This is the view we were greeted to when we left the inside of the restaurant. Not only did we have the courtyard that is part of the restaurant but we had the spectacular view of the mountains that are behind Cape Town.
This wonderful restaurant specializes in Mediterranean and South African cuisine. During the weekdays, they feature a buffet with various great dishes. They referred to each dish as "art" and from we tasted, their description is well founded. For $49 SAR (about $4 US) you get a small cup of their soup of the day (for us it was a creamy roasted pepper), a bread plate and then one small (6 inches by 6 inches) plate. They encourage you to help yourself to each piece of "art" they have put out and to heap your plate to the ceiling because you are only allowed one plate for this price. One does not need to encourage me to do this as this is my inclination anyway. They presented various pastas, salads, roasted vegetables, "sticky" chicken, a South African dish called bobotie, which reminded us a little bit like Spanish picadillo, a vegetable pasta, and one other entre that I just did not have room for. They also offered two types of pizza.
For $59 SAR (about $4.80 US) you get the above plus a glass of wine. I went for the Merlot and it paired very nicely with my food.
07/01/2015, False Bay Yacht Club, Simon's Town, South Africa
Today the sun was in full glory but it was a bit cool since the winds were blowing the whole day at between 25 and 35 knots. The water temperature is downright cold so the wind is cold despite the warming effect of the sun.
The big event of today was starting and testing our two diesel engines and the big diesel generator we have on Leu Cat. While we were back in the States, we had Chris, the local diesel mechanic, work on each engine. At the end of each cruising season we like to have the engines maintained since they play such a critical role and the last thing we want to face is an engine problem while out in the middle of an ocean during a storm.
Also, as you may recall, we needed to remove the generator because it had pulled out of its mounting bolts last year due to the pounding we took in crossing over from Madagascar and then sailing down the coast of South Africa.
When Chris had pulled the generator out from its lazarette last December, he could have full access to all sides of it which made it very convenient to fully service it. However, whenever you remove an engine from its housing, you need to make sure that every little wire, hose, and bolt is properly restored and hooked up properly. Today was the big test.
While it took a bit more priming the fuel pump to get the generator's engine to start, when it did, it just purred like a kitten. Plus, because each cylinder was functioning smoothly, there was hardly any vibration. I had a big smile on my face by the time we turned it off.
The smile stayed plastered on my face when we started up each of our two diesel engines. They also purred and purred. It is hard to describe the pleasure a cruiser feels when the engines run so smoothly and sounds so nice. Our engines are now 9 years old (the boat was launched in May 2006) and have been used a lot since it was built in France and it has crossed each of the major oceans around the world. The engines look and sound as good as the day we first fired them up when we came onboard in the British Virgins Islands back in January 2008 to start our cruising days.
06/30/2015, False Bay Yacht Club, Simon's Town, South Africa
Today Mary Margaret and I hopped in our rental car and drove in to Cape Town. We were on a mission to solve two mysteries that were bothering us.
The first was an issue only due to my poor memory and inability to find the card of the person who picked up our sails last December to repair them. In other words, this Old Salt could not remember where our sails were and who picked them up and could not find the records he had made documenting this information seven months ago.
I knew I had talked with both North Sails and Ullman Sails regarding the repair work we needed done but could not remember which I had selected. Thus, we headed into Cape Town and first went to the North Sails loft. Thanks to our Google Maps app on our smart phone, within an hour we were parking in front of their loft. After going inside and explaining our situation they and we both agreed that their loft did not have our sails. In the process of getting to that understanding, I met each of the people that worked there and realized that none of them looked like the guy who picked up our sails. I explained to them what he looked like and Steve, one of the senior people at North Sails, immediately knew that I would have been dealing with Ullman Sails. The receptionist called Ullman for us and we were soon talking with Warren. Yep, he was the guy I met and took our sails. He immediately recognized my name and voice and even asked how our son's wedding went! I used to have a memory like that. Ah, those were the good old days....
Warren was busy getting another boat set up in the water right then but agreed to call tomorrow to work out the details of returning the repaired sails to Leu Cat and then picking up our bimini and side panels for their needed repairs. One mystery solved!
The second mystery required us to drive over to the Cape Town Customs house next to their commercial port. When we had cleared into South Africa at Richards Bay last October we were told that we could keep Leu Cat in South Africa for up to 1 year without having to pay VAT (Value Added Tax which is assessed at about 15% of the boat's value). We are talking big bucks worth of taxes, so it was something that was near and dear to our hearts.
However, when we were back in the States this last April we got an email from our old cruising friends, Marcie and David, of S/V Nine of Cups. They had just arrived in Simon's Town and saw our boat. They talked to the Yacht Club enquiring about us and were told that we would be returning in July. This piqued their curiosity since they had been told that a foreign flagged vessel could only be in South Africa 3 months before a VAT was applied. They then talked with Customs and were told the VAT would be applied to a foreign vessel after 6 months. Either of these scenarios would be disastrous to us since we were then in the US and our boat had exceeded both the 3 and 6 month time periods. When they emailed us and explain what they had been told, visions of about $70,000 dollars of taxes ran through my head. OMG! What a mess this could be. Mary Margaret and I plotted various "escape from South Africa" strategies (needless to say all being illegal) that we would look into when we returned to our boat.
The VAT issue is a real issue because in 2012 28 foreign flagged boats were impounded by Customs because they had exceeded a 6 months period. As it turns out, there is a law on South Africa's books which is specific to commercial vessels which states such a VAT would apply after 6 months but there is no such law written specific to pleasure vessels, such as sailboats. Custom has just applied the commercial vessel law to pleasure boats.
After the uproar from the cruisers settled down, a senior Customs official from Johannesburg met with the cruisers and admitted that Customs was in error and he released their boats, removed the VAT payment requirements and quenched any fines and penalties that Customs previously had threatened. He told them that South Africa would address this problem with a new law. Until then, boats could stay in South Africa for up to 1 year, VAT free.
This 1 year period is what we were told by Customs in Richards Bay when we cleared into the country last October but I failed to get anything in writing from them at the time. Then, I received the email from Nine of Cups...
Well, this mystery concerning VAT requirements was solved today when we talked to Customs in Cape Town. Quaking in my boots when I stepped up to the Customs counter, I explained our situation (keeping who we were along with the name and location of our boat a bit fuzzy) and requested clarification. I presented the article which gave the senior Custom officer's name who resolved the former VAT issue with the 28 other cruisers back in 2012. The two Customs Inspectors we were meeting with said they really did not know anything about this issue but would look into it with their superior and call me back.
This afternoon, one of the Inspectors called and gave me the low down...
She said that there still was no law which addressed this matter and therefore, we could keep our boat in South Africa as long as we wanted. There was no 3 month, no 6 month or no 1 year rule that we needed to worry about. Instead, our Visa was the document which would determine how long we could stay in the country but our boat could stay as long as we liked!
Whew, this was great news. When I met with the Inspector this morning, I had her write her name and phone number on the article I had presented so if we did have any issues when we clear out this September, I could contact her and she could smooth the way for our departure. The second mystery is solved!
To celebrate this great news, Mary Margaret and I used our smartphone to select a restaurant for lunch. Mary Margaret picked a place that featured Mediterranean/South African dishes called Café Paradiso. When we arrived, we were rewarded with great food, great wines, great ambiance, great prices and a waiter that was superb and very personable! I will post pictures of this place to this blog so you can see what I mean. For $110 SAR ($9 US) we were in foodie heaven. OMG! We are most definitely coming back!
06/29/2015, False Bay Yacht Club, Simon's Town, South Africa
Before I write about today, I just wanted to thank DR Ware for his research and blog comment regarding the lightning strike that just missed my brother, Don. I wrote about this incident in yesterday's blog. DR Ware has been following our blog since the start of our cruising days and has been kind enough to post a number of great comments. The one he posted yesterday is the best one yet, at least as far as I am concerned. In his comment he included a web address which reported the lightning strike. In that article it was reported that the lady who was struck is in stable condition. She survived the strike after all. Yea!
Today was Monday and it was time to go around to the various contractors here who have been working on Leu Cat while we were in the States. We had our genset and engines maintained, the genset reseated after being pulled out by its anchor bolts due to the pounding we took coming down the South African coast, our anchor chain re-galvanized, some woodwork repaired, the hulls cleaned twice and a daily inspection of our boat and the docking lines were conducted.
Everything went well and the quality of the work appears to be very good. We were left with one surprise though. The shipwright that we hired to do the woodwork repairs sold his business and is now up in the Azores. While he did do some of the outside work we wanted done, we were hoping that he would be working with us starting now to do some additional work inside Leu Cat. Due to the pounding we took last year some of our wood panels creak a bit in heavy seas. This is because our fiberglass hulls flex more than the wood does and as a result, some of the wooden joints have become slightly looser, resulting in rubbing against each other when we are in heavy seas. I am a stickler for keeping on top of things so this creaking noise rubs me the wrong way (if you will forgive the bad pun).
With the shipwright now long gone, we have turned to another fellow who works on boats and is a carpenter. His name is Franz and will start his inspection this coming Monday.
06/28/2015, False Bay Yacht Club, Simon's Town, South Africa
I will not bore you will another droll description of how we continue to work on sorting and putting away all of the stuff we brought from the US or the mundane work it takes to un-mothball Leu Cat after sitting by herself for 7 months. You have had enough of that already. Instead, I will share another death defying incident that my brother Don posted on his face book yesterday.
As you may recall, Don is my older brother and he suffered a massive heart attack last summer. In fact, he coded twice after he got to the hospital. Each time he coded, the dedicated staff at the hospital brought him back to life. After triple bypass surgery and a few stints, his is doing very well. In fact, we were able to play golf together both during his youngest daughter's wedding this last May and again in June when we were able to visit him and his wife, Debbie, at their beautiful home in Waterford, Connecticut. It was a real treat for me since I was not sure that we would ever be able to do that again.
Don is a world renowned educator and holds a Distinguished Chair at the University of Connecticut. As such, he travels around the world as an invited speaker to various educational conferences and programs. His specialty is the use of the Internet as an educational tool. He and Debbie have written numerous books together on this subject.
This last week his was traveling to North Carolina to speak at the North Carolina School Superintendents Association's Summer Institute. Here is what he posted on his Facebook page:
"Flight to Charlotte diverted to Columbia, SC because of t-storms (thunder). We did not arrive at a ramp. They allowed us to leave the plane and walk on the tarmac to the airport. A bright ball of lightning hit right next to me and struck the woman behind me. EMT finally came and took her to the hospital. She had not revived. Very sad."
I just about jumped out of my seat when I read this. Lightning is a hazard we cruisers are fearful of and during our eight years of cruising, Mary Margaret and I have seen our fair share of close calls regarding lightning strikes. We also have met a number of cruisers who have been struck, fortunately only incurring damage to their respective boats and electrical equipment.
When and where lightning strikes are a mystery and one cannot predict it nor prevent it. On a boat, there is no known proven way to avoid it. You must just keep faith and sail on. To have it happen on land and have it strike the person that is right behind you must be a very unnerving experience, especially when that person dies from the strike.
Mary Margaret is a strong believer that her guardian angels work overtime in protecting her from various potential calamities. It appears that my brother's guardian angels are also working overtime to protect him. That or he is like a cat with 9 lives. Stay well, bro. We love you.
06/27/2015, False Bay Yacht Club, Simon's Town, South Africa
From experience, we know that it will take about a week or so before we feel we have truly returned to Leu Cat and are settled in. It is kind of like getting into a warm bed and nestling around a bit to get comfortable. To get it just right you need to toss and turn a bit and then snuggle in. Ahhhh, that's it. Just right!
Well, this is the process we are now going through. We still have a few piles of things that we brought back from the States to sort out and put away. We also continue to un-mothball Leu Cat doing such mundane things like moving the boat cushions back outside, placing the emergency grab bag back in the stern cockpit, moving our tools back out to the stern cockpit lazarette, etc., etc., etc.
We are also reaching out and trying to make connect with the people we know here. While we are the only foreign flagged cruisers in False Bay Yacht Club, we know our friends on S/V Nine of Cups, Marcie and Dave, are still in Cape Town due to some emergency boat repairs that are being made. We have sent them an email to see when we can get together. We also met up with our nice neighbors, Ray and Nadia, who own a small monohull that is docked next to us. We plan of getting together in the near future since they are very interested seeing Leu Cat and have offered to share their experiences in going on safari in South Africa's exceptional Kruger National Park. This is something we hope to do before we leave. I have posted a picture of their boat to this blog.
We also have made connect with a blog friend, Owen, who is from Simon's Town but who now lives in the US. He is planning on returning to Simon's Town sometime in September to visit his parents and we hope to meet up then.
Finally, we have received a blog comment from our Cape Town blog friend, Johan. He and his girlfriend, Christie, were kind enough to drive us around Cape Town and give us a tour of the environs when we first arrived here last December. We are anxious to catch up with both of them soon and we emailed to him our new cell phone number. With luck, we may get together in the next week or two.
We also took the car back to Noordhoek so Mary Margaret could checkout the supermarket and pick up a few more necessities. Having wheels is such a sublime pleasure for a cruiser...