Simon's Town which is east of Cape Point, which is next to the Cape of Good Hope, but much bigger and more significant. We had had a boat caretaker in Simon's Town and he had 13 dock lines on and three burst fenders, and these were very large, quality fenders. It is seriously windy there and in Cape Town. Last week we had 54 knots in the harbour and 35 is quite common.

Anyway, the weather cooperated and we came around to CT in quite benign conditions. Had to motor as the winds ranged from zero to 20 or so but the direction kept changing. Have installed a CPT autopilot - the old Raymarine underdeck seems quite dead, a new radar, and done a complete test of everything.

Did a rigging inspection and found two broken strands in an aft lower - the same one we replaced in Australia. The rigger says it happens with the kind of sailing we had in the Indian, broad reaching in strong winds with a much reduced mainsail to minimize weather helm for the Monitor. We are upsizing from 8 mm to 10 mm and waiting for parts to come into the country. Rigger also suggested having the Spectra running backstays on since we have them.

We are also changing our wire and rope main and jib halyards to Dyneema. There is a rope manufacturer here called Southern Ropes and their prices are great. The boat is going hi-tech even if the crew remains pretty low tech.

We also have done some touristy stuff and have a video of the Admiral riding an ostrich. She is talking more about wanting to cruise in Europe so that may be in our future. We have friends who are going to take their CN 48 through the canals to the Black Sea next summer so we will see how that goes.
 

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Sea Sprite 23 #110 (20)
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glad to hear you are back in action. How is the hand holding up?
 

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Would love to hear an on the ground observation of the nation's reaction to Mandela's passing.
 

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Bristol 45.5 - AiniA
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Discussion Starter #5
Hand is pretty good. Thanks for asking.

I posted this in off-topic so will put it here since people are interested.

It has been fascinating being in Cape Town during this time. Madiba (he is called this much more often than Mandela) is being mourned in a very positive way. His virtues are being remembered as a model for others. In many ways he is treated as if he were a father or grandfather for individuals and not just as a political leader. Everyone has had lots of time to prepare as his death was coming sooner rather than later. One of the radio stations did remarkably well with a great selection of music from early Dylan to Sting, plus tributes from all over the world. It was respectful, but not sad - quite moving and uplifting.

We signed a book of condolences at the V&A Waterfront where there is a statue of Mandela and the other SA winners of the Peace Prize. From there you can see Robben Island where he was in prison for almost 25 years.

To give you a measure of the man, when he became president he invited his former guards to the ceremony. There was great mutual respect. He said that if he remained angry he would never be free. Remarkable man.
 

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The comparisons to Gandhi seem very appropriate. Interesting that they were both "formed" in S.A.
 

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Bristol 45.5 - AiniA
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Discussion Starter #7
Off to Namibia in the morning - never would have guessed when I started sailing that I would have been sailing to Namibia.

There is a memorial service tonight at the big soccer stadium in Cape Town. Would have gone except did not hear about it until this morning.
 

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Off to Namibia in the morning - never would have guessed when I started sailing that I would have been sailing to Namibia.

There is a memorial service tonight at the big soccer stadium in Cape Town. Would have gone except did not hear about it until this morning.
Bon voyage! Looking forward to hearing more from there.
 

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glad to hear you are doing well. best to you and yours this xmas season. curious to hear about whether you prefer the raymarine or your new cpt AP once you've put some miles on it.
 

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Bristol 45.5 - AiniA
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Discussion Starter #10
Leaving Luderitz, Namibia n a few hours for St Helena which is something like 1300 miles. Forecasts suggest it will be a pretty 'relaxed' trip with SE winds in the 10-15 range once we are more than 100 or so miles from the coast. We are in the Benguela Currenr so the water temperature was only 12C when we arrived. Nippy at night. Should get much warmer soon (he said hopefully).

Luderitz is a lovely, quiet, clean town of about 15,000 which is 300 km from the next town, which is about the same size. Seems quite prosperous with fishing and diamond dredging from the sea bed. Once you get out of town you are not allowed to wander on the desert since there are diamonds lose on the surface in places. If the rest of Namibia is like this it is a very nice country.
 
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Thanks for the update, KS! Sounds like an easy passage coming up, enjoy.
 

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Leaving Luderitz, Namibia n a few hours for St Helena which is something like 1300 miles. Forecasts suggest it will be a pretty 'relaxed' trip with SE winds in the 10-15 range once we are more than 100 or so miles from the coast.
Oh, man, am I ever envious... Luderitz and St Helena are both places I'd love to make it to some day... Years ago Webb Chiles listed his Top Ten or 12 favorite places he'd ever sailed to, and Luderitz made the list...

Enjoy, you're lucky to be making it to St Helena before they build the airport, that's gonna change that place, bigtime - as St Helena will no longer retain its status as one of the most remote populated places on earth...

Fair winds...
 

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Bristol 45.5 - AiniA
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Discussion Starter #14
Was going to send this in Saint Helena but the Internet verged on the impossible so left it to Ascension.

Part 1 - Arrived in Saint Helena last night, 11+ days from Luderitz, Namibia. For the most part a very slow, relaxed trip with about 8 days pretty much directly downwind, so rolling was a problem at times. Got a lot of use out of the asymmetric even though it really is not designed for directly downwind. This would be a frustrating trip for a boat that did not have a light air sail or twin downwind poles. From here to the Equator looks pretty similar so it should be pretty easy going. We next go to Ascension, which is about 700 miles and then the long one (3k) to Barbados, or Grenada, or Trinidad, whichever we decide.

Very few cruising boats in this part of the world although there will be a few more in the next month or two. In Luderitz there were only three, a Dutch boat, us, and Peter Smith of Rocna fame.

If you want an incredible, go-anywhere boat his boat is the one. It is a 52’ aluminum boat that he built himself – he is a professional boat builder and it shows. It has 22,000 hours of work in it (and these are not amateur, figure it out as you go, hours) so you could imagine the replacement cost. He has been to Antarctica and has spent a total of five winters in Patagonia and the Falklands. If you get the impression he likes cold places and not being in crowds you might be right. He came across the southern Atlantic from the Falklands to Cape Town, including getting rolled 180*, and is taking his time going up the Atlantic to arrive in Nova Scotia immediately after the ice is out, direct from Ascension. He will spend the summer in Newfoundland, Labrador and Greenland. After that he wants to go back to Cape Town (1 year or 2 to be determined) and complete his circumnavigation to New Zealand in the Southern Ocean.

BTW, not to start an anchor thread, he has designed a new anchor that will be in West stores next year – as a West Marine product. He also said that sales of traditional style anchors in serious sizes have basically dried up – everyone is buying the newer designs. I didn’t know for example, that CQRs are no longer made. Also he said that the problem with Rocnas bending was not inferior quality steel but a change in manufacturing. The anchors were designed to be welded together from plate steel. The company that makes them (I thought the Rocna company did, but it is licensed out) decided to have them cast instead of welded and they were just not as strong with that construction.

Also found out that he is no longer friends with the guy who owns Manson (Peter built two boats for him in the olden days), and what the name Rocna means. I managed to avoid asking him what kind of anchor he uses.

Final question, where are the American boats? Guess on sailing forums. We have seen two since before Cape Town and interestingly I think both were going south (one was for sure). There was an Open 40 in Cape Town that had come directly from Bermuda (a long way) and was originally planning to go directly to Wellington, NZ. He was entered in a race that was cancelled and thought he might as well do the course since he was all prepared. Last I heard he was thinking of not going to NZ, which is a daunting passage to be sure. Gorgeous looking boat, btw. The other boat, which I think was American no flag/no hailing port that I could see, and I think going south since we saw no sign of him along the way, was a big Little Harbor 65ish (as opposed to a little Big Harbor I guess) – also a gorgeous boat. He arrived here yesterday afternoon and just took a mooring with his yellow flag up. He did not go ashore and was gone before 0700 this morning.

Since Simon’s Town the boats we have seen (including ourselves): 3 Canadian, 5 Dutch, 3 French, 3 British (including Peter who is a Kiwi but the boat flies a Red Ensign), a Swedish, and an Aussie – 2 catamarans, the rest monos from around 40 to 52’. Did not really check out the boats at the V&A Waterfront where the big boats go, but two of the Dutch boats we saw were big (60+) Oysters in an Oyster rally that was passing through (they seemed to be the first ones to arrive).

May stay permanently in St Helena, population 3500. It is a gorgeous spot with a lovely English village dropped down in a cleft through black, volcanic cliffs. The people are remarkably friendly and helpful. Everyone says hello and if you ask for directions or help they make sure you get what you need. Talked to a former cop and she said there have been three murders since 1901 (last one in the 1980s) and no robberies in memory. They have put out about 25 new moorings (they closed their old mooring field after a cruising boat ended on the rocks and was lost) which is good since the water is deep 70+ feet and the holding not great.

They are building an airport, which may be open by 2016, and people are quite worried that things may go downhill as a result. The locals generally don’t want an airport but the British govt figure it may help the economy. They only export a small amount of coffee and have a very small tourism industry since you can only come by ship from Cape Town. BTW, the mail ship is here this weekend so it is very busy. There were 125 passengers and they are unloading into lighters 60 containers. Wanted a milkshake today but there was no ice cream – it is on the ship, so milk shake on Monday after the tour. They say if you see something for sale you buy it then since it probably wont be there later.

We did a tour to the interior, which is lush and beautiful, but the roads are very narrow and I don’t think I have been anywhere so hilly. Saw the room where Napoleon died. They certainly stuck him far away, but apparently there was an attempt to rescue him at one point. Also saw his grave (he isn’t there he was moved to France a long time ago). He picked the spot and it is gorgeous and tranquil. He said he wanted a place where you could not see the ocean and it is a small, internal valley.

Almost forgot, someone in St Helena (they are called Saints) owns a late 1930s Morgan Three Wheeler sports car – British racing green of course. There is also a 1929 Chev bus that is used for tours. That is it for interesting vehicles though.

Final, St Helena observation, when June was doing the check out, the Customs lady insisted that she take two slices of a cake that she had made and brought to work. That was certainly a first and moves St Helena to the top of the list for nice officials.

Part 2 – In almost every way, Ascension is different from St Helena. Everyone (population about 800) here is here to work, there are no permanent residents. Most of the workers are Saints (from Saint Helena) but there is also a British military base and an American one, along with a large airport. Apparently Air Force One stopped here to fuel on the way to Mandela’s funeral. I imagine the base commander must have leapt to attention when he heard the big boss would be stopping (the base only has about 40 military personnel now, but looks like the housing would accommodate perhaps 1000. The last major activity here was during the Falklands War when Ronnie told Maggie she could use the airport for flight operations.

Heard the description, from a Saint that Saint Helena is a rock and Ascension is a cinder. It is pretty bleak except for the tallest volcanic peak where they planted tropical vegetation on the advice of Darwin. Many areas look like a moonscape, with just orangey rock or cinder-like gravel.

The highlight here is the green turtle spawning. They migrate from Brazil to the beach where they were born to spawn. They mate in the water, all round the boat in fact. We went ashore at night to watch them come out of the sea and then painfully go up the beach to dig a hole to lay their eggs. These turtles are big, the shells are about 3 feet long and not good on land. They only come here every 3 to 4 years.

The island is an incredible center for telecommunications. Undersea cables come here and there are satellite dishes and domes, and antenna field anywhere. We blundered on a number of strange installations with metal rods above ground and something buried in gravel (they had brought in loads of nice white gravel for this even though the entire island is a source of gravel – perhaps the local rock has too much iron in it?) These things were arrayed in circles with solar panel support. We talked to a local, actually from the Bronx of all places, and she says there is a lot of speculation about what these are with the lead speculation being the British equivalent of NSA spy antennas of some sort – but the idea of antennas below ground seems odd.

Even though most of the people here are Saints it is not nearly as friendly as SH even though every car that goes by the people wave. The anchorage here is very good with 25’ over excellent sand, but the landing is terrible. It is a concrete platform at the end of the tall commercial dock and when there is a swell, which is most of the time, it is a bit of a gymnastic routine to get ashore (there are thick ropes hanging down that you grab as you try to get a foot ashore before your dink drops away below you). Then comes the question of where to tie the dinghy. We were told to tie to a ladder off to the side of the platform, but yesterday after a 6 hour hike around the island we can back to find that someone has moved the dinghy to a mooring that was at least 100 yards offshore. We asked everyone from the local police station (as it was closing for the night), to the harbormaster, to some guys in a bar is anyone knew someone with access to a boat but just got indifference. The harbormaster said some people were out fishing and would be back by 630 but no sign of them by 730 when I went for my swim to the dinghy. It was not a problem as it turned out, but seemed intimidating with the current and wind. On Saint Helena someone would have built a boat if necessary to get the dinghy back to shore.

Actually the problems with indifference here started even earlier. When we were in St Helena they gave us a form for each person to fill out for entry to Ascension. This had to be faxed to Ascension. We duly did this at the local telecom office in St Helena and got confirmation of receipt. When we arrived here they said they had not received the forms and we could only stay 3 days without filling long applications to stay longer. They seemed to have no concern over the fact that their forms hadno fax number on them (I assume that the telecom office got the wrong number from the slim phone directory), that they were printed front and back too which meant photo-copying. Just a different attitude.

Anyway, three days will be just fine. We think we are going to go to Tobago from here, with two intermediate waypoints. Aiming for around 2*S, 32*W. This should give us a better angle on the wind than we have had so far and should be faster. If we hit the ITCZ before then we will head due north until we hit the NE Trades. If things are going OK we will continue west until we run out of wind and then turn north. Next waypoint is off the mouth of the Amazon. Apparently we will get a good current from there along the coast – could be as much as 4 knots but should be at least 2. Anyway, that is the plan.

More from the Caribbean.
 

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The highlight here is the green turtle spawning.
Wow, talk about action! :D

but the idea of antennas below ground seems odd.
I'd guess it is some of that ultra long wave communications gear for nuke subs.

Thanks for the update - sounds like your trip is going very well.

How's the hand doing?
 

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Fair winds and fast passage.. As ever, great update, Thanks!! Hope the hand is healing.

btw I changed your title to update your location.

Cheers
Ron
 

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First nice words i have heard about St Helena!

Good stuff! Sounds like you are thoroughly enjoying it.

Have a fun run up to the Caribbean. Beer waiting for you in St Martin.
 

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Fair winds and safe travels!

Edit to add: once you're done hanging out with Mark, and turn back the other way across the pond to Europe - excellent Merlot waiting for you in Tel Aviv.
 
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