Ready for SA

Lars Alfredson
Thu 12 Nov 2020 16:29

12thNovember 2020
We are planning on clearing out today. The immigration guys are due in about 30 minutes, 11am. Lars and Guilleame are at the stern fixing one of the broken lamps while Mikael is in the engine room with a local man called David working on the battery to start the main engine. Yes, we cannot start the engine. Hopefully we get this sorted out fast and can leave on time otherwise it might have to be Monday. Everyone is fed up with this place now. It’s not that it’s so bad here, it’s just been too long. But isn’t that the way with boats and harbours, especially boats that are constantly on the move as Dawnbreaker is.
There was a lot of repairs needed also. First the painting that ended up taking six months, most probably because the painter did not want to start the job until he was sure Lars was sure to pay for his work. It’s a little understandable because so many people run out of money and abandon their boats on the hard. You can see old rusted or rotten boats in almost every – reasonably priced – harbour in the world. However, the painter should have been upfront with Lars because, by procrastination, he has cost us a few extra weeks here. We could not do many things until we were in the water and we could not get into the water until the hull was painted. So, he is not the flavour of the month right now.
Since we have been in the water it’s been a frantic few days getting the boat shipshape. Lars and Mikael have been working solid, either in the engine room or working on the electrics or the deck. First the refrigeration was not working and then lights on the deck and some of the mast also. Bits and pieces have been broken off or have gone missing. The aerials have been put up, the dingy, that has been cleaned to look like it’s almost new my myself, has been put back in place at the stern, we put the three spinnakers up yesterday before the wind picked up.
Guilleame and I have been doing a lot of cleaning. The deck has been gone over about four times already and is also looing great. We have also polished all the steel on the boat and the only bit left to do is above the cockpit shade, which it seems I will be doing when we are out at sea so if I fall off it will not be 8 meters down to a cement floor but into the ocean (most likely full of SA white sharks). We all have to do our bit and I’m more comfortable with water than heights. Lars is still the one who goes up the mast. I did it only once a few years ago in the Mediterranean and realised it’s not the place for me if I wish to stay conscious.
Another worry was that I developed an infection because a stone is blocking a salivary gland. So I spent a few very uncomfortable hours of yesterday morning at a local hospital, but it seems with a heavy dose of antibiotics and antihistamines (Tramadol, Mikael says they are really good so I guard them closely) I will be ok to sail. Thankfully it did not start-up a day later or I would have been in a very uncomfortable position. Not a bad idea to carry general anti-biotics. I often do but not at the moment and Lars has some but they are about 15 years old. Anyway, it’s getting better fast so should not be an issue.
We just got very good news about South Africa. It seems to be wide open now, even for international flights from all countries around the world. Let’s hope there is not a big second wave. That’s the hope of everybody everywhere now. There was also an article sent to us by Franz – our South African crew who could not get to us here because flights were not running from SA to La Reunion – that sounds very hopeful for an immunisation for coVid. If it’s true it is seriously good news for the entire world.
So, hopefully within about ten days we should be docking at our first stop in South Africa after skirting the southern tip of Madagascar (you will have to wait until another time). The other two ports we have been given clearance into are Durban, which is just a little to the west of Richard’s Bay and then Cape Town which will be out last port before sailing across the Atlantic.
We are really looking forward to South Africa but not as much as being on the open ocean again, which of course, is the natural place for all large boats to be in.
We have never had time to get bored here. Most of the time has been taken up with the boat but we all did some hiking. I did a total of six days altogether, mostly quite hard for me as I am still on a low carbohydrate diet and have, apart from several days cycling in Holland, not been doing any heavy exercise for the last year. The days of long-distance cycling and climbing in the Himalayas are receding into the past. Boat life is a different kind of adventure, less active maybe, but no less wonderful.
Something that is quite odd is that none of us got into the sea even once. They have a protected lagoon here that is about 45 minutes’ drive away and we never got to swim there. Priorities, It’s the boat or hiking taking precedence here. Anyway, if you’re on a sail vessel then swimming in the ocean is never far away.
They are shouting up the back, not angry, just to be able to be heard over the continuous jack-hammer noise that we have had for weeks because they are renovation this entire area of the dry harbour at the moment. What are they shouting about? It seems Guilleame has broken a screw connected with the stern shower system. It’s a special screw, this is what has been happening. Things need to be put back together after the six moths of dry and the painting job and some things invariably don’t work or are broken or break of are missing. Everybody is in a good mood though. That’s driven by Lars. He is an extremely easy going and open-minded skipper and keeps the mood in a positive direction just about all the time. We are lucky to have him as a captain.
So that’s about it. I wanted to write this and get it away as we will be out of internet access until South Africa now.
Still hoping to leave this afternoon/evening. Let see what happens. Things never go to plan when you’re on a sailboat.