Managed to make a little progress south last Thursday/Friday, but only the 80 or so miles to Durban. Not the best of trips, firstly we had to wait over 2 hours for permission to leave from RICHARDS Bay Port Control, by which time it was well dark and we still had to negotiate the anchored ships just outside, motoring into a big swell and no wind. Of course, had planned to all this in daylight and get set on our course before dark Then alerted by another yacht Slipaway travelling in the same direction that some of our Nav lights were not working. Eventually the wind came up so we could sail then came up some more, so we entered Durban harbour practically surfing under bare poles. Fortunately we were not held up entering the harbour, must have got just about the last berth in the marina right down in the corner. Spent the afternoon clearing in with customs and Immigration, even local boats have to do it. And we have to clear out again with those agencies and also port control in order to leave – whenever the weather allows us to move on. Still, we are handily placed between the Royal Natal and The Point yacht clubs both of whom have given us free temporary membership. We have been trying to fix the Nav lights, we need a new port light as it has corroded away, I’m sure it worked on the leg to Richards Bay. Steve winched Anita up the mast to fix the steaming light.
So pleased to have found this lovely place. The package was 2 nights accommodation, 2 game drives and 4 meals a day, exactly what we wanted and at a reasonable price. We just kept getting tied up trying to book everything separately. And it was 3 hours drive from Richards Bay (actually a bit more as we’d chosen a less than ideal route going through a town jammed up withe Friday market) as opposed to 7 or so to Kruger. So we arrived and were shown to our luxury tent – slightly bigger than the boat, with facilities including an outdoor shower, all set off by itself in the bush so you could here all the sounds of Africa by night (and by day). Then lunch at 2 pm then our first game drive in a land rover with expert guide Amen. He showed us everything from ants to elephants, and there were lots of elephants really close sometimes. Also zebra, giraffe, buffalo, lots of different antelope and a lioness. We saw tracks of leopard, heard roars of lions, but the rhino here are very shy. Amen seemed to have superpower vision spotting animals from an impossible distance; he also showed us a great variety of African birds. Back for dinner, called by a drum for 7.30 pm, the food was excellent and the attentive staff made us feel so welcome. The lodge is run by and for the local Tembe tribe. A log camp fire was lit in the middle of the open sitting area each night and you could watch nocturnal bush babies coming down for pineapple. Monkeys however were discouraged with a catapult. Up at 5.15 next morning for “light breakfast” before the next 3 hour game drive at 6. The 4 th meal is a substantial 2nd breakfast when you get back, then sleeping/lounging/ reading/ taking a cooling dip in the tiny pool until lunch. We loved it all so much we stayed an extra day.
No not that St Lucia (our eventual destination and start point), the one with the lake just north of here. Went on a boat trip to see hippos and crocs, also lots of bird life. Yellow billed stork, African fish eagle, Acocets, Yellow Weaver bird with nest. I think hippos must have been the model for Shrek, they do this amazing ear twirling thing.
Just an hour or so from Richards Bay is the Hluhluwe -Imfolozi Park and the St Lucia lake and wetlands.
The last part of the Indian Ocean started with 3 days of flat calm, followed by 3 days of variable winds, then we finally got a proper breeze, then rather too much wind for the last part. Unfortunately we got a rip in the mainsail so we could only set it heavily reefed for the last days of the trip – OK when the wind got up though. Dolphins came to play, and we survived an attack by mutant kamikaze squid – how on earth do you get the ink off? Some of them must have been flying as it’s all over the boom and sail, at least 20 on deck from bow to stern. And a bit dry to cook by the time we found them. The cruise liner Europa 2 came past and the watch officer chatted over the VHF. Think he’d met quite a few of the rally fleet by the time he got to us at the back.
Arrived safely in Richards Bay, second to last in fleet, catamaran AirPower was just behind, welcomed with a bottle of champagne by the Zululand Yacht Club where we are berthed.
And still have signal with the local sim in the iPad. It was a “Gate start” just motor out of Harbour, set your sails 1 nm out and take your own start time, supposed to be between 10 and 11 but almost all the boats left early – we started at 09.58 and only 3 boats behind. There is no wind so we are motoring in the sunshine. 1400 miles to Richards Bay in South Africa, we may have to stop in bay in southern Madagascar to avoid crossing the Agulhas current in bad weather. We had a great week in Reunion, it’s very French, uses euro and the phone even works. Despite much of it being so steep and mountainous Reunion is more developed than Mauritius but the public toilets are much better in Mauritius.
Anita, and Ros and Howard from Misto, got in some alternative spinnaker practice, going parapenting. Great views, easy take off and landing. We leave tomorrow for Richards Bay in South Africa.