5. TO PUT IT TO THE TEST
"He either fears his fate too much, or his deserts are small, that puts it not unto the touch, to win or lose it all"-
James Graham, Marquis of Montrose, 1650. (upon the eve of his execution).
Seychelles’ contract finished and boat-work completed by October 1982, I prepared to set off in ‘JAHO’ to return to my previous home-base of St Kitts, in the West Indies.
Signing on one Seychellois (ex Mombasa) deck-hand and out of charity more than necessity taking aboard a ‘stranded greenhorn hitch-hiker’ heading "to Africa" - with ne’er so much as a word of ‘please’ then nor, as it transpired, of ‘thanks’ later - we left Mahé on October 18th 1982. This was really a couple of weeks too late to catch the last of the favourable South-east winds before the Northern Monsoon set in. Consequently we got to the Mozambique Channel after the start of the Cyclone Season, having just spent several days beating head-winds off the coast of Africa in the Mozambique Basin and having had to stop using the ‘old 16.5 HP. Volvo Diesel’ as leaking had become a serious problem which increased alarmingly whenever the engine vibrations shook up the old hull.
At last on November 20th with Durban well in sight and 2000 miles from Mahé, we had to turn and run, under bare poles and towing the warps which had previously been made ready for our arrival, for several hours before one of those 65+ knot South-Westerly gales which are typical of that coast (later this was confirmed as the harbour-measured wind speed). So finally we made our overdue land-fall next day at Richard’s Bay about a hundred miles back up the coast of Natal where, at Zululand Yacht Club, we were able to carry out a few repairs, including the Mizzen-s’l changes and the replacing of a fractured Mizzen shroud Chain-plate, meet new friends, buy some fresh food and rest before going on down to Durban a week later. All this minus the ‘hitch-hiker’ of course who couldn’t wait to get off onto ‘Terra Firma’ - as a cruising medical-colleague of mine while up on the ‘slip’ had once said, (and now applied so aptly )- " Much more ‘Firmer’ and Much less ‘Terror’!" - the young man fled with never a backward glance being more than a little ‘peeved’ that 35 days at sea from Seychelles ‘to Africa’ had rusted the strings of his guitar! - not to mention such prolonged trauma to his unveiled psyche!
As for dear old ‘JAHO’, eventually she ‘chugged’ and we ‘pumped’ our way into Durban on the evening of November 29th having just logged several leaky hours on a slow (very - slow) engine, occasioned by the NE wind having died, whilst the barometer plummeted once again, presaging yet another Sou’Westerly Blow’ and which was going full tilt a couple of hours later. But this time with ‘JAHO’ tied-up alongside in Durban's Yacht Basin - ‘thanks be to God’. The Rescue-boat towed in a large and engineless Norwegian Ketch that same night, who thus became our out-board neighbour at the ‘International Jetty’ close by two of the three Durban Yacht Clubs.
the story continues.................
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