Preparing to Leave South Africa

15 January 2018   Cape Town, South Africa
After a leisurely full English breakfast, we visited the small museum in Franschhoek, which has fascinating information about the emigration of the Huguenots from France and how they settled in South Africa.

Huguenots were French Protestants mainly from northern France, who were inspired by the writings of John Calvin and others.  Europe in the 1500s was mostly Catholic and the Huguenots were violently persecuted by a series of Catholic French Kings.  Over a century, edicts for tolerance would be issued by the King, but then later revoked by the next monarch.  

Franschhoek Area

From 1661, Louis XIV went to great lengths to convert the Huguenots, but he failed.  So in 1685, he revoked the Edict of Nantes, which resulted in the Huguenot persecutions being resumed.  Once again, the Huguenots fled in large numbers (over 200,000) to other countries in Europe as well as England and America. 

About 200 Huguenots emigrated to Cape Town. They were mostly farmers and craftsmen and soon established farms in the Franschhoek ad Stellenbosch areas.  Many of the vineyards are still owned by their descendants.

Sated with historical knowledge, we drove to Stellenbosch, which is a large town in the middle of another wine growing area.  The town was heaving with cars and it was difficult to park, so we ran away - it’s only another big town.  Instead, we drove to Vergelegen, which is a large winery about 20 kilometres away from Stellenbosch.

Vergelegen is a stunning estate.  It was originally owned by an early Governor of Cape Town, who allocated himself five times as much land as any other settler (typical politician).  The vineyard has changed hands many times over the centuries and is now owned by Anglo American, one of the largest mining companies in the world.  They have rebuilt the historical buildings; reconstructed the traditional gardens and opened it up to the public. 

For the small entrance fee of £0.50, you are able to walk around the beautifully manicured grounds; bring your own picnic; or go to one of their two restaurants.  We elected to go to the Stables restaurant, which is “a bistro dining experience in casual surroundings” - I’ve seen “posh” restaurants that are rougher…  


Despite us arriving after 13:30, they didn’t have any tables available - “Booking is essential, Sir”.  However, they managed to find us a place on a couch in the waiting area, which was probably nicer than the tables.  We weren’t feeling very hungry, so we ordered two sandwiches, which were essentially huge salads, artfully ladled over a piece of ciabatta bread.  Accompanied by a couple of glasses of Merlot, the meal was very good.  

After lunch, we wandered around the grounds for an hour, visiting the lovely formal gardens and a small museum in the original manor house.   

It took us an hour to get back to the Yacht Club, where we found the rebuilt sea-water pump waiting in the cockpit for me - it’s back to reality tomorrow.

16 January 2018   Cape Town, South Africa
We were planning to leave on Saturday 20th to give ourselves a couple of day’s leeway before our visas run out on the 22nd, but there’s some strong winds and 5 metre waves forecast on Saturday morning.  It looks like we’ll have to wait until Monday the 22nd before we leave, which is taking it down to the wire.

I fitted the sea-water pump and ran the engine for 15 minutes - all looks good.  After picking up the running backstays, I spent an hour up the mast and installed the new fairlead and the running backstays, so we’re now in a fit state to go sailing.

Up the Mast

Our mast has a lot of bend in it and I was thinking of adjusting the lower shrouds to move the centre of the mast back.  I chatted to Warren from Associated Riggers, who was very helpful and sent along one of his riggers to have a look.  The conclusion was that our forestay is too long, causing the head of the mast to be too far aft - adjusting the lower shrouds would not help and would cause more problems. 

Warren gave me a new toggle to fit in place of the two existing ones, which will effectively shorten the forestay by 50mm, I’ll try to fit it tomorrow.

Late in the afternoon, we filled up with diesel and moved the boat to another berth because we’re staying longer than originally planned.

17 January 2018   Cape Town, South Africa
It was another early start, going to the doctors for another B12 vitamin injection and Glenys had another blood test for her white blood cell count.  It all looks good, so we can forget about doctors for another year.  While we were out and about, we went food shopping and stocked up on another 30 litres of wine, mostly quaffable stuff in boxes, but we bought a dozen nice bottles for special occasions. 

After lunch, I replaced the toggle on the forestay and the mast looks a lot straighter, but the inner forestay is now too loose - typical.  Warren at the riggers told me to remove sail, remove the toggle on the bottom of the  inner forestay and pull it down tight, so that I can measure how much to shorten the stay. 

I rigged up a rope from the end of the furler drum and led it back to a winch, so that I could get enough tension in the inner forestay.  I think that I have the mast set up correctly now, but I want a rigger to look at it and confirm before we decide how we’re going to shorten the inner forestay.  Unfortunately, the riggers were shut at 15:30 - I think Wednesday is race day.

In the evening, we went to Rod & Mary’s house for a traditional Braai and drank loads of red wine while reminiscing.

18 January 2018   Cape Town, South Africa
The weather forecast is now showing a small low pressure area coming off the coast to the north of Cape Town on Sunday 21st, which will bring north winds along the coast - right on the nose.  The wind doesn’t go south until Tuesday afternoon, so we might have to wait until Tuesday or even Wednesday 24th. 

Inner Forestay Adjuster

I called in at the Immigration office and they told me that if we stay past our visa expiry date then we will still be able to clear out, but we will be classified as “Undesirables”.  If you have overstayed for less than 30 days then you are banned from returning to South Africa for 1 year - this rises to 3 years if you stay beyond 60 days.  There is apparently no fine and, if we have a good reason for over staying, then we can submit an appeal to have our “Undesirable” status removed.   I think that boat problems or bad weather would qualify as good reasons for the appeal. 

First thing in the morning, I went to the riggers and Warren said that he’d try to send someone around to have a look at my rig.  In the meantime, I removed the furler drum and exposed the adjustment screw on the bottom of the inner forestay.  I think that we need to shorten the stay by 20mm, but there only looks to be 12mm of adjustment left. 

The riggers turned out to be busy all day, but I chatted to Warren at the end of the afternoon and he thinks that it may be better to shorten the inner forestay wire.  Apparently, it’s an easy job and he promised that he would have someone on my boat in the morning to do whatever work is necessary.

We were both feeling little under the weather after our boozy Braai last night, so we pottered about researching future anchorages and I caught up on my blog.

During the afternoon, the “Tablecloth” clouds appeared over Table Mountain and by five o’clock the wind had picked up and was very gusty.  We checked all the ropes, tied down everything on deck and hid down below. 

19 January 2018   Cape Town, South Africa
It blew a hooley all night, with 30-40 knot gusts hammering into us, making the boat heel over and then bounce against the fenders.  I got up in the middle of the night to check ropes and make sure that the fenders were still in place.  I also tied an extra rope onto the inner forestay which was only held down by an old piece of 6mm rope.

Shortening the Inner Forestay

The rigger, André turned up at 09:00, it was still very, very windy but he was able to do his job.  He checked the overall rig to make sure that I had the correct mast shape and then decided to back off the adjustment screw and shorten the wire.  The minimum that you can shorten a wire by is 40-50mm, so we went for the minimum and took up the slack with the adjustment screw.

It’s was a bit scary watching André hacksawing a piece of the wire off, but he soon had the Norseman fitting reassembled and we were back in business.  The mast looks a lot straighter, so I’m hoping that this will remove some of the creases when I furl the mainsail.  

I’m really pleased with the advice that I received from Associated Rigging and despite being very busy, they helped me out.  They didn’t charge a fortune either - the new toggle on the forestay was £45 and the labour was only £15. 

I pottered about for the rest of the morning, putting the inner forestay furling drum back together and sorting out the running rigging.  I went up the mast to have a look at the top of the furling extrusion now that we’ve shortened the wire by 25mm, but it all looks good - I still have about 30 mm of clearance.  We may have to make a shorter strop for the top of the stay sail.

In the afternoon, we drove around doing some last minute shopping - we’re taking the car back on Monday 22nd.   We picked up some webbing from North Sails; filled our propane tank at Woodstock Gas; bought some Dyneema rope for a new staysail halyard; bought petrol for the dinghy; and found some non-slip matting in the carpet section of Builders Warehouse. 

Waves kicked up by Gale

We wanted to get some British Pounds to use in St Helena, where there are no ATMs and just one bank, but because we weren’t flying out of the country and couldn’t show our airline tickets, they wouldn’t sell us any.  The anti-money laundering rules are crazy - we only wanted £300.

The wind blew and blew all afternoon - I recorded 40 knots.  In the evening, we went to the bar to see Martin and Maggie from Dreamcatcher, who arrived early this morning.  

20 January 2018   Cape Town, South Africa
It blew a hooley again all night, blowing 50 knots.  There were a number of our friends who were caught out by the strong winds yesterday - “Jackster” had to be towed into Hout Bay; “Relax” anchored on the east side of False Bay and “Full Circle” had to anchor outside the Cape Town breakwater last night and all day waiting for the 50 knot winds to subside - they’re planning to come in tomorrow morning. 

The howling wind was getting us down, so we decided to go for a drive to Hout Bay to see if we could find “Jackster”  - we invited “Dreamcatcher” to come along.  We stopped half way on the west coast of the Cape Peninsula where there were some impressive white cap waves and spume.  It was even worse in Hout Bay and we got soaked walking along the breakwater to find “Jackster”.  

Unfortunately, the gate to the quay that they were on was firmly locked and there was no sign of activity on the boat, so we decided to leave them to catch up on some rest.  We had a nice lunch in the “The Lookout” restaurant, which was very nice and surprisingly well sheltered from the howling wind.

Curry Night

On the way back, we stopped at the Groot Constantia winery to have a quick look at their grounds.  It was a nice place, but not as impressive as Vergelegen.

In the evening, we invited Ian, Lynda, John and Jenny around to Alba for a curry dinner.  We were a bit worried that they might feel queasy because the boat was rocking around in the gale force winds, but everyone was okay and we had a good evening.

21 January 2018   Cape Town, South Africa
The wind dropped to nothing during the night and we woke to a peaceful, calm day, so we got on with some jobs.  We put the staysail up and checked that the luff length was ok after shortening the inner forestay - all looks good.  I checked that the new Dyneema rope for the staysail halyard fitted okay and then pulled the old halyard from the mast, so I can get the shackle spliced on tomorrow.

Glenys took down the bimini again and did some more strengthening stitching.  We’ve got the boat in good condition and feel confident that we’ll make it across the South Atlantic.  There’s still north winds forecast for the next two days, but it looks good to leave on Wednesday 24th.  “Dream Catcher” are also thinking of going on the same day.

Our friends on “Full Circle” finally came into the marina this morning and we went out to the club bar for dinner with them.  They had a wild ride for the last 48 hours of their passage, but were fairly comfortable at anchor outside the breakwater.