Sailing along the coast of South Africa has its challenges, rushing from port to port dodging low pressure systems. Patience has its virtues because we were able to explore and reconnect with old friends along the way. Martin was able to reconnect with an old friend Keith and his family in East London.
Hout Bay was a sleepy fishing village just South of Cape Town and a good place for us to get some major boat projects completed in preparation for the Atlantic Ocean crossing. We had our sails repaired, rigging refit and we had a new exhaust water trap fabricated. When we weren’t working on Shenemere or provisioning we managed to explore the Cape. We are grateful to Lieben & Philma for lending us a car which allowed us to explore the beautiful scenery, enjoy spectacular hikes and visit with Martin’s extended family.
We had to cut a hole in the floor and make a new hatch in order to remove the old exhaust water trap. Further complications in getting the exhaust fabricated to fit made this a labor-intensive project.
Table Mountain hikes and road trips from Blouberg to Franschhoek we were able to explore the stunning sites of the Cape and enjoy visits with Martin’s family.
The highlight of our visit to South Africa was a visit to Storms River and Knysna. We have been traveling on and off with our “buddy boat” Argo; Pepe and Blanka are from Czech Republic, and we have been exploring with them since Tanzania. Pepe and Blanka make great travel companions and are always up to do things a bit differently.
Martin’s friend Ivan invited us to stay with him in Knysna and “wine & dine” us in spectacular style.
We are forever grateful to all of Martins family that took time to visit us and invite us to their homes. South Africa is on the top of our list of places we have visited impart to the wonderful family, friends and cruising mates we have met.
We are now heading off to Namibia. From Walvis Bay, Namibia we will start our passage across the Atlantic Ocean for the final leg of a 6-year journey… homeward bound.
Richard’s Bay was our first port of call in South Africa and after thousands of miles under the keel we had a long list of work to do on Shenemere. However, the boat yard had no space for us when we arrived, so we made the best of our time enjoying the cultural events that were being offered to the ARC Rally cruisers and we went on a quick overnight safari. When we came back and had Shenemere hauled out we hit the ground running. We spent four long weeks living on the boat in the boatyard. It was hot and dusty, but we had good support and had some help with the bottom job. The Rand/Dollar exchange rate is about 17/1 so our dollars went a long way in making a very comprehensive boat refit more affordable.
A long list of boat maintenance / repairs was not limited to the grinding, sanding & painting the hull, replacing the rudder bushings, steering cables replaced, bow roller manufactured, new starter motor for the engine, new spinnaker pole and we had to build a new battery box.
Off to Durban, South Africa where the dream to sail around the world started a long time ago
We had a great 3 weeks in Durban visiting with friends and family.
We will be heading to Cape Town next; a few stops along the way.
Our first stop after Dar es Salaam was a 135nm sail to Mafia Island to swim with the Whale Sharks
The next stop was 125nm sail down the Tanzanian coast to the historic ruins of Kilwa
The final leg down the coast of Tanzania was to Mtwara. We met up with a few other yachties that started to congregate here in preparation for the next passage to South Africa. While we gathered provisions and waited for a good weather window, we explored our delightful surroundings.
Tanzania to South Africa Sailing Passage
The general consensus amongst Indian Ocean cruisers is that the Mozambique Channel is the most technically challenging. This stretch of water has extreme currents, short weather windows between the seasonal southern systems and limited places to stop enroute due to Madagascar’s boarder closures and Mozambique’s corrupt officials (only “emergency” stops are recommended). We made the 1474nm passage from Tanzania to South Africa with a brief stop in Bazaruto, Mozambique where we waited for a low-pressure system to pass.
Safe arrival in Richard’s Bay, South Africa was reason to celebrate. Martin is back in his homeland and only 90nm from Durban and the completion of his global sailing circumnavigation.
At Zululand Yacht club we will haul Shenemere and spend a few weeks painting, fixing and preparing for our next major passage across the Atlantic Ocean next year.
Ocean Navigator- Ideas on anti-pirate safety
Latitudes & Attitudes Magazine- Hobbies Underway
Article in New Zealand Magazine: Stuff in NZ
Article in New Zealand Herald
Radio New Zealand Interview: “Appetizers Afloat”
Tanzania is ranked as the most peaceful country in East Africa. We found the local people are generally welcoming and laid-back. The water is clean and there isn’t any of the garbage & debris we saw in Indonesia. The beaches are picturesque, and the culture is rich.
Zanzibar was one of the most exotic destinations I have been to. We had a few packed days of exploring the World Heritage Site of Stone Town, Zanzibar City’s old quarter.
We are big fans of Freddie Mercury (lead vocalist of the rock band Queen…he was born in Zanzibar)
A video tribute to Freddie…People on streets, ee-da-dee-da-day
People on streets, ee-da-dee-da-dee-da-dee-da
Dar es Salaam “Harbour of Peace”
From Zanzibar we sailed to Dar es Salaam to meet up with Martin’s school buddy that he hadn’t seen in 40 years. They had a lot of catching up to do and as old friends do… they managed to pick-up where they left off. We anchored just off the famous Dar es Salaam yacht Club and managed to get registered as a visiting yacht so we could enjoy all the facilities the club had to offer. The pool was a highlight for me, and the restaurant & bar was always the place to be for good food and fun company at this very welcoming and social yacht club.
Mark & Michelle spoiled us from the minute we arrived until our delayed departure. Mark was the former DYC Commodore and had all the connection to help us as well as some of the other visiting yachts. Mark’s wife Michelle is one of those people that everyone is drawn to an incredible person that I am grateful to have met; it was hard to leave after 2 weeks of being completely pampered.
We did only one boat project! We managed to source an outboard engine for our dingy and didn’t hesitate to grab it while it was available. The old “smokey joe” engine still has a few miles on it so we gifted to a local we me that enjoys fishing with his family on the weekends. I hope they get some enjoyment from the 26-year-old engine.
After the break from boat projects and all the good times we had in Dar it is time to get serious about heading South to South Africa. We will try to not sail overnight so to avoid the traditional dowls and fishing boats/ nets that are not lit at night. We have 3 planned stops before we will look for a good weather window to transit the notoriously challenging Mozambique Channel. Next down the line: Mafia Island, Kilwa & Mtwara.
Our string of world party flags came in handy again as our vessels courtesy flag (a courtesy flag is flown by a ship in foreign waters as a token of respect by a vessel that is visiting) because, it was impossible to find a Tanzanian flag in Tanga. However, when we were in the Seychelles the Seychelloise flag was everywhere and when we went to a shop to buy one the shop attendant just gave us the very large flag that was hanging outside her shop, all people on the street got such a kick out of it.
I like shopping for each countries flag once we arrive as opposed to having the flags pre-purchased a head of time. We get to experience the pride and joy of the locals when we shop for their countries flag.
The night before we set sail to Zanzibar the local yachties (about 15 International yachts are in Tanaga at the moment) hosted a Pirate Party for the locals and cruisers complete with roasted goat and live music
Everything Happens For a Reason
While we were frustrated and stuck in Padang for almost three weeks waiting for our new boat batteries to be delivered our mates on s/v Destiny set sail from Lombok to the Seychelles. We had buddy boated with Steve & Anna from Fiji to Indonesia and we had plans to leave around the same time as them en route for the Seychelles so, while we waited and waited they had already a 2 week head start on us.
Thank goodness we waited! S/V Destiny ran right into a dangerous low pressure system south of Cocas Keeling that punched constant 35+ winds and much higher gusts, unimaginable confused sea state and sustained wave heights at 5 meters. Destiny arrived safely in The Seychelles after almost 40 days of very rough conditions.
Thank goodness we waited!
What do you do when you are 22 days at sea?
I have been asked what we do onboard during a long passage and I often say “we are actually quite busy” but never really gave it too much thought to what we actually do so, here it is.
First of all we keep a strict watch schedule of 3 hours on 3 hours off so, someone is always in the cockpit. When we aren’t adjusting sails Martin is checking our course, getting weather updates and navigating. We also have to do daily checks on the lines for chafing and other boat maintenance tasks are constant.
During the day I have a “schedule” that includes exercises and stretching, working on the computer; editing videos, writing and working on a few “snapfish” projects. We always have a book to read; Martin has a Nook and I have a Kindle so there is no shortage of great books in our libraries. We fish on the calm days which will take up an entire afternoon when we catch a fish; cleaning the fish and the mess it makes onboard then dividing it up to vacuum seal ready for the deep freeze. In the afternoon we start preparing dinner early at around 3:00-4:00 and eat at 5:00pm so the dishes are done and everything is packed away before our night watch schedules begin at 6:00pm. During the afternoon we listen to BBC podcasts I have downloaded from Spotify which is a great conversation/ debate starter and breaks up the monotony.
I don’t count the days at sea; I count the nights because they are the longest and the most challenging of the watches. At night we have to keep a more diligent watch; not just for boats but for squalls you can’t see coming. I find the strain of checking the horizon particularly tedious when there isn’t a moon lit sky. On the other hand a clear star studded night on the open ocean has its own rewards. If I had a dollar for every wish I made on a shooting star during this passage…I could buy us a round of beers at the Seychelles Yacht Club $$$$$
After a fast four weeks in the Seychelles getting the steering wheel fixed and struggling to get our fridge repaired; we left before we had to go through the “boat import” process & without our fridge getting repaired. Off to Tanzania now… we are both excited to get to Africa.
What a horrible trip…10 days of into the wind “motoring” from Lombok to the Mentawai Islands off the West coast of Sumatra. The passage took us so long that we missed meeting Martin’s friends (by 1 day) that had been visiting the Mentawai’s local surf camp all the way from South Africa.
This is what sailing in Indonesia looks like…trying to find clean diesel in every port!
Mentawai- Taupejat was worth the trip
A bit about this video: “Marty” surfed everyday that he could for a month between several of the famous surf breaks: Telescopes, Suicides and Icelands. Kayaking through the mangroves was my pastime. We met many of the local expat community and many foreigners that have businesses in the area. Gidion & Chantal are South African’s that own the Bilou Villas Surf Resort; they were helpful introducing us to the locals and contacts in Padang that would help us get our 6 new Trojan boat batteries that we desperately needed. By far the most interesting character we met owns the property and bungalows that was directly in front of where we anchored…Terry a.k.a The Juggler Smuggler was made famous in the T.V. series Locked Up Abroad after he was busted in Japan smuggling hash in his juggling balls! Terry is a fellow Texan so we had a lot in common and he was seriously one of the most entertaining people I have had the pleasure of knowing. His hospitality was as big as Texas and I’ll never forget our visits with him; particularly when he wanted to show us the massive python he had just caught and caged in one of the bungalows but when we got there the massive 11ft python had escaped!
We met all kinds of interesting folks; our anchorage neighbor for three weeks “Witty” from Australia was always up for spearfishing, BBQ & beer (not in that order). Afternoons ashore to visit with locals at “Brad’s Bakery” or at the local Mentawai Surf Bungalows was our regular social outlet. Ashley a South African we met through Marc on s/y Millennium had just finished having a traditional boat built and was excited to show us his new home before it’s maiden launch. Han’s and Kat a young American couple had a similar however much smaller traditional boat built that they intend to live on while they continue to travel and surf many of the Ment’s surf breaks (they have spent “half-years” in the Ment’s for over a decade!).
We got a taste for island living; fresh and delicious eggs from Terry, hand pressed coconut oil delivered to Shenemere, Witty often had fish on the “barbie”, fresh bread from Brad the Baker and a plentiful vegetable market was all we really needed. The memories we made and the stories to be told about our time here was for us what cruising is all about. Priceless!
Exploring Cubadak island while we wait for our new batteries to be delivered
In Padang to pick-up 6 new batteries for Shenemere and top up with fuel & provisions
Padang Harbor was an industrial commercial port however, the upside was the friendly locals that helped us load our new batteries and distribute the old batteries to a few of the fishermen as well the convenience to clear out of Indonesia.
We are now ready to set our sails for the Indian Ocean to the Seychelles & Africa. Anticipating a 30- day passage.
MotoGP- Mandalika, Lombok
The Indonesian motorcycle Grand Prix is part of the Grand Prix motorcycle racing World Championship. It was something I’d never experienced so we took the opportunity to travel to Mandalika and what an experience it was but, for all the wrong reasons. The race was exciting however, a logistical nightmare when the race was over. 80,000 spectators trying to catch a few buses back to their cars took us 7 hours; 2 buses and hiking on the muddy roads in the pitch dark & rain back to our car after a bus got stuck and blocked traffic for miles.
Off to Explore the Southern coast of Lombok: Belongas Bay Beware! Navigational Hazards Afloat
Gerupuk Lombok is home to five surf breaks
This small village is big on fishing within a large inlet made up of several bays. The locals here make their living from commercial fishing or surf tourism. Conditions were favorable for Marty to surf most of our time in Gerupuk.
Gerupuk to Kuta on scooters and some kayaking adventures is what we’ve been needing…
Gili Air, Lombok is known as a popular tourist hotspot; mostly young party goers pre-covid. We arrived to the more traditional Gili Air as most of the hotels and bars were closed and awaiting Indonesia to open up to tourists. The water is crystal clear, the surf was cooperating and the island was ripe for exploring on foot.
We went to Bali over Christmas and New Years and enjoyed a much needed break from the boat. Exploring Bali’s inland cultural treasures was a real treat. Also, resort accommodations with breakfast included for $18 USD a night! I enjoyed browsing and practicing my bartering skills at the artisan market in the mornings and spending the afternoons strolling through the town. We had a lot of fun at the Monkey Forest; Martin making friends :0
Back to Lombok
We went to Lombok to start the process of stowing the boat in preparation for our trip back to the USA. We got distracted for a few days when Captain SImmone on the mega yacht Immortalis pitched up in the anchorage. Captain Simmone had spent the last 2 years refitting an old Japanese fishing vessel into a recreational charter boat and he was keen to celebrate and show us the ropes on Immortalis. He asked me for help with a video of the boat as it is destined to charter in the near future. This video is the “unprofessional” cut of the video I did for the owner.
Pictures are worth a thousand words…our quick 6 week trip to the states
Back to Indonesia
The trip back was much more cumbersome than the trip to the states. The Quarantine in Jakarta added 4 days to our journey back to Shenemere. Next stage of our sailing journey will involve an Indian Ocean passage to Africa. Blessed to have had the time with friends, family and baby River to help fill our emotional tanks for the next long passage.