Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Just Another of the Great Capes

So, we started our South Africa sojourn in Cape Town.

And, no, we Galactics are not city people.

I will say that sitting on a bench in the chi-chi Waterfront Mall in Cape Town, watching a swath of the world walk past me, just 36 hours after we completed the passage from South Georgia - that was pretty good as a life-as-hallucigen experience.

But once we'd done that, and taken in the view from Table Mountain, there wasn't too much to keep us.

Luckily, Giselle on Pelagic had told us, way back in Stanley, about Simon's Town.  (And no, not this Pelagic.  This one.)

Simon's Town, she said to us.  That's where you want to be.

After a few days of watching the turds float by on the tide at the Cape Town marina, and not having any place for the boys to run, we were ready.  The trip from Cape Town to Simon's Town is a totally routine day hop of about 60 miles.  Get up at 0400, be more or less awake and away from the dock at 0430, and you're finished well before dinner.

But the trip from Cape Town to Simon's town has an added bonus above most coastal hops.  The route (below) just happens to take you around the Cape of Good Hope.  (What a name!)

Now the Cape of Good Hope isn't the southernmost point in Africa.  That title goes to Cape Agulhas, just a short way down the coast.

But if you compare the two names, you'll quickly see why one gets all the press.

We were on something of a roll.  Only a few months before, Galactic had, improbably enough, been off Cape Horn.

Cape Horn had been a total lark - we weren't going anywhere else but there.  It was just a side trip to see that most famous of all landmarks, and nothing like the traditional experience of rounding the Horn at sea.  But even though it was a lark, we also got a bit of a floggin'.  Three reefs, a staysail, and parted aft lower shrouds.  Lord have mercy.

For this Cape, we were actually going somewhere.  It was legitimately on our way from point A to point B.  But although we had a more businesslike purpose in hand than we had for the Horn, the actual day trip involved was much more tranquilo.

Eric, incapacitated at the Horn ("Grab a bucket!") got his chance to shine this time.
My captain's hat, that physical embodiment of the nearly divine authority that I bear within the confines of our little floating home - that came out for photos in front of the Cape, just as it did at the Horn.
The beast itself
Elias.  He always shines at sea.
So, yeah.  Just another Great Cape.

(And, if you're wondering, I reckon there are five of them: the Horn, Good Hope, and Leeuwin, plus the southernmost points of Tassie and En Zed, whatever they might be called.)


  1. That's the way to double a Great Cape in style ! Mind you it's the hard work getting there first that counts. Well done all four of you. - Cheers from New Zealand Maid

  2. I find you blog and your book a truly honest and insightful look into the world of parenting and adventuring. I look forward to your next book if you decide to write another. Could I ask you to consider writing something more about fear or intangible worry? I found taking my own kids offshore to be harder on deep parts of my soul than I cared to handle and turned to coastal sailing along Australia's East coast. I know you have dealt with worry about the boys but the idea of handling the unknown, of not being able to control most of the aspects of a sailing situation sits less easily with me than it should. How do normal people ready their themselves for adventure and balance the realism needed for proper boat and passage preparation with the Zen required to accept the fare served up by the ocean on a long voyage? Most importantly for someone like me - Can this acquiescence or tolerance be learnt?

    On a totally different tangent, I am rereading one of my all time favourite books - Sailor Song - by Ken Kesey. It is wonderfully written and about sea people in Alaska. I revel in the setting and characters and hope that it is not too incorrect about its portrayal of small town Alaskan people.


    Phil Thompson

    1. Hey Phil...Great questions. Big topic. I'll think about writing something about fear and uncertainty...but that sounds like more of a book topic than a blog post!

      As far as learning to handle it, I'm a big believer in incremental learning. Little trips and then a little bigger and then a little bigger. Like Bass Strait after you've done a lot of East Coast day sails, then Coffs to New Cal or Hobart to Nelson. (Though that last one might be a little more on the "big" side!) So much of adventure is learning to deal with uncertainty, and the barriers are overwhelmingly psychological. I think that gradually taking on more and more gives you the practical foundation to confront the psychology.

      hope that's helpful. Mike

  3. Thanks Mike. This Christmas I am getting the boat ready for a trip from Newcastle to Lord Howe. This time without kids - they have grown up anyway.

    Thanks for taking time out to reply and fair winds