Thursday, 28 April 2016

Baby, It's Cold Outside

The South Atlantic Ocean welcomed us with very light winds, but cold weather and 5 meter swells when we departed Cape Town on Monday afternoon. After three days of sailing the water temperature has risen 4.5 degrees to 18.5, and the air temperature is becoming acceptable - just.

Crystal Blues was farewelled by dolphins, penguins and sea lions as we motored out of Cape Town Harbour, where we spent a frustrating few hours re-calibrating our two autopilot systems prior to setting a true course north and west. The big swell has us rolling uncomfortably for the first day or so, but that has all settled down and we're now scooting along nicely towards St. Helena Island. We've covered 392 nautical miles, and have just 1322 miles to go - this will be our longest passage since we departed Australia 11 years ago.

For the first two days we had a personal escort - a group of sea lions slip streaming in our wake, doing aerobatics and generally playing up, though they've now left us and we are content to watch the many albatross, petrels, shearwaters and gannets that constantly surround the boat, soaring over wave crests and zooming through the troughs.

All is well on board, though we picked up some kelp in the propeller departing Cape Town. Most of it was thrown off but something has lodged somewhere as the blades are not folding as they should, which causes the prop shaft to rotate when we are sailing. With leather gloved hands we've slowed the shaft down to a stop and then jammed a wooden block between the hull and the shaft coupling nuts - it's now locked, and I can wait until we reach St. Helena before diving to clear the problem. Ley has done her usual incredible job of provisioning for the several long passages coming up - we have over 5500 nautical miles to travel before the end of June. Already she's baking muffins and planning our menus well in advance. If the weather holds we should be in St. Helena in 8 or 9 days.

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