Day 47, Year 6 Onward to . . .
Date: Friday, December 10, 2010
Weather: Partly Sunny Turning Overcast in Late Afternoon
Winds: Overnight E 15-45, Morning E 20, Late Afternoon SSE 15
Latitude: 34 02.100 S
Longitude: 026 56.355 E
Miles Traveled: 430
Miles to Go: 246
Location: Passage from Richards Bay to Mossel Bay, Day 3

Windbird is traveling on, to where we aren’t sure, but it will be as far along toward Cape Town as we can get while the weather is favorable. This morning we made a last minute decision to by-pass East London, our original destination, and to travel on to Port Elizabeth. But the weather reports are looking like we can continue on even further, so that is what we are planning to do. When I wrote yesterday’s log we had just found the Agulhas Current and the sailing has been so good since then that we hate to stop. We made 222 miles in the 24 hours between 5 pm yesterday and 5 pm today. That is certainly a record for Windbird! The night was a bit wild with winds that would blow anywhere from 15 to 24 knots, to 24 to 35 knots, to 30 to 45 knots, and then back to 15 to 24. And with a 4 knot current our speed over ground was between 10 and 11 knots all night and at least 10 knots all day today. The strong winds were not forecast but they were directly behind us and we only had the main up with no headsail, so we were quite comfortable. It was a bit scary roaring along in the pitch black night with no moon, but today we have had speeds up to 12 knots and it is quite comfortable. The wind is clocking so right now we are on a beam reach with 15 knots of wind and sometime during the night we might have a period with SW winds, but it should be a short period and not much wind. It is the southwest winds that we have to worry about while we are in this current as winds from the southwest meeting the current from the north can cause high seas. But all weather sources are saying it is safe to press on, so we are going for it.

It’s approximately 1,000 miles from Richards Bay to Cape Town with not all that many safe harbors for yachts. Our final goal is to be somewhere in the Cape Town area for Christmas and the first part of January before moving on across the Atlantic. But Cape Town marinas are full to the brim with racers headed to Rio in January and the ARC ‘Round the World Rally boats. A small bay just before Cape Town is Hout Bay, but when we called them this morning the manager said they are also full with ARC boats. Our only hope is Simons Town in False Bay which is about 30 miles from Cape Town, but nicely situated for the sight seeing we want to do. We tried to call them this morning but only got to leave a message. And since then we have been too far away from land to have cell service. So we are going to try to make it to a place called Mossel Bay by Sunday and make calls from there to find a home for the next month. We really had no idea that we would get a weather window to go so far this soon, so we had not made prior reservations.

We feel like we did on the passage from Madagascar to South Africa. First we were going to Europa and then to Inhaca in Mozambique and then we got the weather go-ahead to make it straight into Richards Bay. The weather rules in this part of the world and it changes so quickly and so often that it is really difficult to make plans. You just have to always be ready to go and be very flexible. So on we go, to where we aren’t sure.