Days of delay in Walvis Bay
Barry and Margaret Wilmshurst
Sat 30 Mar 2013 16:30
Leaving Cape Town
Arriving in Namibia, dunes behind, flamingos above.
It’s raining this morning, thunder and lightning, solid downpour, which might be expected to generate gloom and despondency. Not a bit of it. Rain in Namibia is reckoned to be Heaven-sent; they cannot have too much of it. Approximately 90% of this huge country is desert and rainy days are red letter days.
What does make us sad is that we are going to miss a rendezvous with the family in Horta, Azores. Deadlines are anathema to cruisers and usually avoided but we hadn’t missed one yet and this seemed safe enough. But time spun away and now the three week wait for a new sail has clobbered the timetable. We feel bad as well as sad.
Having come to terms with the frustration caused by the totally unexpected failure of our genoa, the purchasing process has been recuperative. Shopping often is. Rick Nankin of North Sails’ Cape Town loft seems extremely knowledgeable and is certainly responsive, patient with his explanations and accommodating. We had to take 17 measurements for him with a borrowed tape last Sunday morning and after nifty work on the computer he came up with options. Typically, we homed in on the cheapest cross-cut before gradually moving on to settle for the most expensive radial sail. Nick tweaked his computer images to allow for our fads and fancies including two and a half extra square metres at the same price and a deal was struck. All that remains now is for the sail to be dispatched on time by April 10 and to reach us a very few days later. It should be a very nice sail to bring us home.
Other administrative issues have arisen from first serious contacts with our yacht brokers, Berthon, in Lymington. They are impressive, competent and as good to deal with as expected but, oh dear, the financial crisis has had terrible consequences across the board, the market is soft, our expectations have been grossly inflated and we must be prepared for a tough time. We have signed the contract today and are determined to see things positively; look on the bright side.
We have had a further spot of trouble. Our outboard motor was difficult to start and lacked oomph. I tried a few things that had worked previously but yesterday it gave up completely half way to the club house and I set about plying the oars. It wasn’t too bad in the light winds of the morning but the tide was flowing strongly and I was mighty glad to accept a tow from a passing chap in a big rib. Once again we have fallen on our feet. We were fortunate indeed to find a Yamaha dealer willing to get his technician in on a public holiday. Charlie turned up with his truck, worked on the engine for two or three hours and reported, among other things, that the water pump impeller required renewal. I must confess I did not realize that outboards had water pump impellers – there is no illustration or even specific mention in the handbook, but there it was, as large as life; he showed it to me. The trouble is our particular part number is very rare, “military grade” (eh? what? could it be from the same stable as our nuclear duct tape?) and when the ladies in the office report in on Tuesday it is certain they will find that the wretched impeller is on “back order”. Charlie has lent us another motor but they use it frequently and deals are going to have to be done in order to keep everybody happy and mobile. Still, there’s no doubt about it; if ever you’re in a spot of bother with your outboard Charlie and his boss Floosie are the boys into whose hands you want to fall. Other local chaps are reputed to have “bins-full” of impellers and over the weekend or first thing Tuesday Charlie is going to see what he can find.
We returned to the boat at tea time. As usual the wind was now blowing at 25 – 30 knots and it was very wet. Without the borrowed motor we could never have crossed the 700m of water back to JJ Moon; we should have had to look for a hotel room, without luggage, pyjamas or tooth-brush. Climbing up out of the bucking, lurching dinghy was exciting. The weather frequently follows the same pattern: quiet mornings with 5 – 6 knot winds, increasing gradually to 25 – 30 knots at tea time, moderation by bed time so that sleep is not interrupted and quiet again for breakfast.
Last week we had a day out with Sunflower. Dave and Kathie had flown in by air and were seeing some of the sights in a 4x4 SUV. They invited us to join them for a day in Swakopmund and its environs, a few kilometres to the north. It is a very nice holiday town with strong German influence from before the first World War. We had a good day.
Another little matter of interest has been caused by a fellow cruiser suffering rigging trouble about 300 miles south of here on his way to St Helena. We spotted the trouble on his MailASail blog and offered to act as courier for a spare part. It seems we might be able to be of service. Interesting for us but, no doubt, a nightmare for him.
Otherwise, we are enjoying our enforced stay in Namibia. Walvis Bay is clean, safe and apparently has all essential facilities. Entry and exit procedures are astonishingly straightforward after South Africa. A few minutes walk from the yacht club landing is one of those restaurants where the menu is limited but the chef really knows his or her business. The waitrons (a South African word, I think, encompassing waiting staff of both genders) are delightful and every prospect pleases. The friendly Walvis Bay Yacht Club also serves good meals and the staff and members could hardly be more helpful. Once again clean living and moderation are at risk from severe temptation.
We are very aware that it is holiday time and back home the family is getting together and we are missing out. We wouldn’t have missed these experiences of ours for worlds but home comforts, friends and family life are becoming increasingly attractive. Happy Easter to everyone!
Flamingos in the lagoon near the club house
Our next door neighbour and early morning feeding frenzy, which woke us up!