Midnight Arrival in Mosselbaai

(Mossel Bay) As usual, things seem to happen during the night. The wind finally backed to the east around 2200 … late, but better than never. We had rigged the whisker pole to starboard while it was still light in anticipation of the wind change and, for once, we called it right and put the pole to use as soon as the east winds began to blow.

The ship traffic was horrendous and all going in our direction. At one point, there were 10 ships closing in from behind and beside us. Keeping track of them all with AIS was sometimes nerve-wracking, but much better to know they're there and bearing down on you, than to be literally in the dark. We contacted several ships whose CPA appeared too close and they all accommodated us by altering their course. No close calls.

Around 0200 just before the turn of the watch, I heard a loud scraping sound and a dull thud. The whisker pole extension had retracted. I woke David and he manhandled the whisker pole to extend the pole once again only to have it retract almost immediately. He scrambled on deck once more and we finally settled with using a partial jib and a retracted whisker pole till he could figure out the problem once we were in port. The whole process lasted 45 minutes and was exhausting.

Dawn broke, not as colorful as yesterday, but sunny nonetheless. The birds were not as plentiful in this area. The gannets were still active, but now they mingled with sooty shear waters and white-chinned petrels instead of gulls.

white chinned petrel

By chance, we spotted a yellow-nosed albatross relaxing on the water and totally unperturbed by Cups.  We saw another whale, but as before, he didn't venture near enough for pix.

yellow nosed albatross

The day was long with constant wind changes in both direction and velocity. Out of nowhere fishing floats appeared and we had to pay close attention, so we didn't snag one. By afternoon, the sky was a cement-sidewalk gray and rain began just before dinnertime. It was cold and raw. We'd hoped to arrive in Mosselbaai before dark, but our fruitless excursion out to find the elusive current plus tacking and jibing exercises to accommodate the wind changes had us arriving very tired and closer to midnight than sunset.

fishing float

The yacht club anchorage is outside the harbor breakwater, but tucked in and quite protected. The rain had stopped and visibility has improved as we neared the shore. We could see the small city of Mosselbaai spreading up the hillside, lights twinkling in the darkness. With the mainsail down, the boat rocked violently from gunwale to gunwale with the southwest swell. The dish locker below flung open and the dishes all come out with a crash. We'd handle the aftermath later. We were hoping the anchorage in the lee of the breakwater would be calmer.

We expected a bunch of little moored boats, but there were none.  Instead, we found a wide open bay. It was, however, much calmer. We selected a reasonable place to drop the hook outside the breakwater. All systems shut down quickly, including ours. As David tidied up the topsides and set the anchor alarm, I cleaned up the mess below. Nothing major … a couple of dinner plates that had thoroughly smashed in a million bits. The rest of the plates had scattered, but were intact. It was easily swept up and by 0130, we were happy to crawl into our bunk for a good night's sleep.

twinkling ligths of mosselbaai