In the past few days I have had 3 days off from work and was able to spend a bit of “quality time” with Nolwandle.

On Thursday 12th July, after sleeping late, I took Nolwandle out for the first time single handed. The previous evening a weak front with lots of rain had past. At 1400, when I left the harbour, it was blowing 5-10 knots from the South. There was a big swell of about 5-6 meters. Sailing single handed really focuses your mind. You need to prepare well in advance for every action you are going to take using your mental checklist. It is like a kind of chess of sailing as you need to be thinking a few moves ahead. I was not using the self steering – I still need to check that everything is sorted out – so had rigged a line across the cockpit to tie up the tiller. On “Contradiction” I used this method often in the past and it helps a bit to keep the boat in the right direction. However, except when beating into the wind, you can usually only leave the helm for a minute or two. But it is some help. I was also wearing a safety harness and was clipped on at all times. I think the worse thing that can happen is to see the boat sailing away from you, having just fallen in the water.

After motoring around a bit in the bay, getting the feel of things, I put up the mainsail off Fish on the Rocks. All went okay, but this just reinforced the thoughts I have been having about the need for me to sort out the boom. The arrangement of the main outhaul is not ideal – it is not on a winch and the cleat is wrongly placed. When fixing this I will also have to sort out the reefing. Two of the reefing lines go back to the cockpit, but one of them does not. This one – and have experimented which one it is – currently it is the 3rd reef – does not go onto a winch – which will also be a problem especially when the 3rd reef is needed in anger. When pulling up the main, two of the slides popped out of the mast track – this required another trip to the mast – I need to sort out some solution to stop this happening as well. It is these kind of things that single-handing forces you to think about.

Mainsail and reefs
The mainsail and boom, showing the two reefing pendants reeved at the end of the boom which the feed to a winch in the cockpit, and the one pendent that goes through a block on the side of the boom and is cleated at the front of the boom and does not go to a winch.

I then pulled out the genoa – leaving about 4 rolls on the furler as it was gusting a bit in the bay. Nolwandle started moving in the big swells. After 4 tacks I was able to clear Die Josie and Badtamboer and get away from the influence of the mountains in Hout Bay. I then pulled the genoa out completely and Nolwandle started dancing. I sailed to about Krakapoa wreck down Long Beach and turned around and ran back to Hout Bay. Just into the bay, past Die Josie, the wind dropped and as I was sick of the boom slamming back and forth, I dropped the sails and started the engine.

I was just outside the harbour mouth when Gavin called me on the radio asking when I would be back. I had told Vanessa that I would be back by 1700 and it was 1710 – where was I? A few minutes later I was back at the mooring, drifting into the hands of Vanessa and Elliot who waiting to receive my lines. Thanks guys! That was very enjoyable sail with a few lessons learnt. Next step is to sort out the self steering and get a bit more practice single handing.

The morning of Friday the 13th was spent shopping. Tabisa was not happy with me going out alone the day before and had made quite a number of comments in this regard. After that I thought it would be best to respect old sailor’s superstitions and not go sailing on a Friday 13th. So it was an early rise to take Tabs to the taxi and then off shopping. New nyloc nuts and bolts for the tiller – to eliminate all the movement there has been in the tiller where it is attached to the rudder stock. Then to Game for hair cutter for the skipper – as much as he would like to look like a pirate the “pantoffel regering” (“slipper government” in Afrikaans) does not approve. Also bought were some plastic storage containers for various lockers and gas for the gas cylinder.

In the afternoon I took the port genoa winch apart for a service. When I was out alone on Thursday the pawls had stopped working and the winch was spinning freely at times. There was less corrosion, but a bit on the inside of the drum, but no other damage.

Winch Corrosion
Corrosion has eaten right through the anodising on the alluminium winch drum. This is a Lewmar 40 two speed winch about 20 years old.

On this winch I decided to try out Andersen winch grease, which is a silicon grease. On the starboard one I had used the Lewmar grease, which is oil based. I will reportback when I next service them if there is any difference notice between using the two greases.

Winch base
The base of the port genoa winch with the drum and other parts removed.

On Saturday 14th I woke up early to complete the repairs to the tiller. After fidling around a bit with the washers the tiller is sorted out. There is no rattling and no play in the tller anymore. This makes a big difference when steering, as I found out sailing later in the day.

Cleaning winch parts
Drum and insides of the winch being cleaned in parrafin to remove old grease. The 3-in-1 oil is for the winch pawls – grease causes these to stick.

Desmond, Vicky and Base came for what turned out to be a great sail. We left at about 1100 and the skipper made a big blunder. I was kind of sorting out all the arrangements for leaving. As there was no wind at the mooring I asked Elliot to hold the pulpit of the boat whilst I thought we were only held on by the stern line. I put the boat in reverse and then some guy came running up shouting “Wait, what about this rope?” I had forgotten to untie the port bow line!. Luckily the boat swung round, but did not hit the marina finger.

After that auspicious start I double checked everything we did from then on. We left about 10 minutes after “Sheer Tenacity” and motored following them towards Slangkop. We were passing Die Josie when they radioed saying they were turning around as they could not find any wind and inviting us to come and anchor for a braai. We declined as I could see a slight change in the sea colour ahead, which looked like a light breeze. When we passed Chapman’s Point the breeze was blowing about 5 knots. We put up the main and unrolled the genoa and we were away in a steady but light breeze. Off Slangkop the wind dropped and spun round for a while and then we got court in a floating mass of kelp and in trying to avoid it forced a fishing trawler to alter course to avoid us.

Past Slangkop the wind came up nicely to about 10 knots and we sailed till the GPS said we were 6nm south west of the lighthouse. We turned around at about 1410 and headed on a broad reach towards Duiker Point, with a 3-4 meter swell behind us and Desmond doing very well steering. About two miles from Duiker Point we altered course to pass Badtamoer and steer on the Chapmans Peak flats. Just before we got to Vulcan Rock I was telling the crew about the large number of poachers we have seen in small rowing boats in the area. About 5 minutes later we saw two guys rowing a small boat about a mile out to sea. I think Base was really shocked by this.

The day before I heard that a fishing boat had run over a rowing boat which was poaching in the dark. One of the poachers survived, the other is missing presumed dead. Apparently this case has not been reported to protect the poachers. I have also heard that the NSRI has been handing out safety equipment to the poachers. I strongly support this, even though I am against poaching and wish there was more law enforcement against the poachers. Too many poachers loose their lives and most of them are just desperate for food on their families table. Anyway the sentence for poaching is not death – usually a fine or a short prison sentence. Our focus anyway should be on catching the syndicate heads – not killing the small guys.

Once we got to Badtamboer the wind dropped and we dropped the sails and motored in. A great sail was had by all.

Total distance sailed – 23.4 nautical miles.