The last Sailing Story “Sailing in South Africa” left off in Saldanha Bay. This unexpected but very pleasant stop made us miss our appointment with ‘Padre’, Gaëlle’s father in Luderitz, Namibia. The next destination was now Walvis Bay, further north if we want to catch him for a few days. On the weather side, we were told that a low pressure was coming but would not affect our passage. We crossed Cape Colombine (the last South African cape where the wind accelerates and where 25 knots = 40 knots!) on 8 March in good weather. The night came with the moon, Gaïa was cruising at 7 knots pushed by the sea, the wind and the current. Everything was fine until the last weather file threw us into doubts, assumptions and calculations…the decision was taken to head for Lambert’s Bay, a small fishing port 50 miles to the east. In 30 hours the low pressure would affect us with strong headwinds from north-west.
We arrived early morning, surrounded by fog and obviously in a bad mood. We finally found a place to anchor in the middle of diamond diving boats. This stop meant Gaëlle again missed her father. Later, Gary will tell us: “When you sail, you can choose the place to meet people or the date but not both”. We’ll remember that… Our decision to stop is confirmed by the local sailors enabling us to enjoy this authentic coastal town for three days. Lobster is the speciality, try the one at Isabelle’s!
The crossing to Luderitz (meaning that the plan had changed again) was done on a calm sea, in a thick fog to start off with ( the new radar was invaluable) and ended in a clear day. We arrived late morning and the bay is known for its strong wind accelerations. It’s better to reduce sail before entering or to arrive early in the morning, later 13-14 knots easily become 30-32.
Luderitz is a charming little town, surrounded by desert. Everything is within walking distance and mooring is made easy thanks to the unique Andy (if he’s still there…)
Breaking news: the “Padre” is coming back. A problem free crossing brought us to Walvis Bay to meet him. After a beautiful road trip (see the article or watch the video), we waited for important parts including a new wind transducer. Anticipating breakdowns and doing repairs is also part of everyday life and gives birth to a list that can only be longer or shorter.
Inspiration Lady and Gaïa moved away from the African coast on April the 22th at 12h UTC, heading 310 under a cloudy sky. Happy (and sad) to leave Africa and aware that this will be our longest crossing. Over the next 8 days and 6 hours of sailing, T-shirts replaced jackets, the sea warmed up by 7 degrees, grey gave way to blue, more sails were displayed, and weather files showed some stability. Enjoying moments at sea, reading, cooking, eating, listening to music, sleeping, showering… Simple activities in a house that is constantly moving.
And then, at nightfall, a huge cloud appeared on the back off the black cliffs of St Helena. We knew that in two hours we’ll be on a mooring for a full night sleep.
St Helena, the unexpected surprise ! Unexpected because everything we read or heard didn’t prepare us about what we saw. The island is beautiful, but above all there’s the “Saints”.Centuries of history resulted in these 4500 friendly and welcoming people who feel deeply that they belong to this island (see the article).
Everything is perfectly organized for sailboats: anchorage, ferry service, water and diesel delivered on board and the St Helena Yacht Club with James and Hannah. We enjoyed the Island for 3 weeks before leaving on May the 22nd for Ascension, 700 miles to the north-west, sharing this passage with Inspiration Lady and Ongemak.
Ascension with its brown west and green east, some beautiful beaches (finally!), crystal clear water and one of the longest airstrips in the world used as backup for the space shuttle.
In 2016, the island was invaded by Galapagos sharks with two attacks including one on a paddle-sky. Swimming was still strictly prohibited despite the fact that the sharks were gone now.
Consolidating our friendship with the other crews, we celebrated our first sailing year on board Ongemak. An aluminum sailboat built by two brothers, Oloff the mathematician and Muir the doctor who started off not knowing anything about building a boat. We met them crossing the South Atlantic with there amazing girlfriends Isolde & Ronell.
And what can you say about Gary and Jackie who built the beautiful ” Inspiration Lady” during 22 years of their life in Canada? She’s been their home on the water for 10 years around the world …
On June the 5th we left for Brazil (1,200 miles). It was a pleasure to sail together and stay in touch by VHF.
On the 4th day Ongemak and Gaïa played in the waves side by side for one hour. The days end up passing. We were in the trade winds so no unpleasant surprises. 16 knots, a little less, a little more… In the evening we used to reduce sails. The South Atlantic unexpectedly had an almost permanent south wave rolling the boat. We do not regret any stops on our course and realize that they have all been beneficial.
On June the 13th in the morning there were 25 miles left from Brazil, Gaïa surfed the waves to Cabedelo, went up the river to Jacaré Marina Village this time to a walk-on pontoon.
We suddenly had running water, didn’t need the tender and Gaïa stopped moving. Quite a change in life! We met a couple who sold everything and now sail with their little boy, a solo sailor going back to Europe, a young man who left Cape Town on his 26-foot boat without any auto-pilote or wind vane. Different motivations, unique stories, where courage and determination is a constant.
We are spending real good times at the marina where Nicolas and Francis (the managing owners) anticipates all our needs. One year behind us and in front only possibilities. What will be our next step? Will we sail alone or with other sailboats? We just don’t know …