Take a hard right into Port Elizabeth, sit bleary eyed with your crew mates over a glass of wine , then collapse exhausted into a dreamless sleep.
We pushed off from Durban at 4 am with a tight weather window for Port Elizabeth . All hell was coming to town from the Southern Ocean in the form of 40-50 knot southerly against a 4 knot current .We needed to get there ahead of it.
The first day was downwind with 30-35 knots behind us and 4 knots under us and with us. We desperately needed all the speed the wind and current had to offer but we couldn't risk breaking anything either. Rock and a hard place stuff. 35 miles south of East London was our point of no return so decision had to be made there as to whether we push on for Port Elizabeth or head back to East London . Chris Tibbs updated us and gave us the green light to go for it. The boat sailing with us had two crash gybes earlier that day, rattled then took refuge in East London so we were on our own .
Grabbing short naps when we could no longer stay awake we pushed on through the second day. Even though we were motor sailing in light breeze at this stage it was still tense as we needed current where we could find it and the front was advancing . Would it come early , would we make it? Anxious stuff.
A south westerly that wasn't in our weather routing appeared on the afternoon of the second day. Was this the storm arriving 24 hours early ?
Turned out to be a local cell that only lasted a few hours. Then back to what I can only describe as " grim reaper sailing".
Evening of day two we knew we'd made it. We were outside the port entrance , fendered, warped and never so happy to see a huge ugly commercial port ! Last step, radio port control for permission to enter.
Voice on the radio says "STOP YOU DO NOT HAVE PERMISSION TO ENTER." Leaves it at that and goes onto talking to another vessel !!
We called and we called and were ignored and ignored .
Thankfully we had a guardian angel - Mark-, a member of the local ( club houseless) sailing club here and he was listening to us on his VHF radio. He works in sea rescue here, knew we were coming because James and made contact with him to confirm they'd take us. He contacted port control and we had our permission . PHEW!
All the adrenaline left my body and a wave of exhaustion flattened me.
Growing up when things got tough my parents would always say- keep going that'll put hairs on your chest!!!
I'm scared to look- my chest just might resemble a gorillas if they were right 😂!
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