Tuesday, March 7, 2017

St. Helena: arrived

March 6, Monday
St. Helena

I’m writing this on GANNET Monday afternoon and will post it when I’m ashore tomorrow.  Internet is available at a cost of $8.25 U.S per hour.

GANNET is on one of 22 or 23 moorings put down for visiting yachts, about 2/3s of which are full.  Four more boats came in since I arrived at 9 a.m. yesterday.  Two last night.  When I was here 29 years ago you had to anchor in very deep water and use your dinghy to get ashore, which with a lot of surge was an adventure.  There is still a lot of surge and intermittent 20 knot gusts of wind.   One of those gusts blew a Sportaseat overboard.  I heard it go, but it was already out of reach and on its way north.   This isn’t a harbor, just an indentation on the lee side of the island.  The moorings are off a several hundred foot high cliff.  Lots of white birds flying up there where I assume they nest.

I didn’t try to go ashore yesterday, but stayed here and sorted some things out and had a fresh water solar shower and put on clean clothes.

The passage seemed longer than 23 days, perhaps because the parts were so different.  Along the South African coast GANNET
had her best day’s run ever,  a current assisted 180 miles.  I was routinely seeing SOGs of 12 and 13 knots when we were sailing 8 and 9.  And six days later her slowest day of only 13 miles, when we lay ahull for 12 hours in 20-30 knot headwinds and then were becalmed for 12 hours forty miles off Cape Agulhas, which we passed three times, two sailing west, one drifting back east.  We could have sailed against the headwinds, but would have been beaten up and I chose to wait rather than suffer unnecessarily and unproductively.

Once clear of Cape Agulhas and the Cape of Good Hope, we had mostly good sailing except for a couple of days of gale force winds when we again lay ahull.  When those winds first reached us during the night I saw an SOG of 14.1 knots before I could reduce sail, the highest I have ever seen on GANNET, though she may have gone higher when i wasn’t looking, as when surfing down waves in the gale the day we arrived in New Zealand.  Two waves caught us and knocked us down, at least one of which put the masthead in the water because the Windex up there is broken.  That Windex was new in Durban, a replacement for one broken last year in a masthead in the water knockdown in the Indian Ocean.  GANNET is hard on Windexes.  The electronic masthead unit is still working.

The last week was easy trade wind sailing.  I could have gone faster, but just let GANNET ease along under jib alone.  I’ve done a lot of hard.  Easy was nice.

I’ll be here for maybe a week.  I’d like to get laundry done and need to change water.  The water in my jerry cans has stuff growing in it.  I’d also like to replenish some supplies.

I need to remove everything from the v-berth, dry it out, and reorganize the stowage.  Several bags up there and the water jerry cans are tied in place, but even so the knockdowns are mighty shifters.

I will inflate and dry out the Avon, which hasn’t been used since Darwin, though it has gotten wet and I expect is moldy.

GANNET didn’t take a lot of water below, except in the knockdowns.  The spray hood definitely helped.  So far it has been exactly what I hoped.  I do have a couple of leaks that I’ll try to find.  But basically the little boat and I are in good shape.

Two Raymarine tiller pilots have died.  The Pelagic has performed flawlessly even surviving the gale knockdowns.  I don’t use it all the time because it is noisier than the Raymarines.  I did use sheet to tiller part of the time.

I haven’t looked at the Yellowbrick tracking page, but saw from some emails that it uploaded as it was supposed to.  I also sent and received three emails from Carol, who is the only one who has that address.  I carry Carol with me everywhere, including the monastery of the sea.  The Yellowbrick email worked flawlessly.  On some past passages there was a software problem.  The Yellowbrick now shows 53% charge.

I like St. Helena very much.  It is remote, quaint, and unchanged ashore from when I was here in 1988.  An airport has been built at a cost of more than three hundred million dollars and was supposed to open last year, but almost unbelievably they built it in the wrong place, on the edge of the cliffs on the windward side of the island where turbulence from the trade winds meeting those cliffs makes landings and takeoffs unacceptably dangerous.  How such a mistake could be made by presumably professionals boggles the mind.  In any event, when any of the 4,000 residents of St. Helena see an unfamiliar face they still know you’ve sailed there on your own and are charmingly friendly.

I found a place to do my laundry.  Up a very steep hill.  St. Helena is all up and down.  Mostly up until you get there and have to go down.  I’ll lug my sail bag of wet clothes there tomorrow.  The two grocery stores are better stocked than I remembered.  I bought a plastic bowl to replace the one I’ve been using as the kitchen sink which has cracked.  Also bleach to purify water.  Stuff is growing in the water in my jerry cans.  I’ll replace the water here, but will be ready for a reoccurrence.

St. Helena’s land moved exceedingly beneath my feet for the first few hours I was ashore.

I shot some video on the passage, but I think the Internet here is too slow to upload.  I’ll give it a try.

I have gone over the passage log and may post it when I post this.  If not, then soon.

I have a lot of email.  I’ll answer as soon as I can.