|Cool Runnings at the international "jetty" in Richard's Bay|
So we decided to quickly head to the restaurant and have a quick bite to eat (and a Castle, of course!). No sooner had our food arrived, than we saw an official looking person walking towards our boat. (Luckily we could see it from the restaurant). It was now 4:00pm, a whole hour sooner than expected! Dave raced over to the guy to let him know we were here, and what a chilling reception he received! He was told repeatedly in a pretty aggressive tone that we had been given plenty of time to eat, and that unless everyone was in the boat by the time he had finished stamping Dave’s passport, he would leave, and would not clear the kids and myself into the country! Luckily for us, our neighbors on “Full Circle” were also in the restaurant, and had also seen the immigration official, and were just walking past at that time. Dave asked our new friends if they could please come and get me and the kids from the restaurant, and placed R400 (about $30) into his hand to give to me, so I could pay the bill! (Luckily he had drawn some cash just before we went to eat). I paid the bill, packed our uneaten food into the take-away containers, and sadly left our untouched beers on the table and rushed to the boat.
|We managed to take this pic before Dave had to rush off and meet the immigration official|
|Selfie with a Castle! So happy to finally have made it to SA. A little disheveled, but thrilled to be here!|
Rather begrudgingly, it seemed, the immigration official stamped our passports and announced that he was giving us the standard 3 month visitor visa. (Our friends on Full Circle asked for longer, as they are planning to fly to Holland for Christmas, but they were denied anything above 90 days). It was a very bad first impression, not only for us, but for the multiple foreign boats who come here.
On Sunday morning, as soon as we could, we left the concrete wall that is the international dock, and headed over to Zululand Yacht Club, where we had secured a berth. What a difference in reception! Here everyone was extremely friendly and welcoming! And what a lovely yacht club it is. There is a lovely grass area and playground where the kids can run around, and a pool for swimming. We arrived on a Sunday, and it was a hive of activity, with boats coming and going out for friendly races, and families having picnics on the grassy area. We began clean-up operations on Cool Runnings, who was caked in salt from the passage down the Mozambique Channel, so as is our routine, the kids and Dave cleaned the outside and I cleaned the inside. A good vacuum and wipe down of everything was in order, as everything felt damp and salty, even inside. The bathrooms got a good scrub down, and soon our floating home was clean again, both inside and out!
|Heading down the channel to Zululand Yacht Club|
And then we had the surprise of our lives! My close childhood friend, Vicky, who lives in Johannesburg (about a 5 hour drive from here), happened to be at their holiday home in Salt Rock, about 1 ½ hours south of Richard’s Bay! What a stroke of luck! She and her husband Haydn, along with their son Cameron and his friend Andrew hopped in their car and headed up to Richard’s Bay to come and see us!! It was so wonderful to see them again, and Vicky, in true style, came armed with a boatload of food and drinks, so we didn’t have to do anything, just sit and catch up! It was a very special evening and so great to be able to see friends so soon after arriving!
|Happy Reunion! Me with Vicky, Haydn, Andrew, Cameron and Dave|
Vicky, Haydn, Cameron and Andrew stayed the night on the boat, and the next day graciously drove us around Richard’s Bay to take care of the usual admin stuff we have to do:
Number 1 was to go to Customs. After our less than stellar encounter with immigration at arrival, we were a little concerned about our reception at Customs. But what a different reception it was! The Customs official was friendly and welcoming, and we were officially cleared in in no time at all!
Number 2 was to get SIM cards for our phones so we could have local numbers. We went to the local mall, and while Dave and Haydn took care of that, the rest of the contingent went to “Mug and Bean” for breakfast. The kids had the biggest muffin they have ever had!! Thanks Vix and Haydn for treating us to breakfast!
|Gaby tries to tackle the biggest muffin she's ever eaten!|
We enjoyed another lovely evening catching up with Vicky and Haydn, and stayed there overnight, and early the next morning, Dave took them to the airport, as they were flying to Cape Town to see their daughter, Amber, who has just started Uni (college) there. We were enjoying relaxing in their beautiful home when the alerts started coming through: huge storms in Durban (about 45 minutes south of us) with flooding and strong winds! We started monitoring the news and the weather, and had to make a decision. Do we cut short our stay in our new luxury accommodation, and head back to the boat, or do we stay here and ride it out, so as not be on the road during the storm? I knew I couldn’t relax not knowing if the boat was secure or not, but we had to leave then and there to stay ahead of the storm! So we packed everything into the car and hightailed it back to Richard’s Bay.
|One of the first photos we saw- the flooding of the highway hear the old Durban airport|
We got to the boat, and winds were already heading into the 30 knot range. The boat was being blown onto the jetty and there was a lot of pressure on the bow rope and dock cleat. We had seen pictures before of the marina in shambles after a strong wind had blown through, so Dave decided the safest thing to do was put out an anchor. With winds now blowing up to 40 knots, Dave and Ben went out in the dinghy and I lowered the anchor. Dave took the anchor and chain in the dinghy and played it out, dropping the anchor in the middle of the channel. I pulled it in a little to ensure the pressure was on the anchor chain and not the deck cleat and rope. We then decided to put an additional anchor out to the side, so help keep the boat off the jetty. Another dinghy ride and successful deployment of the anchor. During this time we measured 46 knots of wind! We were SO glad that we had made the call to come back to the boat! Dave also helped another Swedish couple put their anchor out to help secure their boat.
|Dave and Ben out in the dinghy laying the second anchor|
|We didn't get a shot of the 46 knots, but this was close enough!!|
We hunkered down in the storm as the reports of damage started coming in from Durban. There were severe flash floods, with people having to abandon their vehicles on the highway, as well as several deaths due to this unexpected storm. A ship trying to leave Durban Harbor was blown sideways, and ended up getting stuck and blocking the channel! The marina is also in shambles, with mooring and jetties damaged and 2 boats sunk! Wow…welcome to SA, Cool Runnings!!
|Durban Marina - there's nowhere left for Cool Runnings to dock! These boats are normally in a nice straight line, not bunched together like this....yikes!|
|The ship that got swept sideways and the tugs desperately trying to push it back.|
|Another view of the ship|
We continue to get updates from our friends in Durban who have thus far advised us to stay away, as there is nowhere really to leave the boat. We have also been watching the weather, and see that weather windows to hop down the coast are relatively rare, and last a very short time. It’s going to be an interesting ride getting down to Cape Town whenever we can find the weather windows to do it. We are so thankful we are safe in Richard’s Bay, but we also can’t stay there much longer as the marina is booked out for the World Arc Rally (about 20 or more boats that do an organized round-the-world trip), who are due to arrive between the 6th and 11th of November, so we will need to leave in the next 2 weeks. We hope we can find some shelter in Durban, even just for the time that we need to wait for another safe weather window to get to East London. It makes our planning to see family and friends difficult, as we are so reliant on the weather, and its tough to pin down dates under those conditions as we often have to make last minute changes, such as heading back to Richards Bay to secure the boat.
Our hope is to get the boat to Cape Town late November, and then on a little further north to Port Owen on the west coast, where we will leave it for a month, and hopefully do some travelling in the month of December by hire car. In the meantime, we are enjoying a few additional days at Vicky and Haydn’s beautiful house, which they have graciously made available to us, and we try, as best we can, to make some plans! We have just enjoyed a fantastic stay at Mkuze Falls Private Game Reserve, which we will report on separately.
Please also take some time to view the new and improved and updated “Kids Cabin” tab on our blog (top right corner). Gaby has been busy with some updates from a kids perspective!