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4th Dec 07: Zululand Y.C., Richards Bay - lots of repairs ...and socializing with other cruisers

4th December '07

Having come around to the Zululand Y.C. early last week, I've been enjoying their hospitality and sociable 'club' atmosphere most evenings. Inexpensive meals make cooking pointless, my snooker shots are improving & I'm getting to hear a lot about S. Africa (mostly from the Afrikaaners' point of view, admittedly, but also with a touch of Zulu!). Shopping is difficult, although people have been quick to offer lifts - but I've been up to my eyes in repairs so have not taken up the offers very often.
The Commodore is a really friendly guy & invited me home last Friday for a 'braai' with his family and some friends- a very nice gesture, as was his insistence in giving me some champagne to celebrate my arrival in S. Africa on my circumnavigation!

The weather is a constant topic of discussion - more so than in the UK, if that's possible!!The wind switches almost instantly from NE to SW - NE bringing clear sunny weather, SW bringing overcast skies & rain. 'SW busters' come up regularly from the
Southern Ocean and affect all the eastern S. African coast - it's not possible to head south in the face of one so a constant eye is kept on the weather, looking for a weather window, by all wanting to go S towards Cape Town. 30-40 boats headed down last week and a lot ended up in Mossel Bay to wait for weather to get around Cape Agulhas.

The local Ham and weather nets are run by Fred (Peri Peri Net) and Alistair (Ham Net) - both of whom I met on Sunday at Alistair's house surrounded by sugar-cane fields south of Durban at his 28th annual 'yachtie' get-together & braai. Fabulous cakes cooked by his wife Davina with help from grand-daughter Sarah made an excellent breakfast with coffee on arriving at 8.30 am after an early start (6am!) from Richards Bay. I got to see the coastal area on the drive down and back with two other cruising
couples - and we narrowly missed being involved in a big pile-up on the motorway just before sunset.

My fridge is finally working again (with a new compressor), with a thorough cleaning of the interior being called for after finding it crawling with 'beasties' from some 'blue cheese' which had been allowed to get too warm...!

The main engine is also fine now, after the seawater pump was overhauled, although the impeller had to be changed a second time today after I moved to refuel & found very little cooling water was coming through - the engine had overheated on coming around from Tuzi Gazi last week and that had damaged the previous new impeller.

The generator start motor was finally fixed today and all seemed fine - until mechanic Frank discovered that the exhaust manifold was holed and giving off exhaust gases into the engine compartment - very unsafe, so I was pleased he found that problem now, in time to get it dealt with before I leave here early next week (welding of a new aluminium plate over the damaged area is needed).

The mainsail & cover are being repaired by Quantum Sails of Durban. I still have yet to get up the mast with the genoa unfurled in calm weather (it's been too windy) to see why the genoa wouldn't hoist fully after it fell down at sea recently...

I spent ages yesterday manually transferring stored diesel from jerry cans into the fuel tank, ready for refuelling today - which also took a long time and meant having to motor over to the fuel dock where I stayed overnight (a power cut meant the fuel couldn't be pumped until power was restored mid-afternoon).

While the cockpit locker was relatively empty of jerry cans, etc, I investigated the shore power connection - thoroughly corroded wires and connectors showed up, as I'd suspected, so finding & connecting up new (tinned) wire and connections kept me busy.

More washing/rinsing of lines & sheets is ongoing..... as is the attempt to prevent the chaos down below from degenerating further whilst repairs are being carried out, with the consequent rooting around under bunks & in lockers for bits & pieces.... I'm having to sleep in the main cabin for the moment.

A visit to the Home Affairs Dept was needed, in the Richards Bay Mall area, to get a document verifying my status as a skipper of a yacht here at the ZLYC, ready for my return here in early January from London. Without it, the S. African Immigration officials were likely not to let me into the country without evidence of a return flight out.

My main computer is still not 'seeing' modems (phone/wi-fi/bluetooth) & the 'back-up' is not quite 100% either, although at least now I can access the Internet to deal with emails - via my cellphone as modem, so neither very fast nor convenient, especially since it seems to gobble up time on pre-pay vouchers & run out of battery power too quickly. With no shops very close by, keeping up with prepay time becomes quite an important issue, since it cannot be topped up by credit card.

Last night was 'braai' night - very cold, so I kept working until late and then went over just for a chat, after cooking myself a meal onboard.

Some other important jobs are still outstanding, but hopefully things will improve once the engine & generator are finished
with so I can tidy up and pack away properly. I shall be moving to a new slip tomorrow, after joining an Australian family for breakfast on their boat. A new arrival in the area is an 84ft junk-rigged ferro-cement boat crewed by volunteers - 'Heraklitus' is a fascinatingly different boat from 'Nereida'!!

Written by : Mike

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