Safe arrival, Durban.

Fri 23 Nov 2012 16:15
Friday 23.11.2012 17.30 local (Durban) time, 15.30 GMT
Position 29:52S 31:01.8E: Silburn Channel, Durban Harbour, at anchor.
Well, we made it, and that is the first milestone in this leg from Reunion to Cape Town.
Quite a saga yesterday, after the gale through the night before we were both very tired, though eleted to have come through the rough weather so well. Our beeline into Durban went as planned, but of course always we went a bit slower than we would have wished, and so it was well dark when we radioed in for permission to enter the Port. By this time we had read up that Durban is in fact the 9th busiest port in the World, and sure enough there was plenty of big ship activity at 10 pm last night. 'Come on in' said the radar watchman over the radio, but take care to hug the starboard side of the entrance channel. What he didn't mention was for us to expect a tanker coming in the opposite direction. Fortunately plenty of passing room, and the watchman did call up the big ship, checking that he had seen our little yacht under his port bow.
After that we were left to our own devices in the Harbour itself. Fortunately there was good correspondance between the map and the GPS coordinates, and so we 'Tom Tomed' our way up to the Yacht harbour: but no room at the Inn, so we retreated down chanel to anchor in the small craft fairway. Already a number of other boats made picking our spot difficult, and then would the anchor dig in? Off course not. After about four attempts Geoff was reduced to catatonia, and I resorted to one or two choice incantations of my own. Finally we stuck hard into something, hopefully not foul, and we retreated down below for the first beers for a couple of weeks.
By then it was 2:30 am ships time. We slept well, but woke early, thanks to a visit from the Harbour Police: but the natives were friendly, and, no, we didn't have to move. By day things look so different, and there is activity all around us: an innovation is that the big ship pilots come and go via helicopter, rather than by harbour launch. Not even modern Singapore has picked up that trick yet! The day has drifted by, and we have done battle with Immigration, and Customs (both goalless draws), and paid the Marina our 'berthing fees'!! We do though have the keys to the hot showers, and there is internet here, and cold beer and fish and chips. We have also found a nice shop, down a little side street, where a retired sailorman sells second hand yacht equpement, but first hand information about the passage around the Cape: a valuable find. I have to say that Durban is not at all a bad looking City, there is everything that we need here, and I am glad that we made it our first Port of Call. No one is leaving until at least Monday, after the next weather system has passed through. So we can relax without guilt for 48 hours.
Richard and Geoff.