December 2013 Cape Town to St Helena


Eventually underway with a brisk NE wind and a following sea. The reality of the undertaking has now starting to take hold. The sense of freedom is only tempered by the awesome power of the wind and ocean.

One of the crew got well sea sick as the seas and winds picked up. For a couple of days we were sailing under the out genoa only in 30-35 knots of wind and doing 10-12 knots speed over the ground, at times surfing ahead of large swells at up to 19 knots, which will scare any former "dirt person" just enough to make them wish there was an off button somewhere to push.

4 days in to the trip we ran into a glitch with the autopilot, which quit as it had somehow managed to lose connection to the fluxgate compass. As Sod's Law dictates, this had to happen in the middle of the night with less than favorable conditions.

I took the decision to divert to Luderitz for repairs, as having to hand steer for the next 4000 nautical miles did not apeal to anyone all that much least of all myself.

While underway to Luderitz we figured out that using the autopilot in "wind vein" mode seemed relativly reliable. I decided to skirt the coast for a day to confirm it was working reliably, and then changed course once again to St Helena.

After that we lost the pilot aproximately every 3 days, reseting the whole system, brought it back online within 20 minutes or so. The wind and seas had dropped to more comfortable levels averaging 15 knots with around 2 meter swells.

Including the day's detour, we made St Helena in 13 and a half Days. I re-configured the nav system and attempted to commision the auto pilot and swing the compass to no avail. There are no repair facilities in St Helena and we would have to continue to Cape Verde in the same condition.


Sunset + - 1000 kn Miles enroute to St Helena.
Sunset 1000miles

The subsequent Moon Rise
Moon 1000 Miles Sm

Fortifications on approach to James Town, St Helena
Fortification St Helena Sm

Entrance to James Town through the fort wall.
Entrance St Helena Sm

James Town
St Helena Town

The James Town Stairs
Stairs St Helea

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How shall we ever find ourselves unless we have first become truly lost?