11/22/2012, Zululand Yacht Club, Richards Bay
There are a couple of sailing bloggers who make me feel very humble.
One is Pat Schulte who wrote the Bumfuzzle blog and has since turned it into an ebook availabe on Amazon. He and his wife Ali had absolutely no sailing experience, bought a catamaran and sailed it around the world. At the time they were the bain of the "serious" cruiser club because they did not spend half their lives planning. They just did it. and in doing so showed that sailing a boat around the world is not such a big deal these days Pat is a good writer who just called things like he saw them. He did not see himself as some sort of cruising guru so he was perfectly willing to tell you about the mistakes they made. That is the most valuable information you can get from another cruiser. The stories about how smart of clever they have been don't really help that much and I do not always believe them.
Yesterday Shawn was researching Namibia and stumbled on the blog of a cruiser we had met in Tahiti. His name is Alex and he had a boat called Bubbles.
Alex is/was a twenty something year old farm boy from the mid west who got a wild hair to circumnavigate the world on a sailboat. When we ran across him he was a serious party animal who had rafted his boat up to a large ferocement charter vessel that specialized in backpacker cruises. Tiny bubbles looked like a dingy tied up to the big boat. They were rafted up in the anchorage on Morea and the big boat dragged anchor during the night bringing Bubbles along for the ride. I dont think anyone noticed they had dragged until the next morning.
Alex ended up sailing to the northern part of south America, took his boat up the Amazon and also into places like Surinam. When he finally got back to the states and sold the boat he spent a few days in Jail in Indiana because of an outstanding warrant that he bolted on when he took off to see the world.
The blog is incredible.
Here is the URL
Different people wrote different parts of the blog. Some, like Alex, were good writers and others were not quite so talented. But every bit of the blog makes good reading. Its not about the literature, its about he adventure these folks experienced. The spelling errors and grammatical lapses add authenticity to the stories and demonstrate that if you have a good story to tell you don't have to be a Hemingway.
I grew up on the books of a classic British cruiser named Eric Hiscock. Eric and his wife Susan were doing circumnavigations when there were no other couples doing it. His books filled me with the sense of adventure that made our circumnavigation a life long dream for me.
The reality for us has been quite a bit different. There are a lot of people out here doing this and the resources available to us allow us to plan in great detail. Little is left to chance, especially the adventure part.
Bubbles took a much more macro view of the opportunities presented by a circumnavigation and went to places where people with good sense would never consider venturing. So their blog describes a real adventure, not an overly researched and safe excursion.
For the first time in a long time I'm impressed by another cruisers blog and maybe a little bit embarrassed that I dont have any outstanding warrants waiting for me when we get back. Well, at least none that I know of.
Read the Bubbles blog. Alex and his various crew member really saw the world on their own terms rather than passing through with a copy of lonely planet in one hand and a cruising guide in the other.
Alex also found the Indiana jail cell pretty nice. It had a bunk that did not move and a dependable source of hot food. He was only there for a couple of days.
What is Alex up to now? Im not sure but would put money on the possibility that it involves drinking and bar fights.
11/22/2012, Zululand Yacht Club, Richards Bay
We are back in the water. It was a nerve wracking experience but the yard workers managed to get their ramshackle travel lift device towed to the ramp and get us in the water. On our way back to the water they said that the boat was too heave and even suggested we might empty the water tank to lighten it. That did not end up being necessary but the did have to put boards under wheels to get them out of the depressions in the ground that had formed over the two days we were out of the water.
Once we got free of the travel lift we moved to our new slip and got settled in.
The boat is incredibly dirty and it will take us several hours to get it clean. But first I have a batch of beer that is probably a day past when it should have been bottled. Ill bottle that and then start on cleaning the deck.
We have about three weeks to hang around until our new batteries get here so we dont feel a lot of pressure to rush any of our other chores like varnishing and such.
Last night was happy hour at the Pelican Bar at the Yacht Club. Drinks were half price for two hours and we were able to order food from the galley downstairs. So we spent the evening there getting to know some of the members and playing Spanish dominoes. We had played the game before but it was called Mexican dominoes. It was fun but when the number of players got up past 6 it was impossible to keep other players vulnerabilities straight in my head so I could not take a very strategic approach to the game.
Shawn put together a Thanksgiving dinner that had the elements of the correct foods. He used chicken instead of turkey, made mashed potatoes that were really good and also made some excellent stuffing using some aging hot dog buns we had on board. It was a really yummy dinner and while he was working on it I went up to the YC bar and had a couple of gin an tonics and read the recent New Yorker. There is an excellent article on this history of taxation in the November 26 issue.
As we dined we watched the latest episode of Dexter that Shawn downloaded last night.
Your cant be too careful in this part of the world and the gin and tonic is the perfect prophylactic beverage. The tonic has quinine to fight off malaria, The lemon or lime combats scurvy, and the gin makes sure the other ingredients are sanitary. Hope you dont get the idea that Im a health food nut.
Not much more to report today. Gotta get started cleaning beer bottles.
11/21/2012, Zululand Yacht Club, Richards Bay
We had a really nice dinner with our friends Anne and Lawrence deRobillard on board their catamaran Sea Shoes.
Annie has been incredibly generous to us since we arrived here at Zululand Yacht Club and has given us rides to town when she was headed that way. She took me to the post office to send our profurl parts to the rigger in Capetown and took Shawn into town to get our propane tank filled and pick up some sanding disks at the South African equivalent of Home Depot.
Last night she fixed a typical South African meal for us. The main dish was called boboti. It was made with ground beef (called mince here) and fruit like raisins and dried apricots. There is egg custard on the top.
Anne said she would give me the recipe and Ill post it on our blog.. It was really yummy. She also made a unique South African desert called milk tart.
The cuisine of South Africa is sometimes called the rainbow cuisine because it incorporates dishes from most of the places the dutch had a presence in the Indies. Boboti is Malay in origin. It is not spicy in the Indian or Thai sense. It's not hot but it does have a complex mixture of flavors.
We spent a very nice evening discussing ebooks and also learning a lot about what it was like to go through the political turmoil that South Africa has seen over the past 20 years.
The current president, Jacob Zuma, is a strong tribal leader with limited education. He has half a dozen wives and twice as many girlfriends. The white minority here is excluded from the decision making processes in the government because they lack the tribal affiliations that are essential to being a player in South African politics these days. There are a couple of token whites in the government but their power and influence is very limited in these post apartheid times.
We learned that one of Zuma's latest ideas is to simplify the justice system by replacing the judges and courts with a few tribal chiefs who are experienced at dispensing justice without excess formality, like trials and such.
Anne told us that she is interested in putting together an international pot luck dinner. She did it last year and had 30 countries represented. Im not sure what we would take but being from California I guess we could choose Mexican and it would not be too far off the mark. After all, California was once part of Mexico.
This morning the yard workers got two more coats of paint on the boat and used the last bit to give the waterline, rudder and leading edge of the keel an additional coat. They did a good job and we are ready to go back in the water on tomorrow morning's high tide. I dont think we have ever had such a quick boat yard visit.
The photo at the top of this blog entry shows Active Transport sitting in the slings of the Zululand Yacht Club boat yard. Note the fence posts used as props to hold the boat upright and that we had to disconnect both the fore-stay and the inner for-stay to get the boat to fit in the travel lift. The line leading out to the tip of the bowsprit is the spinnaker halyard. That is what is holding up the mast while the fore-stays are removed.
Another cruiser here at the club gave us a spray can of a special propeller paint so we decided to give that a try. We usually leave the propeller unpainted because normal bottom paint does not stick for long. There are a few special products for protecting the propeller but some are quite expensive and require professional installation. We have found it easier and cheaper to just take a putty knife to the prop a few times a year and scrape off all the critters before they get too big or numerous.
After I sprayed on the special paint the prop looks nice. We will report back on how well it works.
This morning I started reading up on Namibia and started asking around about the place. It would be an easy place to visit after we leave South Africa and all the input we have been getting is that it is very worth the visit. The Namib desert is supposed to be really beautiful. The scuttlebutt is that its safer than South Africa and is a good way to break up the passage to St. Helena.
The workers no more than got the last coat of paint on the boat and it started to rain. We were expecting heavy rain but so for it has been light. The paint on the bottom dried before any rain hit it so we are in good shape to go back in the water tomorrow. The tide should be right around noon time.
Then we can get busy with the challenge of getting the boat clean again. Between the mud we have tracked aboard and the dust that was raised every time a car drove through the boat yard, the deck is muddy and the cabin is not much better.
Once we are back in the water we will be able to finish up projects that we had started prior to being hauled and start putting stuff away.
The level of environmental concern here in a South African boat yard is very different from what we are used to in the states. In California everything that is cleaned off a boat's bottom, including the dead critters and paint residue must be caught in a drainage system and disposed of as hazardous materials. Here all the runoff from power washing the boats is allowed to accumulate on the ground and will eventually make its way into the water.