October is fast disappearing - and still I've a list of work waiting to be completed on board.... (I'd hoped to be in Saldanha by now, relaxing and maybe writing...)
My latest on the slow pace of work.....
Q: "Why is Cape Town called the 'Mother City'?
A: "Because it takes nine months to get anything done!"
The staysail chainplate was (with great difficulty) removed and re-bedded - clearly much-needed ... that should stop the seawater leaking down into the forepeak as it has done badly so often when at sea. The stern arch leakage was also dealt with - not so much the footplates needing re-bedding as the upright poles having a good-sized unsealed gap around their base, letting in seawater over the upstand inside, as the water washed the side and aft decks in big seas. That took a long time to deal with - but now it's done, it has meant that the wiring coming down inside the pole could be re-done and all the connections better made. Some new wires have been laid from there to the chart table - that always gets interesting! - but it gave me the chance to clean a lot of bilge and floor areas!
The radar has a new housing - the old one was letting in some water where a rubber was missing so I was lucky it still functioned OK. The AP needs re- calibrating after some instruments and AP parts have been serviced or replaced - I'll need to go out sailing to do that & to make sure all is well once all wiring and instrument issues are finished with. The fridge is now working with a new digital thermostat, although it's waiting for some new pipe insulation and the light to be connected up. A new cold-plate was installed after being welded up once the copper pipework inside had been tested for no leaks.
My big news as of yesterday - I've been invited to meet the Queen at Buckingham Palace on 8th December...! I got the message as I was on my way into Cape Town to enjoy the celebrations of the 'Opening of the Cruising Season' at the Royal Cape Y.C. - a fun day and evening, with a short time on the choppy water watching the dressed boats parade past the Commodore, followed by plenty of socialising and dancing (on land!).
Earlier this month, I re-visited the Waterfront where the 'Clipper' crews were busy with final preparations for the Race start on Wednesday 5th... Many novices were among them, given jobs according to their available skills... Lots of checking over of deck gear, repairing & servicing of winches and blocks, splicing where ends of lines had chafed, some washing of fruit & veg,..... Weather bright and sunny... SE wind forecast - not very strong and so the first day or more expected to be rather slow.
I helped take 'Lobelia' around to Royal Cape Y.C. from Simon's Town under a hot cloudless sky - motoring all the way from 0645-1400 in very little wind! SE on the nose in False Bay and not enough wind to sail once we'd rounded Cape Pt - my 4th time around the Cape of Good Hope! We kept fairly close in when rounding the point, as last time - but kept well away from Anvil and Bellows rocks! Interestingly different to helm a light-weight race boat with its enormous wheel. Lots of seals were seen lying on their backs, flippers in air.... also a whale and several dolphins came by. My face got quite sunburnt while helming!
The stern lazarettes' drainage was improved by altering pipework and I also want to improve the locking down of their lids. A lot of time has been spent on the Internet and Skype, chasing items not available here and also looking for sponsorship.... still one or two possibilities...but generally, the answer has been - "No money available .... but maybe we can offer help in kind."
I found space in the engine compartment to stow spare Hydrovane vanes, which gets those out of my way, and I also screwed in another steel restraint to stop plates falling about in rough seas. I'm now looking around at improving stowage of food items on my long passages - I've been given three sturdy crates but the problem is where and how to fix them so they're safe but still accessible in bad weather.
I managed just one walk on Table Mt which started out along the walk up to Devil's Peak, but turned off along a contour path - a pleasant, easy walk - with lots of flowers, now spring is well- advanced.
By the gate at the entrance to the Y.C. was a bright carpet of flowers:
I stayed overnight at a lovely B&B on the beachfront in Saldanha, with a view over to the Bay entrance, fishing harbour and Y.C. moorings
These gaily-coloured birds were unafraid as they splashed in the fountain. Ostrich farms were plentiful - the big, black and white birds were unmistakeable!
From there, I drove on north to Paternoster - now full of beach houses and surfers, but clearly once a quiet little fishing village:
A brief stop at the white-sand beach with small fishing boats and rocky outcrops in places - before heading on to the marina at Port Owen a short distance further up the coast. My idea was to investigate places I was thinking of sailing to - I was given a very friendly welcome in both places and both told me I must take "Nereida" there! My other reason for making the trip was to try to see the carpets of flowers I was told were so impressive in spring - but I was either too late in the season or, as someone later told me, I didn't go far north enough.... Up near Springbok was the place to be... But I did wander mistakenly into a private area with a string of beautiful racehorses being exercised amid some lovely open countryside - where I spotted a beautifully-marked, small tortoise.
The area around False Bay and the mountain drive over to Cape Town never fail to impress me with the lovely scenery. I stopped off at Kalk Bay for a fish meal last Sunday - to find live jazz being played while the swell smashed against and over the harbour wall close by.
Last Tuesday, I enjoyed a concert at the old Klein Constantia wine cellar given by the Cape Philharmonic - mainly pieces I knew well but had mostly not heard live.
I've also spent a little time helping Diana Doyle who has been working hard, trying to organize a worldwide cruisers' seabird count in December....
Are you a birder? Are you a boater? Do you have a friend with a seaworthy boat? Go out for a sail or motor for the inaugural "SeaBC" Sea Bird Count! It’s like a Christmas Bird Count (as takes place in many different countries around the globe), but where you count birds at sea, rather than on land. Choose your weather day in December and count all the birds you see for a few hours or an entire day.
The SeaBC was created to raise awareness among long-distance boaters from around the world & to record their seabird observations. You may be a landlubber, but if you know birds, team up with a boating friend to add to the count!
This will be the first ever worldwide seabird count, to our knowledge – be a part of it!
"The SeaBC benefits seabird conservation by mobilizing the worldwide boating community to document ocean bird sightings, providing critical and otherwise seldom-recorded data on seabird numbers and distribution and on ocean migration routes."
For additional information, including tally sheets, go to www.Facebook.com/Birding.Aboard and select "SeaBC/Resources".
A few more flowering plants on the contour Path walk: