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_________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Marcy home Walvis Bay Angling Club club AFASyn Ushuaia Marcy and crew

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Walvis Bay to St. Helena- the log

Downwind to St Helena

Departure, April 29,
After a 2PM departure under sail we entered the fog bank. With fair wind and calm seas we made good time in the fog and kept a close watch on the radar. 32 was an auspicious number our first night out. 32 minutes after sunset and 32 miles into our trip we broke free of the fog in time to see the last of the red sky from the sunset. We saw 2 ships, the closest on a perfect reciprocal course to ours. We flipped on our steaming light and our deck level nav lights to show our boat better. After altering to starboard the other boat did the same and we passed with at least a mile between us. The sea was glowing. Every wave was tipped with green and our dolphin visitors were perfectly illuminated. We've never seen such luminescence. We could clearly see fish and squid swimming away from the boat and being caught by the dolphins. Now, there is no question why the dolphins like to swim with Marcy. It's a guaranteed buffet in the right conditions. With a dry bilge and a full pantry, wind in the sails and comfortable seas our passage is starting off well.

Day 1, April 30
150 NM from Walvis Bay at noon and a good passage so far.

Day 2, May 1
328 nm from Walvis Bay
Marcy's May pole is sporting a reefed main and poled out jib. We're rolling along down wind. The overnight temp only got down to 69F and today it's 80F. It really feels like we're back in the tropics again. After the moon set last night it was a very dark night with an inky sea and lots of stars. Tradewind clouds above and a steady barometer confirm our plan to head for 20S to avoid the winter weather systems passing below.

Day 3, May 2
485 NM from Walvis Bay
Still rolling along under main and poled out jib. Last night dolphins streaked toward us, looking like torpedoes headed for a direct hit amidships in the phosphorescent water. The air continues to get warmer and night watches are bearable again. With the boat mostly sailing itself our attention turns to food. The cook is happy to see and smell the last of the boerewors sausages.

Day 4, May 3
611 NM from Walvis Bay
Light winds in the convergence zone have cut our mileage to 126 miles for the last 24 hours. As we plod along at 3 knots under chute and jib we're seeing a few ships on AIS rounding the bulge of west Africa heading to Cape Town. On the menu today: Prawn wraps. Prawns sauteed in butter and sweet chili sauce with carmelized onions, mushrooms, rice, fresh cucumber and tomato served in a warm tortilla. The motion of the boat still makes it necessary to keep a close eye on the knife lest it make an attempt at the cook's feet!

Day 5, May 4
702 NM from Walvis Bay
Marcy was used as a hunting tool by a big school of dolphins this morning. As we slowly sailed over a calm sea, Ginger happened to be looking at the water forward when all of a sudden dozens of dolphins simultaneously jumped in a precise line. The sea surface was churned white as the creatures closed around around their prey in classic pinching maneuver. The wind is light and we are running in light winds under spinnaker and poled out jib alone.

Day 6, May 5
806 NM from Walvis Bay
Third day of running in light winds under spinnaker and poled out jib - easy, comfortable, but not fast. The guy (that's a line, not the captain!) on the spinnaker managed to snag, rip off, and dump the starboard nav light overboard. Had planned to relocate those lights further aft where they wouldn't get so wet - now that item moves up the list.

Day 7, May 6
943 NM from Walvis Bay
We experienced a nice wind increase to a solid 15 kts this morning. We dropped the chute, jibed the jib, raised the main with a single reef, and are now headed directly to our destination and making a fast 7 kts of boat speed. Just before noon we celebrated a milestone as we crossed the prime meridian and left the eastern hemisphere, which we had entered near Fiji in the Pacific Ocean.

Day 8, May 7
1111 NM from Walvis Bay
Wind has shifted to westerly with no southerly in it at all. So we jibed to deal with it, always a serious job in brisk conditions. We have two mainsheets, three preventers, two jib poles each with a topping lift and fore guy and after guy, two running backstays, and two jib sheets. That makes 15 lines in all to handle for a jibe! It takes about an hour to complete the operation and tidy up afterward. A fine aerobic workout for the captain and a true test of agility as well.

Day 9, May 8
1289 NM from Walvis Bay at noon. Anchor down 12:30P 1292NM, 6.1 knots average
With good wind all night we arrived at St. Helena in early afternoon, dropping the hook in 70 feet of water. There was a strong south setting current as we traversed the last 200NM and the swell built considerably the closer we approached land. The rolling we've enjoyed the last week as we sailed dead down wind has prepared us for the anchorage. We're told it's unusually bouncy today but it seems peaceful to us! Due to the swine flu we are quarantined on the boat until a doctor can come to take our temperatures and examine us. We wonder what the incubation period for the flu is as we've been in quarantine for the last 9 days already! We're hoping to get cleared in today so we can eat dinner ashore with our friends from "Waikaya" before they leave tomorrow morning.

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