Location: Richards Bay, South Africa
The day began as the previous ended, with a strong southerly breeze and accompanying swell. Vela slewed and sulked left and right, up and down as the crispness of the Southern Ocean edged its way north, bringing salty spray across the deck. With full foul weather gear on, each person at the helm attempted to keep the ship steady so that those below would not be rolled out of their beds. Most have learned on this trip that the ocean is its own being, deciding to do as it pleases with you. With our perseverance well and truly tested after two weeks at sea, moral was high as we controlled the only thing we could… our attitude. At 3 am my watch leaped onto deck, with a bounce in their step and a stubbornness in their stride, buoyed by the minuscule 60 nautical miles remaining of our second 2500 mile passage.The midnight snack of choice was brownie and custard, with the new boat game called ‘convergence’ turning the crew into fits of laughter!
As sun made light behind the clouds the wind went west, opening our weather window into Richards Bay as forecast. With the strong Indian ocean currents pushing up against the whole African continent, wind direction against said current is critical for a smooth sea state. As the waves relented, the crew took rest before the first sighting of land beneath the clouds around lunchtime. Rather unassumingly, the scene looked much like crossing the channel between England and France… very grey. As the coastline grew in length across the horizon, fenders were fetched and lines lifted out of the anchor locker in preparation for docking – we had little knowledge about what to expect on arrival.
With sails stowed and port control giving us the all clear, our entrance was understated at best. A sold concrete wall, with huge tires for much larger ships than ours to bump into, awaited us with not a person or amenity in sight! A perfect little quarantine spot. While the temptations of land and also cell phone service were a distraction, this did not stop all 31 ready and able hands to put Vela to bed in double quick time and even complete a seamanship class in preparation for the first round of Navmaster mock exams tomorrow.
Calm, still and quiet…. Vela and her crew rest tonight before boat appreciation (deep clean) and the following of customs procedures to clear into SOUTH AFRICA!