Between Mossel Bay and Cape Town

Early morning, still no wind: how monotonous, but a blessing in disguise, as our slow motoring speed meant the worst of the strong winds expected around Cape Agulhas the following day would be missed. In a first, it was a case of slowing Gratis down.

Oil Platforms upon the horizon were silhouetted against the darkening stormy skies.

That wretched pole was the bane of our life!

The predicted winds had arrived at long last and the poles were out: swells passing beneath the hull sent our girl a rocking. Down below preparing our midday meal, I happened to be peering through the hatch and observed the wood flexing in a merry dance. With an enormous thwack it gave way: the two halves walloped the deck, sending a resonating vibration throughout our girl (a new, stronger ali pole was now on the ‘To Purchase’ list upon our arrival in Cape Town).

A rapid glance to ensure all food and utensils were safe from seesawing along the bench top. Up I raced! Sheet winched in, engine alive once more, Bob dealt with the clearing up as once more the wind changed.

In conjunction with this, the seas commenced their building as the predicted front approached. Without warning an unexpected wave collided with Gratis in just the right position upon the hull near the stern.

Inside and relaxing at last, from the cockpit came the swish swash of water lapping upon the door. Disbelievingly, Bob opened the door. Shock horror swept across his face upon the sight meeting his eyes. Our wonderful girl who was generally dry as a bone, in a first had a cockpit awash in water. Into it he clambered, ensuring the outlets were all running freely: all we could do was watch as the drainage took place. To our abject amazement, the seas repeated this not once, but thrice.

The cross seas in this part of the world were so out of keeping with what one would usually find. At twenty eight knots apparent, AP lost track a myriad of times. Sails were reduced on numerous occasions and AP’s sensitivity repeatedly adjusted for maintaining of control.

These were short confused seas with powerful waves coming from both directions with just seven seconds between each one.