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S/Y Nereida sails around the world

Solo RTW Sailor Jeanne Socrates' Adventures On, and Off, Nereida

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Day 37 Dramatic landfall in Cape Town! ... Conclusion of my RTW journey....
Reid Inlet, Alaska05
synereida
Wednesday 11th May 2011

Highlight of early today... a WHALE breached well astern ... Wow!! What a great welcome to S. Africa and Cape Town!! And a bit later, I caught sight of some dolphins - nice! Still a few shearwaters and petrels .. and a little storm petrel again... Even an albatross until surprisingly quite close to Cape Town.

Table mountain and all mountains ahead clothed in cloud/mist .... The sun tried to get out in the afternoon... a few blue patches...

By afternoon, better views of the coastline - but still lots of cloud .... The Lion's Head was eventually visible, with only a small amount of cloud around its top, but Table Mountain stayed well covered in its 'Tablecloth'!

Close to Cape Town harbour, we passed through a large stretch of water where there were amazing numbers of seals and birds in a frenzy of diving - there must have been a really big shoal of fish there!

As I passed through the main harbour breakwater, I called Port Control to announce my arrival and had permission to proceed.... as I watched a vast number - hundreds and hundreds! - of cormorants flying low over the water past us in the dusk - headed out to sea from within the harbour ... They clearly knew of the fish that were out there!

I knew that I needed to check my astern gear to see if it was working - I can't slow the boat down without using it. So as soon as I'd dropped the mains'l and secured it, I tested out going astern ..... we immediately picked up speed ahead ..... Oh dear!! No reverse gear - as I'd suspected since trying to back up on my anchor off Gough Island....!!

That left me with a problem when coming in to dock at the Royal Cape Y.C. where I was headed. I decided the only plan that might work, having already got lines and fenders ready, was to come in very slowly, in neutral, from a long way off and hope to have slowed down enough by the time we approached the fuel dock that I could step off quickly with lines and stop the forward motion - and hopefully, there would also be someone around to help (I'd emailed in advance, alerting the Club to the possible problem and giving my hoped-for ETA of around 5pm)....

So I went into neutral well before the marina entrance.... but we didn't seem to be slowing down as fast as I expected - if anything, keeping up a speed of around 3 knots - was there a current of some kind? ... surely not....? This was not going according to plan.... far too much speed .. with no reverse to help, what to do? I couldn't understand why we weren't slowing down as we should have been once in neutral.... I spotted someone near the Fuel dock who was running down to help me in, calling out to the Dockmaster as he did so - and I called out to him that I couldn't seem to slow down..... Nightmare....! I tried to bring us really close in to the the dockside and threw the bow line which was caught by Alan and secured ..... but we still had too much forward momentum and we didn't slow down so very fast, the rope being only partly-secured and giving way somewhat.... our anchor caught in the metalwork ahead - TG!! We finally came to a stop, with Dockmaster Ian ('Chunky'!!) holding our bows off to prevent damage and me stepping off smartly to secure the stern line before we swung out too much - what a way to end my RTW!!!! It turned out that Alan (of 'Moonshine') knew from my website log report of yesterday that I was hoping to be coming in around 5pm - Thank you for being there, Alan - saved the day...!

I decided to leave celebratory drinks to later - tidied up the cockpit, checked the mooring lines, made a final log entry and went for a lovely, hot, long shower - bliss!! Then over to the Bar where there were a lot of people I knew well from last year (no Wednesday night racing tonight but it was still a sociable evening for them). Once they realized I'd just made landfall, it was drinks all round, starting with some celebratory 'bubbly' ... and more throughout the rest of the evening.... Very enjoyable welcome ...

Thursday 12th May

I have no memory of making my way back to the boat, although I clearly did, since I was woken up around midday (the plan was to be moved to another berth this morning) - "Go back to sleep!" Ian called out to me - I did!! Having only had 3-4 hours sleep the night before landfall, and the excitement of coming in to land at the end of my passage from the Falklands to conclude my RTW, added to a few too many drinks last night ... I finally got up around 3pm - to find the sky was clear and blue and the sun was hot!! I'm looking to do a lot of repairs now - mostly left over from my knockdown - before deciding what to do/ where to go next.... Just now, I really don't know .... but there don't seem to be many realistic options....

(Listen to the 'H2O Show' on BBC Radio Solent tomorrow night 7pm BST- 'live' interview, by satphone, with Geoff Holt. If you can't listen, it will be posted to the www.bbc.co.uk website under 'H2O Show')


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