Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Cape Town beckons

Cape Town just cannot be beaten.

We may be a tad biased, as it is home for us, but every time we return this judgement is reinforced. So we keep going back: flying in for Christmas 2012 and a family reunion, we are also soon to commence our long sail back there… and know that the appeal of our destination will sustain us on the journey.  And for all our yachtie friends and contacts also on their way there: allow Cape Town enough time in your  SA stop-over to get to appreciate the multitude of experiences the Cape offers.

Cape Town, December 2012: WOW. The Cape hosted the happiest of family reunions, with focus being on the first “meeting” of our two almost-6-month grandchildren. Such incredible joy for the new grandparents.
Obliging babies that they are, they did not hold us back as we sampled many Cape highlights: spectacular scenery,

old towns with fascinating history, coffee and craft shops,
 wine farms providing beautiful settings and wonderful beverage that will attempt to distract you from your responsibilities!

 Kirstenbosch botanical gardens provide hours of peaceful walks, picnics and concerts,

... while beautiful white-sand beaches and waterfront areas never let you down (given this was a first-time beach experience for a 6-month old!) Here, a scene to remind us where we will be from November 2013, when Ketoro gets us to Cape Town again.

Meanwhile, we are preparing for the trip and taking every opportunity to get the most out of our last month in Phuket, our travel base (“home”) for almost three years.

Having made full use of a stable berth at Yacht Haven Marina for a few days, we were reminded of the ease of marina stays during two subsequent weekends when friends came to spend their days on Ketoro.
 The sea was quite big and Nai Harn bay, our anchorage, is notorious for not allowing easy dinghy landings ashore, through the surf. The photo above shows the view of the beach on a peaceful day, while that below, of Ketoro from shore, gives the picture of those few days…
The first day’s foray to shore for dinner had Irene wring out her dress before proceeding with dignity to dinner, which had a magnificent view of para-sailors over the bay and our boat.
 The two days of getting the friends and their stuff off the shore via the dinghy, and later returned to land had its moments; finally all were safe but none got there dry. Getting to and from shore by dinghy is never elegant or dignified: the term dinghified is understood by all cruisers!

A day later, two dinghies went ashore at dusk (us and another loaded with 3 guys) with the seas large and building; lovely local dinner, then we had to get back to our boats in the dark; my nerves had been building for some time, too, as I listened to the waves crashing. One of the big guys helped Rolf and me hold the nose of our dinghy into the waves and we made it over the shore break with only a few bucking-bronco moments to reminisce over later. We waited in the swells and wondered why the other dinghy was taking so long, but finally saw it doddering along nearby: it was sitting VERY low in the water..... One of the breakers had swept the dinghy-driver right off the dinghy, then while the others were hauling him back on board they were swamped by another wave, resulting in a dinghy weighed down by tonnage of male species and water. Then the motor cut out. Anyway, we managed to tow them to their boat and all ended fine … but wet again!

The beautiful coastline of Phuket is often fantastic just enjoyed from the boat without even getting to shore.
It is easy to anchor off a picturesque area like this one and simply swim across to a lovely snorkeling spot.
 However, that once provided challenges: similarly anchored off a headland, we were placed between two beaches made colourful with umbrellas, swimmers and jet-skiers. We were about to swim to the rocky headland for exploration, when a jet-ski astonished us with a mind-boggling display of anti-social stupidity. He raced towards the boat and slewed sideways immediately behind us, accurately sending a wall of water over the whole cockpit area and toward the saloon, wetting table top and cushions, before racing to shore and relinquishing the jetski: his turn done for the day. 

Our turn was, too; after mopping up we decided it was safer to simply dip in the water under the boat and enjoy a drink on deck, looking west over the sea: beautiful island sundowners again!  (While Rolf amused himself with resurrecting the paint ball gun and loading it with equally anti-social solid balls.)

Setting off into the ocean again, this time heading towards that setting sun, requires that we be as ready as we were when we first left SA, so we have been going through everything again: all the meds, the safety equipment, the communications equipment, the mechanical systems, you name it; it takes a very long time, but we are crawling to the finish line of the preparation: at which stage we will be at the start line for the long journey. Details of our passage planning will be on the blog before we go…

But before then, we have a grandson coming to find some sea legs on Ketoro, so we have been doing a different sort of stocking and sorting for the next few weeks…
New and old territories for us: boat netting for the sides, nappies, baby food, blow-up baby pool / bath and toys; all placed on a 70s-knit baby blanket, with story books we used for our children.

Also in the picture: the story of Able Seaman Just Nuisance, the Great Dane who joined the SA Navy in 1939, a part of Simons Town’s history to see when going to the beautiful Cape.