Passage to St.Helena


Monday 23 January 2017

At 6am on 11th January 2017 we slipped our lines and motored out of the V&A Marina in Cape Town, South Africa. We radioed the Bridge Tender to ask him to open the two bridges we had walked over many times over the past month when heading to the V&A Waterfront with all its delightful restaurants and shops. It was hard to think that today we wouldn’t be wondering in for some reason or another – perhaps a cheeky coffee and croissant or a sushi lunch while looking up at Table Mountain. Sometimes you need your creature comforts and we couldn’t deny we were fully topped up and it was time to get this show back on the road.
We motored out avoiding the Traffic Separation Scheme for large ships. The wind slowly started to build and we were in for an upwind start. Adina loves an upwind romp but needed to be reminded her crew had become landlubbers and needed to find their sea legs. Added to this fog was forming. We took one sad last glance at the majestic mountains of the Cape and headed off into the fog. If there is one thing we truly look forward to at the end of this trip it’s the end of all of these emotional goodbyes each time we leave port.

When a weather window appears, especially in places like the Cape, yachts seize the day and take it together. We were in the company of four World ARC boats and two friends’ yachts from crossing the Indian Ocean, French boat Dreamweaver with Vincent and Domie on board and the Turkish boat Keyif with Selim and Nadire.

Our first day in the Atlantic Ocean was upwind and Adina took off nicely as expected. The South Atlantic winds radiating up from Cape Town were due to pick up over the following days and we needed some good speed to stay just in front of them or pay a price. The winds slowly came round to the south and we made the most of them before they clocked to be directly behind us meaning wing-on-wing sailing. Those familiar with our trip know this means the main sail on the boom is pinned to the one side of the boat and our forward genoa is pinned to the other side of the boat using a spinnaker pole. It’s a sail configuration popularly called “goose-winging”. It means your boat rolls and even more so as the winds get stronger and the seas get more lively. We’ve said it a thousand times, it’s our least favourite point of sail. Some boats have keels that can be lifted and this helps a lot, some boats have two sails at the front rigged on their forestay and this also helps. But rather some rolling than heading upwind in lively open seas; crack on. You soon learn to walk on the boat holding on to everything so you don’t fall over. Adina has solid grab handles throughout down below. Your body gets happily tossed while you try to sleep and hopefully St.Helena has a good chiropractor to sort our backs out! One plus, it’s great for your tummy muscles as they get a constant work out!

The winds blew nicely which was a good thing as Adina is heavily laden with provisions for our final months at sea. We managed to keep ahead of the strong winds and worked on steering our course or, as the case turned out to be, not steering our course. When you goose-wing you don’t strictly end up sailing with the wind directly from behind. The seas will knock you this way and that way so you set yourself up with the wind slightly to the one side, blowing onto your main sail. This avoids the risk of what is called an ‘accidental gybe’ which is what happens when the wind hits the wrong side of the main sail sending it with the boom smashing to the other side of the boat, a very dangerous thing to happen. Of course we have a line called a preventer holding the boom out to stop that happening but rather not risk it or put undue pressure on the rigging. Now there will be picky sailors out there who can discuss sailing by the lee but let’s not confuse everyone and admit that, whilst possible, it’s just not the cleverest thing to do. If there is one thing we can be proud of it’s that this little blog of ours has taught some of our non-sailor friends bits and pieces about sailing. Susie’s mother has been a prime student and amazes us with some of the emails she sends writing about sailing. She was even telling us about the Vendee Globe single handed race! Go Ros, top of the class.

We digress. Each and every night the forecast promised that the winds would move slightly east so we would rig up the pole and genoa on the starboard side to take advantage of it. The winds were quite strong and the seas lumpy so Susie and I would set to dancing on the foredeck together to get the pole in the right position. Sadly, come night-time the forecast was invariably wrong, the wind didn’t move east and we ended up sailing away from our course, the direct line also called a rhumb line. I even invited my beloved for a midnight tango on the foredeck, moving the pole form side-to-side to try to improve our course. Sadly by sticking our faith in the forecast night after night we ended up sailing off our rhumb line.

Back on-board we fill our days reading, playing games and chatting. We have a new game on board, Shut the Box, and we’ve passed a fair few hours playing that. We’ve got to the stage with long passages that we pre-cook all our meals. Susie does a great job of making wholesome dishes so that we eat well and she likes knowing they are ready in the freezer, especially if we hit bad weather. Many dishes come from contributions to our recipe book that Adina’s visitors are asked to give or dishes we have learnt in countries we have visited. We have the likes of sausage stew from the Plumes, peri-peri chicken from the Partridges and Sri Lankan beef curry from our time there last year. Susie keeps a list of all the meals she has for us written on a piece of paper. It’s rather like flying business class on an airline when she appears with the day’s menu and offers a choice of tasty dishes. Sadly the wine list is missing as we go dry on passage.

Another new thing we are trialling is a different watch system. We have around forty-five days of sailing to get to the Caribbean with breaks in St. Helena and Ascension Island. So instead of our regular three hours on, three hours off-watch over night we are doi

2 responses to “Passage to St.Helena

  1. Ros King says:

    Hi Tom and Susie, it looks like you had a fair passage, if you arrived yesterday that is only 11 days?! Enjoy St Helena!

    Ros & Alan

  2. Sue from Haku II says:

    Well done again. A great excuse to toast Napoleon’s shade.
    How did you like the change to 4hr watches? I like 4 during the day and 3 at night, so alternating the best and worst watches, & it works with any number of crew…