Our day started at 08:50 with a moderate chop, bright sunshine and light cloud as we made good progress towards Cape Town at 26S 14E.
By noon, still travelling in a south south-easterly direction, we had reached 27S 15E. We were travelling at 15 knots against a 35mph headwind and 9ft waves which may mean our arrival in Cape Town is delayed because for safety, speed needs to be reduced in such seas, but by clinging to the coast the Captain may be able to escape the worst of the sea. By the time of writing (mid-afternoon) this may have paid off because the sea is much more settled and he may be able to increase speed.
As we near the end of our journey we have already travelled way beyond any place that Henry the Navigator found. His mapping of the West African coast did, however, prepare the way for others during the 16th century and later voyages, such as our own. The gold trade from West Africa spurred Henry on to find a sea route to the gold fields. At this time, however, sailors had ventured no further south than Cape Bojador (in Arabic – Bon Khatar; Father of Dangers) at around 130 miles south of the Canary Islands on Africa’s Atlantic coast. The Portuguese rounded it in 1434, returning to Sagres safely and against the wind using the lateen sails of the caravels. This method of tacking was new to the west but had been used in the eastern Mediterranean for centuries. By 1441 Cape Blanco had been reached and in 1445 the mouth of the Senegal River. In 1487 Bartolomeu Dias set sail from Portugal and six months later rounded Cape Agulhas, the southernmost point of Africa (east of the Cape of Good Hope) proving that it was possible to circumnavigate Africa. He ventured a little further north on the east coast before returning to the Cape of Good Hope which today is a translation of the name he gave it, “Cabo de Boã Esperança”. This voyage paved the way for the big one – Vasco de Gama’s voyage to find India. Leaving Lisbon in July 1487 he explored the Indian Ocean but everywhere he went there was resistance from local traders to the Portuguese business endeavours. He had found at least one place in India, but the mission was not a great success, and we are unsure as to where he actually went. Though as we saw in Portimão there was much made of what he did.
Ship Alert! We caught a glimpse in the mirror at 17:00 of a tanker heading northeast. Photographs to prove that there is life out there.