S/V Nereida sails around the world

Tues 26th Feb08 About to leave Namibia for St Helena

Today I managed to re-stitch the tapes holding the mainsail to the mast cars - one was completely undone and another about to be so ... I couldn't believe how skimpily Quantum in Durban had stitched them when asked to re-do them for me recently precisely because I was unhappy with the state of the stitching there after my Indian Ocean crossing. (I should add that Quantum in Cape Town, & Mark in particular, were very good, being helpful & thorough, working over a weekend to get work done in time for me). It took a bit of effort to re-connect the sail to the mast, not helped by the height of the cars & a brisk wind.... I managed to bruise/crush one finger tip when the cars above the one I was dealing with slid down onto it suddenly...ouch!! I shall have to keep an eye on the remainder of the tapes that they don't come undone.

Harry on 'Rhiannon' left before midday and Dieter on 'Amazon' is already on passage - both making for St Helena & then the Caribbean. I went ashore to do my final provisioning, clear Customs & Immigration & see Heiko & family to say farewell. I stayed for a braai & they later helped me down to the dinghy dock, laden with water, UHT milk & food.

Come morning, before the wind gets up strongly, as it really does most days, I need to lift the outboard & raise, deflate & pack away the dinghy. Once I've stowed food etc safely away & tidied up ready for passage-making, I'll be able to leave for St Helena.

Fri/Sat 21/22 Feb08 Luderitz, Namibia

Thursday night, there was finally lovely moonshine - & no fog!! With a clear, starry sky, I could actually see - so much better than Wed night when I had to stay awake so much, keeping an eye on ships around as 'seen' on AIS. I'd had to call several - none knew I was there otherwise - don't think many are bothering with their radar.... No visual on any of them, even though several passed fairly close by.

I managed to keep our speed down around 5 knots or less, although in strong wind conditions that proved very difficult... no genoa + triple-reefed main, centred in a following breeze!! That ploy just about worked & meant I neared Luderitz Bay in daylight rather than having to make a night entry. If I'd had to, I probably could have done, but I prefer to see what's going on in daylight. The wind was consistently up around 20-25kn, ending on a beam reach as we turned the 'corner' to come towards the entrance channel here. I put out some jib to steer better (with just the main, kept tending to head up, of course) and ended up having a nice gentle sail as the sun rose. Fog had come down again overnight, so it was nice to find myself in clear conditions as I got close... and managed to sail most of the way in, only having to put on the motor as I headed south towards the mooring buoys. I picked up a buoy with no trouble in fairly calm conditions with a touch of ebb tide to help.

Luderitz is an intriguing place - a mix of desert (I can see dunes from the harbour), Africa (really feel I'm in Africa with mainly black faces around) & Germany (many old buildings dating from turn of 20th century with a definite German look), with many German-speaking folk around & street names in German. Then there's the fishing & diamond-mining side - lots of working fish boats (many catch crayfish) around me here as well as boats with long pipes which go out to suck up diamond-bearing gravel from the sea-bed to bring back here for processing.

Immigration took no time at all (none of S. Africa's long form-filling!) & when I asked if I needed to go to Customs the guy asked if I had anything to declare .... "No need, then", he said...! I was rowed to shore & shown the way by another single-hander I knew from Simon's Town... & there were 3 other boats I know here... we're all following the same trail to St Helena & on over, of course. I celebrated arrival by going for a nice coffee & chocolate cake!!

I pumped up my dinghy & got the outboard on after a nap in the afternoon, not having had so much sleep overnight - that's the problem with a morning entry - you're so near to shore & possible boats etc, it's difficult to rest properly.

Heiko from 'Stenella' came by to see me when he spotted me entering the harbour (he & family just completed their 10-yr circumnavigation). I first met them in Cocos Keeling. I'm still debating whether to take time out to go to Windhoek to see friends there - but it's such a long way from here...

I spent part of Friday evening trying to sort out some of my shorting 12V circuit problems ... managed to make matters worse in that one outlet which had been working fine no longer is... grrr!!

Saturday morning went by very quickly with a leisurely breakfast and visits from people. I hadn't finally woken up until after 10 o'clock, despite first waking around sunrise - making up on lost sleep again! I heard voices and found a rowboat headed my way. The owner of my mooring, Bjorn, wanted to check how long I intended staying, since his diamond-dredging boat was due back sometime early next week. He agreed I could stay but I said I'd keep my VHF on so he could contact me if his skipper came back needing the mooring before I left. I can easily slip my line & drop my anchor nearby if needs be.

I made my way up to Heiko & Diane's house high up overlooking the harbour, soaking wet from an unintended swim... I had misjudged my approach to the dinghy dock & over-reached... fortunately no harm done & the sun was shining! The local SWAPO supporters were having a rally nearby with much singing & dancing - ladies in lovely dresses and headgear were happy to have their photos taken. The atmosphere around town is very relaxed & friendly.

Diane insisted I have an immediate shower and change of clothes while she put my laundry into her new machine. Later, I headed out with Heiko & their sons to Agate Beach, with its mini sand dunes downwind from each of the many tiny shrubs, to look for ....agates! The scenery en route was dramatic, being right on the edge of the desert with slightly pink, high sand dunes close by and several springbok grazing near to the dusty road. At the edge of a lake made by the outflow from the local water purification plant were lots of pink flamingos feeding and at one point we saw several Nile geese.

The evening was rounded off with other friends arriving for a braai of crayfish and meat accompanied by salads - Stefan is clearly good at catching crayfish & is hoping to get plenty more in the morning at low water.

By the way, Heiko tells me that the patches of red sea I saw were the fatal 'red tide' which causes crayfish (and presumably other sea-creatures) to die from oxygen starvation - they can be seen crawling onto the beaches and collapsing.

Sun/Mon 24/25th Feb08

Sunday

Went with Heiko & sons crayfishing in Grossebucht and Essie Bay, on the west coast, in the morning at low water - or, rather, son Stefan went to catch the crayfish (wearing TWO wetsuits plus an essential neoprene helmet) while I walked around or sat and enjoyed the scenery! Stefan got twelve legal-sized crayfish - he measured as he caught them & returned under-sized ones immediately. They're very strict here & liable to put up road blocks to check on people's catch. The rock formations were fascinating
- these are the oldest rocks in the world and clearly volcanic in origin, well worn, often stratified & with lots of rose quartz embedded n them.

I was then taken first to Diaz Point, with its replica of the original cross put up by Diaz, to see the view & the seals on Halifax Island, & then we went for a 'scenic drive' in Heiko's new 4-wheel-drive car into the desert nearby - pinkish sand, lots more old worn rocks and lots of different scrubby plants, many with tiny flowers. We nearly got stuck in one place on a steep section of the sandy track - but the drive proved its worth!

After helping to eat some of the smaller of the crayfish I came back to the boat to get some work done - I've been well looked after by Diane & Heiko, getting out & about or simply chatting, ever since getting here & needed to sort out a few things on "Nereida'.

I came past the very pleasant, newly-built premises of the 'Yacht Club' - more a popular bar for the locals than a yacht club (very few local yachts here & no slips!!) but it does have showers.

One of the things I did was to look over my forthcoming passages in detail - handy to have the Nobeltec charting software which makes that all so very easy! I checked on total distances for each passage and estimated the time needed for each (on the basis of 120ml days - hopefully, they'll be nearer 150ml days, but there are sure to be slower ones). I should be transiting Panama in early May.

Monday

I'd hoped to sew the tapes between my mainsail batten ends and cars - one had come completely undone getting here. First I had to release the sailcover & undo the batten end connections in order to take the sail off the mast. The wind gets up strongly after midday, often becoming around 30 knots - as today. By the time I'd stitched a torn telltale back in place, released & untangled the twisted sailcover, re-tied the reef lines and slowly & painfully (literally - it hurt my hand & fingertips!)
persuaded the jammed zip along the foot of the sail connecting the cover to do up, it was far too windy to remove any part of the sail from the mast - so that's now tomorrow's job.

I came below & found & sorted through my paper charts, ready for the next few passages - across the Atlantic via St Helena to Fernando da Noronha, on to Trinidad (for wind-generator and watermaker parts), through the Caribbean via Bonaire & on to Panama.... two months of long passagemaking with a maximum of four stops.

Wed/Thurs 20/21 Feb08

I'm now (Wed) 2 1/2 days out from Cape Town, headed up to Namibia before crossing over to St Helena & then Brazil. We're 'creaming' along nicely at 7.2 kn in nearly 20kn from S, with the occasional spurt as we try to surf in the building 3m SW swell. There's a little bit of helpful current - I always like to see that!

I've seen quite a few different birds (lots of terns here) but it's frustrating not having an adequate bird book with me!

Had a weird sight mid-morning: we passed through a deep pink portion of seawater - & there were lots of other pink areas in sight - no obvious jellyfish/seaweed cause (the water was coloured - it was not something floating on top) & depth was 166m, so I wonder what it was due to. I wonder if anyone reading this has a good idea?

The wind & seas got up really strongly last night and there was a really heavy dew with everything on top, cockpit included, sopping wet. We nearly shipped water into the cockpit several times, with frequent, slightly-breaking crests on big, quartering swell. I stayed mainly down below & cooked myself a nice meal! With the wind well over 20 knots, I went to reef down & had a bit of a problem - turned out one of the newly-sewn tapes attaching a sail batten end to a mast-track car had come adrift...
grr!! So much for relying on professional (Quantum, in Durban) expertise... I'm glad I'm headed to Luderitz (Namibia) before my Atlantic crossing - I'll have to deal with it there. Interestingly, the shallow alarm went off frequently last night in the swell - the water disturbance clearly causing that .... but that wasn't the case the other morning...!

Early in the morning, I noticed the vang/mast connection was coming loose - had to tighten it up quite a bit to stop movement in the swell - black metal dust marks from the wear were visible on deck.... not good news! I'll have to keep a good eye on that.

Sailmail connection for emails seems to be working reasonably but not Winlink - I'm having to use my (fast!) Iridium data connection for that (for my regular daily Position Report).

Thursday

It has been grey, damp, cold & murky all day, brightening up a little around midday.

There was supposed to be a lunar eclipse overnight, being full moon - but it was way too foggy to see anything!! The cold, dripping fog came with nightfall last night when I was off the Orange River and the S.A./Namibia border. I found several ships around, some at anchor, some under way - but none were seen through the fog, only on the AIS screen, with radar not very helpful. I called some to make sure they knew I was in their path or to check if they were at anchor... !

At least the full moon lit up the fog - it was almost like being in early evening twilight all night long - helpful for working on deck when I had to take down the whisker pole with the wind having changed direction - I ended up motoring for some time in almost no wind.

The Captain of 'Delmar Atlantic' was very helpful & informative. I'd called him up near midday on VHF16, having heard him talking to another ship nearby, to ask if he'd mind chatting a bit when he wasn't too busy with his work. I wanted to find out what all the ships around were doing & to get some local info - on shoals etc!! He told me that diamond-mining was what they were all concerned with - the bit on his ship's drill was 7m across and 80 (or 800??) kg in weight & most ships were converted
from diving operations. (I'd seen a ship, 'Neptune Explorer', with a high drill-rig on deck slowly coming towards Mossel Bay in January on its way to Cape Town for maintenance - it was moving no faster than 'Nereida'!) He also reassured me about shoals in the area - "no problem" so long as I was over 1-2 miles from shore. He reckoned my shallow depth readings were caused by the numerous big shoals of fish hereabouts - I've certainly seen lots of birds going after fish here. He also gave me some
useful advice on Luderitz & the entry there. I should have asked him about the red-coloured patches of sea I saw...

I'm keeping well-reefed down to keep our speed to below 5 knots in order to make Luderitz in daylight tomorrow morning. I'd looked at the distance yesterday and realized that, since we couldn't guarantee keeping up an average speed of well over 7 knots to get in before nightfall today, going slowly was the only viable alternative....

Mon/Tues 18/19 Feb08 The "Skeleton Coast" tries t o live up to its name!!

Mon/Tues 18/19th Feb 08

What a nightmare...! I woke up at one point, at 'oh-do-dark something',... to see 7m depth on the display across the cabin. Imagine my feelings as I rushed up on deck, expecting us to be in shallows close to shore, despite what the chart-plotter was showing - no such thing... the charted depth was well over 85m and we were still 15 miles off as we headed towards Lambert's Bay, hoping to see some inshore wildlife over the day.... I hurriedly turned us around to head back out to sea - and saw the
depth display fall even further... to 4m... ugh! It kept varying between 4m to 10m, occasionally plunging to over 100m before coming way up again for quite some time.
Having read & been told so much about dangerous shoaling off this coast (as well as frequent fog), with notes on the charts in this area stating "Uncharted Dangers: Due to possible existence of uncharted rocks & shoals, vessels should exercise extreme caution when navigating inside territorial (sic!!) waters", I concluded that this was what they were talking about... I turned tail & fled! And began to wonder about the point of coming up the coast if I wasn't going to be able to see much of it or
the wildlife around... Writing this, I wonder if I had some large fish sheltering under the boat...??!!! Or was it a thermal effect? Who knows? "Better to be safe than sorry"..."Discretion is the better part of valour" ...etc, etc. This is not a coast to get into trouble on when sailing alone, with 3-4m swell quite common & few inhabited parts ....although I have been impressed by the help the S.African Coastguard give people ... when they're close enough to do so.

All that excitement apart, it's been lovely sailing - in bright sun, wind abaft the beam, occasional poling out of the genoa (chance to try out my new pole - I had a few hiccups, now sorted, but it's so lovely & light, even I can move it about easily!). The swell has been mainly 3m but well spaced out so not a bad motion. BUT IT'S COLD!! In air temperature of 16C overnight & 21C over the day, feeling colder in the breeze, I'm in thick fleecy trousers, long ski socks & 2 fleece tops .. and that's
when down below! This, I gather, is the result of the cold Benguela current which runs along the coast.... Complete opposite to the Agulhas current off the East coast which made the sea far warmer (rather like the Gulf current in the N. atlantic) - I noticed an increase in temperature there of 4.5C.

After I left Cape Town yesterday morning, with dramatic Table Mt in the background, a solitary dolphin came up to bid me farewell..!

It's so nice to be sailing again, especially in such easy conditions. My only company today has been hearing CG or shipping/fishboats radio talk, flocks of terns and occasional other birds. (This evening I shall check in, if propagation permits, with some other boats which are heading to St Helena.) Being onshore and meeting people is fine & enjoyable in its way but this is something else... gives time to think/reflect ...and do a few more jobs! How lucky can you be??

More jobs before leaving Cape Town

Sat /Sun16/17th Feb08

By the time the riggers had finished drilling out the rivets and replacing with (shorter) screws, making sure the reefing blocks/cars inside the boom were finally able to move freely, it was late morning.  I rigged a flag halyard on the backstay, using a tiny block I attached to it, and hoisted a brand new 'red duster' (the previous C.A. blue ensign had been looking very tattered for some time now).

I don't know quite where the day went.... I spent some time on the Internet, using the convenient Club (free) computer, mixed some epoxy for some over-large screw holes in a few places and then drilled & replaced the screws - hopefully that will work. I had several visitors over the day - very friendly & sociable but definitely interrupts the work...!   spent a time double-checking things and clearing up metal bits etc ready to leave early in the morning - but that plan went by the board after 'Trudel' asked me to join them at "Panama Jack's" - a nearby restaurant - that evening.  We had a lovely meal and got back late.....  I didn't get up until 10 o'clock next morning!   I'd deliberately not set an alarm, knowing I was tired, but hadn't expected to sleep in quite so late.

I was supposed to be moving on today, but suddenly remembered my log impellor was stuck & not giving a speed/log display on the way around to here from Simon's Town (despite the diver's efforts at freeing the impellor a week ago). It needed withdrawing and cleaning - it was really encrusted with 'wormy' growth inside, so that was my morning job.  Then I decided to go up the mast to attach seine twine between mast steps and shrouds to prevent halyards catching.  Got interesting since wind gets strong off Table Mt every afternoon, gusting up to 30 knots - and, since Nereida is beam on to the wind direction at the fuel dock I'd moved to, she was really heeling over suddenly & often while I was up there!  Two good jobs done, though, ready for my forthcoming ocean crossing.

Tonight's job is to re-connect a cable into my autopilot remote control - it's been misbehaving for some time so I decided to investigate - one wire disconnected & another very loose.  Hopefully, an easy, quick after-dinner fix!

I should reach Luderitz (Namibia) by next weekend, stay a few days & then it's over to St Helena - everyone I speak to tells me how beautiful it is & that I really shouldn't pass close by & not visit the island where Napoleon was exiled.

Friday 15th Feb - Namibia here we come .. well, not quite..!!!

Well, I thought that having had three lots of good luck over the la7st two days, my passage to Luderitz was guaranteed to go well.... wishful thinking!!
The good luck started with finding that one lens had dropped out of my specs .. onto a damp tissue on the dock (and had NOT fallen down between the dock planking - which has large gaps in it!)   I'd found a very short bolt on deck coming down the coast to Simon's Town - this morning I suddenly realized it was from the anchor/chain connection  which was loose, so good thing to have spotted that! And finally, I found the purse today which I'd thought had been stolen/dropped/left behind somewhere - excellent news since it was of grey buffalo hide,  bought in Mossel Bay & I like it a lot!
Since Monday the weather has been bad for moving out of Simon's Bay - just as well since I've had plenty to keep me occupied... cover for new whisker pole, additional mast support for pole, cleaning deck (twice!) of metal bits from rivets drilled out, clearing/sorting out below deck (very time consuming since in complete chaos!) and checking out lines/blocks etc on deck after new rigging. Changed a preventer line and now need to do some more whipping at some point.  Still several jobs to be done but weather window on Thurs/Fri will dictate which get done - need to prioritize!!
........
Having said my farewells to the many people on and around the False Bay Y.C. dock, I was all set to go by soon after ten o'clock on Friday morning, having been up most of the night sorting out locker contents and re-stowing many items safely.  I even treated myself to a 'proper' English cooked b'fast and then Baden came to the boat to cut away two rusty anchor chain links before helping me cast off my lines in flat calm conditions..!
On hoisting the mains'l under a grey, drizzly sky near Roman Rock, I found that the 2nd reef car was jammed inside the boom (but  had  that not already  been sorted out earlier this week...??? Hmmm...) I was able to motor-sail around the Cape of Good Hope in increasingly sunny, flat calm conditions to the Royal Cape Y. C. in Cape Town, where Warren will sort out the rigging problem in the morning.... those rivets, again!!
The journey was increasingly pleasant - past Bellows Rock off Cape Point (the very end of the long peninsula of the Cape of Good Hope), where the swell crashed spectacularly.
On past craggy mountains and white sandy beaches to the Twelve Apostles, Table Mountain amd Lion's Head. The sun shone and I was even able to dry my washing from  the morning as well.   I came into the Royal Cape Y.C. just after sunset, berthed on the Visitors' Dock ready for tomorrow morning, met up with 'Trudel' and had a meal with Rowena & Ian of 'Warlock'
.  Then to bed for a good sleep - tomorrow I have several more jobs to complete before leaving again for Namibia - but the wind should be better for that passage since it is easy to leave the Royal Cape YC in a SE'ter
I wish everyone good sailing - through life, whether or not afloat!
Jeanne
'Nereida'
Cape Town                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            

Mon 11thfeb 08 Unable to move - steel and canvas work still incomplete

Mon 11th Feb 2008

Today the riggers came - a rivet on inside either side of the boom was catching on the reefing lines - as soon as they were replaced with a slightly shorter rivet, both 1st & 2nd reefing lines were running freely - problem solved! .....sigh of relief!!
Because I was obviously staying on another day at least, kind local yacht club member Peter was able to take my propane tanks in for refill - one was filled OK, the other had a faulty valve so they couldn't deal with it. Means I have two full tanks (already had a spare) & will see whether the faulty one can be refilled in the Caribbean.
Kim & Phil (on 'Avocet' ) kindly shopped for me (I'd gone to see Kim about sprouting beans.. useful for long passages)- they shopped in nearby Vishhoek whilst the metalworkers were getting on with my pole support on the mast - riveting took a time (and I got smothered in sticky Duralac!), but finally finished just after 5.30 pm... Dealing with the ball bearings in the pole support cars proved interesting - turned out to be quite a lengthy, convoluted exercise but ended OK so new pole support car is installed on mast track as well as original one.
Cover for new pole was delivered - too long by a good foot!...adjusted cover not back by end of day - tomorrow??....
Decided to go for fish & chip supper with boat friends-still lots of clearing up to do but felt that I needed a break (& a meal!) after today's hassle. Will have to see whether leaving here tomorrow is realistic - lots still to do both on deck ..... & below - where chaos reigns! (Repaired double jammer still to be fitted, cockpit sole & drains still to be cleaned, seine lines to be run between mast steps & shrouds to avoid halyards catching...)
Wind is presently S/SSW 4 (~ 15 knots)
Will now see whether I can connect to send this .. Internet connection has not been good for several days....

Sat/Sun 9/10 Feb 08 Strong wind & blue sky gives way to overcast calm & rain!!

Sat/Sun 9/10 Feb

So much for leaving early Sunday - the sailcover came back on Saturday unrepaired so had to be returned to loft and when it came on Sunday (yes - they're working overtime here!)the reefing lines were jammed inside the boom - having to get riggers in early Monday to remove boom to sort that problem out - can't leave before it's sorted....
On the positive side, I was able to hoist & furl the genoa, now that the strong winds have disappeared, the new aerial connection to the backstay is finished & works fine, I managed to get my wi-fi Internet connection back again (here only, of course!), the boat has been cleaned of several days' layer of salt & dirt deposited by winds of last few days, water tank has been filled, cockpit locker has finally been re-packed (although found the pipe to the hot water tank was perforated and spraying water everywhere - so had to repair that first - used amalgamating tape to 'bandage' it as a temporary 'fix' until next repair stop, when I'll replace that section of polybutylene piping)
I'm slowly getting boat more organized ready for passagemaking - that always feels good..!
Fedex finally arrived at the Yacht Club to deliver the Nobeltec CDs I need to run the software on Vista..
I'm now hoping to leave for Saldanha early Tuesday - assuming riggers manage to sort out the boom/reefing lines problem tomorrow.
Spent quite a time clearing & cleaning the hanging locker in the forepeak - several stored cans of tonic had corroded & so everything (LOTS!!) below them was wet & sticky - an unwanted extra job!
Tomorrow, I'll make use of the extra day by getting empty propane gas tanks refilled & do a touch more provisioning (with kind offer of transport from Club member Peter who lives nearby)& Baden will finish off new steel pole support on mast as well as pole fixtures on deck - he's worked overtime on my steel projects & was generously quite prepared to come Sunday to finish off.

1-8th Feb 08 40-60 knot "Black South Easter"!! Cape of Storms indeed!

For a news item on 'Nereida' on Yachting Monthly website dated 31st Jan 08, paste this into your browser window: http://www.ybw.com/auto/newsdesk/20080031093957ymnews.html

This is most definitely the Cape of Storms!! I can sympathize with the ships of old trying to round the Cape heading South East - impossible on days like this!
I've seen southerly 40 knot winds for the last 2-3 days - even higher than the 'normal' 25-30 knots of most days since I arrived here nearly two weeks ago. I've had difficulty walking along the dock in the gusts & the noise makes it difficult to talk to anyone & be heard. Working on deck is almost impossible - & they expect the wind to get even stronger tomorrow! The waters of the Bay are angry-looking and waves are crashing almost over the railway track running beside the shore nearby.
I went in to Cape Town this afternoon to clear out in readiness for the wind to lessen enough to head south down False Bay before rounding Cape Point (at the end of the Cape of Good Hope peninsula) to pass Cape Town on my way north towards Namibia. I had a great problem getting the Clearance Certificate I needed, with the official wanting me to return in another day or so, since he said my clearance was only valid for the next 36 hrs - the fact that the wind is howling , making movement impossible just now seemed to be irrelevant to him.... as was the difficulty of the journey to Cape Town (railway takes two hours each way!)
Several boats came in to Simon's Town yesterday evening - they reported motoring most of the way from Mossel Bay - until they neared the entrance to False Bay when the winds increased rapidly to 30 knots or more. In Cape Town recently, a double-decker bus ended up on its side in a gust! The sky is mostly blue & out of the wind it's very warm but I've had to wear one of my warm Musto fleecy tops in the chilly wind.
I've been very busy since getting here- both organizing work to be done & also working on things myself, with the occasional break to be taken out sightseeing. The rigging has all been completely changed, with a lot of help from Selden of Sweden who kindly sent all the necessary fittings here. I'm also the proud owner of a carbon whisker pole - it will be interesting to experiment with using it going downwind & I'm lookinhg forward to using my new light-air spinnaker...
Baden here in the yard has made some lovely steel fittings for me - a bowsprit to hold out the foot of the spinnaker further forward than I could previously, a closure over the under-sized metal of the bow-roller fitting - hopefully the sides are now prevented from moving apart when in windy anchorages in future - and some neat little steel brackets to hold the soap & detergent bottles in place by the galley sink in heavy seas.. He also straightened a bent stanchion & is fabricating a mast fitting for the carbon pole end, to be used when the telescopic pole is stowed on the mast.
New & repaired sails & sailcover are being delivered tomorrow - although it may be difficult to hoist sails if this wind keeps up...
My electrical and shore power problems have all been finally resolved with the help of Gerry - turned out to be partly caused by a corroded water-heater element fitting which was leaking water onto the electric terminals - took quite a time to sort that all out, with great difficulty tracking down a replacement heater element..
Chasing people up & organizing getting items via the local chandlery (who have also made lots of trips and phone calls for me, trying to source things) has taken a lot of time each day... The cracked sides of a double Spinlock jammer have been replaced (after several hours of effort, taking it apart & cleaning corrosion away thoroughly) whereas replacements for the totally degraded Lewmar end-stops on the Genoa track could not be located - now on the list of 'to buy' for a later date - although 'friction-stop' parts were available. (They use the same soft plastic and are also falling apart after ten years of use, much of it in tropical sunshine).
The re-made SSB radio aerial connection seems to be working fine ... & amazingly, the line isolator & ferrites from the USA finally turned up at the Post Office - although the hassle with Customs is unbelievable. I've had to use an agent to sort out the importation, despite clearly being a 'ship in transit' even though the parcel total value is less than $100. I had to make a lengthy useless journey initially & now hope to have the parcel in my hands tomorrow.
A diver cleaned the keel today - and told me he'd freed the log impellor, so that saves me having to withdraw it from inside the boat to clean it. He'll replace the prop anode tomorrow.
Friend Andy came by to help with some of the work one day - I think he enjoyed 'messing about on a boat' although the poor thing didn't enjoy helping to move heavy diesel jerrycans around! Refilling the tanks is now complete - made easier, although time-consuming still, by using my favourite little in-line electric fuel pump. I'm really looking forward to having a clear cockpit for the first time in well over a week, now that I can re-pack the deep cockpit locker.
I was able to start my provisioning this evening on the way back from Cape Town with another boater. A lady comes to the nearby square every Saturday with excellent fresh fruit & veg so I'll buy that from her & I'm being taken to a supermarket tomorrow for the rest of my provisioning needs. I'm hoping that a gas shortage I've been told about won't stop me being able to refill a propane gas tank ready for my forthcoming long passages.
I've also been checking on forthcoming passage details north up the coast to Luderitz (Namibia)and over to St Helena.
Well, the wind is still blowing hard at over 40 knots from the south while writing most of this...

Friday 8 Feb
Nobeltec CD for 'Vista' on new PC is trapped with Fedex...
I've had no Internet wi-fi connection for over two days now.... 40-60 knot "Black South Easter" winds are making life difficult here in many ways.
I tried to fill propane tanks at Fishhoek- not possible, so someone is trying another place for me tomorrow - I've one third of a tank plus a spare full one - so may not be too critical. Also did some provisioning in Long Beach Mall Pick n Pay... a friend of Dave whom I met in Mauritius kindly volunteered use of his car & time when he, Dave & wife Colleen came to visit yesterday.
New sails were delivered but they hadn't dealt with mainsail cover which needs more work & could delay my leaving... that will be a nuisance if it means I miss a short weather window (still gusting up to 30kn at times now but seems to be lessening a bit). The weather is supposed to calm down but then come up again by Tue/Wed, they say.
There's been a big fire on the mountain above here - fanned by strong winds, of course - two helicopters have been picking up water to try to douse flames - but not being too successful. It's been a very stormy Simon's Town this week - there's lots of spume flying above the rough sea surface & the marina docks are jerking about rather worryingly.
I hope to feel more ready to leave after another day of sorting the boat out after all the work that's been done, although there's still lots to finish before I can feel completely relaxed.
Let's hope the wind dies down, as forecast, by Sunday/Monday... so I can leave.

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.

African penguins galore!


Friday 25th Jan - Sunday 27th Jan 2008

What a windy place this is!!  I was clearly very lucky to have had the wind abate somewhat as I came in to dock at the False Bay Y.C. here in Simon's Town early on Friday - ever since then, the wind has generally been whistling around 30knots!!
But this is a lovely, really pleasant place with friendly people in & around the marina area.  There are plenty of old buildings nearby, lots of greenery & flowering shrubs and the dramatic steep backdrop of stony mountainside, added to which is the view over False Bay itself with more steep-sided mountains and small inlets.
After treating myself to a full cooked breakfast, I had an enjoyable meander around the main street soon after checking in at the False Bay Yacht Club where I'm berthed, chatted to a few people.. and then crashed out soon after midday, to awaken near 8pm!!  Clearly, I was tired after my sail here.... I just managed to get a meal before they closed the kitchen for the night - and an excellent one, too, of fish & seafood - and then proceeded to stay up late chatting to people, being now wide awake!!
Saturday was another sunny, if windy, day & I decided to walk south a short distance to Boulder Beach where I'd heard there were penguins to be seen.  Twenty minues or so later, I'd arrived at Seaforth Beach, a natural rocky cove with a lovely sandy beach, full of swimmers and people relaxing under the shady trees and was soon entering the Boulder Beach Marine National Park.
A boardwalk led through the shrub-covered sand-dune environment where penguins could be seen sitting on eggs (normally two) in a hole in the ground in the shade.  It ended overlooking a large beach area with huge rounded boulders.  There were hundreds of penguins, mainly resting, with just the occasional ones heading into or away from the water's edge. Many very obligingly posed close by for the visitors'cameras... I could have stayed a long time watching them, they were so comical & unafraid and the setting was so beautiful.
Sunday I tidied up the boat, made my list of 'jobs-to-do' & looked at the watermaker which has been misbehaving - to find a filter-holder has cracked & needs replacing. I also had visitors in the afternoon - friends from London, Andy & Alison, who are staying not far away (son Thomas is getting married here in March). Being 'new' cruisers themselves, they've offered to help me with boat jobs and, being familiar with the Cape Town area, they'll show me around a little also - all very nice and very welcome. My laundry has already been taken to Alison's brother's washing machine..!
It is so much more pleasant here, & safer to walk around, than the area close to the Royal Cape Y.C. in Cape Town that I've decided to stay put, rather than move there as planned.  My re-rigging can just as well be done here as there, along with my other jobs.  In any case, with the strong wind we've had so far, moving was out of the question.

Nereida leaves Indian Ocean for the S. Atlantic...!!

Friday 25th Jan 2008

"Nereida" rounded Cape Agulhas yesterday, having left Mosselbaai late Wed night.

Conditions were 'picture book' for this notorious Cape - bright sun, blue skies, big (3-4m) seas, rough conditions in a cross swell and 25-30 knots from the ESE - so poled-out genoa and fully reefed main until reaching Quoin Pt some distance on when the seas moderated somewhat... I got really excited in the exhilarating, fast conditions and it seemed like a big moment to be finishing my Indian Ocean passage into the Atlantic in this way..... This Cape marks the southernmost point in my circumnavigation - from here it's north all the way!!

I shall stay in Simon's Town for a couple of nights, catching up with some other cruiser friends here, before moving around the Cape of Good Hope peninsula to Cape Town, ready for my re-rigging starting next week - & lots of other jobs to do also!!

Wed 23Jan08 In Mossel Bay still - strong WSW winds!

Wed 23rd Jan 2008

The weather was not looking good for rounding Cape Agulhas yesterday & today. I had thought I would be moving on this morning (Wed) if not Tuesday night with the weather forecast I had, but the wind Tues was unexpectedly strong from the WSW and stayed that way today also - so it was a good thing I didn't leave too soon. Around 8pm, the wind suddenly dropped, so hopefully, it is about to go S/SE meaning I can leave soon & make passage around C. Agulhas & on to Simonstown overnight. It's absolutely calm now, as I write this.

I'm all ready to leave, having been busy most of a beautiful sunny day on checking engine, lines, refuelling etc. after a lovely dive this morning with Electro Dive who picked me up from boat. My last dive was on the Gt Barrier Reef out of Cairns. Saw lots of beautiful soft corals, basket stars on lovely Gorgonian fans, orange wall sponges & the only butterfly fish (a double sash) to live this far south. The water temp was only 21C & felt very cold despite a 5/7mm wetsuit! As I rose up, I passed through a large shoal of bright silver bonita - I just hoped no Great Whites were nearby!!

Yesterday, I visited the Bartolomeu Dias museum complex & enjoyed the caravel replica & exhibits. Boat on display was built in Portugal & sailed here in 1988 to mark 500th anniversary of the original landing here. I hadn't appreciated the significance of Mossel Bay & the maritime history hereabouts until I got here. Fascinating, enormous, 500 yr old 'Post Tree'! I'd got a lift in with 'Taniwani' (a much larger Najad) who are anchored near me - they left R. Bay last Friday also.

There is lots of flowering aloe & other pretty flowers everywhere & the view from 'Nereida' of the Mossel Bay area, a large bay backed by high green hills/mountains is very pleasant.

I spoke to the rigger in Cape Town - all the Selden parts have arrived safely & he is ready to start re-rigging on Mon or Tues, whichever suits, depending how soon I'm berthed at the Royal Cape Y.C. who expect me on Sat or Sun - it's looking like Sunday at earliest, I think, since I'll be stopping at Simonstown a couple of nights - several boats I know are there & would be nice to meet up with them again before I move on. 'Trudel' are here also.... they enjoyed their stops coming down the Mozambique Channel (after they finally made Chagos in v. light winds from Cocos Keeling) - that definitely sounds like somewhere to sail next time around!

Well, I'll have some food and raise the anchor to leave in flat calm - hope the rounding of Cape Agulhas, over 100 miles away & my furthest point S on this circumnavigation, goes well - it has a reputation for being very windy!!

I should reach Simonstown early Friday, to berth at the False Bay Y.C., if all goes to plan.....

Richards Bay to Mossel Bay, S. Africa 18-21Jan08

Friday 18th Jan to Monday 21st Jan '08

I hadn't realized just how badly fouled my fenders were until I went to leave - & had to destroy the homes of several small crabs in cleaning off the barnacles & growth where the ends had dipped into the muddy, tidal, river waters at the Zululand Y.C. where 'Nereida' has been berthed since late November!! That delayed my departure a bit... (Note to self: clean bottom before leaving Cape Town for Atlantic crossing!!)

Having decided to take advantage of a weather window of possibly several days to try to get down towards Cape Town, in the notorious Aghulas Current off the SE coast of Africa, I had quickly to organize 'Nereida' for passagemaking mode - no easy task! On Wednesday, my mainsail had arrived, & Thursday turned out to be a perfect day to deal with that. My newly-repaired ship's compass (actually replaced, thanks to Suunto) needed installing, together with new red LED lights (but the tiny wires needed
extending - a soldering job). The engine freshwater cooling hose was replaced on Thursday afternoon. The repaired autopilot control head was plugged back in place after being brought back from the Raymarine agent, Fonz Marine in Durban. That was an amazingly quick turn-around, thanks to John of 'Stingo', who'd kindly taken it down early Wednesday & come back just in time with it on Thursday night, and Steve Cawdron who worked speedily on the unit as soon as he got it - I'm grateful to both for
their help.

Then there was the actual passage to plan - I'd decided to try to find the maximum current which meant staying well out from the 200m line (often not too far from the 1000m line, the coastal shelf being so steep-to in a lot of places). Having had so many warnings & heard so many horror stories about heading down in the Aghulas Current, I was very keen to get the passage over & done with as fast as possible - & very intrigued to find out what my own experience would be, hoping for good speed - up
to 11 knots, perhaps. The worry was that I'd heard of 'local, unforecast, SW blows' being likely to come up unexpectedly out of nowhere. With the strong SW-going current, very nasty sharp waves would quickly build up & cause major problems.... However, the forecast looked good, so I kept to my plan of going well-offshore.. but I determined to use the engine as & when necessary in calms or for motor-sailing in light winds from astern, to make sure of maximum speed & minimum time 'at risk'!! The
weather window seemed to be good enough to make East London (, at least, in one 'hop' - this being the first possible stop after Durban - & maybe Port Elizabeth or even Mossel Bay. A SW looked likely on the last day of my 5-day forecast, so it was unlikely that I'd be able to round Cape Aghulas against that on this passage - but I'd be keeping a careful eye on the weather, in case that scenario changed.

I finally left around 2.30pm and was then told by Port Control to wait for a big ship to enter the harbour entrance before I could exit. Just outside the harbour is a large shallow area to avoid and several ships further out at anchor. (Richards Bay is the biggest coal terminal in the world, they tell me, with 3 ships a day leaving for China fully laden with lignite. It also has a bauxite facility and two power plants - a rapidly-growing, sprawling, industrial area, but with plenty of wild parks
nearby & open areas. The hospitable Zululand Yacht Club is beautifully situated with excellent facilities, although far from shops.)

The passage started out with minimal wind on the nose, SE 2-3 (~5-10kn), which overnight become NE 2-3, gradually increasing over Saturday to NE 5 (~20kn) by early Sunday. My course took me just W of S to the 1000m line off Durban (~70mls) and then SSW to off East London (~250mls), on SW to off Port Elizabeth (~135mls) and finally W about 200 mls to Mossel Bay over Monday. Soon after sunrise on Sunday, the wind died almost completely and then came up from the SW minimally, dying down to nothing
overnight. Monday saw just SE2-3. The current was SW/SSW flowing and gave a superb 'push' (I would estimate easily up to 5-6 knots at times!) once we got out to the deep water. But it also meant pretty rough conditions, except when the wind died down completely. Even when the wind was in the NE (and so with the current), the long SW swell, typical of the Indian Ocean, together with the NE 'wind waves', again made for lumpy seas. So most of the passage was fairly rough, until Sunday night & over
Monday, with a lovely sunny calm last day, passing S of Cape Seal and Knysna harbour and so on to Mossel Bay.

The net outcome of the NE or SW wind and the strong current flowing in our direction of travel was, unfortunately, a lot of motoring with either light apparent wind from astern or wind directly 'on the nose'. I did NOT wish to be caught out in 'SW buster' in the strong current, so I made sure we kept going, mainly motoring at around 5-6 knots (I kept engine revs down for fuel economy) with sails contributing as much as possible plus current..... which gave speeds over the ground of mainly 7.1-11.2
knots (I actually saw over 12 knots quite a few times)!! Friday's speed was just over 7 knots, Saturday's, 8.6-11.2 (!), Sunday's was 10-11 knots up to around 9pm when we left the deep water off St Francis Bay, being then SSW of Port Elizabeth. The noon-to-noon run over Sat/Sun was well over 250 mls!!! I'm sad to say, I only managed a joyous, peaceful sail for a couple of hours - in bright sun on Sunday afternoon, when a SSW wind was off the nose sufficiently and strongly enough for a beautiful
closehauled sail. Earlier on Sunday, 3 pilot whales cruised by and late that afternoon we were surrounded by a large number of curious dolphins...

As I finish writing this, we are 15 miles off Mossel Bay and it is nearing sunset. We shall have covered 670 miles since leaving Richards Bay on Friday afternoon! I hope to drop anchor some time after 9pm - it is said to be good holding in sand - and I shall enjoy a good meal and rest before going on around Cape Aghulas - the furthest point south in Africa and in my circumnavigation, being further south than the Cape of Good Hope which is just over 80 miles to the NW.

I had NO radio communications until Sunday: neither voice nor email/weather.... too close to the stations concerned! The speed log was not giving a reading (must clean impellor before I leave Mossel Bay!), I could only estimate current and wind speed (although at least true wind direction is fairly obvious from reading sea surface!!) AIS was VERY useful - so many ships around..

Back on board with lots of jobs....

Fri 12th Jan '08

Back in Richards Bay, S. Africa, at the Zululand Y.C.- busy, with lots of jobs still to do. Items include dealing with: boom/vang connection, shorepower connection, ship's compass, watermaker, freshwater hose on main engine, repaired mainsail & cover, deck-caulking, organizing of new laptop (& new camera - I managed to lose my last one). Some jobs I may be able to leave until Cape Town, where I'll be re-rigging, but most I need to do before leaving here. I've picked up a heavy cold so that's not exactly helping with fast progress just now! Pity I can't leave immediately - weather window looks good enough to get directly to Port Elizabeth, if not to near Cape Town, in one hop... hopefully, that will be repeated when I'm ready to go.

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year to all reading this!!
Even over the holiday period, progress has been made in important areas... I've been having discussions with Selden who have very kindly agreed to send replacement fittings from Sweden for the complete re-rigging to be carried out at the Royal Cape Y.C. in Cape Town in January, once "Nereida" arrives there from Richards Bay. The rigging is now over ten years old and I felt it best to replace it whilst in S. Africa and before my Atlantic crossing.
The ship's compass, taken back to London for repair from South Africa, has now been replaced with a new one by Suunto in Finland. They have been very prompt & helpful in dealing with it in a short time over the holiday period.
I have also bought a number of miscellaneous items for the boat, ready for my return in the New Year when I expect to be kept busy for several days before looking for a 'weather window' to head south towards Cape Town.

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'!!

Fri 23 Nov07 - Communication problems.....

Just a quick note from Richards Bay - where I'm struggling to overcome computer & emailing problems....Radio will not connect to shore station so no Winlink or Sailmail that way.... and I've been trying to get land connections via either my cellphone or a separate USB cellphone network modem - but whatever I try to do I'm getting 'silly' messages... or my PC decides to go into a never-ending loop, getting nowhere... I'm still working on that & making use of Internet cafe but that's not as simple
as having the computer directly connected to the Internet....

I'm still in the Tuzi Gazi marina but expect very soon to move over to the Zululand Yacht Club a short distance away (in fact, I just got a phonecall from Jenny at the Z.Y.C. to say there's a slip available there for me now so I'll move over this weekend). Both places are very sociable with weekly 'braais' (barbecues) but to get from one to the other is again a matter of a short taxi or car ride out of daylight hours - it's not safe to walk between the marina & Y.C. at or after twilight..... "This
is Africa". (A phrase more normally used rather like "This is the Caribbean (or Mexico)" to shrug off delays and problems getting things done here ...often simply abbreviated to "TIA"!!)

I've still got a long list of jobs not dealt with but took advantage of an offer to join some people for a day-tour by car out to the Hluhluwe/Imfolozi Game Park on Wednesday (Hluhluwe is pronounced Shushui!!!). That was excellent and I was impressed almost as much by the unexpectedly beautiful, green, hilly landscape as by being close up to a pair of enormous white rhinos (hoping they were too sleepy to bother even thinking of charging us!!) as well as plenty of giraffe, nyala, impala, kudu, wildebeeste,
zebra, amusing warthogs & big buffalo. Lots of birds everywhere also, including tawny eagles. I always seemed to be hearing lots of birdsong everywhere - which is always nice after a long time at sea.

It's lovely to see the small grey & black vervet monkeys roaming freely on the grass nearby.

I had a nice simple meal at the Y.C. last night - just 20 Rand (at R14 to the pound sterling!) The taxi ride to get there was the same price but it's R45 to get into the main shopping centre at Richards Bay - it's a good taxi ride away, although other boaters with cars often offer a lift which is just great. The alternative for shopping is the smaller Meerensee - that, I gather, is within reasonable walking/biking distance but I've not got there yet.

It's been very overcast, with heavy rain yesterday & overnight, due to the present SW wind - lots of people are hoping for a 'weather window' on Sunday (the expected Wednesday one having vanished) - they want to move down the coast with a following NE wind.

I'd better get to the chandlery/Internet to send this off & then get on with some of those boat jobs.... my fridge is still shorting out, as is my shore-power connection(I've rigged up a direct shore-power connection to the battery charger, bypassing the usual boat connection)

Sat 17th Nov07 - Safe arrival in South Africa at Richards Bay after 11 1/2 days on passage from Reun

Sunday 18th November

Today, the NE wind people need for sailing south has come - with clear skies and bright, burning sunshine....

I arrived on Saturday after an eventful sail overnight and during the morning.... Wind increased to 30 knots, with grey skies and rain as I closed the coast, and the seas built up correspondingly. What had happened to my vision of sunny South Africa, I wondered?? I was pleased to have my tiny stays'l hoisted in the strong conditions and made excellent speed with two reefs in the main, with the current helping.
The Richards Bay Port Control officer was very friendly and helpful as I approached, giving useful comments as I entered the harbour under sail alone. I had a lovely sail in lessening wind inside the breakwaters, as I looked for the channel leading to the International check-in quay. Plenty of people were around to help with my lines as I came in to the high concrete quay to tie up, relax and await Immigration & Customs clearance. Lots of international yachts around - and lots of people wanting
to chat to me, among them a boat from Perth who invited me join them at the marina braai (barbecue) nearby around 6.30 pm. They had plenty of meat, they assured me, as well as lots of salad!
Immigration and Customs finally turned up after 5pm and Jan & Ken ('Aquila') came by with fresh bread to chat and give lots of useful info - they're good friends of Jean & Ken on 'Renaisaance 2000' - cruiser friends from Canada (now in Australia) who'd put us in touch with each other.
The barbecue was a highly sociable event with lots of cruisers turning up & lots of new people to meet.

On Sunday, the Port Police came by at 7am to complete my check-in procedure - I would have been happy to stay asleep....!! Soon after, I moved off the concrete wall into an empty slip that Jan & Ken had spotted - far more secure and I was able to start rinsing the salt off the boat and organize my sails etc.
I'm getting plenty of useful info about the area and getting boat jobs & repairs done... I've a long list of work I'd like to get done here.

It was a lovely day of quite strong wind but blue sky - more like the sunny S. Africa I'd been expecting... but the air temperature is not that high - only 23C.