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Cape to St Helena 2018 Day 4

A clear night sky full of stars; an open ocean so deep and blue; a following, long period rolling swell, a consistent kind breeze from astern. Paradise.

The fleet have settled down into the magic of what this race is all about: putting yourself “out there” with your family and your friends, to share the experience of a lifetime.

With most of the fleet now about 300 miles offshore, in line with the latitude of the Orange River mouth, at the boundary between South Africa and Namibia, the front runners on the water – Banjo, Rocket and Naledi – have about 1080 miles to go to the island. And the going should be fantastic for the next couple of days, with surfing and planing conditions for the boats that can…

With about 70 hours since the race started, all crews should have settled into a watch system by now, which would typically mean dividing the day up into four hour parcels of either being on watch, or at rest, in an approximate ratio of 2 to 1. This is why a ship’s clock typically tolls on a 4 hour cycle.

Mealtimes are often a special time for all together aboard on an ocean passage, and often the time that the rations-master will allow for a little treat like a sundowner ‘dop’.

Compromise enjoyed a yellowtail dinner, and a number of boats have commented on the abundance of flying fish – which should mean bigger fish below the waterline in chase. Stywe lyne mense (stiff lines people!) – get your fishing lines in the water! There was some banter at the Blue Peter send off party about who would catch the biggest fish!

Aboard Caribbean Soul, my guess is that there’s a lot of talk of the different ways to catch, gut and prepare a fishy dish. These guys know the ocean, and will be talking up a storm. Oh, to be a fly(ing fish) on the wall on this boat.

Indaba made some great miles under the keel in the first three days, and they are right up there in a tight group of bigger boats, including Felix, Asanté, Carpe Diem, Compromise and Caribbean Soul.

A little further west of this group, there’s Yolo and Avocet. For solo skipper Dale Kushner, aboard YOLO, he will take his rest when he can get it – typically shorter and more regular spells, and plan manoeuvers well in advance to coincide with safety and logic. By now he will have settled into the familiar comfort and company of his own thoughts, and when he nods off for a quick cat nap, he will trust his autopilot to guide him gently Island-wards. The critical importance of the autopilot in his case is obvious, and I’d imagine there are plenty of spares, a well read manual, and probably a full replacement unit onboard.

Continuing her charge up the eastern flank, the catamaran Ronin has definitely found her straps. She is one of a number of boats in this fleet with a future eye set on competing in Cape2Rio2020.

Closest to shore, and bringing up the rear, is the lowest handicapped boat in the fleet – JML Rotary Scout – with a host of youngsters aboard. The Sea Scouts have an in incredible history of participation in our ocean races over many decades, and the masters in charge are rock solid. What a credit to developing seamanship.

In closing today, I’d like to point out that the Cape to St Helena race is a sister race to the Cape2Rio2020 race, both organised by a committed team of interested and passionate volunteers, under the burgee of the Royal Cape Yacht Club. The Cape to St Helena race is being successfully run on a shoestring budget and a real team player attitude, with the support and endorsement of Wesgro (Discoverctwc) and St Helena Tourism.

The race is an official qualification race for Cape2Rio2020. This will assist with preparing crews for the safety and boat handling procedures required for a rigorous offshore experience – the Adventure of a Lifetime!

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by Luke Scott