We are off to Simonstown for the Mossel Bay Race (MosselBayrace.co.za). A grey and blustery Tuesday afternoon routing, to get there Wednesday morning, for the Thursday start.
We have procured, and are in the process of setting up satellite comms to and from the boat. And here’s the paradox: that any communication is possible is astonishing. Yet, despite the awesomeness of modern technology, the speed of this communication is, shall we say, SLOW. Top-rated sat links are 2400kbps, about a quarter of the speed of a fax machine. Fibre-optic this is not.
What this means is that despite the theoretical potential of two-way links, reality is that it will be almost exclusively one-way. Our phone number and email address are closely-guarded secrets. But we can and will be updating our followers via this blog, and by Twitter (@SophieB_SA3100).
We hope to have a shore-based person to monitor and assist with our comms. Watch this space, from space!
It’s been a while. And a busy one at that. Somewhere in the last 30 months, and in between their other jobs, the taller and almost-as-tall brothers have worked at preparing Sophie B for her voyage.
We have a crew. We have almost all the equipment we need. We can hoist and douse spinnakers.
The race is being sailed under the Offshore Rules for Racing, a 15-page long checklist of everything a boat needs to have on board for a long-distance transoceanic race. We have procured liferafts and electronic equipment we never knew existed. We have fretted over rigging; rerouting the running rigging; ordering new sails …. And somewhere along the way found a way of navigating the paperwork required to take a boat offshore (safety, insurance, government regulations, certification….). And all the while gradually expanding our confidence in and competence on the boat.
The boat and her crew also have to undertake a qualifying voyage; for this we are entered into the Mossel Bay Race, a 200nm route from Simons Town to Mossel Bay, around Cape Agulhas – the Southern tip of Africa – starting on the 29th of September. This is an interesting challenge: offshore racing for the first time; the prospect of often-foul weather; currents and shoals off Agulhas. And it is likely that at least one of the legs will be a beat into either a South-Easter or a North-Wester: the two most frequent winds here.
We are now in the exciting phase: the task list alternately shrinks and expands every day. But the big, hairy, scary items are shrinking: it’s only our two asymmetric sails that are still waiting to be rigged that cause stress. And we are starting to think of the fun stuff: provisioning a boat, the race itself.