I don’t think the Indian Ocean wants us here!

Books have been written about the best times to cross the various oceans and the routes to follow to minimize one’s discomfort and maximize the efficiency of travel under sail. I’ve read a few of these and they are pretty much unanimous in the paucity of recommendations for sailing from Cape Town to Mauritius in July.

From this I can deduce that a) there isn’t much of a market for this information or that b) it is such a bad idea that it was never envisaged that anyone in their right mind would undertake such a passage. After 10 days of this trip, I’m beginning to think that b) is the more likely.

From a few hours into Day 1, we had contrary winds. We knew they were going to happen and we were comfortable with that. We needed to get south so a South Easter was not the end of the world. Three days of it, followed by a day of strong Easterly winds and then a week of howling North Westerlies with very large seas was really not in the plan!

I must commend my crew for their perseverance and maintaining of a sense of humor during some very unpleasant days. All this time Anita has kept us so well fed I believe we are putting on weight! I mean, who bakes muffins and bread heeled at 30 degrees with a boat lurching from side to side and the wind blowing at over 30 knots?

With the crew that are relatively new to sailing getting more and more competent, the watch system has been revised from two watches doing 3 hours on and 3 hours off at night and 4 hours on and 4 hours off during the day. We are now operating on 4 single person watches doing 2 hours on watch, 2 hours on standby and 4 hours off. This gives us more time to read and more importantly, to watch series like “Breaking Bad” or “Shameless”!

I somehow don’t think they had this sort of luxury on the square riggers of yesteryear? Those sailors were the real deal, not like us softies with our Goretex fabrics, GPS, AIS and down duvets! To say nothing of fridges and pressurized water.


D Day and topless bilge pump maintenance!

Can one ever be prepared enough to leave for 5 months away from what we are familiar with as civilization? While we were having a family farewell breakfast, the minds (well, Anita’s and mine anyway) were racing with questions, possibilities, doubts and scenarios. I was still fixing watermaker filters to bulkheads and wondering if I’d made all the necessary banking arrangements and then it was the right moment to just go!

“Stop!”, I heard. “Why?” I asked. “We haven’t collected the laundry!” So Megan and Garrick were dispatched to collect the laundry and the rest of us said further farewells to friends on the dockside.

Thank goodness for the perfect flat calm that we left in. It gave me time to install tie down points for the toolbox that has been so much part of everyday life for the last 4 months that it was overlooked in the storage plan! Then it was out with the fishing lures and sun screen and the holiday began. For about five hours.

“Can you smell diesel?” “Can you hear bilge water sloshing?” Yes and yes. Oh no. We’d filled up with 500 liters of diesel the day before and to find out that we had a leaking tank would have been a real party stopper. On with head torch and up with floor boards. No signs of leaks anywhere except a possible drip from the valve on the filler pipe. But the bilge sump was half full of liquid! Smelly, dirty liquid. A flick of the bilge pump switch and ….. nothing. Plenty of whirring but no sucking. No problem, use the manual pump. Plenty of pumping, no sucking!

No option but to descend into the bilge and unblock the pumps. Access to the bilge sump is a gap in the floorboard support structure about 400mm x 500mm and the pumps are 1 cm further down than the reach of my arms at full stretch!

To cut a long, dirty story short, the better part of day 2 was spent in the inverted position, clearing out the debris resulting from an intense month of carpentry on board. Sawdust and sundry bits of plastic had found their way to the sump and the bilge pumps were clogged up solidly. But that’s all sorted out now.

And the topless bit? Well, the access to the bilge isn’t big enough for me and my shirt!

D Day – 3 (or 5 or 7)

D Day has always been scheduled for as close to 30 June as possible. It’s now definitely going to be a few days after that for a couple of reasons, mostly relating to the simple fact that I tend to be overly optimistic with my predictions as to how long things will take to get done! Throwing more people at the tasks will not, unfortunately, get things done any quicker as space below decks is the limiting factor. Friends, family and contractors have been brilliant in their commitment and seriously appreciated.

Grant and Anita testing the new inflatable and running in the new motor

Grant undercoating the spray dodger

Ian fitting the mast steps (apparently 3 hours in a ‘bosun’s chair’ is not that comfortable!)

Patrick preparing to paint the topcoat on the spray dodger

So now it’s just a matter of ticking a few more tasks off the list and we’ll be ready to go when Garrick’s passport is issued and Megan has had her birthday and…..or am I just being optimistic?

Men at work and a mutiny

Fortunately, the two elements in the title are not related!

Men at work
We now have tinted, safety glass windows in our aluminium spray dodger, thanks to the hard working and innovative team from Drakkar Marine.


I am thoroughly chuffed with the end result and I am sure the crew will really appreciate the shelter the dodger provides on those cold and wet days to come until we escape the Southern winter. As an acquaintance, Bob Taylor, said to me once when I questioned the addition of a hard spray dodger to his classic cold moulded boat ,”Nero”, “it may not be that pretty from the outside, but it’s damn beautiful from the inside”. (Or words to that effect!).

“So we’ll aim to depart on 30 June” I confidently announced to my First Mate in a rare foray into the realms of information sharing. “No we won’t.” Was the instant reply. I got the impression that there wasn’t much room for negotiation on this subject.
When pressed for a good reason for her stance on this fairly important matter, I was reminded that our youngest has her 19th birthday on the 1st of July! The logic was lost on me. Where I come from, 19th birthdays and the presence of parents can be reduced to an interval of around 15 awkward minutes, while said 19 year old tries to be polite before gapping it with any presents to have a major party with far more interesting friends!

Before completely shooting myself in the foot, I sat down to consider my options. With the benefit of engaging the brain before opening my mouth again, I reminded myself that we are not talking about just any old 19 year old here. This one really seems to like her parents and spending time with them and for that I’m eternally grateful. And yes, I think we can delay sailing away by a day or two for this very special young lady.


Over the last few months, as we prepare to go cruising, many conflicting thoughts go through my mind.

Two themes recur more often than the others:

1. Are we being irresponsible ‘abandoning’ a teenage, university student daughter and elderly parents?
2. Will we travel the world and find anywhere more beautiful than home?

The first one seems to be more of a problem in my head than in the minds of those I’m concerned about! Our families have been totally supportive of our venture, with only the most minor conditions!

You will fly me out to join you every year, won’t you?

You will come home to visit us regularly, won’t you?

I think these are conditions we can live with!

This brings me to the second theme. Will we ever find anywhere as beautiful to live in as Simon’s Town?



In terms of physical and geographic beauty, I am sure we will find many stunningly beautiful places that may even rival our jewel in False Bay, but home is more than just a pin on google maps.

There have been many definitions of “home”, and amongst some of the better ones are

Where we love is home – home that our feet may leave, but not our hearts.
Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

Never make your home in a place. Make a home for yourself inside your own head. You’ll find what you need to furnish it – memory, friends you can trust, love of learning, and other such things. That way it will go with you wherever you journey.
Tad Williams

Home is where the heart is.
Pliny the Elder

the place where one lives permanently, especially as a member of a family or household.
synonyms: place of residence, accommodation, property, a roof over one’s head;
the family or social unit occupying a permanent residence.
the district or country where one was born or has settled on a long-term basis
a place where something flourishes, is most typically found, or from which it originates.

For me, all of the above, and yet none of them, encompass the many meanings of the word and concept of “home”. Perhaps it’s a consequence of having moved house so many times in my life, both as a child, with my expatriate and restless parents and also as an adult, dragging my family along with me to different parts of this country and the world?

Whatever the answer is, I know in my heart that I will leave this wonderful country in search of adventure and beauty in other parts of the world, but I will only feel home when I return to this amazing place!

D Day – 15

In theory, SY Jerrican will be departing African shores as close to 30 June as possible headed for the Republic of Maldives, via Mauritius.

I say “in theory” because we are some way off fully prepared!

This is the saloon area this morning:


And this is the workshop area:


And the galley:


All this hides the fact that we have one awesome and seriously industrious carpenter operating behind the scenes! Jason Friedlaar is our goto man who has made the departure time line even vaguely achievable. He has worked without a day off, often well into the night, for the last three weeks and the quality of his work is exceptional!

Why Maldives?

We are privileged to be providing support services to Stewart McPherson’s production company making a documentary on the Chagos Archipelago.


We are scheduled to collect Stewart and his team in the Maldives on 20 August and take them to the Chagos Archipelago for nearly three weeks of filming, above and below the pristine waters of the world’s largest Marine Reserve.

From Wikipedia:

The Chagos Archipelago (/ˈtʃɑːɡoʊs/ or /ˈtʃɑːɡəs/; formerly Bassas de Chagas[1] and later also Oil Islands, is a group of seven atolls comprising more than 60 individual tropical islands in the Indian Ocean; situated some 500 kilometres (310 mi) due south of the Maldives archipelago. This chain of islands is the southernmost archipelago of the Chagos-Laccadive Ridge, a long submarine mountain range in the Indian Ocean.[2] The Chagos also form a terrestrial ecoregion together with the Maldives and the Lakshadweep.[3] The islands and their surrounding waters are also a vast oceanic Environment Preservation and Protection Zone (EPPZ) (Fisheries Conservation and Management Zone (FCMZ) of 544,000 square kilometres (210,000 sq mi)), an area twice the size of the UK’s land surface.