Durban 29 51.775S 31 01.287E

Mike and Liz Downing
Thu 5 Dec 2013 09:12
From now until Cape Town (800 or so miles away) it's all about weather windows. Winds from the south bring gale force winds and rain, and more importantly, huge seas. So you wait for the southerly to go through and hope the gap between it and the next one is long enough to make the next port along the coast. From Richards Bay the next port is Durban and on Sunday evening we had a big enough gap to make the passage. It's only 95 miles, so it was an overnighter, leaving around 18.00 and arriving around 10.00 on Monday. Good winds only lasted for about half the passage and then dropped out almost completely, so the last half was a motorboat ride. That's another feature of this coast - you need to get in on time. Virtually everywhere else we've been, when the wind drops out we could still sail at 2 or 3 kts and just take our time, only using the engine to get into an anchorage or port. Here the consequences of not getting in can be very severe, so we need to keep the speed up and get in.
Durban has one marina and it's within the main harbour so it's well protected, but it was full and the first 2 nights were spent at anchor. Today we managed to get a berth rafting alongside a brand new Oyster 655 (65ft or 20 metres long). It makes Aurora B look like a toy! Unfortunately, the prevailing winds blow into the harbour towards the marina, so any rubbish in the harbour ends up in the marina. The harbour is huge - we counted 16 big ships being loaded/unloaded at the same time, with more than 20 ships anchored outside waiting to enter. And the city of Durban is huge - 3.5 million people - with storm drains that empty directly into the harbour. The net result is lots of rubbish in the water and in the marina and it's not the most pleasant we've stayed in! The city has a big skyscraper skyline which stretches all along the harbour waterfront. We'll be here for a few days waiting for the next weather window to reach the next port of East London, 250 miles further round the coast.   
The Durban skyline - a calm harbour after a day of high winds and rain.
The marina nestled in front of the skyscrapers. (Taken when at anchor waiting for a
space to become available in the marina.)
One of the many big ships in the harbour.
Two of at least 16 (and probably quite a few more) loading/unloading docks (on a
grey day). They even have a huge cruise liner in one of the docks. 
OCC members meeting the OCC Port Officer for Durban. From left to right: David (yacht
Serendipity); Mike and Sally (yacht Jacaranda); Jan and Eli (yacht Jenny), us two
(Aurora B) and Bob Fraser the OCC Port Officer.