28-31 Jan08 Kirstenbosch Gdns - Sugarbird

Today was mainly calm & hot under a clear blue sky - several cruisers have left, taking advantage of the lack of a strong headwind. This morning, a sealion was catching several big squid right off my stern & later decided to rest on the dock nearby. The many seabirds (mainly gulls & cormorants)on the low floating boom a short distance away were keeping up their usual squawking and amusing, noisy arguments.

I had been considering using my own dive gear to clean the keel and change the prop anode, rather than using the rather dodgy-looking haul-out set-up here - but rapidly changed my mind when someone casually mentioned that Great Whites were regularly visited by tourist-boats in this bay (False Bay)- and one was often seen in the marina area..! I didn't fancy putting myself on the menu .... so I've arranged for the local (fearless!)diver to come in a few days' time when, hopefully, I'm closer to leaving for Luderitz in Namibia.

Yesterday afternoon, I went with friends Andy & Alison to a restaurant ('Wild Fig')her chef brother helps run - lovely lunch in a historic setting - and then on to the Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens (the equivalent of Kew Gardens)- a beautiful setting under the dramatic Lion's Head and Castle Peak mountains with lots of interesting native Cape plants & flowers, of course, and quite a few birds new to me also. 

On Monday, they'd taken me to the Cecil Rhodes monument - a fabulous viewpoint high up overlooking Cape Town, with a good, shady 'tearoom'! We also went to a couple of wineries in Constantia - lovely old buildings and settings & interesting free 'tastings'. It's a lovely drive over the mountains to Cape Town from here. I must try to get out to Castle Point & Table Mountain sometime. On the way back, I got diesel in jerry cans & spent a time today transferring it into the fuel tanks - but I still need lots more.

The riggers got going also on Wednesday and have done quite well, all the necessary end terminals/toggles having been kindly sent out earlier this month from Sweden by Mats-Uno Frederiksen of Selden - for which I'm very grateful. All shrouds except the forestay are now replaced - but some of the chain-plates need re-bedding. Baden, excellent at both racing and steelwork, is fabricating a spinnaker fitting for the bow - hopefully I won't trash the pulpit again as I did racing out to Hawaii in the Single-Handed TransPac of '06!! He's also incorporating a stronger bow-roller fitting for the anchors.

I changed the oil in both the generator and main engine(always a messy, time-consuming business) & (unusually!) didn't have too much trouble with fitting the new filter this time, although I did manage to cut my fingertip quite deeply, as usual, on the sharp edge of the oil wrench... I had hoped to change the gear oil and primary fuel filter today but that's now on tomorrow's joblist! Items ticked off now also include general engine maintenance checks - seawater strainer, belts, etc (engine mount nut was off again on arrival here so I've now put it back with some Nutlock - we'll see how long that lasts...) I did some whipping of fraying rope ends and a sailmaker came by to advise/quote on a new light-air sail (& took the sail-cover away for further repair work). It would be nice to be able to sail more easily in really light airs, rather than sitting becalmed or having to start the motor...! I've also been working on improving further my mains'l preventer set-up, making it easier to change over when gybing.

The replacement filter holder for the watermaker is proving difficult to find - of course, they mainly have metric items here, so it's not so easy to find Imperial items, as used in the USA. Have electrical guy coming Friday - I can't see why the generator is not putting out charge despite the motor working happily and the belt looking OK... Also I must try to find time to have another look at my shore supply problem - I must try changing the plug onto cable I know is fine to see if that fixes the problem.

Radioworks in the US have informed me that the line isolator & ferrites I ordered in the New Year were posted on 4th January to Royal Cape Y.C. - should have arrived by now but no sign of it... but the wi-fi aerial I got from Radiolabs is working fine for Internet access here - I've put it on the mast as high as it will reach. Two success stories, after weeks of trying, are that I finally managed the Iridium data connection for emails & weather info - so I now have good backup for the SSB radio when connection proves difficult or impossible - & I've also finally sorted out (both with Jim Corenman's help) the problem I was having with the automatic frequency tuning for Sailmail/Winlink stations - turned out to be a simple matter of NOT checking the PTC-IIpro RS-232 box in the Airmail Options Connection window... !!! I've also 'persuaded' the InmarsatC terminal to work properly - so often, simply taking plugs/connections apart & cleaning & replacing them seems to fix problems... So that's mainly good news on the communications side.... several persistent & time-consuming problems overcome - for now!! Now I have to re-make the aerial connection to the new backstay, after renewing the plastic pipe protection, & attach it with cable ties using plastic separators (bits of pipe!)so it stands proud of the backstay - supposed to make for better transmitting...

I can't believe it's almost February already - I feel there's so much still to do on "Nereida".... but I need to move north as soon as the important jobs are completed.... hopefully sometime next week.

Written by : Mike

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