_________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Marcy home Walvis Bay Angling Club club AFASyn Ushuaia Marcy and crew

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Cape Town

spotty penguin

Marcy rounded the Cape of Storms on a breezy, but thankfully not stormy afternoon. Ginger, ever happy with cold weather, was bundled up and all smiles in the chilly breeze.

bundled Ginge Cape of Good Hope

cape of Good Hope wave

The moon rose over Africa as Marcy plunged down the Atlantic swells.

rounding Cape of Storms

As we arrived in Cape Town in the wee hours of the morning, gusts of 40 and 50 knots blasted us. We were prepared for this because we had read about the famous wind called the Cape Doctor that rules this area. The wind is named so because is sweeps all of the bad air out of town and keeps everyone healthy, and it's signature is the white cloud on Table Mountain – the tablecloth.

RCYC yard

We tied up at the Royal Cape Yacht Club as the wind, unusually cooperative, died completely for a few hours. The next morning, after admiring the stunning view of Table Mountain and tablecloth, we arranged to have Marcy hauled out.

flying Marcy RCYC

In addition to bottom paint and new zincs, we took the rudder off to fix the long time problems with worn bearings and a nasty leak.

drop rudder

A crew working under the instruction of the very competent foreman made short work of our problems.

happy pair

Ginger wisely left the boatyard grime for a few hours and returned from a visit to the V & A Waterfront mall (retail therapy?) looking fresh and wonderful.

windy Ginge

The tablecloth remained set, however, and every night we wondered if would tip over in a gust. It never happened, of course, and we found a few windless hours just before relaunching to rebuild the trusty wind vane.

new bearings

The yard manager himself manned the crane to relaunch Marcy.

David at the controls

The yard guys were as happy as we were to see Marcy safely back in the water.

Jerome the sailor man

After missing seeing penguins in New Zealand, we vowed to make an effort to see them up close here. Louis, an African friend and fellow sailor we first met in Darwin, offered to drive us to the nearby rookery.

Louis and Ginge penguin warning sign

We saw plenty of the little buggers, first in ones and twos, then in the dozens.

wary Ginger

Boulder Bay penguins

It was good to get away from the boat and be sightseeing tourists for a while.

dog statue and Peter

After the wonderful time sightseeing,

3 sightseers

we went back to our routine refreshed. As Ginger prepares for a short visit to Seattle, she cooks a few meals ahead for Peter. He will stay behind to work on the “list.”

cooking Ginge


Friday, January 09, 2009

Closing in on Cape Town

meerkat East London SA

A two day hop from Durban brought Marcy to the little river port of East London. The stop seemed grim at first, as we were moored alongside a nasty steel faced wall on a gray drizzly morning. The fenders were grinding and dock lines screeching in protest as Marcy lifted and dropped in the surge.

E London wall 2

E London wall 1

Soon, a kind local sailor stopped by, chatted and offered to call the yacht club across the river to see if there was room for us. There was, and we moved, the sun came out, and we enjoyed a sweet couple of days waiting for weather to permit the next dash south.

Marcy at East London SA

A local yachtie offered to take Ginger to the local zoo. She hesitated, but learned that some lion cubs were available for petting. “I'll be ready in five minutes!” she said.

cute cubs and girls el zoo

cub face el zoo

Father lion dozed in the sun nearby.

nappy lion el zoo

Ginger was amazed by the informal low fencing – in SA much more effort seems to be put into keeping burglars out than wild animals in.......

croc in grass el zoo

Her favorite animal was a young giraffe. We're lucky he wouldn't fit in the car to bring back to the boat.

giraffe face el zoo

giraffe el zoo

The highlight of our stay was a braii hosted by the club. The friendly French arrived in dinghies loaded to the limit.

french families arrive el

The French children had choreographed a dance to Fijian music and performed for us all.

dancers el

Remember Marta, the Polish singlehander? She had stayed at the club also, and left to head for the next port south just before we arrived. We learned that she had anchored at about the halfway point, and dragged into the surf at 4:00 AM on December 31. She was very lucky. Although the boat was heavily damaged, the Port Elizabeth lifeboat was able to tow her off the beach, and somehow keep the boat afloat for the long trip to PE and a haulout. A bit of scandal surfaced, the lifeboat reports saving TWO people – hard for a singlehander to explain. Hopefully the boat can be repaired and she can continue her voyage. Here is a picture of Marta back at Durban, motivating her work crew while consulting with the boatbuilder back in Poland.

marta and workers Durban

Warned yet again to respect the local conditions (you know by now we always do) we head out for the next leg. Ariel and Freebase led us out to sea. The wind was light, but the left over lumpy seas and big swell made the ocean a big washing machine. Here Ariel looks like she is above us – that's not an illusion, the big swells were lifting and dropping us twenty feet at a time.

Ariel on swell

We realized in disbelief that we were sailing the South Africa coast at the best possible time of year and in the “easy” direction! Later in the day as we watched a container ship lift and roll in the seas, water streaming from the ports, we thought that if we lived in SA, we might want to sell the boat and take up bird watching! Freebase was dwarfed by the seas.

Freebase 1

Freebase 2

We all pitched and rolled, but as the wind filled in the ride smoothed out as we headed onwards.

Ariel off E London

Right now, as we write, Marcy is anchored waiting for yet another front to pass at the very end of Africa, Cape Algulhas. The Atlantic Ocean is so close we can see it. The wind is screeching in the rigging, and Marcy is straining at the anchor. Ginger has made coffee cake, Peter is busy with little repairs, and we think tomorrow (weather permitting) we can resume the progress to Cape Town. We can post to the blog because we are in cell phone range.

Struis Bay Cape Agulhas


Thursday, January 08, 2009

Southbound in South Africa

weaver nests Richards Bay SA
Weaver bird nests at Zululand Yacht Club.

Arriving in South Africa, we were plunged into a whirl of activity. We experienced sensory overload – so many sights, so many friends, restaurants, traffic, noise! We quickly learned that personal safety was an important issue. During our first week in the country a couple from a Dutch yacht was assaulted at knife point (no injuries, luckily) while walking in town and the skipper from a German yacht was clobbered over the head and robbed in the parking lot behind the yachts, while sharing a beer with locals. The restaurant at the International dock in Richards Bay had been recently held up by a pickup truck full of AK-47 toting thieves. We noticed that razor wire and electric fences were everywhere. So we bought a can of pepper spray and adopted our best urban defensive techniques.

Richards Bay workyard fence

wired gate Durban

Some fences incorporated elegant and very sharp details to discourage climbing.

pretty fence Richards Bay

Security issues aside, South Africa is a great country to visit. For example, our money goes further in South Africa than anywhere else we've been. A restaurant dinner for two, with beer, costs about $15 US. To a carnivore like Peter, the food is wonderful. We bought a Cobb cooker on the advice of Nick, a fellow yachtie with South African connections. This charcoal cooker is hot on the inside, cool on the outside, cooks beautifully, and is made of corrosion resistant materials, too!

Cobb cooker dinner

As we make our way south, we are in the south setting Alghulas current, which is a good thing for quick progress, but we must avoid the infamous combination of strong wind against current. This coast has produced the largest measured waves in the world, big enough to break big ships. Fast moving low pressure systems create intense gales, even in the summer, that quickly build awesome seas. The day after we arrived in Richards bay, beating one of these gales only by hours, a catamaran arrived with ripped sail covers, lines trailing overboard, and a crew with exhausted eyes. They had tried to reach Durban (the next port south) and had been within just a few miles of the harbor, when the front arrived. Despite two motors and a lot of motivation, they were forced to turn around and run 85 miles, risking broaching in the huge waves, back to Richard's Bay. So each hop south is undertaken only after carefully studying the weather forecast. Here Ginger, Nick (of Freebase), and Ian (of Ariel) look at the weather charts.

weather planning with Ian and Nick

After careful weather analysis, Marcy was taken out to sea for the jump to Durban. On the docks, we met two young singlehanders, Zac and Marta. Hailing from Southern California, Zac wants to be the youngest singlehanded circumnavigator. He is well on his way, check out his blog.

Zac and Ginge

Marta is Polish, with a light fast looking boat, and wants to be – you guessed it - the youngest Polish singlehanded circumnavigator.

Marta and Ginge

Pronounce that homeport!

Martas boat pronounce that home port

Many international yachts are tied up in Durban, and we enjoyed visiting old friends and making new ones. You can see Marcy in the middle of the forest of masts.

Marcy in Durban

A French yacht with a beautifully painted transom is tied a couple of slips to the east.

Bubu at Durban

Another French yacht gets her stainless polished a few slips to the west.

polishing stainless Durban

The locals were amazingly hospitable. At the Royal Natal Yacht Club, we met an aircraft designer, Mel, who had lived in Bellevue, Washington at one time.

Mel and Ginge

We met Roy, the voice of the Peri Peri Net, who had guided us through the gauntlet of low pressure systems on our approach to Africa.

Roy in Durban

We met Chris, the vice commodore at the Point Yacht Club. He spared no effort to make us feel at home – including a Christmas card and cake, printing out weather charts, and – we're not making this up – sending us off with a bag of biltong (jerky) for Peter and fruit snacks for Ginger to sustain us for the next jump south!

Chris S and Peter Durban

Durban sees an influx of holiday crowds from inland during the season. When we were on deck, sometimes people would lean over the railing and politely ask to come down to get photos with Marcy as a backdrop. Here Ginger poses with a happy family from Johannesburg.

Joburgers visiting Marcy Durban

Nick of Freebase was also our neighbor at Durban, and drove us in his Land Rover up to a farmer's market and then to his sister's house for a much appreciated bath and braai. On the drive inland, we learned that busy shopping malls and suburbs dot the landscape. All the talk about crime and gloomy politics aside, it's clear that the country is booming. Like the American south, there are lingering deep rooted racial tensions, but there is evidence of positive change and of a large prosperous black middle class. We chatted with white South Africans who quickly told us that the country is going to hell, but after further discussion admitted that they thought the country has a lot of potential. Certainly all the new construction shows a vote of confidence. Nick is readying his boat for the trip back to the Carribean, where he completes his circumnavigation. He is working on replacing bearings on the windvane. We took careful notes, the bearings on our unit are also worn out.

Nick in Durban

Our longtime friends on Ariel brought her alongside the pilings to freshen the bottom paint.

Kathy and Ian Durban * Ariel Durban

Ian and Cathy make it look so easy and fun that Ginger asks, why don't we do this too?

Why not Durban

Marcy's draft and keel configuration make that impossible for us. As our ideas evolve, we think that for world cruising, at least, it makes a lot of sense to have a boat that is stable as the tide recedes. Ariel's paint job reminds us that we need to head on south as soon as possible to haul our boat in Cape Town.

Blue Crane East London SA

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