A natural ocean crossroads where sailors often make a stop after eventful times

A natural ocean crossroads, Cape Town seems to be somewhere you’re likely bump into sailing people you know. That’s been my experience, anyway. Yesterday one such was British solo sailor Steve White (above right).

On this occasion, Steve had been sailing two-handed with friend Dominic Bowns (left) and arrived, unplanned, in Cape Town after a very eventful 35-day passage from Brest. They told me they had spent almost every day fixing and repairing things. They’ve had quite an adventure.

The two had been planning to sail non-stop to Melbourne to deliver Steve’s former Vendée Globe boat Toe in the Water (once upon a time Josh Hall’s Gartmore) to her new owner there. But the generator suffered a hydraulic lock, which precipitated a knock-on sequence of troubles before it died for good.

Then the starter motor for the main engine burned out. Although the starter motors for engine and generator are different, luckily the pinion of the generator starter motor was the same size and turned in the same direction. So Steve got the engine going by using this, holding it in place while Dominic pressed start. Ouch.

Meanwhile they were, apparently, slowly poisoning themselves. Steve speculates that the watermaker may not have been properly pickled while laid up, and despite numerous flushes and disinfecting the system the water kept making them sick. It was a while before they worked out the cause.

The stop in Cape Town to replace the generator was a lovely opportunity to catch up with Steve and have a few of the ales they’d understandably been dreaming of.

Meanwhile, I was sitting by the dock of the bay yesterday and who should jog past slowly but Sir Ranulph Fiennes. He is heading down to Antarctica in the polar research vessel SA Agulhas (below) to establish a base for his attempt to cross Antartica during the next Austral winter. Read more about it here.