Jan 27 - Touring the Luderitz area

Pascal and Nicolas (sv Eadinguet) had rented a car for a few days and invited us along to tour the surrounding area. First stop was the “Ghost Town” of Kolmanskop. This town dates from the early 20th century when German interests in diamond mining began. Many of the original buildings survive, but the sands have filled in most structures, and the inexorable path to complete destruction is well on its way as total restoration is probably not feasible due to expense. The guided tour is well worthwhile and is included in the permit to visit; total cost is about $7.00USD/pp; this stop is highly recommended. Btw, the coffee and food at the snack bar were also very good; try the apple cake! After, we drove the peninsula down to Grosse Bucht, stopping at most all of the bays going north to Diaz Point. Of note is that when we were under passage last week, the fog prevented us from seeing any of the shore line until we reached Diaz Point and were approaching the entrance to Robert Harbour in Luderitz, so it was great to walk around the dunes and rock formations and see the coastline. We’ve never seen so much quartz anywhere! It was mid-afternoon when we returned to town, and we went to the Shearwater Oyster Bar for fresh oysters and cold beer. The oysters come fancied up or plain and are fresh from the processing plant one floor below. If you enjoy oysters, this place is outstanding, and also has the fastest (free) wifi we’ve encountered in a long time, including SA!
Pic: The sand is reclaiming the old diamond town of Kolmanskop. A few buidings are kept intact.

Jan 25 - Happenings

Pos: S26deg38.360min / E015deg09.442min. We re-anchored to have more swinging room for a blow coming thru tomorrow afternoon. In the meantime, I've been up the mast for routine check and maintenance, and a few other minor projects have also been completed. This morning, we were hoping to tour the Ghost Town of Kolmanskop nearby, but as it's Sunday, there was only one tour time, and we had missed it. Instead, we walked around Luderitz town a bit and noted the lovely German architecture of the early 20th century. Unfortunately, everything was closed so we missed out on the museum, a beautiful church, and local shops. The Yacht Club has week-end hours, but we've enjoyed the diversion of coming in to do internet, take hot showers, and enjoy the cold beer. We're planning departure later this week for Walvis Bay.
Pic: The Lutheran Felsenkirche (Rock Church), Diamond Hill

Jan 23 - Safe arrival, Luderitz, Namibia

Today, the anchor dropped at 1500 in the yacht basin in Luderitz harbour. The passage up here, although only a bit longer than three days, was a mixed bag of weather. From motoring in the calms to putting a third reef in the main in 37 knots of wind with heavy seas, we were constantly wondering what the next few hours would bring. Weather forecasting around here is more art than science, and there are few ports along this very inhospitable coast to even think about diverting to should the need arise. As expected, Infini handled conditions with her usual aplomb, and as we closed the coast of Namibia in dense fog with visibility restricted to about 100 yards, the sun suddenly appeared and the wind dropped to 5 knots. Go figure! The Perkins went on, the SW swell was behind us, and we made good time. We anchored in 10 feet of mud out of the channel and near the YC; getting a mooring is improbable. Immigration, then Customs, was visited (no fees), and we then came into the Luderitz Yacht Club to take hot showers and have a celebratory drink. We'll sleep well tonight!
Pic: Diamond mining boat on a mooring near us in the harbor.

Jan 20 - Enroute to Luderitz, Namibia

Pos: S32deg16.44min / E017deg23.81min We departed at 0645, motorsailed thru the pass and have had a beautiful day sailing in SW-SSW winds of 10-18. Distance to Luderitz approximately 365 nm. All's well aboard.

Jan 18 - A bit of sight-seeing

We borrowed a car and drove to Jacobsbaai and Patermoster, coastal communities a bit further northwest from Saldanha Bay. Great ocean views and beautiful bays; we'll pass lthem both to starboard on passage north to Luderitz. Returning home, we stopped at Vrendenburg and the Weskus Mall, where we did a bit of last minute provisioning at Woolworths and Food Lovers Market. There is also a Checkers as well as typical mall shops, and a nearby Pick N Pay.
Pic: A small view of the beach at Patermoster, from the Skatkis Resturant

Jan 17 - Waiting for weather

Conditions have been less than optimal for heading north to Luderitz. So, we're catching up to a bunch of little items; also, Sue's posted a few new photo albums. Enjoy!
Pic: Waking up to fog...it had lifted by late morning.

Jan 12 - SBYC

Pos: S33deg01.238min / E017deg56.914 min One of the YC members let us know we had anchored too close to a channel the Navy uses for their launches, so we re-anchored just offshore of the Slipway Restaurant in a very protected bite, in 18’ water. We’re expecting a blow thru here in the next day or so, and this affords much better protection here. There’s a Spar store in town and it’s pretty well stocked. The Eigelaar Marine Store is nearby, as are hardware stores, an ATM, and a few bars and restaurants. Speaking of which, we enjoyed a very nice mussel dish at the Slipway, and there is a dock there to tie up the dinghy. The YC here doesn’t have a restaurant, but there are kitchen and braai facilities for general use, as well as a well-stocked bar (open M-F at 4 pm and S-S mid-morning) and lounge/TV area. There’s also a washing machine yachties can use, but no dryer; clothes lines are outside to hang clothes to dry. The club also has free wifi, a good thing as our Telkom dongle isn’t picking up signal. The showers are excellent, and the YC manager, Ivy, is very helpful, as we have found many of the YC members to be also. A newer marina nearby is Yachtport SA where haul-out facilities for larger vessels may be found. The YC here has a slipway for small to medium sized yachts, although there is a fairly large steel yacht using it as this is being written. Some ways around, but still in Saldanha Bay, is Club Mykonos Marina, and still further down is Langebaan Lagoon.
Pic: Matt in charge of pizza night aboard...yum!

Jan 10 - Test results

After careful evaluation, everything seemed in order in regards to the engine and tranny. We decided to raise anchor and motor around the bay at various rpm's, as well as going into reverse, to test the Maxprop. We had used Matt's Go-Pro camera attached to our long gaff to attempt to visualize whether the three blades were engaging properly, but with the clarity of the water being less than optimal, analysis was difficult. This morning, we hauled anchor and worked with and against the tide; results were mixed. Our top speed reached 4.7 knots with; 4.2 knots against, the tide. Reverse was not a problem. So, this is still a full knot less than what the engine speed should achieve, so we're thinking the Maxprop may need a bit of a tune-up. Unfortunately, this will mean a haul-out and removal of the prop to return to PYI in the States, not something we can do in the immediate future. Well, we have power, rpm's, forward and reverse, and a bit of speed, albeit slow....At times like this I'm doing my best to remember that, after all, we are a sailboat, and not supposed to motor so much!
Pic: The Saldanha Bay Yacht Club mooring field and dinghy dock.

Jan 8 - Saldanha Bay

Pos: S33deg01.03min E017deg57.14min
The wind started blowing the night before our planned departure. So much for advance planning. Fortunately, by morning it had layed down, although the seas still looked rough in the bay outside Simon's Town. You have to go about 12 miles from the marina or anchorage, usually directly to windward, to reach Cape Point, which then enables one to turn and round the Cape Of Good Hope, a milestone for all sailors. By 0930, the wind was down to about 15 knots, but it was obvious the seas had calmed down quite a bit. The decision was made, and we were so fortunate to have many of our friends cast off our dock lines; getting into, and out of, the Yacht Club moorings can be a challenge. Unfortunately, shortly after that we discovered we weren't getting enough power to push us thru the head winds and small chop. Our speed was a depressing 1-2 knots; something was seriously wrong. Propeller clean - check; all fluids changed and topped off - check; engine revs OK and putting out amps - check....it took us most of the afternoon going an average speed of 1.5 knots to finally get around Cape Point - how depressing is that? I had decided not to turn around and return to Simon's Town; our destination promised provisions, parts and mechanics; we decided to go for it and evaluate our problems there. The weather was actually quite right; 15-20 knots of wind on the aft quarter; the evening was really beautiful, but cold. The Benguela Current is found in these parts, and we donned warm clothes and foul weather gear to stay warm. By about 0300 in the morning, the wind died, and yes, we motored. There were a few ships around, but no problems, and getting to Saldanha Bay was straight forward. We anchored in 22' sand/mud, and took the dinghy into the Saldanha Bay Yacht Club, where we were warmly greeted by Ivy,the Club Manager. Foreign visitors get 10 days free access to the facilities here, and provisioning is a short walk away. We briefly were introduced to the mechanic we'll be dealing with, so now we're getting organized. More info as it becomes available.
Pic: Cape of Good Hope to starboard!

Jan 4 - Kirsty and Kirstenbosch

This morning we returned our rental car to Avis and our extended family friend Kirsty picked us up to do a bit of sight seeing. We hadn't seen her since visiting Gaye in Durban, and it was good to catch up. We drove to the Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens; a beautiful display of the rich diversity of the indigenous flora of South Africa. Established in 1913, there are lots of trails and places to picnic, and this is also where the summer music concert series takes place. After, we had a nice lunch at the Cape to Cuba Restaurant in Kalk Bay before returning to Infini and enjoying a cup of rooibos tea together. Thanks, Kirsty, for a great day!

Jan 2 - Chasing around

We went without our morning 5K cardiovascular walk and left early for an entire day chasing around, from Cape Town to Blouberg Beach. We stopped at four kite-boarding stores before Matt finally found the equipment he was looking for. At the Cavendish Mall in Clermont, we made a bunch of stops including the Travelex Currency Exchange store to purchase some British pounds. That currency is used in St. Helena, where we'll be visiting in the near future. We met up with the crews from Mantra, Gromit, Rhythm and Mystic for happy hour and dinner here at the YC. On a somewhat sad note, our rental car returns to Avis Sunday morning, so we're planning on another day of running around tomorrow, Saturday, as our last hurrah. Fun and games. By the way, there are myriads of hikes around here, Cape Town and surrounding areas; there are probably books written about them as well, but we've never looked into that. Gordon and Helen of the sv Mantra showed us the following excursion. My description may be a bit off, but once you find the path, it becomes obvious. Leaving the YC, we turn to the left, and walk to where we take another left turn which winds around to the Boulder Beach Penguin Park area. The street eventually leads to a board walk; the penguins are about a foot away on the other side of a fence, up close and personal. Continuing thru two gates, we go over a few short stretches of sandy path, past a public toilet, and wind our way to the last house facing the beach. The path goes right alongside the wall of that house and leads to one of the holes of the Simon's Town Golf Course. We climb over the fence, and walk next to it a few hundred yards around the green to find the 2 meter path to the sidewalk. From there, it's back to downtown, then to the pier, and finish our walk thru the YC parking lot to the YC. The walk takes us one hour, we estimate distance to be 5K, and there's just enough gradients to get the pulse up and down for a good work-out. Try it! A more severe work-out is the climb up the many steps to the Just Nuisance Memorial. (You'll have to read about who that was!) This hike had us wishing we had a Stairmaster aboard....

Jan 1, 2015 - Happy New Year!

Ours was a relatively quiet one spent with friends here at the False Bay Yacht Club, Simon's Town. There were lots of kids running around, a DJ pumping out loud music at the upstairs bar, braais happening downstairs, and to top things off at midnight, three prolonged horn blasts from one of the moored Navy ships here in the harbor. Orion and the Southern Cross constellations are overhead, and the wind, finally, has moderated. Our wishes to everyone for a safe, healthy and happy 2015. Cheers!