Early start to check again the weather forecast and go through our safety checklist before leaving. There is not much wind and it comes from behind with less than 2mt swell from the side. We leave at 8am motoring, it is quite cold and cloudy, we also expect rain around midday. We anticipate about 8 hours passage.
Marcella proposes to have proper shifts of one hour each, great idea, it allows both of us to plan some rest or other activities. We meet three other boats going exactly on our route but in the opposite direction, all fishing vessels, all with an AIS on. We did not have the AIS in 2002, it works extremely well and increases safety during the passages. We keep testing and familiarise with our new instruments. I test again the HF radio and the pactor that still does not work. I may be too close to the winlink station I am trying to reach. The HF radio is mainly a backup, we have an Iridium phone and an Iridium Go, both able to download weather forecasts during offshore passages. After few hours we open the sails, we motor-sail for most of the time to Cape Town and arrive in Cape Town around 4pm. We should have used the spinnaker today, but we did not feel to do it for the first time with just two of us on the boat. It would also help to have a boom preventer in place for downwind sailing , something to organize when we are back in Cape Town. When we enter the marina there are 20kn of wind, more than the previous time we went back to the pontoon. We call the marina to have some help with the lines but there is no answer. I am still quite nervous when we enter the marina with this large boat, especially with strong wind. But fortunately there is enough space to maneuver in V&A Marina and all goes well. At 5pm the engines are off and we go for a walk. V&A waterfront in Cape Town is very nice and after four months it feels like home.
We need to leave KraalBaai around 8am because of the tide. Going out is much simpler as we can follow our track recorded on the way in. We go back to Yachtport that is a convenient anchorage to leave from tomorrow. This time the Yachtport coffee shop is open and we spend some time there for breakfast and then go for a walk.
In the afternoon I do few tests with the HF radio and confirm it is working properly for voice connections. However I still do not manage to use the pactor to send/receive emails over HF radio. We spend a very relaxing day, we check engines, bilges, weather and get the boat ready for the 60 miles passage planned for tomorrow to go back to Cape Town.
It is very nice to be back in the cruising routine. The day starts early for me. I have a hot tea, check the weather that confirms we can sail back to Cape Town on Tuesday, look for possible anchorages or things to do around us, check the todo list looking for the simplest tasks to schedule for the day. So much better than start the day cleaning 100s of emails from the inbox! Marcella normally starts her day reading a book and joins me a little later when we decide the plan for the day.
It is another sunny day and we go for breakfast at the yacht club by dinghy that fortunately works very well. When we arrive there is no breakfast, just instant coffee and tea. The club is a very nice and cozy but no proper coffee.
The members of the club are very welcoming and give us useful tips about the area recommending to go to KraalBaai. It is one of the anchorages I selected earlier in the morning, a patch with just 2mt depth to be reached in high tide only (today around 4pm).
Eidos draft is 1.5mt but I have no confidence on how well the depth sounder works, we will have to rely on the map and what they told us. In the meantime yachts are convening for the Sunday club race. There is no wind and by 11am the race is cancelled. The bar opens and the crews jump directly to real reason for club races, a nice beer, or few more. At 12:30 we leave to KraalBaai, I want to go through the shallow passage 2-3 hours before high tide. The shallowest part is 1.2 mt, the minimum tide today is 40cm that is already what we need if we keep Eidos in the middle of the channel. We are also to pass halfway the min and max tide that should give us additional 40 cm for safety. My expectation is that we should always have more than 2mt depth, instead our depth sounder reads 1.6mt that giving us some exciting moments. Especially considering that there is also a current of 2-3 knots I believe that our depth sounder is not properly calibrated and when we arrive at the anchorage I drop a line with a weight to check the real depth and compare with the instrument. Our depth sounder reads 80 cm less than the reality. Great, now I only need to change the setting.
At KraalBaai there are three other yachts that soon leave and we are again alone for the night. I play with a Samsung 360 camera doing a time lapse of the sunset. We could go ashore but it is so nice onboard that we just have another quite evening.
Few weeks ago we discovered that our windlass was not working properly, it was using almost 200A at 24V even without any load. It took a lot of time to understand that it had been wrongly installed and it was always running with the break on. We changed all the old electric wires (that were causing a big voltage drop), serviced the electric motor and finally connected the control of the break correctly. It is nice to see it working well with our massive new 55 Kg Rocna anchor and an heavy 12 mm chain. We really need it to work, there is no way we can pull up the anchor by hands.
We left Cape Town yesterday with three cruising options: Sail back the next day. Stay two nights in Dassen island. Go to Saldanha – about 30 more miles north – and sail back when the weather allows it.
Today the forecast suggests that we could sail/motor back to Cape Town on Tuesday (going downwind with 10-15 kn). Considering how well Eidos did yesterday we decide to keep going further to visit the Saldanha yacht club for a cold beer. There is no wind and we have to motor all the way. The swell is much better today. less than 2mt, longer period, more from the back. Probably I am also more used to the way the boat moves. We leave Dassen island at 11:15 and while the island protects us from the swell we calibrate the autopilot that finally works perfectly. It is definitely much more comfortable than yesterday and we enjoy the space of the cockpit and the saloon. As we are forced to motor we do some experiments with a single engine and two engines at different RPM. We try to understand what will be the best way to manage our diesel and speed in long passages. Eidos has two Yanmar 4JH3-DTE engines (125HP), very similar to the Yanmar 4JH3-HTE (100HP) we had on the Amel. The comparison of rpm/speed/consumption is unavoidable. We arrive in front of the Saldanha Yacht Club around 3pm but we do not find a satisfactory place to anchor. We stop near a small boat yard called Yachtport about a mile away.
Yachtport SA – Saldanha
We could go by dinghy to the yacht club for our deserved beer after 60 miles from Cape Town, but we really don’t know if the dinghy works. The visit to the Yacht club is postponed to the next morning for breakfast so at least we have more time to manage any issue. Instead we visit the boatyard, it is very nice, extremely clean and looks well organised. We chat with a couple of cruisers that were refitting a large monohull in aluminium and go for a walk. We close the day with a cold beer at sunset in our cockpit.
It is just me and Marcella onboard and we tried to pick a good weather for our first cruise. However as soon as we leave Cape Town there are 2-3 mt of swell from about 60-80 degrees port side with 15 kn apparent wind from about 100.
It is winter here in South Africa
The sea is quite messy, a good test for us, we wanted a big cat to be more comfortable in big sea, but I would liked a calmer day to start with. Eidos does not roll as a monohull however it moves in a very odd way. Marcella copes very well with it while at first I really do not like it. Timetama would roll a lot in this sea but I was used to it. Eidos has very fast and short accelerations that my body cannot anticipate with a resulting uncomfortable feeling of losing balance and seasickness. Coming from a monohull it is unbelievable that even with relatively big swells from the side nothing moves around and we can keep our coffee cups on the table without any problem, it makes life so much easier. Taking out our 120 sqm heavy mainsail is easier than we expected but it would be even better with the control of the electric winch at the helm so one of us could help the halyard or the sail from the mast. Added to to my list.
When we take the sail down with today’s swell it is not easy to help the main to fold nicely in the lazy jack. As it is already quite old we are considering to replace it with a higher lazy bag. We really need to make the management of the mainsail easy to use, in our previous trip we saw many boats with big mainsails motoring for short passages just to avoid to all the work needed to take the sail up and down. We have a lot of new electronic instruments that we do not master yet so we take the opportunity to understand better how they work, especially the AIS, the radar and the plotters . These new instruments by default present more information than needed, most of the work is to hide what not needed and make them easier to read.
After about 35 miles around 15:30 we reach an amazing anchorage at Dassen Island – House Bay.
As always we immediately forget the uncomfortable passage and it is great to be at the hook again. We are the only yacht there, and it reminds us other places we were anchored alone. Dassen Island is very flat and we can see waves breaking on the opposite side of the island.
It is not allowed to go ashore so we enjoy a sunny afternoon on the boat that also made easier test our solar panels and the new MPPT regulators. I discover that our panels on the right do not work as well as the panels on the left – to investigate if the problem is with the panels, the MPPT or the cabling. Soon comes the night, the sky is completely clear with no artificial lights, the perfect conditions to admire the moon eclipse of the century.
Before the eclipse
Start of the Eclipse from Eidos at Anchor, 200mm at f2.8 – ASA12800
And finally it is easy to have a great sleep after our intense day.
In 2002 we left Italy for our first cruising experience on an Amel Super Maramu (Timetama) that ended in New Zealand only two years later. Going cruising again became our dream and since then we have been waiting for the opportunity to leave again.
Timetama in New Zealand
In 2017 we finally had all the conditions to plan our second sabbatical cruising experience: our son finished school, we sold Timetama and I found a good replacement for my role at work.
We immediately started looking for a new boat, a catamaran this time, and in March 2018 we bought Eidos a Catana 582 built in 2001. She was based in Cape Town and needed an extensive refit.
Eidos before we bought her in V&A marina – Cape Town
The catana 582 is a massive boat compared to the Amel and while it was the cat I always dreamed of, we were also somehow concerned about sailing her just in two.
We spent four months working on Eidos and we only went out for sail trials twice for few hours and only once just we two.
On July 26th we finally decide that Eidos was ready to cruise and tomorrow we will untie the lines from V&A Marina for our first cruising trip on Eidos, a short one for now.
In 2002 I kept a journal of our cruising days as a memory for us and to share with friends and family, I will try to do it again also this time.
“jump on” Carmine said “… and throw the line on the pontoon”. Here I am, looking at Eidos slowly slipping out of our berth for the first time with us, excited and trying to catch all the feelings of this moment I have been waiting for long time. I’m so happy and it’s like all the fatigue of the work done so far is melting down, we are sliding on the mirror of the calm water of the marina.
Very lite wind of this warm winter’s day is welcoming us in the perfect condition and Eidos becomes a small gentle vessel sailing peacefully with few dolphins around. Carmine and Marcel start opening the sail cover and help Mark that is at the winch to hoist the mainsail, while I stay at the helm. It is a gigantic sail and it takes a lot of time for us to untangle the reefs lines that have been badly prepared. After a while, drifting in front of the city seafront, we decide to tide them up later and move on with one reef on and open the genoa. With only 7 knots of true wind we sail at 7 knots of speed easily. We look at each other smiling and understand that this cat likes it a lot! On the way back the list of things to check and fix is long: reefs lines, throttles, windless, autopilot, … but is has been an amazing first day out and I cannot wait to sail again and again and again …
Coming back to the mooring for the first time with a 9 meters wide cat is challenging but better than we thought, at least with no wind! Four guys from the marina are waiting for us to help with the mooring lines. I feel a lot of kindness and support here, I really like this marina and the nice people we have met in Cape Town. I ask Marcel for a comment and he says that sailing with Eidos is great and very comfortable but he got intimidated by the size of mainsail “it’s too big for me…”. In the evening, after few beers and considerations Carmine and myself read the first day out story on Timetama log book. It was exactly 4 days less than 16 years ago! Same exciting story even if there was nothing to fix on Timetama, except ourselves… we were starting the adventure that completely changed our lives.