Posted by: powellpjc | January 19, 2014

Last Post. Wherein we sink.

Warning to reader:
The journey came to an end on Dec. 4th, 2013, off the coast of Argentina. Our lives were spared. No pictures are attached as no cameras remain.

Sinking at Night.
“When she goes, she’ll go quickly”.
My words to my friend and crewman, Paul. I was right.
There are many dangerous waters in the world and the South Atlantic can rightly claim its place. The yachting books remark on the history of misfortune and misery that has been has dealt to sailors on the passage from Mar del Plata, Argentina, to Cape Horn. A combination of exposed coastline; few safe havens; storms that curl up from the bottom end of South America and the ever-present icy water. All of these can make the journey difficult.
We were doing well, the two of us on la Rosa. Thirteen days south of Mar del Plata we stopped at a beautiful, well-protected natural harbor (uninhabited) that sailors call Caleta Horno. It was a spectacular setting, with high cliffs, jagged clefts and protection from all wind and wave. It was warm and sunny and we rested and prepared for the difficulties ahead. The views from the top of the high ground were pleasing. The warm, rolling pampas to one side and the pacific-looking Atlantic to the other. I checked the weather forecast on my radio and it looked ok. It was time to leave.
The first couple of days were fine as we set our course to Ushuaia, Argentina. Sunny and reasonably good going. We were off the coast of Comodoro Rividavia when conditions took a turn. The wind picked up and switched direction. We were no longer able to head to land and whatever protection that might offer. The wind was contrary to our course and increasing. We took down all sails and rode with the currents and waves. We ‘lay-ahull’ and things were reasonably comfortable. I had ‘lain-ahull’ many times in other oceans and was confident we would be fine. The skies were not too angry looking but the wind kept increasing.
For three days we sat it out, hatches battened and all loose gear below well-secured. There was occasional spray in the cockpit but no swamping waves. We kept a watch on our course and reversed it a couple of times. I didn’t want to drift too far out to sea where the Falkland’s current, combined with the 40+ kt wind would make the water rougher. As it was, the seas were over 13 metres but our boat was riding well. We were 300 km off the coast. At about 4 p.m. I took one look around—for other ships—and decided to have a shower. After long days at sea and a hot shower is always a mood elevator when you are bored, scared or just hard done by.
The minutes after my shower are still a blank but the disaster was real. Paul helped me to understand. A big, bad, breaking wave caught us sideways and rolled the boat through 360 degrees. Hatches collapsed; the heater chimney was ripped clean; the mast snapped at deck level and water poured in everywhere. Our inflatable dinghy was torn in half. Paul was reading in his forward bunk when we were struck and he realized immediately what had happened. He came looking for me.
I was upside down, unconscious and under a metre of water, still in the shower room. My scalp was split open and there was a lot of blood. Scalps are like that. He hauled me to my feet and I came to quickly but had very little understanding of events. I kept asking Paul, ‘What ocean are we in?’ He helped me dress and we sat in the cockpit. We had trouble activating our emergency beacon. The instructions were impossible to read in the gloom and I had not the wits about me to assist Paul. He got it going. A bright strobe light and a signal to satellites about our position, name of our boat, next of kin and the like.
I was deathly cold, sitting in the cockpit. My clothes were soaked and I shivered uncontrollably. It was getting dark and I knew I would not make it through the night. The boat was taking on water, batteries flooded and no pumps working. We were sinking. After two hours there was no sign of rescue nor had we any idea whether or not our signal was received by anyone. Paul found a 2-way radio and I transmitted our mayday message. No answer.
We sat in the slowly filling cockpit—it was too dangerous and dark down below—sipping on a bottle of fine whisky and staring off into the wild waves and night. Booze was the worst thing a couple of hypothermic boys can do but there is the matter of style. I was resigned to the inevitable and just wanted the shivering to be over with.
The green and red lights low on the horizon were heading towards us and the fixed wing plane roared in low and directly overhead. We made radio contact, sort of. Spanish is an acquired language for me and I struggled. I did know the plane was coast guard but I knew he couldn’t rescue us himself. He diverted an oil tanker towards us (we heard later) but when I told him the boat was going to sink in about 10 minutes he said, ‘Don’t worry, there is a helicopter coming.’ The boat was awash now and I told Paul to get ready. Two more waves and she went down. We stepped up into the ocean with no sign of a helicopter in sight but I held the strobe light beacon in one hand and tried to keep my head clear of the breaking waves. I drank a lot of sea water. Then, a lovely sight. Searchlights on the water from the low-flying helicopter coming towards us.
The pilots hovered clear of the huge waves and dropped one swimmer on a cable and then another. These brave boys hauled us to safety. Everything was at the limit. The helicopter’s range, our ability to stay afloat, our strength, our hopes. They did it and we survived. Thanks, Paul. Thanks, boys.

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Posted by: powellpjc | November 19, 2013

Buenos Aires, Bye Bye.

Finally, after 5 months I get out of BsAs, Argentina. I was there during their winter and some nights it got down to 4C which is too cold for a tropical guy but perhaps good training for what is to come. The area I stayed in, San Fernando, a suburb of BQ was clean and uninteresting. The whole delta of the Rio de la Plata is flat flat flat, the waterways are small rivers or dredged canals. There are a lot of boats in the area and in summertime it would be a fun place to poke around. All the little waterways have restaurants/cabanas/parks and small hotels so the weekend business would be brisk with the powerboats. The fewer in number sailboats try to beat up and down the rivers but it is not real sailing and the shallow waters are treacherous, although just mud bottoms. I know. I went aground at least 3 times and ploughed through the mud on a few other occasions.
I did get a lot of work done on the boat, the biggest addition being a stainless steel arch over the stern to carry my two new solar panels and my new radar—replacing the radar that was stolen in Peru. They tell me radar can come in handy down south in the channels of the Beagle in the fog/rain and rocky inlets. Nevermind the house-sized icebergs that calve off the many glaciers dropping down from the high mountains.

My pretty new arch and radar installed and working!

My pretty new arch and radar installed and working!


When I go to visit the pompous authorities I dress up in my whites and get shown into chambers right away. Works a charm.

When I go to visit the pompous authorities I dress up in my whites and get shown into chambers right away. Works a charm.


I broke my stay up by zipping over to Chile—Iquique,as usual—to go paragliding. Paul Mahony joined me in September and was a great help in the boat jobs. He came over to Chile with me and we rented a car and drove over the Andes back into Argentina just to see the gorgeous sights once again. It was my 7th trip to the area of Salta, Cafayate and NW Argentina. Beautiful.
Across the altiplano in the high Atacama. 15,000'.

Across the altiplano in the high Atacama. 15,000′.


Vicuna. They make great fur coats but they don't like being skinned. Sorry boys.

Vicuna. They make great fur coats but they don’t like being skinned. Sorry boys.


Melting ice, called 'penitentes' (prayers) at 14500' across the Andes.

Melting ice, called ‘penitentes’ (prayers) at 14500′ across the Andes.


Precariously picking a cactus flower.

Precariously picking a cactus flower.


Because they look so pretty.

Because they look so pretty.


The famous descent into Argentina.

The famous descent into Argentina.


How green was my valley, how brown were my hills.

How green was my valley, how brown were my hills.


The grand cathedral of Salta, Argentina.

The grand cathedral of Salta, Argentina.


Just about to set up his artisan shop in the middle of nowhere.

Just about to set up his artisan shop in the middle of nowhere.


More pics of NW Argentina follow:
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view from our hotel in Cachi.

view from our hotel in Cachi.


Rugged beauty, rugged boys.

Rugged beauty, rugged boys.


Cactus to snow.

Cactus to snow.


The flamingo pond at 14,000' but no flamingos today.

The flamingo pond at 14,000′ but no flamingos today.


Some palms just don't have it.

Some palms just don’t have it.


Summer home on a reservoir.

Summer home on a reservoir.


Not a wedding destination facility, I am guessing.

Not a wedding destination facility, I am guessing.


That lake is in Bolivia.

That lake is in Bolivia.


Bodega Esteco, Cafayate.

Bodega Estecho, Cafayate.


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Paulie surveying his holdings.

Paulie surveying his holdings.


Paulie waiting for a train, ticket in hand. The track was built but no train ever ran. ?

Paulie waiting for a train, ticket in hand. The track was built but no train ever ran. ?


Paulie is a railroader and is not ascared to park his rental car on  the tracks. Well, these tracks.

Paulie is a railroader and is not ascared to park his rental car on the tracks. Well, these tracks.


Sometimes we got carried away. The wine is great, after all.

Sometimes we got carried away. The wine is great, after all.


Grand Hotel Salta.

Grand Hotel Salta.


Don't be running through these brambles.

Don’t be running through these brambles.


My summer home in Cafayate.

My summer home in Cafayate.


These fellas are not porcupines. The llamas eat them up around 15,000'.

These fellas are not porcupines. The llamas eat them up around 15,000′.


General Belgrano in Salta.

General Belgrano in Salta.


Back in Iquique, Chile and a small fishmonger's stall. Cockles and mussels, alive alive ho.

Back in Iquique, Chile and a small fishmonger’s stall. Cockles and mussels, alive alive ho.


Also some fine Mahi Mahi.

Also some fine Mahi Mahi.


Lobe del mar, waiting for me to fall in.

Lobe del mar, waiting for me to fall in.


but I was going nowhere near those teeth.

but I was going nowhere near those teeth.

Paul did a couple of tandem paraglides and I flew all over the place, landing in ditches sometimes, but having a grand old time. We stayed with my friend, Claus—a fellow pilot—and he suffered us for 5 days but we got our share of seafood and wine into us.

Paul looking tough before takeoff. His pilot not so sure.

Paul looking tough before takeoff. His pilot not so sure.


Sometimes I get to land on the beach.

Sometimes I get to land on the beach.


But hard on the brakes before the Oceano Pacifico.

But hard on the brakes before the Oceano Pacifico.


With Claus chowing down on great seafood, Iquique.

With Claus chowing down on great seafood, Iquique.


Back in Buenos Aires now.
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Dik Courtis joined us for some male tit grabbing. It's a guy thing.

Dik Courtis joined us for some male tit grabbing. It’s a guy thing.


We can be normal sometimes.

We can be normal sometimes.


Paul looking cool.

Paul looking cool.


Slim, trim and fun to be with.

Slim, trim and fun to be with.


I am trying my best to maintain a serene and calm demeanor in the face of adversity. Failing.

I am trying my best to maintain a serene and calm demeanor in the face of adversity. Failing.


Bolivian day in BA.
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092095 (2)
A prettier face.

A prettier face.


114 (3)
084

Paul and I left BA 6 days ago and arrived here in Mar del Plata yesterday. We had 4 good days and one miserable, on the nose 42 kt vicious hammering and went backwards for a day, but all well in the end.
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Look, boys, I'm just drying my feet, ok?

Look, boys, I’m just drying my feet, ok?


I also enjoy your bean bag chair, thank you.

I also enjoy your bean bag chair, thank you.


A shearwater. Tough guy to capture on camera. He is a fast flyer.

A shearwater. Tough guy to capture on camera. He is a fast flyer.

Now comes the hard waters. There is a large text/guide book for the Argentine, Cape Horn, and Chile canals written by a couple of long time southern sailors. They describe our next passage with these words:
‘The route between Rio de La Plata and the South end of the continent, is considered, without exaggeration, one of the toughest a yacht is likely to meet. A long record of wrecks, accidents and misfortunes, amplified by time, could not but strengthen the discomfort sailors feel leaving Mar del Plata.’
So, I guess we’re in for it. We leave in 4-5 days. Hope to make Ushuaia, Argentina in 3 weeks, insha’allah.

We're going here. Maybe now you understand.

We’re going here. Maybe now you understand.

Jimmie Donaldson joined me in la Plata, Argentina—just south of Buenos Aires—after Pete Ritchie winged his way home. We motored up the canal in Rio del Plata with some trepidation. There are big ships going both ways and just enough room for the two of them in 50 feet of water. If you wander out of the buoyed lane you are in 3 feet of water. We traveled at night so as to arrive at our destination with plenty of light next day because I had no real idea where we would find a marina that would take us. We did fine up the canal and into the Rio Parana then had to make a choice when we arrived at Canal Honda. The area is a maze of dredged canals and waterways with no navigational aids—lights, buoys or markers of any sort and we arrived at midnight. So, the choice was to poke our way down this canal or anchor for the night. Always looking for adventure, away we go. We are idling the motor and still doing 3.5 knots with the current. All is good until a ‘house’ appears on the horizon. Except it is not a house but a large billboard in the centre of the channel.

In the middle of the river with no lights and no information. Troubled Argentina. I zigged when I should have zagged.

In the middle of the river with no lights and no information. Troubled Argentina. I zigged when I should have zagged.


I realize it at the ‘momento ultimo’ and swing the wheel hard to the left. Big mistake. No water. Ok, 3 feet. I need 6 feet. So, we are hard aground for the night. Next morning I hail a working barge and he hauls us off. I give him $60 for his ½ hour of work and he wants to refuse but I insist so he moves close enough to grab the cash and a wave bangs us together. Another little job for Pete.
This kindly chap pulled us free of the mud. No damage done until I gave him the $. My fault.

This kindly chap pulled us free of the mud. No damage done until I gave him the $. My fault.

We find a nice marina in San Fernando, quiet, protected and safe in all respects (I hope).

Nice, safe San Fernando marina.

Nice, safe San Fernando marina.

After checking in with authorities (again) we buy some chow and head back up the Canal Honda, avoiding our nemesis. Chug on up the Rio Parana and stop at an industrial town, Campana, where the coast guard wakes us up at 10 pm looking for papers and making us re-anchor.
Next day we make tracks for Zarate, only 10 miles but a nicer town. We have to get under a bridge. It looks high enough but it is damn near impossible to judge height from the deck–called ‘air draft’ We creep under with about 100 feet to spare!
Ok. Bridge ahead, no indication on chart of its height. Slow, slow. Lose the mast and it's all over.

Ok. Bridge ahead, no indication on chart of its height. Slow, slow. Lose the mast and it’s all over.


So, 100 feet to spare. What chickens.

So, 100 feet to spare. What chickens!


I attempt to hail the coast guard on the radio but no one home. Not until 10 pm when they wake us up again demanding all paperwork. Next day we go ashore in dinghy and they come back to boat with another crew of jerks looking for papers again. Sheesh. Have nice lunch in town, get laundry done and retire after huge meal. Get woken up again at 9 pm by another crew of coast guard idiots looking for our papers (3rd time). I go ballistic and demand name of Minister of Coast Guard. He will get a blast from Pete.
Pete preparing one of hi signature dishes. Well, with enough scotch and rum anything tastes good.

Pete preparing one of hi signature dishes. Well, with enough scotch and rum anything tastes good.


Jimbo standing guard. Before promotion to Able Seaman 4th class.

Jimbo standing guard. Before promotion to Able Seaman 4th class.


And after well-deserved promotion on the after deck.

And after well-deserved promotion on the after deck.


Marina duck. Jimbo likes his duck, usually on a plate with a cream sauce.

Marina duck. Jimbo likes his duck, usually on a plate with a cream sauce.


Cruising the world means fixing your boat in strange, expensive places.

Cruising the world means fixing your boat in strange, expensive places.


City park in el Tigre, Argentina.

City park in el Tigre, Argentina.


Pete. Always calm, always worried.

Pete. Always calm, always worried.


Our only source of heat. I will install my Dickenson Antartica heater soon.

Our only source of heat. I will install my Dickenson Antartica heater soon.


Ferry cross the Honda

Ferry cross the Honda


Modern ferry cross the Honda.

Modern ferry cross the Honda.


Pete's ferry=big muscles.

Pete’s ferry=big muscles.


Sometimes it's like fun.

Sometimes it’s like fun.


Summer home on Canal Honda.

Summer home on Canal Honda.


Jimbo is a big photographer and a good one.

Jimbo is a big photographer and a good one.


With this last coast guard molestation we decide to give up on the river and head back to San Fernando tomorrow. Enough, already. Sooner I can get out this country the better, but that won’t be until October when spring arrives and I can head south. Love the food, the wine, the people (leave out coast guard as people classification—and enter them as idiot class) and many other things about Argentina.

Posted by: powellpjc | May 28, 2013

Finally Argentina.

I love this place. The food, the people the disorganization, the strikes, the streetlights that don’t work but especially the wine. I am in Buenos Aires now staying with the friend of Pete’s.

Great. No more solo sailing for me. Picked up my cousin, Pete Ritchie in Punta del Este, Uruguay, and we had a swell time. Eating, speaking Spanish like pros and wondering if they understood us and if we were surrounded by foreigners—which is my usual case.

Captain and 1st mate.

Captain and 1st mate.


Rented a car and did a drive-about in Piriopolis, then chugged on up to Puerto Buseo—the yacht haven closest to Montevideo—and looked about for 2 days.
The castle of Don Piria, thus the name, Piriopolis.

The castle of Don Piria, thus the name, Piriopolis.


Pete doesn't like to pose for pics, so this is Pete not posing.

Pete doesn’t like to pose for pics, so this is Pete not posing.


I am a poseur from way back so here I am in my clown outfit for the day. Warm underwear, though.

I am a poseur from way back so here I am in my clown outfit for the day. Warm underwear, though.


Don Piria liked his trees.

Don Piria liked his trees.


The 2 Pedros, posing, sort of.

The 2 Pedros, posing, sort of.


Some kind of buzzard. Looks like this is where the nazis got their eagle symbol.

Some kind of buzzard. Looks like this is where the nazis got their eagle symbol.


No doubt a species of Uruguayan deer. There was a zoo in the countryside.

No doubt a species of Uruguayan deer. There was a zoo in the countryside.


This is what you call your garden variety night owl.

This is what you call your garden variety night owl.

Pete getting right into his Spanish. Look out Grand Forks.

Pete getting right into his Spanish. Look out Grand Forks.


Enough, already. Big city, nothing special, so we made tracks to Argentina. We went to ‘la Plata’ because we’d heard that it was easiest place to check in with all appropriate authorities. Overnight crossing of the Rio del Plata with many big ships getting in our way. Pete went from Able Seaman 4th class to Able Seaman 1st Class on the trip. I’m not sure he ever graduated from any university so I could not promote him to officer country. He was a great help. It is cold in the Rio del Plata this time of year and another hand helps a hell of a lot. We did 2, 3 or 4 hour shifts, depending.
Ok, checking in with immigration, customs and navy took 3 days and about 8 hours. Not counting time in taxis. Sheesh!
Pete has a friend in BA and we visited for dinner. Lovely gal with guy and daughter and they treated us like the kings we are. I will go back tomorrow now that I have fulfilled all authorities’ demands. They try hard but they are just dumb—friendly and dumb—with no photocopiers and they want unlimited copies of everything. You get the picture.
Jimmie Donaldson arrives in a couple of days and we will make our way up the Parana River, Argentina. He will stay as long as his nerves hold out and then I will get some sail work done at the North Sails loft near Tigre before heading to Mar del Plata. I hope Paulie Mahony can join me before I leave for Mar del Plata. Should work out. I am done sailing solo.
I had to revisit the 3 authorities yesterday for another 2 hours. Sheesh, again.
Pete.

Posted by: powellpjc | May 19, 2013

From Rio to Uruguay

They wouldn’t let me stay at the marina in Rio for more than 4 days so I headed south to Isla Grande, Brazil, to catch my breath and check out a few items below waterline. Like this.

Getting ready to snorkeleer on my hull.

Getting ready to snorkeleer on my hull.


Isla Grande, Brazil.

Isla Grande, Brazil.


I found this plastic bag sucked into my engine cooling intake. Whew!

I found this plastic bag sucked into my engine cooling intake. Whew!


Just a quiet day.

Just a quiet day.


Good chow in Brazil.

Good chow in Brazil.


And yes, I ate the head.

And yes, I ate the head.


Piriopolis, Uruguay.

Piriopolis, Uruguay.


Able Seaman, Pete Ritchie, and el capitan.

Able Seaman, Pete Ritchie, and el capitan.


He was all smiles after he won Able Seaman of the Day award.

He was all smiles after he won Able Seaman of the Day award.


Quiet anchorage.

Quiet anchorage.


Then a lovely sail down to Uruguay until the last 100 miles when I ran into a tormenta that lasted 4 days. Finally made it into la Paloma where I had a nervous breakdown and heart attack, in that order.
After a few days of cooling heels I made it around the corner to Punta del Este where I picked up my cousin, Pete Ritchie, experienced sailor from Loon Lake.
We are making our way up the Uruguayan coast, slowly, as weather permits. It is chilly. 14C at night in the cabin but 19 during the day.
A few more pics of St. Helena that I forgot last time.
The house where Nap Bona was interned. I'd stay there, no problem. St. Helena.

The house where Nap Bona was interned. I’d stay there, no problem. St. Helena.


The main drag in St. Helena. A ditch, populated.

The main drag in St. Helena. A ditch, populated.


The high ground on St. Helena. Nice country.

The high ground on St. Helena. Nice country.


Pete.

Posted by: powellpjc | April 17, 2013

St Helena

Wasn’t going to stop here but the winds blew me in. Napoleon is buried here on land owned by French Government and his internment house is pretty and well kept. Exile was not bad, I’d say. I’ll take it any day.
No harbour here but they do have big moorings, impossible to pick up for a singlehander. I tried 6 times until a fishing boat came along to help. I took few pics, sorry.
Expensive fuel and few fresh veggies.

The rocky, forbidding coastline and hills of St. Helena. Nap Bona is buried up in those rocky hills.

The rocky, forbidding coastline and hills of St. Helena. Nap Bona is buried up in those rocky hills.


21 days from there to Brazil. I wanted to go to Salvador but winds would not cooperate so ended up in Rio. Boat show coming this week so I have to leave in 2 days. Damn. I wanted to go north to Governador Valadares to go flying but no way now.
Bought a whack of fishing tackle in South Africa and caught 2 barracuda and one very large squid.
$500 worth of no catching gear.

$500 worth of no catching gear.


Couldn’t face the 1st barracuda but I tried the second one. Don’t bother. They are snakes with bones like darning needles, and longer.
A snake with knitting needle bones.

A snake with knitting needle bones.


And very sharp teeth. Don't mess with them.

And very sharp teeth. Don’t mess with them.

I did land one flying fish–well he did the landing and the takeoff area in the cockpit was too small to relaunch so breakfast for Pete.
Only failure was sheared bolt on wind vane. Tied her up real good and it worked, but not accurately. A lot of hand steering.

Beverly Hillbillies sail again. The wind vane tied, sort of.

Beverly Hillbillies sail again. The wind vane tied, sort of.


Heading for Uruguay on 19th, into the wind by the looks of it. Sailing. Fun, only different.
Pete

Posted by: powellpjc | March 5, 2013

So Long, Africa.

Namibia. Dunes and seals.
I’ve spent about 10 days here in Walvis Bay (a form of Whalefish Bay). The whalers dragged everything they could get their harpoons in and cleaned out the whale population in these waters back in the whaling days. The seals, however, are doing well. Thousands and thousands. Each year there is a seal cull where the biologists decide on the numbers of males, females and pups and go to the rookeries and club them. Not quite the same as the Newfoundland seal hunt—no Brigit Bardots or Greeners making a stink.
The seals do make a stink, though, along with the cormorants. I am moored just downwind from a floating boathouse and when the roof is jammed with cormorants the stench is quite something.

This is a boathouse in name only. It is really a bird shithouse.

This is a boathouse in name only. It is really a bird shithouse.


The seals have taken over one catamaran and there are often a dozen or so lounging about, fighting and stinking. The owner of the cat put up a fence to keep them off but they just chewed through it. Mess, whew!
Still a lot of German influence here and more so up the coast at Swakopmund which is kind of like a German retirement village on the coast. I was up there (35 km north) a couple of times where I flew my paraglider—finally—in the dunes but the flying was no hell. Too much work for Pete, struggling up the sand to take off.
The ride up from Cape Stown was sporty and at times, fast.

The ride up from Cape Stown was sporty and at times, fast.


Some big waves.

Some big waves.


The usual boat jobs, of course. Rebolted the wind vane, I think properly. Got some good advice from Freddie Bates back in Portland, a guy who knows a hell of a lot about a hell of a lot.
I tied the wine vane to within an inch of his of its life.

I tied the wine vane to within an inch of his of its life.


Also, yesterday, I was up the mast 4 times restringing a spare mainsail halyard. Even in a protected harbour there are ship’s wakes and the rolly rolly at the top is unnerving. Incompetence required the multiple trips but I got the job done.
Walvis Bay seems to be a popular stop off for cruise liners heading back and forth from Germany to Cape Town. I guess the desert dunes are the attraction but they don’t come close to the beauty of the Chilean altiplano.
A line up of adventurers from the cruise ship.

A line up of adventurers from the cruise ship.


Ladies and gentlemen, start your engines.

Ladies and gentlemen, start your engines.


The streets are wide with proper street lights (called robots) and the old street naming system was simple. 6th street and 7th road, for instance. However, Namibia is a young country (‘94) so as the heroes of the various wars of the former German West Africa, then Southwest Africa, now Namibia die off the street names are changing to ‘Samaman Manajunga’ and other unpronounceable names. It’s their country.
The usual suspects at the club bar.

The usual suspects at the club bar.


One of the chaps gave me a passel of fresh oysters. Punctured my thumb a number times but it was worth it. Yum.

One of the chaps gave me a passel of fresh oysters. Punctured my thumb a number times but it was worth it. Yum.


A squirt of lemon and a band-aid or two and tuck in.

A squirt of lemon and a band-aid or two and tuck in.


The world sail speed record was set here a year ago. 65.45 knots. Some brave boy (1) on board.

The world sail speed record was set here a year ago. 65.45 knots. Some brave boy (1) on board.


They dragged this used drilling platform down from Nigeria. This part of Africa used to be attached to Brazil and they have found a lot of offshore oil in Brazil recently, so the Brazilians are running this venture looking for the same oil deposits.

They dragged this used drilling platform down from Nigeria. This part of Africa used to be attached to Brazil and they have found a lot of offshore oil in Brazil recently, so the Brazilians are running this venture looking for the same oil deposits.


The Skeleton Coast. Many good men have lost their lives here but I'm leaving with skin on my bones.

The Skeleton Coast. Many good men have lost their lives here but I’m leaving with skin on my bones.


Waiting for the next cruise ship.

Waiting for the next cruise ship.


A face only a mother could love.

A face only a mother could love.


Where there is a sea coast, there are weekend fishermen.

Where there is a sea coast, there are weekend fishermen.


Pete's having a traditional 'braai' or BBQ with steak, Boerworst and bacon. When in Rome...

Pete’s having a traditional ‘braai’ or BBQ with steak, Boerworst and bacon. When in Rome…


Walvis Bay is in Pelican Bay, for obvious reasons. Feeding the pelican for the tourists.

Walvis Bay is in Pelican Bay, for obvious reasons. Feeding the pelican for the tourists.


When the food is gone so is Mr. Pelican.

When the food is gone so is Mr. Pelican.


This critter flew on for a visit. Couldn't tell which way faced forward. He had fake eyes. Tricky little critter.

This critter flew on for a visit. Couldn’t tell which way faced forward. He had fake eyes. Tricky little critter.


A lot of flamingos. If you saw this in Canada it would mean someone was having a 60th birthday party.

A lot of flamingos. If you saw this in Canada it would mean someone was having a 60th birthday party.


Adios, Africa.

Adios, Africa.


Setting sail tomorrow for Salvador, Brazil but may stop at St. Helena to peek in Napolean’s old house. Likely a 5 week sail.
Out of Africa, for good.

Posted by: powellpjc | February 14, 2013

Out of Africa. Well, South Africa.

I’ve been in South Africa now for almost 2 months and had a wonderful time. Pig hunting and photo safari in the Eastern Cape and Table Mountain, Cape Town waterfront, spectacular drives through the rugged Cape. This past weekend I hopped in the car and drove 5 hours east to George, near the paragliding centre of the south coast.

The coastline at Wilderness from the Map of Africa launch point.

The coastline at Wilderness from the Map of Africa launch point.


Of course weather was poor. Wrong direction wind, some rain drops and low cloud. Something like sailing but the consequences of bad decision making are worse. I didn’t fly at all, just kited my old wing. I had my old wing (7 years old now) checked out by a real pro, with laser line testing, porosity and tear strengths in all lines and panels and it passed with flying colours. No pun. Just faded from the Chilean sun. I bought a new glider here in Cape Town because the prices are just unbeatable. The Rand (RSA currency) is sinking fast and a guy can take advantage of that. My glider cost $1900 CAN and would have cost $3000 in Canada. I will fly it next in Brazil.
The boys jamming and drinking on la Rosa. I have only pathetic 3 harmonicas to add. Stored the piano a few days ago. Fun anyway.

The boys jamming and drinking on la Rosa. I have only pathetic 3 harmonicas to add. Stored the piano a few days ago. Fun anyway.


Checked out of all necessary bureaucracies today and will let go tomorrow from Simons Town, south around the actual Cape of Good Hope (not the southernmost part of Africa) and then north to Walvis Bay, Nambia, the former German West Africa colony. Big dunes there and hope to fly. Maybe see some desert elephants.
Cape penguins in Simons Town.

Cape penguins in Simons Town.


There's always one showoff in the group.

There’s always one showoff in the group.


The cormorant is a lousy flyer, lander and take-offer.

The cormorant is a lousy flyer, lander and take-offer.


And there a hell of a lot of them.

And there a hell of a lot of them.


Little dockside marine life.

Little dockside marine life.


He final flops onto the dock. Same way I used to climb ice falls. With difficulty.

He final flops onto the dock. Same way I used to climb ice falls. With difficulty.


Cape Town, baby.

Cape Town, baby.


Simons Town harbour on a rare calm day.

Simons Town harbour on a rare calm day.


Pete's not worried about pirates anymore with this missile frigate parked beside him.

Pete’s not worried about pirates anymore with this missile frigate parked beside him.


Heading south around this today from Simons Town enroute to Walvis Bay, Namibia. The actual Cape of Good Hope.

Heading south around this today from Simons Town enroute to Walvis Bay, Namibia. The actual Cape of Good Hope.


From there, after a week or so, I will head across the South Atlantic, making for Salvador, Brazil. St. Helena is on the way so if it suits me I will stop in there for a pizza. I expect a 5 week crossing the way I sail but anything can happen and usually does.
For instance, I had some chafe (wear) in my mainsail halyard (the rope that pulls the mainsail up the mast) and it has been nagging me for months so I decided to change it. It goes up to the top of the mast, through a sheave (roller pulley) and then down inside the mast, exiting through a small hole. My first attempt failed due to ineptitude. My second attempt, ditto. This required climbing the mast 3 times. The fourth climb, with assistance from a couple of fellow yachties was successful and now I have a lovely new halyard and thighs that are burning plus a sunburn from 4 hours work in the hot sun. It’s done, nevermind.
Maybe I can post from Namibia, don’t know. St. Helena, doubt it. So maybe we talk again from Brazil where my Portuguese is non-existant.
The ‘New South Africa’ is a mess, run by Corruption Incorporated. Beautiful and lost.

Posted by: powellpjc | February 9, 2013

South Africa, Western Cape.

I had a tough time getting around the Cape of Good Hope. Winds did not cooperate, but that is sailing and many men before me had more difficult times. Bartholomeu Diaz was the first to round the Cape, but Vasco de Gama was the first to make it to the Indian Ocean. The Cape of Good Hope is aptly named, a dramatic and dangerous blade of mountains sticking out into the Atlantic, but the furthest southern point of Africa is Cape Agulhas. Non-descript, but it is the physical division between Indian and Atlantic oceans. Enough geography, already.
I left Richard’s Bay with the intention of making Knysna, about halfway to Cape Town. I sailed for 5 days and got within 30 miles of the harbour entrance but the wind hammered me and I could make no forward progress. I beat an orderly but hasty retreat, all the way back to Pt. Elizabeth (about 60 miles). Hate going backwards in a sailboat. Discretion and valour being the call of the day.

Fishing boats will go out in any weather. I should know. I'm out there too.

Fishing boats will go out in any weather. I should know. I’m out there too.


It was rough enough where the oceans meet. I've been knocked out once, off the coast of Ecuador, and did not like the whole deal. Down below I'll wear a helmet. On deck, sometimes. The biggest worry for a singlehander is falling and all that comes with 66 year-old bones and steel decks.

It was rough enough where the oceans meet. I’ve been knocked out once, off the coast of Ecuador, and did not like the whole deal. Down below I’ll wear a helmet. On deck, sometimes. The biggest worry for a singlehander is falling and all that comes with 66 year-old bones and steel decks.


Waited there for 6 days for conditions to come round and then set out for Simons Town, on the Cape of Good Hope, about 1 hour train ride south of Cape Town proper. I’d lost my credit card in a banking machine in Richards Bay so I could not rent a car anyway, which was my plan in Knysna—so I could go paragliding up and down the coast. Showing up in a rental car office with a bagful of cash will not get you a car. One needs a credit card. I had new card sent to Simons Bay so all is good now.
A series of the booby, diving and eating fish, I hope.

A series of the booby, diving and eating fish, I hope.


After spotting prey he tucks in the wings and twists and turns in the Stuka dive.

After spotting prey he tucks in the wings and twists and turns in the Stuka dive.


Folding and twisting.

Folding and twisting.


On short final. No chance to change course now.

On short final. No chance to change course now.


He does not spear the fish on the dive but enters close enough to 'swim' with his wings to run down the sardine or anchovy, whatever is the catch of the day.

He does not spear the fish on the dive but enters close enough to ‘swim’ with his wings to run down the sardine or anchovy, whatever is the catch of the day.


Seas were big and wind was high. I hate sailing.

Seas were big and wind was high. I hate sailing.


Water temperature 15C, air temperature, 15C. Bring it on, baby.

Water temperature 15C, air temperature, 15C. Bring it on, baby.


Crepuscular rays. The sometimes go up and down.

Crepuscular rays. The sometimes go up and down.


Simons Town train coming, boss.

Simons Town train coming, boss.


Just so you know.

Just so you know.


Simons Town is blasted with wind 25 days out of 30. It is intolerable. I can stand the Canadian cold but the wind here (40 kts nothing unusual), even in a protected harbour, drives me bonkers.
Simons Town harbour on the Cape of Good Hope. I am there, somewhere.

Simons Town harbour on the Cape of Good Hope. I am there, somewhere.


Typical Simons Town winds in the summer. 40 kts+ Oy vey, already.

Typical Simons Town winds in the summer. 40 kts+ Oy vey, already.


The upper shore battery protecting Simons Town. Unused for decades. The Guns of Navarone, cape style.

The upper shore battery protecting Simons Town. Unused for decades. The Guns of Navarone, cape style.


Big barrel. Big guns. 3 in this pic.

Big barrel. Big guns. 3 in this pic.

But having a rental car gives a guy some freedom and I’ve been around the cape. Up Table Mountain, of course, into the wine country and today down the coast (east) to the paragliding sites in Wilderness. I did not fly but did kite my old glider, shaking out the Chilean dust and sand and making sure all is in good flying order. Met some locals and we have a coastal trip planned for tomorrow, 6:30 am. With luck it will be about 60 km but weather is nothing but chaos, as we know.
Went to Hout Bay on the Atlantic coast and saw a beached whale (Right whale, I think). There were 100 people trying to push it back into the ocean. I could not find the road to get close enough so just viewed from the mountain road. Maybe whales have strokes and lose their GPS? Maybe they just die and wash ashore. With the shore birds and seals, nothing will be wasted. The tide was going out and it was a lost cause. Darwinism at work.
I’ve applied for my Brazilian visa and it will be ready Feb. 13th, so I think I’ll be departing Cape Town about the 15th, heading north to the Namib. Luderitz and Walvis Bay, thence the S. Atlantic. May stop at St. Helena if it suits me (they have no harbour there but they have recently put in about 30 industrial strength moorings for visiting yachts.) Maybe some fresh tomatoes, too. If I don’t stop due to winds, I am heading for Salvador, Brazil, about halfway up the coast from Rio to Fortaleza. 3,400 miles. Piece of cake.

From Table Mountain, Cape Town, on a clear day. The main harbour.

From Table Mountain, Cape Town, on a clear day. The main harbour.


A modern, revolving, cable car. 1st class all the way up to Table Mountain.

A modern, revolving, cable car. 1st class all the way up to Table Mountain.


Table Mountain is an old chunk of fudge, seems like.

Table Mountain is an old chunk of fudge, seems like.


Red-tipped black bird, Table Mountain variety. So I'm calling it.

Red-tipped black bird, Table Mountain variety. So I’m calling it.


Table Mountain wild flowers.

Table Mountain wild flowers.

The Atlantic Ocean from Table Mtn.

The Atlantic Ocean from Table Mtn.


Looking down the Cape of Good Hope.

Looking down the Cape of Good Hope.


Typical Simons Town/Cape Town house. Most houses have 5 more runs of electrical wire to slow down the intruders.

Typical Simons Town/Cape Town house. Most houses have 5 more runs of electrical wire to slow down the intruders.


Cape Town should be called Cage Town. No house is without a walled compound and most have electrical wires on top of the broken glass concrete. Security is paramount here. The blacks are poor, poor, poor and desperate. All cars have shatterproof glass in every window to prevent the smash and grab traffic light stop thievery. The whites, without exception are pessimistic about the future of this gorgeous country. Prettiest place I’ve ever been, but trouble creepin’ round every corner. The country is going to hell, fast. ‘Rainbow Nation’, they call it. I’d call it ‘Dark Clouds Coming, Boss.’ Glad I’ve been here. It won’t be around for my grandchildren.

Posted by: powellpjc | January 11, 2013

Repairing Repairs.

When I arrived at Richards Bay I knew I wanted to haul out to repair some paint damage. Didn’t realize it was so bad. So redid all that the boys did in the Philippines. If you don’t know your paints you are in for grief in the sailing game.
Hauled out using a dolly and winch. Bit nerve-wracking but it always is.

This is not my boat but shows how the dolly haulout works. Lots of creaking and anxiety.

This is not my boat but shows how the dolly haulout works. Lots of creaking and anxiety.


Coupla new zincs and a righteously buffed prop.

Coupla new zincs and a righteously buffed prop.


Redid the zincs, ground all paint and epoxy filler off (that what was causing the blistering paint) and redid the job.
Typical blister, not in the paint but the undercoat of fairing epoxy.

Typical blister, not in the paint but the undercoat of fairing epoxy.


When you pop the blister you get a yellow/green stinky ooze.

When you pop the blister you get a yellow/green stinky ooze.


I helped, but mostly looked on. Too hot for white man.
My two main boys, Wonder and Happy.
Wonder (L) and Happy. Somehow I think they have different Zulu names. Good workers.

Wonder (L) and Happy. Somehow I think they have different Zulu names. Good workers.


I played Ladysmith Black Mambazo music and they had a great time and did a faster job.
Found a small indent in the hull—galvanic corrosion, no doubt. When I cleaned it up I had a nice hole. We welded a plate over top and problem gone. Until the next hole appears.
No hole is good in a floating boat. Galvanic corrosion/electrolysis--no one knows electricity.

No hole is good in a floating boat. Galvanic corrosion/electrolysis–no one knows electricity.


Ready for welding and peace of mind.

Ready for welding and peace of mind.

la Rosa looking mighty fine again. Until next time.

la Rosa looking mighty fine again. Until next time.


Job was done in 4 days but had to wait 3 more for high water to relaunch.
Weather looks good for slipping this place on Sunday. Next stop Kynsna. Try pronouncing that. It’s halfway round the Great Cape.
Planned route unless the winds chase me into a harbour along the way. Good paragliding at Kynsna

Planned route unless the winds chase me into a harbour along the way. Good paragliding at Kynsna

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