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"Egret" N4674 - Scott and Mary Flanders

Ed. note: On February 10, 2011, Scott and Mary Flanders, on board their Nordhavn 46, Egret, arrived in the Canary Islands. In doing so, Egret became the eighth Nordhavn to circumnavigate the globe. It had been four years, five months since the couple departed Gran Canaria, intent on seeing as much of the earth as possible, although not necessarily with an end goal to circle the globe. Voyage of Egret documents the Flanders’ entire trip, an endless adventure that has put them in touch with the most fabulous places and interesting people. Much route planning and forecasting was required in order to get to some of their ports of call. But the days of detailed planning are over…for now. “Egret” is now back in Fort Lauderdale, the place the couple called home for so many years, and, ironically, the starting point of their world wide cruising escapade that began with the Nordhavn Atlantic Rally in 2004. They currently travel hither and yon, sometimes by boat, sometimes not. Here, the latest update from the Flanders as they keep us continually apprised.  

December 27, 2010

Position: 22 57.09S 014 28.82E Anchored off Walvis Bay Yacht Club, Walvis Bay, Namibia (West Africa)

Trip Statistics from Cape Town, South Africa, to Walvis Bay, Namibia
Mileage: 712.3 nm
Mileage from Fremantle, Western Australia: 6477.6 nm
Engine Hours: 104.0
Generator Hours: 5.1 (for making water)
Average Speed: 6.9 knots
Estimated fuel burn running at 1450-1575 RPM: 250.0 U.S. Gallons, 950 liters
Estimated fuel mileage: 2.85 nm/gallon, .75 nm/liter
Water Used: Approximately 100 U.S. Gallons, 380 Liters
Weather: Benign, winds to 13.5 knots from aft of the beam, following seas up to a 1 meter gentle swell, zero issues and very comfortable. This trip is the calmest trip Egret has ever been on for this distance. Our sailing buddys would have been motoring all but perhaps 6-8 hours.

G'Day mis amigos, no sooner than we fired off the last VofE things started happening. Egret was running tight to the beach just outside the biggest swells and Mary and I were photographing the seal colonies while Dick hand steered. There were jillions of seals on the beach just outside the surf. The sand dunes absorb nearly all the radar return so we had to be careful and sight our way along the beach. The dunes looked like there was vegetation but as we closed on the dark spots they turned tan. It was shadows. The other strange thing, as we moved down the beach it was if Egret was the center of a halo of light. Both north and south it looked grey and stormy. It was the light reflecting off the sand giving the light a hazy tanish orange tint. We could never capture the light phenomenon in a photograph without a print about 3 meters long. Then Mary spotted what appeared to be a dune elephant. We turned even closer to the coast and tried to get as close as we could but the haze absorbed any detail. We chased it for quite a while until we figured out it was a 4WD truck, probably doing scenic tours. Dirtbags. I took over driving Egret and gave Dick a chance to use his point and shoot camera to take a bit of video. Mary took some very, very outstanding photos. What is so good about both of us shooting is we both see different things. She picked up on the high dark green surf highlighting the seal colonies giving the picture a multi colored layered look. Then SHE had a major, major dumb attack. She was deleting photo's before we put the best in the computer for further editing and she deleted ALL her pictures by deleting in the wrong direction. We don't care who takes the better picture. All that matters is one of us gets the shot. At times if I saw hers were coming out better I would delete mine before we loaded hers. Fortunately I didn't do it this time. My best seal colony shot is OK, hers WAS great. 14.1nm to go before the turn in point.

One thing we were very happy we did was run the gen for 5 hours topping off the water tank last night. The water here is so polluted its unbelievable. From what we can see so far (just a few miles to go) is it is natural pollution. The depth finder won't read because of the bubbles of gas rising to the surface. Because it is so calm the acidic scum collects in light green strings and floats on top. The water is pea green. I am very sensitive to certain smells and acid is one of them (I got sensitized to paint years ago). At times I felt my throat restricting from the fumes. We are REALLY hoping we can get a berth in the small craft harbor. In a couple hours we'll know. More to follow.

There is a ship coming up that has it figured out. It carries its own oil well. When it needs fuel it stops, drills a well, pumps crude into the small refinery and spins it into diesel. Then they continue on their way. Not even PAE offers that as an option. I guess their buyers are too cheep, after all, after 17 generations of ownership it will pay for itself. Picture 1.

OK, here's the Walvis Bay deal as we know it so far. We called Port Control on 16, switched to 12. We asked permission to enter the port, no problem. Then we asked permission to transit to the small boat harbor. Problem. It is full and they are dredging. So we anchored off the local Yacht Club with a number of catamarans and a couple cruising boats. Customs is closed after office hours so we check in tomorrow morning. It didn't seem to be any big deal. Across the way is an estuary river and across from that are low tidal flats. They are FULL of pink flamingos. About 7 jillion. Walvis Bay is known to be a bird watcher's paradise. The good news is the harbor is reasonably clean at high tide to make water. The harbor is actually a very large bay that is flushed with 2+ meter tides and is clean enough to support what appears to be a mussel farm. Tomorrow is check into Namibia day, grocery shopping and seeing if we can find a rental car for a week or so. More to follow.

We have been here a few days and I don't know where to start. First, the folks here are perhaps the friendliest we have met anywhere in our travels. Nova Scotians held that honor but I think now those friendly folks have been eclipsed. One local said Lonely Planet said Namibia is THE friendliest country. The YC members and staff bent over backwards to help. One member drove the three of us to Customs and Immigration. Its a long story but we cleared in an hour with help from a friendly Customs agent then she took us to an ATM to get some Namibian dollars. Namibia was part of South Africa until fairly recent years when they were give independence. Namibian dollars and South African rand are traded as the same here as U.S.P. and Bahamian dollars are in the Bahamas.

There are NO cars to rent. Club staff called everywhere and all the cars anywhere are rented. One reason is it is the holidays but the big reason is Brad and Angelina are spending the holidays in the town of Swakopmund, just a few k's to the north. So the groupies, paparazzi and whomever have sucked up the rest of available cars. We really wanted a 4WD and one fellow offered a 4WD Toyota Hilux for 1000 ND/day plus 220 for insurance. That is about 175 U.S.P/day. We passed. In the end we got a private deal for a 4 seat 4WD for 500 ND/71 U.S.P, per day*. We should get that on the 27th. The truck owner is a film guy who photographs wildlife documentary's (primarily Animal Planet, Discovery Channel and some National Geographic). One thing is interesting is during editing they make three different versions of the same documentary. The three markets are the U.S., Europe and Asia. He said the U.S. market buyers demand their version to be a drama of danger and hocus pocus. It is sad the American market can't just enjoy nature as it is. The funniest story is about filming a kangaroo joey emerging and seeing light for the first time. The U.S. buyers said the joey must look right after emerging. After 3 days in a hide they got a perfect image of a joey looking left. The image was so good they presented it for approval. Nope. They spent 3 more weeks in hides until they finally got a so so shot of a joey looking right. OK, then. What made renting a truck from the film guy is he speaks camera speak. Even though filming wildlife is his profession he is still impressed by nature and brought what we are hoping to see alive with his descriptions that only photography enthusiasts would appreciate. We can't wait to get started.

*Remember, we started a while back including pricing for overall items like fuel, rental cars and other non personal items to give you an idea of the cost of cruising. We never did this in the past but I think it helps you plan more for Your Time with a little more information.

If you remember the picture of the wreck on the beach in the previous VofE, we have some information. The ship is the German ship Edward Bolin that was driven ashore in 1914 (the commentors estimate) while the captain was drunk trying to enter the shallow bay to the south. He didn't make the bay but drove ashore on the protective peninsula instead. The crew managed to get off and walked to the nearby diamond mine they were supplying.

The food manager's husband at the YC took the three of us on a mini sightseeing tour and took us to a grocery store to start final provisioning for the coming 3 months. First we went to Dune 7, a few k's outside town. Dune 7 is the seventh highest dune in the world. So they named it Dune 7. So we stopped and took a few pics and watched a young family of parents, 2 kids and a jack russel climb the dune and slide down on boards and cardboard. Its a lotta work for a minute of terror. The dune is well over 1000' high. Next was the salt works where he works driving a front end loader. He explained the salt pans take a year to dry and how they have a special muncher attached to the bucket of the front end loader that picks up the salt and a bit of dirt. Next the salt goes to a washing shed where it is washed with VERY salty water that doesn't melt the salt but flushes out the dirt. Then it goes thru a drier/blower and loaded onto a conveyor belt system and is stacked in conical piles to dry completely.

Then it was off to shopping and we bought lotsa stuff. It will take a couple more trips then Egret will be super loaded so all we should have to buy in the coming remote locations is fresh whatever. Our normal heavy provisioning costs are $600-1000 U.S.P. range depending what country and what we buy. Food prices here are quite inexpensive compared to other places, however to a local they are staggering. The pay here is very low for the average worker. For a few, Namibia is the land of opportunity. There are just 2m people in the country but the country is dripping in natural resources and tourism is growing at a fast pace because of all the natural beauty from the desert areas to the lush areas with game as in South Africa, AND it is safe*. We met a YC member today who supplies heavy equipment to the mining industry and specializes in the exploration aspect. The diamond mines are long established but coming on line are zinc, copper, oil and the biggest new discovery is uranium. So support industries and so on are doing well and will be doing well.

*The capitol of Namibia is Windhoek, about 360 kilometers east of Walvis Bay. The local businessmen fund a 'City Police' (a private police force) for the downtown. If these fellows find someone stealing or burglarizing a car or whatever they are taken into the desert. They don't come back. The local telling the tale said it is "very effective". We see security in parking lots here and around ATM's and the local also told us things are much better for petty crime, particularly breaking into cars. We haven't heard a tale of any violence.

Now I'm going to share some private thoughts. The cruising Mary and I have been doing these past years is simply the best long term endeavor we can imagine. We don't intend to stop but we can see some day when the long miles are done there are other things to do beside full time cruising. I believe we'll coastal cruise until we just can't then try to squeak out a couple more years but eventually we'll have to do something different. The problem is we want it all and never want it to end. Here's the problem. We could easily spend 4-5 months in Namibia, just like another 6 months inland touring Argentina and Chile, New Zealand South Island, and other places. What happens in long term cruising is you truly get away from material things and visual stimulation and fellowship take their place. You realize you don't need much in the way of stimulus because you are stimulated daily as to what is coming up next. Just today for example, we dingyed over to the tidal flats and photographed thousands of pink flamingos, sand pipers, cormorants and pelicans. Then it was to the Yacht Club for coffee then a long walk along the estuary. Then back to the YC for a late lunch and back to Egret. At the YC were invited to two homes for dinner and we invited one couple to Egret for Christmas dinner (they had to work so didn't make it). It was a good day. And we have lotsa good days. Egret opens the door. It is going to be hard to leave Namibia but if we want to summer in Greenland and Iceland then winter in Norway we must leave. So we have to pick and choose. It is very difficult and what started this train of thought.

Along the same lines, when we just can't cross oceans any more and are reduced to coastal cruising (age in the future), there is something else we can do in addition to coastal cruising. Inland cruising in a first class (simple) camper set up could be good as well. If we started off trying to do this (before long term cruising) I don't think it would work, just like most folks who long term cruise and evolve to U.S. motor homing don't last long. As a cruiser we don't have many rules and have total freedom. Motor homing is more structured with lotsa rules and total freedom is lost. However, if I had my druthers we would have some type of 4WD, 4 place truck with a trayon.com fiberglass box on the back. Here we are not limited to campgrounds and can still breathe fresh air. My thinking is this could be loaded into a container with the box removed and shipped from country to country. So essentially by keeping the camper set up in the Southern Hemisphere and Egret in the Northern you could have an Endless Summer. But that is for Later. WAY Later.

In the meantime, tonight is Christmas Eve and Mary has a special dinner planned for The Boys and tomorrow as well. More to follow.

Christmas Day. So last night Mary fixed a giant dinner for The Boys and gave us our presents. Dickiedoo got a way cool Guy Harvey marlin shirt to commemorate his big marlin catch between Mauritius and Reunion. (Dick still insists the marlin weighed 500lbs (227k). It weighed somewhere north of 200lbs (91k) by my estimate. In any case it is a fish he will Never Forget.) Mary bought YT a cool pair of kevlar fishing gloves with grippy palms for catching and cleaning fish. And a chum bag. How many of you got a chum bag for Christmas? What a wife. She's the best of the best. And what did she want? A night at a la di da resort near the desert. No problem.

This morning for breakfast we had another giant meal, a gianter lunch and now Mary is fixing a giantest Christmas dinner. So we three will have to fast for days and daies* (*Kiwi attempt at saying days) if we don't want to end up as round as the local seals. For years our house was the focal point of Holiday gatherings for the extended families. These days there is no house and all but one of the older generation has passed on. It is our kid's turn to take on the family gatherings. So what did our little floating family of three do on Christmas day other than eat ourselves round? It wasn't very exciting. We changed oil in the main and scrubbed the bottom with a soft brush from the dinghy. Whoopdedoo.

And speaking of seals, we have heard a bit about them as well. We mentioned before about the seal colonies along the coast. It turns out there has been an explosion of seals in the past 10 or so years. There are about 20k along the coast. WAY too many. Seals are efficient foragers and eat every day. So when you have 20k seals eating every day that totals lotsa fish eaten to keep them going. The fish stocks are nearly gone near shore. We saw seals as far as 55nm offshore. Nature* will take care of the problem but at a cost of the fish stocks. The local fishermen are screaming about the lack of fish. Farther north seals are being culled and the meat is ground into fish meal and the young seal skins are sold. *Another nature taking care of overpopulation story is as recent as the 40's and 50's, thousands of Namibian springbok (a small antelope) would rush in a 'springbok rush' into the ocean and drown. There was a natural trigger mechanism to keep stocks level and send them into the ocean. Interesting.

OK, here's the latest deal. We picked up the 4WD rental truck mid afternoon and drove 30k's north along the ocean to the town of Swakopmund. S. looks like a small quaint European town in the old downtown area. It is as fresh and bright as new. And its an international tourist destination. We walked around a bit, bought a few trinkets and stopped for coffee in a book store coffee shop. Quite honestly its not our kinda deal. To packaged. Predictable. Tomorrow we'll get up early and hit the beach dune 4WD trail south along the beach. What will we find there? Sand and water for sure. One thing that is super interesting is we are truly in the middle of a sand dune desert. The towns and little green spots are stuck along the coast among multi colored sand dunes as far as you can see. Two things that looked interesting on today's drive were parachute type wings that drag folks in bucket type seats up and down the dunes riding the thermals. It looks wild!! A bit to wild for us but there was a time. There is a big quad ATV center for dune riding and 4WD tours over the dunes. It is all about sand. So what we're saying here is we're off so this VofE needs to hit the road. Sand pics are coming. Ciao.

 

December 22, 2010
Position: 25 50.64S 014 25.53E 60.1nm south of Walvis Bay, Namibia

G' Day mis amigos, have we got one for you or what? Egret's Simrad AP20 autopilot has NEVER failed or missed a beat. We had some issues with the non Simrad autopilot pump but that problem is fixed for good. Leaving Cape Town we set a course between an island and the mainland. The boat slowly drifted to port. So we reset the waypoint. And it did it again. To make a long story short we checked the rudder angle indicator in the lazarette, unplugged and replugged the 4 connections to the AP brain then checked the electronic rate compass under Mary's side of the bed. While I was checking the compass I set the flashlight next to the compass and the autopilot went crazy. That's fair and predictable. Mary has two drawers over the compass. The top drawer is girlie stuff and the bottom is shorts, shirts and jeans. When I took the top drawer out there was no change. When I took out the bottom drawer the boat settled back on course. The only thing metal in the drawer were two belts. So I took the belts out, put the drawer back and the AP went off again. I removed the drawer and started taking stuff out to see what the deal was and Mary was standing by to supervise HER stuff being set on the bed. Then SHE came up with the solution. While we were land touring in Broome, Western Australia, Mary bought 3 pairs of shorts and the front and back pockets are closed with MAGNETS. Go figure. %$@@$^& Ozzies. What did we do to them but sing the praises of Oz, the people and spend money? I guess we did throw the Fremantle Sailing Club Big Dogs under the bus but they deserved it. So what? Eh?

There be whales. And there be lotsa seals and lotsa birds flying here and there in formation. One group of about 6 whales were just off the port side and seemed to be playing. Its coming summer and I would think they would be in Antarctica.

Just now Egret is running about 5.5nm off the coast inside the N. bound shipping lanes. The coast is sorta sand duney with sparse vegetation on low rolling hills. If we had weeks of settled weather we could take our time and run tight to the beach and explore the wrecks stuck in the sand every so often. However, weather here isn't like that and you have to make time when you can without penalty. Once we get farther north we'll move about 10-12nm offshore to keep out of the Namibian coastal fog. It is flat calm with the anemometer reading 8.2 knots apparent. We are making most of those. 7.1 knots @1450 with a 7.0 average since leaving Cape Town 6 hours ago. More to follow.

This morning just before we raised TK, Dick got a phone call from a many year friend and N43 owner. They talked for a bit then he asked to talk to me. First thing was he wanted to know about was The Girls. He said the "whole world" is waiting to see The Girls (or at times, The Naughty Girls). The Girls have been out as long as Egret and have been everywhere. I suppose The Poor Dears have had a dry spell and Dickiedoo is a great guy, And Single. So they fed him mind altering liquids but as you can see from the picture Dickiedoo always had the sense to stay in the cockpit. Even if he did come home all giggly. In any case we rescued our buddy and all is well. Picture 1.

Next day (Sat). Fog in the early am. Visibility was about 200 meters so it wasn't bad. By 0800 it lifted. More whales are about, Egret had an early visit from seals, a few gannets did a flyby and a single albatross worked the wake for a bit. One whale passed a hundred meters in front of the boat and Then we drove over a slick spot from another whale. That whale didn't rise after. Then Dick and I saw something neither had ever seen at sea. We saw a large splash off to port about 100m. Then it breached again. It was a shark about 10' or so that jumped straight up with its tail clearing the water by a meter. It fell straight back down. So what was that all about? It wasn't a giant white shark like we have all seen on BBC feeding on seals in SA. If it were feeding on seals and missed the first time that seal would have split big time and the second jump wouldn't have come so soon. Its a mystery.

Currently Egret is 56nm offshore running from point to point bypassing the inshore route where the land falls away into a long shallow depression. The wind has picked up to a screaming 13.3 knots, the swells are at best a meter with a little wind chop on top. There is very little motion and the Naiad's are turned down to nearly nothing. Speed dropped during the night to the mid to upper 5 knot range but has picked back up to the 6.3 - 6.5 range. The speed average since leaving Cape Town is 6.5 knots @ 1450 rpm. I believe when we close with the coast in about 240nm and the current gets compressed a bit we will take off again and will maintain good speed until Walvis Bay. Mary made the boys a giant pancake breakfast and now she is baking bread. It appears to be another uneventful day. We like that. More to follow.

Next day. Yesterday the little lady got a nice rinse from two rain showers. Mary went out in the rain and wiped down the rails and glass getting the girl sparkly again. After 4 days on anchor in Cape Town with the constant wind from on shore she was filthy. There is construction going on plus normal port activities and that dirt mixed with salt from the last few nm to Cape Town. Hopefully when we get to Walvis Bay there will be room at the inn and fresh water for a proper wash. Yesterday and last night was uneventful. North bound shipping is traveling farther offshore to pick up the maximum current so we saw very few ships. The closest was 3.6nm to port. Early this morning the ocean was a desert. There were very few birds, just a couple seals and no whales. There is weather down south and the vanguard seas are just starting to push up. We can't feel them but we can see them. The swells are quite far apart and are perhaps a little over a meter but I'm sure as the day goes on they will increase. Still there is no wind with the anemometer reading 3.8 knots at 0800 this morning. Speed has dropped to the 6.3-4 knot range. So what will today bring? We'll see.

Next day (Mon). Yesterday was another uneventful day with nice weather but very little wildlife. Twice during the day we worked on the foredeck keeping it nice and shiny. Mary did the stainless and Dick worked on the 'cut in' places that I can't reach with the buffer. My job was getting the dock box back to reasonable condition. Dock boxes are interesting. Most are just that, a fiberglass box that sits on a dock and gathers junk we'll never use. A few get put on boats. Egret has 4. The one on the foredeck came from West Marine because it fit exactly and it was easy. Its a junker. The gel coat is the poorest imaginable and the hinge is el junko. So we do the best we can. The other three came from Beachcomber Fiberglass in Fla and they are great. Everything about them is better including the gel coat quality* and hinges. We ordered them at the Ft Lauderdale Boat Show before we retired and were living aboard. Beachcomber also custom matched Egret's gel coat color. We had a canvas shop make a cushion for the fore and aft long box on the stbd side of the flybridge. The other two are smaller, one on the port side and the other close to the stack. When guests are in the flybridge we use the dock boxes for seating and set up a table in the center for snacks.

*to simplify gel coat, gel coat is fine particles of pigment surrounded by resin. Cheapo gel coat has large pigments with lotsa resin overlap so it sorta shines but basically can't have a high gloss with depth. Egret's gel coat has a fine grind and even today after these years in the sun she still sparkles like new with a little help from Mr 3M.

It is early morning, the sun is up but it is still a bit grey. M/V Sagitta is passing with a CPA of 1.03nm. TCPA 22.08 minutes, 751' Cargo, 39' Draft, 105' Beam (Panama Canal capable) bound for Walvis Bay. Egret's waypoint coming up is in 25.1nm, off the second major Namibian port of Luderiz. We put that waypoint in not only to make a slight turn but also to be a bail out harbor in case weather made its way north. Luderiz was founded by the Germans prior to WWI and has retained its German heritage. The Namibian coast is poorly charted and part of this is by design. The diamond mining industry controls the coast and visitors are NOT welcome.

We pushed the throttle up to 1650 rpm from 1450 and generated .6 knot more speed. If Egret can average 7.0 knots she will arrive in Walvis Bay on Tuesday before dark. The harbor is a simple T shape with the YC moorings to stbd and the Small Boat Harbor at the head of the entrance channel with commercial areas on both sides of the SBH. We really would like to get a berth in the SBH so we can be on shore power and land tour for more than a single overnight. Drinking water is another issue. Twice in fairly recent years, the most recent was 1980, a mud bank formed at the mouth of the harbor and the accompanying hydrogen sulfide made it the world's second highest corrosive area at the time. Even with the mud bank gone for years we would rather not make water in the harbor.

Today was another great day at sea. The weather has been more than kind and the ocean is full of critters. Seals have highlighted the day with mile after mile of seals in small groups. This means the fish stock is healthy and thats becoming more and more unusual. Just now is probably our closest to land all day, about 13.3nm. Egret has been averaging a little over 7 knots so we'll take the bonus and after daylight tomorrow we'll close on a shallow angle to the beach and check out the sand dunes along the coast and whatever wrecks we may come across. Unless things change drastically we'll make Walvis Bay before dark. Mary spotted some critter like things floating on top we also saw while in the N. Atlantic on the NAR. They are a 5 pointed star with a spongy center section and what appears to be thin shellfish creating the points of the star. They are in fact some type of pod housing a critter with a big head and 8 legs with suckers. We don't know what they are. If we had to guess they are octopus but I always thought octopus were more of a reef dweller and not out here in 125 meters of water drifting on top. So its another mystery. Along with the mystery critters are large reddish jellyfish of some type. Some have a helmet type shape and most have a multi directional glob of reddish stuff surrounding the helmet. Along with these are more normal opaque dish type jellyfish and tiny Portuguese man of war. So anyhow these critters occupied part of the day with the three of us on the foredeck being kids. And now we're acting like real seafarers with a touch of rum n coke celebrating our last night at sea (Arrrrrrrgggg), Credence is blasting from the Ipod and Mary is fixing dinner. So life is good. What did you do today?

(Tue) It is 0538 and it is still dark. As we move north it is getting lighter later. Soon the sun will peek thru the haze as we close on the coast. We redid our waypoints keeping Egret from 1.5 to 3 nm off the coast. This should be interesting. The sand dunes rise in levels to as high as 335 meters (1070') with one charted shipwreck on the beach shortly after we turn back north. More to follow.

Unbelievable. The ocean is slick calm with gentle rollers. There must be at least a jillion seals about in groups of 50+ at times. Birds have been by and a few dolphins have stopped by as well. Even now the coast is shrouded in haze. After daylight we closed with the coast and are running just a couple miles off the beach. The dunes are beautiful in pastel tans. Mary just said she hasn't seen any dune elephants yet. The shipwreck was exactly where C-Map charts said it was. It appears to be a 20's vintage freighter with a counter stern. It is chilling to think what must have happened years ago. The Skeleton Coast got its name from shipwrecks like this. Once ashore there is nowhere to go and No water. Just outside the high surf near the wreck is a seal colony. There are so many seal colonies scattered along the coast they look like black clumps of rocks every so often. I imagine relatively few folks have seen the shoreline and dunes from this close. Sailors need to be farther offshore to get the wind unless they motor. There is a sharp shore setting current that is also a danger to sailboats. Its a shame more can't enjoy this treeless, zero vegetation desert. We can't believe our good luck to be here in this settled weather.

The turn in waypoint to Walvis Bay is 61.2nm ahead. Egret will arrive before dark. You will have to wait until the next VofE for trip details and first impressions of Namibia. What will the next days bring? Don't have a clue. Isn't that great?

It is that time of year. The Holidays are coming up soon. (Living as we do we have been spared the hype.) We all know it is better to give than receive. So why don't you give your other something more precious than all the gems of Arabee? Something life changing. Something like freedom, spirit of adventure and sense of doing. Something in shiny white fiberglass would be about right.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from the Egret crew. Scott, Mary and Dickiedoo

 

 

December 17, 2010
Position: 33 50 38S 018 24.54E Departing Cape Town harbor, 1.93nm SE of Robben Island

Trip Statistics from Richards Bay, South Africa to Cape Town, South Africa, 12-8-10 - 12-13-10.
Mileage: 892.7nm
Mileage from Fremantle, Western Australia: 5765.56nm
Engine Hours: 119.8
Generator Hours: 0
Average Speed: 7.5 knots (it was 7.6 knots but I left the GPS running for several hours while on anchor and the speed average dropped.
Estimated fuel burn running at 1550-1575 RPM: 287.5 U.S. Gallons, 1092 liters
Estimated fuel mileage: 3.10 nm/gallon, .817 nm/liter
Water Used: Approximately 100 U.S. Gallons, 380 Liters
Weather: mostly benign, winds to 25 knots from aft of the beam, following/beam seas up to 2 meters, zero issues and very comfortable.
Weather Last 30nm. Beam winds sustained 35-45 knots, gusting near 60. Seas not so big at perhaps 2.5 meters (8') but very powerful with the tops breaking. No place for a Girl Boat or a Girl Anchor after arriving Cape Town and anchoring.

G' Day mis amigos, Egret is anchored just north of the port in Cape Town. She arrived about 9:00pm local in quite a blow. The last 30nm made up for Egret's non event passage from Richards Bay. She has had winds like this in the past, it is no biggie but you definitely have to hang on. The CCOM was pegged at 10 at times. The southern west coast of SA is really beautiful with the high dry mountains along the seashore with occasional towns along the more level areas. From Hout Bay north the scenery is even more beautiful. We cruised about 2-3nm off the coast, and as the sun was low adding color to the mountains it was very special. Its such a shame we couldn't take pictures from outside and not thru the pilothouse glass (we would have needed an underwater camera for this). Cape Town landmark, Table Mountain was lit up in the sun and The Doctor was In. When The Doctor is in you are guaranteed a bit of wind (The Doctor is rolling clouds covering the flat summit of Table Mountain). Hopefully we will have internet access by the time we fire this VofE off and pictures can bring words to life.

We received two e-mails from friends lending their experiences to Egret's Racor filter vacuum problem. The first had their Flo Scan fuel flow meter filter clog with debris so they canned the entire system. (Egret's was spotless and not the problem except gaining a slight vacuum decrease by taking it out of line) The second attended a seminar by Lugger Bob (Senter) and Bob went on to say long term users of fuel additive to kill bugs can cause the 4 way valve in the Racor two filter system to clog. This is a great tip and we'll follow thru at the first chance. Lugger Bob is the Real Deal. If you see a Lugger in your future, a seminar put on by Bob is the best of the best. Bob did one before the NAR and we all learned a ton. We still have the notes. (Two days later. We took the feed hose off the bottom of the Racor 4 way valve and checked for contamination with a small screwdriver. It was spotless, not a speck of debris washed out.)

And speaking of friends, we had two friends attend the N. Open House in Stuart, Fla this past weekend. They had a great time and learned a lot. They are impatiently waiting for Their Time. There is a second Open House coming up after the first of the year (late Jan) in Dana Point, Ca. If you are sitting in the frozen wastelands somewhere and need a break this would be a welcome vacation in sunny Southern California AND if DJA Santa was kind perhaps there could be a bit of fiberglass in your future. Just end the pain*, do The Deal. You'll see.

*Pain. It appears we'll be on anchor for a couple days and have lotsa time to kill so let me put on my Stephen King hat and describe Pain. Perhaps I should say, Mediocrity and Routine = Pain. Or should I say Dreamers or Doers? They are kinda linked but I'm sure you see a picture starting to form. So lets put a physical dimension to Mediocrity, Routine, Dreamers and Doers and describe this phenomenon as a funnel with steps on the inside that decrease in size as the funnel decreases in diameter nearing the bottom. The top of the funnel at its widest is Doers living large with lotsa maneuvering room. The bottom spout of the funnel we'll say is Mediocrity and Routine. Of course Mediocrity and Routine suffocate once active minds from the restriction and allows for little pleasure. If you quit climbing the big steps of Dreamers and hit the bottom you drift thru the years in this opaque, gelatinous like state until The End and what have you done? Make more money? Big deal. No one cares but your Kids. And what have you taught Them? Follow in Your footsteps?

Now the Dreamers near the top of the funnel have substantial steps to climb their way to the top and become Doers. Once they Do The Deal they leave the steps and ride the elevator to the top. The downside is frightening as folks slowly slip down the funnel, the shrinking steps become nothing more than desperate grasps for saving their Souls from mind numbing M & R and it becomes harder and harder as they slip down the sides faster and faster. Many of us are at the top of the funnel looking out. In Egret's case Table Mountain comes to mind because its just outside the pilothouse glass. Tick, tick, tick, slip, slip, slip, M&R, The End.

After those slightly opinionated ghoulish thoughts lets describe how we are sorting our way thru Egret's departure from South Africa, on to Walvis Bay, Namibia and beyond. Here are the facts. The Only place to check out of South Africa on this coast is Cape Town. The marinas are full until near the new year. The Only fuel dock that will sell duty free fuel is here in Cape Town. And they only take cash SA Rand. The duty free price for fuel is 7 rand per liter (7 R = $1 U.S.P.). They have agreed to allow Egret to dock, walk to Customs and Immigration to check out and go to a bank. Egret will take 3750 liters of fuel. There is no way we can pump ATM's for 26,229 rand in a single day and no way to get to town from the anchorage. At this point in our travels we are down on U.S.P.'s aboard. Fuel would take half and leave little for whatever (we rarely use U.S.P. cash, mostly it is ATM's for local currency and plastic* for major purchases). We would like to rent a car for a few days and travel the southern tip of SA. There are two marinas in a bay 50nm north that have space. We can check out of SA by rental car here in Cape Town driving from the marinas but we can't get duty free fuel unless we return. The YC in the bay quoted 10 rand/liter and we learned this morning from Swedish cruisers who have been in contact with the other marina, fuel there is 8.48 rand/liter. Twice we have been told if we talk to Customs "real nice" they may let us check out And visit the marinas and tour for a few days.

*one tip for using plastic in foreign ATM's is to put in your card and immediately hit cancel. If the machine keeps the card the scammers don't have your PIN number. If your card returns go about your transaction. This is a common ATM scam here in SA. Also it is best to use an ATM during working hours outside a bank and not an isolated unit so if there is a problem you have someone to talk to.

OK, these are the local facts but now we have to look down the road at what's coming up. There are rumors of cheap fuel in Walvis Bay, Namibia (WB is a fishing port). We don't have internet access or access to Skype. We e-mailed yachtie friends back in the U.S. asking for help in finding out the fuel info in Namibia and St Helena and gave them the phone numbers we got earlier from the noonsite.com website. So far this is what we learned. Fuel is .98 pence (about 1 UK Pound) per liter in St Helena AND they take credit cards. So that takes the pressure off here to use our cash. Now we are waiting to hear about Namibian fuel.

These issues are like any business issues or whatever issues. They have to be sorted and with a little effort and help from friends things will fall into place. We've said it a number of times before, we yachties take care of each other. When we can help, we do, and when we need help we get it. When we have all the information we'll make an informed decision and let you know.

(Next day) And now we have the Namibia fuel information from two sources. One yachtie called the head BP office in Namibia on Skype and spoke to the manager. He in turn sent him to Joseph who is the west coast manager for fuel. Joseph said no problem, just call when we are in. A second source came from the Yahoo Groups, Cruisers Network Online* crowd. The friends put up a posting on fuel in Namibia and got a reply saying to call Alan Low on VHF 16 and he takes care of fuel. Both sources said they take cash only but there are banks to exchange money. The fuel cost is about the same as Cape Town's duty free price. So, we will fill the main tanks, jerry jugs and the small bladder behind the Portuguese bridge. This way we have a little fuel insurance in case there is an unexpected issue in Walvis Bay but at the same time we haven't unbalanced the boat with high weight in case we get caught in a blow like arriving in Cape Town.

*"Yahoo Groups, Cruisers Network Online originated in 2006 and called the "Venezuelan Cruisers Group", it started as a means for cruisers in and around Venezuela to stay in touch and share information. During the past several years as many cruisers headed to distant ports, it has expanded to include cruisers throughout the entire SW Caribbean, Pacific from Ecuador to Alaska, the ABCs, Colombia, Panama, the Med, Africa, and South Pacific. There are now approximately 715 members, including circumnavigators, who regularly exchange information regarding their cruising experiences, immigration matters, safety and security issues, fuel prices, and other matters of mutual interest. Also of interest in the "Files" section are several Cruisers Information Guides to various South and Central American countries, European waters, and a 27 page Panama Cruisers Information Guide".

CNO is one more source of inspiration and information. http://Groups.Yahoo.Com/Group/Cruisers_Network_Online/

OK, here's the deal. Egret called Port Control for permission to enter the harbor and take on fuel. OK. We tied up to the BP dock, the owner drove the three of us to Immigration then to Customs. The Immigration lady started off a little tough but in the end she was a sweetie and even gave us a smirky OK to be naughty and spend a couple days in a marina up the coast and sightsee by rental car. In the end we decided not to. If anything happened it would be bad and we try to avoid bad. Here's the fuel deal. Fuel is 7 rand a liter, duty free. U.S.P. = about 7 rand. The BP station took U.S.P. at a slightly reduced rate so we did the deal. One thing that came out of this is that I can't add. My fuel estimate was off by 1000 liters, to the good. Yes!! So we saved a BU and that makes us happy.

Egret departed Cape Town harbor at 1115, Friday, 12-17 for Walvis Bay, Namibia. The trip is 695.1nm to the turn in waypoint off WB. The little lady is running at 1450 RPM, making 7.1 knots. There is no wind and its a beautiful sunny day. Just ahead is Robben Island where Nelson Mandela spent many years in prison.

We don't like leaving a place with loose ends and we certainly are here in SA. The southern part of SA is super beautiful and it would have been great to see it by car. However, it is what it is and Namibia is next. Wonder what that will be like? Ciao

 

 

December 13, 2010

Position: 34 25.47S 018 29.31E (4nm below the Cape of Good Hope)

G' Day mis amigos, Egret is flying!! Currently at 1725 local (GMT +2) Egret is 9nm off the coast of SA in position: 32 16.03S 029 06.38E or about 75nm N of East London. Her speed is 11.5 knots @ 1575 RPM. So that's about 4.79 nm per U.S. Gallon of diesel or 1.26nm per liter. The wind is a gentle 22 knots from the NE over the stern quarter, is slightly cool in the shade and the seas range from 1 to 2m depending on how deep it is as we head down the coast. After painting this glowing picture, last night was different. We headed offshore to pick up the current and ran into stiff head currents and at times were down to 4.4 knots. We watched the ships and their distance from shore but that didn't work particularly well so in the end we headed for shore and waited to see if we could pick up the current and you can see the result. There is a lesson here we learned a long time ago. Just because before you leave you plot your intended course that doesn't mean you have to stick to it. If it takes an hour to find an optimum current and if you don't find one, the net loss in forward progress can be measured in a very short period of time. At times the gain is significant like today.

Lets back up to Richards Bay. The day before leaving, Mary and I prepped Egret while Dick helped The Girls find a car to buy for their time in SA. Yesterday morning the alarm went of at 0300, we all took showers, topped the water tank and at first light was backing out of the slip. Egret cleared the harbor at 0446 and we set a course offshore weaving between the anchored ships waiting to load coal or wood chips.

So now what? Here's what we know. There is SWly weather forecast to arrive at the Cape of Good Hope and that area on Monday, Dec 13th. We all know when a SWly hits you better be tucked in somewhere. It appears at this time Egret can easily reach Mossel Bay and tuck in late Saturday afternoon if Egret can average 9.0 knots. From Mossel Bay it is 2 day run around the bottom to Cape Town. We'll see how it plays out but in any case Egret has a big margin of safety before the weather hits. As soon after the front blows thru she'll be off again.

Hopefully in Mossel Bay we will have cell phone service and call the two possible places to dock in Cape Town and see if we can get in, even if it is for an overnight check in and out then fuel. Our preference would be to spend some time enjoying Cape Town but it doesn't look like it is to be. Of course berthing, Customs and Immigration and fueling has to coincide with acceptable weather to leave so we'll see there. The ARC rally boats left their intended dockage at Hout Bay (25nm south of Cape Town) and moved to the V&A Waterfront docks in Cape Town. They'll sit there until after the first of the year then leave for St Helena and Brazil. The Cape to Rio boats are in town as well. So you can see it isn't always easy and there is a lot of sorting to do. However, like always we'll figure something out and be on our way to Walvis Bay, Namibia.

We'll keep adding to this and we all will see what happens in the end. It will be interesting. (btw - 12.5 knots....yes!!)

A while back Egret had a visitor who stopped by to ask our opinion about boats and things. He had a boat in mind he could buy in the U.S. and ship it to SA for a reasonable price for a largish boat. I felt it my duty to dash his dreams about that particular boat because it is a boat I had my eye on years ago and know something about. Lets talk about a small portion of the boat; the bottom design and underwater gear. It is a typical twin engine, semi displacement trawler with a deep forefoot and flattish aft. In this case the boat has rounded chines. It has a long deep keel that is so narrow it is frightening. However the keel is held in place by the struts. So lets think about this. The struts are not typical V struts but a single leg comes down from the bottom to the barrel that holds the cutless bearing and the second leg is 90 degrees toward the keel. So any debris that slides along the bottom will get caught in this contraption and fed nicely to the prop. Speaking of the prop, they are teeny tiny for a boat this size which means a teeny tiny cheapo gear and the shaft is about the diameter of your, your little finger and has NO intermediate strut. So the whippy shaft is spinning a teeny tiny prop like a fan and is being fed things like coconuts, palm fronds, seaweed and whatever. You can see where this is going. So the boat is built to a price and there is nothing wrong with that but it is NOT a boat for South Africa where there isn't much calm weather boating. So after telling the visitor about this he asked if this could be modified. My stock answer is "you can put wings on a pig but you can't make it fly". Picture 1. is a perfect example. This unnamed boat in an unnamed place has a problem its Mr Fix It owner is trying to sort. It first appears there was a transom extension. You can see the original transom in the photo. Next was bilge keels. Then it was a HUGE steel I beam bolted to the keel. And now, and now there is a giant U shaped steel foil thinghy bolted to the bottom, across to the other side and the center bolted to the HUGE I beam. The problem is the boat is too top heavy. It has a very heavy flybridge with very heavy built in seating with a very heavy fiberglass top and top support. So this relatively narrow beam boat rolls its guts out in any kind of sea from all the high weight. And now Mr Fix It has a boat that is worth about 4 U.S. Pesos.

I guess it kinda boils down to this. You buy gold, you sell gold. You buy cheapo, you get cheapo. However, lots of time cheapo is all you need if you don' t use the boat much and plan to do all your boating in calm weather and never get caught out. And if you get caught out you won't like it but you will most likely get back OK. Even cheapo boats seldom come to serious grief. You'll just spend a ton* keeping it together. That's all. *But that's good. It is how I made my living. You get the picture.

Now lets look at a little real life at sea techno issue. Egret left the dock with 2 new primary fuel filter elements and a new secondary filter. We ran the circulation pump for two days before leaving, one day on each tank. The fuel tanks were spotless and the fuel we bought in Richards Bay was spotless. (there were two 10 micron in line fuel filters after the pump on the fueling rig) Here's the problem. When we left the Racor was reading 0 vacuum. Within half a day it was reading nearly 2.5 inches of vacuum and is about the norm but then it stays at 2.5 inches for a looooong time. Yesterday after 2+ days at sea the vacuum was reading 3.5 inches. We switched tanks with no change then switched to the second Racor filter and it still read 3.5 inches. By switching tanks we eliminated any issues with the tanks themselves and the vent lines. I tapped the in-line places where debris might collect with a heavy pair of pliers. No change. I also pulled the filter element from the original filter and it was spotless so I put it back in.

Now draw a small box at the bottom of a page, draw a line straight up and put a circle in line, then draw the two side by side Racor filters, then from the Racors draw a line with another circle and on to a small rectangle. Egret has two gravity feed tanks draining to a small day tank (from an N40) located below and in front of the engine. This is the first small box. In line before the Racor's is a magnetic filter. Once before I took the magnetic filter apart and it was spotless with no place for a restriction. I read once that the valve between the Racor filter bowls got debris inside on one boat so that is a possibility. Leaving the Racors is an in line Flo Scan fuel monitor sender and the last small rectangle is the secondary filter on the engine. It appears somewhere there is a restriction. My guess is, is in front of the Flo Scan sender is a barrel fitting with a fine screen pre filter inside. This is on the downside of 2 micron fuel but there has been LOTSA fuel run thru that small filter (over 8,000 hours* worth of fuel) and particularly lotsa Argentine el junko fuel. So we'll start there once the main is shut down. The vacuum remains at 3.5 inches with no change. When we know, you'll know. (*Egret's happy little Lugger passed the 9,000 hour mark yesterday. That's 9,000 hours of uninterrupted, flawless service. By the time she completes her circumnavigation in Ft Lauderdale late March she will have run well over 10,000 hours. Perhaps then she will be broken in.)

Later on Sun am. We took the Flo Scan sender out of line and coupled the two fuel hoses together with a 3/8" flare union. The vacuum has dropped but not appreciably. Currently it is reading just under 3" of vacuum with the same filter element. Some progress was made but once settled again we'll look at some other things.

(back to early Sat am) One phenomenon Mary and I missed last night when Dick was on watch the ocean glowed like "broken glass" with phosphorescence. There was a little trace this morning when I came on watch and Dick told me about the light show. This is one of those little treats at sea when there isn't much going on. One thing that is going on is ship traffic. We see more ships in 24 hours on this trip than the entire trip from Gibraltar to New Zealand combined. The AIS has been paying for itself. Our closest shave job was last night on Mary's watch when a ship passed at about a half mile to port. AIS is great. Before AIS we would be freekin n streakin standing at the radar trying to make sense of everyone's direction.

Birds at sea have been a treat. We see an occasional albatross but there isn't much wind to support their weight. Mostly it has been young birds. There are a few petrels and lotsa gannets. We haven't seen gannets since New Zealand. Yesterday afternoon they were diving all around the boat. Mary got some great photos. This morning when Mary was on watch she spotted a whale at about 2:00 in the distance. She called Dick up to see it and the next thing it passed just in front of the boat then sounded and didn't return. When I asked what kind it was, she said BIG.

We haven't talked much about this trip itself (from Richards Bay to Cape Town) so we'll bring you up to date. Egret's speed started with a 7.1 knot average (1550-1575 RPM), dropped to 6.3 knots with head currents, rose to 7.9 knots when she wuz flying, and currently is 7.6 knots. At no time did we have seas forward of the beam or spray on the pilothouse glass. The highest wind speed was a few hours of 25 gentle knots (true) over the stern quarter (while she was running 11.5 - 12.5 knots). Currently Egret has 60.81nm to go before her waypoint off Mossel Bay. We should arrive before dark. A Norwegian cruiser e-mailed Swedish friends who e-mailed Egret (got that?) saying MB Port Control had them tie up to the fishing dock. The dock had large tires as fenders and at low tide along with the surge they had to put to sea because the tires were above the gunwale and threatened to carry away the stanchions. They went on to say they had a "so so trip to Cape Town". So so in cruiser speak means they got killerated but don't want to say so. OMNI Bob sent a report this morning saying we have a brief window starting Sunday and ending Tuesday in Cape Town. So as we mentioned before we'll get on the phone tomorrow morning and see what we can work out in Cape Town. Hout Bay before Cape Town is exposed to the SE and this is where the system is coming from so that's out as well as Simon's Town before Hout Bay. More to follow.

OK, Egret did arrive Mossel Bay before dark, called Port Control on VHF 12 and asked permission to check the anchorage then if it was too rolly could we come inside the harbor. OK with him. Egret anchored with enough wind to keep her bow into the swell. We called this morning trying to get a berth in Cape Town. I spoke to the manager at Royal Cape Yacht Club and they are "full up". This is a big disappointment. There are certain milestone stops in a world circle and RCYC is one of the stops like Royal YC in Hobart, Fremantle Sailing Club in Fremantle and so on. We called two other numbers he suggested but it is Sunday and no answer. So we'll start again when in Cape Town.

MB appears to be a resort town. It is really a pretty setting up on a hill with beaches around the bay. After a calm night Egret departed MB at noon local. There were 4-5 sailboats we recognized from Richards Bay hanging waiting for better weather to leave. Both OMNI Bob and Ocens gribs concur that if we can make it to Cape Town before Tuesday night all will be well with no winds over 25 knots and seas over 2.5 meters (8'). Only during a 6 hour stretch are there adverse seas (beam or perhaps forward of the beam) and the rest of the time they are aft of the beam. There will be some hours however where the seas will be a little less than 1 second per foot and those might give Egret a roll job from astern. So we'll see. Currently there is less than 20 knots of wind from just aft of the beam and the seas have settled to less than 2 meters and an occasional RBG. Its 1500 on a beautiful sunny day and the little lady is clipping along averaging over 8 knots. The albatrosses are getting bigger and the first penguins are starting to show. Oh yes, seals are floating on top holding their flippers like a floating basket and some youngsters are jumping following Egret. And kelp is starting to show. Sound familiar? More to follow.

Early Mon AM. Today is Egret milestone day. At 0348 this morning Egret passed below Cape Agulhas, the southernmost tip of Africa. Countless seafarers died trying to reach this promontory and turn the corner in days gone by. It appears most of the nearby points are named after ships, no doubt shipwrecks. At 0422 a second milestone was reached. Egret turned north at waypoint 005, between six mile bank and twelve mile bank, and will continue north and west for some thousands of miles until she reaches Ft Lauderdale. And she is in the Atlantic again. There is a possibility Egret will never be as far south as waypoint 005 again. However, Way North is next. The third milestone is coming later this afternoon. More to follow.

At 1226 UTC, 1426 local, Monday, December 13th, 2010, Egret passed below the Cape of Good Hope. This is a remarkable event because when Egret left on the NAR (Nordhavn Atlantic Rally) May, 2004, Mary and I had no plans other than cruising the Balearic Islands and wintering in Barcelona. And now Egret is adding a tiny footnote in maritime history. We believe Egret will be the first small powerboat in history to pass below the five great Southern Ocean capes. Each cape was passed east to west instead of the more usual sailing west to east with the prevailing winds. This is not a significant achievement to the far majority of the cruising world because it doesn't pertain to them. It is not easy, it has to be planned carefully and quite honestly palm trees and white sand beaches have a more sensible attraction. But it is what it is and it makes us happy. Picture 2 is the Cape of Good Hope. Picture 3 is C-Map charting.

Egret should arrive in Cape Town around 2100 local. Earlier we made contact with a marine trade representative and asked if he could find Egret a berth in Cape Town. During a brief time when we had phone coverage a return message went thru but we have yet to regain coverage. We'll keep trying to make contact but if worse comes to worse we can always anchor off the beach according to C-Map charts.

So there you have it. We'll have the trip statistics in the next VofE.

 

 

December 3, 2010

Position: 28 47.41S 32 04.94E Berth E24, Zululand Yacht Club, Richard's Bay, South Africa (east coast)

The first Game Park pictures we'll call Trophy Heads.

G' Day mis amigos. So we're back to normal with no more ice reports*, waiting on MS to return and putzing on the boat. Yesterday we changed oil and cleaned the bilge.......again. The bilge was spotless but we cleaned it again and changed its diaper. Instead of purpose made bilge absorbers we simply wrap up a 3M bilge diaper tight, tie it with a length of 1/8" nylon and throw it into the bilge and tie the end of the line off so all we have to do is haul in the used diaper and make the swap for new. We change it about once a month even if it is clean so it doesn't have a chance to deteriorate and separate. We've done it for years and any oil or diesel that makes it way into the bilge gets absorbed and not pumped overboard. The engine oil had a single run time of 228 hours from Reunion to here plus a few start ups now and again to keep the prop clean. The oil was barely dirty. *Well OK, just one more story. It comes up in a bit.

Dick went to the local game park for a couple days with a Swedish cruiser couple. There were wild critters everywhere. When they saw their first black rhino they thought it was a big deal. In the end they were like sea gulls there were so many. They even saw three cheetahs at a distance. Dick was thrilled when he got back and went on for hours, daies about stuff they saw. One interesting fellow they ran into at the lodge was a professional tour guide. He was an Italian raised in Africa, speaks lotsa languages and has been everywhere. One thing that stuck more than any other was his love of Namibia. He said there are only 5m people and they are super nice and its SAFE there. So now it seems even more likely we will lean toward a stop in Walvis Bay, Namibia (Whale Bay). I was talking to another local about it and he said they made 3-4 Atlantic crossings over the years and said they too leave from Walvis Bay because the trade winds are settled and constant there vs farther south. He said friends that leave for St Helena (everyone's stop) direct from Cape Town always get hammered. So the lesson here is hang out, listen and ask questions and the information you receive is priceless vs the little written about the specifics of the trip from here to Brazil.

(Later addition) While we are talking about what we may do, there is another idea starting to float around in my mind. St Helena is everyone's stop whether they are heading for Brazil, the Caribbean or directly to the Azores following the old sailing ship's S curve route north. Very few stop at Ascension Island about 700nm farther north unless they are Azores bound. These days Ascension* allows landing and looking at the noonsite.com site, there is fuel available by jerry jugging. So, if we can get fuel at Ascension it means we can bypass Brazil entirely and make a 3065nm stretch directly to Tobago. This will keep Egret in the open ocean devoid of continent derived weather. Once crossing the equator the NE trades will kick in taking over from the SE trades but from what we saw on the Canary Island to Brazil crossing 5 years ago, the trades are gentle winds of perhaps 10-15 knots and well spaced waves. After leaving the Canaries I don't remember having spray on the pilothouse glass until nearing the Brazilian coast. In any case, we can plan as we may but until we are actually in the open ocean nearing St Helena and know Exactly what the wind is like, the fuel mileage and so on we won't make the call. Having the option to stretch over 3000nm is priceless. *Ascension Island is a RAF, USAF base and a communications center. Look up the info on noonsite.com and you will know what we know except for 2 yachtie reports from here at ZYC that made stops in Ascension.

It is interesting sorting information. It is like like any sorting trying to separate Truth and Fact from fluff. First of all we find better information from owners of boats vs crew even though the crew person was on the same trip. Owners have the ultimate responsibility for making Informed decisions and their boats safety. And of course, some owners have different levels of experience so that has to be evaluated as well. Crews learn what they may but there is a difference. However, owner or crew we listen to every story then sift and sort until a consensus of opinion floats to the top and we are comfortable with the information. Of course intuition from experience weighs in heavily as well. A good example of that was the recent trip from Reunion to Richards Bay. Virtually every sailboater told us to pass below the south coast of Madagascar by 100 to 150nm. We listened then looked at the information for ourselves. Yes we saw the shallow shelf extending 45nm south from Madagascar and the charts showing the current that sweeps down the east coast of M., around the bottom and north up the west coast. Then we looked at the area 100-150nm south of M and saw the entire area had what we call a 'broken bottom' of undulating bottom contours. For sure I saw a problem here in a blow, particularly with current involved. Below the drop off 45nm south of M is a deep trench about 46nm wide between the continental shelf of M and a sea mount that rises from 2500 or so meters to something over 525 meters. We set a waypoint farther east than a direct line to the turning waypoint below M. keeping us away from the sea breeze effect of land and any northern quadrant wind that may be sweeping south down the coast then split the difference between the dropoff below M and the seamount. So by adding just a few nm to the trip and using our intuition, Egret's trip below M. was a non event. Of course we had no weather but I believe if we had it wouldn't have been nearly as bad as farther south. The second gain was by entering the Angulus Current about 125nm from RB on a down angle with the current, Egret rocketed along at over 9 knots vs what it would have been with the current on the beam.

*Well OK, just one more Deep South story. I promised this story a while back. Miguel lives just down the dock from Egret. Miguel is a cruiser from Spain who was single handing his boat trying to round Cape Horn and got caught in 70+ knots. The force ripped the bow sprit off the boat and dumped the rigging and sail overboard. Now the mast was swaying back and forth threatening to come down and it didn't look particularly good. So Miguel started the iron sail and motored to an anchorage. Over the course of a few weeks he was able to retrieve the rig and fabricate a temporary rig. Then he rounded the Horn under jury rig and sailed to Ushuaia. While there he got a lift to the east at the entrance to the Beagle and chopped down a small pine tree. From this he hand shaped a new bow sprit and attached it. Picture 1 is the bow sprit from Ushuaia. If you asked almost anyone who visited the Beagle and surrounds they would universally say the only trees are one of 5 variations of beech. However, we rented a car and traveled the dirt road paralleling the Beagle to see where it went and what we could see past Estancia Harberton (ranch). There is a very narrow strip of pines about 100' wide and perhaps a few kilometers long in an area protected from the wind. Miguel's and now his wife and 10 month old son's boat was built in Australia in 1960 from wood so hard it was drilled before fastening. Miguel said all the planks are original and they plan to leave it to David (10 month old) when it is His Time.

And more boats. There are 7 catamarans at ZYC who's Polynesian design origins are occasionally seen cruising. These cats are super seaworthy and are usually home built in glass over plywood from plans. The owners tend to be the more adventurous sorts and are often young couples who built their own boat while working and are taking a few years off cruising the Pacific where winds tend to be more constant. When you do see the design they are usually in more remote anchorages. Typically they have a single drop down outboard for motoring. They motor efficiently and maneuver well with big rudders but don't have much range under power because of outboard power and fuel storage. So they live on anchor quite simply. With their super shallow draft when the wind starts puffing they can pull up tight to the beach in the lee. Picture 2 is the largest and most finished example we have seen to date.

Previous news.

OMNI Bob read the story about the cruisers with no source of weather once at sea. Bob kindly offered a departure forecast for the soon to depart cruisers. We have seen them making the rounds of other cruisers getting their opinions as well. In the end they will leave as always with a departure forecast from cruisers and whatever happens, happens. If you are in lower latitudes with more predictable seasonal weather with occasional fronts, fine, but not here with a constant stream of SWlys blowing thru regularly. Again, as always I'm sure they will make it, at a price.

Well, I got caught. A Swedish friend told me yesterday he read the VofE with the Deep South information about taking lines ashore and the size of the stainless steel cable to wrap around trees and rocks. 5/16" x 30' was correct. Of course I guessed at the mm because I was too lazy too look it up and 11mm was wrong. 5/16" = 8mm.

New Deep South news. A heads up from British cruisers we met in Patagonia mentioned new regulations in Argentina. Egret's VofE notes and recommendations are for the physical voyage south. If you intend to visit the Deep South as we recommended, and still highly recommend, a visit to the noonsite.com website, countries, Argentina, is well worthwhile and starting with this information it is imperative you determine the current regulations before heading south. In seems after reading the information there are two issues. The first is the Argentine reassertion with claims of ownership of the Falkland Islands, South Georgia and a part of Antarctica. This is political posturing and doesn't really apply to cruisers except you need to fill out the paperwork to satisfy the politicos. The second issue revolves around the Argentines trying to control the unregulated charter industry operating out of Ushuaia. I believe an e-mail to rox@xaxero.com would be a big help. Roxanne is a ships agent in Ushuaia and a cruisers' friend.

Yesterday a largish American ketch pulled into ZYC. The ketch is owned by an American lady and her crew of many years is a tall 40 something girl from Scandinavia. They are best friends and good for each other. The American is a former tough guy executive and the crew was a computer techie something, living a normal life with a boyfriend, a job, rounds of parties and accumulating stuff. One day she figured there is more to life than that and shed the boyfriend, sold her stuff and hopped on a series of boats until these two found each other. They have been sailing together for 8 years and seen tons of stuff. They were recently on the S. coast of Madagascar and the former exec got back pains. So being a former she knows what doctors know and popped a valium to ease the pain. Well, impatient former she was, when nothing happened for a bit she popped another. Wellll, haaaaay duuuud............ So that helped for a while. Soon after arriving they went to the mall and loaded up with essentials. When Dick and I stopped by yesterday all that was left piled on the deck was cases of beer, a couple bottles of medicine in nice glass containers, and perhaps a little food. So we invited them for dinner but former is still hurting and begged off and asked for a rain check. She needs to see a doctor and will soon. They plan to stay in SA for a year, buy a car, tour the country and do a total refit on the boat.

So lets talk about refit for a bit. (You can tell Mary is still away and I have lotsa time so I can drone on about stuff) Refits were a sizable part of my former vocation, not from a labor management standpoint but from a materials standpoint. So there were a few decades watching everything from fluff and puffs to major refit and restoration. I'll give you a general overview what we saw in Egret's travels, and only Egret's travels. I am basing this information on a cost per finished work order item per unit of money spent. Also, I'm basing my opinion on a job well done to high standards and not just a job completed. Cheap labor doesn't necessarily mean a cheap job in the slightest. A good example here is painting. I see local inexpensive labor working sanding boats with a small compressor, using sub standard sandpaper because it is as cheap as they can find and grinding away on whatever hull with no supervision. What you get is a scratched finish, dished where the worker was leaning into the pad on too shallow of an angle and an overall mess. Even primer sanded flat with no reflection you can see the major imperfections. In the meantime the compressor has been running flat out trying to keep up with a DA (dual action) sander so the air lines are compromised (you'll see why next). Then, using the same tiny compressor and no proper water trap (just a tiny trap at the compressor itself) they attempt to spray the hull with whatever paint the owner specified. Here's how it works. A small compressor runs constantly to keep up with a spray gun. This means lotsa heat and as the super hot air cools traveling thru the air hose condenses it makes lotsa water. Air looses 1lb of pressure per 10 feet of travel. So the long hose runs used to paint a boat looses lotsa pressure so the painter turns up the pressure at the compressor to compensate, the compressor runs as hard as it can generating even more heat and the super hot compressor cylinder will eventually start to distort and NOW, and now, come tiny droplets of compressor oil screaming thru the tiny water trap into the hose, into the gun, mixes with the paint and now in addition to water contamination you have oil contamination. So this atomized mess of paint and contaminated air gets blown onto the dished and scratched surface creating a major disaster. Water and oil both displace paint. So you have a tiny pinhole and a raised ring around the hole of displaced paint after the paint dries. So for the second coat mister sand man leans on the sander and screws up the soft first coat of topcoat even more but leaves the remnants of a pinhole open down to the primer. So now the second coat of topcoat goes on and no painter can fill a pinhole with a spray gun. Paint may bridge the pinhole at first but as paint cures it goes into tension and eventually goes pop and there is the pinhole back and deeper than before.........and of course there are MORE pinholes in the finish coat. This simple lesson can be applied to every item on a work order.

Its not worth it. I deleted the entire next part because by trying to help a very few we may upset many more good folks making a living in the marine repair and refinishing business. Controversy is not what VofE is about. I'll let the paragraph above stand to give you an idea of price vs quality and a tiny bit of insight into something as simple as a paint job.

Oh happy daze, MS is back. Her flight arrived a bit early so when we arrived by taxi she was standing at the curb. AND, oh happy daze again!! The airport gestapo let the coffee, Rain X and buffing compound go thru. We also bought another case of fuel filters bringing the total to something to well over 30 again*. She brought back movies like The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo and its sequel. We read the trilogy and couldn't wait to see the movie. But you know, the biggest thing she brought back was herself. We have been married a loooong time and it is still as good as it gets. So anyhow.............

*We don't make a big deal in writing about long voyages but I will assure you we don't take a long voyage for granted. We prepare well and have lotsa stuff in case of whatever. Some years back a friend got a bad slug of fuel before an ocean crossing. He had quite a few filter elements but was using filter elements at a faster rate that would leave them with a reserve or even completing the trip. In the end they made it by taking an outside the box look at the problem and wrapped the fuel filters with heavy duty blue paper towels acting as a pre filter within the the filter bowl itself. This imaginative thinking saved the day and they made the crossing with no issues after. We learned from that lesson but always carried lotsa filter elements. Now we carry even a few more.

Mary took her camera and brought back pictures of the new addition to the Flanders family, Asher Cayde. He is a cute little fella that looks like his mom. She's sorta cute too. And she also took pictures of good friend's little girl just a few months older. She looks like her Good Looking mom too. This lucky little girl will soon be a Boat Kid opening doors as her mommy and daddy drive her around in her own little white fiberglass ship. Perhaps some day Eileen and AC will run away on Asher's little rat trap sailboat and live large for a few years before succumbing to Work. Heck yes, I would even send them traveling money for dried beans, rice and cans of tuna that are food staples of most 20 somethings Cruising On Love and No Money. Wouldn't that be cool?

Before the Game Park stuff let us pass something along. The N.com website has a new look. In addition there is something new where you can receive VofE updates without waiting. Just go to the N.com site, click on VofE Alerts and as soon as the latest is posted it will arrive. I think I'll put ourselves on the list because sometimes we (I) have a beer or so and say things like " Egret is off like a prom dress" and you don't get to see it. So I'll know what does or doesn't make it past The Censor. Of course, now The Censor has to let "Egret is off like a prom dress" slide to keep this paragraph in tact. (Please don't get upset by any of this. If you have two or more brain cells you know we have a lot of fun with VofE and no one escapes including the Dirties (Dirt Dwellers), Intracoastal Weenies, Marina Queens, Forum Folks, The Censor and including ourselves with Dumb Attacks). You get the picture.

OK, time for the Game Park stuff. Wow oh Wow!! I better slow down, enthusiastic droning might put you to sleep. So we'll do the short version. The first day our Afrikaner neighbor took Mary and I for a full day trip thru Hluhluwe/Mfolozi Game Reserves. The south section is the Hluhluwe area and contains the most animals. We traveled about 200k's (120 miles) thru the reserve during the day. The first part is paved and the far majority is hard pack dirt. We arrived shortly after the gates opened at 5:00am. Understand these are wild animals that are NOT fed except by their own hand. Some munch grass and others munch the munchers. We have so many great pictures we'll show what we can on VofE postings and we'll send a number to Jenny Stern at PAE to hold until we leave South Africa then she will send them to web guru Doug Harlow for a new VofE Pictures on SA. More on pictures to follow.

The first animals were a few impalas outlined against the sunrise. We were thrilled. Later they became common as ants. The next major animals were clumps of zebras and giraffes. Photography is all about color and not boring snapshots in broad daylight. The early morning sun lit up the zebras and giraffes surrounded by green and early misting hills in the background. The overall scene was just like we all imagine as kids. Once off the paved road we saw our first rhino. It looked like a house and then, and THEN Daddy came out of the bushes and He looked like a hospital. Then came pairs of rhinos everywhere and some had kids along for the hike. With all the recent rain the animals were scattered because there was available water everywhere. Later when things dry is when animals are concentrated near the water holes. Rounding one corner we came across a huge herd of Cape Buffalos lying in a mud bath. In any case we saw and photographed; zebra, spotted hyena, rare wild dogs, cape buffalo, elephant, white rhino, rare black rhino, warthog, chacma baboon, a small monkey of some sort, impala, waterbuck, nyalas, kudu, bushbuck, blue wildebeest, cape vulture, tawny eagle, yellow billed kite, wild secretary bird (snake eaters), woolly necked stork, egyptian goose, some smaller birds and the Wild and Crazy dung beetle. These hard workers were rolling golf ball to tennis ball size balls of dung across the road standing on their hands and using their back legs to roll the stuff along. Once the ball is where they want it they lay their eggs inside. And so the day went with a constant commentary from our neighbor who grew up in the bush and who's grandfather owned the house in the film Out of Africa. His stories were as interesting as the wild game.

The next day we were back at opening time. Once in the park Mary rode in the back seat so she could shoot pictures from both sides of the car. This time we saw a family of elephants including a couple of kids very close by the car. However, Swedish friends and two more cruisers were in the park at the same time and stopped for an elephant blocking the road. Then came another and another and soon they were surrounded by a wall of grey. They could reach out and touch them. And they had elephant kids along with protective mothers. They wuz freekin (the cruisers, not the elephants)!! The stories go on and on. We left the park in the late afternoon and drove back home, had a touch of rum n coke and crashed. We slept like lion kill after two long days and lotsa k's. In any case, this is the very short version and we'll let the pictures tell the tale. And by the way, Mary got a latest, latest Nikon lens for her birthday. Most of the pictures you'll see are hers. Mary's new 28-300mm lens can really reach out and touch the critters. You'll see.

So there you have it. A plethora of subjects and its time to fire this VofE into space. Tomorrow will be spent getting ready to leave. All we need to leave is the propane filled and good weather. Provisioning was finished today except for last minute perishables and bread. For you Friends of Dickiedoo back home in NZ we have a little story. The Girls on a Two Girl sailboat have taken a liking to Dick. After provisioning this afternoon I asked Dick to tell The Girls we got back too late to take them somewhere we promised and will take them tomorrow. So he did but The Naughty Girls plyed him with alcohol and he didn't come home until after 10:00. Of course he was all giggly. Ya know, this cruising life is great. So what did you do today? Ciao.

Ed. Note - The glossary of Egretism terms will be posted on the Captain's Log home page for easy reference.

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