|Durban, East London and Mossel Bay, December 2009|
|The Buffalo River Yacht Club was very informal and relaxed. Above are from left, Glenda off s/v Nero, Toni off s/v Ovation and Sheila an insightful resident of East London. One night we arranged with the manager, Yvette, a pre-christmas dinner for all the cruisers and members. She outdid herself with a delicious feast.
East London has a fantastic museum with the main attraction being a Coelacanth, a prehistoric fish that has lived in the Indian Ocean for 400 million years. Thought to be extinct it was rediscovered in 1938. They also have the world's only remaining Dodo egg and a display on the wreck of an ocean liner, where everyone was rescued. The quaint zoo was worth a visit, but after seeing the animals in the wild it was anti-climatic.
|Biff's son is Jason Ribbink, a world renowned big wave surfer. Jason gave us a personalized tour of his surf board manufacturing plant "Bilt". Much to the childrens delight he autographed a couple of posters for them.
In Durban we were able to renew the children's passports, something I was unable to do in the USA, as both parents are required to be present. We all went to the consulate the day before Thanksgiving, and returned on the following Tuesday to pick up the new passports. Very impressed with how prompt the service was, until we noticed they spelt Drake's name Orake. (Who would name their kid that?) Informing us that we have nothing to worry about, we left it as is.
Remaining in Durban for nearly one week, with the weather being mostly cold and rainy. The one sunny day we used to the fullest by taking the children to the new waterpark, Ushaka. After a full day at the park we treated ourselves to a dinner of "Bunny Chow's". This is a loaf of bread either whole, halfed or quartered that is hollowed out in the middle and filled with your choice of curry. The middle piece of bread you use to dip in the curry. Click on the link, as the history of this delicacy is quite interesting.
Another weather window was presenting itself, so we took to opportunity to make a jump to the next port of East London, the only river harbor on the east coast. Yachts can either tie up to the wall or anchor in the middle of the Buffalo river, we opted for the later.
|Much to the children's dismay a weather window presented itself on Christmas day for us to go around the southern most point in Africa, Cape Agulhas. Saying goodbye to our friends on s/v Double Dutch, Piet Hein, his son, and wife Tory. They were just about to complete their seven year circumnavigation in Gordon's Bay. Santa managed to find us in calm seas and conditions and the children awoke to presents on the galley table.|
|Inviting all the cruising yachts from both Tuza Gazi Marina and Zululand, along with the local friends we met. A Braai really isn't about the food you cook, but the company you enjoy it with. Pictured above is Drake with Duncan from s/v Moose. He is wearing a new Brazilian Football Jersey that Karin & Russ off s/v Moonwalker kindly gave him. When we check into Brazil in the next couple of months, I'll make sure Drake is sporting his new gear!
Deligently checking the weather we finally had a window to work our way down the treacherous east coast, with nicknames such as the wild coast, the windy coast and the ship wreck coast. Appropriately named, as this part of the South African coast is renowned for the presense of abnormal waves, with the strong Agulhas current flowing south, sometimes up to six knots or more. Our charts reflected over 100 ship wrecks in this area. Leaving Richards Bay with predicted fine weather, we were cruising along with a two knot current in our favor. The weather announcment came over the VHF and forecasted a "light" southerly that would come at us about 0800. Well light southerly against the Agulhas current is one thing, thirty plus knots of wind directly opposed to the current builds up quick, steep seas very rapidly. Immediatley we realized that the strenghth of the southerly was not going to abate so we pointed Blue Sky directly to land and worked our way out of the current as quickly as we could. It took us three hours of pounding to make it out of the current, thus decreasing the size of the waves. Closer in towards shore the current actually counters and thus the chance of freak abnormal waves are reduced. Now we know why this is called the wild coast. Having only a small weather window we decided to pull into Durban to await the next one to venture further south, anchoring just off Point Yacht Club.
|The day before we left Richards Bay to begin our voyage around the bottom of Africa we had a "braai" for Drake's 10th birthday. The Zululand Yacht Club has huge lawns that are dotted with Bar-B-Que "braai" cook stations. Along with a resident Hippo who will occassionaly surface in the middle of the harbor.|
|Durban was a large city compared to Richards Bay. Through friends we met in Richards Bay we were introduced to Biff Ribbink, who graciously drove us around Durban showing us the sights. He is very involved with the lifesaving club, and was launching a new boat he built for them.|
|The next stop for Blue Sky along the east coast was Mossel Bay, where there is a protected anchorge, except in a SE gale. The terrain drastically changes from the rolling hills we have been experiencing to mountains. We immediately felt at home here, it is a small beach/surf community, which reminded us of Redondo Beach. The Mossel Bay Yacht club was friendly and accommodating. One of the highlights was visiting the museum, which housed the first post office in South Africa. Above, Phoebe and Drake stand below the Post Office Tree, where a sailor placed a message in a shoe under the tree warning of dangers on the route north. The museum also had a replica of the famous Portuguese explorer Bartholomeu Dias, Caravel ship. He sailed into Mossel bay in the 1400's and discovered a fresh water spring, pictured right, where they could replenish their stores. This later became a routine stop for mariners.
A couple days after we arrived a SE gale blew through the harbor for two days. Blue Sky was on a mooring ball, we had attached the three lines over our anchor and onto our solid wood bollard. In the middle of the night two of the three lines snapped, breaking the bollard in half. The next morning before the third line could snap, we dropped the mooring and anchored. The wind was going to increase again in the afternoon so we asked permission from the harbor master to enter the harbor, he granted it, allocating space on the commercial dock for us. Little did we know we would be tied up on a wall with huge tractor tires as fenders, and the wind blowing us onto it. Three of our fenders popped and the tires ripped our toe rail apart. Finally the wind died and we proceeded back to the anchorage and assesed the damage.
Our Yamaha 15 outboard decided to die one day, with strong winds against us. Thankfully, Joe, rescued us and towed the dinghy to the dock. The outboard has not had a good overhaul since Indonesia, which is a long time. Bringing the repair kit, we discovered the spark plugs needed to be replaced. We were back in business. Joe and Sarie took us under their wing in Mossel Bay, driving us around the area looking at all the sights. They run the water sports next to the Mossel Bay yacht club. If there would be room on the wave rider, Joe would let Phoebe and Drake go along for the ride. One time they were circling seal island and saw a great white shark. This area is one of the main breeding grounds for these beasts.
|The bollard broken in half and ripped out of the deck.|
|The wall and tires we were tied up on.|
|Fresh water spring used 500 years ago.|
|A great surf spot at the point.|
|Sarie and Joe|
|Vince and Jim|
|Jim and Joe fixing the outboard|
|Raul giving Drake a lift into the water.|
|A township in Mossel Bay.|
|Drake going for a ride, or trolling?|
|Joe, Phoebe and Drake on the wave rider|
|Look Ma no hands.|
|Joe spoiling the children on the jet skiis. Being the peaceful sailors that we are, we are now doomed, as the children loved these go fast machines. They were very fortunate to have the opportunity to experience it.|
|A huge fire was burning in a National Park as we were rounding Cape Agulhas. It was visible for miles and burned bright orange at night.|
|The old cable car in Simons Town. The hospital was located at the top of the hill and the remains are still there.|
|Arriving in Simons town in the middle of the night we managed to anchor in the perfect spot. The False Bay Yacht Club had a great facility, and was very "kid" friendly. As it was the summer holidays, there were children playing there everyday. Phoebe and Drake proudly sit under a King Harbor Yacht Club, burgee, which is where we used to race out of in Redondo Beach. .
Rob and Kate recently finished sailing in the Indian Ocean with their three boyd. One day we were invited over to their beautiful beach house in the boulders area of Simons Town. Phoebe and Ruby paddle in the bay, while Rob attempts to wind surf. The boulders is an area where the South African "jack-ass" penguin comes to nest. They are named that because of the donkey like braying sounds they make.
The FBYC had a wonderful New Years celebration, complete with fire works off the pier. We enjoyed our stay here, however, it was once again time to move on. Blue Sky had an appointment on Jan 4 to haul out in Hout Bay, which was a day sail around the Cape of Good Hope. We will be finally working our way North again.
|James, Kate and Tom|