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Cape to St Helena 2018 Day 8

Happy Tweede Nuwe Jaar!

Cape Town’s a pretty cool place. So cool, in fact, that we celebrate the second day of January with a massive carnival street party of dancing and music. That’ll work! But hold onto your hat (or trumpet) as it’s blowing cats and frogs in Cape Town today! Next year, we’ll also be celebrating the first start of #Cape2Rio2020, which will include a leg to St Helena, on 2 January 2020!

As the first yachts in Cape to St Helena 2018 pass from the Eastern into the Western Hemisphere, Prime Meridian is on the menu today, served with a side of Greenwich and a drizzle of Zulu.

The coordinates of St Helena are S16° W006°. Cape Town is roughly at S34° E018°. That means that when they finish, the boat’s will have travelled 18° of latitude north and 24° of longitude west.

Each degree of latitude is equal in measure at 60 nautical miles, so in a pure north direction, they will travel 1080 nautical miles. It is relatively straightforward to calculate your position of latitude using angles to celestial bodies and understanding the date.

Longitude is also measured in degrees, but meridians are not equally spaced apart. Like wedges of an orange, they taper and are thinner and closer together at the extremes, converging at the north and south poles, and getting wider until furthest apart in the middle, being the equator. At the equator, a degree of longitude is also about 60 nautical miles. But, far more importantly, by relating meridians of longitude to time and the rotation of the Earth, earlier seafarers established pretty decent navigation. This was by timing a measurable occurrence like solar midday (when the sun reaches its highest point relative to the horizon) against a constant, being the time of solar midday on the Prime Meridian. Accurate timekeeping was a major breakthrough for navigation. This took place just after a heated debate about whether the earth was flat.

Basically speaking, the Prime Meridian divides the Eastern and Western Hemispheres (at 000° East or West) on one side, and the anti Meridian or International Date line divides the same hemispheres (at 180° East or West) on the other side. In one day, the planet Earth rotates through 360° in 24 hours… The earth rotates 15° in one hour, 1° every 4 minutes.

So, if your watch is set on Greenwich Mean Time, also known as “Zulu” (or most correctly as Coordinated Universal Time, abbreviated to UTC), solar midday in Cape Town (at 018° East) is 1h12m before noon on your watch, and solar midday in St Helena (at 006° West) is 24m after noon on your watch. By timing the difference between solar midday and the time on your watch, set to GMT, you can establish your longitudinal position.

What is exciting about all of this to me is that it’s all relatively recent that accurate chronographs were more widely available and made for logical and simple navigation.

We’re as sure of this as we all once were when the world was flat.

Banjo was the first to cross into the Western Hemisphere and now with under 300 miles to go, is chasing down her own elapsed time line honours record. By my calculation, she needs to finish Saturday, 5 January 2019 3:00:36 AM (South African time), which she should comfortably achieve. However, it’s touch and go whether she’ll break the long-standing overall race record of 8 days, 2 minutes, 4 seconds – set by Beluga back in 2000. She needs to finish before 02:02:04PM (South African time) tomorrow, Thursday 3 January 2019 to achieve that. She needs a blistering last day on the water where they’ll need to be averaging just under 10 knots. With some alignment of Aeolus, Poseidon and good old Lady Luck, it is not beyond them.

Los Banjo Boys report that all is good on board – “wind a little light for our small spinnaker, but we are hanging in there. We are now on the home run with 277 miles left to go. If all goes well we should be there by tomorrow evening.”

The metronomic Dale Kushner aboard YOLO reports (with small edits):
“Yesterday, as expected, the barometer rose slightly giving for some lighter winds…so I put in a gybe to sail a bit further north. By late afternoon, the barometer was looking good again…so another gybe. So a fairly slow day. The sea is azurite in colour – best understood by those who have sailed in these areas. Since the second day no shipping or boats have been sighted, but then we are out of the shipping lanes. In the first few days there were a lot of sea birds: an albatross, shearwaters and some brown terns. Since then, mainly flying fish. Last night, the wind picked up quite strongly at around 2.15am while charging the batteries. The kite was up and things were getting squirrelly, so it needed to come down fast. Not so easy if you want to risk a poor drop. First to the foredeck to drop the anti-wrap, then connect the jib – all while working on a foredeck that is awash and being limited in movement by your harness. Then back to the cockpit to hoist the jib, set it all up and execute a great drop! So satisfying. Not over – get kite tidied and sorted for next hoist, and all sails trimmed, then downstairs to pack the kite and drink water. Today, I should be crossing the (Prime) meridian. Barometer has climbed. Let’s see what today’s weather brings…”

Today Compromise quietly find themselves expediently accepting standards that are lower than is desirable…”must’ve been something we ate.” Actually, its pretty normal for Tweede Nuwe Jaar!

Carpe Diem’s sewing machine is working overtime on this overcast morning … was it something they ate, or more of the torn spinnaker diaries? All is well and they’re looking forward to getting home.

Carribbean Soul rocks on…and all’s good on board. Boet & Co saw “Loads of flying fish & a real pretty bird that I have never seen before. Size of a seagull, pure white with a big red beak and long tail feathers. Beak a bit parrot like. Maybe someone can identify it. We also discovered that shopping without spectacles has problems. We have lots of Palmolive conditioner but no Shampoo!”

Ja, Boet – I’m no ornithologist – but maybe it’s a White-tailed Tropicbird or Bermuda Longtail?

By the way, in closing, a little birdy told me that it’s currently incredibly close at the top of the monohull leaderboard…and basically the best way for me to describe it would be to explain that if Naledi and Indaba were identical boats, without need for a handicaps, that based on this morning’s results, after 7 days of racing, they’d be able to hail “Top of the Morning” to each other in a proper and clear manner, and pass crumpets…
At current rates of progress in the race, Naledi will finish on Friday evening and Indaba on Sunday mid afternoon. Handicaps are pretty clever.

by Luke Scott

Cape to St Helena 2018 is a sister race to the #Cape2Rio2020, which is supporting the race with a daily race update. Like|Love|Share!

You can track progress here:

Here’s a link to a fantastic tale about time, navigation, and New Year!


St Helena Tourism
St Helena Yacht Club
Royal Cape Yacht Club