Aretha – 343 miles to Richards Bay – 27 22 South 38 24 East

03:33. All is calm on board tonight,

The wind has finally backed to the North East meaning we can sail directly
to Richards Bay. For the past 6 hours we had been pushed North so its good
to be going direct at 8 knots and closing the miles. Children, Nichola and
Max are all sleeping soundly. Its been a calmer day and we’ve diagnosed the
engine overheating to a leak on the heat exchanger. We can run the engine
for several hours before we have to stop it, let it cool down and then top
up with coolant. Hopefully the wind will let us sail all the way without
needing too much motoring and we can repair the leaks once ashore.

Nature highlight of the day was a large squid which got washed on the deck
overnight – one for Columbus’s wildlife journal (who is currently getting
inspiration from reading Gerald Durrell – classic stuff – thank you Sharon).

Weather highlight was spending time with Bluebell reading the weather with
me and her interpreting the GRIB files and comparing what we have and
predicting our weather for the next 12 hours – getting lots of practice on
angles and degrees!

Max has spent time today transcribing some of the ships log into a blog to
give you all an insight into some of the things we note on a daily basis.
When we first started sailing, our log was a very factual document hourly
with just the raw data and a tiny space for comments. Along the way, we
decided to turn it into more of a journal (complete with stamps, passport
stamps, briefings, weather briefings and hand drawings of things we note),
which although not filled in hourly, is usually filled in every 3 hours or
so and contains more of a story,

So, let me hand over to Max…

Figured it would be nice to share the log we keep on Aretha, this is in
essence a timestamp of whatever is happening along with thoughts. All ships
carry these as a legal requirement, however most aren’t as embellished as
this. They become in effect a diary of the boat and different perspective
from each of the crew as we fill it in if we get the chance for each of our
watches. Here is a bit of the log since the onset of the rigging problem.

Knts –  Boat speed in knots
SOG –   Speed over Ground
COG –   Course over Ground
Position – GPS position
AW – Apparent Wind
TW – True Wind
AWA – True Wind Angle
Ground Wind Angle

Wednesday 4th Nov
0200            SOG 7.6 Knts    COG 314`        Position 27`07 S – 48`38 E
AW 23.4 knts    TW 23 Knts      TWA 73`         GW 242`         Watch – MC
The night is certainly dragging tonight, the weather continues to change
from wet & windy to really windy to a little wind and then back to really
windy. The only constant is the waves, it continues to be bumpy. Called up
the ship Great Tiger as we were on a intercept course and getting 2 ghost
images on the radar that are different from the AIS.

1245            SOG 3.7 Knts    COG 258`        Position 26`48 S – 47`26 E
AW 23.9 knts    TW 24.3 Knts    GWA 212`        AWA 53`         Watch – CC

Eventful!! Willow seems to be fine today, the rig less so. We have a broken
strand. – Have reduced sail and created a jury rig. Making 3 – 4 knots in 25
knots of breeze to take her gently. Nichola and max resting, kids in our

1753            SOG 3.6 Knts    COG 286`        Position 26`40 S – 47`00 E
AW 17.2 knts    TW 17.2 Knts    GWA 245`        AWA 62`         Watch -NC

Spoke to Ayama – Arranged to collect a package from them in the morning
containing items to repair our rig. Meanwhile have a 3rd reef in to ease the
pressure off the rig. Still making slow progress between 3 – 5 knots. So
suppose the current may be against us. Ayama making between 4 – 6 knots west
so may have to put the engine on tomorrow to keep up with them.

2006            SOG 5.7 Knts    COG 296`        Position 26`37 S – 46`50 E
AW 24.8 knts    TW 24.2 Knts    GWA 264`        AWA 58`         Watch – CC

Kids finally settles, Breeze blowing, Pens all shot.

2223            SOG 5.5 Knts    COG 270`        Position 26`32 S – 46`45 E
AW 27.4 knts    TW 28.4 Knts    GWA 253`        AWA 46`         Watch – MC

Engine Started at 2200
We dropped sails as wind was gusting 35 + knots as didnít want to put any
more strain on rigging. Genoa wont furl fully so still have 20% still out as
the line has slipped on the furler. Need to fix in daylight and calmer seas,
positive side is it offers some stability, downside is with the sail
partially out we still have to sail a wind angle. Heading due west with
Ayama following closely in our wake. Everything that hasnít been put away is
now finding a new home on the floor!! On the plus side hot showers tomoz!!!
🙂  I would call this a stubborn uncooperative wind!

Thursday 5th November (Bonfire night)
0200            SOG 5.4 Knts    COG 270`        Position 26`29 S – 46`16 E
AW 28 knts      TW 29.8 Knts    GWA 233`        AWA 56          Watch – NC

Winds gusting to 35 kts, managing to bring the boat slowly south – 12` so
far in order to try and make Richards Bay rather than further North. Ayama
about 1nm behind. I have disabled the AIS alarm as it kept going off. Spoke
to Stefan on the VHF, all well aboard Ayama. Wind is very slightly backing
allowing us slightly more SW rather than simply westerly winds ensuring AWA
does not drop below 40 AWA to allow for remaining headsail.
Some useful emails in from Fred, Eddie and Rigger in Cape Town. Plan is
still to meet Ayama in day light to collect repair gear to jury rig the
Children all well – Initially they seemed spooked (especially the girls) but
all calm and sleeping now. Foulies have made a reappearance – first since
crossing from Vanuatu to Australia back in July. Willows head seems to be
healing nicely. Her hair has helped knit the wound together which will be
fine until we arrive in Richards Bay and can get it examined more
thoroughly. She seems full off beans – worrying as more likely to injure
herself again!!
Read Children bed time stories – First for a few nights. Dinner was pretty
basic – baked beans for the children, 2 min noodles for adults. Boat looks
like a bomb has exploded inside. Thankfully it only ever seems to take a
short while to tidy again. Engine still on so hot showers await.
Memories from today:-
1) Bed time stories with the children in aft cabin
2) Caspar and i taping up the shroud
3) Adventure max climbing the rigging to try and fix the broken mast car.
4) The look of delight on kidsí faces at the thought of baked beans (cold)
for tea.
5) Look on adultís faces at the idea of 2 min noodles for dinner.
Not expecting any fireworks today as would be usual on on 5/11 but sure it
would bring more twists and turns. Currently 760NM to Richards Bay – Now
heading vaguely in the right direction.

0402            SOG 5.1 Knts    COG 270`        Position 26`28 S – 46`05 E
AW 28.9 knts    TW 31 Knts      GWA 206`        AWA 68`         Watch – CC

Slowed Aretha down to 1700 revs – too much pumping on the rig. Feels easier
now if a little slower. Sent a blog and replied to a few emails. Altered
course 5` to port to make a better course to Richards Bay 750 NM away.

0743            SOG 7.4 Knts    COG 260`        Position 26`32 S – 45`41 E
AW 23.1 knts    TW 24.8 Knts    GWA 180`        AWA 96`         Watch – CC

Hoisted main to 3rd reef & unfurled a small amount of headsail. Have current
with us and making reasonable speed. Engine overheating so engine off.
To check on engine – Coolant levels, Impeller, Raw Water inlet, Oil Levels.
Refilled engine with coolant.

1747            SOG 7.4 Knts    COG 265`        Position 26`33 S – 45`15 E
AW 18.6 knts    TW 19.6 Knts    GWA 196`        AWA 92`         Watch – CC

V Full day
Checked rigging straight after engine check, noticed 2 extra strands had
broken. Immediatlity tacked to change the load to the other side and headed
east. Called Ayama who turned around to give us wire and bulldog clips. Ship
to ship transfer 20 meters apart one behind the other in 2+ meters seas…
an experience. Line tied to a half empty bottle of water thrown from one
boat to the other, then items tied on and pulled back.
Made a second makeshift D1 (main supporting mast wire) with an old halyard
wrapped around the mast by the spreaders. Both C & N up the mast.
Jury rigged breaking D1 with bulldogs and steering cable.
Tacked gently and back underway.
– Mended the furler
– Watt and sea generator, Max off the back of the boat getting wet fixing
the pin back in
– Engine needs continual monitoring for the coolant levels

Now swell softening & progress smoother and easier.

2044    SOG      Knts   COG 260`        Position 26`35 S – 44`54 E
AW 18.2 knts    TW 23.0 Knts    GWA 167`        AWA 103`
Watch – CC

Brrrrr chilly tonight. BB Bed soaking from water coming in. Needs drying out
and cabin needs cleaning by window sill. BB sleeping in the saloon. AWA set
to 100`. If wind shifts by 10- 15` wake me please.
Note GPS switched its self off for 5 mins earlier and came bcak to life.

2231    SOG 6.3 Knts    COG 262`        Position 26`37 S – 44`42 E
AW 17.5 knts    TW 17.5 Knts    GWA 175`        AWA 101`
Watch – MC

Wind speed has been consistent at about 20kts, rig banging a bit which woke
Caspar who came in and hauled in the main. Not the most efficient way to
sail but a safer way to sail as no banging and less stress on the rig.
Ship Crimson Creek passed within 3 miles (also heading to Richards bay) and
was able to get a better fix on the radar and i corrected the alignment
error (46` off).
Columbus is having a restless night and tossing and turning, checked the
rigging, new line seems nice and tight.
Deck is completely covered in salt. Every time you come back from being
outside it looks like you have been rolling in icing sugar.
Most important question of the watch… who ate my Chilli con carni??? Came
out to find only 2 chocolate puddings remaining. I donít even like chocolate
So ate one of them out of spite and was hungry and couldnít be bothered to
make more food.

Friday 6th November
0107    SOG 6.0 Knts    COG 263`        Position 26`41 S – 44`24 E
AW 16.7 knts    TW 17 Knts      GWA 150`        AWA 119`
Watch – NC

Checked tension on stays at Midnight with max, who also marked the D1’s and
clips and cables to show if there is any slippage in the makeshift rig. Put
preventer on the starboard side. A fair bit of shipping around but no W-Arc
boats showing up on the AIS. We seem to be averaging between 6.5 – 7.5 knts
in the right direction so hoping ironically that the wind keeps this
strength and doesnít go any lighter as we canít put out any more sail.
Westaway boil in a bag meals this evening. They are gourmet but clearly we
havenít reached rock bottom yet as the meals were OK-ish and the chocolate
puddings were even rejected by the kids. Willow ate all of her main except
the dumplings as did Columbus. Ironically max only ate chocolate puddings as
he thought that was all that was left, in fact they were put away!
Clearly going crazy – that is the second pen i have put down and when i come
back the pen is missing. Children in own beds tonight, hard to sleep with
the motion.
Final drama, after shrouds breaking, willows head, engine running to hot
….. I broke the sodding coffee pot. Yes another has had a watery grave.
Very depressing.
Todayís Memories
1) Clinging on for dear life up the mast mid ocean.
2) Willows face of glee when max dressed her in clothes this morning
3) Columbus and i having a cuddle while reading ‘Oliver and the seawigs’
4) BB playing Mum ,Feeding ‘the children’ while adults spent the full day on
5) Max throwing the line to Ayama as they charged up to us
6) Amongst all the chaos, Caspar prodcuing a camera (in form of an iPhone)
and starting to film…
7) Tucking willow in tonight she said “Mummy will you sit and talk with me a
little. Is it Christmas tomorrow, or maybe your birthday, or maybe my
birthday? – Maybe my birthday and i will be 6?”  – I suggested maybe 4, she
said “Will there be flags?” “Its not tomorrow bit soon will be Christmas.
Her Response “I’m so excited – i can’t wait.” she then snuggled down to

And there you have a couple of eventful days logs the life Aretha from what
has been logged in the ships log.

Team Aretha in the Mozambique Basin, Out

Ps – Some notes on where we are in the world…

Directly North of us is Mozambique, Tanzania, Kenya, Ethiopia, Eritrea (and
the border of Sudan) and Jeddah in Saudi Arabia.

Directly South of us are the very isolated Prince Edward Islands, the
Enderby Abyssal Plain and Padda in Antarctica.

Due East of us is Brisbane

Due West of us is Swaziland and Namibia

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  1. Very happy that all the little challenges(!) you have encountered on this leg are slowly being resolved (hopefully) or at least you know what you are dealing with! I hope all the rigging lasts until you hit Richards Bay. Much love to all the team Aretha members with perhaps a special mention to Willow (and the seasick parent).x
    PS Great blog Max!! (the one before) it’s a sort of extreme length to go to get your fairground kicks You also may find you are a bit overqualified for day skipper on your return!

  2. By my reconning you will have reached landfall by the time you get this message, I hope so. A few days R&R will restore your spirits and Aretha to Lloyds 100A1+
    Enjoy the rest!

  3. Thank you for your last few blogs I’ve only just caught up and while I have eyes wanting to slam shut after only 3 days into the working week, I’ve been riveted at your blogs! Willow I hope your head is healing well… have a cousin called Arabella who is prone to splitting her head like you! Adventure Max never change your passion for travel, the greatest adventure man can experience and the memories last a life time! Well done BB and Columbus your inspiring for children of all ages and I agree with your dad you are learning far more than a class room can teach you! Well done mum and dad for feeling clam heads and a sense of humour when the chips are down, your awesome!
    Best wishes and love to you all,
    Cousin Jacki xxx

  4. Thanks Consuelo – rigging now replaced, Willow all mended and crew back to full strength!

    Jon – absolutely and all well enjoying the best of SA safari’s

    Jacki – as always its great to hear from you and we love your feedback : )

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