We left Cape Town yesterday with three cruising options: Sail back the next day. Stay two nights in Dassen island. Go to Saldanha – about 30 more miles north – and sail back when the weather allows it.
Today the forecast suggests that we could sail/motor back to Cape Town on Tuesday (going downwind with 10-15 kn). Considering how well Eidos did yesterday we decide to keep going further to visit the Saldanha yacht club for a cold beer. There is no wind and we have to motor all the way. The swell is much better today. less than 2mt, longer period, more from the back. Probably I am also more used to the way the boat moves. We leave Dassen island at 11:15 and while the island protects us from the swell we calibrate the autopilot that finally works perfectly. It is definitely much more comfortable than yesterday and we enjoy the space of the cockpit and the saloon. As we are forced to motor we do some experiments with a single engine and two engines at different RPM. We try to understand what will be the best way to manage our diesel and speed in long passages. Eidos has two Yanmar 4JH3-DTE engines (125HP), very similar to the Yanmar 4JH3-HTE (100HP) we had on the Amel. The comparison of rpm/speed/consumption is unavoidable. We arrive in front of the Saldanha Yacht Club around 3pm but we do not find a satisfactory place to anchor. We stop near a small boat yard called Yachtport about a mile away.
We could go by dinghy to the yacht club for our deserved beer after 60 miles from Cape Town, but we really don’t know if the dinghy works. The visit to the Yacht club is postponed to the next morning for breakfast so at least we have more time to manage any issue. Instead we visit the boatyard, it is very nice, extremely clean and looks well organised. We chat with a couple of cruisers that were refitting a large monohull in aluminium and go for a walk. We close the day with a cold beer at sunset in our cockpit.
It is just me and Marcella onboard and we tried to pick a good weather for our first cruise. However as soon as we leave Cape Town there are 2-3 mt of swell from about 60-80 degrees port side with 15 kn apparent wind from about 100.
The sea is quite messy, a good test for us, we wanted a big cat to be more comfortable in big sea, but I would liked a calmer day to start with. Eidos does not roll as a monohull however it moves in a very odd way. Marcella copes very well with it while at first I really do not like it. Timetama would roll a lot in this sea but I was used to it. Eidos has very fast and short accelerations that my body cannot anticipate with a resulting uncomfortable feeling of losing balance and seasickness. Coming from a monohull it is unbelievable that even with relatively big swells from the side nothing moves around and we can keep our coffee cups on the table without any problem, it makes life so much easier. Taking out our 120 sqm heavy mainsail is easier than we expected but it would be even better with the control of the electric winch at the helm so one of us could help the halyard or the sail from the mast. Added to to my list.
When we take the sail down with today’s swell it is not easy to help the main to fold nicely in the lazy jack. As it is already quite old we are considering to replace it with a higher lazy bag. We really need to make the management of the mainsail easy to use, in our previous trip we saw many boats with big mainsails motoring for short passages just to avoid to all the work needed to take the sail up and down. We have a lot of new electronic instruments that we do not master yet so we take the opportunity to understand better how they work, especially the AIS, the radar and the plotters . These new instruments by default present more information than needed, most of the work is to hide what not needed and make them easier to read.
After about 35 miles around 15:30 we reach an amazing anchorage at Dassen Island – House Bay.
As always we immediately forget the uncomfortable passage and it is great to be at the hook again. We are the only yacht there, and it reminds us other places we were anchored alone. Dassen Island is very flat and we can see waves breaking on the opposite side of the island.
It is not allowed to go ashore so we enjoy a sunny afternoon on the boat that also made easier test our solar panels and the new MPPT regulators. I discover that our panels on the right do not work as well as the panels on the left – to investigate if the problem is with the panels, the MPPT or the cabling. Soon comes the night, the sky is completely clear with no artificial lights, the perfect conditions to admire the moon eclipse of the century.
And finally it is easy to have a great sleep after our intense day.
In 2002 we left Italy for our first cruising experience on an Amel Super Maramu (Timetama) that ended in New Zealand only two years later. Going cruising again became our dream and since then we have been waiting for the opportunity to leave again.
In 2017 we finally had all the conditions to plan our second sabbatical cruising experience: our son finished school, we sold Timetama and I found a good replacement for my role at work.
We immediately started looking for a new boat, a catamaran this time, and in March 2018 we bought Eidos a Catana 582 built in 2001. She was based in Cape Town and needed an extensive refit.
The catana 582 is a massive boat compared to the Amel and while it was the cat I always dreamed of, we were also somehow concerned about sailing her just in two.
We spent four months working on Eidos and we only went out for sail trials twice for few hours and only once just we two.
On July 26th we finally decide that Eidos was ready to cruise and tomorrow we will untie the lines from V&A Marina for our first cruising trip on Eidos, a short one for now.
In 2002 I kept a journal of our cruising days as a memory for us and to share with friends and family, I will try to do it again also this time.
“jump on” Carmine said “… and throw the line on the pontoon”. Here I am, looking at Eidos slowly slipping out of our berth for the first time with us, excited and trying to catch all the feelings of this moment I have been waiting for long time. I’m so happy and it’s like all the fatigue of the work done so far is melting down, we are sliding on the mirror of the calm water of the marina.
Very lite wind of this warm winter’s day is welcoming us in the perfect condition and Eidos becomes a small gentle vessel sailing peacefully with few dolphins around. Carmine and Marcel start opening the sail cover and help Mark that is at the winch to hoist the mainsail, while I stay at the helm. It is a gigantic sail and it takes a lot of time for us to untangle the reefs lines that have been badly prepared. After a while, drifting in front of the city seafront, we decide to tide them up later and move on with one reef on and open the genoa. With only 7 knots of true wind we sail at 7 knots of speed easily. We look at each other smiling and understand that this cat likes it a lot! On the way back the list of things to check and fix is long: reefs lines, throttles, windless, autopilot, … but is has been an amazing first day out and I cannot wait to sail again and again and again …
Coming back to the mooring for the first time with a 9 meters wide cat is challenging but better than we thought, at least with no wind! Four guys from the marina are waiting for us to help with the mooring lines. I feel a lot of kindness and support here, I really like this marina and the nice people we have met in Cape Town. I ask Marcel for a comment and he says that sailing with Eidos is great and very comfortable but he got intimidated by the size of mainsail “it’s too big for me…”. In the evening, after few beers and considerations Carmine and myself read the first day out story on Timetama log book. It was exactly 4 days less than 16 years ago! Same exciting story even if there was nothing to fix on Timetama, except ourselves… we were starting the adventure that completely changed our lives.