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Norse Horse

Webb Chiles-Opua to Capetown 2016

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Thank you for posting that. I always enjoy his site but had not read it in a while.

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Webb is out of control. I follow his site as well..it is a fabulous diversion every few days at work. He is contemplating a West to East Cape Horn passage in his Moore 24. I've e-mailed him a few times and he always responds. Nice guy.

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I hope his latest tiller pilot, with the motor on top of the push tube, will hold up for the Horn.!

 

from his journal

"To my surprise I realized that in a couple of months I will have owned GANNET for five years. As I have often noted, time is an uneven medium..."

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NH...the tiller pilot longevity has been an issue for him. If anyone is testing the average TP for durability, it is Webb.

 

I'd like to figure out how he did mainsheet to tiller steering, but I am dorking around in an area with a 1/2 mile clearance and lots of stupid powerboaters at any given time...not an appropriate place to test, I think.

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Mr Chiles has a new place for his cruising blog. He is packed and ready to leave for the end of April. An empty "to do" list...what kind of feeling IS that?

 

A funny email he shares from a crazed engineer claiming he is a misogynist, alcoholic, big box store nurtured solar panel manufacturer hating warranty lover. :lol:

http://self-portraitinthepresentseajournal.blogspot.ca/

 

His tracker link. https://my.yb.tl/gannet

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And he's off - NZ to East coast of Oz, up to Cape York, then across to South Africa, possibly nonstop. Who doesn't wish it was them? (Although not all of us would be keen to do it in a Moore 24!).

 

"Over the more than four decades Webb Chiles has been sailing the world, he has seen the average cruising boat become ever larger. 45 is now probably the norm. And the norm may be a catamaran.

 

Obviously GANNET is not a cruising boat and Webb Chiles is not a cruiser."

 

Go Webb!

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As well as being an amazing adventurer, he is such a damn good writer. Really memorable body of work, both writing and sailing.

 

Go Webb!

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And he's off - NZ to East coast of Oz, up to Cape York, then across to South Africa, possibly nonstop. Who doesn't wish it was them? (Although not all of us would be keen to do it in a Moore 24!).

 

"Over the more than four decades Webb Chiles has been sailing the world, he has seen the average cruising boat become ever larger. 45 is now probably the norm. And the norm may be a catamaran.

 

Obviously GANNET is not a cruising boat and Webb Chiles is not a cruiser."

 

Go Webb!

How is it that I missed him, sitting right here in Opua myself?

 

Didn't know he was here. Oh well.

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Mr Chiles has a new place for his cruising blog. He is packed and ready to leave for the end of April. An empty "to do" list...what kind of feeling IS that?

 

A funny email he shares from a crazed engineer claiming he is a misogynist, alcoholic, big box store nurtured solar panel manufacturer hating warranty lover. :lol:

http://self-portraitinthepresentseajournal.blogspot.ca/

 

His tracker link. https://my.yb.tl/gannet

Evenstar should be one of the background boats in that sunset sunrise picture.

 

EDITED TO ADD:

 

Looking more closely, that appears to be my stern in the every left of the picture, with the dinghy hanging off it.

 

I should've looked in this thread earlier, but I thought it was a retrospective story, not an ongoing right now thing.

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The rum capital and he orders a Heinie. http://self-portraitinthepresentseajournal.blogspot.ca/

 

" I like being back in Australia. This despite being charged almost $300 US for the agriculture inspection which consisted of a nice young woman asking me questions for a few minutes to which I replied, “No.” The government is showing a big profit on this. I’ve spend three or four years in Australia, longer than I’ve been in any country other than the USA and New Zealand. The people are welcoming and the weather just now perfect.

I am tired because of broken sleep the night before landfall; but there is a sense that I just sailed 1368 miles and didn’t really make a passage.
Yet it was in some ways seminal: sheet to tiller self-steering, abandonment of Cape Horn, a farewell to New Zealand."

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Straight to the nations capital of rum.

 

What comes out of that "refinery" is not what the rest of the world calls rum. Drain cleaner or engine degreaser, perhaps, but definitely not rum.

 

Best mixer I found was espresso, and that was barely up to the task.

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He's back underway, outside the reef to Cairns...

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Looking like really slow progress the past couple of days...

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Slow sledding indeed. 2.5 kts when I checked yesterday and 3.7 today.

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Arrived in Darwin. Assume we'll see a blogpost in the next day or two...

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He managed 6.125 knots in 24 hrs not bad. His Darwin blog entry notes boom falling off. http://self-portraitinthepresentseajournal.blogspot.ca/

 

Quite shallow he notes. There are locks in the marinas because of tide. http://coastalcruising.com.au/darwin/

 

The best re fitting town for many thousand square miles. http://www.noonsite.com/Countries/Australia/Darwin

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After two weeks in Darwin, he's just about ready to head west across the Indian Ocean to South Africa. Anticipating departure on Friday AUS / Thursday US time.

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Webb smack in the middle of one giant pond.

Not my kind of sailing but in a 23 ft yacht you would have to be pretty comfortable in your own skin to undertake this trip.

https://my.yb.tl/gannet

 

What I find remarkable is that he is finally going to match his number of circumnavigations to the number of his marriages...

 

A True Explorer!

 

As for him being in the middle of the IO in a Moore 24, don't forget this gent transited the Indian Ocean in a Drascombe Lugger 35 years ago. I think its still the longest passage in an open boat:

 

web247.jpg

 

He actually had two of them. They why's of that can be found here:

 

http://www.inthepresentsea.com/the_actual_site/chidiock.html

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I've been following his blog but I just read a club marine article that says he's had SIX wives! He's fifth in 1974 so this one must be a keeper, also I never knew he had all those records!

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From what I can see from his writings, he and this wife live pretty separate lives. She joined him when he started out on the trip on Hawke, the Heritage 37 but bailed after crossing the Atlantic. He's been back to single handing since.

 

He isn't the kind of guy that most women want as a husband. :D

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Yeah they live in a tiny apartment in some land locked state & he goes off & sails. No blaming her for not wanting to go on this trip, no headroom, no table, minimal electrics. I was reading his blog last night about the guy he met in NZ who sailed under the horn & up to rio I think - No Radio - No Epirb etc Couple of interesting guys.

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Yeah they live in a tiny apartment in some land locked state & he goes off & sails. No blaming her for not wanting to go on this trip, no headroom, no table, minimal electrics. I was reading his blog last night about the guy he met in NZ who sailed under the horn & up to rio I think - No Radio - No Epirb etc Couple of interesting guys.

 

Actually, they live in a pretty tony condo by the lake in Evanston, which is an upscale 'burb on the north side of Chicago...

 

Had a chance to meet them and they seem quite happy together.

 

Gent looks about a decade younger than his 70+ years. You'd think he was a college professor instead of an extreme solo sailor.

 

You should read the account of his first trip around the Horn in his first boat. He had it built with no engine, and it was falling apart on him and he was spending as much time bailing as sailing...

 

http://www.inthepresentsea.com/the_actual_site/books_files/STORM_PASSAGE.pdf

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Lake / Landlocked same same.

 

Is that his first book? Because I'd like to start at the beginning.

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"as much time bailing as sailing..."

Fark that sounds just a wee bit stressful.

I too have met a few hardcore solo sea creatures and although I have set my yacht up to have a fairly simple set of comforts I have the occasional green flash of envy as to the sheer functional simplicity of their yachts.

However I do need my wife aboard to stop me swimming off with those mermaids that constantly are calling me out to play....

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Lake / Landlocked same same.

 

Is that his first book? Because I'd like to start at the beginning.

 

He actually bought Gannet to sail here on the lake...took it out one time and apparently didn't like it much. Thats when he decided to sell The Hawke of Tounela in New Zealand and sail Gannet around the world.

 

http://www.inthepresentsea.com/the_actual_site/Cruising_Downtown.html

 

Yeah. That's his first book....

 

Others here:

 

http://www.inthepresentsea.com/the_actual_site/books.html

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Lake / Landlocked same same.

 

Is that his first book? Because I'd like to start at the beginning.

 

Dunno...I've been most of the way around the world at sea, so have some perspective on that.

 

This "lake" can be pretty big...and mean.

 

What Webb had to say about "Lake" Michigan...

 

http://www.inthepresentsea.com/the_actual_site/Cruising_Downtown.html

 

Often during the past year, people have said to me, “But we’ve only sailed on the lake.” And I have always responded that In many ways I think lake sailing is more difficult than ocean sailing: weather changes more quickly with systems that move from land to water and back again; even on a lake as big as Michigan you are always only thirty or forty miles off a lee shore; ships and other boats can and do come at you from all directions and speeds; and in relatively shallow water, the wind creates shorter, steeper, choppier waves than in the open ocean. GANNET was now laboring into those square waves. She isn’t really heavy enough to pound; but she was trying.

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Ted Turner once famously made a public apology and retraction for pooh-poohing the conditions on the Great Lakes - after he got beaten up on a Mac race.

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I understand it's a big scary lake. It's still in the middle of a highly populated first world country with first world resources & help is never far away V. His current location.

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I understand it's a big scary lake. It's still in the middle of a highly populated first world country with first world resources & help is never far away V. His current location.

 

No one will argue that..

 

However, as in the Wingnuts case, the storms in the region can be intensely violent and there is no way effective help can get to you in time...

 

http://www.ussailing.org/wp-content/uploads/daroot/Offshore/SAS%20Studies/safety_us_sailing_CYC.pdf

 

http://www.lakeeriewx.com/Seminars/Old%20Seminars/GLOMW/Chicago-Mackinac%20Race%202011%20-%20GLOMW.pdf

 

ChiMac.jpg

 

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But this thread is about Webb Chiles out in the Indian Ocean in a Moore 24...

 

Time for my weekly toast of Laphroig raised to the gent!

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Looks chilly Sidmon! I'd be keen to check it out one year.

 

I admire Webb's philosophy about weather whilst underway.

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Me too...

 

Of course this is the guy who ...for whatever reason he has never really broached...sank his boat intentionally off Fort Lauderdale. And was rescued against all odds off St. Augustine.

 

http://www.inthepresentsea.com/the_actual_site/requiem.html

 

"Fatalistic" is kind of a weak word to describe his nonchalance after that.

 

Cheers!

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Me too...

 

Of course this is the guy who ...for whatever reason he has never really broached...sank his boat intentionally off Fort Lauderdale. And was rescued against all odds off St. Augustine.

 

http://www.inthepresentsea.com/the_actual_site/requiem.html

 

"Fatalistic" is kind of a weak word to describe his nonchalance after that.

 

Cheers!

Who determined that he "sank his boat intentionally"? I read the post and the article in Cruising World...never got that impression.

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Me too...

 

Of course this is the guy who ...for whatever reason he has never really broached...sank his boat intentionally off Fort Lauderdale. And was rescued against all odds off St. Augustine.

 

http://www.inthepresentsea.com/the_actual_site/requiem.html

 

"Fatalistic" is kind of a weak word to describe his nonchalance after that.

 

Cheers!

Who determined that he "sank his boat intentionally"? I read the post and the article in Cruising World...never got that impression.

 

 

Mr. Chiles has...repeatedly...

 

In his own words, from the first sentence in the link I provided [emphasis mine however]:

 

While swimming for twenty-six hours after... I ...sank RESURGAM, I speculated about what would be the very last piece of music I would want to hear before I died.

 

He never has explained why though.

 

And when I heard him speak of it, it was in a "Sgt Webb" (as in Dragnet) ..."Just The Facts" way.

 

He sank his own boat -not- accidentally.

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I think he initially denied it then later explained it was intentional. He wanted the boat to be his last boat & his wife to be his last woman & obviously some other heavy stuff & a black dog in there somewhere.

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He seems much more at peace with himself now than he did earlier in his life.

 

I admire what he is doing now and the philosophy and the spirit in which it is done.

 

I agree, time for a toast.

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Me too...

 

Of course this is the guy who ...for whatever reason he has never really broached...sank his boat intentionally off Fort Lauderdale. And was rescued against all odds off St. Augustine.

 

http://www.inthepresentsea.com/the_actual_site/requiem.html

 

"Fatalistic" is kind of a weak word to describe his nonchalance after that.

 

Cheers!

Who determined that he "sank his boat intentionally"? I read the post and the article in Cruising World...never got that impression.

 

 

Mr. Chiles has...repeatedly...

 

In his own words, from the first sentence in the link I provided [emphasis mine however]:

 

While swimming for twenty-six hours after... I ...sank RESURGAM, I speculated about what would be the very last piece of music I would want to hear before I died.

 

He never has explained why though.

 

And when I heard him speak of it, it was in a "Sgt Webb" (as in Dragnet) ..."Just The Facts" way.

 

He sank his own boat -not- accidentally.

 

OK, I see that interpretation. That's not how I read the article in CW years ago.

In any event, yes, a toast to Mr. Chiles.

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Gannet is halfway across just about the emptiest space on this planet...

 

https://my.yb.tl/gannet/

 

Wonder if he is gonna stop in Mauritius?

 

Looks like he skipped it. Pushing 6 weeks out, nearing Madagascar, still doing 5+kts, all alone in a Moore 24. Damn...

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I think he became more liberal with the truth as time went on Jim.

 

I believe the correct term is economical with the truth. ;)

 

As Farley Mowat was famous for saying - "Never let the truth get in the way of a good story".

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For a look into Mr. Chiles' darker side, have a read of some of his short fictional works:

 

http://inthepresentsea.com/the_actual_site/fiction.html

 

In particular 'Shadows' and 'Last Born'

 

Anyone who can create these types of works, at least in my mind, clearly has the capability to act in ways beyond what a 'normal' human would find reasonable, including sinking one's own hard-earned vessel.

 

Webb Chiles is perhaps my most favorite author ever. I cannot wait to read the log from this latest passage. Godspeed, Webb!

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Looks like getting south of Madagascar has Webb slipping a bit out of the trade wind belt: progress has been a little slower the past couple of days. Still, he's almost 45 days out, solo on a Moore 24.

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Probably a lot more comfortable than however many hundred days he spent in a Drascombe Lugger doing a similar trip.

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Anyone want to pick an over/under on arrival in South Africa?

 

 

For the sake of getting started, I'll say 1200 UTC on Aug 24th.

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Too hard to estimate. Looks like he will have reasonable conditions for the next few days, so should be okay to Richard's Bay. From there to Cape Town, as is often the case, might be his hardest leg. From Durban to East London there is no refuge to escape into, so you need several days of NEaster to get you down that section of coast (appropriately known locally as the Wild Coast). If he runs into a SEaster, like is forecast for this Sunday/Monday on Windyty, he will have a hell of a time with the wind counter to the Mozambique Current (much like a NEaster against the Gulf Stream). He's savvy to all of this, of course, and will surely wait for a decent window for that leg, and the subsequent several legs to Cape Town. I grew up in East London, and watched large cruising yachts seek shelter there after being battered. Many ships have been lost off that coast, and one tanker I recall came into harbor with the front quarter literally snapped off by a "rogue" wave (they filled the remaining exposed part up to the bulwarks with concrete and made it back to Europe for repairs). I had a friend do a yacht delivery down that coast last December, and he had to seek refuge several times. I will be in Cape Town in December/January, and hope to meet Webb then. I visited Jeanne Socrates there a few years ago after one of her aborted attempts. Remarkable individuals both of them, and I enjoy following their adventures.

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Too hard to estimate. Looks like he will have reasonable conditions for the next few days, so should be okay to Richard's Bay. From there to Cape Town, as is often the case, might be his hardest leg. From Durban to East London there is no refuge to escape into, so you need several days of NEaster to get you down that section of coast (appropriately known locally as the Wild Coast). If he runs into a SEaster, like is forecast for this Sunday/Monday on Windyty, he will have a hell of a time with the wind counter to the Mozambique Current (much like a NEaster against the Gulf Stream). He's savvy to all of this, of course, and will surely wait for a decent window for that leg, and the subsequent several legs to Cape Town. I grew up in East London, and watched large cruising yachts seek shelter there after being battered. Many ships have been lost off that coast, and one tanker I recall came into harbor with the front quarter literally snapped off by a "rogue" wave (they filled the remaining exposed part up to the bulwarks with concrete and made it back to Europe for repairs). I had a friend do a yacht delivery down that coast last December, and he had to seek refuge several times. I will be in Cape Town in December/January, and hope to meet Webb then. I visited Jeanne Socrates there a few years ago after one of her aborted attempts. Remarkable individuals both of them, and I enjoy following their adventures.

 

Thanks! I knew the southern coast was rogue wave central and that he'd eventually have to go against prevailing winds. My guesstimate was for his first arrival in ZA, Richard's Bay or Durban I'd assume.

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It seems he is heading for Durban. The winds are on the nose to the south.

 

https://earth.nullschool.net/#current/wind/surface/level/orthographic=26.71,-39.86,681

 

https://my.yb.tl/gannet/

That's a fantastic offshore wind graphic.

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Yes, I believe he said he was Durban-bound in one of his last posts from Darwin. I'll say 22 Aug 0600 UTC to Durban

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I was zooming in Google on the Yellowbrick, on the port of Durban, when I realized it wasn't a cloud cover obscuring the harbour, it was the sand dune shapes on the sea floor. Rather artsy of nature. Something about the ocean floor, I find fascinating.

https://my.yb.tl/gannet/

 

 

post-105471-0-03920900-1471705763_thumb.jpg

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I was zooming in Google on the Yellowbrick, on the port of Durban, when I realized it wasn't a cloud cover obscuring the harbour, it was the sand dune shapes on the sea floor. Rather artsy of nature. Something about the ocean floor, I find fascinating.

https://my.yb.tl/gannet/

 

 

 

Interesting. My Google doesn't show those puffy bits. I do show some digital artifacts but no dunes.

 

durban.JPG

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Up until yesterday I would have sworn he was headed for Richards Bay, but apparently the target is now Durban.

 

Passage logs should be interesting.

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Zooming in on the Durban harbour entrance, I see it is only about 200 to 300 metres wide, and looking at the earth.nullschool.net world windmap it is currently showing readings of 25-30 knots in that area - maybe it is just too dangerous with wind against current to enter the narrow harbour at this point so he is currently in some sort of hove to configuration drifting off waiting for conditions to settle?

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Yeah, looks like he got within 7 or 8 nm or so and then the wind shifted SSW on the nose and kicked up. Windyty says the wind will back to the E tomorrow.

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Looks like my guess of 1200 UTC on the 24th won't be so far off in the end. But not because of any prescience on my part.

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Annndddd, he's in port....

 

 

 

1200 UTC 24 Aug. I win! I win! (Maybe I'll treat myself to some Laphroaig tonight in celebration too... :-) )

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Really unfortunate he ran into a SWester just short of Durban. Timing off by an hour or two, but that's how intense they can be. I've lost a kite to one, simply snapped all four lines in a gust, and been knocked off my feet on the beach.

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I can't find decent history for Durban, but usually a SWester sweeps up the coast, and the closest decent data (from the archives at iKitesurf) is for Port Shepstone lighthouse, which is a ways south of Durban. It shows a typical scenario with sudden increases in wind speed and gusts near 40 mph from the SW, then the complete turnoff Webb describes. Sorry I don't know how to paste in images, but you can find the site here - http://wx.ikitesurf.com/map#-30.339,30.731,10,1. The site is near the bottom of the page, while Durban is near the top. Click on the Port Shepstone Lighthouse site, then hover over the "More" option and select "Archive". Click on the Monday August22 graph.

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Re-reading my earlier account of the difficulties getting from Durban to Cape Town I see that I mis-wrote "SEaster". I meant SWester, and it is the regular alternation of this strong gusty wind with NEasters that makes this coast challenging.

 

The famous SEaster is what happens in Cape Town and environs in the summer when the SE trades reach all the way down the west coast of Africa to Cape Town and combine with a thermal effect created by the warm interior and the cold Benguela current to generate very strong SEaster winds, known locally as the "Cape Doctor", and which I and thousands of other kitesurfers go to Cape Town each summer to kite in.

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Webb has posted his passage notes...

 

http://self-portraitinthepresentseajournal.blogspot.com/2016/08/darwin-to-durban-passage-log.html

 

Best line:

 

1900 G2 furled. We are drifting. I no longer believe in wind. A proof is that I am not closing the forward hatch tonight. That wind will appear and cause GANNET to dash forward and take water over the bow is not possible. Wind is a distant and suspect memory. Wind is a delusion and its absence is going to cause me suffering. I’m going to pour another Laphroaig.

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Some of my favourite quotes, in light of tiller pilot issues Webb experienced (repeatedly!). And masthead wind instrument failure. Tried-and-tested sheet-to-tiller steering (and yarn in the shrouds) seems to have worked quite well. And sheer determination and will.

 

"August 3, Wednesday

Indian Ocean

 

New time zone means early sunsets. Im about to fill a tumbler with diminishing wine. The decision not to carry a barrel on the foredeck now seems somewhat hasty. What I really need is a case of tiller pilots and a case of Laphroaig.

 

"August 8, Monday

Indian Ocean

 

As soon as I got up at 0530 I went on deck and changed to sheet to tiller steering. The transition was easy. It isn't always. The tiller pilot did well. The Raymarines do until they die. Im saving it for when it is more essential.

 

 

"August 17, Wednesday

Indian Ocean

 

0800 I just noticed that the Raymarine display is showing neither wind speed nor angle. It was working a few minutes ago. I looked up from the companionway and the masthead unit is no longer there. Presumably a delayed consequence of the in the water knockdown. I dont think this is going to be covered under warranty. Back to yarn on the shrouds."

 

August 18, Thursday

Indian Ocean

 

I gybed. No good. Heading too far north. So I set the G2 [gennaker] which is more or less taking us in the right direction, averaging 4 to 5 knots. Tiller pilot steering. I would have like to have kept it for the last two hundred miles, but need it now. When it dies, it dies.

 

"August 22, Monday

Indian Ocean

 

0700 I am bouncing off my limits. I like to believe that my limits are the speciess limits, but that may just be ego. For much of my life, all Ive had was my own belief in myself and the willingness to put that belief to the test and quantify it. I am not looking for a senior discount here. Webb Chiles at 74 is not Webb Chiles at 30 or 40 or 50, but he is still formidable. Or likes to think he is."

 

 

Webb has posted his passage notes...

 

http://self-portraitinthepresentseajournal.blogspot.com/2016/08/darwin-to-durban-passage-log.html

 

Best line:

 

1900 G2 furled. We are drifting. I no longer believe in wind. A proof is that I am not closing the forward hatch tonight. That wind will appear and cause GANNET to dash forward and take water over the bow is not possible. Wind is a distant and suspect memory. Wind is a delusion and its absence is going to cause me suffering. Im going to pour another Laphroaig.

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Love those quotes. Chiles is a poet.

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