Premature Passage Planning

Quarantine got you down? Social distancing a drag? Family togetherness a bit too together? Why not mentally check out, and plan that 2022 voyage from the South Africa to Grenada with me? Well, that, or you can have another deep and meaningful chat about feelings, express your gratitude for quarantine togetherness through improvisational dance, or your love of life by learning the oboe.

Me, I’ll plan that passage (ocean crossing).

The Plan

The pickup of our catamaran was scheduled for late May 2022. This, of course, was before the pandemic. Not only are we locked down in our houses here in California, but the Xquisite factory in Cape Town is currently closed down as well.

At this point, pickup will almost certainly be the summer of 2022 at the earliest. So, the plan to sail from the Cape Town, South Africa factory all the way to the Virgin Islands is totally up in the air.

But, since I am locked in a house, rationing toilet paper, and stuffing myself like a — well, like me in anything spandex, size small — some long-term-pipe-dream planning seems entirely appropriate.

The Boat

Those of you who have read earlier posts know that we bought an Xquisite X5 catamaran. If you are bored, have time to kill, love bad puns, or really just a masochist in search of flailing, the decision process can be found here. And finally, if you would like to see a video series of a few folks doing this same crossing on the older version of this boat, go here.

The Route

The boat will be delivered in Cape Town, South Africa someday. The destination is the Caribbean (ether Grenada or the Virgin Islands, depending on the season). The chart below shows the general route with the currently planned stops.

The plan is to depart Cape Town and head to the Virgin Islands by way of St. Helena, Ascension Island, Fernando de Noronha, and finally Grenada, though depending on the season, we may continue to a virgin island to be named later in the Caribbean.

The distances are roughly as follows:

Cape Town, South Africa to St. Helena (start to #1 on chart)

1688 nautical miles/ 1919 land based miles

St. Helena to Ascension Island (#1 to #2 on the chart)

659 nautical miles/ 799 land based miles

Ascension Island to Fernando de Noronha (#2 to #3 on the chart)

1109 nautical miles/ 1276 land based miles

Fernando de Noronha to Grenada (#3 to the final destination on chart)

2000 nautical miles/ 2301 land based miles

Total miles: 5,456 nautical miles/ 6,278 land based miles.

For reference, this trip is about the same as a roundtrip from New York City to San Francisco, including another 400 miles worth of detours to see large wicker chairs, cast iron pans, and rubber-band balls. Or, you could drive from Paris to Moscow back to Paris and then head over to Florence for a steak.

St. Helena

Our first stop will be at St. Helena, a tropical volcanic island in the middle of virtually nowhere south Atlantic. St. Helena is a U.K.-owned island, has about 4500 people, a couple of bars, a few restaurants, and a 700 step historic staircase called Jacob’s Ladder -how could we pass that up?

It should take us about ten days (these are super rough estimates) to sail from Cape Town to St. Helena.

Several YouTubers have visited and their videos are pretty cool. Check out Cruising Off Duty and S/V Delos.

Ascension Island

From St. Helena we will have a relatively short hop to the really weird Ascension Island. Ascension Island is a relatively small bit of almost pure magma that had very little life on it until we humans essentially terraformed it (like a SciFi movie) about 150 years ago to use as an open air remote prison.

Now, it houses UK and US military manning remote radar (and probably dissecting ancient alien remains). I don’t think this would normally be worth a special trip, but it is on our way (ish) and gives us a rest after five or so days at sea.

Me looking for the cream of coconut to make painkillers.

Plus, and this is a big one, since it is so rarely visited, the SCUBA diving is supposed to great. Unfortunately, I just read a report by one visitor that the sharks in the area were getting aggressive. In which case I will stay in the boat and makes drinks for the braver among us.

National Geographic has a pretty cool video about Ascension Island’s unique history.

Fernando de Noronha

Fernando de Noronha is a Brazilian owned archipelago (for those of you not in tune with their middle school geography, an archipelago is a group of islands).

Fernando de Noronha is essentially a high-end resort area and Brazilian park all in one. They limit the number of visitors to preserve its secluded feel and the wild life.

Aside from the beauty of the island, it also has the benefit of being metropolitan enough to get in and out of via international flights. This is important to us because it gives us an opportunity to change out some crew. Although I will touch on this more later, my initial thought is that we can say goodbye to the professional captain we will have help us cross the Atlantic (I am adventurous, but not an idiot) and pick up Teresa, who will probably not be on the first part of the journey.

Oh, and it will be a beautiful and fun stop after another ten days or so at sea!

Grenada

Grenada is a small country south of the Virgin Islands. Many Virgin Island based sailboats head south to Grenada during hurricane season. Our boat will follow this same pattern, spending part of the year in Grenada and the rest in the Virgin Islands doing limited captained charters (more on that in another future post).

Grenada has small cities, great hiking, water sports (obviously). So, this will make either a great stopping point or way point if we decide to continue on to the Virgin Islands.

Stay Tuned For More to Come

As quarantine slowly drives me nuts, I endeavor to create an initial boat inventory list, do some provisioning/meal planning, and get into more detail on the route itself including a look at pilot charts with historical sea/wind conditions, and I’ll even throw in some non-sailing stuff like more cooking projects. I’m also thinking about putting the drone and GoPro to more frequent use. So, we may explore Tiburon and the surrounding area a bit.

That, or . . .

All work and no play makes Scott a dull boy. All work and no play makes Scott a dull boy. All work and no play makes Scott a dull boy. All work and no play makes Scott a dull boy. All work and no play makes Scott a dull boy. All work and no play makes Scott a dull boy. All work and no play makes Scott a dull boy. All work and no play makes Scott a dull boy. All work and no play makes Scott a dull boy. All work and no play makes Scott a dull boy. All work and no play makes Scott a dull boy. All work and no play makes Scott a dull boy. All work and no play makes Scott a dull boy. All work and no play makes Scott a dull boy. All work and no play makes Scott a dull boy. All work and no play makes Scott a dull boy. All work and no play makes Scott a dull boy. All work and no play makes Scott a dull boy. All work and no play makes Scott a dull boy. All work and no play makes Scott a dull boy. All work and no play makes Scott a dull boy. All work and no play makes Scott a dull boy. All work and no play makes Scott a dull boy. All work and no play makes Scott a dull boy. All work and no play makes Scott a dull boy. All work and no play makes Scott a dull boy. All work and no play makes Scott a dull boy. All work and no play makes Scott a dull boy. All work and no play makes Scott a dull boy. All work and no play makes Scott a dull boy. All work and no play makes Scott a dull boy. All work and no play makes Scott a dull boy.

3 thoughts on “Premature Passage Planning

  1. Barry Morgan

    Hi Scott, I am in the final stages of purchasing the X5+ for a 2022 pick up also. I would love to pick your brains about a few things. I am in Australia, which is not an easy place to view custom built yachts in a global pandemic! Can I contact you directly? Cheers Barry

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.