Walvis Bay to St. Helena

We leave Walvis bay at 7:30am of the 5th of October together with Wairima with light wind from South, less than 2mt waves and 1,300 miles to go, we know from the forecast that it will require many hours of motors.

So many dolphins around us

The passage is very comfortable with not much swell although from the side making the waves bang below the salon and through the hulls.
We find even less wind than forecasted and we had to motor for almost 50% of the time.

We are not very lucky with fishing, we only catch two yellow fin tunas just leaving Namibia, both at the same time on the two lines we usually troll behind Eidos.
We have dolphins accompanying us few times, and once there are hundreds all around Eidos, I never saw so many at the same time.

In this passage we pass the prime meridian and we do it at over ten knots!

We are still improving how to sail on Eidos, having Adam on board in this passage is very nice, he has 10,000+ miles experience crewing different type of boats and we must have been very boring always comparing Eidos setup with other boats. Laura settled in very nicely in her first experience with ocean passages and is soon able to operate plotter, radar, autopilot and other instruments and fully participate to the watches.

We arrive to St. Helena at 2pm of the 12th of October the mooring field reserved to visiting yachts is the best I have ever seen, 16 yellow buoys and 5 red buoys (for larger yachts) all very well maintained and placed in a great place. The entry process is very smooth, after calling “St. Helena radio”, Port Control calls back and assigns a buoy, soon later Port Control and Customs come on board for the paper work. The officials are extremely friendly and professional and provide very useful and detailed information on the island and a map. After the paper work on board we go ashore to sort out the immigration.

There is only another visiting yacht when we arrive, a German boat that has been there for more than three months doing work on the yacht.

Etosha Park (from Walvis bay)

Etosha National Park, five hours to drive from Walvis Bay and seven hours to drive back from a different entrance. We stay only two nights in the park at Okaukejo Camp and Dolomite hotel. Dolomite was amazing, with small wooden bungalows situated on a hill looking at the vast flat park with animals all around.

We saw plenty of wild animals including a couple of lions walking towards us just few meters from our car.

But also countless zebras, steenbok, oryx, …

and many Elephants. We stopped in a water pond where many of them came to drink…

Amazing experience, but if we will be back to Etosha next time we would rent a 4×4 with a tent to also stay at Ozonjuitji m’Bari camp to be able to see animals at their water hole at sunrise and sunset.

Walvis Bay

We spent 28 days in Walvis Bay, waiting for new friends to join Eidos and as base for few very interesting tours. It was much more than what we planned but at the end a nice experience.

Walvis Bay has a natural harbor more than five miles deep. Going to our anchorage near the yacht club we sail through drilling platforms, large fishing vessels, massive floating pontoons and any kind of commercial vessels. Walvis Bay is the most important commercial port for Namibia and many other countries in Africa. The town economy appears to be only based on the activity related to the harbour and it is not particularly attractive.

There are not many services for yachts, the only exception is Namib Marine Services that specializes in services for commercial vessels, however the owner, Steven, is a cruiser and he is well known to help yachts stopping here as possible. Namib Marine Services can provide diesel and water and Steven is very helpful in providing basic information on where to source basic things you always need on a yacht. The other source of information is the Yacht Club.

The Yacht Club is also one of the three recommend restaurants in Walvis Bay and it has the best internet available (even if not great). The other two restaurants are very close to the Yacht Club. The Yacht club can provide buoys but we decide to use our anchor that works fine other than for one night when the wind changed from north. In general, in this period of the year there is a strong wind from South East starting in the afternoon and dying before night, we recorded more than 30 knots many times during our staying there.

About 30Km north of Walvis Bay there is Swakopmund, a small touristic town with typical German architecture and a nice long waterfront. We visited Swakopmund few times just for a walk or for a change from the very industrial environment of Walvis Bay.

Few miles from the yacht club there is Dune 7, what locals claim being the highest sand dune in the world, we obviously went to climb, and moon valley near … oasis and all-around Walvis Bay there is the Namib desert, apparently the oldest desert in the world.

Close to our anchorage there is a large lagoon with a sea-side track of more than 5km ending in the desert, ideal for walks or runs. In the lagoon there is no shortage of birds, especially different type of Flamingos (white and pink flamingos). During the summer the Lagoon is ideal for kite surfing and windsurfing, but it is too cold now.
We really enjoyed a day trip to Sandwich Bay that needs a guide a 4×4 car.

Our main tour was two days to Etosha National Park, five hours from Walvis Bay.

In Walvis bay we meet two other cruisers, Wairima (a nice 45 foot yacht) from NZ and Phoenix 11 (a nice 62 foot catamaran) from Australia. Both are directed to Brazil with a stop in St. Helena.

Luderitz to Walvis Bay

Walvis Bay is at about 250 miles from Luderitz and we decide to leave early in the morning to be sure to arrive in day time at the new anchorage. The weather forecast is good with wind and wave from the back and we all really want to sail the new asymmetric spinnaker.
It does not take long to have the perfect conditions to hoist it. I am the only one on board that hoisted it before with the help of three people from the sail maker with plenty of experience with it.

The passage is very comfortable and fast, we soon sail for quite long time at over 10 knots speed and often at 12-13 knots sometimes going faster than the apparent wind. It was amazing to go so fast while remaining flat on the sea. Broad reach is clearly the best wind direction for Eidos.

Being our second passage with Eidos we are still learning how to simplify all the manoeuvres and we often have to experiment new setups. We are finally happy with the setup of the mail sail preventer, we replaced two shackles with snap shackles to move lines faster and added redundant soft shackles for safety. We are also happy with the process to take a reef and go back to full sail with wind from the back without having to go into the wind, it works nicely as they told us – I was quite sceptical about it. We still need to practice with the spinnaker; with 20-25 knots of wind we were four people to hoist and lower it. I hope we will manage to use it also when we are just two, at least with light winds

We drop the spinnaker in the afternoon as the wind becomes stronger and the boat is going too fast, the gps registered 17 knots speed. We continue with only the main sail with on reef for all the night still maintaining a good average speed.
The second day the wind gradually drops and we go up to full main and genoa keeping our average speed above 8 knots. We have to change course to avoid a cargo ship and before arriving the wind dropped further, we motor for the last few hours and anchor in front of the Walvis Bay Yacht club around 4pm. Just in time for a cold beer.
We heard that at the anchorage the wind can be very strong, so we drop more than 40 meters of chain in less than 4 meters of water to be safe, we plan to move to a mooring buoy the next day.

Luderitz (Namibia)

We planned two stops in Namibia, Luderitz and Walvis Bay. Between the two towns there are 250 miles of desert.

Luderitz is our first stop. Not ideal if you need to do any type of work on your yacht, but we really enjoyed it.  It is is a very small town with German style buildings, clean, quiet and relaxing. We spent there almost a week and took the opportunity to visit  Kolmanskop and Aus.
In 1908 a german guy working at the railway discovered a diamond in Kolmanskop and the town grew rapidly until larger diamonds were discovered in a different location after 1930. Apparently initially diamonds were found just in the sand and a vast region around Luderitz is still controlled by a single private Diamond mining company.
Now a ghost town, it was a very wealthy city with a large hospital, large houses, ice delivered in every home daily, electricity and an entertainment centre with opera singers coming regularly from Europe.
The town is very well preserved and now an ideal location for tourists and photo enthusiasts.

Aus is another small town in the middle of the desert. It used to be a prison where the South Africans kept german prisoners during the first world war, now the only attraction are the about 200 wild horses that can be seen around the town. Apparently these horses have adapted to the desert and can stay many days without drinking any water.

For the rest of our time in Luderitz we just enjoyed the anchorage, and the town.

Cape Town to Luderitz

We spent more than five months in Cape Town, buying and preparing Eidos to sail, it has been much more demanding than expected. It is done now and we can finally start cruising. There is still work to do as always on boats but we are on the move and it feels really great.

Onboard for the passage from Cape Town to Walvis Bay with me and Marcella there are also Michael from NZ (he is cruising around the world on a very nice motor yacht – now in the Caribbean waiting for the next cruising season), Jodi and Terence from South Africa (they have been working on super yacht for many years) and Luuk from the Netherlands (a surf coach that is travelling around Africa).
The last two days before leaving have been hectic, my phone flies out of my pocket into the water – a clear sign I do not need to be always online anymore, the pump of the water maker does not want to work, the impeller of the generator with only 3.5 hours of use is in pieces, riggers are still replacing parts on board, we are still buying last spare parts, packing food everywhere for the passage, etc. But when it is time to leave all looks fine. Special thanks to Michael and Luuk that really worked hard with us for the preparation.
We leave around 8am of September the 2nd under the rain, with not much wind and relatively flat sea.
After half day we see that down here it is not like the trade wind passages we were used to in our previous cruising experience. The forecast was not that accurate, we had to tack upwind in short waves and motor in no wind; not much reaching/downwind sailing we normally did in the tropics. It was cold during the night and we were not lucky with the fishing.

However the night sky, sunrises and sunsets were amazing, as you can only see in ocean passages.

The passage from Cape Town to Luderitz was overall slow and with more motor than expected, I was pleased with the boat sailing performance upwind and not having any major issue.
I realised that after 15 years from our last living onboard experience I am quite rusty with the routine of sailing, there is so much to do and keep under control: weather forecast, route planning, clear in/out, watch shifts, safety procedures, find safe anchorages, pick buoys, maintenance work, manage energy, manage water, etc. A lot of work and until it becomes part of our new life it needs a lot of focus. I quote a comment of our friends of Paw Time “Now the fun starts and the learning curve goes upwards”, absolutely what I feel. It is great to have Michael onboard with his current cruising experience.

We arrive in Luderitz on the 5t around 4pm anchoring in 25kn of wind. We have some challenges anchoring and it adds few lines to my to-do list in order to improve our anchoring process. Then the time finally slows down, after immigration and customs we have a cold beer at the yacht club, a nice dinner in a German style restaurant and finally a flat night at anchor.
On the 6th we move to a buoy, we spend some time in places with wifi and plan some land tours. Luuk goes out kayaking in really freezing waters, I have a short run, others go for a walk, a quiet day in a very quiet town.
Thanks to Jodi, Terence, Michael and Luuk for the help during this first passage. Great team!