Thursday, November 23, 2017

Happy Thanksgiving and A Visit to the Windy City (Port Elizabeth)

Firstly, a very Happy Thanksgiving to all our family and friends in the USA!! We just finished our own small Thanksgiving dinner aboard, and thought back to last year's Thanksgiving meal we enjoyed in New Caledonia, with Lyn & Bruce Savage!  Tomorrow morning at 6:00am we will depart Knysna for the 300 mile trip to Cape Town. We expect to arrive there early Sunday morning.

Happy Thanksgiving from the Hibberds aboard Cool Runnings!
And now back to our next installment of our travels through South Africa!

Our ride to Port Elizabeth from Durban was fast, if not the most comfortable. After leaving Durban, we headed out to sea for a while, and a couple of miles further south, off Aliwal Shoals, we found the Agulhas current. The current is at its strongest between Durban and East London, and then, as the coastline turns towards Port Elizabeth, the current continues straight, and one has to stay further offshore to stay in it.

The first day and night we had speeds of up to 12 knots (at times between 4 – 5 knots of current), and surfed waves at speeds of up to 22 knots!! We had very strong winds and big seas. One wave was so big, it tipped the boat to one side to such an extent that the Engle (our portable fridge/freezer), which is heavy, and a stool with Dave’s tools inside, also extremely heavy, went flying down the starboard hull stairs! It was very scary, and we now have dents both in the stairs and the wall to remind us of it! But we had our fastest passage to date, covering 212 miles in the first 24 hours! Dave and I got very little sleep, as the wind continued to blow the following day and night, and by the time we neared PE, on Saturday morning, November 11th, we were both exhausted! We took down the mainsail, and sailed the last 20 miles across Nelson Mandela Bay (formerly Algoa Bay) on half our jib only. We wanted to arrive in the light, so we had to slow down.

Arriving in PE at dawn
We entered the Port of PE at about 5:00am and headed towards the concrete wall we had been advised to go to. It was indeed just that, a rough concrete wall, and together with wind blowing us onto to it, and the swell coming into the harbor, we were not too thrilled to tie up there. But, having no other alternative, we did, monitoring the movement of the boat closely. We noticed a mooring ball in the middle of the channel, and decided that if we could also tie to the mooring ball, we could pull the boat off the wall a little. So we lowered the dinghy, and Dave ran lines to and from the boat through the mooring ball. We had a web of lines holding Cool Runnings in place, but still, it was a precarious position.

A local couple, working on their boat advised that our best option would be to anchor in the channel, as they predicted the swell would just get worse, and even with all our lines, we would be tossed against the wall! In the meantime, Dave got in touch with his contact, John, at the Algoa BayYacht Club and asked if there were any other options. John advised that there was one walk on mooring (berth) available, and we could use that. Off we went and tried to tie up there. The swell coming into the harbor was so bad, that we actually broke a mooring line, with the violent back and forth motion of the boat tied up to the dock!

Dave inspects the mooring berth.  It doesn't look that bad, but boy, it was terrible!
Our last resort was to go and anchor in the harbor, which turned out to be our best option. There was not a lot of space, but enough for us to anchor and to be able to swing if the wind changed (which it did), and really, we were lucky, as 4 other boats came in after us, and they all really battled to find somewhere to “park”. One ended up tied up to a fishing boat, one ended up on the wall we first tied up to, another tied up to another concrete wall, and the last tied up to the outside of the mooring we had tried (but at that time, the wind had switched and the surge was not as bad as we had experienced!). It was after 9:00am by the time we were finally settled, about 4 hours after we had arrived!
Cool Runnings anchored in PE.  We are the Lagoon on the right of the picture next to the blue ship.  The big Lagoon cat on the left is 62 foot long!  Look how tiny we look in comparison!
"Maria" from Stockholm, a 46ft Hanse ended up tied up against another concrete wall
It turned out that Dave’s good friend from school days, Sean Rushton, had moved to PE a year or two previously, so they were anxious to reconnect! Sean, his wife Lise, and their adorable 10-month old son, Kai, came to the yacht club to meet us for lunch. We had a great meal, and the kids had fun playing with Kai. Eventually, even though he was a very good baby, Kai’s patience ran out, and Lise had to take him home!


At the Algoa Bay Yacht Club with Sean and little Kai

Ben and Gaby with Kai.  They look like they might enjoy a little sibling!!!
We were actually going to joke and send this to everyone saying it's our new family portrait!
Sean was kind enough to drive us around, and take us to “Makro”, (a Walmart type store), as we were in dire need of replacing our big LED flashlights that we need at night to check sails and such, and which had all given up their ghosts on us, all at once! Ben and Gaby enjoyed checking out all the “stuff”…we had not really been in a big store since Australia, and I had a hard time getting them out of the sporting goods section, where they had spied skateboards, boogie boards, scooters and other cool stuff, most of which are too big for the boat (and really, Gaby, where are you going to use a skateboard on a boat? She’ll give you lots of answers, by the way!). Sean came back to the boat to check it out, and then we had an early night that evening, still exhausted from our journey down from Durban.

On Sunday, after assisting two of the international boats that arrived that morning to find a place to tie up, the wind switched and blew ferociously from the south west. We got to see first-hand why Port Elizabeth is called “The Windy City” (it is also known as “The Friendly City”, so that balances it out!!). It was so strong that we were reluctant to leave the boat, and had to change our plans with Sean and Lise. We had originally meant to go to their house for lunch, but undeterred by our predicament, they packed up all the food, and brought it to us, picnic style! Kai did not enjoy the dinghy ride out to the boat, and I don’t blame the little guy! The wind was cold and strong, made a huge noise and no doubt he got wet on the ride over. However, once on board, it didn’t take long for him to relax, and we all enjoyed a delicious lunch of chicken enchiladas, salad and garlic bread, and much to Ben and Gaby’s delight, Milk Tart for desert!! A huge thank you to Lise for preparing such a scrumptious lunch, and bringing it to us!!

Lunch aboard with Sean, Lise and Kai

Sean, Lise and Kai
We think he'd make a fine deckhand!
We watched the weather closely, as we were anxious to get out of PE (no offense, Sean! We loved your city and seeing you, but the harbor was not the best place for Cool Runnings to be!). We were anchored right next to the area where the magnesium iron ore is loaded onto ships, and in just 2 days, our boat was covered in fine, black dust. We had heard about coal dust covering boats in Richard’s Bay, but this was much, much worse!

We were just a couple of boat lengths away from this ship that was being loaded with the magnesium

However, on Monday, even though it had calmed down in strength, the wind was still blowing south west, and we decided to stay another day. Luckily, the sun was out, and Sean took us for a lovely drive along the coast, and in no time we were driving around Cape Recife. It was hard to imagine that the city and this beautiful, unspoilt coastline were in such close proximity to each other! Watching from the shore, we saw a whole pod of whales jumping right out of the water, multiple times! None of us had cameras (other than our phones), so we just decided to enjoy the moment and watch these amazing creatures obviously enjoying themselves!


Fishing boats in PE Harbor

We watched as this tug sprayed its water cannons, escorting a small cruise ship into the harbor

By Tuesday morning, the wind had started to switch, so we pulled up our anchor and headed back out to sea. The forecast looked decent enough, with some stronger wind forecast for part of the way, which didn’t concern us too much, as it was in the right direction, and we knew we could reef down our sails and manage it. Little did we know that this patch of stronger wind would turn into a “black south easter”, a violent, fast-moving cold front, that put Cool Runnings and her crew to the test and would prove to be our toughest passage yet over the past 20 months since leaving Madeira Beach!


A wonderful shot Sean took of us as we headed out of PE...thanks for the great stay and company!!

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Durban Days

Cool Runnings is currently anchored in Knysna, waiting for a weather window to get to Cape Town. In the meantime, we’ve been doing some exploring, so my apologies for neglecting the blog! We have a lot to catch you up on, so let me start where we left off last time…heading to Durban.

We had struggled with whether or not to go to Durban, as we had so many conflicting reports about the condition of the harbor after the storm, and whether or not there would be space for us, but in the end, even though it was a short stay, we are all glad we did! Before leaving Richard’s Bay, we called Durban Marina and they confirmed that there were no walk on moorings available, and all they could offer us was water to anchor in. We decided that we could not come all this way, and not sail into our home port!

Arriving in Durban - the Bluff is in the background

Entering the harbor - it always seems to be a miserable day when we enter a new port!

Arriving in Durban reminded us that it is the busiest shipping port in the southern hemisphere. Coming into port we had to dodge a ship turning in front of us, and another coming down the channel towards us. But luckily Dave knows the harbor like the back of his hands and was not at all bothered by all the activity! We sailed past the naval base, and low and behold, the exact Strike Craft (a SA Navy guided missile ship, P1567 - SAS Hendrik Menz) that Dave was stationed on in his navy days was in port! We also passed the huge MSC Ines, the ship that had been blown sideways during the huge storm a few weeks ago, and had been blocking the channel. They were doing repairs on it, since its rudders and propellers were damaged during the incident.

Dave's Strike Craft (minus missiles)!

The huge MSC Ines being repaired after her damage in the storm

Another view of the Ines, along with a crane that was blown over in the storm, still on its side (middle of pic)

Dodging the shipping traffic!

By late afternoon on Saturday, November 4th, we were anchored in Durban harbor, along with a few other international boats that were in the same predicament as us! We launched the dinghy and headed to the Point Yacht Club (PYC) to see who was there, and what was going on. Unfortunately no-one was there, and the restaurant was closed! Everyone was at a big function at the PYC Beach Site, as that clubhouse was due to be demolished in a few weeks, so the club was having a big last bash. Dejectedly we walked over to RNYC (Royal Natal Yacht Club), staunch rivals of the PYC. They welcomed us with open arms and immediately gave us 2 weeks temporary membership! We had also stumbled upon their annual Halloween and Guy Fawkes party, so we enjoyed the evening at our new club, feeling like traitors to PYC!

Yacht Club membership cards!

On Sunday morning Dave’s cousins, the Smith/Stacey clan, came over for a few hours as the kids all desperately wanted to see the boat. Ben and Gaby showed them around the boat and showed them their cabins (it all didn’t take very long!), but it was fun, especially for the younger cousins to all see each other again. 

Dave takes Mandy, Rowen, Lauren, Eric and Colleen back to dry land

A second dingy ride takes the kids (and Brad) back to land

2 of the international boats anchored out with us.  Durban on a sunny day for a change!

The next task was not a nice one. We had toilet troubles again, and just as in Indonesia, another pipe, the one that leads to the holding tank, had calcified inside, and we had to unblock it. Having learnt from our previous experience, it didn’t take as long as the first time, but it still is an unpleasant task, and just a pain taking pipes on and off in awkward positions!! 

Poor Dave...

We finished just in time to get to PYC to meet up with friends for a planned braai (BBQ) that afternoon. Dave saw some friends he had not seen for a very long time, and a very special thanks to Rob and Brenda Tarbotton who drove all the way from Pietermaritzburg, over an hour away, to come and see Dave, and to Chris Sutton who organized the gathering!

Dave enjoying some conversation and a beer

A big thank you to all of you who came to say hi:  from left:  Campbell Alexander, Miles White, Joy Sutton, Wayne, Gudrun, Dave, Andrew de Vlieg, Roy Dunster, Greg Hurter, Rob and Brenda Tarbotton; At the back:  Martin Payne and Chris Sutton
On Monday morning, I went to stay with my parents, while Dave and the kids stayed on the boat. Dave managed to squeeze in a few more visits, having breakfast with an old University friend, Dave Lewis, and also meeting up with Rob Bentley, who, together with his wife Belinda and 2 kids, did a similar thing a couple of years ago, sailing from Durban to Australia. Rob and Belinda had given us some good advice on navigating the Mozambique Channel, so it was great to be able to thank them, and for Rob to see the boat. Later that same day, Dave, Ben and Gaby were also treated to lunch and a nice tour of Durban by old friend Alec Lanham-Love, who picked them up and chauffeured them around! They got to see the Beverly Hills hotel where Dave and I were married, 23 years ago!

Alec, Ben and Gaby with the Beverly Hills hotel behind them, and the lighthouse in Umhlanga that features in our wedding photos!

Alec with Dave with Cool Runnings in the background on the left, anchored in Durban harbor
I enjoyed a lazy day with my folks as the weather was cold, grey and rainy! Never mind…my mom makes a great cup of coffee and had some of my favorite biscuits (cookies) on hand!! I spent the night there on Monday, and on Tuesday drove down to the yacht basin to pick up my family. It was my mom’s 81st birthday, and she said it was the best birthday present she could have had, having us with her on that day! We all spent the day with my folks, enjoying lunch with them at the retirement village and celebrating later over coffee and traditional Wedekind birthday cake (I do mention food a lot in this blog, don’t I !!!). My mom took us back to the boat in the late afternoon, just as the heavens opened up, and it bucketed down with rain! Happy Birthday, Mutti! You look amazing, and not a day over 29! It was such a treat to spend time with you, even if it was a bit short!

Dave and my dad chatting on the patio

With my mom and dad, Sigrid and Juergen, on my mom's 81st birthday

Coffee and cake!!
On Wednesday morning, before braving the bureaucracy of checking out of Durban, we met up with an old Cool Runnings crew member, Adrian Raw! Adrian spent 3 months with us at the start of the trip, meeting us in Panama and helping us with the Pacific crossing. Fransie, it was really good to see you and reminisce! Thanks for the lovely breakfast and for chauffeuring us to the authorities to “check out” of Durban. We are so sorry we didn’t have more time to spend together. And…we forgot to take a photo, so for old time’s sake…

Here is Adrian in the beautiful Tuamotos islands in July last year

We know there are people we didn’t get to see at all, and our apologies to all of those people. But cruising is a difficult beast when it comes to making plans…you really can’t! We are so dependent on the weather, and we often can’t leave the boat for any length of time, and that’s what happened in Durban. A weather window to get to Port Elizabeth opened up, and we had to take it. We spent the rest of the day checking out of Durban.

Adrian dropped us at the Harbor Master/Port office. There we all had to sign in and go to the 4th floor. A gentleman there looked at the reams of paperwork Dave had completed that morning, and stamped two pieces of paper. Then he said to go to Customs and Immigration, another office (I forget which), and then come back to him. Down the elevator, across the road and to the Customs and Excise building we walked. There someone looked at all our paperwork, checked our passports, and stamped something. Then they told us to go to another office. Out the building we went, around the corner, and in another entrance. We signed in again, and entered an inner sanctum. Someone looked at the reams of paperwork and stamped something. Then it was back to the Harbor Master. Sign in again, up to the 4th floor, and then there was a different person there, so he didn’t know that we’d already been to get our initial stamp! When Dave finally sorted that out, he wanted to keep all our paperwork. But the marina office had told Dave that he had to bring the completed paperwork back to them, so THEY could see we had properly checked out. Dave was rudely told that it was not their business and they wouldn’t give him a copy! Knowing that he had to have something to show the marina, he eventually convinced the man to let him take a photo of his paperwork, so he could at least prove to the marina that we’d completed it all! And this, folks, is not to check in or out of a country, it is merely to leave a PORT to sail to another PORT within the same country!!! We have never, in all our travels, come across such unnecessary ridiculousness, and I’m embarrassed that it is in our home country of South Africa!!! The foreign yachts we’ve spoken to are all as befuddled as we are with the whole system! Equally embarrassing, while I’m at it, are the operators on the radios at the Ports. We’ve come to the conclusion that sounding as bored, uninterested and rude as possible is a pre-requisite for getting the job! The conversations we’ve overheard with the radio operators and the ships have been unbelievable, and we, being a lowly sailing vessel, have been treated simply with irritation. Never a please, thank you, good morning or good bye…just common courtesy in my book! OK, I’ll stop my rant now! (PS: Just for the record, and to be fair, I do have to mention that in Port Elizabeth, I did hear some courteous operators on PE Radio, which seemed to be different to the PE Port…)

We enjoyed watching some Wednesday night racing in the harbor.  Even on a chilly evening, there were quite a few boats out there, racing amongst the anchored boats!

At 5:00am on Thursday morning, November 9th, we pulled up anchor and headed out of Port in the direction of Port Elizabeth. We glanced back at Durban with melancholy, not knowing when we’ll see our hometown again, knowing it will almost definitely not be by boat, but glad we made the short stop.

The early morning sun shines onto Durban, with Howard College, part of the University of Kwa Zulu Natal (the University both Dave and I attended) standing tall on the hill, and the sugar terminals, that have been there for as long as I can remember, prominently displayed in the sun
Looking back onto Durban as we leave.  The Moses Mabhida Staduim with its now iconic arch was built for the 2010 FIFA Soccer World Cup




Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Fun at the Farm

It’s been an action-packed, fun-filled time over the last two weeks, as we spent time on two farms in the Natal Midlands, and then sailed down to Durban from Richard's Bay. On Wednesday, the 25th of October, we drove our little rental car towards Mooi River, headed towards our friends, John and Heidi Watt’s farm. John sailed Lasers with Dave, but was also at school with my brother, Volker, and the Watts lived just up the road from us in Westville, so I’ve known the Watt family for many, many years. Heidi and I used to spend hours together, either on a beach or at a yacht club all around South Africa, (and even in the Canary Islands when John and Dave sailed a World Championships there), waiting for our husbands to finish sailing, so we could roll the dolly down to the water’s edge to load up their Lasers!

We had one stop on the way to the Watt farm, and that was the Nelson Mandela Capture Site. Dave and I had no idea that Nelson Mandela was captured in this area, on the 5th of March, 1962, just up the road from Midmar Dam, where we spent a lot of time…you guessed it…sailing! As you turn off the road, following the sign to the parking area, you see these black posts sticking out of the ground, and it’s not until you have walked “The Long Walk to Freedom”, that you see the posts taking shape, and forming the iconic image of Nelson Mandela’s face. To me, the posts almost seemed like prison bars, symbolizing his struggle and the 27 years he spent on Robben Island in prison. Whether or not the artist meant for it to be like that, I don’t know, but that’s how I saw it. It is an amazing sculpture, paying homage to an amazing man. The actual site of his capture was beyond the railway lines on the other side of the road, where a smaller plaque is also erected.

The entrance to the capture site.  The sculpture can be seen on the far left of the picture. 

The sculpture from any other angle but the front just looks like a bunch of poles sticking into the air

Gaby and Ben walk down the path toward the sculpture, in the distance on the right


The path leading up to the sculpture was named "Long Walk to Freedom", which is a famous quote of Mandela's as well as the name of his autobiography.  After he was released from prison Nelson Mandela said:  "I have walked a long walk to freedom. It has been a lonely road, and it is not over yet. I know that my country, was not made to be a land of hatred. No one is born hating another person because the color of his skin. People learn to hate. They can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart."

Very, very slowly, as you walk down the path, the sculpture starts coming into focus

The sculpture comes into focus...an iconic image


We felt it was very important for the kids to understand this part of South Africa's history

We spent some time walking around the exhibit that depicted Mandela's life in images and words. It was very moving for Dave and I to see, and very interesting for the kids to be able to learn and understand some of our homeland’s recent history.

The quote on this panel was from Mandela: "In 1962 I drove through Howick, never imagining that I would be arrested not far along the road, or that it was to be my last day of freedom for many years to come"





After a quick lunch, we were back on the road, and enjoyed a beautiful drive to John and Heidi’s farm. They, together with their youngest daughter Bella, their 2 dogs and 2 lambs were on hand to greet us! After we settled in, and Ben and Gaby got to feed the lambs a bottle of milk, we took a quick drive around the farm, inspecting their small, but growing herd of Nguni cattle, and then they took us to a blue crane sanctuary, where we saw some of South Africa’s beautiful national birds being rehabilitated. The kids had a blast in the back of the “bakkie” (American translation: truck; Australian translation: Yute!), holding on as we bounced along the dirt roads. Back at the farmhouse we watched a spectacular sunset, as the setting sun set the looming clouds on fire, and enjoyed a good old South African braai.

Some of John and Heidi's cattle and calves.  

Bella, Ben and Gaby in the back of the bakkie!

With John and Heidi
Farm Girls:  Bella and Gaby herd the cows!

Sunset

The setting sun reflects off the clouds

After a leisurely morning, we headed into Mooi River, so we could meet John and Heidi’s two other daughters, Amy and Faith, who were both at school. Amy is doing a teaching internship at Treverton College, and Faith and Bella are students there, Faith having stayed over the previous night due to sporting events, but they typically make the drive daily to and from the farm to school and back. Thank you, Watt family for having us! It was great to see you again, John and Heidi, and to finally meet your 3 lovely girls!!

The view from the Watt's front lawn...so beautiful and peaceful!
Soon it was time to hit the road again, as we had made plans to meet my friend Vicky and her son Cameron at a coffee shop before heading on to their farm for the rest of the weekend. The weather did not cooperate, and it was rainy and misty by the time we had driven the 40 or so minutes to meet up with Vicky. After a lovely coffee and a bowl of soup to warm the soul, we followed Vicky and Cameron as they headed toward their farm, with one quick stop along the way.

Our stop was a very special one. We were delivering and installing custom made towel rails to the Khazimula Children’s Project, a Children’s home for 30 orphans. Haydn had manufactured the towel rails at his factory, one for each of the 4 dormitories. New towels had just been purchased from money raised at a recent fund raising event. While Dave and Cameron went about the task of installing the towel rails, Benjamin, Gaby, Vicky and I went to study hall to help the children with their homework. It was a humbling and rewarding experience. I especially enjoyed how seriously Ben took this task, and when it was time to leave, he asked us to wait, as he had not yet finished helping his new friend with a worksheet. My heart went out to a little girl who was just learning how to spell. The smile that spread across her little face when she matched up the correct words with sounds, was just so precious. These kids do not have much, but they have each other, and a roof over their heads and a meal in their tummies thanks to the efforts of the dedicated staff and friends like the Rawlins family! Check out their website at www.khazimula.co.za or their Facebook page: Khazimula Children’s Project.

Cameron lets the boys rev the engines of the off-road motobikes they brought to the farm

Ben gets to it

In the study hall

Ben and Gaby confer on one of the problems

Vicky and I do our best to assist!

Gaby helps a new friend

By the time we got to the farm, it was pitch black, and although Vicky and Haydn assured us the road was in pretty good shape compared to previous visits, we left our little rental at the cattle loading station, and made the rest of the journey in the Rawlins' 4x4 vehicles. (Haydn had joined us at this point in "Big Red", their farm 4x4 Land Cruiser).  We woke on Friday morning to near freezing temperatures and drizzly rain. But this did not deter anyone...out came the toys: first up was the quad bike. Cameron took both kids for a few spins, and taught them how to ride it by themselves. Once Ben and Gaby had mastered the quad, they progressed to the kids’ motorbikes. Ben absolutely LOVED it! He rode until his fingers were numb with cold, and he couldn’t hold on anymore! They jumped on and off all day, stopping only to get the feeling back in their fingers. After Gaby wiped out in the slippery grass, she had had enough! Thank goodness for Vicky’s insistence that they wear helmets, because she actually hit her head on a concrete corner, and could have seriously hurt herself! But she was a trooper, and with a scraped and bruised shoulder being the worst of her injuries, she called it quits for a while (but got back in the saddle the next day!).

Ben masters the quad bike


Gabs on the quad
Ben enjoying a ride


Look at the mud-splattered face!  

Even big boys enjoy the bikes!
Late in the afternoon we took a drive, then walked up a mountain to enjoy the stunning views, and shivered in the cold as the icy wind blew and chilled us to the bone! Thank goodness for the lovely warm fireplace in the farmhouse that always had a fire burning to defrost us again!


Vicky in Big Red with Dave, Ben and Gaby at the foot of the hill we were to climb

Somewhat chilly!!

Big Red at the bottom, the rest of us climbing the hill, and Haydn on his bike looking on!

Gaby on top of the world!

Saturday dawned equally cold, but the rain dissipated, and we were left with a clear, cold day. Much to Benjamin’s dismay (he wanted to stay and ride bikes), we headed to Nottingham Road, the closest little town to the farm. We poked around some lovely little shops that were part of the Midlands Meander, a collection of arranged routes in the Kwa Zulu Natal Midlands that offer visitors lots of opportunity to shop at unique local arts and crafts shops, enjoy lovely coffee shops and restaurants and explore lots of other attractions. It has definitely expanded a lot since we were last here, but is always a favorite thing to do.

We met mutual friends Linda and Ron Langford for lunch at one of the restaurants on the Meander, the Abingdon Winery, where we snuggled up next to the fire and enjoyed a leisurely lunch and another catch up session, as we had not seen them for many years! Luckily there was still some time in the afternoon when we arrived back at the farm, to ride bikes before the sun set that evening.

Haydn and Vix at the back, Ron, Linda, Gudrun and Dave outside Abingdon Winery


A glass or two too many..?! :-)

Mother Nature decided to give us a break and presented us with a stunning day on Sunday. The sun was shining and the biting wind died. It was a fun filled day with bike riding, bike soccer (a Rawlins invention, I believe), rock wall climbing, zip lining, and much to Dave and the kids’ delight, clay pigeon and target shooting! Vicky had invited some of her neighboring farm friends over for lunch, and while some of us lazed around and sipped wine after a truly fantastic lunch (Vicky is an absolute whizz in the kitchen!!), the kids and boys enjoyed playing with all the toys, and inventing new games and stunts that seemed to involve a lot of fire…?!!!

Biking

Shooting

Haydn schools Ben in the fine art of handling a shotgun

Gaby's turn

Gaby shooting

Dave aims at a clay pigeon!

Ben and Gaby on the rock climbing wall
Bike soccer...??!!

Cameron jumped over this contraption with his bike

Something to do with a mole...?  (I promise no animals, moles or otherwise were harmed during this episode...)
Cameron entertains us...it was like a circus!!  (That's Gaby, Dave, Ben and Haydn lying on the ground.  Cameron cleared them all (thank goodness!))

Early on Monday morning, Dave went for a long walk up the mountain and took some fantastic shots.  Here you can see the farmhouse in the middle of the shot, near a clump of trees.  

A Panoramic of the view

Again, the farmhouse is in the center of the photo.  

Our fun time at the farm came to a close on Monday, which was also Cameron's (and his absent twin, Amber’s) 19th birthday! We celebrated with coffee and cake at a little place outside of Nottingham Road called CafĂ© Bloom, before we went our separate ways. Haydn and Cameron headed back to Johannesburg, while Vicky drove to Durban to go and see her mom. The Hibberds headed back to Richard’s Bay to start making preparations to get the boat ready for the trip to Durban. Vicky and Haydn…thank you for your incredible hospitality; not only at the farm, but also for making your home in Salt Rock available to us! We all had SO much fun and it was an absolute adventure for the kids to be able to ride bikes and shoot guns and do crazy stuff!

Back in Richard’s Bay it was back to reality. We studied the tides and decided to beach the boat to clean her hulls and change the sail drive oil before making the rest of the trip down the coast of South Africa. Tuesday was Halloween, and it was probably the quietest Halloween our kids have ever experienced!  But they insisted on getting dressed up, and luckily for them, Neville, a kind soul on a neighbouring boat saw them, and came over to give them some candy!  They scored some typical South African sweets:  winegums and Smarties!

Halloween 2017:  Gaby is a pirate; Ben is a soldier

Neville hands over some candy!

On Wednesday afternoon, just after high tide, we took Cool Runnings around the corner from the yacht club, and nudged her up the beach until we felt the keels hit the sand and we were aground. It’s always a scary thing to do (at least for me!), as it goes against all instinct to run a boat aground!! As the tide went out, and more and more of the hulls were exposed, we were able to give them a good clean. Clean hulls mean better speed, so it’s always good to have clean hulls before any journey. We spent the night on the sandbank, the tide coming up again around 2:00am and then back out again by the time we woke up in the morning. When the propellers were fully exposed, Dave drained the oil out the saildrives, and then also managed to repaint them with some antifoul paint. Around 1:00pm the tide was coming up, and we felt the boat “pop out” of the sand, and we were floating again! Back to the dock we went so we could complete the remaining tasks on our list. We went off to fill our 9 jerry cans with diesel and fill up our half empty tanks.

Cool Runnings high and dry

Not the usual position of the anchor!!

Dave working on the sail drives

Friday was taken up with another diesel run and small provisioning shop, and Dave cleared us out of Richard’s Bay. South Africa has the most ridiculous system where you have to clear in and out of every port with the Yacht Club, Customs, Immigration, Port Control and the SA Police, even though we have officially cleared into the country (5 different agency’s in 5 different locations)! We got the boat clean and ready to go, and enjoyed a last meal at the friendly Zululand Yacht Club. Early Saturday morning, we released the dock lines and were on our way at 4:30am. The wind built up throughout the morning, and we put up our spinnaker. We were doing between 8 and 10 knots,making good headway to Durban, and had a couple of good surfs at around 13 knots, our fastest being around 15 knots! Twice along the way we got text messages from friends on land, who could see us sailing down the coast! 12 hours later, after the wind died and we slowed down, we entered Durban Harbor and dropped anchor in its disappointingly dirty water. 19 years after leaving Durban, we had sailed back through the harbor entrance of our home port!

Cool Runnings arrives in Durban Harbor