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Old 05-03-2021, 13:56   #1
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Best approaches to rounding the Cape of Good Hope - East to West

Hi all,



Regular reader - first time posting.


The Admiral and I are now getting serious about our planning for an extended (8 year) circumnavigation commencing from the East Coast of Australia but clearing out from the West Coast (Fremantle, WA). Our first leg will take us to Richards Bay, SA (via some intermediate destinations in the South Indian Ocean).


Having read and planned fairly extensively - the only facet of the trip that I am particularly anxious about is the run down the Agulhas and around the Cape of Good Hope into Cape Town.


A lot of what I've read suggests an approach similar to getting across Bass Strait to Tassie - i.e. be patient in selecting a weather window, avoid wind against current at all costs, and then go like hell.


However, what I'd like to know from people with 1st hand experience (or a link to a relevant thread) is:


1. Should one attempt a direct run from Richards Bay to Cape Town or is it better to do smaller hops between intermediate ports? If so, what legs / ports do you recommend? (we will have no time pressures); and



2. How viable are intermediate ports if a strong SW hits us part way around? If heading in is an unwise tactic (as it often is) - is the oft quoted advice of heading inside the current (i.e. inside the 200m line) a tenable approach?


Any other information or tips would be gratefully received.


Many thanks.
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Old 05-03-2021, 14:20   #2
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Re: Best approaches to rounding the Cape of Good Hope - East to West

I did it in 2019. There is a gentleman in SA, Des Cason, that keeps in touch with sailors and helps them with timing. Most sailors that make that run use him, either directly, or by virtue of a group of boats sailing at the same time based on his advice.

I would suggest getting in contact with him when you are in Reunion (or where ever you stop near there) as sailing around Madagascar to RB can be tricky too.

We (group of about 5 boats) left Madagascar together, stopped in Bazaruto, Mozambique, on the way to Richards Bay, then RB, East London, Port Elizabeth, and then to Capetown (or Simons Town or Hout Bay if preferred)

The sailing was rough and uncomfortable, but not particular dangerous or challenging. Boats that left outside of Des's windows experienced more serious weather. My own judgement using Predictwind would have had me sailing at the same time as Des's guidance.

Anyway, I wouldn't stress it too much, as once you get to Richard's Bay, everyone else there will be on the same page about when to leave and what to expect, where to stop.

It took me me nearly 2 months to make it from Richards bay to Capetown, with a couple weeks waiting in RB, and a week each at East London, Port Elizabeth and Hout Bay. A couple fast boats managed to sail from Richards bay straight to Capetown against Des's advice, had a tough trip but mostly stayed ahead of the worst weather.
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Old 05-03-2021, 14:33   #3
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Re: Best approaches to rounding the Cape of Good Hope - East to West

Going out into the Agulhas current will certainly be faster.

A lot depended on time of year. Preference not July or the southern winter.
I don’t know the Ports along the way, Richards Bay had a nice small town feel to it, Probably a lot like a small Aussi town.

I would stay close on shore, inside of the 200 fathom line or continental shelf. When they say “there be Dragons out there”, sometimes there is.

Staying inshore will be a bit slower. The offshore route, is subject to quite extreme weather, which can change very quickly, when it changes, particularly after it’s been blowing from the NE. Watch out.
Word is the waves occur mostly frequently in winter after the wind changes from NE to SW,
Which is roughly when I was in the general area when one struck, Shortly after leaving Richards Bay.
Word is they can occur any time,

Word is most frequently along the 200 fathom line, but still occurs further off though less frequently.

Word is, still unknown inside the 200 fathom line. So far.
I never saw it, Word is, the wave front is not just big, it’s very steep.

Stay inshore no need to worry,
I don’t know the coast, how many options, between Richards Bay, East London, or The Cape. It’s been decades since I passed by.
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Old 05-03-2021, 14:57   #4
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Re: Best approaches to rounding the Cape of Good Hope - East to West

@wholybee Thanks Warren. That's precisely the sort of information I was after. Both reassuring and useful. We will be stopping in Reunion and I'll definitely get in touch with Des. We haven't decided whether to stop in Madagascar. If you have time - I'd appreciate your thoughts on same. Cheers, Craig
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Old 05-03-2021, 15:23   #5
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Re: Best approaches to rounding the Cape of Good Hope - East to West

Greetings and welcome aboard the CF, Craig.
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Old 06-03-2021, 10:28   #6
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Re: Best approaches to rounding the Cape of Good Hope - East to West

I did this in summer of 1997-8. If you put into Durban there is someone that does seminars (sailmaker I think) on getting around. IIRC a fleet of about 15 boats went from Durban to East London where we were weathered in for about 10 days, then to False Bay and then on to Capetown. Weather forecasts were very poor back then. Can't say about them now.
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Old 06-03-2021, 13:12   #7
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Re: Best approaches to rounding the Cape of Good Hope - East to West

We crossed the Indian Ocean leaving from Darwin to Cocos Keeling, then to Port de la Nievre, Ansirananan, Deigo Suarez Bay, Madagascar, then several stops along the west side of Madagascar to Mahajanga and then down the Mozambique Channel to Richard's Bay, arriving in Richards Bay November 24.
We travelled inland and hung around Richard's Bay until Feb. 5, then on to Durban, East London, Port Elizabeth, Mossel Bay to Capetown.
The wind switches back and forth very rapidly from southwest to northeast every few days and can be strong. The South Africans are very good at explaining weather patterns and there will be lots of info available when you get there.
It will be rough, but manageable.
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Old 06-03-2021, 13:20   #8
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Re: Best approaches to rounding the Cape of Good Hope - East to West

I live about 130 n.m. south of Port Elizabeth - I have not sailed the whole route as a refuge don't overlook Knysna , I live very close to there - a little further south east towards C T is Mosselbay ,it is about 60 nm south of Knysna and has a small protected fishing harbour with a few pontoons for yachts . So there are a few bolt holes . Most yachts seem to to hop from one Port to another on their way down . So Richards Bay -( nothing between ) Durban - ( nothing between )East London - ( nothing between ) Port Elizabeth - Knysna - Mosselbay - ( nothing between ) Cape Town . If you watch the weather none of them are that far apart .
Swedish friends did the trip 3 x years ago with no issues sailed Knysna direct C T .
Good Luck .
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Old 06-03-2021, 13:33   #9
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Re: Best approaches to rounding the Cape of Good Hope - East to West

Hi Stormalong, thanks for posting.
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Old 06-03-2021, 13:35   #10
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Re: Best approaches to rounding the Cape of Good Hope - East to West

Hi Paul, thanks for the info. From what you and others have said it confirms two important things for me. Definitely break the passage up and there will be plenty of local knowledge available.
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Old 06-03-2021, 13:37   #11
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Re: Best approaches to rounding the Cape of Good Hope - East to West

Hi Garth, great info. Thank you. We had heard that Knysna can be a bit tricky getting into in less than ideal conditions. Given your local knowledge - would you tend to agree?
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Old 06-03-2021, 14:30   #12
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Re: Best approaches to rounding the Cape of Good Hope - East to West

Quote:
Originally Posted by GarthGregory View Post
I live about 130 n.m. south of Port Elizabeth - I have not sailed the whole route as a refuge don't overlook Knysna , I live very close to there - a little further south east towards C T is Mosselbay ,it is about 60 nm south of Knysna and has a small protected fishing harbour with a few pontoons for yachts . So there are a few bolt holes . Most yachts seem to to hop from one Port to another on their way down . So Richards Bay -( nothing between ) Durban - ( nothing between )East London - ( nothing between ) Port Elizabeth - Knysna - Mosselbay - ( nothing between ) Cape Town . If you watch the weather none of them are that far apart .
Swedish friends did the trip 3 x years ago with no issues sailed Knysna direct C T .
Good Luck .
I failed into Kynsna, it's a beautiful place, few stop there due to fearing the heads, pick your weather and it's no problem.

Des is a legend he helps all the boats. Unfortunately he tells people to avoid Knysna, hes actually never sailed in there himself.

Tbe local sailing club sail in and out of the heads most weekends weather permitting.

I could live in Kynsna.
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Old 06-03-2021, 14:49   #13
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Re: Best approaches to rounding the Cape of Good Hope - East to West

Quote:
Originally Posted by Oz Cat Cruising View Post
Hi Paul, thanks for the info. From what you and others have said it confirms two important things for me. Definitely break the passage up and there will be plenty of local knowledge available.
It depends, it's all about watching the weather. Patience is the key. We had a great run from Richard's Bay straight through to Port Elizabeth, we could of made it to Kynsna and should of.

Port Elizabeth marina is a nightmare in a Southerly blow, the surge is crazy , I was seriously worried about holeling the boat, it was very bad for days, we needed 20 fenders and had to be constantly on the dock protecting the boat.

The old crappy rusty steel docks were difficult to walk on due to the surge, main electrical cables snapped. I'd never go there again.

It's all about constantly looking at the weather and being patient.
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Old 06-03-2021, 15:00   #14
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Re: Best approaches to rounding the Cape of Good Hope - East to West

One other thing. Dont go to the Capetown yacht club, spend the extra money and go the V&A marina, you wont regret it.

It's in the heart of Capetown, you will absolutely love it after your passage across the Indian ocean.

Also think of taking two years to get to south Africa. The Seychelles beaches are the most beautiful in the world, tuff beat from there to Madagascar. If I had my time over I would head from the Seychelles to Tanzania, its apparently fantastic. The next year you can work your way down the African coast to Mayotte Madagascar etc.
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Old 07-03-2021, 08:43   #15
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Re: Best approaches to rounding the Cape of Good Hope - East to West

We agree with most of what was said above having rounded in 2016 or so. It is quite a wonderful varied and exciting passage. We also agree with the Seychelles/Tanzania comment and wish we had spent more time on the East African coast. We circumnavigated in more than 20 years and that was too fast. Stop in as many places as possible including along Africa' s southern coast.

One word of more direct advice. We strongly recommend rounding Madagascar to the north. There are many places to time your arrival at the North Cape, and time it you must, along Madagascar's east coast. There are no doubt some that disagree but unless you are in a hurry, and being in a hurry on a cruising sailboat is akin to an original sin, you should take the safer and more interesting option.

There is a Dutch saying that translated says 'the captain that has the time always has a good wind'. In these days of ever better forecasts that is more true than ever.

The British weather service has been quoted saying that their three day forecast today is as good as their one day forecast thirty years ago.

Cold front forecasting along your suggested route is especially good because these fronts pass over South Africa before they get to you.

Enjoy

Jim sv Gaia
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