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.
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.
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.
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.