Do It message via Yachting World

"ENCOURAGEMENT FOR THOSE THINKING OF ROUNDING SOUTH AFRICA

 

We were in Thailand in January 2011 and were in the same dilemma and chose to go around the south of Africa despite the concerns we had due the reputation of this route. We read up as much advice we could which in summary was give yourself as much time as possible and go with a good forecast.

This we did with no problems leaving Reunion and arriving in Richard's Bay in October 2011. We then took six weeks to hop around the coast to get to Simon's Town (just south of Cape Town) for our haul out in December 2011. The worst weather we had in all this route was 12 hours beating into an unforecast 25 kt wind to get into Port Elizabeth.

Cruisers worrying about this route should consider that many others have gone this way previously with no issues. We had no problems crossing of the dreaded Agulhas Current, and sailing around the coast, it was a joyous benefit with sustained speeds over the ground of 11 kts. Cape Agulhas was just another headland which we rounded in pleasant conditions 5 miles off. We have had far worse in the Needles Channel and off Portland Bill.

Bad weather does happen in these parts, but the forecasting is good and with plenty of time, good conditions can be experienced. Unforecast blows can happen, but taking the usual precautions of sailing close to the edge of the current (so it can be rapidly vacated) will reduce the risk of a beating and there are several headlands that can be used for shelter.

So in short, those who are considering this route should take the scare stories with a pinch of salt, give yourself plenty of time, get yourself some method of obtaining forecasts (talking to the Peri Peri Net for instance) and go for it. We know of two cruisers who had unpleasant conditions, but they both ignored the standard advice, entered the Current in adverse winds and got wet and broke equipment.

Just my twopenn'orth"