Yacht Fathom - Setting off from England in May 2016 on a single-handed voyage somewhere a bit warmer

South Africa Part 3: Cape Town

After being constantly on the move for the last months I was looking forward to staying still for a while and pleased to discover that the Royal Cape Yacht Club has a reciprocal agreement with the Royal Solent Yacht Club, my club back on the Isle of Wight. Half price marina berth for up to one month – about US 7 dollars a day so a good deal. The New Year didn’t get off to a great start when a pickpocket managed to steal my phone at the touristy Long Street while I was walking with a couple of friends in the wee small hours of New Years Day. They are very good these pickpockets. We had been warned about this street and despite being extra careful I let my guard down for a few seconds and then it was too late. Other than having to buy another phone no harm done but super frustrating.


The Royal Cape is a friendly club and a real hub for cruising boats passing through South Africa. The club has a keen racing division and we had heard that the annual Round Robben Island Race was coming up. Tobias on Uno Mundo was keen to enter so Alan and I joined as crew and we had a great day. The look on the faces of the local race boats as tatty old Uno Mundo, the only cruising boat to enter, charging onto the start line on starboard, was priceless. We were soon left behind by the race boats as the wind died but consoled ourselves by empting the fridge of cold beer. After rounding Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela was held for 18 years of his 27 years behind bars, the wind died altogether so we retired and motored back to the marina.

There is lots to see around Cape Town so Alan, Tobias, his sister Katy and I hired a car for a few days. While checking out the view from Signal Hill we were approached in the car park by two pale faced tourists who told us they had just been robbed at knife point on the hiking trail, 200m below the road in broad daylight. We offered them one of our phones to call their family and otherwise they were ok but still in shock. It was a reminder to all of us to be on guard and as we have since found out, robberies and muggings are becoming more and more frequent. Hiking in South Africa is sadly becoming more and more unsafe which is a real shame as Cape Town is such a beautiful city. We then drove along the coast stopping at Hout Bay for lunch and Simons town to meet some other sailing friends. On the way back a walk along Boulders beach for some penguin spotting before a stop at Urban Brewery for some beer tasting. The next day was Tobias’ birthday so we took a drive to the famous wine producing region of Stellenbosch for some tasting. All rather alcoholic. The highlight of my time in Cape Town was hiking up Table Mountain. It took nearly two hours and was hard work but the view was spectacular and well worth it.


Cape Town is windy, very windy For at least three or four days every week the wind shrieks through the marina and it is not uncommon to have 40 knots + across the deck. Calm days are quite few and far between but on one of these occasions a few of us took the opportunity to check out an anchorage a few miles down the coast near Camps Bay. Tobias and Katy took Uno Mundo and I jumped on Kiwi Dream with Alan and Annie. We ended up staying the night at anchor and coming back to the marina the next morning. On the way we were treated to some first class whale watching and at one point the whales surfaced unexpectedly right alongside, so close they brushed the hull. A whales tail with the back drop of Lions Head and Table Mountain was quite a view.


Although a little out of town I quickly realised that the Royal Cape Yacht Club was a great place to work on the boat. The chandleries, hardware stores and industrial zone were closeby and there is a shipwrights on site who are helpful and happy to give recommendations and advice. After getting some inspiration from another Vancouver 28, ‘Sea Bear’, that had an extended starboard bunk, I decided to go ahead and do the same on Fathom. Why not make some home improvements. It turned out to be a long and very messy job. Despite constructing a tent in the cabin dust got absolutely everywhere. I did all the work myself and made a few minor mistakes but overall was pleased with the end result. When in port I can now extend the bunk to a double and when at sea put back the cave locker storage and sea bunk.

After the long and rough trip across the Indian Ocean last year it was also time to give Fathom some tlc and keep on top of routine maintenance. I gave the engine an overhaul, oil change, new filters, cleaned and wiped on corrosion inhibitor. Drained the muck from the bottom of the fuel tank, serviced the outboard, rebuilt the tow generator with new bearings and seals, stripped the varnish around the galley to bare wood and added six new coats, re sealed some deck fittings, replaced some running rigging etc. It was while checking all the deck fittings that I noticed the U bolt holding the lower port shroud had lifted slightly at one end. After removing the nuts I couldn’t believe that one side of the bolt had snapped. No idea when this has happened and how it had not completely failed. Very relieved to have spotted it before setting off to sea again and a reminder that thorough boat checks are so important before and after long ocean passages. I have had two new U bolts made up by a local stainless engineer and replaced the starboard side too as a precaution.


Time has really flown by in Cape Town and as I write this it has been just on six weeks. I’m ready to set sail again and looking forward to getting out to sea. The Indian Ocean and Mozambique Channel were not so easy so i’m hoping the South Atlantic is a little kinder and more relaxing. Sadly it is time to say goodbye to friends I have been sailing alongside for many months, in particular Alan and Annie on Kiwi Dream and Mike and Marie on Roke. I hope our paths will cross again. Fathom is in good shape, full of food and supplies, 300 litres of water, 220 litres of diesel and a few bottles of South African wine. We are both ready to tackle the South Atlantic.

Posted on 13 Feb in: South Africa (No Comments)

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