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.