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23 Apr 2013 06:31
Kathie and Dave Blanding circumnavigation update PART 1: Sunflower Departs South Africa, 20 April 2013 
enfeedia RSS feed publisherHi, Everyone,

Today we leave South Africa, ending almost 5 months in country. When the Somalia pirates seized the Quest in February, 2011 we were forced to change our course from the Mediterranean to a sail around the cape of Africa. We expected it to be an interesting alternative, but South Africa has become one of the favorite stops of our circumnavigation, and is now at the top of our list of places to revisit. Our time here has been fabulous, and we are finding it difficult to leave. But the Caribbean and home are calling and it is time to be on our way. Plus, it is feeling like October here. Below are some highlights since our last email at Christmas.

We departed Richards Bay for Cape Town on 11 Jan. 2013. The sail around the southern coast of S. Africa is usually not a pleasant one, so most sailors try to finish it as quickly as possible. With a great deal of help from the Peri-Peri Radio Net, most of us make it safely and sometimes, even fairly comfortably. We left Tuzi Gazi about 8am--seas were pretty rough and confused, but settled down overnight. We arrived in East London on the 13th. The next day, we took a trip into town to see the big sight at the Museum, the Coelacanth. It was thought to be extinct, for 65 million years, until a specimen was found near East London in 1938. Quite interesting, rather ugly, and very old!! There have been others found in Indonesia and Madagascar.

We left East London with a weather window long enough to reach Simon's Town, but it was not to be. The first night out our backstay broke. The resulting caos on the aft deck was scary, but we managed to secure everything with a minimum of damage to the boat and we diverted to Port Elizabeth for repairs. We quickly found someone to help with the repairs, and three days later, on 18 Jan. we departed for Simon's Town.

For most sailors, Cape Agulhas is the most dreaded part of the trip around Southern Africa. We were lucky to just motor around it in a light headwind. At longitude 20, we crossed into the Atlantic Ocean and drank a beer in salute!!

The next morning we arrived at the False Bay Yacht Club in Simon's Town, which is a very pretty tourist area. It is very easy to walk to restaurants and shops. The only downside is that there is no real supermarket. One must rent a car or taxi or take the train to nearby towns for supplies. Not too bad, though, as the towns are very picturesque. We thoroughly enjoyed our stay in Simon's Town. In fact, after a trip into the Royal Cape Yacht Club in Cape Town, we decided to cancel our reservations there and stay in Simon's Town while Jim and Flo, friends from Michigan, visited.

Our time with Jim and Flo flew by. We did an 8 day driving trip with them along the Garden Route on the Southern coast, to the Hlosi Game Lodge, just east of Port Elizabeth. We saw many animals, including cheetahs and lions. We also visited De Hoop Nature Preserve, Knysna, and on our return, we stopped in the Little Karoo. On other day-trips we had a wonderful luncheon at Le Petite Ferme in Franshhoek, and visited Cape Town--all of it great fun.