Posted by: catamarantwooceans | January 1, 2014

Sailing from Port Elizabeth to Knysna

29.12.13 – Sunday – The forecast said we were going to have strong northeasterly wind, up to 30 knots, in the afternoon, reducing to less than 10 about two hours after midnight and then changing to the south. Entry into Knysna is a bit tricky; it is narrow, shallow, tidal currents are strong and in certain wind conditions when the tide is running out against the wind – there may be breakers in the pass. It is recommended to enter one hour before high water, which on Monday would be a 1420. Knysna is extolled as a very beautiful place and we were determined to visit it. The distance from P.E to Knysna is 144 miles. We assumed sailing the last eleven hours at 5 knots and at 7 before that and decided to leave at 1300. We knew we were going to have a bit of a rough ride on the first half of the way.

Sitting idle on the boat did not suit us, so after washing the decks we went out; the time was 1200. After bumping along on short, steep waves against the wind, we rounded Cape Recife and turned to a course of 253 degrees; with the wind on our stern, we sailed wing and wing at a good pace. I left the main at first reef and as the wind grew stronger by the hour we had to reef more until third in the main and second in the jib. The following numbers will tell the story: max speed – 14.5 over water; max wind 42.4 knots true. In contrast to the last time we "flew" the sea was rougher this time. Sometimes I had to take the wheel and steer the boat myself. Menachem used his Samsung phone to take the following picture; notice the grim face…

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With all the wild motion, I was thinking about the yacht "Batten Anna", a 33 foot mono with a young Swedish crew (a girl and four lads) who left Port Elizabeth four hours ahead of us. They must be having a hell of a ride! Dinner was not neglected; we had curried seafood mix on rice. Yummy.

30.12.13 – Monday – At midnight we were 56 miles from the entrance to Knysna. The wind decreased slowly until at 0300 we had to start an engine. As we approached Cape Seal near Plattenberg we noticed commotion on the water ahead; gannets diving and other birds circling the spot. Sleek, brown bodies were diving and coming up for air – seals!

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We had a local contact in Knysna; my friends Zulu and Miri met Shlomit and Tony Elliott when they passed here on their circumnavigation and made the connection. Tony got in touch with the yacht club officer in charge of moorings, Geoff Goddard, who said he might come and meet us.

I called the NSRI (national sea rescue institute) Knysna office two hours before arriving at the entrance and they assured me the conditions were good to enter. Even then the pass into the lagoon is not something to take lightly. Rocks on both sides seethe with foam and you can see the signs of the current on the surface.

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You align two flashing lights ahead to be dead center and then turn to port and follow red and white markers to the anchorage and the club.

Geoff was there in the club’s boat and led us in and at 1200 we anchored near an impressive modern looking 77 foot catamaran.

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We went to the yacht club and met Shlomit and Tony as well as some of the club’s people. The club uses a part of the local marina, which is surrounded by a big development, full of shops and restaurants catering to the wishes of the multitude of tourists who swarm the place.

IMG_4032 - Copy                                           with Shlomit and Tony at the club

As we went there for dinner, we saw "Batten Anna" gliding into the marina. So they were safe after all; we’ll speak to them tomorrow.

31.12.13 – Tuesday – Checking the forecast for the next few days, we understood we had to leave on Wednesday or be stuck here much longer. Plans for a big tour of the area were shelved; instead, Tony took us for a ride around town, the highlight of which was the visit to the Knysna Heads – the entrance to the lagoon.

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He also took us to the supermarket to do some shopping, which was a great help. We visited their home, which is situated on a hill overlooking the lagoon and has a fantastic view.

Back at the boat we dealt with what we thought to be a malfunction of the starboard water pump, finding that the tank was simply empty. Going to the club dock to fill up, we found "Batten Anna" there and tied alongside. Emily, the sole woman on board, told us they had a bad time with the strong wind and when that disappeared they tacked (!) to go on, having some problem with their engine.

We started filling up the starboard tank; after about half the tank was full, Dany took the pipe out to let the air go out and we were horrified to see brown water coming out! Quick rush to one of the club’s official drew the response: "It’s the municipality". We bought 10 liters of drinking water as a safety measure and went back to our anchorage.

This being the last day of the year, there was to be a big party at the club, but we stayed on board and went to bed early. Tomorrow we’ll leave on a 248 miles leg to Simon’s Town.

Happy New Year everybody!

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