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 boat...it 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...