Family First

Little did I know that the failure of Osiyeza’s solar panels would give me something special yet heart-breaking.

Little did I know that getting Osiyeza back home for repairs would give me a wonderful opportunity in such a dark time.

The universe works in mysterious ways. I could have been in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. Without family or friends. All alone.

I do not know how I would have coped.

It was the day, more than a week ago when I put Osiyeza onto the trailer in Walvis Bay that my father was rushed to hospital.

The silver lining is, I got to sit by his side to talk with him.
To tell him I was OK.
To tell him he was going to be OK.
To tell him how much I love him.

My time and focus is with my family as we walk together along a path of uncertainty.

Osiyeza is safely tucked up on her trailer and will patiently wait until I can give her my full attention again.

Thank you for your incredible support thus far.

Pause, reset.

On the road again

In the words of Willie Nelson


Monday morning, I received the message I had been waiting for along with a picture of a trailer licence disk. It had taken four days to get the SA traffic department admin sorted to get the trailer through the border.

Kevin and Ralph finally left Cape Town at 09h00 destination Walvis Bay (WB).

Mission: Bring Osiyeza and Richard home.

Eight hours later they crossed into Namibia and started on the long straight roads via Windhoek and Swakopmund. They had an overnight stop and early the next morning their bakkie tyres were slapping the tar again on route WB. Seeing them at the Walvis Bay yacht club was a wonderful moment. A moment of relief and a “Yes I am now making some progress”.

After a week finally things are happening.

Loading Osiyeza onto the trailer turned out to be more of a challenge than anticipated. The tide was unfortunately low, so it was not a simple case of floating her onto the trailer and tyres. In true Namibian style people came out of the yacht club and waded into the water to lend a hand. We all pushed and pulled Osiyeza up and onto the trailer as far as we could.

Once we had the trailer in the parking area the final placement was done by reversing Osiyeza against the edge of a 20′ container and sliding her the final few feet up the trailer. She was tightly and carefully ratchet strapped to the trailer before headed off to Swakopmund where we had been offered a house on the beach for the night. Osiyeza stayed safely behind locked gates at John Woolf’s workshop while we refuelled at a local German restaurant. 🍻🍖

06h00 and we were on the road again. The outside temperature for most of the trip was 35-39° C and even thought the air-conditioned struggled I was very grateful that it was as good as it was. We overnighted in Noordover at the border.

I was quite concerned about the border crossing and the red tape that would be thrown at us for Osiyeza. The red tape involved with putting her on a truck was stupendous and that’s why the plans changed to driving her out ourselves.

The Namibian side hardly batted an eyelid. I did manage to get a handwritten note saying that Osiyeza had crossed the Namibian border along with a Customs stamp.

Next was the South African side!

First bit of business was to get our nasal passages violated again for an Antigen test. I wonder what would happen with a positive result. We passed with flying colours. Felt a bit like today’s youngsters getting an award just for participation. 😂

After Immigration I popped in to see Customs and to declare Osiyeza. I had my Customs documents from my departure. I handed them over and received a blank and bewildered look. Their reply was they don’t have any documents for this so just be on our way. 👌 Thankfully all my angst for the border crossing had been for nothing. The final border inspection was a curious policeman wanting the scoop on Osiyeza’s design and the crossing.

Seven hours later we arrived in Cape Town at Atlantic Suzuki, Kevin’s business, where Osiyeza spent the night.  In the morning we lifted her off the borrowed trailer.  A block and tackle on one end and a forklift at the other we placed Osiyeza comfortably back on her own trailer.

Osiyeza finally came home with me. I spent the next day removing everything and giving her a good wipe down inside and out. I had hoped by now the Maid could help and take over but there is still no sign of her.

While doing the clean-up I noticed a salt build-up around one of the bolts holding the rudder mounting to the transom. I suspect that the water that had leaked into Osiyeza and caused the solar problem had started to run out on the road trip back. The high temperature evaporated the sea water leaving the tell-tale salt behind.

A pressure test will be done to confirm if this is the only leak. 💦

Ralph kindly took Maverick and Goose for a debriefing. He picked up a few issues and we will be addressing them as soon as we can.

Osiyeza goes for her surgery in a few days.

Wishing her well. 🤞

Oziyesa on the rocks

⚓ Oziyesa on the rocks ⚓

It’s a message you never want to get.😱

Plan “C”!

Unfortunately, the truck ride for Osiyeza to Cape Town fails to take shape as hoped. The backup Plan “D” is initiated on Wednesday. My brother-in-law, Kevin, and mate Ralph are going to drive up to Walvis Bay with a trailer and so we will tow Oziyesa home.

Sounds simple enough!

Get an affidavit from the owner to take the trailer across the border. Get the new license disk printed from the traffic department. Have your nostrils scraped for the PCR test at least 72 hours before crossing into Namibia and quickly check and grease the wheel bearings.

All items get sorted with great effort except the traffic department. They are offline!

For two full days nothing can happen.

The 72 hours’ time limit is starting to run out. Final option is to get the disk on Saturday morning on the third day and rush up to the border with a few hours to spare.

Stellenbosch traffic department, who apparently are the only department that can issue the license, decide not to open. No reason given. They must have decided that if they were offline on Friday why open on Saturday?

Plan “D” is still in the making.

Kevin and Ralph have gone for another nasal probe and are waiting for the results. Monday morning, fingers crossed, they can get the license disk and start the two-day trek to Walvis Bay.

In the meantime, I have been getting prepared on this end for their arrival. With the help of John Woolf, a local surfski paddler from Swakopmund, and Michael, a local yachtsman we moved Osiyeza under one of the jetties. We do this so I can suspend the keel using the jetty. Once lifted a few inches I can remove the bolts and drop the keel out through the bottom of the keel box. It was a smooth operation and with the help of a small chain block we retrieved the keel from the seabed and hauled it ashore.

With the keel removed Osiyeza can lie flat on the trailer. We also managed to collect ten old car tyres from a local fitment centre on which Osiyeza will rest before being strapped tightly down onto the trailer. We then moved Osiyeza back to her mooring buoy.

I spent the weekend with John and took in the sights of Swakopmund. I had a grand old time. Meeting so many wonderful people. A chance stop at the Namib Dunes Craft Brewery that filled most of Saturday afternoon if you know what I mean. 🍻

We did the local coffee houses, Slow Town and Two Beards. Both excellent.

In the evening it’s a family affair at the Woolf’s to play cards. I have not played a card game in more than a decade, but you can’t not join in. It must have been beginners’ luck as I ended up coming out tops. The reward was a Sunday treat to Ice & Spice, the local ice cream parlour.

It was on the way here that I received the message.

“Urgently get hold of the Yacht Club. You kayak has come off its mooring”

Oh crap!

John and I rush off to Walvis Bay and to the yacht club. We manage to get hold of the Commodore, Theo, and he says Osiyeza has been towed to the club jetty. You can imagine what thoughts were racing through my mind.

When we got to the club, I found Osiyeza almost high and dry on the beach in front of the clubhouse. The line that was tied to the buoy had chaffed through.

The kind people who rescued Osiyeza explained that they saw her drifting from the mooring and then onto the rocks. They went with their boat to see what they could do. The one lady said she jumped in the water and swam between Osiyeza and the rocks to push her off. She successfully managed to do this but got quite a bruising for her efforts.

Inspecting Osiyeza I could not see any structural damage, so we eventually pushed Osiyeza off the beach and towed her to another mooring. This time I tied her up with much thicker lines courtesy of Michael’s yacht.

I shudder when I think what would have happened if she broke loose during the night when there was no one there to see or rescue her!

A close call but “all well that ends well.”

I have been here for seven days and am no closer to solving the issues with Osiyeza.

Feeling so frustrated but give thanks to the amazing folk looking after me which makes it all a little more tolerable.

Plan C: What now?

So, what now?

Yes, a very good question! Let me try to answer it.

Warning: This may be a little technical and boring.

Let’s call this PLAN C.

1) By now you know the reason for the hard right hand turn to get to Walvis Bay was triggered by the failure of the main solar panels, on the aft deck, to charge the batteries.

When I was doing my research on what was the most common issues on ocean rowing boats (very few kayaks that have crossed an ocean) a thread that repeated itself was the lack of power from the batteries for a variety of reasons.

The power issues are almost always a knock-on effect of too little charge from the PV panel from a fault or corrosion, like I have, or too little sun light or just not enough solar panels for the boats power consumption.

We had to redesign the back deck of Osiyeza to take the massive panels. I did not want to be in a situation as described above. I have 470Watts of PV Panels which is a LOT. I also chose the best flexible marine panels in the market and imported them from Italy. The Super Rugged Solbian panels are completely waterproof and tough enough to walk on. They are glued to the back deck with pre attached 3M peel and stick.

The wiring runs inside a watertight buoyancy box.  Basically, the top half of the back deck, so “should” have no contact with sea water. The wire connectors are also waterproof so if water does get in then it should still not be a problem.

For them to fail means that both defences have been breached.

We know water got into the sealed buoyancy box. The second defence breach I am yet to identify. Is it the connectors or the panel junction box?

To access the wires an inspection hole will need to be cut into the side of Osiyeza that is big enough to get hands and equipment inside. Then it’s to identify where the leak is and seal it. Once that’s completed the inspection hole that was cut out needs to be bonded back in place making sure that the hull is still structured sound.

And that’s if it’s not a problem with a panel. In that case I would have to remove the faulty panel and find a replacement. Not a small job and let’s not forget Osiyeza is constructed out of carbon fibre so a little more skill and material is required.

2) From discussions over the past two days with several experts it seems the autopilot system will need to be redesigned, manufactured, installed, and tested. Not a small project.

The autopilot cable inside Osiyeza.

3) A solution to stopping the air that is being sucked in through the water maker intake needs to be found. With Osiyeza being so light the water intake is only 200mm below the waterline and with all the rocking and rolling air bubbles get sucked in along with the water. I did install a small sea chest to remove the air bubbles but 200mm is just not enough height for it to work in anything other than flat water.

4) The solution to the chart plotter GPS signal is to find and install an external antenna.

Chartplotter hanging by strings to get better GPS signal.

5) The rudder had a loud knocking noise which I think is the movement between the pin and bush. How serious an issue this is I don’t know but it needs to be looked at.

6) My floating bridle is cunning design but a practical failure. It needs to be redesigned.

7) The seat is super comfy, but it’s not made to be used 24/7. I need to find someone who can make up a new cover.

8) The canard cover was ripped off while on sea anchor. This needs to be replaced and hopefully the modified bridle system will avoid a repeat.

With all these items to attend to we have made the call to get Osiyeza back to Cape Town where the marine industry is best equipped to assist. We hope to have her on a truck and in Cape Town this weekend. I plan to fly back on Friday after loading Osiyeza onto the truck.

Hopefully it’s a quick turn around with no major hiccups.

Plan D

Right now, is to get Osiyeza back to Walvis Bay ASAP to continue the crossing to Salvador.

Fingers crossed 🤞🤞🤞🤞🤞🤞🤞

No of smiles changed: 20. Thank you to everyone who has donated.

Walvis Bay

My first shower in 16 days was glorious. I was convinced that I had started getting a bit of a tan but much to my disappointment it seemed to wash away down the drain.

I am trying to scribe this blog sandwiched between white 1000 count Egyptian cotton sheets with soft fluffy pillows. All very surreal and a little eery with everything still and quiet.

My eyelids feel like lead. My brain feels like a television screen without reception. That snow pattern. I fell asleep twice before accepting the blog will have to be completed tomorrow.

14hrs later I return to the world with many questions needing answers.

The day and night before arriving was intense. The wind had increased with the forecast suggesting gust of 40knt. Not something you want to hear when you thought you had reached your limit already.

Maverick and Goose had finally crashed and burned. Flown their final hop.

I was left to steer through the night and then some more. That’s a tough ask normally but when the waves are breaking over the stern and the white water pushes over you back and head and floods the cockpit it’s an impossible ask.

Chris Bertish encourages you to change the impossible to “I’m Possible” and with little options I followed his lead.

I build a lot of character that night. I swore at myself. I crapped myself. Gave myself a long lecture and made all sorts of promises about “never again” and so on. It’s buried someplace in the back of my mind where it waits patiently until that moment it jumps out and shout “TOLD YOU SO”

One moment when I thought things might not end well was when a thunderous wave smashed into Osiyeza shoving her forward. Her nose started to drop and drop. It felt like we were tipping over the edge of a precipice. Instinctively I pushed myself into the seat as far back as I could. Not that this would make any difference.

Down the precipice dropped Osiyeza in the pitch dark.  Water spraying outwards from the bow. She was surfing down the face of large wave.

What lay at the bottom for us I did not know? Where we going to nosedive or pitch pole.

I did not know. Thankfully nothing untoward happen.

Osiyeza has a massive amount of bouncy in the bow and she took it all in her stride. I could feel that she was a little disappointed in my lack of faith in her, but she earned a bucket load of respect from me right there and then.

Mercifully the conditions calmed down relatively quickly. Had it not I would have needed to deploy the sea anchor which I had prepared the morning before in anticipation of these conditions.

By daybreak I was so tired I could hardly function but when daylight hits the retina the body somehow flips some switches, and you are alert again. The body is quite something. Sure, this new alertness does not last terribly long but it certainly makes a difference.

By now I could hear the waves breaking on the beach to my right but could not see the shore. There was a light haze and visibility was less than a mile.

We had set up several contact schedules through the night with the shore team. The challenge for me was I needed to be in the cockpit steering when usually I am inside for the communications.

The problem with being outside, besides having to use the phone in a waterproof pouch is that I am sitting right in front of the satellite antennae. There are warning stickers all over it indicating that a safe distance of 1.5m must be kept from it when in use.

Not sure how much of my brain I nuked but on the bright side perhaps the “told you so” bit has been erased. 😉 I know some might argue there was not much to nuke anyway. 😎

As I got to Pelican Point, which is the Harbour limit, I spotted a boat coming my way. It was Ciske one our Namibian surf ski friends. They had come out to tow me into the harbour. What a relief it was to finally arrive in Walvis Bay

The seven days since changing the “Go West plan” to “Go East self-rescue plan” have been the most challenging that I can recall. I know it’s not saying much because I am so forgetful, but it was truly physically and mentally tough.

What’s next?

First is to do the official paperwork.

My 16 days if self-isolation apparently does not count so I need to go and get a PCR test and if negative I can clear in with customs and Immigration. 🙃🤣

As for Osiyeza I am trying to formulate the quickest but best plan to get her ship shape and back on route towards Brazil.

Bird of the day: Flamingo. Lots of them in the shallows around the yacht club.
Position: WALVIS BAY


Day 15

The ocean has gone from a deep crystal blue colour to a strange green. The wind has turned a little cooler. Not a cloud in the sky. Classic sunburn weather. I suspect that the Agulhas current is stronger closer to the shore and that’s the reason for the good milage. 👍

Had a brief chat to a Mersk ship to remind him about little old me bobbing over here in front of him.

In a captain authoritarian voice, he commanded that he will pass 1nm away and then wished me a Happy New Year. Not long after that he was just a speck on the horizon.

Yes, it’s the last day of 2021. When you read this, it will be 2022.


And to my new Brazilian friends


I had some mates over for a new year bash. They are a rather strange bunch but nagging similar.

ETA Walvis Bay should be early Monday. 🤞🤞

Bird if the day. A White-chinned Procellarias Petrel.