Written by: Galen Salgado
A few days before the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show, I sat down with South African skipper, Steele Greyling to learn more about bluewater sailing amid a global pandemic. Steele was ashore for a few days between deliveries; having recently sailed across the Atlantic Ocean and up through the Caribbean during one of the most active hurricane seasons on record.
Read on for insight from a skilled skipper who just sailed non stop from Cape Town, South Africa to Grenada, and is about to embark on a journey from Mexico to Turkey…….this is some serious social distancing!
Q: Where does this story start?
A: In late August, I joined my good friend Dylan Le Roux and oversaw the launch of a newly built Balance 526 Catamaran in St Francis Bay, South Africa. I love sailing the reputed Indian Ocean! From there, we rounded Africa’s famed Cape of Good Hope and headed into Cape Town for final preparations ahead of a nonstop 5,700 nautical mile passage.
Q: How did the pandemic affect your preparations?
A: In an ever changing environment, we had to be very diligent, do our research thoroughly and be even more self sufficient than normal. With less ports of refuge available, potential quarantine restrictions in place, and uncertainty abound- we provisioned for significantly longer periods. We also sailed the boat more conservatively than usual.
Q: What advice would you give to someone who wanted to set out on this type of epic sailing adventure?
A: Have respect for the sea and the journey you are about to embark on. As a RYA Yachtmaster Instructor, I recommend participating in formal training where you will learn everything you can about how to sail the boat. A lot of people jump on a boat without knowing anything and can get it horribly wrong. Mother Nature is something you do not want to play around with.
Q: Cape Town to Carriacou is quite a distance, how long did the voyage take?
A: We were at sea for 28 days, pretty quick! We averaged 200 nautical miles a day, covering 239 nautical miles on our best day and 185 nautical miles on our slowest. We were sailing 9 knots downwind most of the time. It was awesome!
Q: What do you do during your down time on a long passage?
A: People do really different things with their off time on long passages. Some read books and watch movies. Personally, I get as much good sleep as possible so I can be ready for anything that may come up.
Q: What do you enjoy most about being at sea?
A: I enjoy being totally immersed in nature. I really do love it. It is nice to slow down to see how things change. Everyday is different and those new experiences are what keep me going.
Q: What was your experience with clearances into Grenada?
A: Simple and straightforward. We arrived at Tyrell Bay, Carriacou on 5 October and contacted the authorities. Completed our tests, paperwork and that was it. Easy, really.
Q: What was the weather like while sailing from Grenada to the US?.
A: “Lekker” [An Afrikaans word meaning superb or fantastic]. Recognizing we were still in hurricane season, we watched the weather closely. Good weather seems to follow us around!
Q: Where do you go from here?
A: A few more localized deliveries in the Caribbean to Miami. After which I will fly to Cancun, Mexico to pick up a Leopard 48. We have been asked to sail east across the Atlantic Ocean and into the Mediterranean with a final destination of Turkey. This is another big voyage as winter approaches in the Northern Hemisphere.
We wish Steel fair winds on his next journey and look forward hearing all about it!