So its been a few days of waiting but we’ve got the crane guys scheduled to come early tomorrow morning to put us down in the water. We’re really hoping to get out of here soon and into the water as living at the waterfront sucks. It’s a bad area so you gotta always be worried about people stealing your stuff at night plus the security guards walking around the docks are actually more likely to steal stuff from you themselves then stop somebody. The security guards are usually quite rude and there’s really nothing to do around here and nobody to converse with. Hopefully this will be our last day here.
Sidenote: So much interference here has made trying to connect to any sort of wi-fi a nightmare hence these posts getting posted late
Last night it finally happened, the permits were there, the route was set, the police were ready and the journey began. At exactly 6pm we rolled out and started to leave Pietermaritzburg in a convoy of two police cruisers and four blocker cars. The first leg of the journey was the most difficult as this involved getting out of the town and onto the highway, which proved difficult as police from Pietermaritzburg didn’t block off the road ahead of time and we had to deal with oncoming traffic trying to get by our boat, police escort and all. We even ended have a large truck literally just run off us the road as instead of stopping for the police or all the people yelling he just tried to barrel through us and we narrowly avoided him, fortunately we didn’t take any damage and we didn’t get stuck, it just delayed us a bit to straighten back out and get going again. After slowly moving through town at 10-20 km/h for over half an hour we managed to make it onto the highway and thus the road-rage began as the highway was too skinny at this point for anybody to pass, so the the entirety of the traffic was slowed down to our ~30 km/h pace and people were not amused. We had many people try to drive around us by driving on the dirt beside the highway but most fell back as soon as they saw the police lights but a couple just slammed the pedal down and flew by us and it wasn’t worth the cops time to chase them down.
After an hour and a half of this we pulled off to our rally point where we would switch our Pietermaritzburg police escort for a Durban police escort. We looked at the highway we just got off and saw the many lights of the bumper to bumper traffic that we had caused. We had some food while we waited and when the Durban police arrived they were much more professional about everything and set us up in a more optimal formation for the worsening weather conditions. Was much more smooth sailing with them in charge and the highway got wider as we closed in on the city allowing traffic to start passing us. Then we reached the toll bridge which was the most dreaded part of the trip, the measurements were made ahead of time that we should fit but only barely. We managed to squeeze thru but only just and we got lost a good scrape of paint on one side from it grinding past the concrete. After that the weather started to clear up and things become a lot easier and at around midnight we made it! We were finally at the docks we got taken off the truck and back on our supports and now its only a matter of waiting for a crane to put us in, which hopefully should take us no more then a few days.
Yesterday afternoon we moved out of the yard and to the side of a nearby road to prepare for the move day. Maybe a simple sounding task but with such a massive boat this proved a much harder task then anticipated. We started moving early in the morning and quickly ran into many problems. First off the truck cab was running into the side of the boat whenever it turned, so we had to remove the truck panels on the side of the cab. Then we had the whole mud problem making turning a nightmare as the wheels would turn but the truck would just slide forward regardless, pushed by the weight of the boat weighing it down. Then we ran into the retainer wall of the koi pond and with how heavy the truck is you cant turn around so the workers had to smash the corner of the retainer wall to not damage the boat. With many obstacles we managed to eventually make it out of the yard and as it moved along the dirt road a nearby neighbor let out his dogs to see us and it was quite nice petting all the dogs.
As we finally parked we got up on the boat and got ready to make dinner as it was past 5. Then we were interrupted before we could start making anything by a group of people wanting to take a look at the boat, and then another group of people after that! We were happy to show them around the boat as they were quite friendly people and when they saw our food out they apologized for interrupting our dinner and invited us over for a Braii their family was having in a bit. We gladly accepted this offer so me and Brody headed over nearly immediately with some beer to go socialize with these folks. They were very great hosts and it was quite a fun time talking to them.
The next morning I was quite groggy from staying up most of the night on guard duty(we no longer had the luxury of an electric fence surrounding us) and Grant, the host of the Braii from yesterday invited us to come to church with him. Although we aren’t religious folk Brody and I were happy to come along and experience a South African church. It ended up being a pretty good time and many people there wanted to hear about Canada and about our plans of sailing across the Atlantic. Past two days have been exciting and hopefully tonight will be no different as we will begin our journey to Durban harbor.
Today we finally found out for certain that the boat is going to be transported to the harbor this Sunday night! We got the boat all strapped up today and we had the truck driver come in and slide himself underneath us so we’re ready to move when the big day comes.It took all day but we’re finally all saddled up, although its a little nauseating walking around the boat right now cause its on a slight slant and whenever you move you feel the boat moving a bit. Overall though today was a good day.
Sunday evening Len arrived back at his workshop with our mast on the back of his truck, which he had been gone for several days going down to pick it up from the mast builders in Cape Town. Today Len got seven guys to move the pieces of the mast of his truck and into his workshop where tomorrow morning a specialist in putting together masts is going to assemble it for us. The mast is alot larger then I expected, but for a big boat I guess it’s gotta have a big mast and big sails.
Originally we thought we’d have to have it assembled out by the harbor after the boat was in the water because the fully built mast would be too big to fit on anything without overhanging but we managed to find a way to transport it, which is great because now we don’t have to worry about waiting for someone to assemble it after we’re in the water. We also are have heard that we should be good to go in the water very soon(hopefully Sunday at the latest), will keep you updated on that.
Here in South Africa the word “Braai” is used for BBQ, both as a noun and an verb. Here in Durban, South Africa we found it very difficult to source an all stainless steel BBQ for the boat. We did find a nice one but it was intended for an outside patio and was HUGE! I did think about it for awhile then decided I needed something large for a boat, not large for a house.
Finally Stephen at SkiPort Supply was able to get one from Cape Town for us. It is a very nice Chef camper BBQ with the optional yacht rail mounting. At first glance everything looks very sturdy and well made. Upon closer inspection there are a couple things I don’t like about it. First of all it comes with chrome grills. I mean what were they thinking? I will get them replaced when I get a chance. Second there is no latch to keep it closed when under way. Okay that to I can probably fix later. The third thing was that there is no thermometer on top. I think I can get one of those later as well. But if you look at the price we paid, it is an insane amount for something not having all those options already. Oh and it probably needs a cover as well.
Everyone was looking forward to a BBQ tonight so I had to make sure I had everything required to hook it up. We picked up a 5 kg fiberglass tank. Now the tank has one fitting and the BBQ has another. So I picked up a new hose and fitting to put on. Also filled up the propane tank (the guy had never seen a fiberglass one before and took a long time to actually fill it). We hooked everything up and had a successful test light of the BBQ. It was going to be a good night 🙂
We picked up some very nice steaks at the Pick n Pay (local grocery chain). We sparked up the braai and waited a few minutes for it to warm up. Now it didn’t seem to warm up very fast. We played with it awhile turning it off and on, making sure both burners were lit and decided to put the steaks on anyway. We didn’t actually time it, but nobody felt that the inside of the bbq was very hot (although the top was). Eventually, the test cuts revealed a nicely done steak. They were very thick (3.5 cm) so they did take awhile. We sat down to enjoy the steak as the rest of the meal had already been finished long ago. Wow these steaks were very juicy and flavourful. We don’t actually have steak knives yet and regular table knives were sufficient to cut through them. So maybe this Braai was awesome after all. We will have to try it again before making a final decision.
It’s been over a week now since Brody and I arrived and it’s been interesting so far living in the boat beside Len’s workshop. It’s a nice expanse of land which he works on various boats and side projects. Here’s a quick look at the place.
As I adjust to life on the boat (boat still on land) I am having to realize that internet as I knew it is gone. 🙁
At home in Ottawa I had 150 Megabytes / second down and no limits …. we easily reached 2 Terabytes / month of downloads during the summer with everyone home. Now this is more than some cities have in the remoter parts of the world. I am now happy if I have 5 Megabytes / second download but that doesn’t happen very often. Sigh
I did purchase a wifi and cellphone range extender called the Wirie (http://www.thewirie.com/). It claims a range of 14 km for wifi for connecting unlocked wifi on shore. I haven’t tried out the cellphone extender bit for it yet. It definitely extends the range of the wifi a lot on land. I have temporarily connected it to one of the railings but it is recommended to be mounted 1.2 meter above the roof. I will figure out a permanent mounting once the back rack (with solar panels) and the mast are installed.
Every day that passes everything on the boat comes closer to being ready. The guys are working a lot and so are we. Len built this cat over almost 4 years and nothing is very clean. It takes a lot of time to make everything clean and working. Electronics are finish installing and all cabins are ready to use. It took a long time to decide what sheets we wanted to have in each cabin. Now we are just waiting for the day that we have the permit to close the road for the boat to get to the water. We were hoping it would have happened any day now for a couple days already. All safety stuff is already on board the boat. Now we are just waiting for the move day that government gives to us, which has already taken a couple weeks. This is proving more difficult then we expected. It took a long time to just decide on what road we would take to Durban. Some roads are more risky and oversize truck are not allowed to go on the those roads. The road that we always drive on has added concrete protection and they think that this makes is to narrow for the boat to go through there. They’re still checking a lot of things before giving us a day to go and which road that we are allowed to take. We’re hoping that this will happen next weekend which makes it September 18. We’ve already decided where we will stay on the boat and this is a nice place just the weather is not so clean. Unfortunately, we will still need to stay around here a month before we can get the sails on our boat.
On September 5th the four of us went down to walk along the Durban boardwalk. Me and Brody touched the Indian Ocean for the first time and we saw many people pedaling various goods along the beachfront and people trying various methods of begging for money.
After an hour or so we grabbed some ice cream and started heading back to the car and we ran into a few monkeys feasting on various junk people had tossed them. Brody tossed them what was left of his ice cream and one started eating it off the spoon, and Nastya later jokingly offered them some wet-naps and one ran up took it right out of her hands and tried to rip it open and eat it. We then went back to the car to be welcomed by the sight of what you see every time you head back to your car, somebody with his hand out wanting money for not letting anybody break into your car, even though you know full well they aren’t going to do anything if someone actually tries to.