Laura's Blog

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06-01-2012

Like on the previous two nights my nocturnal visitors have kept at whistling their songs from their favorite stage, the solar panels of the Targa frame. But if I try to catch a picture or a video of their act they fall silent and keep their beeks closed out of irritation ... well, for all I care that is a most welcome change, really. Another good thing is that my guests have cleaned up their act and are a bit more polite now that they have stopped pooping on the solarpanels and are using Guppy's stern platform for a restroom which is quite an improvement. This morning I saw my first cargo ship in a long time over on the horizon - I was expecting to see more ship traffic this close to the shore. It is another hot day here as we are closer to the equator and getting closer to Sint Maarten all the time. Today I also saw a few dolphins, but sadly they disappeared as quickly as they showed up. That is too bad, I haven't had the pleasure of dolphins accompanying us for quite a while.

Laura

 

 


05-01-2012

Yesterday's dark clouds only brought some rain and once they finished raining they just hung around not bothering me. The wind eased again but it is enough for sailing and enough to influence the wind-chill factor... Last night another unlucky fellow flew inside the cabin and again it aimed right for my bed. But this time I recognized the tantrum and I could get this one flying fish back in the water alive again... Also the black birds kept on with their singing chorus and kept me company all night. So, everything is fine and Guppy is as brave as Guppy always is so the equator is getting closer.

Laura


04-01-2012

As expected the wind is still blowing straight from behind, but it decreased in strength a little. Happily it still is enough to keep us going under sails. We are down to 2600 nautical miles left to sail. Last night a strange chirping sound coming from Guppy's stern caught my ear ... Two pitch black birds were taking their ease on the solar panels. They kept on singing all night and even though they did not hit too many wrong notes, I got tired of their performance when morning came... When I stepped closer to them of course they started chirping louder and for sure they pooped on the solar panels. Naja, it was a change anyway, still I wonder what it is with the birds ruling over Guppy ... I was still musing over this when I noticed the air had slowly cooled down and the clouds had become darker ... a tad too dark for my taste. I cannot yet say what happened next as I am writing these lines right now but I am curious as to what will become of those. By the way, thank you very much for your many super nice coments in my guestbook.

Laura


03-01-2012

Waves behave nicer now and the wind is blowing from behind so Guppy still keeps rolling back and forth. Yet the wind is pulling at 15 knots which is unusual around here in the doldrums. Guppy is getting to be an oven now so I sleep during the day and stay up at night... and it is nice, what with the moonlit sea and the many many thousand stars up above.. It is real cool just to look at. Good winds keep Guppy happy and we are making good progress too with 3000 nautical miles already done which is more than halfway through this crossing. Let's hope the second half will be just as good...

Laura


02-01-2012

The wind and the waves have become a bit too enthusiastic and are making my life aboard less comfortable... But the great weather and our good progress more than make up for this. It is getting warmer with every day and I spend all day showering with buckets of water to stay cool... The flying fishes have shrunked a lot. I now get only very small ones but lots of them.Those dry up very quickly so throwing them overboard is an easy job. So everything is going well. Guppy is sailing great and I don't have much to repair. At times the waves can be really annoying, but who ever heard of an Ocean without waves really, so I will just have to live with them…

Laura


01-01-2012

I spent a great New Year's Eve listening to music with light sticks glowing and the shining moon and the stars were a very good trade off to the usual fireworks. Indeed at sea there is no light pollution so the night sky is very clear and beautiful and the stars are brightly shining. I celebrated New Year's Eve in my current time zone that is two hours behind the Netherlands’ time [GMT - 1. Unfortunately, I could not sleep during the very first hours of 2012 since the wind calmed down and Guppy rolled heavily. At daybreak the wind picked up and finally I could go to sleep - I actually spend most of January 1st napping in the cockpit. Ounce well rested and the heat of the day over I took some time for a general cleaning of Guppy... Now she is all tidy and clean to sail into the New Year ;-)

Laura


31-12-2011

The wind is still very kind to Guppy and me - not like the waves that apparently lack some good education and are bullying Guppy... Last night the wind died down some and Guppy rolled heavily from gunwale to gunwale and on top of that a cargo ship came sailing along so in the end I didn't get much sleep. But happily I had some good cat naps in the day so I know I won't fall asleep before midnight, not on New Year's Eve... ;-) I guess firing flares or signal rockets would not be such a good idea so maybe I will stick with my little multiple color lights flashing their fruit salad colors in the night and delight in them. From the middle of the South Atlantic Ocean I'd like to wish a Happy New Year to each and everyone of you, and I want to thank you all so much for your many good wishes! Let 2012 be a great year!

Laura


30-12-2011

I was kept busy all morning because of shifting winds coming in with a few squalls and rain.That made for a very entertaining course line on my plotter. Then the dark clouds finally disappeared and late in the day the air became sweltering hot, so hot that I had to spend most of my time sitting in the shadow, as Iistened to music and worked on my book which I find is a great way to spend time. Guppy is doing great and we only have 3200 nautical miles left to go until we sail over the finish line in Sint Maarten. But before that happens, first we have to cross the equator and go through the 'doldrums' [Intertropical Convergence Zone 5° south and 5° north of the Equator] which are getting nearer as I can tell by the heat. In the southern latitude between 18 and 15 degrees South the temperature was perfect, but now it slowly is getting much too hot for Guppy and I…

Laura


29-12-2011

Another nice and sunny day here. The water is getting warmer so it was my chance to take a shower today... The temperature rising the conditions called for a nice and smooth showery cooling down... I keep in touch with another yacht that is heading for the Caribbeans that set sail from South Africa one week after Guppy and I did. Over the SSB radio we are sharing common experiences which is always real nice. They are now going thru the same weather system Guppy and I went faced so it was nice to share about that and I promised that the temperature would get warmer soon ... for they are still in a cold zone being 940 nautical miles behind us.The flying fishes haven't come knocking lately - I guess they understood the message... Sometimes I find fish scales on the deck and today I also found a dried out squid hidden between ropes. Not funny. That thing stank like there is no tomorrow. Anyway the waves are flowing good now and Guppy is going at a comfortable 6 knots on our way to our next destination.

Laura


28-12-2011

It's really great that the Trade Wind still keeps me company on my way. Today I finished reading "Maya's Notebook" ['El Cuaderno de Maya', 2011] by Isabelle Allende, a book that I found completely captivating. I enjoyed a nice breakfast with pancakes that I had made earlier in the morning and then I did some maintenance work on Guppy. I replaced the steering cables of the windvane and inspected the fittings, the winches, etc. All to make sure everything is running smoothly. Then I went to visit Guppy's stern cabin to check on the steering mechanism and to grease the bearings. The temperature is getting cooler again and the clouds are becoming darker and bigger. Sometimes some weird shifting winds blow in at night and Guppy rushes ahead downwind which I don't mind even though we may be sailing on a wrong course for an hour or so... Usually in the morning the rain curtains disappear and the sun comes out to wish us a 'Good morning'. The days seem to fly by faster and I try to fully enjoy each of them. Pulled ahead by the Trade Winds and happy in the knowledge that I still have much time to enjoy the peace and the quiet at sea is just wonderful.

Laura


27-12-2011

With a nice wind coming diagonally from behind, Guppy is tirelessly pulling ahead under full sails. Today the sun was shining again, which really was great. It is getting warmer with each day passing, something that I have to get used to again, but that is welcome in any case. But I guess I will change my mind about this soon... Differently from Christmas day the waves are a bit kinder to us, and this morning I suddenly felt like cooking something nice and tasty. And so, after a bit of hesitation and much thinking, I finally decided to bake cookies. I enjoyed them in the afternoon while I read a book outside in the sun. In the last days 'Gup' made good progress and we have already covered some 2000 nautical miles.

Laura


26-12-2011

I had just jumped in my warm bunk and fell asleep when a strange noise brought me back to consciousness ... something inside the cabin was making a lot of noise. I switched on the light just in time not to step on a whopper of a flying fish that had flown in on an air attack on Guppy seconds before and had ended up by my bed after first bumping off the garbage bin and finally trashing the floor in a futile attempt at taking off again ... Throwing dead flying fishes back into the water is not one of my favorite thing but catching a live one now tops my list. But before I could send it back to where it came from I first had to catch it, which I did as I cursed it properly. Flying fishes are not only slimy, they also leave plenty of gooey scales behind. I hope this one tells his fellow flying fishes about his bad experience so none of them is stupid enough to come flying in my cabin again...This fish was the first of his specie I have seen since I started on the Indian Ocean ... a sure sign that the water is getting warmer. =D

Laura


25-12-2011

We had a nice 20 knots wind today that pulled Guppy at a good 6,5 knots towards the horizon. My Christmas gift was the sun shining all day but the sky is getting cloudy again. Still I enjoyed having a day without heavy clouds and rain. Sadly, I cannot say the same about the waves... Even though they are no higher than three meters they are very steep and scome from the side... Anyway cooking a five course meal at sea is something of a challenge and in any case because of the sea conditions I'll just have to fall back on a very simple Christmas Dinner made out of canned food and that is fine with me - a simple Christmas is a great Christmas to me. This way I don't have to go visit the family and be sooo kind to everyone, I don't have to eat dinner, even a good one, if I don't feel like it just to be polite and what about all that talking, talking... Here Guppy is a very good listener and she never contradicts me ;-) , I can eat whatever and whenever I want, and I don't have to go for visits anywhere, but here with my little Christmas tree with its lights on, my Santa Claus cap and the Christmas garlands and all that is the perfect Christmas ambience for me anyway. :-D

laura


24-12-2011

At dawn today the sunlight promessed a cloudless day. I should have touched wood because Guppy is now surrounded by curtains of rain and dark clouds again... But I can spend hours just watching the sky and its fascinating creations. Today it was dark and threatening clouds next to white clouds and grey clouds with some scattered spots of blue sky here and there... which in the evening created an amazing sunset made of beautiful sunlight rays. Yesterday the clouds gathered in an arch that reached down to the sea far on the horizon and when the sun came down floating in the water it turned the arch into a barrel vault of lights, which was just wonderful to see... But now the waves have taken some very annoying patterns as the wind shifted, making for cross seas making us wallow heavily at times. Even though the sea may be calm for half an hour or so, it would be a mistake to leave things lying around thoughtlessly otherwise... Woosh! Oh yes, another mega-wave comes and then you better duck because here comes the frying pan flying at you in a murder attempt ... or alternately it bring a rice pack to fall out of a locker to kiss the floor... You get three guesses to figure how I spent the rest of the day today ;-)

Laura


23-12-2011

This morning the dark clouds had their cup full and just dropped everything they had of winds and rain - the winds shifting madly and as I checked on Guppy's course line on the plotter I wondered if Mr. Windpilot maybe had had too much of a good drink ... Or he was simply high as a kite on cloud nine, drunk full from all the Christmas and New Year’s Greetings that we received coming to us from everywhere. We are thrilled, thank you very-very much! I can't think of a nicer Christmas than being with Guppy sailing the South Atlantic Ocean knowing that the good wishes of so many kind people accompany us, really! It even made the dark clouds run away. Well maybe it was still dark and rainy this morning but the afternoon was real nice with the sun shining, joining in the cheers. So in Guppy's name, and mine also of course, I would like to wish each and all and everyone of you a VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS.

Laura


22-12-2011

For the second time on our journey Guppy and I have crossed, coming from the West, the line between Eastern and Western longitude. The first time happened soon after our departure from the Netherlands when we were sailing in the British Channel. Now 'Gup' and I are being pulled by a light breeze from astern towards another knowned benchmark, the line that separates the Southern hemisphere from the Northern one, the equator... Happily this is still some time away, 'Gup' having on her bow 2300 nautical miles of South Atlantic Ocean water still to sail. So far this one Ocean has been good to us and with some luck things should stay this way... For now the steady Trade Winds blowing at between 10 and 20 knots are helping us make good progress. The days are still cloudy and without the stars or the moon shining the nights are darker. Really darker! So dark that I can't tell the sea from the sky which is something I don't like, preferring to see what is going on around me. In the daytime too the clouds can appear threatening even though they seem to be just hanging up there in the sky. But for all their placid, friendly and peaceful look I know by now how fast things can change at sea...

Laura


21-12-2011

Thinking back on yesterday I realized that two special things happened. I went over the Netherlands' longitude line and December 20th is the day when the sun on its course through the skies stands straight above the 'Tropic of Capricorn' which is where I am. This date marks the longest day in the southern hemisphere – not that the sun was shining for me yesterday or even for the last several days. But it doesn't really matter since it is steadily getting warmer all the time. The wind is blowing from the south at 10 to 15 knots and 'Gup' is moving smoothly forward so I can rest at night between uneventful watches. The clouds are hiding the stars but Guppy is making her own lights by drawing beautiful lines of marine luminescence in her backwash. Surprisingly I don't feel things are at a stand still even though during my previous crossings I always had something to occupy me: ‘Gup’ being pushed on her side by a squall, repair work, or just trying to sleep when everything inside the cabin was wet and salty. But now, nothing. After all that went on in the past year this is a moment for me to take it all in and realize the chance I have to be at sea being in peace. And it is just wonderful. So Guppy is smoothly going on which means I can bake bread, read books and work on improving my culinary skills, which I am succeeding surprisingly well lately...

Laura


20-12-2011

Today Guppy came in line with the Netherlands' longitude [5° E], which means that I have now crossed all of the earth longitudes ... that's pretty amazing. Now I only have some 4800 nautical miles to go until I reach the Caribbean and finish my circumnavigation of the world. That sounds so incredibly close in view of all the miles Guppy already has under the keel, but at the same time it seems quite far away for I am still in the southern hemisphere. The nice wind I had yesterday calmed down a little which is not so bad because I don't have to adjust the sails or the course so much. But what I really missed in the last days was the sun so it is colder now, especially at night. Apparently the squids agree with me for they keep coming to lounge on Guppy's warm deck all the time and then ... I can't say it warms my heart to pick-up dead squids. They are not as easy to grab and throw overboard as dried out flying fishes. Those things just get glued to the deck and they will come apart when you pull on them which only makes for a bigger mess to clean up. The small signboard 'No squids allowed' I put up didn't make much of a difference ;-) ... Naja, if those are my biggest problems for now it goes to say that all is pretty good onboard ...

Laura


19-12-2011

To my surprise a nice breeze came in yesterday evening that got even stronger during the night. With the strong wind coming diagonally from behind we dashed forward over the bumpy sea at 7 knots. The wind came but the sun has left... maybe taking with it the outboard engine's oil! As I was about to adjust the windvane at the stern I found the swim platform all covered with oil ... which normally would be inside the outboard. Since I have to stand on the swim platform each time I want to reach the windvane to change our course, which in itself is not so easily done, this time because of the oil I figured I had a 99 percent probability of going overboard... Thus a small and simple job became a little more difficult. But first I had to find out why the oil had run out of the engine. Looking carefully the reason why became quite evident: the drain plug had become loose... After dealing with this I was left with the less fun part of my ordeal to face... cleaning! And I still had to adjust the course...

Laura


18-12-2011

Another clear and sunny day with little wind but still enough so Guppy can skate ahead which is all there is to it ... today. It's unbelievable that I have been at sea for almost a week now - time is just flying by. But, and this is real sweet to me, Guppy and I still have many miles to go and at our current speed there is plenty of time left for us to be at sea. Today I took some time to read books and relish the last of my fruits before they go more than ripe. And then when a nice breeze starts blowing I adjust the sails so we can make as much progress we can. Otherwise I just take a moment or two to sit on deck and watch the endless horizon waving at me...

Laura


17-12-2011

The alarm clock wakes me up, lying in my warm, dry and not salty bed, as I listen to all the familiar sounds Guppy makes... the trickling sound of the small waves flowing along her hull that tells me exactly how fast she is going, the familiar jarring of the mizzen, the rythm of the spinnaker pole moving up and down... There is no need to go outside, everything is going fine. Guppy's movements have not changed much but I can tell that the wind has weakened a little and that we are going at 3 knots heading in the right direction. However, I get up to do my usual round. Everything is alright, 'Gup' is softly going forward under a beautiful starry sky, swaying gently. I get back into bed. Usually in the evening the wind picks up pulling us faster ahead but during the day there is just enough to keep the sails filled and not flapping. Sometimes I try adjust the sails to make us go faster, but mostly I simply enjoy the endless silky blue ocean and the quiet peace that it brings ...

Laura


16-12-2011

After a good start Guppy's speed has dramatically dropped today... From 5 knots to 4 knots, to 3 knots and down again to a small 2,5 knots. Because the wind is coming directly from behind it seems to blow weaker than it actually does. Anyway, the sun is shining, the sails are barely flapping in the light wind and the windvane keeps Guppy on course so everything is fine actually. Go figure, we are also heading in the right direction! I can easily remember worse situations... In short, everything onboard is going well. I am no longer wet, salty and tired, or shaken inside the boat and I don't have to check on my things flying around so I suddenly have plenty of time on my hands - something I really have to get used to. I catched up on some sleep, I made myself a nice and normal breakfast and I have set up my small Christmas tree with lights and all. OK, that may not sound too exciting so, Guppy and I are now slowly entering inside the warm Trade Winds zone, something I was really looking for after the cold and turbulent weather of the last months...

Laura


15-12-2011

Guppy and I have been at sea for three nights already. And now the wind is gone... We had a promising start with lots of wind, even a little bit too much to my taste and not from the best direction so Guppy could not keep on her course. Still we were making progress sailing on a close tack with lots of water constantly washing over deck, until now... So the wind is gone leaving us rolling in the remaining swell but least I am already used to the bobbing of the boat... It is grey and drizzling outside and the sails are flapping which I really don't like. I would do better doing something about this. No winds also means the windvane is useless so we are more or less going everywhere and nowhere... Oh well, the wind will surely come back... Sometime...

Laura


13-12-2011

After waving goodbye to the sailing out Volvo Race boats as they headed south, Guppy and I left Cape Town and Table Mountain behind us. We will be at sea for the coming time. We started with a nice wind and we are sailing on a close tack. Then the wind shifted and picked up and it is now blowing directly from ahead at 25 knots so we had to reef the sails and we are not heading on a perfect course with the waves constantly washing over - as I left Cape Town I already knew that the first 500 nautical miles would not be easy sailing. At some point the weather will improve but for now I just have to tough it out. Because of the ship traffic around here I did not sleep much and I feel the fatigue. I hope to catch up on some sleep today cat napping. So all is well onboard and I just need to fall back into my sea rhythm but I feel great and very soon I will be used to the waves washing over and having things all wet..

Laura 


10-12-2011

Yesterday I was invited onboard Camper to join them in the Pro Am Race of the V.O.R. It was AMAZING! She is definitely the fastest sailboat I have ever sailed on. No doubt this was the highlight of my time in Cape Town and maybe even the highlight of my whole trip.. really who gets a chance at sailing on a V.O.R boat?. This was a high I definitely can't ever forget and will remember for like...forever. It was breathtaking as the boats went through the water at 21 knots! And for me especially really interesting,the teamwork I do everything on my own not caring too much about going a knot faster or slower but these guys are always watching for the trim on the sails and if 0.5 knots more is possible they definitely will get it out of the boat.

Today I admired the boats onboard Guppy. The In Port Races was a really cool event and as it counts for the overall marks the crews pushed their boats to the limits. Code 0's were hoisted and no one was giving a millimeter they could get. In the end Telefonica finished first, with Camper just behind on the 2nd place. There was a nice breeze so it was a good race ... Not much impresses me so easily but I have to say that all of this really made a big impression on me..

For picture's look at the dutch weblog. 

Laura


09-12-2011

Early this morning after a short flight Guppy was back in her natural element,the water. I would like to thank the Royal Cape Yacht Club's shipyard for picking up the costs of lifting Guppy out of the water, bringing her back in and all the great help. She is now lying at her berth again with the familiar sound of the waves and swaying gently in the wind. I have spend the past two days working hard making her look like new but now I can feel safe heading out towards they sout atlantic. I have already stocked up on food ,filling the fresh water tanks won't be a problem and the mess in the cabin won't be that much of a deal either. So it looks like I can slow down my pace for the coming days and take the time to have a closer look at the Volvo Ocean Race boats. The start of the second leg is getting closer. Today I was aboard 'Groupama' and I learnt that even though all the race boats look pretty much the same they still are very different from each other. It was interesting to see all the little different details on each boat,and of course the crew hopes that that makes there boat the fastest. I am back on Guppy now and the wind just started blowing strongly again. It can change in a matter of minutes here. Today we've had calms a few times in between stronger winds and now again it's blowing at 25 knots over the marina. This is the perfect weather to enjoy a hot chocolate inside the cabin since it is not too warm over here - actually, even with a pullover and my sailing jacket on I am freezing! I won't even mention the water temperature...

Laura


06-12-2011

I have found the time to write a new blog so ... After being told at least one hundred times that I really had to go up Table Mountain, early yesterday morning I went over with friends. We didn't ride up with the cable car but hiked, taking the steepest trail going to the top. I thought it would be as flat as a table top over there, a plateau... It's not. So we kept on climbing and climbing until the trail slided gently up and down a little giving us really beautiful and extraordinary views along the way. Since we started our trek at 5 am, it was still early morning when we reached the top and there was no one but us. I was glad to have comed up this way enjoying the fresh air and nice temperature before the herd of tourists came stepping out of the cable car an hour later. And so before that happened I had enough time to take in the view of Cape Town below as the clouds flew in wonderful curls and twists above us at the top of Table Mountain. Back from the trek I went shopping again - I am now pretty sure that I have all the food provisions I need for awhile. Guppy will be lifted out of the water for an overall check today.Some little problems have to be looked at, some I had already identified in Darwin.


05-12-2011


04-12-2011

Today I went up to the Cape of Good Hope not with Guppy but by car with my Dad at the 'helm'. From there I could see the whole distance that I covered sailing to here. The view from above was breathtaking and the drive to the Cape along the coastal highways next to the endless beaches was well worth it. I am still busy shopping, doing some small jobs aboard Guppy and just visiting Cape Town.

Laura

The pictures of Guppy at sea on the December 3rd blog were taken by Uwe Moser of the Momo, one of the boats that sailed from Port Elizabeth at the same time I did.

http://www.momos-meilen.de/

 


03-12-2011

photo's see dutch weblog

Laura 


01-12-2011

In the few days that I've been here, I've already done a lot. I finally slept for a long time, ate well, and cleaned most of the mess in Guppy-because when I came in the harbor there where some things floating around in the salt water.. The Camper crew recognized me and they let me have a look at there boat. Looking at that enormous race boat was by far the coolest thing. The difference with Guppy is huge. Camper is even almost twice as big as Guppy and she weights almost the same. There is no interior in the boat and everything is ultra-light and made from carbon. Whereas Guppy is built strong and for safety, the Volvo raceboats are mostly built for racing, of course. I was deeply impressed and may even help a little with taking the mast off. The boats are now standing ashore to give them a good look after the 3 weeks of full-on racing. The day before yesterday I saw the French Groupama coming in, the last one of the 3 Volvo boats that were still in the race. There wasn't a lot of wind and we could just keep up with the boat, but with even the slightest bit more wind she raced along and after a fabulous final sprint Groupama lay safely in the harbor of Cape Town. Guppy is now moored in a big marina among her peers and she really likes it and so do I. That's a good thing because I probably will stay here for a little while. I need a little rest and would like to see the start of the Volvo Ocean Race. So for now there is no rush in going farther and I have enough time to enjoy the view on Guppy from the marina restaurant and drink milkshakes.

Laura


29-11-2011

Photo out the heli ( see dutch weblog)

Laura 


27-11-2011

This last leg to Cape Town was really tough. On the last night coming in I reefed the mainsail three times and we rounded the Cape of Good Hope in five metres high breaking waves, Guppy going at 8 knots under the storm jib only. The 35 knots wind that were forecasted soon turned to 40 knots, then to 45 knots and finally to 50 knots with at times 55 knots gusts! This was more than what the storm jib could take, but for some reason it jammed rolling so I couldn't furl it in... The small sail area left was too much and being knocked down was still a real possibility - it had to come down. In the early morning light as I could barely figure out the huge mass of the Table Mountain nearing, its top rising high above into the clouds, I made my way to the foredeck where under multiple ice cold showers I managed to take the storm jib down. On this side of Cape Agulhas the water temperature drops significantly and for the first time since the Galápagos Islands I saw penguins and seals swimming around. With her now bare masts Guppy was still heeling heavily as we were heading for the harbor and I was blinded by all the water washing over and the rising sun shining straight into my eyes. Don't ask me how but I did manage to manoeuvre Guppy through the breakwaters and with its smaller waves I could see that I was now right in with ... the Volvo Ocean Race boats! I was allowed to dock and I started to wait for some feeling to come back to my frozen fingers and toes...I saw a few hours later the 'Camper' come in – she too is part of the Volvo Ocean Race and is jointly sailed by team Emirates and team New Zealand.. Because it was a little bit to busy over there and a have since moved to the quieter Cape Town marina which is better for Guppy . After a good night sleep I am well rested so I can start cleaning inside Guppy's cabin. The rough seas and all the water leaking in have neatly ordered everything into one big mess ..

Laura


26-11-2011

For the first time since our departure from the Netherlands Guppy is sailing on a northerly course. With a 25 knots wind coming from behind we are heading for the Cape of Good Hope. It is cloudy today so I can barely see the shore just five nautical miles away - exactly as in all the stories that are told about the Cape. Getting by the Cape is a very special feeling for me – this is the moment in my journey that I have been anticipating all along and now I am living it. This afternoon a helicopter emerged from the clouds, circled Guppy for half an hour, at first high above and then flying lower...Guppy and I are now alone sailing the ever growing waves. The weather forecast calls for a very rough night with 35 knots winds and five metres waves so we'll see what gives - I have catched up on some sleep today so ... Cape Agulhas is definitely behind us and so too is the Indian Ocean. Thank you very much Abby [Sunderland] for your congratulations on my indian ocean crossing. Gup and I decided to just go for it!

Laura

 


25-11-2011

The wind quickly faded yesterday so it gave me a chance to put things back in order inside Guppy. I also filled the space around the leaking cleat on deck with sealant in preparation for our appointment with 30 knots wind forecasted for tomorrow. The other yachts in our group are still behind and now out of sight. Even though we are sailing in a highly frequented shipping lane I could take some time to sleep last night. Just before going to bed I sat in the cockpit to take another look at the marine luminescence dancing with the sea. There is so much phosphor in the water that even the very small rolling crests of the waves glow with a lime-green light just as Guppy's backwash is very brightly luminescent - I can't remember having seen the sea shine so brightly and beautiful before. We are getting closer to Cape Agulhas and I should be round it tomorrow. Cape Agulhas is the southernmost point of South Africa but most people believe that the Cape of Good Hope is, but in reality it is further to the North. Tomorow, for the first time on our journey Guppy and I will turn to a northerly course – then on we will sail the remaining distance heading North until we have completed our Tour..

Laura


24-11-2011

Another blog from the open sea. Early this morning the meteo called for a good weather window so Guppy and I decided to cast off the mooring lines and with four other yachts we left the marina in Port Elizabeth to head west. Coming out of the bay the sea was nice rough with a 25 knots head wind creating high waves so Guppy sailed more under water than on it. Than a large school of dolphins appeared to keep us company - they jumped high above the waves, dived back just to come out flipping in acrobatic pirouettes. It was real nice to see. Although the yachts in our group are as big or even bigger than 'Gup', early on we easily took the lead... With the bay far behind us, the wind dropped a little and blew more from the side so we did real good under sails. But the past few hours of rough sailing have taken their toll. The middle cleat on Guppy's deck was so overloaded by the lines pulling on it during the storm in the harbour that now the water washing over the deck is leaking inside the cabin from it. The water made its path over my books, ran into the cabinets, then slipped unto my bed to finally end up inside my sleeping bag. To find the spot that was leaking, I removed part of the ceiling and to keep things as dry as possible, I threw all the other stuff to the side... turning the whole boat into a messy, soaked-wet and salty chaos ... But I am enjoying the fast sailing and staying ahead of the group. I feel great to be back at sea and I am looking forward to the high points of rounding the Cape. The wind is weakening a little again so I shall be very busy in the coming days... making it an easy guess as to how I will spend my time right after arrival...

Laura


22-11-2011

Today a strong wind is blowing over the recently renovated harbour of Port Elizabeth. Some time ago a major storm destroyed the marina and the people here are still busy working on the rusty and damaged docks to keep them securely floating. A heavy swell has been coming in from the sea that made the boats pull hard on their mooring lines but now the wind has shifted and the swell has diminished a little and becouse of the wind it is still difficult to walk upright on the docks. Yesterday I clocked the wind at 45 knots and that was in the harbour! The weather charts don't show a change in wind direction and strength coming soon so it looks like I will have to stay here a few more days. The other yacht crews are also waiting for better weather and we are having a nice time together. Anyway it gives me a chance to check on everything again aboard Guppy. When I was in Durban I was too busy taking in all my new experiences to do more than basic maintenance work..

Laura


21-11-2011

photo's Durban and Addo park PE.

www.lauradekker.nl 

Laura 


20-11-2011

Photo's from the Indian Ocean crossing.


klik last pictures 

Laura


19-11-2011

Guppy and I are now in Port Elizabeth. The night before my arrival I suddenly fell sick and I threw up, probably because of something I ate. In the morning I felt a little better and I managed to manoeuvre Guppy safely into the harbour where we took berth. I then spent some hours sleeping which helped a lot to make me feel better, and by the next morning I felt close to my best again. The crew from the boat next to me asked me whether I would like to go along to the Addo Elephant National Park, a nature preserve some 50 kilometres from Port Elizabeth. The next thing I knew I stood in front of a group of elephants, and I saw all kinds of animals just like in the movie 'The Lion King'... Nice. There were rhinos, ostriches, deers, koedoes, buffaloes, zebras and many other animals in the park. But the elephants coming very close to the car was our tour's highlight - I never imagined that they were so big. Later in the day we saw a herd of some one hundred of them playing near a mud hole. It was really extraordinary and very impressive. I am very happy to have made that visit. Back aboard Guppy there came a 40 knots wind that swept over the harbour so I had to tie Guppy with additional lines to prevent her from breaking loose. Looks like I will have to be patient for a little while before I set sail again..

Laura


17-11-2011

Back on Guppy after my excursion in the mountains, the meteo called for a good weather window on through the next coming days. It made me so happy that I felt like setting sail right away. But then I thought it would be better to have a full night of sleep first because coastal sailing and sleeping don't go together... And it seemed odd that I would have been riding a horse in the mountains in the morning and sailing in the evening of the same day... So at dawn I manoeuvred 'Gup' out of the harbor. The weather was great this time around and as soon as we reached the Agulhas Current, Guppy was sailing at a fast 10 knots! Going with the current 'Gup' beat all of her previous speed records.The coast flew by. That is when a whale came out of the water ten metres in front of Guppy's bow. I got scared when the huge animal that was much longer than Guppy suddenly blew half the ocean at us. I disengaged the automatic pilot and ran inside to grab my camera, but when I came back all I could see of the whale was a brownish mass disappearing in the deep under Guppy's keel. Many hours later I was still worried that a wave might be a whale, but happily there were just ordinary waves left... This morning the wind faded but it came back a little later blowing from the south at 20 knots! Headwind and the current against it at five knots don't make for ideal sailing conditions. The waves rapidly built up and Guppy started climbing and falling down the other side of the waves, on and on, up and down ... and again. Even though I had carefully studied the weather forecasts back in Durban, none of my weather charts had shown any signs of a southerly wind... Together with the Agulhas Current, storms from the South West can create extremely high and dangerous waves that in the past have sent many good ships down to the 'basement'. I hope to be in Port Elizabeth tomorrow. Till then I won't have much chance to sleep since I have to keep an eye on the course, the ship traffic, the rocks and more. This will be my second night up in a row and I am beginning to long for more than ten minutes cat naps..

Laura


16-11-2011

for new photos... I tried for hours to upload pictures to my website without success, the internet here being too slow but maybe it will work better in my next port of call? Happily, on the day after my arrival in Durban I escaped from the frenetic activity of the city, not by going sailing in the 40 knots winds blowing in the harbour, no... I went on a tour in the mountains with a New Zealand family that is circumnavigating the world in their 40-foot boat, one eight year old kid and one ten years old tagging along. They rented a car and invited me to go upcountry with them. Within three minutes of their invitation I had my stuff together, Guppy was locked and I was ready to exchange the salty marine air for the mountain air. So we left town and we soon could feel the temperature getting colder as we went up the hills. We stayed at a nice camping site that had a whole zoo of rabbits, horses, chickens, gooses and dogs. The two kids found all sorts of ways to keep me very busy all day. Funny how these two are real sailor kids...when they did the dishes they used as little water as possible even though they didn't have to this time. The mountain air was great, but still it felt good to see the ocean again as we came down the hills on our way back. I really like mountains but I guess I will never live somewhere too far away from the sea. Maybe I will live up a mountain with a view on the sea or maybe by the sea with a view on the mountains... Hmm, this could work, too. Naja, I have plenty of time in front of me to think about that..

Laura


14-11-2011

After 47 days sailing across the Indian Ocean Guppy and I are in Durban, South-Africa. On my last night at sea I met with intensifying ship traffic and came to feel the strong northern Agulhas Current with its higher and steeper waves coupled with a southerly wind blowing at 25 knots that fortunately slowly faded away. It was the middle of the night when I could hear for the first time an African radio broadcast station and also caught a glimpse of some small lights in the distance before we suddenly were swallowed by fog, a very thick fog. Then came the squalls, one after another carrying plenty of drizzle while my radar system kept reporting on the ships around me, ships that I couldn't see at all. Ten nautical miles from Durban I couldn't see anything... Five nautical miles and I still couldn't see...Three nautical miles and... Yes, I can see it! I sighted softly...I was too sea weary to laugh or do a merry dance. Normally I would bounce of joy coming in harbor and this happiness would stay with me for a couple of days. Oh yes, sure I was happy, but I also had mixed feelings knowing that my peaceful time aboard Guppy and harmony with nature were soon to be disrupted. Slowly one after the other skyscrapers rose out of the mist as we approached the large industrial harbour. There was only one mile left to the breakwaters and I reported to the port authority by radio. I was told that there was a ship now comming out of port so I had to wait for this sea monster to pass me by as it went out. Then it was my turn and I made my way to the opposite end of the harbour where I finally entered the marina. A little later as I went to the port authority's office I had to be extremely focused if I didn't want to go walking right into the water as the dock and everything else around me on shore was moving! When I took my first steps on the jetty, my first reaction was to fly right back aboard Guppy to the safety of my natural environment. Then I tried again keeping one hand on the reeling - it felt like I was trying to walk for the very first time. I could not believe how much out of balance I was. I practiced walking up and down the pier and after having done that three times, things went much better. I Cleared Customs without problems, but the Customs' official almost fainted when I told him that I had sailed non-stop and single-handed from Darwin. He would not believe me so I show him my website, after which muttering to himself he rubber stamped my boat's papers. Since arrival I have had a lifetime full of activies and impressions. I had my first warm shower in a long time, I enjoyed a nice dinner eating hamburgers and I even slept through my fisrt night in one stretch. Also I desalted and cleaned Guppy and I am slowly getting used to being on land again. Well actually I'd rather be back on the open sea - it's so stressful here with all the people who want to talk to me! It does take getting used to again. Anyway, with a 35 knots southerly wind blowing in from the sea I can't even start thinking of sailing out, the wind probably blowing much stronger further out. So, hundreds of other things have happened to me already but in contrast to life at sea so much happens at the same time here that I cannot recall it all. At sea my typical day's highlights were having dinner, sleeping, sliding over a very high wave, watching a strange cloud, or spotting a ship - small things that made my day and kept me very happy day after day... That has all changed now, eating and sleeping are but minor events. A wave? A strange cloud? Go on living girl! Who could be so odd as to feel happy watching strange clouds?! No, here we keep busy running from pillar to post and back.. and my head whirls with all the questions I am asked... Luckily, I can run back to Guppy, my little hideaway that keeps me from going nuts – or am I really? Hi Hi..

Laura


13-11-2011

 

10-11-2011 

Almost there... Just a little way still to go as each passing hour stretches longer. Just a mere 100 nautical miles left to sail out of the 6000 nautical miles leg from Darwin. But the wind had to torment me last night, whirling and shifting directions at 0 to 25 knots and now blowing straight on Guppy's bow. The coast is near and yet so far away... Guppy is on a close tack, unfazed by the dark clouds and the shifting winds. Slowly, very slowly I realize that tomorrow South Africa will be in sight...I am already looking forward to a whole night of uninterrupted sleep in a bed that is not rocking, not salty and not soaking wet, and maybe a soothing and warm shower. Maybe too I can have something fresh to eat, meat or fish! I am usually not too keen on fish but after seven weeks without fresh food I would eat anything that is not spaghetti, rice or canned beans! But it is also true that I could have gone kept sailing for some more weeks. On the open sea, I did not care too much about our destination or how fast we were going, but now I am constantly checking our course and speed. I keep figuring my time of arrival, monitoring the ship traffic that increases by the minute, and watching the GPS and also the chart with more and more symbols, lines and figures for the area. The wind is not as the weather charts predicted, so for the first time in six weeks it really irritates me that we are slower than should be..

Laura


12-11-2011

 

9-11-2011 

Last night Guppy and I was thrown up and down. The wind picked up to 25 knots and blew from the side which would not be too much but the waves made it all very annoying not much chance to get some sleep so I was quite grumpy this morning. We are getting closer to land very fast and I wondered if I should be happy or not about that and then I decided to take some fresh air in the cockpit. Ah! What a nice... WHAAAM! ARGH, grmpbl hmpf hmpf %(?#*$& wave! After cursing the sea, the waves, the wind and then some ... I changed mood and felt like on top of the world again. Indeed staying grumpy won't change a thing. Guppy is still flying like a spear over the sea, and at this speed we are quickly approaching the coast.

Laura


12-11-2011

 

8-11-2011 

Yesterday night my lovely southerly wind faded into an easterly wind that blew directly from astern and made Guppy roll back and forth with the high swell. Sleeping was almost impossible under those conditions. But now the swell is almost gone and there is a nice northerly wind blowing at 15 knots so sailing is very easy and comfortable. With all her sails up, Guppy is going like a spear at 7,5 knots. Perfect! But how long will it last this time?.. Still I am enjoying myself sailing fast and no waves washing into the cockpit. The sun is shining bright in the sky with only 450 nautical miles to go. Still I am in no hurry to go ashore and I could go on sailing for weeks not stopping in any ports. If it wasn't for diesel fuel, fresh water and to buy food, and with good weather conditions, I would definitely do so. As the days have passed I have become used to the constant movements of the boat and to interrupted sleeps as Mother Nature did not make it so easy for me on this leg, and I never felt in such close harmony with the environment before. It's so nice and calm here just being with Guppy, the waves, the wind and the horizon. There is no one to ask me for this or that, there is no stress, there is no internet,and so on..

Laura


12-11-2011

 

7-11-2011 

Finally a whole night of sleep! There was a nice southerly wind that pulled Guppy along at 6,5 knots. Even though the wind now weakened a little we are still doing great and what's even better is that it is steadily blowing! So I don't have to correct our course all the time. This morning there was a lot of ship traffic - three of them came to be close to us, one of which on a direct collision course. I called on the radio to ask if they saw me and was answered 'Yes, no problem'. Ok , I thought, all is fine they can see me... Ten minutes later it was still on a collision course and close enough for me to be able to read its name with my binoculars. That was much too close and they called me to say so and tell me to clear out. 'How about you alter course?' I asked. 'What? We?!' came their answer. After a short silence they said 'Oh, Ok. Yes, we will change course', and the huge ship finally gave way and went around me. Naja... This was just like a car driver asking a turtle to get out of the way... Besides that, the only other event today was a buoy drifting by, the second one in three days! What are those things still doing here? All they do is drag plenty of old ropes and other kinds of trash with them. Lucky for me they haven't caused me any problems as they floated past me at a short distance..

Laura


11-11-2011

 

6-11-2011 

My prediction that the wind would drop to almost nothing happened. And by midnight it was completely gone. I went to get a good rest knowing that soon I would have to fight with the little bit of headwind that was slowly starting to blow. Around midday a mega squall turned the sky pitch-black in no time flat and we were hit by heavy rain and strong gusts. Happily most of it went on behind us at some distance. Then the wind whirled another 360 degrees to finally settle on blowing from the South-South-West forcing us to sail on a close tack again. After tacking and trimming the sails on to the opposite side I can reasonably say that we are about on the right course. The passing squall has left Guppy with pepper up her tushy though... Really! The pepper mill flew open all over her during the squall!... Now picking up all those little, small, tiny peppercorns is real fun..Aa..atchoo!

Laura


11-11-2011

 

5-11-2011 

ARGH! The wind really doesn't know what it wants and keeps changing back and forth, either blowing strongly or not at all. So I had to be shown the whole gamut again. First there was a light wind that increased to a nice and strong breeze and ended being way too much... Hence last night it blew up to 30 knots at an angle from astern sending Guppy galloping ahead like a whipped horse. This morning it gradually faded away and morphed into a headwind until we had to sail on a close tack and in the wrong direction. Now I expect that it will calm down to almost nothing soon... There is only 800 nautical miles left to go, so I guess I should be ashore within a week! After six weeks at sea with the waves, the horizon and the clouds only, it will take some time before I get used to land again. But before that happens I already have to watch for all the boats that are now passing me regularly, mostly cargo ships and fishing boats. Yesterday as I was looking at the waves I spotted a noticeably higher foamy white crest between all the other ones and after looking at it carefully for a while... it became clear that it was a sail. As we got closer the boat appeared from under its sail and that is how I have met my very first sailboat since departing from Darwin. I joyfully jumped on the cabin's roof and quickly ran inside to call it with the vhf-radio...nothing but silence. The hours went by until our boats became clearly visible to each other. Then suddenly I heard "crackle...crackle...sailing vessel...crackle" coming from the vhf-radio speaker. We've had a nice chat and I learnt that the boat approximately is about the same size as Guppy. and will have the same speed.. She is now sailing 40 nautical miles behind me... Well, it ain't so easy to catch up to Guppy ;)

Laura


11-11-2011

 

4-11-2011 

Still no wind, sigh... Well, at least the weather is fine. I awoke early tehis morning to get to work. When I was about to pump dry the bilge I noticed that the water level had receded. So I cleaned the pump parts that needed maintenance and put them back and now it is in perfect working order. While at it I also refilled the Yanmar engine with some motor oil. As I was ready to enjoy the rest of the morning I noticed that all the clothes inside my wardrobe were soaked wet and salty... Apparently the sea did come inside somehow with the last storm. So bobbing along at minimum speed on this calm and sunny day I kept busy drying everything up outside. But my good mood abruptly changed when I later found small creatures in a spaghetti pack. I checked the rest of my food provisions and it was the same with my entire stockpile of spaghetti, all the packs I bought back in Darwin were full of vermin. After a fruitless attempt at saving some spaghetti, I finally threw all the spoiled packs overboard - a real spaghetti disaster. Now my many weeks worth stockpile of spaghetti is down to only of few remaining packs. But happily I still have enough rice onboard with me although I don't fancy rice as much as I do my spaghetti. So it's a change and I cooked rice for dinner... The last time I did it was a total catastrophe and I had stopped having rice for a quite a while now. Obviously, my chef-qualities have very much improved since I succeeded very well and my rice was eatable this time around. I learned from my mistakes and that is what today was.

Laura


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