Sept. 10 Back to the USA

In all our travels back to FL for family time, this was the roughest in terms of delays and missed flights; 60 hours total transit time! On the positive side, we did get a hotel room and meals comped at our last stop at Dulles airport in Washington. Suffice it to say, we wouldn’t choose Qatar Airlines again. Thankfully, our four checked-in bags did arrive with us in Tampa. Coming from the mild winter weather in Richards Bay and arriving to the summer heat and humidity of Florida, we know our time here will go way too fast!

Aug 29 - A special birthday!!

Sue's special day today. Even though it was windy, rainy and cold, she was thrilled to be waking up in a game park (if she couldn't be celebrating with family). Taking a thermos of coffee with us, we started the day off by driving around looking for more critters, but we guess the weather precluded many sightings. We then drove thru the Imfolozi area and stopped for lunch at the Hilltop restaurant. Good food, great views and very relaxing. There are also accommodations there, but we had booked ahead at the Emdoneni Lodge (www.emdonenilodge.com) in Bushland; a cat rehab center which provides care for cheetahs, servals, caracals and the African wildcat. This was just a fantastic experience. We not only learned a bit about these beautiful animals, but were able to interact with them up close and personal. If you've ever wanted to pet a cheetah or serval, this is your place to visit. The rooms were excellent, as were the staff, food and attention to detail. We could not have chosen a better setting to celebrate Sue's BD! Oh, and having that homemade birthday chocolate cake and an acapella "Happy Birthday" sung in Zulu harmony by the entire kitchen staff were memorable! Happy birthday, sweetheart, my Ketiah lady....

Aug 28 - Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park

We rented a subcompact from Europcar and braved the drive to the game park. Actually, beside it being a manual shift and having to drive on the left hand side of the road, we found the highways well kept and the signage good. We ended up purchasing the "Rhino Card," which allows discounted or free entry into various parks, resorts and tours; it's good for one year; cost wise, we'll come out ahead on our very next visit to the park. At any rate, the highlight during the day was seeing a pride of 8 lions feasting on what we were told was an old cape buffalo they had killed earlier. We spent almost an hour watching them; several of the younger ones frolicked around in the water as well. Two adults, and their baby, rhino came down to the river and were very close to the pride, but apparently they leave each other alone. What a great siting! There are various accommodation choices in the park. Due to limited availability, we stayed in one of the tents, but believe me, we weren't roughing it. The floors of the main tent were wood with throw carpets; the roof was double supported with steel pole supports and tie downs; the ensuite bathroom facilities were completely tiles; the separate kitchen facility had a gas stove, fridge/freezer, sink with hot and cold water, and completely supplied pots, pans and utensils. The outside porch had chairs and a picnic table, and we sat there and looked at the distant hills. An impala wandered around at one point, which was fine, but the very large hyena who came strolling around close by got our attention until he left to check out someone else's tent area. In the evening, we took a guided night safari. No driving around on your own is allowed after sunset, so we bundled up and sat high up in a specially built jeep with four rows of seats. Did I mention that the weekend turned out to be the coldest of the year and that Richards Bay had winds exceeding 45 knots? Well, expecting worse, we had secured Infini and weren't overly concerned; our tent was probably shaking more than the boat. We didn't get much sleep, as the window flaps were going at it and the noise from the wind was constant. This is a beautiful park with lots of wildlife, and we'll be returning again.

Aug 22-27 - Local happenings

It’s been a busy week both on and off the boat. Our sails were returned from Ullman Sails, Durban but we’ll forego putting them on as we’ll be departing soon for our visit to the USA. We’ve walked over to Tuzi Gazi Marina a few times (a 15 min walk) to see friends, as well as welcome Stuart & Sheila (and crew, Curtis) of sv Imagine into Richards Bay (from Madagascar). Anne, Lawrence and Lorecan are leaving for Jo’berg as their son, Ryaan, is getting married in about a week. We had a surprise birthday party for Anne, and actually managed to get everyone aboard without her knowing about it; more good times! Aboard, Jacques installed our salon table supports and is repairing a paint area on the topsides. We’re really cramped and crowded down below, as our packing begins both for a trip to the game parks as well as our visit home. All the aforementioned sails had to be brought down below as we're expecting very strong winds and rain to arrive during our weekend excursions. There’s hardly room to move around; getting anything, especially if it’s below any berth, is quite the exercise. Of note, we ate bunny chow for the first time at KNK Curries. For those of us who’ve never heard of bunny chow (that be us…), it’s curry (lamb, chicken or beef) placed into a hollowed-out ¼, ½, or God forbid, an entire loaf of bread. Not knowing any better, I ordered the ½ loaf; Sue showed admirable restraint ordering the ¼ loaf; OMG; it’s not for the faint of heart. Delicious, and we’ll be returning to KNK again (it’s at Tuzi Gazi). There’s usually some activity going on at the Yacht Club, and we’ve been to several braai’s (BBQ – remember?), another surprise birthday party, and just to hang out. We’ve arranged our rental car and accommodations for the weekend; more on that next.

Aug 21 - New photo albums posted

Sue's posted several new picture albums. Enjoy!

Aug 17 - Durban

We've spent the last few days in and around Durban with our dear friends Fleur and her sister, Gaye. Seeing the area thru their eyes and memories was incredible, and we visited so many beautiful places. Gaye's hospitality is unsurpassed, and we thoroughly enjoyed seeing her family (Antony, Tillanie and their daughter Kenia) and meeting her friends. Fleur, part of our Florida family, is returning home this week, having come back to Durban to visit; fulfilling a promise she made many years ago when we departed Florida to come see us when we reached South Africa. Well done, Fleur; thank you, again, so very much! See you all soon!
Pic: Fleur, Sue, M, Gaye; a cloudy day at the Umhlanga Pier, near Durban. Ships in the background are anchored, waiting to enter Durban harbor.

Aug 9 - Code zero extension

We've rarely flown our code zero as the attachment point was aft of the headstay. Please don't ask how that happened. The sailmaker missed it, and what's worse, I missed it. So, flying the sail meant probable chafe on the halyard as it went across the headstay and we weren't willing to risk it. For a couple of years I've tried to come up with a means to allow the tack and drum of the sail to be attached; most schemes involved the use of a removable stainless pipe, secured thru a captive stainless upside down u-shaped welded flat bar forward and a large bolt aft going down to the deck. Uggh. When we got here to the ZYC, I put forward to the team we worked with (Morgan 0832369564 and his partner Jacques 072 609 5741) my dilemma to see what ideas we collectively could come up with. The chosen solution is an elegant one, in my opinion. We had 1 1/2", sched 40, 316 SS pipe shaped to follow the curve of the bowsprit, which is 2" SS pipe, and extended it forward of the bow pulpit enough to avoid chafe of the sail when hoisted. Down the middle of the pipe going fore and aft was fitted a 7/16" thick 316 SS plate, welded to the 1 1/2" pipe forward, the existing bow pulpit, and also the existing plate top and bottom that our headstay and bobstay attach to. The entire structure weighs less than 8-10 kg, and there are holes drilled which allow the attachment of shackles, etc. The finished unit looks like an extension of the bow pulpit, and polished, appears quite natural. The workmanship is beautiful, it's massively strong, and the code zero will be able to be flown without concern for chafe. A job well done.

Aug 8 - Happy Anniversary!

We have so much to be thankful for! Here, we are celebrating another year together, along with our new friends at Porky's restaurant in Tuzi Gazi Marina, Richards Bay.
Pic: Lorecan, Lawrence, and Anne of sv Sea Shoes.