There's always a bit of regret when we leave a place we've enjoyed and been comfortable. There's always a bit of apprehension mixed with anticipation and exhilaration as we haul anchor and head out of a harbor and across a vast ocean. What's out there? How will the weather be? What will break this time? How long will it take us?Read More
Rounding Cape Agulhas
We've left Mosselbaai en route to Cape Town and we've rounded Cape Agulhas! Cape Agulhas is the southern-most geographic point of land at the tip of the African continent and according to the International Hydrographic Organization, it is the official dividing line between the Indian and the Atlantic Oceans. We're back into the Atlantic.
Named Cabo das Agulhas (Cape of the Needles) by Portuguese navigators c. 1500, the name does not reflect the ragged headland of the cape, but rather the fact that they noticed that magnetic north and true north on the compass needle were the same. There was no magnetic deviation at the southern tip of Africa.
Last time we were here, we were land-touring the Western Cape, taking pictures of the rugged cape shore and the Cape Agulhas Light, the third lighthouse to be built in South Africa, and the second-oldest still in operation. Built in 1848, its light first shone in March 1849. The original building now serves as a restaurant and museum and a new automated aluminum structure has taken its place as sentry.
The nearby little fishing village of Arniston, with its whitewashed sandstone houses, was quaint and picturesque.
The sea off Cape Agulhas, like most major capes, is notorious for storms, big winds and big waves. There have been lots of shipwrecks off this coast and we paid attention to the cruising guide which recommended hugging the coast as we rounded the Cape. We stayed about 3-5 miles off and had no problems.
The figurehead of the French ship, Marie Elise, was on display at Agulhas National Park when we visited … salvaged parts from a shipwreck in 1877.
Unfortunately, the rounding of the cape was at 0400 in the morning and there wasn't much to see. We toasted Neptune with his tot of rum and asked for his continued guidance and protection as we left the Indian Ocean and sailed back into the Atlantic.
Though Cape Agulhas is the southern most point in Africa, it's not considered one of the Five Great Southern Capes and we're not sure why. Instead, the Cape of Good Hope, the most southwestern point of the continent at the tip of Cape Point claims the title, and so, we still have that cape to round before claiming our Five Great Capes badge. Always something to look forward to.
We're not sure that this was the worst passage of our sailing careers, but this 1,778 nm passage definitely rates right up there (or down there) as one of the most arduous and difficult passages we've experienced. As with most passages, there were ups and downs, good days and bad, gear failures and successes in repairing what broke while under way. As I reviewed the pictures we took, there were certainly more repair pics and hard times than there were birds and sea critters. It was that kind of passage. We continually promise to give you a taste of what sailing is really about. This is it. Leaving Mauritius – There are two happy days for the Nine of Cups crew … when we arrive in a new port and when we leave for the next one.
Where's Reunion Island? We were only four miles offshore, but the French kept it hidden in a shroud of mist.
Beautiful sunsets were rare on this trip.
The skies were often deceptively blue and beautiful, while the seas were rough on Nine and Cups and crew.
The wind gen took a beating and David worked hard to keep it operational and pumping out amps.
A moth stopped by for a rest, but soon grew tired of our slow pace and headed off on his own.
The parting of the jib halyard was an unusual occurrence and totally unexpected. Luckily, the spare halyard was ready to go.
No sooner was the jib halyard issue sorted out and handled, than the port boom reefing winch broke free from the boom. Really?
Being without a rudder on a boat is liking driving a car without a steering wheel. When a bolt sheered off the steering quadrant, we were adrift until David was able to suss out the problem and replace the bolt. I promise to stop complaining about all those extra bolts and bits and pieces aboard.
The continual thrashing we took from waves, took its toll on the anchor. Despite the chain stopper and lashing, the anchor pulled out of the bow roller. We lassoed it and secured it, but not before it flipped up and cracked the jib furler guide cage. It needed to be removed, but a screw on the cage was seized, so David resorted to hacksawing it off.
We saw over 52 knot gusts as we neared Durban. A sail slide broke and jammed as we tried to lower the main, causing the sail to flail in the high winds and we were unable to move it up or down the sail track. David's persistence willed out and we finally got the main lowered and lashed, but not without battle scars on David's knuckles.
And then … we were on the dock in Durban and washed all the bad memories away with a hot shower and a bottle of celebratory champers. That's how it is after a bad passage: a long list of to-do's and views towards the next port.