Fw: 2021 SA Over the Sand Bar and Out to Sea
Over the Sand Bar and Out to Sea
The birds were still in vocal form and it was before 5.00am when we took Zoonie’s lines aboard and cleared the sand bar by 2 metres for the 90-mile journey to Durban. There was no usable wind but we did have a favourable tide of half a knot as we headed between the big ships in the anchorage towards the 200-metre contour that was supposed to contain some Agulhas Current to help us on our way.
We knew it was tide because at midday, six hours after high water it turned against us at the same rate for the next six hours. We debated heading out further in search of this current with its formidable reputation but decided ‘the Law of Diminishing Returns’ would set in giving us no advantage over the extra mileage.
The day went by very quickly but we knew we were in for a night time approach to Durban. No worries, it is a busy shipping port so everything will be well lit up. Eight ships rested at anchor awaiting their turn rolling gently in the slight sea.
We hadn’t been expecting the beautiful sunset that cast the city skyline into silhouette. The fairway buoy came up as it should and we furled the genoa and headed for the channel marker red and green lights. Entering into the harbour we were surrounded by big ships, a car transporter, a cruise liner in mothballs and countless cargo and container ships. Rob took us cautiously towards the yacht dock where we were supposed to tie up alongside the International, now named Covid jetty but we couldn’t make it out in the dark and thought we’d set the anchor just outside instead. It dragged because, as we found out later, it picked up a black plastic bin liner. Last time that happened was in Suva.
So we decided to give the approach to the jetty much further in a go. There appeared to be rows of boats on moorings and in the dark we counted them as one finger of the marina, so as we gingerly approached what we thought was the correct channel Zoonie found otherwise and dipped forwards. No problem, that confirmed where the correct channel was so we proceeded past the moored boats towards the shore.
When the depth dropped to 2.7 beneath the keel Rob was reluctant to go further so we turned around and went into one of the berths we had spotted as we passed. Nicely tied up at around 8.30pm we thought we were safe for the night until a very quietly spoken uniformed member of the marina staff came along, “You cannot stop here, you must go into the international jetty and I will be there to take your lines.”
True to his word he helped us to moor up just a few metres from the shore and a concrete slipway. Moments later the Port Police arrived by boat and when they were satisfied a lady from ‘health’ was brought along by a security guard. Using a torch she looked at our papers and covid results forms and said we must wait aboard until a doctor would come down the next day to do our Covid Tests, which we would have to pay for, as the first ones were 5 weeks old.
Our hearts sank. Would we have to do this in every port we called in to? This would put Covid results over our priority for leaving on a good weather window. She was petrified of water and couldn’t wait to get off the wobbly pontoon. The security guard described a berth location and met us there to take our lines. We were in and tired, staying up only to have a bowl of soup, before we hit the sack just after 23.00hrs.
Late afternoon the next day Rob phoned the office and asked when we could expect the doctor. He/she wasn’t coming as they didn’t think a Covid test was necessary so we took our papers up to the office for some more form filling and again asked to be ‘allowed’ to plug in to the nearest electrical point. We came away with no satisfactory reason as to why we couldn’t, considering there were numerous points nearby. They couldn’t all be out of action surely. Most other boats were happily hooked up.
Tracey strongly advised we should not stray far from the marina because of lack of security and the Covid risk, she also said all the tourist attractions were now closed. Sparing with the facts and with a frosty attitude to boot we came away feeling less than welcome.
So it was back to the boat to run the engine and a week of hot fan-less days ahead. We had indeed been lucky at Zululand Yacht Club.