At the V and A

JJMoon Diary
Barry and Margaret Wilmshurst
Sat 16 Mar 2013 10:24
We are tucked up securely in the Victoria and Alfred (you will undoubtedly recall that he was the Queen’s son, and Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha - he laid the first stones for the giant breakwater).  The V and A Waterfront development in the centre of Cape Town, including the marina, is hugely successful.  Perhaps the stand-out reason is that it is so well mixed.  Old warehouses have been converted, new shopping malls, hotels and housing built and public spaces laid out with plenty of seating.  Bands play and there is lots of interest to look at.  The developers appear to have employed proper architects.  At the same time a sizeable fishing fleet operates from the basin just outside the marina and commercial shipping is repaired in the dry dock alongside.  The whole place hums with tourists visiting a large aquarium, a small Ferris wheel, shops, food market and craft hall and taking trips on the water.  The hop-on hop-off bus starts from the gate.  It’s certainly the place to be for cruisers in Cape Town.  Expensive though.


Coca Cola’s tribute to South Africa’s 2012 Olympics athletes


1. Ship repairs right alongside the marina           2. Plenty of variety
Also windy, but not as bad as other parts of the city including the Royal Cape Yacht Club marina.  Every part of this coast is assailed by blustery winds; boats roll on their moorings and grind their fenders against the finger pontoons.  It quite often blows at over 30 knots even within harbours and it’s a bit difficult to get off to sleep with the boat heaving and jerking on her lines.  We have been to lunch at the Royal Cape.  It is a very smart club, quite the poshest I have been into since I last visited the Royal Thames in Knightsbridge.  It serves a very good lunch.  But it is behind the security gates within the part of the port used by large ships, is a taxi ride from all the action, has no pleasant outlook and is more exposed to the weather.  We wouldn’t change places but I suppose we can’t afford to be here too long.
It is quite likely, in a country with old-established ties to Europe like South Africa, to discover friends from the past.  We have been fortunate again in being invited to supper at a beautiful Edwardian house in one of the smarter suburbs.  Barbie is an old friend of Mags from Geneva days, now a travel agent here.  She has been very helpful with advice and local colour and meeting her on a couple of occasions has been great fun.
And all the time we have been victualling, buying essential boat bits (well, probably essential), tackling admin. conundrums (we need medical evacuation insurance before landing on St Helena and Ascension) while trying to come to terms with the knowledge that this wonderful life is coming to an end.  We were sitting in the cockpit at dusk last night looking up at Table Mountain when friends passed by.  In a brace of shakes they were on board sharing a glass of wine with us - the travelling village has no garden gates or fences.  We all sat there wondering how we should manage in seeking out the new challenges necessary to keep us lively, or even alive.  The background to discussion is apprehension, not severe, perhaps merely slight nervousness?  The Atlantic is a big ocean, over 7000 miles from here to Dartmouth with only a few small islands on the way.  The weather has a reputation for being kind to sailors, the winds even a little too light, but who knows?  It’s a long, long way home.


Table Mountain in the evening with a lacy fringe of tablecloth just appearing