There's Dinner with Friends and Words with Friends. We are Waiting with Friends. Waiting for a weather window is a lesson in patience, as we've reiterated so often, but it isn't quite so bad when you're doing it with friends. We met Vic and Sandy aboard Wind Wanderer way back in the Cocos Keeling Islands. We saw them again in Mauritius and both boats ended up at the Durban Marina at the end of last year. We enjoyed some pre-Christmas activities together and then, like us, they had repairs to do, headed home for a bit and did some inland traveling. Now we are waiting together for that elusive weather window to leave Durban and head to Cape Town. Though each boat makes its own decision when to leave, if the weather window is good, most boats leave around the same time and, by default, travel in loose company. That's Vic and Sandy to the right.
We've shared several evening meals at the yacht club with the Wind Wanderer crew. Mid-day coffee on one boat or the other isn't unusual nor is a quick stop to chat about this or that. Sandy and I shared a cab to nearby Davenport Square to take advantage of a larger, better-stocked Checkers supermarket and Dirk's, a good meat/poultry market. We've exchanged info on weather resources and commiserated about repair issues and bad passages. We've talked about sewing machines and pressure canners and canvas work and heat exchangers and a myriad of other topics we have in common over sundowners. It's a pleasant way to play the waiting game.
We'd been watching the weather religiously twice each day and listening to the PeriPeri Net each morning. At 72 hours, we were finally looking good for a weather window. At 48 hours, all was still good. We checked out 36 hours in advance of departure with the same reasonable weather window forecast although the window had shortened from 2-1/2 days to 2 days. The tedious check-out procedure was the same as last time, but it seemed easier since we knew the routine and where to go. We topped up the provisions and loaded more freshies aboard. An early check-out allowed us a leisurely day before departure. At 24 hours, the weather window was shrinking a little more. We needed about 36 hours to make it the 265nm to East London. 12 hours prior to departure, the forecast was iffy and our weather sources disagreed as to when the wind would shift from northeast to southwest. We left the decision till morning.
We use several weather sources, but weather forecasting is obviously not an exact science. At 0500 on the morning of departure, it was calm and showed signs of being a nice day on the Durban end. The GRIBS, Buoy Weather, one of the Predict Wind models, Passage weather and Wind Guru all agreed that the wind would change to 25 knots SW (on the nose) by early the next morning. One of the Predict Wind models called for a mid-afternoon change … still too short, even if we believed it. The local AcuWeather was calling for heavy rains and a southwesterly wind by mid-morning in East London. Prudence prevailed. The PeriPeri net agreed. Our weather window had disappeared. Passage canceled. This is how it goes sometimes.
Sigh! Back to the waiting game ... with friends.