Laura's Blog

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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


10-11-2011

 

3-11-2011 

After another day fighting with the sails and keeping course I was hoping for a good night sleep, but in the middle of it the wind decided to jack up a level on the annoyance meter. It kept turning to all directions on the dial and fading away just to come back loaded with thunderstorms shortly after. Half through the night I couldn't keep my eyes open any longer so I took down the sails to go to bed for a couple of hours. It did me good. This morning the headwinds prevented us from keeping on course but we are still going steadily forward and I catched some sleep too. Surprisingly yesterday's clouds have now dissolved into sunshine. Yesterday was all pouring rain and I had to turn on the lights inside the cabin so I could read a book..

Laura


10-11-2011

 

2-11-2011 

My good northern wind has now left me... Rain and shifting winds took its place and kept me busy all morning adjusting course and the sails many times. But I am still making some progress and the sails are not flapping. This morning a real soaker came in so I enjoyed a good and refreshing shower. I also caught some rain water in cooking pots. A little later the usual drizzle set in again and it stayed rainy and cloudy all day. Keeping one eye on the GPS , I am reading a book and taking cat naps. Naja, I still need to be a little more patient..

Laura


10-11-2011

 

1-11-2011 

Sailing was great today with good crosswinds at times changing to headwinds but I am happy that we are on course. Guppy flew like a spear covering 140 nautical miles in 24 hours which is more like her usual self. But just the same, the weather conditions are shifty. The winds are changing unexpectedly. This morning I wondered for a little while about reefing the mainsail but then I was happy to keep going with full sails out. It is a constant preoccupation and a tiring and difficult task to keep Guppy on course adjusting the sails non-stop without getting regular sleeping time. So I get a little sleep at night and try to catch as much I can during daytime too. On and on go the days, me and Guppy moving forward and in a good spirit. We are steadily coming closer to land ..1250 nautical miles left to go..

Laura


09-11-2011

 

31-10-2011 

After the heavy weather Mother Nature threw at me for several days, it now looks like she feels that she has to make amends... So today I have perfect sailing weather. The waves are smaller and the wind has decreased a lot. Last night it weakened so much that I became worried that it might fade out completely. That and the still very high swell would have made for a very distasteful situation. But luckily after a short recess it picked up again. With the mainsail fully hoisted and the poled out genoa Guppy is rushing ahead at 6 knots – the kind of speed I am used to from her but which is not easy to get in this ocean... The sun is shining and there is some ship traffic around here. Last night I spotted a ship, naja, its lights only, as the Echomax [radar system] kept beeping showing me that there was a ship inside its range. This morning I suddenly felt the urge for a general cleaning which was much needed after the rough weather of the past few days and that has turned the whole boat into a salty and dirty chaos with a big pile of dishes waiting for me included... Now Guppy is somewhat inhabitable. Obviously the ants that have kept out of sight for some days think so too for they came crawling out of hiding from every holes and cracks imaginable. But once they walk in my sight it is the last thing they do. I don't think that there are more or less than before. I find them in the most unusual places, like on my computer keyboard or on my maps... Argh! Anyway they are not too troublesome and actually I like them better than the cockroaches..

Laura


09-11-2011

 

30-10-2011 

The wind has finally weakened! It is even blowing form a better direction and pulling Guppy up to a nice speed so she is not heaving so much with the waves. For the first time in three weeks I saw a cargo ship today. It was far away and sailing in the opposite direction but just the same it was a sign of life on this empty ocean. When I was outside enjoying the nice weather without getting all wet, a big dolphin jumped srtaight out of a high wave. It was something really nice to see. I was hoping for more but it was just a one-time trick. This dolphin was the first living sea creature I have seen since I left Darwin and it really made my day. I still have about 1500 nautical miles left to go before I reach land, and as it seems they won't be so easily granted... My cold Cola will have to wait for me a little longer then... After five weeks at sea I am doing well and Guppy is still a really good fighter.

Laura


09-11-2011

 

29-10-2011 

Just when I was hoping for the wind to weaken a little, Guppy got even more to play with... Clipped with a short safety tether I stood outside for a while to take in the view: the phosphorescent rolling crests of the waves, the stars, the small moon crescent, and the whistling sound of the stormy winds on a raging sea. It made me realize again how strong nature really is and what a small dot Guppy is on the ocean. Stil she keeps on against the winds and facing wave after wave, diving into each and shaking the water off, she keeps keeping on and on as if it was nothing to her. You may like the sea or you may hate the sea but you can never trust the sea.. Maybe this is why it is so interesting.. Guppy is still on a close tack but on a better course now. I have become very adept at rocking and rolling with the boat even though getting a good grip is at times almost impossible. But I am getting better at it which means less bruises on me - so far I count one strange goose egg on my head and a few dull colored tatoos on my legs, so it ain't so bad..

Laura


08-11-2011

 

28/10/2011

The Rollercoaster is in full swing now... but happily we did not do any loop-the-loops so far and I am feeling pretty good actually. Althought I can't figure out what could be funny about being brutally bounced around, all salty-soaked and heading in the wrong direction at 3,5 knots, but...the sun is shining! Maybe I am slowly going nuts here but it just makes me laugh now each time another wave comes splashing all over. The anemometer did not drop below 40 knots since last night with 'Gup' going under storm-jib only. Sailing close hauled in 8 meters tall phosphorescent waves with the wind whistling in the rigging is quite an amazing experience. It does make me realize how powerful nature is, and Guppy just rumbles right through, that is really cool! At times 'Gup' goes over the top of a wave, drops several meters down on the other side to hit the bottom with a sickening thud, and then bravely takes on the next wave... If this is to last a few more days I am sure there won't be much fun left to it any longer. But so far so good, and apart from the salty toilet water that flooded my wardrobe-closet, a snapped cable and a broken pulley on the windvane a short while later, everything is going well. I fixed all this, so now it would seem that the worst is behind us..

Laura


08-11-2011

 

27-10-2011 

Another beautiful sunny day. I am sailing on a close tack to a 25 knots wind and heading straight into fast coming towering waves which is not such a comfortable and easy affair... This morning I wasn't feeling too well but after a few hours I felt better as I got used to the heaving sea and the boat being rammed with each coming wave... We are going forward with the mainsail reefed and the storm-jib up, heading only 20 degrees off our ideal course - with the cabin's hatch open since the waves are coming from the opposite side to the entrance. However...! Just as I finished writing these words a massive wave crashed on Guppy covering her entirely, pushing the water through the halyards lead-throughs in the sprayhood and splashing the cabin's entrance. So maybe I better shut the hatch since I don't feel like having another salt water shower... Writing when Guppy is rocking up and down is an interesting challenge in itself. But I found that by sitting on the map table with one foot braced against the wall and with the other one on the stairway this would keep me upright and with my hands free... Well, it is still rollercoaster time here and the weather forecasts don't look too promising, but then let's wait and see what is really coming ..

Laura


07-11-2011

 

26-10-2011 

We are sailing close to the wind now and just off course to the south of our rhumb line, but I am happy that there is wind at all.. I guess today is the sunniest day so far on this crossing with only a few small grey-white clouds and a blazing sun. The batteries are fully recharged and I am now using the available energy from the solar panels to power or recharge all the other things that need it. Long live the sun! So this was a beautiful day and I feel fine again after a good sleep last night. So besides not keeping exactly on course because of the headwind, everything aboard is just perfect..

Laura


07-11-2011

 

25-10-2011 

Very early this morning as it was still dark rainfalls, shifting winds and squalls with strong gusts took me out of my sleep and kept me busy until late morning, as it rained heavily throughout... But after the clouds finally emptied from all their rain a constant wind started to blow, although a little shifty but happily not the kind that comes blowing from all directions in the same hour.. Now I am taking a rest inside the cabin carefully watching over our course and the squalls. Even though I slept a few hours last night I feel very tired now. Keeping busy adjusting the sails non-stop because of the constantly changing wind direction is a very exhausting task. But if the wind keeps blowing steadily from this one direction I might have a chance to sleep a bit more tonight. Well, I am not really complaining, still with a little sun shining it would be more fun, of course. hihi..

Laura


06-11-2011

 

24-10-2011 

The sky is a bit cloudier today, but instead of sunlight I now have some wind! Our speed is back to 4 to 4,5 knots, and last night it even went up to 5 knots! I was quite astonished that Guppy has kept close to course all through the night. I awoke several times worried that we were going the wrong way or that the wind had shifted by 180 degrees, but unbelievably we were sailing exactly on course. At first I thought the wind had to be laughing at us but it wasn't, and it is still here blowing. So after not such a quiet night I spent some more time today relaxing in the cockpit and catching back lost sleeping hours. I am truly enjoying this while there are no waves washing into the cockpit..

Laura


06-11-2011

 

23-10-2011 

I catched on some sleep last night as the light wind that is still blowing was just enough to keep the boat on course, so we made some progress... The sky was extraordinarily starry, something I had not seen for quite a while. Most of the time the sky is overclouded but today there were almost no clouds at all. So it was an occasion for me to enjoy a nice salt water shower. fun, what a surprise I had not realized that the water was a lot colder here, that is until I had splashed myself with a whole bucket.. Besides that, I enjoyed the sun all day while listening to music, the sound cranked up to full blast most of the time. I also catched up with the weather forecasts on the SSB radio from time to time. Sadly, the weather won't improve much... Anyway, I am still moving forward..

Laura


05-11-2011

 

22-10-2011 

Our speed has dropped to 1-2 knots.. which is not really something to write home about. But I do, because not much else is happening out here. Last night I was kept busy by the shifting winds as I tried to make as much progress as possible. But in the end if there is no wind, well then there is just no wind.. and adjusting the sails a hundred times won't change a thing about it. In the middle of the night a giant squall struck us which I sat out comfortably inside, I just did not feel like going outside into a wet and dark night just to enjoy a fresh downpour. It is completely windless now so I took down the mainsail and I stitched a small gap in the top of the sail. I will lie down in bed now, to catch up on the few hours of sleep I didn't have last night..

Laura


05-11-2011

 

21-10-2011 

We are still making progress under light wind. After a promising start this morning the sun sadly faded again. In this hazy sunlight and in spite of the weak wind we are still doing 3,5 knots so I am not complaining. I spent the day checking on everything aboard Guppy and doing some maintenance work. Even though I do it regularly the rudder is well lubricated again. In the last few days with the washing over waves and Guppy rocking I just couldn't do a proper job of it. My 'sacrificial ropes' for the Genoa have frayed much faster than I expected so now I have added stainless steel eyes to them. Also with much effort I managed to straighten the sprayhood halfway back into shape and I fixed the boom's downhaul again what came lose becouse of a missing pen.. Altogether I had a nice and productive day. Let's hope the wind doesn't completely fade away so we keep on going ahead..

Laura


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