Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Long Distance in a Bigger Boat

My last post was about people going long distance in small boats and most of my readers know that I am soon to go long distance in a slightly bigger boat. This will be on the Didi 38 "Black Cat".

She is well on the way to being ready, with smaller items like installation of new electronics going on and the major still outstanding items being to tune the rig and test the new sails (which have still to be delivered). She is looking awesome, after a full repaint and new graphics. This 18-year old lady is looking young again.

"Black Cat" with her new paint & graphics.
Preparation of "Black Cat" for her next adventure has been a lengthy process but a worthwhile one. It was unfortunately extended by 2 weeks due to damage sustained at Royal Cape Yacht Club during a gale just after she was relaunched when the repaint had been completed. Cape Town is well known for furious winds and this one apparently gusted to 75 knots in the yacht basin. Some mooring chains holding the marinas broke and "Black Cat" was in the unfortunate position of serving as the meat in a steel sandwich, not good for a plywood boat.

My navigator for this race is Dave Immelman, nicknamed Wavy. Dave has been in charge of the preparations and has done a great job of it. That includes getting the extra work done that resulted from poor "Black Cat" getting squeezed tighter than any lady in a corset. She has been freed, repaired, repainted (again), given the OK by the doctor (scrutineer) and is raring to go.
New Cat logo on port side. Starboard has the butt end.
 This is a boys' adventure on which we are embarking. As in 1996 and 2000, "Black Cat" will be the only lady enjoying it with us. That said, we would not be doing it without the support of the other ladies in the lives of all of the crew, namely wives, mothers, daughters and others. They tolerate our passion for boats, adventures and ocean crossings. Maybe some of them look forward to our departure to get us out of their hair, I don't know. I do know that they will be happy to see us again when we return and we will be equally happy to be greeted by them when our adventure is over. We will return home with another big drawer full of images in our memory banks, memories that cannot be equalled by any travel documentary or computer game, no-matter how good the filming or graphics may be.

For those who have never experienced this, it is a big one to add to your bucket list. Having done it 3 times before, I can say that it will take a big bucket if it is to hold other items that are bigger than this one. But you have to have a strong sense of adventure and not be easily scared. If you don't have those qualities you will be petrified at times, incapacitated by sheer terror while your shipmates are enjoying a great roller coaster ride that goes on for 2-4 weeks (depending on the speed of your chosen boat), with no chance of getting off the ride.

We have sailed this boat very hard in the past and the new go-fast goodies on her will help us to do so again. We sail her safely but we do so sometimes at very high speed, with lots of spray flying by and mixed in with flying fish, squid, albatross  and even the occasional sword fish. "The Cat" enjoys it and allows us to enjoy it with her.