Day 53, Year 6 Off to Simon’s Town
Date: Thursday, December 16, 2010
Weather: Overcast and Drizzly, Winds SE 15-20
Latitude: 34 21.228 S
Longitude: 022 00.436 E
Miles Traveled: 16
Miles to Go: 200
Location: Passage from Mossel Bay to Simon’s Town, Day 1

We are on our way to Simon’s Town. The winds and seas settled down a bit this morning and with the go ahead from the weather nets, everyone decided to leave earlier rather than later. At first we thought we would leave around 6 pm which would get us into Simon’s Town early on Saturday morning if we averaged 5.5 knots. But then we looked at the winds which are not projected to be all that high and decided that we might average only 5 knots and could afford to leave earlier. Good thing for us as we just discovered a tear in our mainsail. The tear is below the double reef line, so we are going to have to remain double reefed all the way. Repairs while at sea would be almost impossible. With light winds behind us, not being able to have the main up all the way will mean motoring for Windbird. This is the first rip in a sail we have had since leaving Boston. I guess it was our turn but the timing could have been a little better. The tear probably happened on way down from Richards Bay, but since we came in to Mossel Bay with a double reef in and left it that way, we didn’t see the problem. Today we left with the double reef in but then raised the main all the way when we saw the winds were not all that strong. As soon as we did that, we started getting gusts from 30 to 40 knots for a period and decided we should reef again. That’s when Mark saw the rip. The strong winds must have been a passing squall as now the winds have settled back down to the teens.

We got a cell phone call once we were underway from our friends Piet Hein and Tory of Double Dutch who live in Cape Town. They were hoping we would be coming in on Sunday so they could come out in Double Dutch and welcome us, but they have a family commitment on Saturday and won’t be able to do that. They live in Cape Town which is about 30 miles from Simon’s Town, so we will see them while we are in the area. I’ve mentioned before that they are the very first world cruising couple we met in the Caribbean, so it will be extra special to see them here in their home country. We are also looking forward to seeing Bruce, Nadine, and Tristen that we met in Madagascar. Tristen told me while we were in Madagascar that she wants to take me to see the penguins, and I can’t wait to do that. We also got a call from Marianne and Gerald Brown today. We met them in Madagascar as well while they were vacationing and visiting their nephew, John Sheppard. John is the owner of Sakatia Towers. Marianne and Gerald really wanted us to come out to their farm in central South Africa for Christmas, but we just couldn’t find a place that we felt comfortable leaving Windbird while traveling inland. But it was so special to get their call and to be so welcomed by friends in South Africa.

There are six boats headed to Simon’s Town so it feels a bit like a regatta. We just did our first check-in with everyone and found that all but one other boat is also motor sailing, so we are not feeling so bad about our main sail problem. Everyone’s main goal is just to get around Cape Agulhas safely and quickly, so if we have to motor all the way, so be it. There will certainly be some celebrating once we arrive!