The last two weeks the Marcy crew has been kicking around Walvis Bay looking for spare parts and working on boat stuff. The yacht club is friendly, the town is nice and the weather has mostly been in the low 70s during the day. When we arrived we were both fighting sinus infections so we've also had some down time recuperating and just enjoying being at anchor again after so much marina time in South Africa. We had 3 items to fix in preparation for crossing the Atlantic, the leak, the wind/water generator and the HF radio.
We arrived in Walvis on Easter Sunday at around 6P and though customs is open 24 hours; holidays, Sundays and evenings are no time to bother customs. Fortunately our VHF radio was still working so we chatted with our neighbors on an American ketch called Westwind and they offered to call a cab for us Monday morning. We launched the “Wee Beastie” (our new dinghy) and were pleased to find a dinghy dock at the yacht club. It turns out that the Monday after Easter is also a holiday here so town was very quiet. The customs officer handled all of our clearing in formalities and we were on our way within 15 minutes. We stopped at a grocery store and purchased a Namibian sim card for the cell phone. Oddly, no beer for sale on holidays here!
Day two ashore and the first business day in Namibia for Marcy was busy. After the relative easy access to parts and expertise in Cape Town, Namibia is a desert, figuratively as well as literally. The town of Walvis Bay is small but since it is the only sea port for Namibia and they have a fishing fleet here too, it's the best place in this country to work on the boat. We felt fortunate to find an HF radio shop and downright lucky to get underwater epoxy putty in a home builders store. Communication is a priority and we headed straight for the phone company where they manually set up cell phones for internet access on their phone network. With only a couple of calls to customer service we were happily up and running with our cell phone internet service. Our first email was an update to the blog to let friends and family know that the leak had not gotten the better of Marcy and crew. Alas, we had some calls to make to the US and couldn't figure out how to make that work! Skype is out of the question here, no-one sells the phone cards necessary for the phone at the yacht club, international calling cards and 800 numbers are not allowed on the Namibian phone system and we couldn't get our cell phone to work for international calls. That became a mission over the next week and a half but we had other pressing matters on Marcy as well.
We took the radio antenna tuner off the boat and into the repair shop. They do fast work and had new wires soldered on to replace the corroded wires within a couple of hours. Back at the boat the tuner was reinstalled with no luck. Arrgh! Our radio and tuner are made by ICOM and the closest dealer is of course in Cape Town. The local shop could test our system but they would need for us to pull the tuner, radio, radio controller and all the cables. Even then, if they found a problem they'd probably have to send the whole thing to Cape Town for repair. BUT, we already talked with the repair shop in Cape Town and they're not familiar with the American version of the radio. Ironically, Seattle (home of ICOM America repair center) is really the only option for a complicated repair to our radio. We decided on a compromise solution. We ordered a new tuner to be shipped from Cape Town as it's the most likely problem due to some salt water damage and corrosion. We installed the new tuner, but bad news, the new tuner did not solve the problem. We had the radio serviced in February in Seattle so we are suspicious that it has something to do with that modification to help with clipping. We've sent an email to ICOM to see if this sometimes happens after they do the mod, but not heard back yet. We're running out of time, our expensive Brazil visas will expire soon, so we've decided that we have to go to sea without a radio that will transmit. We'll still be able to hear broadcasts and to get weather faxes but that's it. No email at sea. We will have to resolve this problem in Brazil. We struck out and have to admit defeat on this one for now.
With the radio problem on hold it was time to once again turn our attention to the leak. Yes, we're hoping that the 3rd time's a charm because we'd like to have a dry trip across the Atlantic. We (read Peter) disconnected the steering and it was obvious that our Dassen patch job had failed. We were glad to see that it wasn't something else. We moved some heavy items from the stern into the bow and then piled Red Dogfish (the kayak), full water and diesel jugs and spare sails on deck at the bow to get the stern out of the water. We applied a bit more epoxy putty where the water was coming in let the area dry overnight and then Peter prepped and sanded. We applied fiberglass in two layups. The first was a single layer of fiberglass mat. to cover the crack area and make a good bond for the top layer. We found that the original boat layup was resin heavy in that area and to further compromise things when installing the steering sheaves, long ago, the glass had been ground away to make room. The mat application went well and after 24 hours to cure we applied the glass cloth. We blew up Red Dogfish and checked the outside of the boat. There was a small hole next to the lower bearing that appeared after all the work done in the last few months. Peter was able to pack some epoxy putty in that hole without getting too wet. It's good to stay dry because the water here is as cold as Puget Sound right now. With no more water coming in we are satisfied that we've done as much as possible in Walvis Bay on that project.
The third boat project was our wind/water generator. We had some problems with it in the Mozambique Channel and had not gotten it working after a rebuild in Richard's Bay. After another thorough cleaning to improve contact under the brushes the test still came up unsuccessful. We finally tracked the problem to the plug, cleaned the wires and contacts and success! Two out of three successful jobs is a pretty good score for working with limited resources.
A note about our Comar AIS and Raymarine C80 chartplotter - we still love them BUT we sent an email to Raymarine asking why the TCPA (Time to Closest Point of Approach) is always miscalculated on our chartplotter. We were pleased to get a quick response, but surprised and very disappointed to learn that the although the problem has already been reported, there will be no fix. “Raymarine is not planning any future C-Series Classic MFD updates.” We are inferring that Raymarine is abandoning their classic version to focus on their newer chartplotters. Our five year old system, one that is still being sold in stores new, seems to already be an orphan system.
Being tourists by boat it isn't always easy to get all the local information. We taxi show up an hour late and a couple of other confusing arrangements with shops closing later than expected for lunch before we found out that Namibia has daylight savings time for winter and we missed a time change. It turns out, here in Namibia, people are generally on time but they're definitely NOT an hour early for anything!
After working on our issues, we had some time to think about checking out the area and socializing. There is a lagoon with flamingos and pelicans nearby with a walking path along the shore. On the lagoon, built on stilts, is a well recommended restaurant a short walk from the yacht club where we had a perfect dinner at excellent Namibian prices. (Dinner for two, w/drinks & tip, $35 US.) About 20 miles away is the tourist town of Swakopmund. We took a day trip there with the Chilean crew from a neighbor boat. The natural history museum was good but the rest of the town was typical tourist fare. We checked in the largest bookshop for magazines. We're not picky, “The Economist”, “Time” or any other source for world news would be better than “Cosmo” so we'd have some current reading for our passage, but they don't sell those here. Oh sure, if you want to know what Oprah thinks you can get that. Also if you're interested in knitting or hunting they have that too. But, one must go to the capital of Windhoek for such literary fare as world news. The day in Swakop' was redeemed by our discoveries as we waited for our ride back to Walvis Bay. Our friend Luis found a sewing shop to repair his Chilean flag and we found a fresh fish shop next door with unusually fresh local seafood and beautiful heads of leaf lettuce. The low evening light on the return drive to Walvis Bay was beautiful on the sand dunes.
Labels: 2009 - 04 Namibia