It is hard to believe…back in Gibraltar -where I did my yachtmaster fast track at Allabroad- after sailing more than 12.000 miles around Africa. Clare, Dave and Lee of the sailing school are still there and nice to talk again with sailing instructor Martin and “STCW” James Holman. Now is a good time to do repairs and to buy essential marine parts: spare waterpump, hull cleaner, a new pully to hoist the dinghy, the list is long but there is not enough time.
- The challenge to go to Europe: sailing at least 21 days close haul for more than 2000 nautical miles against the tradewind from Mindelo on Sao Vincente, one of the Cape Verde islands, to Gibraltar at the entrance of the Mediterranian sea. The weather on route to Gibraltar can be unstable this time of year and the wind not favourable. It is not possible to get an accurate weather prediction for the next 21 days so it is a bit of a gamble too….
- At arrival on Sao Vincente, one of the Cape Verde Islands, we anchor under sail in the motor vessel anchorage as the engine does not seem to be working well. After arrival we go ashore to check in and discover that it is Canaval! Everything is closed as the whole town is watching the parade this afternoon. We eat, watch the scenery and relax in a Spanish restaurant. Beside French tourists there are many locals of Creole, Chinese, African and Indian roots looking at the colourfull parade, a true mishmash of people.
- The kind lady of port control checked us out on Friday as our plan was to leave Ascension Island on the Sunday for our passage to the Mindelo on Sao Vincente, one of the Cape Verde islands. This will be our longest passage so far, 1700 miles in a straight line, more than 20 days of sailing. We will go north first crossing the doldrums, the zone around the equator where the tradewind will change from south-east to nearly zero then turning to north-east.
- It only took 5 days to cover the 710nm between st Helena and Ascension island,the easiest sail ever! Ascension is a Brittish overseas territory, like st Helena. The island has a RAF airfield and a US base with advanced radar and communication equipment for the US space program. Obtaining a visa must be done in advance, an administrative process that requires each visitor to provide proof of medical and repatriation insurance.
- Welcome to Saint Helena! the anchorage is directly on the ocean The small island St Helena is a rock rising up sharply from the 5000m deep ocean seafloor in the middle of the southern atlantic ocean. It was discovered by the Portugese and ruled by the Dutch VOC before it became an important Brittish overseas territory: before the invention of motor driven ships all North going sailing vessels called at the island to provision.
- Ha! We got ourselves a seat on the first row. A cannon fires and the Capetown to St Helena race has begun Why leave? Just stay and enjoy the beauties of South Africa. No, it is time to go, the race is ON, I must face the ocean, this is what I have to do. Understood, but you can do that also later, why go now?…No, see you South Africa, it is very hard to leave…
- Malaka Queen in Capetown, our destination! Here we are at the most southern point of Africa only 2000 miles from Antarctica, all the way from Tanga Tanzania via Comores and Madagascar through the Mozambique channel and Agulas current along the South African coast. The southern atlantic ocean will bring us to St Helena, Ascension and after crossing the equator the Cape Verdes Islands. The Capetown to St Helena race starts here on Dec 27 and it would be good to go at the same time.
- Simonstown to Capetown is the final leg of this journey to South Africa, all the way from Tanga Tanzania via Comores, Madagascar and Mozambique. Pulled the anchor up early in the morning, Malaka Queen races towards cape Good Hope on a strong westerly, katabatic winds are now in our favour. Bye Simonstown, see you again. After rounding cape Good Hope the steady westerlies turn into northerlies.
- The plan for this leg was to sail to Port Elisabeth. Lucky again the weather improved on the way so it was now possible reach Mosselbaai. Being close to the shore from time to time it was possible to download the latest GRIB files. GRIB files give detailed local weather information in chart form - wind speed and direction, rain and wave height- according to a weather model. So very helpfull to see how the model thinks the weather is going to look like but this is not a weather prediction, only a experienced weather man like Des can interpret them.