We are about 100 miles west of Cape Town, heading east. We will get back to the dock sometime early this afternoon. It has been good to get out here on the sea for a couple of days and run the boat and all its systems. Everything is working well.

The first day we had the strongest winds, up to 26 knots and we got the boat going 27 knots. While well short of the speeds we were going that first night on leg 1, everything seemed solid. We had a good look at our reaching headsails and spinnakers and recorded some performance information on each that helps us complete our sail cross over chart. The sail cross over chart is a jig saw puzzle looking thing that maps out an area that each sail covers on the wind speed/wind angle matrix.

Next, we slammed our way upwind all night, tacking a few ties and restacking the boat each time to simulate real race conditions for the loads and for our on training. “Stacking” is a chore where we take everything that is on deck and below and move it from one side to the other with the goal of getting the weight as far outboard as possible to add to the stability of the boat. This requires all 10 of us working hard for about 10 minutes to lift 100 kg sails, 25 kg food bags, spares, et. and shift them to the other side. Naturally the boat isn’t sitting there idly but rather inclined 25 degrees and jarring all over the place. Quite a workout!

Yesterday we practiced some in line (without tacking) headsail changes. We have gone to Hanks for attaching the headsails to the headstay rather than the twin foil device for safety in the high wind speed conditions. This takes changes a bit slower as you have to hank on the new sail and un hank the old one. The advantage of this system is that it is safer; you have less chance of loosing a man or sail overboard. The down side is that you sail without a headsail for a the period of time that it takes to make the change. So we worked on some technique to minimize the time required. Next we worked on our snuffer. The “snuffer” is a neat little gadget that allows us to lower a spinnaker and pack it into a “sock at the same time. A bit hard to explain but imagine a large ring at the top of the spinnaker that has a long tube of sail cloth attached to it. This ring and tube just sit at the top of the spinnaker while you use the sail, then when you want to get rid of the sail, you pull the ring down toward the deck with ropes and as the ring slide down gathering the sail inside of it, the “sock” is sliding over the now gathered sail. This makes for a long slender tube or “sock” which has the sail in it. Then we lower the sail to the deck and put that now packed sail into its bag. For short-handed sailing, this is a great tool as it allows for much quicker redeployment of the sail. If you simply drop the sail into the boat like you would on a day racer with plenty of hands available, it would take us a good 30 minutes of hard work for three people to pack the sail and have it ready to re-deploy. This particularly helpful in squalls as you often have to get the spinnaker off for the max gust but shortly there after you need it again. As you can imagine, there is a bit of technique to getting this gadget to work correctly and reliably in all wind strengths and this is something we are still working on perfecting. So we put a few hours in on that. We covered about 600 miles on our little trip off South Africa. Apart from the training that we need to do, we feel more confident in the boat now and the repairs that have been made. The Pearl feels solid and ready to go.

Tomorrow we will be part of the event that our partner Pescanova has organized for 1000 local school children. It will be a four hour program with all sorts of activities for the kids and of course a visit by a Pirate ship and real Pirates. We will have the honour of receiving a blessing from the Archbishop Desmond TuTu as part of the program. It should be a great day in Cape Town for all of us.

END PC

Pirates of the Caribbean