Monday, 25 January 2016

Simon's Town to Cape Town

Hi everyone,
Yesterday we did the 60nm passage from Simon's Town to Cape Town.  We departed at 0545 and winds were light from Simon's Town down toward the cape so we had to motor.  Around the capes we had a nice NW wind which allowed us to sail around Cape Point and the Cape of Good Hope.  From there we we had a wind which flowed directly down the coast and we had to motor to ensure we arrived in daylight.

Here are our track and speed profile.  Note we kept sailing for a little while after rounding the capes before deciding sailing to Cape Town was going to be a slow process.  We ended up motoring at 2400rpm to get there in daylight.  We normally motor at 2000rpm so this was a good workout for the engine.

Zen Again track
Zen Again speed
The sail around the two capes was spectacular.  Cape Point is much higher than the Cape of Good Hope.  There are a couple of offshore reefs which we sailed inshore of.  Bellows Reef was breaking heavily, even in a low swell.  Anvil Rock wasn't breaking and could easily catch you out.

PredictWind offers a high-resolution GRIB of the cape area.  The lees and acceleration zones produced by the high hills on the peninsula are very significant to sailors and are only represented in this type of GRIB.  Here's an example...

High-Reolution GRIB file showing "lees" created by the hilly cape
We sailed in company with UK yacht Sara II and Netherlands yacht Geramar.  We were the only one of the three who sailed around the cape.  Motoring around allowed them to overtake us though!

Rounding Cape Point (Cape of Good Hope at left)
Rounding Cape of Good Hope (at left) with sv Sara II inshore
The passage up the peninsula to Cape Town was tedious.  Motoring into a light breeze is frustrating.  We motored through several light fog banks which reduced visibility to around 0.5nm.  The water went from 20C to 13C as we rounded the capes which no-doubt contributed to fog formation.

For most of the passage it was overcast.  The sun only came out for an hour or so as we rounded the capes.  The wind was somewhat chilly.

We arrived in Table Bay at about 1600 and found a number of yachts out sailing for the afternoon.  Most of them appeared to be tourist boats.  Entry into the port was straight-forward.  We called the Swing Bridge on VHF71 and joined the set of boats entering the V&A Marina at 1645.  There are two bridges to pass through and they are controlled together.

We were assisted in berthing by the crew of US yacht Andiamo who we haven't seen since Reunion.  They sailed from Richards Bay direct to Cape Town, arriving only a few days ago.

Entering Cape Town port
Zen Again in V&A Marina, Cape Town
We really enjoyed our month at Simon's Town.  The people at FBYC are very friendly and put on some great welcome parties for the cruisers.  Wandering ashore to one of Simon' Town's many cafes, restaurants and pubs was totally safe.  It seems the only thing one needs to be very careful about is people "helping" you at ATMs, although we never encountered such con-artists.

It rained overnight as the tip of a cold front came through.  That helped clean the Simon's Town dirt off the upper part of the rig.

It's great to be moored in the middle of Cape Town and at our "jumping off" point for our South Atlantic crossing.  We expect to stay here for several days to do our final shopping and preparations.  We expect to move briefly to RCYC's marina, but only to clear out for St Helena.

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