I felt surprisingly calm heading down to Trekker II the morning of our departure. I was pleased that we had spent some nice family and friend time the previous evening for New Year’s Eve down at the boat. This was particularly relevant as one of my biggest fears, probably more accurately apprehension, was spending such a long way away from my family and not really being able to maintain proper contact. Even when we slipped our mooring, I was both calm and excited, but surprisingly not ‘fearful’ nor second guessing my decision to sail; which I was very chuffed about. It was nice to have Jordan on the boat whilst we motored around and rafted up at the Maserati Race Village at the V&A where all boats were moored prior to being announced and setting off in alphabetical order out to the start area in Table Bay.
As we stepped off the boat we were greeted by a very friendly and down to earth priest who had a quick chat and wished us a safe crossing; a very nice touch by the race organisers. We then headed off to the Race Village ‘building’ for a cold drink and speeches; including one from the Mayor of Cape Town, Patricia de Lille and the Commodore to the Yacht Club hosting the Rio side of the race. It was after this that we had to say goodbyes and head back to Trekker II, leaving Cath and Jordan to see us off from the Race Village. I said one goodbye and then when I was almost at the boat, felt the need to go back for a second 😉
When it was our turn to slip our mooring, the song chosen by Shaun V, Into the Mystic by Van Morrison, followed the MC’s intro of the famous Trekker II and her crew. It was with both quite a bit of emotion and elation that we waved goodbye to everyone gathered on the wharf at the Race Village. Cath and Jordan were unmistakable in their orange Trekker II Cape2Rio t-shirts; which was great as I could single them out and say another proper goodbye, albeit from a distance.
We then headed out the harbour and the realisation that we were now about to cross an ocean suddenly hit home; but in a good way. We sailed around for a while checking a couple of things whilst waiting for the start. Wesley was up the shrouds putting chafe patches on the leach of our new genoa. We also had to drop the main after hoisting to try and tighten the leach line; not sure why the cleat was put so high above the foot of the sail. The new SIS Global sponsored sails looked and handled great, which we had realised during prior outings, but which was reinforced at the start.
It was great to have Jordan, Cath, Alasdair and Michiel out on the water in one of the marshal boats and nice that the skipper went out of his way to bring them over to Trekker prior to the start.
We had a great start, crossing the line 3rd or 4th. Well almost great as we had kept the genoa furled away to give us more options prior to the start in the 20-knot wind. The start was a reach across the line and getting the overlapping genoa unfurled and sheeted in proved a challenge, especially after the furling line got snagged. Nonetheless we still hit the line at speed under full main and were charging along. We were fortunate to be paid another visit by our supporters on the Marshall boat after we rounded the Milnerton mark; they had taken a very wet blast across the bay to bid us farewell.
We saw a couple of shredded spinnakers just after the start and decided that Trekker was going just as fast under full genoa so decided initially not to hoist the asymmetrical spinnaker. Our pre-plotted course took us closer to Robben Island than some of the boats and we had to sail through a slight, but expected hole/wind shadow. We had by now hoisted the asymmetrical (A3) and used this to sail through. We got back into good wind not long after with Skimmer now on our Starboard bow and slightly North of us.
It was a good night with full genoa for most of the night and the main at her first reef; we were flying along on Port tack. The swell was slightly uncomfortable, picking up the weather side of the stern and whilst making for good surfing when bearing away, also tended to try and screw the boat up to weather if sailing slightly higher than intended. Trekker handled the conditions exceptionally well with speed over ground hitting 17kts at times. We swapped out the genoa for a stay sail at some point during the evening only to swap back as the wind died a bit in the early hours of the following morning.
Even before the start I was reminded just how wet Trekker was both on the foredeck and in the cockpit. I wondered how I was ever going to keep clothes and glasses dry. Yes, foul weather gear helps, but it was also very warm.
Glasses, glasses, glasses! I could tell that one of the banes of my trip was going to be salty sprayed glasses. I usually had lens wipes in my pocket, but no sooner had I cleaned them and I was hit by either more spray or received a proper dunking.DONATE