17th of March
Sailing was so exiting from day one. Barbara and Holger, Elke and Marc, Sonja, Waldo, and some others waved us out of Hout Bay at 7 am. Barbara and Holger sailed with us to Cape Town. There we had to get our stamps from the harbour master and immigrations (which of course took a while). A last diesel top-up and off we went around 3 pm. It was a funny feeling. Its real: we are leaving. Wouww. First not a lot of wind, later more and at least lots of wind. As suspected, I was nauseous. It was not too bad. I just did not feel like eating at all. We promised Zora (our daughter) to briefly phone every day. She wanted to hear my voice every day. After all my emergency stories of the last years/month, she wants to know if we are really fine. Zora was with us for the last 2 months, left on Monday and we left on Wednesday, the same week. According to her in a personal call I would not be able to hide anything from her, hahahahaha. And I must say, it was really, really nice to have this one appointment every day. Unhurrying started. The last weeks in Hout Bay were hectic.
The next 14 days
Unhurrying continued. Slowly but surely, we found a rhythm in our days. We tried the 4 hours on and 4 hours off watch thing: did not work for us. We ended up with both of us staying awake during the day and the one who felt like doing the first night shift kept watch till 2 am and then the other one took over. We took 2 wooden planks with to create a comfortable kind of outside bed. There we sat/lied low, out of rain and wind. In the beginning we needed our special underwear, later we only needed our Kirstenbosch picknick blanket with plastic underneath it, to be protected from moisture.
During the day we sometimes took powernaps and for the rest we had always something to do, to check, to repair. After my first wobbly 5 days I started cooking and baking bread, Dick started fishing and we caught a Mahimahi.
At a certain moment we experienced that there was water in the ship. Beds and blankets at the back of the boat were wet. That was scary for a moment till we found the reason and solved the problem. After the first really bumpy days with waves coming into our cockpit, water come through a ventilation opening. Dick and his silicone gun did a good job. We pumped the water out; no more water in the ship anymore, only some cushion- and bedcovers and blankets to dry: Not a big deal.
We continued our way to St Helena, unhurrying and relaxing even more.
1st of April
Arrival after 15 days of nonstop sailing. Its an amazing feeling to first hear and see some birds and all over sudden you see a skim of a mountain which is coming closer and closer. This was at 6 in the morning and by 10 am we were tied to our mooring buoy. A few other yachts were already here and had their covid test done at 9 am. Pity we were just an hour too late.
After 15 days at sea and 8 days of Quarantine
The next day the Easter weekend started, so no covit testing was possible. Tuesday and Wednesday the Saints were extremely busy with vaccinating their own people. During that time, we were not allowed to swim further away than 1 meter from our ship and not at all ashore. Visiting other yachties wasn’t allowed either. We had our quarantine flag up. I forgot to say, that we forgot to buy a quarantine flag, but the yellow dish washing cloth you buy at the SPAR or CHECKERS worked perfectly fine. Thursday the 8th of April at 7 am we got tested and on Friday the 9th of April at 9 o clock we were supposed to go ashore. But guess: power failure. The PCR test could not be printed. For a moment we thought that St Helena has load shedding too. But they eventually made a plan. We were allowed to come ashore without written test result at 12pm. YEAHHHH! 15 people, exited to leave their yachts, which were rolling in a bumpy sea, went with the water taxi and oh my word, my first steps on land were like I am drunk and that remained like that (after 5 days now its getting a bit better). 1 hour immigration procedure and we all rushed to Anne’s Café, run by Jane and her family. Here you can buy internet by half or full hours: 6 Saint Helena pounds for half an hour. My WhatsApp account almost exploded, hahahaha.
Ashore at St Helena
We saw our first whale shark. So, so amazing. Our water taxi captain spotted him, and we had a close look. Amazing creature. Some of us dove with him or her (we do not know) for half an hour. Unfortunately, we were not in our swim or diving gear.
With all our experience of sailing over the last 30 plus years, what must I say, we are meeting all these yachties (people who sail longer stretches) and feel really like beginners. There came so much electronica into this world and we thought we have it all, but some are not doing what we want. The most elementary stuff worked of course, and we made our way to Saint Helena safely. Fortunately, people are very friendly and keen to help. So, we are getting there. Main problem are the batteries. Our “Jip and Janneke” takes a lot of power. “Jipp and Janneke” is our autopilot, the electric steering installation, called after an infant couple of a Dutch children book. They are constantly debating and talking to each other. So does our autopilot: right, no go left, now right……. Dick felt, if he gives the noise a name, it’s not so annoying anymore. I must say: it helps!!!
Sunday, we went to the yacht club for a delicious curry lunch. Almost all sailors and a few locals sitting together and having boat-talk. There are Rebecca and Michael from Brickhouse, Rebecca is sailing round the world seas for 15 years already. She is a computer engineer and could give us advise for our weather app on the Iridium-go satellite phone. Then there was Bob and his wife. Dick explained our battery problem and Bob offered to come and have a look. That happened the next morning. Wouww. We were blown away about his knowledge. We are fully informed about why things are not working and what to do. He fixed a few things already, the rest we must do in the Caribbean where parts are cheaper than at St Helena. After all his explanations I said deeply impressed:” it sounds like your profession has something to do with electrical engineering.” It seems Bob is an early retired aircraft engineer from Dubai. In Holland if you are a lucky fish, you say that you fell with your nose into butter. We are actually very lucky fish who fell with their noses deep into butter: an highly educated aircraft engineer of Emirates, fixing our small problems on Elitsha.
Then we met this 75-year-old single handed Englishman, who tells a whole lot of stories, the French doctor who immediately offered his expertise when he heard that I had to consult a local doctor regarding an infection in my foot. We met Dutch journalists who regularly write articles for ZEILEN, a Dutch sailing magazine.
And then the locals or semi locals: curious, friendly, and very helpful: Morgan and his wife, sailed rich people around the world for 17 year and are visiting her parents at St Helena. Jane, of the coffee shop where we buy Wi-Fi every day, our water taxi captain Dani and his cousin Jani and his too cute son; James, the nature conservator and his English girlfriend; the friendly harbour officer, Steven, who drove us to the hospital; my doctor Josephine and the nurse and sometimes in town we see people greeting me and talking to me. Dick is asking, who is that and then its just people I met in the hospital. They are all wondering how it is for us to be safe and not having to wear masks……and wondering if we like St Helena.
On Monday we had our household day: cleaning, doing our laundry by hand, shopping. Swimming, snorkelling, and chilling like we do every day. Tuesday, we got our diesel topped up again. Our next stretch will most probably include the doldrums, and then we might need run the motor some hours. To charge the batteries we need the motor too. We fill up our water tanks by taking water daily from ashore in jerricans to Elitsha and YES, Dick swam with a whale-shark, we saw turtles, trumpet fish and many more beautiful creatures.
Wednesday we wanted to do an island tour and, just our luck, on our way the radiator of the car blew up. So, we tried again on Thursday and saw all the island has to offer, including Jonathan, the 200 years old tortoise, we drank coffee at the Napoleon Hotel in James Town and I pretended to have walked up all 699 steps up to the old fort.
Tomorrow a last WhatsApp session at Anne’s place and posting this text and photos on Tumblr and then we will say goodbye to the Saints and their beautiful island. Our next stop might be 4 weeks away. Join us on track map. You must see it as: as long the ship is moving into the right direction, we are fine. See you in Paramaribo again.
Dick and Sylke
Questions for the kids of Kronendal, Hout Bay Primary and of course all other kids who are keen to take part of this question-and-answer competition:
1. How many km are in one nautical mile?
2. What are the doldrums?
3. Who was the most famous prisoner in Saint Helena?
4. How are the citizens of Saint Helena called?
And a difficult one:
5. If we would have sailed constantly at 5 nm an hour, how many days and hours of sailing did we need to do to get to St Helena?
You can answer yourself or do it as a class project and put your answers on our blog:
You can also ask us all sorts of questions. We promise to answer all of them.
For the ones who want to take part in our sponsor sail: We have sailed 1845 nautical miles. You can donate a cent, a Rand, an Euro or whatever per nautical mile. We are sailing for these amazing schools: every nautical mile and each Rand counts.
To UBUNTU for Africa, German NGO.
The money will go to the UBUNTU for Africa projects: after care at Hout Bay Primary School and the music project at Silikamva High School. This organisation I started 12 years ago (www.ubuntuforafrica.com) Of course, you will receive a tax certificate.
Ubuntu for Africa – Kinder-, Jugend-, Familienhilfe in Südafrika Volksbank Bönen eG
IBAN: DE91 4106 2215 0054 5799 01
For South Africans and others, who want to donate directly to South Africa (also with tax certificate): please donate to Kronendal Primary School (www.kronendalprimary.com). I worked for 10 years at Kronendal Primary as a school counsellor. This school struggles financially due to the consequences of the Covid Pandemic and deserves our support.
KRONENDAL PRIMARY SCHOOL trading as CUIM (“the account holder”) holds the following account with First National Bank, a division of FirstRand Bank Limited (“FNB”):
Account Type BUSINESS ACCOUNT
Account Number 53452884035
Branch Code 204009
Branch Name HOUT BAY 345
Swift Code FIRNZAJJ
Date Opened 1989-03-14 FNB
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