30 November 2010

Day 328: Knysna, SA – 30/11/10

Victoria is desperate to see the boat.  She hasn’t had a holiday that wasn’t on Jeannius since she was about 14 (apart from a couple of short trips to Spain which don’t count) and not having been on Jeannius for nearly two years, she is getting withdrawal symptoms.

The three of us trundle down to the marina in the little green monster.  Victoria wanders all over the boat, checking out everything that is new or changed in some way, wanting to know how the new rigging works etc.  She is a much more natural sailor than I am, and the only time she gives Mike blind obedience is when she is sailing, a lesson we both learned very early on!!!  She pronounces Jeannius to be somewhat dirty but in very good nick given what she has been put through over the last year.  Sitting at the helm, she pronounces that having been on Jeannius, she now really feels like she is on holiday and promptly sticks her nose back into a new book.  That’s my girl!

We go to an oyster bar for lunch, Mike and I eating deep fried oysters and ‘angels on horseback’ – oysters wrapped in bacon and fried.  Victoria eyes them suspiciously and sticks to mussels.

P1050136 Photo:  Victoria, Mike and me with our seafood

Mike goes into town to sort out his dongle, the gadget that allows us to use wifi from our computers while Victoria and I wander around the shops at the waterfront. 

P1050137 Photo:  Knysna Waterfront

Before we go back to Ann and Terry’s, I discover that the freezer has mysteriously stopped working again and everything that we had left in it has now completely defrosted although the fridge is still working fine.  We had left Jeannius connected to the shore power so there should have been no problem.  Swearing loudly, I chuck some things away and pack some beef, fish, crab sticks and dhal into a cool box and cart it all back to the car.  That night we have a right old cook up.

29 November 2010

Day 327: Cape Town to Knysna, SA – 29/11/10

Boycotting the restaurant again, we go down to the pub for breakfast, at last wearing a change of clothes.  Victoria and I order smoked salmon and scrambled eggs but what arrives is an omelette covered in cheese.  When I query it, the waiter is surprised that I want to send it back.  He tells me that the ingredients are the same as it’s a smoked salmon omelette and seems confused that I don’t think that a) cheese with smoked salmon is inappropriate and that b) I am unhappy about having something that I haven’t ordered.  Mike tucks into his full breakfast and when ours comes back, it is tiny.  That’s what you get for complaining I suppose.  We watch as the staff happily tuck into our rejected omelettes.

We have a long drive back to Knysna as we are going on the scenic inland drive today but first we have to attempt to get two bags of luggage into the smallest area that I have ever seen which is called the boot of the car.  Having only just got our bag in, getting Victoria’s in too is a struggle but with a bit of judicious juggling, squashing and rearranging, we manage it although the shelf over the boot are is now at a somewhat strange angle.

We start off in the direction of Worcester, a little strange as that’s where we now live when we are in England.  The scenery is at first one of vineyards then very mountainous.  In between the mountain ranges are yet more vineyards, huge distilleries towering up from them.

P1050090 P1050091 P1050095 P1050099 P1050101 P1050110 P1050126 P1050128 P1050133 Photos:  Changing scenery along Route 62 – the ‘Scenic Route’

Over the next 8 hours, we wind our way along Route 62, the scenery seemingly changing every time we turn a corner.  We go from mountains to semi desert, to mountains of white granite, to those covered in fir trees and others of a yellow coloured rock.  And all the way they are interspersed with vineyards – and ostrich farms!

Apparently there are lots of things you can do with ostriches.  Eat them, make leather goods out of their speckled skins, turn their egg shells into lamps or paint them and use them as ornaments, make mops and dusters out of their plumage, wear their plumage and race them.  Yes, ride them and race them.  We do actually pass an ostrich racetrack of all things.

P1050105 P1050104 Photos:  One of the female ostriches

We stop at one of the little towns and buy ourselves some local delicacies – biltong, dried fruit and some little twisted pieces of pastry that have been deep fried then plunged into ice cold sugar syrup and left to drain – disgustingly lovely and of course, not fattening at all.

It’s nearly 6.30 pm when we eventually arrive back at Knysna and Mike is shattered.  Victoria has the guided tour and loves the house, especially the view over The Heads from the deck.  We order in a takeaway Thai meal which is delicious.  I am convinced that after stuffing ourselves in the car, us three won’t be able to eat much but embarrassingly it all disappears.  One day my diet will start!

28 November 2010

Day 326: Cape Town, SA – 28/11/10

Mike and I are awake quite early as usual but eager to start the day’s sightseeing.  Mike checks on the internet and finds out that the cable car up to Table Mountain is closed due to high gale force winds and poor visibility at the top, so that’s one thing crossed off the list for today.  We drag Victoria out of bed around 8.30 am then call Maggie and Bob who are somewhere in Cape Town recovering from the flu, arranging to meet them at the Waterfront for breakfast.

There’s no sign of Victoria’s luggage yet as the flight from Dubai doesn’t come in until late afternoon, so with she and I both wearing the same clothes as yesterday (I was expecting some more things from home so hadn’t bought a change of clothes either) we wander around the V & A Waterfront until it’s time to meet up.



Photos:  V & A Waterfront, Cape Town

Suddenly we spot Maggie and Bob waving from the other side of the dry dock, and braving all sorts of vile bacteria and viruses there are hugs and kisses all around.

We find a venue for breakfast and eat a huge meal, complete with delicious filet steak (I have to add here that Maggie eats the healthy option of muesli and yogurt) and swap horror stories of the journey from Richards Bay to Cape Town (from Ocean Jasper) and just to Knysna (us).  It’s wonderful to see them but after a couple of hours we have to get going.  Hopefully we’ll see them at Christmas or New Year.

We take the car up to Table Mountain but the cable car is still not working so we just look at the view from viewpoints.  To be fair, the view is probably better from here anyway – any higher up and you can’t make anything out unless there is no haze whatsoever.

P1040990 P1040991 P1040997 Photos:  Victoria and Mike admiring the views of Cape Town and Table Mountain

We take the toll road around the coast, stopping at Hout Bay to see what it is like as this is where the boats will start from on the next leg to Brazil via St Helena.  Mmm, not very impressing – we certainly won’t be in a hurry to arrive in this marina.  The pontoons look very rickety and it is all a bit scruffy.

We stop to watch a couple with their ‘tame’ sea lion doing tricks for the tourists.  As the sea lion approaches the dock, the man holds a piece of fish in his mouth, leans over the water and the sea lions jumps for it.  He is obviously very well fed because although he catches it, he doesn’t bother eating it at all and drops it.

P1050011 Photo:  Feeding the sea lion

As we start to leave, Mike realises that he has no money less than a R200 note.  We realise that the inevitable request for a donation will soon follow and feel guilty not giving anything.  Victoria is a bit slow on the uptake and we have already moved away when the request comes in and she berates us quite severely.

We head further down the coast towards Cape Point, which is extremely beautiful.

P1050012 Photo:  Hout Bay looks better from the distance!

P1050021 Photo:  The Cape coastline looks more like the Italian Amalfi coast at times

P1050025 Photo:  Long Bay (or beach – I can’t remember)

From here we head down to Boulders Beach.  This is the bit I have been waiting for since reading about it in the WCC folder.  Boulders Beach, just past the naval base of Simons Town, is home to a colony of African penguins.  I love penguins.  I always have.  I love their silly waddling and waggling of bottoms; their forlorn head-hanging walk.  I find them comical and interesting.  I was so disappointed in the Galapagos Islands that the tsunami had scared off the colony there and all we saw was Billy no-mates penguin at a time when I didn’t have my camera.

There are a few penguins as we walk along the boardwalk, but once we pay our money and go down to the beach, the whole colony is spread out before us.

P1050031 P1050049 P1050061 P1050073 P1050065 P1050075 Photos:  Boulders Beach colony of African penguins

Victoria and I find it difficult to drag ourselves away but as Mike is waiting in the car, we eventually do although we go for a drink at a nearby restaurant before heading back to the hotel.  I notice that Mike is eager to get back but don’t realise that he has a hidden agenda until we arrive back in the room and he switches the TV on.  Lo and behold, Liverpool are playing live and Victoria and I have to wait until it’s finished before we can all go for something to eat.

There is still no sign of the luggage so Mike rings Emirates to find out where it is.  First of all they say it didn’t arrive on today’s flight, then they ring us back a few minutes later and say it did and it will be delivered by courier to the hotel ‘shortly’, which we presume to mean that it’s on it’s way.  We go out to eat.  Having tried the restaurant yesterday, we are in no hurry to eat there again and go instead to the pub which is attached to the hotel which has a much better menu.  Our meal is good, much better than yesterday’s.

The luggage still hasn’t arrived when we have finished eating and we ring the airline again.  They assure us it’s on it’s way and sure enough, about an hour later it arrives.  Phew.  Clean clothes and decent teabags!

27 November 2010

Day 325: Knysna to Cape Town, SA – 27/11/10

The sea fog is still out to sea when we wake up and we wonder how Kalliope will fare when she tries to get in this morning.  While I drink my tea (made by me today as Mike is using the “I don’t know where anything is” excuse) I stand on the veranda looking out over the lagoon with the binoculars.  There’s no sign of them and by 8 am it’s obvious that they are not coming in.

We leave with Ann and Terry for the journey to George Airport to pick up our hire car.  There’s lovely scenery to see and they point out various things that we will do over the coming weeks as we go.

We pull into the airport car rental area and as we cruise up the lines of cream and white cars.  There’s a lone electric, lime green one which I point out and laugh at.  I bet it’s ours.  Naturally, it turns out that it is!  The trouble is it’s smaller than what we have paid for through Holiday Extras, and there’s not enough room in the boot for our luggage and Victoria’s so Mike goes back to Hertz to point out that there’s a problem.  There sure is – they have no other cars for another hour and we don’t have the time to wait.  He says we might be able to change it at Cape Town airport but when he rings them, they don’t have anything either.

We inspect the car thoroughly – Hertz are meticulous about damage and we don’t want to lose our deposit, then squeeze our smallish bags into the boot, and ourselves into the interior.  Terry has hired a car the size of a bus for all of us and he offers it to us but we decline as the rear is totally open and we couldn’t conceal any luggage if we parks up somewhere.

We kiss goodbye and start off in our lime green sardine tin.  We have nearly 300 miles to cover and potentially three sets of road works which can hold you up for 20 minutes at a time.

The scenery is varied as we travel through.  It starts off very green and lush with what looks like forests of pine and fir, but as we travel further west it opens out and there are mountains in the background.  At times we could be in Wales, or the Peak District in England.  Bits of Switzerland also come into view, and vast open sweeping plains of the mid west of the USA.  Not breathtaking stuff but the changes are interesting.  There are lots of horses, sheep and ostriches.

P1040955 P1040961 P1040962 Photos:  Mountains and sweeping plains

We stop at a petrol station and buy some snacks to see us through then plough on, just stopping once more at one of the pit stops by the side of the road to let the air blow through the car.

P1040963 Photo:  Mike stands by our lime green sardine tin

As we near Cape Town we go through vineyards as we are at the edge of the wine growing area.  Outside Cape Town we start to see the townships, sprawling for mile upon mile, some looking worse than others.  Rubbish spills out onto the so far pristine roads and through the fence we can see rows of portable public toilets, everything in sharp contrast to the beautiful property we have seen in other areas.

We arrive at the airport turnoff two hours too early as the predicted road work stops didn’t materialise so we continue on into Cape Town looking for the Waterfront area.  The traffic is amazingly light and we manage to park right there and wander through the marina, quickly spotting two of the rally boats, Destiny and Wild Tigris, but no one is on either boat.  We walk around for half an hour or so, just to get the feel of the place.

P1040970 Photo:  Mike at the Waterfront with Table Mountain in the background

P1040971 Photo:  Me and Mike

We manage to find our way back to the airport with the help of our sat nav system but are confused by the term ‘parkade’ and pass most of the car parks before realising that this is what the term refers to.  By the time we park we are miles away from the arrivals area and have to hot foot it back.  Victoria’s flight has just landed and - process the passengers quickly and within half an hour they start appearing.  We wait and wait.  Victoria doesn’t appear.  Then then regular flow turns to a trickle and one girl comes out without her luggage.  We hear she has a British accent.  Bugger.  Was she on Victoria’s flight from Birmingham to Dubai?  A few minutes later, Victoria emerges, also without her luggage.

P1040976 Photo:  Victoria arrives minus her luggage

After huge hugs and kisses we hear the story of how the weather was so bad in Birmingham (they had to defrost the wings of the plane before it could take off) they left late and she had to run for her flight in Dubai.  She made it but the luggage didn’t.  Hopefully it will be on tomorrow’s flight!  However, the most important part of the consignment has arrived – our daughter!

We find our way to the hotel and decide to eat there rather than bothering to go back into town.  The restaurant is characterless and there is very little choice on the menu.  Still it fills a hole.  Although she says she is not tired, by the time we have eaten, Victoria is ready for bed and so are we after all the driving.  The beds are large and comfortable, and we tumble into them. 

Tomorrow we will explore.

26 November 2010

Day 324: Knysna, SA – 26/11/10

The boat may have been swinging in a different direction to all the other boats all night, but it did it so gently that we don’t feel a thing and only wake up when a dinghy speeds by and its wake rocks the boat roughly.  It’s 4.30 am.  Ugh!

At 5 am we are drinking tea and deciding what to do, then at 6.30 am we get a call from the Yacht Club about one of the other rally boats, Kalliope, who have called them and are coming in tomorrow morning.  Roger tells us that we can come alongside one of their pontoons for a few days which will give us greater peace of mind than leaving Jeannius in the lagoon while we are in Cape Town.

Mike buys 4 hours of unlimited internet so I immediately start catching up with the blog and he gets our hire car and hotel booked.  We also find out that my passport arrived at the Consulate in Pretoria OK so that’s good news.  The internet is great for everything except Skype, which is a nightmare and we give up with it.

Around 11 am we are ready to move.  We get the anchor up and start to motor over to the Yacht Club, carefully trying to avoid the sandbanks which are not yet visible.  We are not quite careful enough and hit one, rocking for a few minutes before we manage to back off of it.  No damage done, but just a bit embarrassing!!!

We get to the pontoon, the wind gently blows us against it and people come to help us tie us.  We are directly in front of the Yacht Club restaurant in full view of everyone and probably very safe because of that.

Stephen from A Lady arrives and we go to have a drink with him in the club, ending up having lunch there while we attempt to get him connected to the internet, Mike’s skills coming in handy again.  David and his friend from Voyageur come in.  They have arrived in Knysna and are staying in a B & B up on the hill.

We go back to Jeannius to start packing up the stuff that we need to take to Cape Town with us and Mike talks to the marina manager and finds out that there is now a berth available for us from now.  We had been led to believe that there wouldn’t be one until Saturday so we were going to leave it until we got back from Cape Town but the thought of secure parking makes us untie the boat, redistribute the fenders and lines and head into the marina before someone else nicks the berth.

Mike backs into a very small space and we tie up – again.  I then disappear to dye my hair (the sun really takes the colour out so much quicker than at home), shower and get the boat in a state that we can leave it.  At least being in a marina means that we can leave the air conditioning, fridge and freezer on.  I open all the cupboards, drawers and doors so that air can circulate and hopefully the smell of pooh in my wardrobe will disappear before we come back!

Terry arrives to take us back to the house.  He looks at poor old Jeannius, battered and bruised from crossing two oceans.  She needs a good clean and polish and hopefully will get one of those here – the boat equivalent of a spa day.

We watch the sea fog roll in during the early evening.  It gets so thick that by the time we are ready to leave to eat, The Heads and most of the lagoon are not visible at all.

Ann and Terry take us to a beautiful restaurant called Firefly.  They have pre-ordered champagne for us and the food is wonderful as well as the decor.

P1040953 Photo:  Mike, me, Terry and Ann at Firefly

As we leave the restaurant, whose style is eccentric/eclectic Indian, I see a door leading to the kitchens or somewhere else meant for staff.

P1040954 Photo:  Interesting sign – meant for who?

We are knackered when we get back – having been awake early, moving the boat twice etc, all starts to catch up with us and we collapse into bed.  Sleep comes quickly.

25 November 2010

Day 323: Port Elizabeth to Knysna, SA – 25/11/10

Mike wakes me up just after 1 am.  We still just have the genoa out and are still going along at the speed we need to get to the notorious heads at Knysna at high tide.

I can’t settle to watch a film so spend most of my time glued to the radar and the charts.  It feels like a long four hours.  When we get to the line Mike has marked on the charts for waking him up it is already light but very cold!

P1040927 Photo:  Our last sunrise at sea – for a while anyway!

We can see A Lady entering the heads and we follow just half an hour behind them.  I ring my sister to give them advance warning of our arrival as they want to be down at the waterside cafe as we enter.

P1040925 Photo:  Our first glimpse of The Heads at Knysna

P1040932 Photo:  Approaching The Heads

High tide is at 5.50 am .  There is a sand bar across the entrance which we will have no trouble crossing but apparently it can make for some nasty waves as the water rushes in or out of the lagoon.  As we approach it doesn’t look too rough but when we are about a quarter of a mile away a wave appears to break across the entire 50 metre width of the channel and Mike tells me to go and get our life jackets.  I take one look at his face and rush to get them.  He rarely gets me to do this so I know this could potentially be serious.  I had wanted to video our entrance through The Heads but now know that he won’t let me out of the cockpit until we are through and unless I am at the front of the boat the video won’t show anything.

Horrifyingly, you have to keep over to the left side of the channel as you enter, right close to the rocks.

P1040933 Photo:  Entering the channel – too close to the rocks for me!

Then Mike steers the boat directly towards the rocks on the right hand side and it feels like we are going to crash.  He must have seen the alarm on my face as he then explains that he is following the guiding lines on the rocks in front of us.  Phew!  Then we are in and the water is calm.  I look over towards the cafe but can’t see Ann and Terry anywhere so I call them and find that they are just a minute away and have missed us coming through.  There’s no way Mike is going out and coming back in again so we settle for turning around and going back just a few hundred yards and then we see them getting out of the car and waving.  What I don’t realise at first is that there are two unsuspecting fishermen on the rocks in between Ann and I and they must think that I am dancing up and down on the deck waving to them.

P1040935 Photo:  Looking back towards The Heads from Knysna Lagoon

P1040936 Photo:  The millpond that is Knysna Lagoon once through The Heads

The lagoon is flat calm but full of sandbanks so you have to follow a channel through because at high tide these sandbanks are completely invisible.  Ann and Terry race back ahead of us and take photos of our arrival from Thesen Island, one of the islands in the lagoon.  We anchor near A Lady and I have just got the bridle on the anchor when Mike says I have to take it all up again as we are swinging over a sandbank which will not be a good idea during low tide!

Up it comes and we move over behind A Lady then down it goes again.  This time we wait a little longer to see whether the hull of the boat can find another sandbank to hover over but it doesn’t.

Once settled we have breakfast then Mike starts to deal with the dinghy which is in a very sorry state.  It hasn’t been used since Cocos Keeling and is deflated beyond belief.  The flaccid sides hang down and as we lower it the only thing which keeps it afloat is the rigid bottom.  Mike steps confidently onto it (I can’t say into it because of the state of the sides) and starts to pump it up.  Given the state of it, this takes a while!

P1040937 Photo:  A dinghy in need of Viagra!

Once it is pumped up he tries to start the engine.  Although it takes a few goes, unbelievably it starts.  After having God knows how much salt water thrown over it, and given that the engine cover is totally cracked and broken (probably why no one will ever attempt to steal it) and must allow salt water in, it  coughs, splutters, chucks out a plume of smoke and starts.  Amazing.

A yachtie who has been living aboard his boat in Knysna Lagoon for a year, comes over to tell us about the anchoring conditions here.  Although the holding is relatively good, the winds can be very strong and he recommends putting down a second anchor.  Apparently it can blow through the lagoon at 70 miles an hour!  Also, the constant ebb and flow of the strong tides means that the boats can turn around on themselves by 180 degrees and pull their anchors if the wind is strong at the same time.  This strengthens Mike’s desire to get a mooring or a berth while we are here.

We have a quick wash up and sort ourselves out then get in the dinghy and head over to the dinghy dock at Knysna Yacht Club where Ann and Terry are waiting for us.  Terry is wearing his World ARC 2002 polo shirt which he has adulterated to read “shore crew” to welcome us.  Awww!  After lots of cuddles and kisses all around we go into the yacht club to get temporary membership and see about settling Jeannius into somewhere safer.  The guy we need to see is not in so we head up to Ann and Terry’s house high up on the hill overlooking the lagoon.  We’ve never been here before and they have done lots to it over the last year, especially in the grounds.  The views over the lagoon are fantastic and we sit on their new deck for a while with a glass of champagne admiring them. Since chopping down a lot of rampant vegetation and trees around their property they now have views around the whole of the lagoon.  Both Mike and I having borrowed warm clothing from Ann and Terry as the wind is blowing cold at this height despite the strong sunshine. 

P1040939 Photo:  View over the lagoon with The Heads in the distance

P1040940 Photo:  Mike admiring the view and checking the boat

As we watch the tide go out, the sandbanks become very obvious.  What is also obvious is that Jeannius is swinging differently to the other boats.  Her anchor is secure.  She is not moving, but it may be that she is just in a strange tidal current.  Whatever the reason, Mike is uneasy and keeps a wary eye on her.

P1040942 Photo:  Jeannius and A Lady amongst the sandbanks

We have an early lunch then go back down to the yacht club to see if we can get a mooring.  No luck, and there’s no berth until Saturday so we decide to stay on board tonight just to see how Jeannius fares during a whole day of tidal changes.

P1040947 Photo:  Knysna Yacht Club

We wander around the waterfront for a while.  There are lots of good shops and restaurants here as well as even more in town.  If we hadn’t spent all our money on the bloody boat I could have a field day!

P1040945 Photo:  Knysna Waterfront

We have just a little tour of Knysna itself which is much bigger than I had expected.  I’m glad I’ll have plenty of time to explore over the next few weeks.

P1040951 Photo:  Ann, me and Mike

P1040952 Photo:  Terry in his World ARC 2002 shirt

We have a delicious early evening meal then Terry takes us back to the yacht club and we return to Jeannius in the dinghy.  It looks like it might rain as the clouds have come over during the late afternoon and we know the weather is on the turn but we are lucky and the rain stays away.

By 8.30 pm I am wrapped up in bed and ready for sleep.  I have been up since 1 am and am shattered.


Our position is:  34 deg 02 min S, 23 deg 02 min E

Distance so far:  18426 nautical miles