Squid fishing and a flying shark and good news from South Africa
Squid Fishing, a Flying Whale Shark and
Good News from South Africa
Malcolm, Christine and the family were down for the weekend recently and Malcolm was determined to get the outboard motor on his tinny working. It has only been used a few times in the past eight years. After much resistance and reluctance it relented and spluttered into life, at first without conviction and then, admitting defeat, it sounded as it should and no moment was lost to get the tinny into the water and test out its capabilities.
Christine and I had a gentle walk along the beach as the boys sped down the channel for some unproductive squid fishing. We kept our eyes on them in case the motor misbehaved. A while later we were sitting in the open air shelter beside where the local pelicans queue up for their titbits and while Christine was showing me her holiday photos we kept looking up at the channel to see if the boys could do with a hand when they returned to shore.
So engrossed was I in Christine’s gorge (ous) photos of where the Murchison cuts through red rocks, we completely missed their return, right under our noses, and the first I spotted was Malcolm’s smiling face from the cab of his ute with the boat sitting happily on the trailer, sea-water dripping off the motor prop.
The next day, in the morning, we got together to take a look at the wonderful kites that were being flown in just the right amount of wind on the Anzac Park grass. Local children were ‘helping’ push the whale shark upwards as it filled up with air through the mouth, the kite flyer calling to them not to hold the kite as it might lift them up and then we lunched at The Six Degrees knowing that our times with these dear friends was running out.
In the back of our minds at that time was the thought that we would be sailing around the South African shore some distance off because the ports were closed. We sat together at the saloon table reading through our ocean atlas and various pilot books and used a pencil on my old Phillips World Atlas to play with different routes from La Reunion south westwards to avoid the worst of where the lows from the South West meet the south flowing Agulhas current between Durban and Port Elizabeth. The route would put us into the path of the lows marching from west to east while turning clockwise with little Zoonie at their mercy. This route is wild when travelling from the Atlantic into the Indian Ocean but at least the wind is from behind.
Then I had an idea.
The local situation can often be different from the government message in times of extreme, like weather and pandemic. I remember how the Isle of Wight ferries were supposedly cancelled at times of storms in the Solent when I used to travel between Lymington and the island. I would, along with other opportunists, turn up at the terminal just in case and more often than not the Captain would spot a lull in the storm and get us across.
Fiona at the Zululand Yacht Club in Richards Bay had told me only the day before for the second time that the ports were closed. So I wrote to our Dutch friends Janneke and Weitze aboard Anna Caroline in the Seychelles to hear their plans about SA. Janneke wrote back immediately to the effect that an informal arrangement had been put in place for yachts so they can clear in at most of the main ports and even though Mossel Bay south of Port Elizabeth is still closed to yachts we are allowed to anchor to shelter from bad weather.
This brought us such mental relief we went on a sunny walk around Mount Clarence with its fine views over King George Sound and Princess Royal Harbour on the other side and amidst the beautiful spring flowers, most especially the fragrant freesias and the bold and beautiful arum lilies that are growing everywhere at the moment.
A beer in the Earl Spencer was quickly followed by another at the Six Degrees where it was warm and welcoming; all to celebrate this news. Along with being able to port hop around the SA coast we are now in touch with Des Cason who in the past four years has provided hundreds of yachts with weather and routing advice from his home in Durban. He describes the Indian Ocean as ‘disgusting’ compared to the Atlantic and Pacific because it has land to the north which creates new and disturbs the existing weather and current patterns. So we thought an extra brain on the project might be a good idea. We send him our position and he suggests a route.
La Reunion is still open to us but Cocos is not so our course will take us NW from Fremantle to a point around 16’ south and then when the moment is right we will turn left and take the trades across to LR. But that is somewhere in the near future.
We were beginning to wonder if we had enough store food on board for say six months and decided to do a stock take. I filled in the spreadsheet while Rob called out the items and off we went to the shops to fill in the gaps.
So the food and for the present at least the destinations to SA was in order but still we were waiting for the return of the hoist tracks to the yard so Zoonie could be returned to her natural home and our life-raft is away in South Australia being serviced and we had little idea of when it would be back at Fremantle due to delays caused by you know what.
As I type the hoist tracks came back early this morning and Darren is re-attaching them to the wooden walkways that go out with them. A crane arrives this afternoon to move them back onto their bases out over the water and Zoonie can be launched any time after Friday. The life raft has now been inspected and filled with new supplies and flares with enough time left on them to get us home and should be back on the road from Mount Gambier to Fremantle today. So the human side of our preparations is well underway.
The problem now is the weather to get us around the south west corner of Western Australia and up to Fremantle. The powerful lows keep marching across here, with only a few hours between them, creating swells up to 10 metres just outside. If we can get a gap of two days we can get half way to Augusta but even then the sea will be challenging; and all the time the weather window to the start of the next cyclone season both here and on the other side of the Indian Ocean is getting nearer.
With all this weighing on our minds we took ourselves off yesterday for the remaining section of path between Albany and Emu Point that we have not yet walked, from behind the grain and woodchip wharves to the King Lighthouse.
The morning was lovely and warm and dozens of giant skinks basked in the sunshine, some watching us with beady eyes and other dashing off into the undergrowth. At the ruined lighthouse another couple arrived and asked if we had seen the submarine leave. That was the first we knew about an Australian submarine being in the harbour. It looked to me as if it might be going off to be laid up, none of the conning tower crew were in uniform.
Rob has pumped some light PTFE grease into the steering cable conduits and we have been taking turns to turn the wheel to help it along. The Genoa is back on and so is the hydrovane rudder, so Zoonie could not be more ready. Our friends Jeremy and Kathy are lifting Sal Darago out of the water at Carnarvon and will fly home in October until they can return and sail back at a more leisurely pace, calling at places now closed to them.
Yesterday we applied for a pandemic visa, and while it is being prepared a bridging visa will keep us legally here until we leave. Our present visas expire on October 8th and if there is any risk we have not left by then we have to apply at least four weeks before the expiry date to remain. So we had no choice but to fork out the £170, at least our minds are at ease on that score.
At the weekend, on their way home from netball here in Albany, Kylie, Chris and the girls came to see us on board. Isabelle shot up the steps at a rate of knots after her dad and was curious beyond measure about life on board especially how the shower worked. So I went through the steps with her turning the taps, holding the shower head and pumping out the water. She there and then demonstrated the process to Zoe and later, back home to her grandparents so that Malcolm and Christine now know exactly how to take a shower on Zoonie!