Leaving Richards Bay
You can tell by the grins that the test sail went well. I leave Richards Bay in South Africa with mixed feelings: it was where I was diagnosed with Leukemia 12 months ago and where I have been robbed not once but four times: once by a black guy, once by the the Afrikaner who runs the boatyard, and twice by unknowns. My friend Roy reckons that in the absence of any other Australians the unknowns were Frenchies, but he's a Pom and is envious of French yachts (though he would never admit to it) and thinks all bad things that ever happen are down to the convicts they sent to Australia or Frenchies. Richards Bay is also the place where I met Rod and Michele – locals who looked after me when I staggered in over a year ago, and then again when I got back here after treatment in Australia. They have been constants in my life here and have helped all along the way with getting both me and Anjea back into shape. There is also the Zululand Yacht Club to thank. It has been my home for 5 months and has provided a safe place to repaint and renovate Anjea.
Rod and Michelle
Rod and I
Anjea being painted.
But now it is time to go. I will miss Rod and Michele, and the many other friends I have made here, but my visa has long since expired and I am on borrowed time. I dare not exceed the three month extension that I applied for and paid for, but have never heard about. Hopefully, they won't throw me in jail when I try to leave.
Two days ago we took Anjea out for a trial. It was the first sail that Anjea or I have had for over a year. Rod and Michele came out with Merel and I. Rod and Michele know the harbour well. I am lost outside the marina! So it was great to leave the navigation to Rod and much of the trimming to Michele. They are an amazing team with years of experience sailing together. We dodged the traffic up and down the bay and found a half-dozen things to address, most of which are already fixed. Coming back into the marina I managed to finesse reversing into the pen in a cross-wind, Merel calmly stepped off onto the pontoon, threw a couple of lines, and we were secure. My spirit soars! Finally, all the hard work of the past several months seems worth while.
It is New Year's Eve. The end of 2021. I am grateful to be here looking at the back of 21, and looking forward to whatever 22 brings. The plan is to sail south to Cape Town as soon as the weather permits. This coast is treacherous. They call it the Wild Coast but that's an understatement. The Aguhlas Current flows south down the coast. That's a good thing when traveling in the same direction and can mean 3 knots or more. Unfortunately, about half the time the wind blows from the south standing the waves up and bunching them together into mountainous swells reputed to reach 60 metres! Yes, metres, not feet. A couple of weeks back Merel and I were returning to Anjea as a storm came in. As we reached the top of our pontoon we were gobsmacked to see the entire walkway twist and buckle 2 metres into the air as the wind howled, the sky lit up with continuous lightning, and the rain hit us horizontally. Five minutes later it was all over, but I would not want to experience that at sea.
So we await the weather. Conditions this time of year are tricky but we should get some northerlies for a few days, long enough to get to the next safe anchorage down the coast. It gets easier further south so hopefully we will be in Cape Town soon after the 10th January.
We will stop at least once and maybe twice on the way to Cape Town.
Merel has joined Anjea for the trip to Cape Town and hopefully beyond. She is a street-smart, freedom-loving Irish girl with an uncommon skill with food, itchy feet, and she can sail a boat too. Anjea's oven hasn't been used for years and now it regularly turns out quiches, pies, sourdough breads, puddings and other delights, all organic and mostly veg. If we feel the need for meat we go to one of the club braais. Her 'day job' is working in the family business, an eco-resort in County Galway, Ireland called Slieve Aughty.
I wish you all the very best for 2022. All of us have had cause for reflection during the past couple of years. My hope for you is that you make 22 a year of change. It is obvious to all of us now that we need to take better care of the only planet we know of that has pizza, chocolate and beer.
Track us live on the map on Anjea home page.
Much love, Dave.