November 20-28 2022
The passage from Reunion to Cape Town promises to be the most challenging weather wise of our trip so most of us are using weather services to aid our personal weather opinions.
Before we leave Elena lets me know that she will be leaving Infinity for personnel reasons. I am sad to see her go but understand . I wish her well.
We have 1,400 miles to cover on our passage to Durban. We estimate 8 days . While I had hoped to spend sometime in Madagascar the country is still closed to cruisers making a trip there impossible.
The first week we have a bit of everything weather wise from motor sailing in minimal winds to lively seas and wind as we meet a predicted low. Joao from Black Lion slightly ahead of us blurts out on the VHF “It looks like we are about to enter the gates of hell”. We reef down.
The Indian Ocean will throw more weather, wind and current our way than the Atlantic and Pacific combined. It proves to be both challenging and confidence building.
In honestly though many of us are starting to tire of the long ocean passages. Here is one of the poems shared on a net call from YOLO. In the middle of the Indian Ocean it struck a chord and got a round of applause.😂
“The world is your Oyster at 2 mil quid. They sell you a dream rally, so you better be fit. They talk of beaches, sunshine with a cocktail in your hand, but it’s far from reality you must understand. From morning to night the wind howls and screams, and the sea bucks and rolls like a carnival machine.It rains and it storms all night long, we are fed up with this crap and want to go home.But once in Mauritius with a rum drink in our hands, all is forgotten because we’ll be with the gang.”
I am frustrated by not getting to visit Madagascar but even more frustrating as we sail off her coast ; the huge island is buried in fog and we don’t even get to see her coastline. As with everything on an ocean passage we don’t get to dwell on this for long however.
Here is a passage from my journal after a night on watch.
Indian Ocean south of Madagascar: Beaufort 7-8 seas where 25 to 30 kn of wind over an extended period of time and distance result in a very lively run. We are wing on wing with the head sail and main sail reefed X2. We are riding down the backs of big swells 3 to 4 m and occasionally they break over the stern and send Infinity cascading into the wave/swell in front of you and you go from 12 kn to 4kn quickly riding down one of the swells and running into the back of the wave in front . Last night we get a record for infinity 16.6 knots with boat speed combined with a 2 knot current and an extra 5 knots riding down the back of a bigger than usual wave. Great fun and Infinity held course like a champ.
November 25, 2022 we discover that both starboard and port diagonals D-1 shrouds holding the mast up have multiple broken wires making the rig potentially unstable. Fortunately we are motoring in five knots of wind with gentle seas. After extensive discussion about the best way to stabilize the rig using running rigging to support standard fix rigging and after consultation with Selden and Oyster service a plan is in place. Fabian goes up the rig and using jib sheets a temporary fix is in place for the last 500 miles to Durban. Going up the mast at sea is not like doing this in the marina despite relatively gentile seas and only 5 knots of wind it takes 90 minutes of hard work before the job is finished.
When we are finished I suggest we take a dip in the middle of the Indian Ocean so engines off , safety line deployed and swim platform ladder in place Fabian and I take turns diving into the middle of the Indian ocean for a very refreshing swim. The currents in the Indian Ocean are ever present and powerful and it results in a mix of warm and cool water. Invigorating and great fun. Speaking with Lester of Juno later he reminded me that solitary Bull and Great White sharks patrol the Indian Ocean. He thought we were crazy. It is a good memory😎
We take it easy with only a reefed jib for the rest of the passage to Durban. Fortunately the weather cooperates and we motor sail most of the way arriving in Durban S A after 8 days at sea.
My mother grew up in Durban so I was interested to see this city . She never really liked living there and I can see why. Today it is a dirty, dilapidated, dangerous and crowded city. We were warned never to leave the marina except in an Uber so mostly we stay close to the boat. Durban is South Africa’s main port and as such is a very busy commercial harbor. The Durban and Point Yacht Clubs were extremely inviting and helpful providing lots of activities but mostly we are all waiting for parts to fix our shrouds and a good weather window.
Two memories stand out:
-A round of golf with Lester at the Durban Golf Club- a beautiful 100 year old course where all the great legends including Palmer, Player and Nicholas have played. We had a fun caddy who was full of interesting stories.
-I joined a gym in town ,which I try to do when we are in port for a week or more. For the first time ever I was the only white guy in the gym … everyone was friendly. The equipment was in dire need of repair. Durban is a very poor city. One day my Uber driver got lost so I walked the 5 blocks back to the marina. The worst parts of San Francisco’s tenderloin have nothing on downtown Durban.
One consistent theme in South Africa is how incredibly friendly everyone here is regardless of their circumstances.
Finally with our D1’s replaced and a good weather window we start the 4 day trip from Durban to Cape Town around the Cape of Good Hope ,also know as the “Cape of Storms” .