Thursday, September 9, 2010

Things that don't change. . .

. . . .remain the same.
We had left East London already bragging that we were going to make Capetown in one go. The sea and the weather decided otherwise. When we left East London, there was absolutely no wind, but that did not worry us since we knew that the wind would come back from the east around 8 in the morning. Guess what ? It did not. In a way, that was good luck because when we got a long line caught in the rudder, if we had had wind and the wind vane working with the water blade down, then we would have sustained again severe damage to the wind vane. As it was anyway, we were not too happy. That line was probably several hundreds of yards long and we quickly realize that there was no point trying to haul it on the boat. So we cut it, short on the port side and long enough to secure it on the boat on the starboard side. If it had not been pitch dark, we would have done it the other way round and would have been able to clear it there and then. There was a splice on the port side and we could not pull the rope through the gap between the rudder and the shoe because of that splice. But the rudder was still working good, and best of all, it did not catch the propeller. So, after one hour of trying to do something, we just resumed sailing on.
Then around 3 in the morning, (again during my watch), I saw that the depth was down to 50 feet when it should have been 300, with a very clear signal. Then it went up to 45, then 40, then 35, then 30 and I got very very concerned. As I was checking with various navigation aids our position, the depth plunged back suddenly to 300. Phew ! And everything went back to normal. And then, like 20 minutes later, a huge breathing sound next to the boat, probably less than 10 yards, and which was undoubtedly a whale surfacing to breathe. Major scare ! And I could not take out of my mind that picture of that sailboat in the bay of Capetown, where a whale jumped out of the water and dropped back onto the sailboat, destroying the rigging but fortunately injuring no one. This is the last thing we want.
After the night was over, we saw whales around us, but fortunately none of them close.
Then, before sunset, we got into Port Elizabeth and could safely tie up at the local Yacht Club. There were people there to greet us and direct us to a berth. Seems like a very friendly place.
On the boat opposite us was the boat of Miguel who helped us tie up. So we invited him for a drink at the club, where we met many members, all very friendly and all white.(Ooopppsss !)
After drinks, we bought a bottle of wine, and I invited Miguel to share dinner with us. This was steak (excellent meat from South Africa) and green beans, and the bottle of red wine, after a few more drinks before dinner. I don't know if this had anything to do with it, but leaving the boat Miguel managed to fall into the drink. :-(
I did not see that, but apparently what happened is the classic case of having a foot on the pontoon and a foot on the step of the boat. Then the boat moved away from the pontoon, and Miguel had legs only that long. After which, gravity took over. Fortunately, he only got wet.
Today, Thursday, we cleared the rope, filled up with Diesel, and started to wait for the southwesterly to go through. It is now 5:00 p.m. and the wind is in the 30 knots. Good to be in port.

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