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24 November 2010

Around the Cape of Good Hope

At 1:03 AM South Africa Time or 5:03 PM East Coast Time the WT rounded Cape Agulhas the southern most tip South Africa. At that point we no longer were in the Indian Ocean but in the South Atlantic. Just two on deck, and a bottle of champagne to toast the occasion.  It was a calm rounding with a full moon to guide us. We got down to 34.55 South Latitude about five miles off the coast. 


Five days in Port Elizabeth waiting for a weather window was a really good thing to do.  The weather for the trip around was most quiet calm with a huge South Westerly coming on Wednesday.  We will tie up at the Victoria and Alfred in Cape Town this afternoon around 5PM.  


On the Indian Ocean side we saw many Black-Browed Albaross, petrels and shearwaters.  Think we saw a few Shy Albatrosses with the huge wing span.

20 November 2010

On the move again!

Good Bye Port Elizabeth!


This morning after checking the weather one more time, we had to wake up the two boats rafted up to us, untied all the lines (lots of them) and motored out of PE. Sorry about the wakeup call to A-Lady and Destiny, especially A-lady who were hoping to sleep in after arriving in early this a.m, but were woken to the sound of feet on the decks.


After finally leaving the harbor and out of the coal or magnesium ore dust there was a big boat bath. Black dust on the windward side of everything.

Currently we are motoring along at 7kts, looking to get to Mossel Bay and or maybe to Cape Town. We will decide at Mossel Bay if we should keep going.


There’s a noticeable chill in the SW wind which is no doubt on route from Antarctica or thereabouts. We are currently at Latitude 34 10’ S and therefore 375Nm north of the ‘Roaring Forties’. There has been no shortage of locals offering their knowledge for this leg of our trip. One of the more important tips is to watch the barometer like a Hawk! We have also learned that there is more current offshore, but not to go too far off and likewise to go inshore for shelter against the westerly, but not too far in as there is a counter-current!


All in all, we are happy to be on the move again and excited about getting into our berth at the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront marina in Cape Town.


Roll on the Wild Tigris!

34 10’ S

025 14’ E




18 November 2010

Storm bound

Morning all


Wild Tigris arrived into Port Elizabeth on Monday night at 2000. It may have been different had Casey and I not been ‘talked down’ from sailing on to Cape Town in strong Easterlies by our friendly S. African weather router, Peri. As it was, we were on the rhumb line 30nm South of PE heading directly to Cape Agulhas (S. Africa’s most southerly point) and after Peri’s local knowledge, had to do a swift 90deg turn and run to port.


PE is a large industrial port with a small marina tucked away at the back. We are too big for any of it’s pontoons and have been relegated to the fisheries jetty where we’ve rafted alongside a couple of squid boats. We are now playing the waiting game with the notoriously changeable Cape of Good Hope (or Cape of Storms, as it was once known) weather. Recent forecasts show a possible window between tonight and Monday morning. We’re standing by for Peri’s advice at 5pm just incase Casey and I are overly optimistic again…


We’ll keep you posted



  33 58’ S

025 38’ E

0800 UTC

14 November 2010

This one's for you Anne!

Hello again from Wild Tigris,

After a ‘Wild’ time in Richard’s Bay and surrounding National Parks, we are on the Agulas again and heading to East London or Port Elizabeth if weather permits. We left Richard’s Bay at 1100 yesterday under blue sky and full sail of Gib, Staysail, Full main and mizzen. We averaged about 9.5 kts with the help of the S. going current but had to dodge back in to shallower waters to avoid a SW wind last night. We are currently back out in the current which seems to run strongest about 10-15Nm offshore, seaward of the 200m contour.

The locals at Richard’s Bay kept reminding us we sailing in Zululand, NOT Disneyland! With this thought, we are sailing conservatively and monitoring the weather every 12hrs. So far so good!

Hope you’re all well,

Sean, Casey, Heidi and Sofia.

14 Nov 1030UTC

30 52’ S

030 37’ E

07 November 2010


We're in port in Richard's Bay, South Africa, having arrived early this evening to a wonderful welcoming committee consisting of the boat crews who got here before us, our ever-cheerful WARC keepers in their un-missable yellow shirts, plus local yacht club representatives who greeted us with gifts of club t-shirts and a bottle of champagne. Honestly, if everyone in South Africa is this friendly and welcoming we'll have a hard time leaving!

We're all crashing relatively early, with a long list of chores - most involve removing the truly amazing quantities of salt that seem to have encrusted EVERYTHING, including ourselves - ahead of us tomorrow.

But first: ahhhh... a bunk that's not moving in the slightest. :)

07 Nov 2010 2201 UTC
28 47.524 S
32 04.996 E

06 November 2010

Surprisingly little to report

As I write, we're motor-sailing towards our waypoint off the coast (we're carefully managing our speed to arrive at just the right time - adjusting sails, adding or removing engine assist as needed. Sofia says: "Sails up, sails down. Engine on, engine off. Speed up, slow down... what else is new?") Several other WARC boats are on schedule to arrive there at the same time, so we'll have a small rendezvous at sea to look forward to, bright and early Sunday morning.

After spending the last 24 hours under more or less grey skies, things have cleared completely, and we've got nothing but blue sky and blue water as far as we can see. We're hoping it will stay this clear for some more star-gazing this evening.

Our dragonfly mystery deepens, as now we've got several of them buzzing around the boat. They could, we suppose, have been blown out here on a past storm, but what have they been surviving on? We've had one shearwater (we fool ourselves into believing it's the same one, but that seems unlikely, really) that comes by and cruises back and forth behind the boat occasionally, ever hopeful.

We had one suicidal squid fling itself onto the deck last night; and Friday evening had a spectacular dolphin visit, involving a whole pod who couldn't content themselves with mere underwater bow-wave surfing, but also performed tandem (sometimes trio) full body jumps out of the water, as well as actually surfing in and jumping out of neighboring waves. It was quite a show. Sean saw some dolphins last night, too, leaving a trail of luminescence in their wakes.

Anne managed to fling herself (unintentionally, mind you) against the shelf over her bunk in the middle of the night thanks to an ill-timed urge to sit up and fluff her pillow combined with a surprise wave, and has an amusingly-colored black eye to show for it. We're thinking about taking bets on what color it'll be by the time we get in... Perhaps it'll just lend credence to Sean's favorite boat motto: "The beatings will continue until (or perhaps even if) morale improves!"

Chewin' up the miles, we are,

- the WT crew

6 Nov 2010 14:08 UTC (16:08 local time)
27 53.127 S
36 02.225 E

05 November 2010

Whoa, there!

There's a pretty strong current that runs north to south along the southeast coast of Africa, and we've long since set a waypoint about a hundred miles off the coast, a bit north of our goal, to help take this into account.

To make things a tad more complicated, though, when weather moves in from the south - particularly if it has decent winds blowing from the south, i.e. against that current - it kicks up a very rough sea.

Just such a weather system is moving into the area, so we've adjusted our speed to hit the next waypoint *after* the winds have passed and the seas calm down. (Between the weather forecasts the WARC folks send, and our own ability to download detailed weather data for our own analysis, we have a remarkable amount of information available, really. Casey continues to marvel and compare it to his first Atlantic crossing back in 1972 where things were just a bit different! See for details.)

So we're in the unusual situation of needing to slow the boat down, rather than the usual pile-on-the-sail attitude... we're now noodling along with jib and reefed main under cloudy skies and scattered light showers. Everything's been tidied and stowed for weather (though we're not actually expecting that much) and we've taken advantage of the mellow seas and wind to do some laundry and similar chores. The off-watches even watched a movie this afternoon.

Another unexpectedly quiet day on the WT. After yesterday's wildlife extravaganza it's been pretty quiet in that department, too, just a modest number of birds, and one extremely lost dragonfly. (The last has us really puzzled. Perhaps he was a stowaway since Reunion? No way to tell, but he's welcome to hitch a ride anyway.)

WT over and out.

5 Nov 2010 15:10 UTC (17:10 local WT time)
27 31.387 S
38 59.462 E

04 November 2010

Towels, Tunas, Terns, Tortes and Time...

Flying along around 7 knots, just slightly upwind, under jib, main and mizzen, we're well past halfway, and are sailing out into the waters between Madagascar and Africa - the Mozambique channel. We've been at sea somewhere over 5 days of elapsed time, and today's blog, perhaps unsurprisingly, is a bit random, as things so far have been (happily, mind you) uneventful.

TOWELS: Casey reports that, until yesterday, he'd been unaware that the towel on the *right* side of the rack was supposed to be his. We're not sure if this means that he's been using Heidi's towel all along, or what, but are pleased that he's straightened that out, anyway.

TUNAS: Strictly speaking, tuna, singular; in a first for this voyage (which is saying a lot) we had a tuna follow along next to the boat for several hours this morning. It looked like it was cruising in the boat slipstream - it was certainly surfing in the waves as they passed. Luckily (for the tuna) Sean was off-watch, and no one else wanted to set a lure. Looked like a good-sized yellow fin, and it had no trouble keeping up with the boat. Most interesting.

TERNS: In other wildlife news, it was a busy bird morning, with large flocks of terns, many shearwaters and even a skua winging by. Several of the birds, apparently familiar with fishing vessels, hung around behind the boat for a while waiting for chum. We were not interested in sharing any of the previous Dorado catch, so they eventually slipped away between the waves. We also were visited by a pod of dolphins who performed as usual at the bow, zipping back and forth in front of the boat before slipping off on errands unknowable.

TORTES: well... pizza, actually, but it didn't start with a T. We had a fabulous pizza lunch today, and the whole boat has been rather subdued all afternoon, happily digesting.

TIME: We've sailed far enough west of Reunion that we've set our local clocks back one hour, so we're now UTC+2.

All's well on the WT!

4 Nov 2010 12:06 UTC
27 18.472 S
41 31.100 E

03 November 2010

Night Watch with Autopilot

Half an hour before I'm due on deck, my trusty little watch alarm feeps me awake out of my post-dinner, pre-watch snooze. I check the time just to make sure I've set it right ("...oh, just a few more minutes sleep?" my nap-muddled brain requests) but, no, it's 2:30 AM, just as it should be. I move a bit slowly, awakened like this at odd hours, I like the extra time.

I get dressed - socks and shoes, fleece pants, long-sleeved shirt; it was cool already at sunset, best to put on more than you need now than get chilled later - and gather up my foulies and PFD. Check pockets - yup, lip balm, knife, flashlight ("torch" in WT lingo) and MP3 player all accounted for. Putting on a headlamp with a red light, I turn out my cabin lights before opening the door, so as not to spill lots of bright light out in case Sean, who's on before me, is nearby. (Protect precious night vision!)

The boat's rolling quite a bit, a big change from when I went to sleep, so making a cup of tea is a small adventure involving careful placement of cup, teapot and all, mostly one-handed or with legs braced against the cabinets; getting milk from the fridge requires a first careful swing of the door to make sure nothing's loose from the shelves to go crashing to the floor. While the tea's steeping, covered and in the sink to protect from spills, a quick raid of the snack cabinet... let's see, cookies? Crackers? Seems like a cookie night, and I silently thank whoever thought to pick up the box of little yummy hazelnut and chocolate wafers. Perfect!

Tea-making gear stowed, I do the usual wave-induced staggering dance across the saloon to the companionway (stopping to look at the last few log entries to see what's what... looks pretty quiet) set tea and cookies safely on deck at the top of the ladder and sit down on the settee to gear up against the cool breeze. Sean briefs me - he's put in a new waypoint, wind's gone very light but now behind us (by morning we'll have the jibs up), keep an eye on the engine exhaust temp, no tankers in hours... a quiet night of motoring - and he heads below. Being the skipper, though, he putters at least another 15 minutes, and I hear him flipping switches at the electrical panel and lifting floor panels to check on the trusty old Mercedes engine, steadily chugging away beneath us.

Three hours seems long at the start, but the trick, for me, seems to be to distract myself with smaller chunks of activity. For now, still warm from being down below, I curl up with my mug of tea in an aft corner of the cockpit, enjoying the breeze and savoring each sip of hot tea. I eke out a good 15 minutes tea-drinking, remembering the cookies partway through (indeed, perfect little chocolate-covered tidbits). Time to check the engine temp (happy) and the radar and chart plotter. Hey! There's a boat on the AIS (which may or may not mean Automatic Information System, but which is a wonderfully useful system where boats squawk their location, course and speed, and bigger ones more details like how large they are, name, destination, etc.) This one's a big tanker, going in the opposite direction to our course, closest approach nearly 8 miles. I can just see the lights appear over the horizon, and the radar suddenly shows a little blip as well.

I settle down on the starboard side, straddling the cockpit coaming, the better to see forward for a while, and watch the tanker's lights slowly become clearer. Time for some music, perhaps? We'd had fun singing "Southern Cross" at the beach party back in Reunion, maybe some CSN. The tanker and the trio keep me company for a while until I notice, on a horizon scan, a big glow to the east. Should be about time for the moon (thin waning crescent) to be coming up, and, sure enough, a sharp point of light appears suddenly through a break in the clouds on the horizon.

4 AM, and time for the log. I spend a while fussing with the chart plotter - it reboots itself periodically, and must be told to re-follow the route, and whoever programmed the interface apparently had a job in the audio-visual industry beforehand... it's a bit cryptic, to say the least. But I get all the numbers squared away, tweak the autopilot a few degrees and head to the galley for a second cup of tea. Getting out the milk I re-discover the hard-boiled eggs Sof had boiled up yesterday - another perfect snack. The only thing better at the moment might be Sof's leftover meatballs, must remember to request those for dinner sometime!

Back on deck, horizon scan, engine temp, all good. Nothing on the AIS, and there's a nice break in the clouds, so I spend a while looking, naked-eye and with binocs, at the unfamiliar constellations. Am still mesmerized by the sight of the few familiar constellations being *upside down*, the moon's angle likewise shifted, even the sun angle during the day is reversed to the north. I try playing with the star-finder "personal planetarium" that Casey showed me the other day, but it can't quite get a GPS fix (it whinges about electrical interference, maybe it's the motor?) so that's out. Back to tea-drinking. CSN's getting a bit too mellow, so I switch to the perkier Greatest Hits by Steve Miller. That oughta keep me awake, I figure, and for good measure I stand up and hold on to the dodger, dancing a little and singing quietly along with the silly pop lyrics.

The MP3 player gets my attention, suddenly - uh-oh, low battery. Hmmm. Can't have silence for the last hour, now, can we? I head below for the computer and cable, and set it up to charge. Thankfully it can play and charge at the same time. As long as I'm tethered to the laptop, I try to come up with a bunch of screen settings that make the laptop usable on deck at night, but to no avail. Even the "black" settings are awfully bright to dark-adjusted eyes, and I can't quite seem to get rid of all the white edges on windows and things. (Darned Microsoft.) A project for another day.

The moon's risen higher, and I notice that the sky is no longer uniformly dark, either - sunrise is coming, slowly but surely. I remember someone - Matt, I think, from Crazy Horse - talking about the ancient egyptian myths where the sky goddess, Nut, gives birth to the sun god, Ra, every morning. Nut's household is clearly already up and lighting candles, preparing for the impending happy occasion - colors begin to appear, the eastern sky takes on a bit of yellow, then orange, moving towards pink.

I hear movement below, see some cabin lights come on; my replacement, Heidi, is up and about. Minutes later, a hand reaches through the open hatch in the cockpit side and grabs my ankle - I manage not to yelp, much to her disappointment. On deck together a few minutes later we watch the newly-reborn Ra climb into his day chariot and head off across the sky... it's a pretty morning. I pass on the small tidbits about waypoint, current and wind, head down to do the 6 AM log, do my dishes and roll into bed for a few more z's; I'm back on at noon for a 1-hour watch, then again at 5, and then off until 6 Thursday morning.

- Anne

(Today's actual sailing update: we're back to sailing [no motor, hurray] under two poled-out jibs in 12-15 knots of following breeze, with 2-3 meter seas. Nice downwind sailing, and after some morning clouds, have a lovely sunny afternoon. We're just south of Madagascar. Specifically:

03 Nov 2010 11:49 UTC
26 45.248 S
44 59.827 E

Oh, and we hooked up a large fish this morning, but it got away; may have been a marlin. Caught a dorado yesterday, and saw a shark surfing along in our wake a little while ago.)

P.S. Anne says "Happy Birthday, Syd!"

02 November 2010


...and whales. (And, to be fair, one rather large ex-flying fish found on morning watch deck-walk.) Yup, it's been a nice day so far for wildlife - except perhaps for the poor fish - as we've had a couple of whale sightings (no photos, though, they were a bit shy of the boat, perhaps because of the engine noise) and Casey spotted a huge seabird soaring over the waves just after lunch. Didn't get enough details to ID the species, but based on size and behavior, it was surely one of the several Albatrosses in the region.

We're now motor sailing with jib, staysail, main and mizzen (Yet Another Sail Combo) through continued light winds. They've come around to a more favorable direction, though, so we're headed right for our next waypoint south of Madagascar. Sof continues to conjure up treats, we're all managing lots of sleep thanks to the watch schedule, the weather continues nice with relatively flat seas, and Ray is faithfully keeping us on course.

Life is peaceful aboard the WT.

02 Nov 2010 12:18 UTC (15:18 local time)
25 32.461 S
48 14.957 E

01 November 2010

Movin' along

(Reporting from Anne's favorite blogging spot: aft corner of the cockpit, in a patch of shade and breeze.)

We're flying along under jib, main and mizzen, in a nice breeze... from not quite the direction we'd like, but we're happy to head a bit extra south around Madagascar. The winds in the past 24 hours have been, for lack of a better word, "interesting" - sudden odd (and large) windshifts associated with small squalls, or sometimes just in the middle of nowhere, for no apparent reason. It feels like we've ranged through nearly every sail combination we have in the two days we've been out.

But in sharp contrast to the previous long leg from Cocos to Mauritius, the Southern Indian Ocean is being very gentle so far, with only mild swells and light breeze. We've had a few lines of clouds and some very occasional rain overnight, but otherwise the weather's quite beautiful. Traffic is pretty light, as well, with just a few tankers and one big fishing boat, and the WARC fleet scattered out along the course past Madagascar.

We're settling into things, our night watches (1800-0900) very mellow - three hours on, as much as twelve off (the joys of sailing with a crew of 5!) and one on, four off during the day (0900-1800). Regular raids on the snack cabinet, plus Sofia's afternoon creations (Saturday was peaches and custard on pastry, yum-oh) keep us going between proper (also yummy) meals. Yup, as usual, thoughts turn to food at sea.

Ray, the trusty auto-pilot, has been working wonderfully so far, making for even more relaxed watches than ever. Yay for technology.

There's been a nice scattering of seabirds - storm petrels, terns and shearwaters. Anne & Heidi are hoping for an albatross, maybe south of Madagascar. Flying fish occasionally go zinging off, as well.

Otherwise all is quiet aboard the WT, with much music-listening on headphones, book reading and napping in between watch work.

We're hoping the wind will settle back into a southeasterly flow later today, and we can tack over and make a few more knots towards our waypoint off the coast of the island.

That's all for now,

- Anne, for WT
01 Nov 2010 10:56 UTC
24 22.072 S
50 40.015 E