Day 98, Year 6 Passage to St. Helena, Day 13-Busy Day
Date: Sunday, January 30, 2011, 1430 UTC
Weather: Mostly Cloudy with Sun Peaking Through; Winds SSE 10 – 15
Temperature: Water and Air 72 degrees F
Latitude: 17 50.303 S
Longitude: 004 09.312 W
Miles Traveled: 1715
Miles to Go: 152
Location: Passage from South Africa to St. Helena

There has been no change in the winds since yesterday’s log. We continue to sail wing ‘n wing at a speed of about 4.5 knots, sometimes 5.0 knots, with 12-14 knots of wind coming from the SSE. We haven’t had to touch a sail in the last 24 hours and the ride is as smooth as a downwind sail with a little sea can be. If we continue at the same rate, by this time tomorrow afternoon we have about 35 miles to go. That will mean a night time arrival in St. Helena, but we know others who have gone in at night and have had no problem anchoring. We will either stand off until first light or come in at night. If it is clear and there is a little moonlight, we should be fine to go in. But we haven’t had a clear night since the beginning of the trip. As with everything else, we’ll just have to wait and see what happens.

We have seen no signs of life for days, but this morning a beautiful white tropic bird did a few fly-bys with her long tail trailing behind her and this afternoon a couple of small black sea birds were flitting over the water. We have also found that humans are closer than we thought. We were the second boat out of the chute leaving South Africa the week after the ARC Round the World Rally boats left, and the only boat headed directly to St. Helena. Adriatica left a couple of days before us, but they were headed to Ludertiz. Then last night we got an email that said differently. Our friends Dominique and Dominique of Kea (France) emailed that they left Hout Bay on January 13 and headed up the coast to Luderitz in Namibia. They could find no way to explore inland, so they headed on up the coast to Walvis Bay. On the way they encountered lots of fog, but once there, they were able to rent a car to do inland travels. When they got the game park they wanted to visit, they found it closed due to extreme flooding, but at least they did see some of the country while driving around. When they emailed they were about 570 miles from St. Helena, so we will probably arrive about the same time. It will be so nice to have someone there that we know.

My day started with my 4:30 am watch that got delayed until 5:00 pm because Mark let me sleep an extra half an hour on my first watch. When I got up at 0500, the engine was running to charge the batteries. I tried to download the morning email at 0600 while the engine was running. It takes lots of power to download emails, so it is best done when the motor is running. But this early attempt proved to be a frustrating one. I tried at 0600, 0630, and 0700 with absolutely no luck. Each day it has been harder and harder to get our emails out and emails in on the Pretoria station. And there are no others within thousands of miles. I was supposed to turn the engine off at 0700, but I let it run and continued to try to send and receive. I finally decided to try the Trinidad station that is almost 4,000 miles away, but even so, I did have some luck. I was able to connect but it was so slow that the three incoming emails were going to take an hour to come in. So I stopped the connection and tried Pretoria at 0730 which has worked every morning up until now. Nothing. So it was back to Trinidad and the slow connection. Actually the emails came in by 0800 just in time for me to switch to a different frequency to check in with Jan on Witchcraft. I made contact with Jan on Witchcraft, Irene on Moose, Nat on Bahati, Karen on Adriatica, and then Graham on the Maritime Mobile Net to check in and get the weather. I didn’t actually talk to Irene on Moose but she called in to Witchcraft just as I was signing off During the night, Moose’s autopilot stopped working so Duncan and Irene were headed back to Africa to Luderitz in Namibia, fighting 20 knot headwinds. When she checked in with Graham, he confirmed that E winds would be blowing off the coast for a few days so then Moose thought maybe they would just travel on steering by hand. But then Nat of Bahati called in and offered a spare autopilot. I’m not sure what the result of all this turned out to be but I’ll probably find out tomorrow morning on the net. After all the radio check-ins, many more than any day on the passage, the remainder of the morning went along like the children’s book, “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie.” If you give a mouse a cookie, then he will need a glass of milk, and if you give him a glass of milk he will need a napkin to wipe his milk moustache, and on and on. Well, if you run the engine on Windbird to charge the batteries you automatically get hot water, and if you have hot water you should take a shower, but before you take the shower you should probably cut Mark’s hair while things are relatively calm, and after you cut his hair and take a shower, you might as well use the water to do a laundry, and if you do a laundry, you have to rinse it, wring it out, and find someplace to hang it to drip dry, and by this time you are exhausted and you should take a nap. So I did.

This afternoon was a bit calmer. Mark has spent his time removing a salt water pump from the bathroom and one from the galley, and using the good parts of the one from the bathroom to rebuild the one from the galley. He probably won’t install that until tomorrow, so I’ll have to report on the success (I hope) at that time. We did have more sunshine today than normal. Clouds still covered the sky, but today the ones overhead were wispy and the sun could shine through. But while writing this log, the complete, dense cloud cover returned and we just went through a little squall. It looks like the squall brought even more southerly winds, so I had better go do a little navigating as Mark is still elbow deep in water pump parts.