The Perfect Cape


Tuesday 10 January 2017

Testing cold Atlantic waters with Table Mountain behind Susie

It feels like yesterday that we were sailing into Durban, South Africa, and now just short of three months on we find ourselves preparing to leave Cape Town for the long journey to the Caribbean.

We’ve absolutely loved the Cape. Actually, that’s an understatement – we’ve loved, loved, loved the Cape. Firstly, there is the stunning scenery. Every day we look up at Table Mountain sitting behind the Victoria & Alfred Marina where we’ve been based. It soars up high and splendid – a view we never tire of. We’ve taken trips to explore the Garden Route, driven around the Cape Peninsula and coasted through the wine regions. Majestic coastal roads, roads that range up and down and wind here, there and everywhere through beautiful landscapes, endless views of green vineyards, the local fynbos found everywhere. Breath-taking. Secondly, the people. We have found South Africans to be friendly and helpful. Not just politely helpful, they genuinely want to do things for you, they insist on helping. Thirdly, the food and wine. I don’t think we’ve been so spoilt for choice on our world trip. The international cruisers have feasted and drunk like nowhere else. From fine dining to dinner in a township – huge portions of unique South African food. Yachts are leaving loaded with good quality South African wines.

Sushi oyster shooters with the lovely Mark and Lorraine

Is it all that perfect? Actually finding a good coffee takes some work. South Africans drink their coffee way too milky! Our friend Don on his yacht Solstice was forever having to ask for extra shots for his latte. We managed to work it out with him – ask for half the milk and an extra shot on top of a normal double shot. Then there’s the politics. We don’t think there’s a country where as a sailing community we’ve talked so much about the politics of a country. Apartheid ended over twenty years ago and yet South Africa seems more complex than ever. We’ve all enjoyed engaging with South Africans and talking about life after apartheid. We’ve sat up late at night in a bar talking with white Afrikaners and quizzed black Uber drivers. It’s tricky, crime is a problem, much of South Africa lives behind barriers the likes of which we’ve never seen. But we are left with the impression people want better, this is not what the old guard fought for, a corrupt government needs to go, law and order needs to become a priority. The country has so much potential, a new generation needs and wants to grab it by the horns.

P-p-p-p Penguins at Betty’s Bay

Back to our reality and Adina has been getting her annual in-depth service – lots of love and attention. Each passage we follow a check list for preparation and we also have a regular maintenance list but once a year we dig deeper and service everything. The sails have come off and been checked, the engine has been serviced like never before, oils have all been changed, impellers changed, running rigging all washed, winches serviced, the rigging professionally examined, the stove checked and so on.

Ahead lie some big passages. From here we have an 11-12 day north-west sail to St. Helena. A stop for a week there before a 6-7 day sail to Ascension Island. And that’s just the warm-up before a 3-4 week crossing to the Caribbean.

Always fun to be had with the Bowler Family in Hermanus

We are sad to leave, we always are. In the last few days yachts have started leaving around us, everyone says how they don’t want to go. For us we know we will be back, we’ve had a ball and of course we got engaged and have been enormously happy. A few thanks if we may. Mark, Lorraine and their lovely daughter Michelle – thank you for hosting us here in the Cape; we tip our hats to you, you live in a lovely place, we know you work hard on it and we know you will succeed. Joff and Angela Bowler – it was lovely to come and visit you and your family in your lovely holiday home in Hermanus. Lunch at the Creation Vineyard will live long in the memory. We hope Blightly is not too cold now you are back home. And to all our cruising friends – what a lot of socialising, enjoying looking back on 2016 and ahead to an exciting 2017.

The Atlantic awaits us, the wind and waves will be behind us. Goodbye beautiful fair Cape, goodbye South Africa.

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4 responses to “The Perfect Cape

  1. Sue from Haku II says:

    I’m getting the impression that you create your own happy waves round you wherever you go.- which stimulate those you meet to be happy and helpful too. If those happy vibes last after you leave and stimulate others in an ever-expanding ring then you are truly a rare force for good in the world and should be visible on Google Earth!! America needs you. Please come and visit us too!!
    Fair winds for your coming passages to the Caribbean. We crossed further north so a shorter route but glorious, steady 26 knot trades except for 3 days in the doldrums. Here’s wishing you safe seas and friendly winds. Sue 🙂

  2. Ros King says:

    Happy New Year Tom and Susie! We look forward to seeing your safe arrival in St Helena!

    Have a good trip, downwind sailing too!

  3. John Richardson says:

    I’m not a sailor but from that route it sounds like you are going round again!! Good luck with the Atlantic crossing and keep on having fun!!!!

  4. Malcolm & Liz Keenor says:

    Good morning both, from a cold but bright and windless Southern England. One of those great winter days for a long walk finishing at a pub!….Oh! sorry, you can’t do that can you….silly me!

    Congratulations are once again in order as you have (I’m sure you realise) just crossed the Greenwich Meridian and have therefore officially circumnavigated the world…hurrah! and well done.

    You clearly loved your time in Cape Town and will, I’m sure, find yourselves back there again some time, if only to sample more wines! (on your honeymoon, perhaps?)

    We’re gathering speed at the moment, putting together plans and arrangements for our grandson(Tom)’s birthday party on Saturday, for which our daughter, Kate, has hired the local village hall. The theme is “Pirates”, so I’ve been dragged in to construct a plank for them all to walk along and end up in a shark infested paddling pool!….what fun. The shark is a blown-up one of course, so no-one should get eaten alive (although there are one or two invitees that probably deserve such a fate!)

    I’m sure there will be a treasure island somewhere and gold dubloons filled no doubt with chocolate, to be noisily dug up… we’re looking forward to a probably hectic, but fun filled Saturday.

    God speed and fair winds to you both. And take good care….!

    Lots of love and best wishes

    Liz & Malc