Saturday, March 01, 2008

Cape Town to Trinidad

We left Royal Cape East Basin on Wednesday 19th December as planned. Motored for 3 hours and started sailing with the spinnaker on course for St Helena Island. As Jeanette was taking care of the galley we had 6 hour watches later we changed this to 4 hours and finally to 2 hours. Our first two days we had good winds and made 200 miles plus per day. After that good spell our luck changed and we had 2000 miles of 10 knots or less. Jeanette was seasick for the first 3 days but soon settled down, she was a star and kept the crew well fed, always had something in the oven and treated us with fresh bread every day.
Our route took us to the south of St Helena Island and from there we took a rum line to the horn of Brazil.
Our SSB radio did not work at all and the planned skeds that I had with friends and family could not happen. The more electronics on board the more trouble one have. Sometimes I think one should revert to the hand pump and oil lamps of yester year; we are all suckers for punishment and enjoy our comforts. Christmas and New Year came and went as it was just another day at sea with watches and sleeping.
One morning I woke with a squeaking noise and it turned out to be the rudder shaft. The helm became very heavy. On diving John discovered that we lost the starboard rudder. It sheared off close to the hull and the port rudder was bent at an angle and scraping against the hull. We decided to give Fortaleza a miss and to continue on to Trinidad.
Finally the auto pilot could not keep up with the heavy load and the clutch burned out. We then had to steer by hand; we did this in 2 hour shifts. After 30 days at sea we welcomed the stop at Kourou in French Guiana and we could rest and eat out for two days. We anchored at Isle du Salute for one night and left early the next morning for our final run of 700 miles to Trinidad. Two days from the Island and with over 400 miles to go, we lost the port rudder and had to steer the boat with the engines. John collected an old motorcar tire in Kourou and we used this as a drogue behind the boat to help with the steering. This was not easy as we had high winds and cross seas. After 36 days at sea we finally tied to the dock at Trinidad. John and I celebrated the event with a few beers that evening and we all had a good sleep.
John our skipper was outstanding, one is never too old to learn and as I had very little experience flying the spinnaker he taught me some tricks. At all times he was in control and his good nature and way of doing things made everyone feel safe and kept the moral high. I can recommend him to anyone that needs a delivery done. His contact details are
Randy and Jeanette decided to sell Amazing Grace and left the boat to fly to Denver. John ask me to help him with the delivery to Fort Lauderdale. We are waiting for the new rudders, bearings and auto pilot from Cape Town. After the repairs we will make our way to Fort Lauderdale. I will then return to Trinidad to do work on Mila. All the woodwork must be varnished and she needs a paint job to the hull and topsides. There are several South Africans here in Trinidad, most of them working on boats. Johness spoiled me with her famous bobotie, it was good to see them all again and to know that Dom has Milo on board Sparrow and he is happy.
I was told in Cape Town that after this trip I will be sold on a catamaran. This is not so I am a mono hull fan and will not change my ways. Everyone told me that on a catamaran you can put your glass on the table and it will not fall over. It does not fall over; it goes up in the air. The motion on a catamaran is very uncomfortable in cross seas and the slamming and noise is overwhelming. I preferred to sleep in a cabin above a engine than in the saloon with the continuous slamming. In all fairness I must admit that at anchor you have a lot of space but for cruising give me a mono hull any day.
That’s all for now until later.

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