Dec 30 - Happenings

We've used the last few days to provision, as we anticipate departure to Cape Town in about a week's time, weather permitting. The nearby Longbeach Mall (towards Sunnydale) has a Pick N Pay, Woolworths and Fruit & Veggie store, and we've found them all well stocked. Of note for cruisers without a car, Pick N Pay will also deliver. We've also visited with other newly arrived cruisers, enjoyed a braai at a friend's house, celebrated the 70th birthday of a Swedish solo sailor friend, (Swerke) and Matt completed the seventh coat of Captain's 1015 varnish on the handrails. The biennial Governor's Cup Race departed on the 27th. It goes from here to St. Helena, and this year saw 17 participants beating across the starting line in 25-35 knots on the nose....Sue's posted another photo album - enjoy!
Pic: Zoe (sv Gromit) baked a delicious choclate cake we all enjoyed. We brought the ice cream!

Dec 25 - Merry Christmas!

The weather has been beautiful for the past two weeks, until today. Wind and rain...Cape Town's way of reminding everyone of snow and cold. A bunch of cruisers planned a braai (BBQ for those who aren't familiar with the term), and we dodged the rain drops while grilling, ate at picnic tables under a covered area, and enjoyed a convivial gathering of folks from South Africa, Canada, Great Britain, Switzerland, Sweden, and the USA. A few land travelers from Alaska and California topped off the group, and we celebrated Christmas in grand style, with good food and company, music, and fireworks as well. A very Merry Christmas to all!
Pic: The first arrivals: Matt, Sue, Verena (sv Sangoma), Swerke (sv Nanoq), and Toby (sv Sangoma).

Dec 23 - Table Mountain

Actually, this adventure began yesterday when we drove to Table Mountain, thinking we would take the cable car up to the top and hike around a bit. Wrong. There had to be two million people waiting in line at 1400, and the wait was estimated to be about 3 hours. Color us gone. We were advised to purchase tickets online, show up early, and the lines would be manageable. So, this morning, we departed at 0700, arrived at Table Mountain at 0750, and, indeed, found the waiting much more to our liking. One can hike up and or down Table Mountain. Right. We took the cable car both ways and hiked for hours, but I'm getting a bit ahead of myself. The ride up didn't take long, the bottom of the circular car rotates, and everyone gets a chance to take pictures and marvel at the scenery. Fortunately, the weather cooperated, and we found ourselves following one of many paths atop the mountain. Two hours later, we found ourselves following just one path atop the mountain; we had missed our turnoff and ended up hiking, one might say, just a wee bit more than we had planned. No water, no snacks...nothing except rocks and fantastic scenery. Our hike took us past MacLear's Beacon, at a height of 1085 meters. We returned down the mountain at about 1200, all of us agreeing that it was a wonderful experience and well worth the admission price. For lunch, we continued down the hill to Rafiki's, a local spot for food and libation, and had good food at good prices. We stopped off at the Longbeach Mall to pick up a few items, and returned to Infini a bit tired but ready for more adventures. A bit of history here. Table Mountain is alleged to be at least six times older than the Himalayas. From an informational brochure handed out on the mountain, to date more than 23 million people have taken the cable car ride. Each car can carry 65 people, and has a load carrying capacity of 5200 kg. About 800 people an hour ride the cars! The rotating cars (as mentioned above) are also in use in Switzerland and Palm Springs, USA. The aforementioned obviously facts for your next trivia games....
Pic: The clouds form and dissipate quickly. Matt & Sue with, from left to right, Lion's Head, Signal Hill, Cape Town and the Harbor behind them.

Dec 18 - OCC (Ocean Cruising Club) gathering

The crews of 8 visiting yachts (Gryphon II, Hokule’a, Infini, Kind of Blue, Kite, Mantra, Solace and Tahina), as well as visiting OCC Officials and Port Officers had a lovely day of wine tasting and camaraderie outside Cape Town, South Africa. First stop was the Glen Constantia vineyard, where 23 of us gathered to meet, have a cuppa, and learn a bit about the available vintages from this winery. After, lunch was down the road at the Jonkershuis Restaurant on the Groot Constantia estate. This is South Africa’s oldest wine producing vineyard, over 300 years old, and the lunch and accompanying wines were exceptional. The museums on the property explained the origins of the vineyard, as well as informing us that the Kings of Prussia and France, as well as Napoleon Bonaparte ordered their wines from here! After lunch, there was another tasting at the Groot Constantia, then it was back to the YC. Thank you Robert, Jenny and John for making this wonderful day happen!

Dec 13 - Stellenbosch

Breakfast was at The Rambling Rose country kitchen and deli in Montagu; great coffee there. By 10:00 we were in Robertson, just in time for the first tasting at the Robertson Winery (+++). A further short drive away is the town of Stellenbosch, the heart of wine country, where we checked into the Ryneveld Lodge, nearby the downtown area. In the early afternoon, we drove a short distance out of town to go exploring a few more wineries. Lest anyone think the crew of Infini are all unmitigated drunkards, as I recently explained in an email to a friend of ours, South Africa is world renown for their wines, and we considered it our civic duty to go wine tasting to at least a few of the many hundreds of wineries in the area :). I think you could spend a verrry looong time trying to visit the many wineries here, as well as put a serious dent in your pocketbook. For our last visits, we chose to go to the Beyerskloof (+++), Delheim, and Tokara (++) wineries, and our wine cellar aboard is now well stocked. Later, we walked around town and found a nice restaurant for dinner; there are dozens of them, and planned for our return to Simon's Town tomorrow; our walkabout is coming to an end! Not a moment too soon; the roads are more congested and booking a hotel room is more difficult, as well as more expensive, as it is now officially the high season for tourists and most folks are on holiday.

Dec 12 - Montagu

Part of the Garden Route is Rte 62, and going off that road one can go thru Barrydale to get to Montagu, our destination for the evening. We stopped at the Barrydale Hotel, well known for their very good food, and had a delicious lunch. Nearby is Hardys Memories of Africa. Hardy explained that he used to be a trader in African art and curios and for many years had a shop in Cape Town. His shop in Barrydale is more like a museum, and Hardy is encyclopedic in his knowledge. We thoroughly enjoyed learning about many of the thousands of pieces of art found there, many of them rare pieces not found anywhere except in museums, but all for sale in his shop. Sounds like a sales pitch, but, believe me, it's a unique experience and Hardy seemed willing enough to share and answer all our questions. We bought a large wooden bowl, not anything that unusual, but priced very well and a beautiful piece. You can see Hardys at Our lodging in Montagu was at the Somerset Lodge, and David was quite the congenial host. In the late afternoon we drove the short distance to Ashton, where we visited the Van Loveren (+++) and Viljoensdrift (++) wineries; wine tasting in most wineries takes place until 5:00 PM. Thereafter, a quiet night in a comfortable bed; what else could we ask for?
Pic: The drive was scenic our whole trip!

Dec 10 & 11 - Knysna & Tsitsikamma (Bungy jumping)

We had to bypass Knysna heading west to Simon's Town as the weather conditions wouldn't allow entry thru the narrow channel bordered by the hills east and west called "the Heads." There have been many shipwrecks here while attempting to navigate the shoals in less than optimal weather, so close attention to navigation (and weather) is paramount. We chose the easier route; promising ourselves we'd come back and visit Knysna by car. The town is a busy one with lots of tourists, and we drove to see the Heads yesterday (it was a very calm day) and did some sight-seeing around the waterfront. We stopped at the Knysna Yacht Club for lunch and enjoyed the local hospitality. We also met up with Dave & Marion of sv Kilkea II who are staying at the club docks while they have some alternator repairs done. Our reservations for these two days are at the Lagoon Lodge, just off the main drag, with a balcony view of the water but far away from the crowds. This morning we drove about an hour to the Bloukrans Bridge near Tsitsikamma so Matt could bungy jump with the folks from Face Adrenalin. The Bloukrans River valley bridge is the highest bridge in Africa, and the bungy jump of 216 meters is said to be the highest bungy jump from a bridge in the world. Matt strapped on one of his two Go-Pro cameras, held on to his other one, and Sue and I each had cameras. Face Adrenalin also filmed and took still pictures, so Matt has abundant memories of a world class jump. Well done! After lunch at the Lookout Restaurant on the beach in Plattenberg Bay, we returned to our lodge, whereupon Matt decided to go kite boarding as the winds are up and there were five other kiters using a nearby beach. Fun and games (and abundant energy) here....

Dec 8 & 9 - Wilderness and Mossel Bay

Want to see one of the oldest trees in Africa? It's located in the Wilderness National Park and is about 800 years old. What about a forest that looks like the continent of Africa? Yep, that's also in Wilderness and is called the Map of Africa, near Hoekwil, just off the N2. A river flowing around a hill outlines the forest and it appears just like a map of Africa. Wilderness is about 7 miles from George, on the N2 highway towards Knysna. Heading onwards, we found Mossel Bay a very mellow place. Everyone we met was incredibly friendly, and strangers wanted to know where we were from, how our travels were going, and gave us a bit of information about their home town. We walked the Cape Saint Blaize Trail under and around the lighthouse and marveled at the scenery. The local churches and museums were well kept up and added a bit of historical perspective. While we were browsing thru a number of antique and crafts shops, Matt booked to see the great white sharks with White Shark Africa, saw 5 great whites, took a bunch of videos, and spent about an hour in the water in the cage ($110 USD PP, food included!). There are lots of restaurants and bars in town for food and libations. We stayed at Asgard Valhalla Guest House (27 44 691 1075) overlooking the bay. It's a 130 year old house converted to a B & B; funky but very mellow. The folks there couldn't have been nicer, and the daily breakfast was excellent. On the way out of town, we stopped at one of the artist cooperatives (can't recall the name... but it's next door to the White Shark Africa shop) met the proprietor, Hein, and bought some beautiful gifts at very good prices. Overall, just really good vibes in Mossel Bay.
Pic: Looking back at the light house and where we started our hike at Cape St. Blaize.

Dec 7 - Cape Agulhas and Swellendam

We packed the car this morning and were on the road by 0900. Off the N2 highway, our first stop was Cape Agulhas. As we mentioned in a previous entry, this Cape separates the Indian and Atlantic Oceans, and is renown thru the centuries as a dangerous place to transit. Storms and rogue waves have taken their toll and many a shipwreck has occurred around the area; we felt we had to stop by and pay our respects. A marker has been placed to mark the official dividing line between oceans, and we walked the nearby rocks and tidal pools. After, we drove to Swellendam, staying at the Aan de Bergen Guesthouse (topnotch; call Annatjie 082 902 8720). Dinner was at the Drostdy Restaurant. I had the chef special: ostrich, springbok and kudu prepared in a carmelized fig sauce...delicious! Sue's fillet was very good, and Matt's traditional African dish of chicken curry, lamb stew and bobotie was also outstanding. The malva pudding with cream for dessert was excellent; cart us out of here....The view of the nearby Langeberg Mountain range was beautiful, and, of note, the historic building of the restaurant/museum also houses a Coca Cola memorabilia collection. Overall, a highly recommended stop!

Dec 6 - Cape Point and the Cape of Good Hope

We took the short drive to Cape Point in the afternoon. It's situated within the Table Mountain National Park and located at the southwestern tip of the continent of Africa. We should have read about the area first, as there are many trails to hike and places to see; a full day would be well spent, as well as a better allocation of funds; it costs $11.00USD/PP entry fee. To quote one of the many informational pages about the Cape, "Named the ‘Cape of Storms’ by Bartolomeu Dias in 1488; the ‘Point’ was treated with respect by sailors for centuries. By day, it was a navigational landmark and by night, and in fog, it was a menace beset by violent storms and dangerous rocks that over the centuries littered shipwrecks around the coastline." In 1859 the first lighthouse was completed; although rebuilt and relocated to prevent ships from misinterpreting how close to approach the Point, it stands at 249 metres above sea-level on the highest section of the peak and its light can be seen up to 63 miles (101 km; 55 nm) out to sea. After parking the car, we hiked up to the lighthouse. It was a short walk, but our legs still felt like jelly - we are so out of shape! Lots of folks took the Flying Dutchman funicular, a cable car/railway that makes the run back and forth to the top (R55 return. R45 single). The views from the lighthouse are spectacular. The wind was blowing strong (surprise!) and the seas were covered in whitecaps. Lots of other tourists were there, everyone taking pictures. After, we had a bit of sushi at the Two Oceans Restaurant (good stuff) before driving to the Cape of Good Hope. More amazing scenery. There are lots of hiking trails, picnic spots, places to camp or go mountain biking, beaches to explore, shipwrecks to find, or just enjoy the fynbos and do some bird watching. We even came across some ostrich while visiting sand dunes, a mother and her two chicks, with dad nearby. Although only there a half day, the area is well worth a visit.
Pic: Momma and babies have the right of way...we backed up to let them go by.

Dec 5 - High wind warning...

We drove Matt to Muizenberg today so he could go kite surfing at Sunrise Beach. This is considered one of the premier spots to kite around here and it didn't disappoint. At first, it was just he and a couple of other kiters in about 25 knots of wind. A few hours later, it was getting a bit crowded; about 8-10 people on kites and winds of 25-28 knots. Meanwhile, I had a follow-up appointment in Fish Hoek with Dr. Klopper, DDS and we drove back and forth from the beach to town. By mid-afternoon, we returned to the marina after having picked up our laundry, relaxed a bit, and met up with the folks from Kite (Jack & Zdanka), Hokule'a (Jake & Jackie) and Smoke (Davey) at happy hour. Back aboard for dinner, I briefly turned on the wind's been howling...I shut off the instrument in about one minute; it had read 46.6 knots! Sue figured that while she was preparing dinner it must have been blowing 45-50 knots. High winds, indeed.
Pic: It was hard to keep track of the moving target (Matt) in the swell and waves.

Dec 4 - We're mobile now

We decided to rent a car to go walkabout, and took the train into Cape Town to pick it up at Avis. From Simon's Town, the picturesque train ride is a little over one hour. Our first stop after signing the papers for the new Ford Fiesta was to find Peninsular Power Products (021 511 5061), the local Perkins dealer, located way past the Royal Cape Yacht Club in an industrial section of town called Paarden Eiland. I had ordered a box of oil filters and wanted to save the $25.00 courier charge to Simon's Town by picking them up myself, seeing that we were in CT anyway. Unfortunately, our maps didn't show the area very well, but after a few false turns, we eventually found the building. Step one, done. The next stop was in Beaconvale, again not shown on our maps. After going down the N1 highway, we finally called and were told our exit wasn't available going in the direction we were heading, but had to be reached by turning around and going back towards Cape Town where, sure enough, the highway exit was plainly marked. Perhaps that in-the-car GPS would have been a good rental....At any rate, we eventually located the Foam Factory (021 931 5305), where we ordered new foam for our master stateroom mattress. Step two, done. Next stop, lunch. We stopped in Kalk Bay and had the excellent fish and chips at Kalky's (021 788 1726), found on the pier at Kalk Bay harbour. After a brief stop in Fish Hoek to the Pick N Pay, we returned to the Yacht Club, where we greeted David and Peggy (sv Rhythm) who had just arrived a few hours earlier. A quick shower and it was time for happy hour at The Crow's Nest Bar upstairs. David, Peggy, their daughter Philippa and her husband Joey, Cor & Olga, and Dave and ourselves relaxed for a bit. In fact, Matt won a nice polo shirt in a promotional hosted by Gordon's (order a Gordon's drink and get a scratch-off card. If you're lucky, you win a hat, T, or polo shirt). Btw, the wind's still blowing strong here in ST; in CT, Table Mountain had a thick necklace of clouds obscuring its view; the Cape Doctor in full form. This is the famous "tablecloth," formed when strong SE winds hit the eastern side of Table Mountain, forcing the air to rise and condense, thus forming cloud, which then spills over the top of the flat summit of the mountain and form the cloud layer known as the "tablecloth."
Pic: Colorful cabins at Fish Hoek.

Dec 1 - Boat projects

Lest anyone think it's all fun and games :)...we've filled up with petrol and diesel, arranged to pick up a case of Perkins oil filters in Cape Town (Peninsular Power Products), had one of our two propane tanks filled (295ZAR; the local chandlary is a drop off/pick up spot), checked an area of the port forward lower shroud for integrity (it's fine; I was looking at dirt in the strands...), installed new gaskets in the Raritan phII head, changed the Perkins engine oil and filter, checked the level of transmission hydraulic fluid, fixed the mounting of the galley sink mixer (this took 1/2 a day!), installed the remaining 15 machine screws in the bow pulpit, changed the water maker filters, cleaned and oiled the K & N air filter on the Perkins, and covered the staysail in its new bag. We're getting ready to go walk-about, so everything needed to be done this week; we've been told most businesses close for the holidays from about mid-December until mid-Jan, so anything anyone needs has to be ordered and shipped or picked up before that.
Pic: Resident Kelp Gull and chick, at the end of a finger pier.

Nov 30 - A tour of Cape Town and the surrounding area

Dave & Mary Margaret graciously invited us to accompany them on a tour of Cape Town, being driven around by their friend Johan, who picked the four of us up at the False Bay Yacht Club at 1000. The coastal highway that winds around from Simon's Town before splitting to go to Cape Town is really beautiful. The local passenger train also follows this road, its tracks right next to the ocean, and passes thru Glen Cairn, Fish Hoek and Kalk Bay before it turns towards Cape Town. Communities dot the landscape, and we passed thru the Flatlands just outside of CT, then diverted into a quick, scenic drive thru the Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens; it would take a full day to see the Gardens. Our next stop was the Rhodes Memorial, built to honor Cecil Rhodes of the Rhodes Scholarship and De Beers Mining fame. Again, beautiful views from the the Memorial greeted us. We drove thru parts of the city of Cape Town on the way to Signal Hill. From the old Dutch Fort to the museums, from the mix of parks, office buildings, hotels and shops, we saw an eclectic mix of old and new which was quite beautiful. At Signal Hill, we met Johan's partner, Christy, a delightful, vivacious woman with a ready smile. She showed us around Signal Hill, eventually taking off to reserve us a table for lunch elsewhere. We stayed a bit longer to see the paragliders, who were taking off in droves; the weather was perfect and there were no clouds at all over Table Mountain. There was a great view of Lion's Head Peak and the Twelve Apostles Mountains. The recently unveiled Sun Star Sculpture is also found here, made from metal taken from the nearby offshore Robben Island Prison, where Nelson Mandela was incarcerated during the apartheid years. After lots of picture taking and gawking at the scenery, we then drove to Hout Bay to see the small harbor and handicrafts there. A bit further, we stopped at the Chapman's Peak Hotel where we met up with Christy for a late lunch and enjoyed the pan-fried calamari; this turned out to be one of the best meals we've experienced here in SA. After, we drove thru Witsand on the way back to Simon's Town, following the coastline back. We returned to the YC after 1800; what a great day! Johan & Christy, thank you so much for taking your Sunday and showing us this part of your beautiful country! We had a great time and look forward to seeing more!
Pic: The view of Table Mountain from Signal Hill.

Nov 28 - A very busy day

I had chipped a tooth yesterday and finally found a Dentist who would see me immediately. This morning, we took the train to Fish Hoek, and Dr Kloppers (office number 021 782 1404) did a commendable job of using a composite to fill in the area and fix the problem. After, we ate lunch at the Beachcomber Restaurant, and returned the scenic train route back to Simon's Town to do some browsing along the shops lining the beautiful waterfront. In the late afternoon, we met with Sam (ZS1SAM) and his wife Marijke. Sam is the dedicated Amateur Radio enthusiast who runs the South African Mobile Maritime Net, and who provided us with weather summaries every morning (and some afternoons) on our passage from Madagascar to Richards Bay, then from there to here in Simon's Town, with assistance from Graham and others on the Net. His advice was spot on, and we came to rely on his interpretative skills. We had long looked forward to meeting him, and he and his lovely wife Marijke came over to the False Bay Yacht Club to get together. The conversation was lively, but was then interrupted by a waitress who brought over a couple of trays of hors d'oeuvres and we found ourselves at the book signing of a long time member of the FBYC who had just published a Commemorative History of the FBYC. To cap off that ceremony, the Club's cannon was set off, and Sue caught the moment perfectly from our vantage point on the bar's balcony. We later drove to nearby Dixie's Restaurant in Glencairn, where we had a very nice dinner. It was a wonderful evening, and we really enjoyed Sam & Marijke's company.
Pic: Cannon firing

Nov 27 - Happy Thanksgiving to all our family and friends!

We had a wonderful Thanksgiving celebration aboard Infini. For me, the morning started with a brisk walk to a nearby barber for a long awaited haircut. Returning to the boat, preparations were well underway by Sue & Matt to get the 7 pound turkey in the oven (about the maximum size bird our oven holds), the artichoke dip made, and get the boat ready for company. Nine of us from four cruising boats enjoyed a holiday feast. Cor & Olga (sv Fortune), Dave & Mary Margaret (sv Leu Cat), Randy & Jenny (sv Mystic) and the three of us had turkey with dressing, apple sauce, cranberry sauce, whipped carrots, garlic mashed potatoes, string beans, fresh baked bread, chicken, and a huge salad. Desert was an apple crisp pie with yogurt topping. Everyone contributed to the feast and we were all stuffed. The weather cooperated, and we were able to sit in the cockpit as well as the salon to enjoy the food and one another's company. We all had lots to give thanks for this year, and tops on everyone's mind was the many blessings bestowed upon us by having completed safe crossings of the Indian Ocean.
For more pictures, check out Leu Cat's site:

Nov 25 - Simon's Town; the winds are howling!

It took exactly three days for us to get from Port Elizabeth to the anchorage just outside the False Bay Yacht Club. Most of the time the wind was E-ESE-SE but a bit variable in strength; the last 12 hours it was just ornery. Winds were sustained mid 40's with higher gusts, and I was very happy we had put that double reef in the mainsail; we had long since furled the headsail. I would have been even more happy if the mainsail had been doused and the storm jib was flying, but with winds so high, and seas running about three meters, turning from a very broad reach so that the main would come down was not a good approach. The boom was way out, the boat was surfing along at 8.5-9.5 knots and, thank God, the autopilot worked flawlessly. Surprisingly, the high winds lasted about 1.5 hours, before falling to a much more acceptable 25-30 knots. It was all good. The sunrise was beautiful and we made the anchorage in daylight (wind still mid 20's). After a few hours we received our berth assignment from the False Bay Yacht Club and motored into the marina. Fortunately for us, Dave (sv Leu Cat) was there to help with our lines or it would have been a mess with the winds doing their best to swing us into the neighboring boat. We now have doubled-up all our mooring lines, have visited the Yacht Club and Marina offices, and have met up with Cor & Olga (sv Future). Randy & Jenny (sv Mystic) have stopped by to welcome us; they're anchored nearby in the bay. Btw, we've now officially crossed the Indian Ocean, as Cape Agulhas is the southern most cape of Africa and this area is where the Indian and Atlantic Oceans meet. A school of playful dolphins, and another of seals, welcomed us as we were abeam of the Cape Agulhas light; how cool is that?!
Pic: Heading to False Bay Yacht Club from our anchorage outside.

Nov 20 - Fuel Games

We've fueled up in the most remote places; some are easy to use the fuel hose at a dock; most you need to carry 20 liter (5G) portable fuel tanks to the pump, then back to the boat, then filter and decant into the tanks. It's often a 1/2 day to full day affair, and the trick, of course, is to get more fuel into the tanks than into the dinghy or onto oneself. Often, easier said than done. Today was one of the easier times. Dave of sv Leu Cat and I shared the cost of a rental car for the day. They're not running free taxi service around here, so after the cost of multiple runs to the fuel station, the cost of the rental car looked pretty affordable. We each toted our gas cans to the station, filled up, and returned to our respective boats and transferred the fuel to the tanks while the other person made a run to the station. It took each of us two trips to top off, but it's good to know we're set for motoring, if necessary, without worries during this upcoming leg to Simon's Town. In the late afternoon, we made a visit to one of the Spar supermarkets and picked up some last minute provisions. After, we drove to the Bridge Street Brewery, a local hot-spot, micro-brewery nearby the port. No museums or forts visited this trip; the cultural experiences will have to wait. Of course, many of us think drinking beer is a cultural experience, don't you know. For dinner, we ate at the Algoa Bay Yacht Club. The servings are large and the food delicious; a good choice for any cruisers coming this way. Tomorrow, we'll pick up the anchor we deployed off our port bow to hold us off the dock, hoist the dinghy, secure the fuel cans to the rail, and top off the water tanks. We expect to depart Port Elizabeth very early Sat morning as a favorable wind is forecast for passage all the way to Simon's Town. We'll report on the reality of this over the next few days.
Pic: Doesn't M look happy?

Nov 19 - Port Elizabeth

Apparently, the weather Gods and the weather gurus had a bit of a disagreement. The 136 mi distance between East London and Port Elizabeth was supposed to be an over-night passage with fair winds. Instead, it took us 35 hours. Lets see: that included head winds from the SW-WSW of 18-20 knots (not forecast), adverse current (not forecast), short, choppy seas (lol), and motoring just about the entire way (what else is new?). The good news is that we docked in Port Elizabeth before sundown, which is always a good thing coming into an unknown port. Two fishing lines trailed the boat; no hits. One of our tougher passages, mainly because it was so slow, and listening to the engine for so long wasn't expected.
Pic: Safely tied to the end of a very long, rickety pier; it's a long walk to the YC and showers.

Nov 15 - Off the boat

It took hours to recommission the Yamaha 15 motor. In the end, I rebuilt the fuel pump, stripped down the carb and thoroughly cleaned it, replaced the 6 gallon fuel tank pick-up unit, replaced the fuel bulb/hose assembly and replaced the two spark plugs! I told Matt he could work his way around the world being a small engine mechanic! After a bit of fiddling and adjustment, the motor started and we eventually dinghied over to the Buffalo River Yacht Club to check it out. The showers were hot (10 ZAR each) and the small, fully stocked bar was accommodating. On the TV, South Africa was playing England in rugby, and we, once again, tried to discern some of the many rules of that sport. The weather has been beautiful, albeit windy, today; I likened it to waiting for the hammer to drop; tomorrow is forecast to be overcast with high winds; temperature has been in the 60's F. While Matt and I worked on the motor, Sue did a bit of grocery shopping, going along with Dave and Mary Margaret with their friend Debbie (she and her husband Patrick live here) to see the local sights. In the evening, back aboard, we played dominoes (Sue won) and did a bit of reading.
Pic: We can watch the crew teams practice on the Buffalo River from our mooring.

Nov 13 - Happy Birthday, Matt!

We had a wonderful birthday celebration, but first some other details. When we first arrived, we had anchored near Leu Cat in front of the bridge nearby the Buffalo River Yacht Club. Holding is in thick black mud, but we, and Leu Cat, dragged anchor when a frontal system roared thru with winds topping 40 knots, and we both decided to check out the fore and aft mooring system found directly in front of the YC, alongside of us. By dinghy, we helped each other get our lines sorted and tied to the large orange can buoys fore and aft, and we're now in-line, fore and aft of each other. The buoys are rented from the YC at 50 ZAR/day, and as there is a strong weather system arriving tomorrow, we're more secure and comfortable on these YC maintained moorings. Winds are expected in the 40-50 knot range, for 2 days straight - Yikes! Btw, for those arriving here, a flight plan must be filed with the Port Police as well as Port Control. The Port Police have a one page form to fill out and hand in, but you may email same form to Port Control at OK, moving along to the afternoon...Dave was kind enough to pick us up by dinghy and the five of us had a really nice birthday dinner at Footprints Restaurant at Latimers Landing, about 100 yards away from our moored boats. Finding a spot to tie up the dinghy is a challenge but Dave had reconnoitered the area, and we tied up to a small, private dock and walked up the short ramp to Footprints. The food and presentation was good, and we can recommend this restaurant to others. After dinner, we watched another episode of "Game of Thrones." And to think, we had never even heard of that series (books and HBO TV) before our arrival in Richards Bay! So, Matt enjoyed a unique spot for a birthday celebration, a far cry from Orlando!

Nov 12 - East London

Pos: S33deg01.425min/ E027deg53.854min. The weather window was a very narrow one. We had two days to get into East London before gale force winds from the SW were forecast to arrive at 1800 UTC Nov 12 enroute and covering much of the coast around here. Note to self: next time, dive the propeller to ensure there's no growth; motoring out of Durban at 1630 hours was painfully slow; 3-4 knots. We had 260 miles to East London and several times discussed turning back to the harbor basin in Durban. I had spent hours, along with Dave from Leu Cat, filing a "flight plan," and visiting the marina office, Immigration and Customs. The thought of doing it all for naught, and having to go thru the same rigamarole again wasn't very enticing. Of course, a slow passage south along with weather warnings from Cape Town Radio just accentuated our discomfort. We called Leu Cat at 2200 on VHF. We were doing our 3.5 knots; they were doing 6.7 knots. Talk about getting more depressed by the minute... We were further offshore than they were; maybe they had found the Agulhas current ?; we certainly hadn't. Also, the expected shift in the wind to the NE at 2200 hours never materialized; it was 0230 before it filled in. Up to that time it was SE at about 15 knots, and we beat into it with the motor on. But, when it did turn NE, it came on strong. Wind in the 20's-30's was the norm all night; occasionally higher gusts got our attention also. We were running dead downwind, had a double reef in the main and the pole to windward, and had to do multiple gybes thru out the night. Our speed was consistently around 8-9+ knots, with the highest speed we noted 10.4 knots. The Agulhas current helped a bunch! It was becoming apparent that if we could maintain those speeds, making port before the SW'er hit wouldn't be a problem. And so it went. We entered East London and dropped anchor at 1030 hours, very happy to be here before the weather turned. We're all tired, but Infini and crew are doing well.
Pic: M & M putting up the storm staysail on the inner forestay. This was our weather most of the trip. Thank goodness the wind was from behind. We maintained 8 knots speed under bare poles for awhile, when we had a batten come loose trying to put a third reef in the main. We kept the main down for the remainder of the trip. We can see why they've given the name 'wild coast' to this stretch.

Nov 8 - Durban

The overnight passage from Richards Bay to Durban had a few minor hiccups, but hey, we hadn't been sailing for almost four months, since our arrival in Richards Bay way back in July. What can you expect? The weather window wasn't ideal, but I wanted light winds to get acclimated once again to being aboard, as well as give us some prep time for the expected somewhat heavier winds (20-25 knots) which were forecast to develop around Durban, just in time for our arrival. Well, the winds did indeed stay light, flukey and inconsistent, but at least we didn't get too much of the heavy rain and lightning we saw in the distance. In other words, we ended up motor-sailing most of the way, but, on the positive side, had a mid-morning arrival at the dock here in Durban and all is well. We checked in with the marina office, found out there is no reciprocity with yacht club membership elsewhere, signed a few forms with Immigration, and then moved Infini by squeezing her with a shoe horn into an available slip that will take a very calm day to get out of due to the proximity of other boats around her. One of the members of the Point Yacht Club, Bob Fraser, came over to introduce himself and invite us for a beer, so being the naturally courteous cruisers that we are, we took advantage of his kind offer, also dragging along our dear friend Gaye, who lives nearby in Mt. Edgecombe who had come down to welcome us back to her home turf. The PYC has the internet, showers, bars and restaurant areas the yachties use, so Bob's intervention was most timely and appreciated. Btw, we're berthed alongside Solar Planet (and a big thanks for their help with our dock lines!); Leu Cat is a stone's throw away, Rhythm is nearby, and some friends of ours we haven't seen for a while aboard Alumni are several berths away.
Pic: A landmark coming into Durban; the Moses Mabhida Stadium.

Nov 5 - Preparation for departure

We've been here at the Zululand Yacht Club since July, and it's now time to head south towards Cape Town. There's lots of little details to take care of, a few amongst them: provisioning, filling the FW tanks, running the Perkins, doing the laundry, closing out our local chandlary account, washing the deck and cockpit, ensuring the windlass works properly, and filling out a "flight plan," which here, in Richards Bay, means making sure all bills are paid at the marina or yacht club you're at, ensuring all vendors are paid in full, and visiting Immigration, Customs and the Port Police. Their respective stamps go on a four page form, the aforementioned "flight plan," which then allows you to depart the port and go towards your chosen destination. In our case, we'll be using a short weather window to head to Durban, with plans to wait there until the weather once again turns favorable to head further south.
Pic: Matt playing a ball game with the crews from Gromit and Eros.

Nov 1 - Game parks

This past week we took a road trip to Hluhluwe-iMfolozi and Kruger National Parks. The animal encounters were first-rate, up-close and personal. The picture of this male lion was taken as he was lounging with two other males about 30 feet away from us! They were one of several lion sightings we had. There were also herds of elephants crossing the road directly in front of us, as well as a large herd of (we approximate) 500-800 cape buffalo which stopped traffic for about 30 minutes! The giraffes, zebras, and impala were kind enough to scamper across and not hold us up! We also saw white and black rhino, hippos, wildebeest, spotted hyena, wild dog, warthog, nyala, eland and kudu. Of birds, we spotted the lilac-breasted roller, magpie shrikes, crowned hornbills, weavers, African fish eagles, the tawny eagle, and the rare Verreaux eagle. These lists are not inclusive; the wildlife and birds were awesome! Sue enjoyed using our new Canon Power Shot SX50 HS camera, and has posted a Picasa album of our trip. Enjoy!

Oct 24 - Update

Sue arrived last night with her two bags, so we have a full complement of crew. We're planning an excursion to several game parks next week and will update accordingly. The front that brought 50+ knot winds, 10 meter waves and heavy rain has passed, and the weather is delightful. With that change in conditions, we're expecting lots of other international boats to arrive here soon from Mozambique.

Oct 19 - Back aboard

What a time. Today I picked up my lost baggage, full of boat parts, at the Richards Bay Airport, four days after my arrival. If any of you have ever had lost, stolen, or misplaced baggage, you have my sincere sympathy. It has been the most frustrating experience I've encountered in quite some time, and hope to never go thru anything like this again. I'll spare the ugly details, but let's just say we won't fly Qatar Airways ever again. At any rate, it feels good to be back aboard. Our son, Matt, has joined us, and he's unpacked to the starboard V-berth, although night off-watches are always in the salon anyway. Yesterday, he kite-boarded at Pelican Island, his first experience kiting in South Africa. He's off again as I write this, but I had too much unpacking and organizing to do to join him. Pictures of his kiting experience may be found at This morning we re-rove the halyards, replacing the chase lines. The sheets and furling line have been placed. The mainsail has been bent on and we still have the Yankee jib to hoist. There are lots of jobs to do before we go off exploring the game parks again, but things are definitely looking up. As an aside, lots of other international boats have arrived while we've been gone, and it's been good to meet old friends and make new ones. We've rented a car for a bit, so mobility has improved and we're getting around like locals...well, sort of!

Oct 8 - Back in form!

This blog is back to the way it should appear, thanks to our Godson, Joseph, and his team of IT folks. Thanks, Joe, and it was great seeing you! Contact details for anyone needing IT help or website design: DuronMedia 219-916-8003

Sept 23 - Family album posted

In our latest picture album is a quick tour of the family; it's always great to see the kids and grannies!
Pic: Ty and grannies checking out locations

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 ( 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.

Aug 7 - Splash

The work's been done and we're back in the water; what a good feeling it is! Here's our punch list for this quick 9 day haul out: 1. inspect and repair (minor) rudder damage 2. apply penetrating epoxy sealer, epoxy primer and 4 coats of anti-fouling paint 3. fix paint scratches in flag blue hull paint 4. lightly compound, then wax entire hull 5. design, fabricate and install a SS bowsprit extension for the code zero sail (I'll discuss this in detail, with pictures, very soon) 6. service Maxprop propeller 7. attach new shaft collar anode 8. change Frigoboat keel cooler anodes 9. service the refrigeration unit (again) 10. change all the halyards to 3mm tag lines 11. soak all lines in cleaner and fabric softener 12. empty and clean areas of bilge storage we haven't gotten to in a looong time 13. top off with diesel. All's well, no drama at launch; Infini is looking quite spiffy and we're looking forward to getting away for a bit of exploring next week.

Aug 1 - Haul-out update

Two coats of epoxy have now been applied below the water line. The first was a penetrating epoxy sealer, which has a shiny, clear finish. Next came an epoxy primer, gold in color, which goes on prior to the bottom paint and binds to the penetrating epoxy as well as to the anti-fouling paint. We don't recall Infini ever having had a gold bottom!

July 30 - Haul-out update

Some good news. The area on the rudder was closely examined and found to be chipped paint; there was no damage to the fiberglass below. For the repair, a small amount of epoxy was applied to the area. Then, there will be 1-2 coats of penetrating epoxy applied over the entire hull, followed by a tie coat of a different epoxy primer, finished with the application of Sigma bottom paint. The work crews start at 0800 and knock off at 1600 hours. Last night we went to our first ZYC Happy Hour at the Pelican Bar upstairs, which goes from 1830 to 2030 hours. Drinks are discounted for everyone, and Club members get a further price break. For example, a Hansa or Castle bottle of beer is less than $.70USD, cheaper than bottled water! Food may be ordered from the downstairs kitchen, and is served upstairs at the bar seating area. A book exchange, other Yacht Club burgees, various photos and trophies, CD music, and a few TV's round off the decor. We've met a number of the Club members, and can attest to the laid back, friendly atmosphere here. We've been impressed with the fact that most anything needed for boat building or repair can be found locally or easily shipped here. It's been a good welcome!
Pic: The area of rudder we were concerned about before cleanup and epoxy repair.

July 29 - Haul-out

We weren't happy with an area on the leading edge of the rudder just at its bottom on top of the lower bearing. It appeared we had hit something, but it was difficult to evaluate in the water. It was apparent that bottom paint was missing; the question was whether the fiberglass had been cracked and water ingress occurred. The Zululand Yacht Club has two means of hauling boats; a travel lift and a dolly. As the cost of the travel lift is many multiples of that of the dolly, we chose the latter; the first time we've used a dolly during our ownership. At high tide, we came onto the dolly, which is allowed to back into the water by means of a very large chain and wire on a drum high up on land in a garage, moving by means of a huge motor and gravity down the slipway. The dolly can accommodate up to a 30 ton vessel, so Infini was no problem. We gently eased up on top of it, and tied multiple lines to the strong steel side to starboard. Thus, a vessel is sitting on its own bottom and secured to the dolly to starboard. When set, the drum slowly winches the dolly out of the water and onto land. Back in the boatyard again. Tomorrow will be a pressure wash and we'll more fully evaluate the rudder.

July 27 - Road trip

I was changing out our halyards for tag lines, as the boat will be sitting here at the ZYC gathering coal dust and we thought a 3.5mm line would be better black than our halyards, when Anne called and invited us to take a road trip to Mtunzini and the Umlalazi Nature Reserve. It was a beautiful, sunny day, we put on our shorts and T's, and locked up the boat. The ride was a short one, as the Reserve is just south of Richards Bay. The countryside was beautiful. We saw miles of sugar cane fields, in different stages of growth and harvesting. Straight, even row upon row of eucalyptus trees, and the palm nut tree once we were in the park. We also spotted the following (with the eagle eyes of our friends): fish eagle, tasseled eagle, squacco heron, gray heron, duiker deer, pied wagtail, zebra, African snake eagle, Vervet monkeys and the African ibis. Great stuff. We stopped for lunch at the Fat Cat Restaurant, which has a beautiful view of the valley and ocean. Coming back to the ZYC, we drove thru the outskirts of eMpangeni a bit, but most everything was closed as it was a Sunday. Another wonderful day with friends showing us some of the countryside, and I got out of doing anymore boat work. :)
Pic: Michael & Lawrence up close and personal with mama and baby, while the girls watch from the car.

July 21 - To the game parks

Lawrence, Anne & their daughter Lorecan (sv Sea Shoes) picked us up at 0500 and we drove to see the Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Wildlife Parks. These lie in the Zulu Kingdom and are characterized by vast, beautiful hills, fauna, birds and animals. The "big five" can be seen here, but there are lots of other interesting species to enjoy as well. We saw the following: giraffe, white rhino (the Parks are a white rhino conservation area), cape buffalo, nyala, dove, glassy starling, forked tail dronga, ducks, European swallow, monkey, tambourine dove, warthog, Burchell's zebra, kingfisher, scimitar, ground hornbill, bobo, finch, yellow crested bobbit, wildebeest, lilac breasted roller, tassled eagle, cape vulture, kudu, speckled thrush, bee eater, impala, natal robin, korhaan, Burchell's coucal, yellow bellied bilbo, African rock python, velvet monkey, black rhino, frankelin, inyala, elephant, baboon, and the wooly crested stork. Our hosts had been to the Parks numerous times and were informative guides. If we had rented a car and had just gone to the Parks, we would in no way have appreciated all that we saw and photographed as we did today with our friends' running commentary. We packed a picnic lunch and thoroughly enjoyed our company and surroundings. A wonderful day and a great introduction to South African wildlife!

July 18 - New Picture Albums Posted

We spent the morning doing tons of laundry and Sue's posted lots of new picture albums. Enjoy!

July 17 - A busy day

We walked from Tuzi Gazi Marina over to the Zululand Yacht Club to check it out. There was plenty of room there for Infini, so we ate breakfast and started back. We were stopped by Lawrence, a fellow cruiser, who befriended us and was kind enough to spend several hours of orientation with us, including food shopping and internet and Sim card stuff. What an introduction to Richards Bay! The channel leading to the YC has silted in and needs dredging, so we had to go at high tide. Of course, the wind came up just in time to blow us around; what else is new? With an adverse current and 17-20 knots of wind, Infini was backed into her slip to have the bow face the SW winds. It actually went fairly smoothly, and Lawrence was there to catch our dock lines. We've had hot showers (yes!), ate a chicken and greens salad, and the wind was blowing outside. We're in slip D-13, and all's well.

July 17 - A long night's sleep

We turned in at 1830 hours. Actually it wasn't as simple as that. Let's take it from the beginning...We raised anchor at Inhaca at 0530 and had a time of it getting away from the current of the cape. We motorsailed for hours, and by that time had only a light wind, so decided to spend the diesel and get down the road before the weather changed. Hours turned into most of the day, but a northwest wind came and we were doing 6-7 knots. Our strategy was to stay 1-2 miles east of the 200 meter line on the run south, and we finally found favorable current, sailing 7-9 knots and barrelling along as the wind reached a steady 25 knots with gusts in the low 30's. Keeping the wind aft of the beam, we rolled a bit under our double reefed main only, but were finally able to put out a bit of jib as the wind backed a bit more to north. Infini loved the conditions; we looked out for whales. By daylight we were far enough along to consider that we'd reach Richards Bay in the daylight instead of our usual night arrival. After calling Port Control on VHF 16, we switched to working channel 12, gave our particulars, and were instructed to go to the international dock for clearing in. We can't tell you how good it felt to go thru the breakwater at 1430 hours, in good visibility, with a bit of jib flying, the Perkins going, and doing 5.5 knots, knowing we'd be tied up before dark. There seemed to be no room for us anywhere, and a fellow cruiser waved to us to tie alongside the concrete wall at the very back of a long U-shaped channel where the only free space was; the worst possible place to try to get out of! Our bow was about 10 feet away from the end of the U-shape. However, we had arrived! No damage, no drama, good health, strong was all good. Port Control said they'd contact Customs and Immigration, so we met the two cruisers who helped us tie up, tidied up a bit, and tried to stop swaying; you know that drunken sailor walk. The Immigration Official showed up and couldn't have been nicer. While he was doing the paperwork, a commercial dive boat worker came by and asked us to move out as one of the work boats was coming into that slip where we were! We only thought we were going to settle in; the problem was how to get out! We had his smaller work boat help our bow around, the worker pushed our stern off the wall as we swung around the narrow channel, and we were off again, again looking for somewhere to tie up. Willie, ZE5WE, a HAM radio operator who had been following us down the coast on the SAMM net and who had helped us tie to the wall, motioned for us to come raft alongside his boat, Charlotte, which was on a narrow side tie at the end of the dock, and we did so without problem. Shortly after, the Customs Official showed up and came aboard for formalities. Again, very pleasant, no drama; take the Q flag down! We're here, we're cleared in; welcome to S.A.!! The sun set shortly after all that, we ate a bit and went to bed for a long night's sleep...who would have thought we would spend 12 hrs. in bed! All's well aboard and Team Infini is quite happy to be here.
Pic: Where to go when you arrive?

July 16 - Safe arrival in Richards Bay

We arrived in Richards Bay after a fast trip down from Maputo. All's well, and we're already cleared in. More later.

July 13 - Inhaca

Pos: S25deg57.639min/ E032deg58.586min. We motorsailed around to Inhaca, anchoring at low tide in 16' water with a 3 meter tidal range. For those following us, we used the following wpts to go across the shallows: wpt S25deg52.3050min/ E032deg53.3977min to wpt S25deg53.3458min/ E032deg55.7950min. We saw nothing below 29'; but depth will depend on the state of the tide when transit occurs. Our charts were way off, sandbars change over time, and there was a bit of guesswork involved, but no drama. There's protection here from the southerlies, and we're staging to head south when the expected northerlies come thru early Tuesday. All's well aboard.
Pic: Anchorage off Cape Inhaca. Good in S & SW winds.

July 12 - Isla Portugueses, Cape Inhaca

Pos: S25deg58.844min/ E032deg54.135min. We had a cloudless day and night, but the wind dropped to variable and we had to motorsail about 10 hours. The north wind of 20-25 knots finally came up at 0200 this morning, the Perkins went to sleep, and we had a double reefed main and partial jib out, purposely limiting our speed to about 6-6.5 knots to ensure a daytime arrival in Inhaca, which is just outside Maputo. We then did a bit of exploring and anchored behind (alongside) Is. Portugueses with good protection from the expected 30 (read 35...) knot northerly wind expected later today. We'll be here a few days waiting for favorable weather for our next stop, Richards Bay.

July 11 - Boisterous day and night

Pos: S24deg51min/ E035deg00min. We departed Inhambane and had strong southerlies all day and night of 25-30 knots, with higher gusts. We short tacked down the coastline, staying 2.5-8 mi offshore. Rough weather; heavy seas, and tiring. This morning, the wind has moderated a bit, but we don't have a sustained weather window to get to Richards Bay, so will be going to Inhaca (approx S25deg58min E032deg54min), just outside Maputo. There's good protection from north or south winds there in two different spots, and we plan arrival tomorrow morning. All's well aboard.

July 7 - Inhambane

Pos: S23deg46.9min/ E035deg31.2min. We flew south last night at 7.5-8.5 knots; a smooth ride. This morning we were 20 mi south of Inhambane, analyzed the morning weather forecast, and decided to turn back. Fortunately, the steady 25-30 knots south wind was on our stern, but seas were rough and it would not have been pretty out there. Inhambane offers good protection from those S-SW winds, so we'll stay here until things moderate. Today we also saw about a dozen whales up close and personal. Tail flaps, fin waves, breaching....all close. At one point I looked over the port side of the boat and a large whale was right there, about 4 feet away. Fortunately, he was parallel to us, but when we went by he turned around and followed us; kind of gets the adrenalin going. We're a bit tired, otherwise, all's well aboard.
We watched the fishing boats come and go in all types of weather while anchored here off Barrow Pt., Inhambane

July 5 - Change of plans

Pos: S21deg49.353min E035deg22.501min. We were motoring this morning and couldn't hear the SAMM net, missing the weather. I had emailed Sam our position, but also checked in to the afternoon net with him and got an updataed weather forecast (which he was kind enough to email to me also). Fortunately, the low pressure system coming up to Durban has moderated and wobbled off a bit, bringing us a completely new forecast to head south. So, instead of spending 4-5 days here in Bazaruto, we moved down island to stage for departure tomorrow morning thru a narrow channel that demands good visibility. We dropped anchor at sunset (too late to transit the channel) in 25' water, there are 2 meter tides around here today, and it's an open roadstead; open to the north where the wind's coming from, but no significant swells. The water has been crystal clear and the shallows easy to spot. Some of the nearby hills have giant sand dunes on them and it's just a beautiful big bay. It looks like a great place to explore and there are many resorts around.

July 4 - Safe arrival at Bazaruto, Mozambique

Pos: S21deg31.82min/ E035deg24.59min. An anticipated "intensifying low" coming to Durban in a few days helped us make our minds up which direction to sail. Those lows pack strong winds and severe seas, so it didn't take too much mental strain to decide to hide out in Bazaruto. We arrived at 2300 tonight and anchored in 33' sand. Up to today's weather forecast, we had considered going further south to Maputo, which is two days north of Richards Bay, but it would have taken us too long to get there and the weather would have started changing before our arrival. It will still take a few days for the high winds to get this far north, so it would appear we'll be here for 5-6 days waiting for decent weather to head south. This has been a slow trip, but noteworthy for making decent enough speeds in very light winds. And, get ready...not motoring! Save that diesel! The other thing is that we're here safely, Infini is in great shape, no problems encountered, and we'll have a chance to rest up. A dual celebration on July 4th!

July 3 - A very special sunset

Pos: S20deg00.2min/ E037deg18.4min. We've had slow going these last few days with winds from 4-15 knots. Boat speed has ranged from 1.0-6.5 knots, but we've seen the Mozambique Channel at its best behavior; flat seas and calm winds. Our present destination is Bazaruto, an area of small, low islets and sandbars on the coast of Mozambique, at S21deg28.9min/ E035deg27.6min. Unfortunately, the Navionics and paper charts are not accurate, although we use CM93 and Garmin charts as well. We'll anchor to have shelter from an expected SW blow coming our way in the next few days which will kick up high winds against the Agulhas current, and waves that we don't want any part of. Tonight, at sunset, I saw my first "green flash," an atmospheric phenomenon which produces an emerald green color just as the sun falls below the horizon on the water. Sue's seen it two times before, and we happened to be watching sunset together this evening. How special is that! We're about 70nm away from the coast and all's well. Also, Happy July 4th everyone! Btw, it's been very difficult to connect to SailMail or Winlink stations, but we'll keep trying.
Pic: The sunset from last night...

June 30 - Enroute

Pos: S16deg40.0min/ E042deg22.1min. It's apparent that we've reached the Mozambique current today. Boat speed was consistently in the high 6's and 7's, although the wind was a steady 8-10 knots. We've seen two ships, both heading up the channel. I've also been checking in every morning with the South African Mobile Maritime Net (SAMM Net; an Amateur Radio license is necessary to participate) on 14316 mHz USB at 0630 UTC. Sam, the Net controller, will follow us along from Madagascar to SA; what a great service.
Pic: Michael in the lazarette adding hydraulic fluid for auto pilot ram while underway. We have not been using the self steering vane.