Friday, October 29, 2010

Mussulo to Luanda

The arrival at Mussulo point was spectacular and I wish I could post
some photos with this blog but we do not have Internet yet and it might
have to wait until Cayenne. Anyway, as we were still some 10 miles from
the Mussulo point, we were met by Mario Fontes on his 43 feet Sun Fizz
Jeannneau sailboat Vega Uno, and then, as we were sailing towards
Mussulo point, three other sailboats joined us, all of them belonging to
the brothers of the Coast of Angola.
We got to the entrance of the channel way before I expected, at around
5:15 our time (in fact it was 4:15 local time), which was just what we
needed as we still had a very long way to go to get to the beach where
the brothers have their property. There were more sailboats anchored
there when we arrived and we got a fantastic welcome by everybody.
Saturday night, there was a dinner party at the headquarters of the
Brothers with the crews of the various boats anchored off the beach. All
families were there, lots of kids, in all a very pleasant evening.
Next morning, we were taken by Nico for a tour of the vast area between
the mainland and the peninsula, which is called an island because at
some point, there was no connection with the mainland. Lots of house,
resorts, beaches, bars and restaurants, obviously a very popular area
for weekenders.
After the tour, and a glass of wine on Nico's catamaran, we all got
together again ashore for a Sunday lunch and a celebration of Mario's
56th birthday.
We then set sail for Luanda, 5 boats in all, and it was exhilarating. As
soon as we got at the exit of the Channel, we decided to fly the
Gennaker and leave everybody behind. That did not work, because as soon
as we had ours out, theirs came out. Almost a regatta to Luanda, lots of
fun. Coming into the harbour, we had to tack with 15 knots of wind and
Papy Jovial did very well, with something like 85 to 95 degrees between
tacks. Great arrival.
We came shortly to the fuel dock in front of the "Clube Naval de
Luanda", second oldest Yacht Club of Africa, founded on May 23, 1883.
There, an immigration officer was waiting for us, and formalities were
done swifly and in a very friendly and pleasant fashion. After that we
went to our berth in the brand new marina built by the Club, which will
eventually offers all the facilities of a modern marina.
I am pressed by time, time going too quickly and too slowly, but I will
come back on the blog as soon as we are at sea and I have time to tell
you everything about this great experience. We were told that since the
end of thewar,they have not seen more than half a dozen visitors, which
explains the special care that we are experiencing. All the club
members, the management of the marina, are going out of their way to
help us and we are very grateful for that. Obviously, Luanda being in
the midst of reconstruction after 30 years of war, day to day life is
somewhat frustrating, and I really appreciate that help, given the

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Final rush

So to speak, as far as rush is concerned. We have been without wind
for three days solid and this constant motoring is not very good for
morale. Fortunately, fuel is not an issue.
With the engine at 2,000 rpm, no wind and calm seas, we do a little
better than 5.6 knots. At that speed we consume around 0.85 US Gallon
per hour and we carry 85 gallons in the tank, plus for safety one
jerrycan of 5 gallons on deck. In short, we have more than 500 miles
range, which is why I knew we would not have to call into Lobito for
fuel. But during those three days, we did not sit idle. We tried to take
advantage of every little puff of wind that came by to gain a few tenths
of a knot here and there. Obviously, that meant constant adjusting of
the sails.
I had no problem arriving in Luanda with an almost empty tank. But it
won't be the same story leaving directly for Cayenne. Given the light
winds around and off shore Luanda, we will have to go south to try and
find some wind and we will have to stop in Lobito to refuel. On the way
to Cayenne, we will have to sail across the equator and confront the
dreaded doldrums. Better arrive there with a full tank.
From the start, we had been looking for the famous Benguela current
that was supposed to push us all the way to Luanda but all we found was
cold water and cold air. And now that the temperature has gone up, we
are very often confronted with one of those ebbies that is robbing us of
sometimes as much as half a knot.
The change in temperature is quite amazing. In a matter of 5 days, sea
and air have gone up to the high 80's from the low 60's. Thermal
underwear, sweaters, woolen hats and foul weather gear has gone back in
and we are back in shorts and t-shirts.
We know that the National Captain of the Portugal Brotherhood of the
Coast is visiting Angola and will leave on Sunday, so we must arrive at
least before cocktail hour on Saturday.
And there is great hope that we will succeed. At 09:00 GMT+2 this
Saturday morning, we are 28 miles away from Palmeirinhas Point, where
some of the Angolan brothers will try and meet us to guide us to the
entrance of the channel leading to the island owned by the Brotherhood.
Hopefully, we will enter the channel at 6:00 p.m. local time which will
give us time to tie up and ready ourselves for drinks.
I think a great week lies ahead of us.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010


Since my last entry, it's been everything. Broad reaching under genoa
and main, wing on wing, gennaker, back to wing on wing, back to
gennaker, and finally in the late hour of this morning, the dreaded
Yanmar sail. In theory, we could go all the way to Luanda motoring, we
have enough fuel for that, but would rather sail. All we need is 10
knots of wind or more and we are assured to do more than 5 knots. Still
not enough to make Luanda on Saturday. I sent a report announcing
Saturday 18:00, but this was wishful thinking. In fact, at 5 knots, it
was in fact Sunday, not Saturday at 18:00. Now that we are motoring and
on a direct route to Luanda, at 5.5 knots, we should arrive late
afternoon Saturday. In that case, we might slow down in order to arrive
with daylight.
The hand of Olivier continues to heal and looks good. He can now help
with manoeuvrings, but has to avoid contact with water, especially sea
Since we left Saldanha, our average consumption of water stands at 2.11
US Gallons per day for the both of us. To minimize use of fresh water, I
have starting heating up seawater to do the dishes and this way we only
need a quick rinse in fresh water that can be reused twice. I think this
is saving approximately one gallon per day.
I have also drastically reduced the use of the boat computer, switching
it on for emails, postings on the blog, taking grib files, all that in
two sessions per day, and to do the noon position. Otherwise, we leave
it off. As a result, we consume a lot less electricity, and even with an
overcast sky sometimes, we only ran the electric diesel generator for 2
hours since we left. And now that we are motoring, charging the
batteries through a 100 amps alternator, we won't use the genset until
after we leave Luanda for Cayenne.
The only item that might be in short supply are chocolate chip cookies
and bread. But we have rusks. And Olivier mistakenly took a box wine of
white wine that he thought was red wine. This also will have to wait for
Luanda, even if it is expensive.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Game change

When I took my watch this morning at 6, we were still battling 35
knots of wind, 10 feet swell and trying to run as fast as we could
without breaking everything. By the end of my watch at 9, we were back
to full genoa, full main, wing on wing and the wind dropping. By noon,
the wind had dropped below 10 knots and we set up the gennaker for a
broad reaching run.The actual distance to Luanda, as the crow flies, was
798 miles, but the wind being straight behind us and forcing us to go
broad reach tack on tack, we will probably have to cover 1025 miles to
get there.
The forecast for the week to come looks like continuous light winds from
the SE directions. This is no longer a battle with the brutal forces of
nature, but a more elaborate game of moving towards our target playing
with the variability of the wind and the capabilities of the boat.
Almost like getting as fast as possible around the downwind mark in a
regatta, except that this mark is 340 n.m. away and the wind is likely
to change directions several times and we must playing in such a way
that we don't do unnecessary extra miles.
The temperature is beginning to improve, 75 during the day, 69 last
night. Also the humidity is not as much as it was when we cleared Luderitz.
Unless we manage to find some better wind, it looks now likely that we
will get to Luanda Monday morning, October 25th. We are still hopeful
for a nice change in the forecast anyway.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Down the Benguela current

Well ! We looked for it since we left Saldanha, but we have not found
it. For sure, we got the cold temperature, somewhere in the low 60s, but
the little push from behind, nada, niente, nothing. We are practically
at the same latitude as Miami, and we have thermal underwear, shirts,
sweaters, foul weather gear, and still we are cold.
Fortunately, we have wind. Lots of it. Mostly in the 30/35 knots since
we left Saldanha. Today, we did 186 miles over the ground, 188 through
the water, with a peak at 11.8 knots during the night. New record for
Papy Jovial.
We have to adjust the sails setting constantly. Mosly we run wing on
wing, but we have to reef down and reef up constantly so that the
windvane can work. During those manoeuvres, Olivier managed to cut the
back of his hand, between the forefinger and the thumb, on a length of
approx 4 inches. It was mostly a clean cut, and Olivier cleaned it
himself with rubbing alcohol, but lacking the proper strips, we closed
it with adhesive tape and hope for the best. Had we been near a medical
facility, that would have been at least 5 stitches. The only good news
in that is that he is exempted from washing the dishes, at least for the
next 3 to 4 days.
Tonight and tomorrow, we are entering an area where the isobars are
farther apart and the wind should ease up a bit. This will be welcome,
but hopefully it won't ease up too much as we are eager to get to Luanda
as quickly as we can. Still 1145 miles to go.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The skeleton coast

Getting out of the Saldanha Bay was as entertaining, comfortable and
fun than a tooth extraction. For those who are familiar with the cuts on
the east coast of Florida and Georgia, it felt very much like it. Choppy
seas (but 12 feet if you please), and no wind. So we had to shamefully
get out of there motoring and keep motoring until noon.
This is when the real party began. At first, sails up and crawling at 3
knots. Did not last. Very quickly, we were back with our familiar 35 to
40 knots, swell on the beam at about ten feet. And it has remained like
that since.
The temperature is very chilly and the atmosphere damp. During the night
it dropped to 61 and Olivier put on socks for the first time since we
left Sydney. I had my Icebreakers on, and still felt cold.
The good news, because there is always good news to anything, is that
despite the slow start, we did 168 miles in the first 24 hours. I hope
the wind will stay with us as far as possible towards Luanda. I had
noticed before we left an area of light winds all around Luanda,
extending almost 500 miles from it. We have diesel to come in, but I
would rather not burn my fuel going out as we need it to go through the
And to make the day a perfect one, Olivier caught a 25 pounds yellow fin
We now have ahead of us another chilly night in the shaker. We are
caught between a low over the Namibia desert and a high southwest of us
(some 500 miles west of capetown). There is also this cold benguela
current that we are seeking to push us northward, but we have not found
it yet. Maybe tomorrow. Still 1430 miles to go and we have been asked to
do our level best to get there for the week-end 23/24 October. Not
likely, but who knows, it only takes wind.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Boucan in Saldanha

Boucan in Saldanha
Originally uploaded by brisegalets
Finally my stay in South Africa is nearing the end, and it was not without a grand finale. Cobus had organized for Sunday another "braai" where I could finally have the pleasure to meet the national Captain of the Brotherhood of South Africa, Louw Koos. He is also, by the way, an admiral and one of the top men in the South African Navy. He is also involved in that wonderful project that Manuel showed us in Simonstown, which includes teaching young kids from poor neighborhoods to sail, build, fix boats and win regattas at a world class level. It deserves to be known as a project and I will try to get a write up on this project and give it as large a distribution as I can.
For someone used to participate in barbecues the american way, a "braai" is a little disconcerting. Basically, the only item which is shared is the cooking device, the "braai", this time using wood. Then, every participant brings his own food, cooks it and eat it, drinking whatever drinks they had brought, everyone almost at different times. But it does not take away anything from the friendliness of the event and the exchanges of ideas and the conversation. And it gave me the pleasure of meeting a few more brothers from that table that I had not seen on Wednesday.
We were then supposed to leave on Monday morning, but the weather decided otherwise and Tuesday was looking like a much better option.
Monday, Manuel drove up from Capetown with 2 new mooring lines that we had broken in the previous windy days, as well as some fittings for the traveler of the spinnaker boom. He then took us on yet another tour of the area and a visit to Cape Columbine, famous for its fog, responsible for the fact that the coast up to Luderitz is called "the skeleton coast". Many ships have gone aground here, due to the fog in the old days before the radar, and the shipwecks litter that coast. We then had lunch in a nice restaurant on the beach in the village of Paternoster.
We returned to Papy Jovial, and this time, no jokes, we are leaving tomorrow morning for Luanda.

Saturday, October 9, 2010


Entrance to the military academy
Originally uploaded by brisegalets
What a week !
When we arrived in Saldanha on Sunday around 5 p.m., brother Louis went out with his boat to meet us and guide us towards the Yacht Club. There, brother Cobus was at the Jetty to take our lines and help us familiarize ourselves with the Club, which was done, obviously over a few drinks.
On Monday, Cobus took us for a guided tour of the Military Academy and the National Reserve next to it. Cobus loves nature, and is very knowledgeable about plants, insects and animals, as well as the recent history of Saldanha and the tour was very informative.
On Tuesday, brother Louis took us on a long full day tour in his car, 400 kms long, that took us north almost as far as Lambert's Bay, then east to Clanwilliam then south through mountains and orange tree farms towards Piketberg, and then back towards the coast where he took us to Langenbaan and Mykonos before heading back to the Yacht Club.
Thanks to Cobus and Louis for giving us so much time.
Then on Wednesday night, Cobus had organized a "braai" (south african version of barbecue) for a mini boucan of the table, so that we could meet those brothers who won't be able to make it on Sunday, when we will meet the rest of the brothers. So in addition to Louis and Cobus, I could meet Chris, Gert and Thean and other guests.
On Thursday morning, brother Gert took us to his home for breakfast and also to show us the boat that he is currently building, a 43 foot which is a Dudley Dix design. The design calls for a steel hull, but Gert chose to build it in wood and add the weight differential in lead in the keel. Beautiful piece of work. Gert has been working on this project for the last three years and expect to complete the job a little more over one year. He has already built 4 boats, so he has experience, and the work looks very very professional. After that, Gert picked me up to take me to Customs and Police for paperwork and admin formalities.
Friday I had to return to Customs as the clearance cannot be done more than 36 hours before departure and I plan to leave on Monday morning. With Olivier, we also did some shopping and started sampling the local restaurants.
Saturday, work on the boat, maintenance of the winches, second trip to the supermarket, laundry, etc . . . .
Tomorrow will be the last "braai" to meet the rest of the active brothers of the table of Saldanha, and then we will be off to Luanda.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Grand finale

The Cape of Good Hope
Originally uploaded by brisegalets
Manuel had finally made his way back to Cape Town from Portugal, and it is hard to find the right words to explain the way he treated us.
For three days, although he certainly had a lot of things to do in his business and at home after being away for several weeks, Manuel gave us all his time and took us around the whole area. The first day, what started like a short drive throughout the city, ended up with finally a trip up the Table Mountain with the cable car. Strangely enough, although it was a beautiful day with a good visibility, the crowd was very think and we were able to have a quiet walk on top of the mountain and see Capetown and Camps Bay down below with all the other suburbs as well. Manuel took us also up Signal Hill and the tour also included an impromptu visit at a small local mosque.
The drive up to mountain was going past a Chocolate Factory and Manuel stopped there for what amounted to an ambush. I walked out of that shop with a lot of calories in three nice little bags. Wonderful chocolate !
On Saturday, we were in for a real treat. First, we went south to Hout Bay and continued by way of the Chapmans Peak's Drive, with a wonderful view of the coast, starting by the view over Hout Bay. Then we went on to Cape Point, which is the real Cape, as opposed to the Cape of Good Hope, much lower but I am told also more treacherous than Cape Point. There was a strong 35 to 40 knots wind up there which was very fitting.
To get to the Cape and back, you drive through a park where baboons and oistriches are wandering, as well as other wildlife that we haven't seen.
For me, as a sailor, it was a very emotional visit. Cape of Good Hope, despite the fact that it is not the most southern point of the african continent, is one of the three great capes, with Cape Leuwin on the south west corner of Australia and Cape Horn on the southern tip of south America. And the surrounding are extremely impressive, yielding an atmosphere of power, greatness, showing how forceful nature can be.
After that, we drove to Simonstown, which is the naval base for South Africa inside False Bay. At the naval base, Manuel showed us the sailing school that he is running for the young boys of the townships. Very, very impressive. The school teaches them how to build a sailboat, how to sail it, provides some academic schooling with the help of computers donated to the school, feed them and transport them back and forth to the Township. It is really a great project and I wish I could help publicize it to the outside world.
After the school, we went looking at a beach where a very large colony of penguins live, before stopping in a nearby fishing village for lunch of seafood tapas in an ideal surrounding. Almost as if we were in an aquarium, with the sea and the waves breaking on the rocks next to where we were sitting, with only a window to protect us.
We then drove back to Cape Town and to the boat, exhausted but extremely happy to have had the opportunity to see Cape Town from a sailor's eyes. And what sailor ! Thank you so much Manuel for that visit and all the help that you gave us.