Friday, November 13, 2009

November 12, 2009 - South Africa Arrival

With our bellies full of bacon cheeseburgers and ice cream and Mata'irea tied safely to a dock in Tuzi Gazi Marina, Richard's Bay, I'm happy to report that the last leg of our trip down the Mozambique Channel was practically drama-free. The coastal low turned out to be weaker than predicted (tho still strong enough that boats closer to Richard's Bay had to heave-to to wait it out) and the cold front stalled, so we had plenty of time to get in before it got here. We had to motor much of the last two days to get here before the front, but we had horded our diesel for just such a situation.

Our arrival was at the oh so convenient hour of 0200 in the morning so we anchored in the turning basin outside the marina. This worked out well and is a good (if rule bending) option if, like us, you make a habit of arriving in the middle of the night. After a short sleep and lots of coffee, we moved into the marina in the morning.

Our friends on Ovation arranged a marina slip for us. Toni and Darren and Jouke from Freya were standing by to catch our lines and make sure that we got into our slip with no trouble. It feels so nice to arrive in a strange place and be so taken care of. We've had joyous reunions with friends on several other boats that we met in Chagos and a few from the Sail Indonesia Rally. Between catching up with everyone, getting our passports stamped, off-loading a month's worth of trash and dirty laundry, a long lunch, followed by a long nap (me), and hooking up the boat to shore power and water (Sten), the day has flown by.

The only minor drama we had coming down the Channel was the discovery the morning after we left Inhambane that our jib was had parted a seam. We hadn't had much more than 19 knots in the night, so we figure the thread holding the panels of the sail together may be on it's last legs. The failed seam was near the top of the jib in a lightly loaded area, so we just furled the jib in enough to take pressure off of the damaged section and kept going.

As Sten looked at it, a big smile spread across his face, which seems like an odd reaction to a damaged headsail until you understand that he's been wanting a new jib for some time (like since we were in St. Martin at the beginning of the trip). He has lately been talking about having one made here in South Africa where many of the major sail makers have their world wide production lofts. But I've been arguing that it isn't necessary to get us home. We will need to do a thorough inspection first, but it looks like we are going to have to loosen the purse strings and order a new one.

While he was bagging up the staysail this afternoon, Sten discovered that the inner forestay (a beefy stainless steel cable that helps to support the mast) had a number of broken strands at the bottom swage. We can't safely use the staysail until we get a new one made or possibly get the current one re-terminated. With a torn jib and a weak inner forestay we are without a good headsail option at the moment. But we aren't planning on going anywhere for a while, so that isn't a major problem.

It seems like every boat around us suffered some damage on the way in here. By our count, six boats have had to be towed into Richard's Bay in the last month. After hearing lots of tales today about the damage that our friends and the other boats here sustained on this past leg (a damaged skeg causing big leaks, loose keels, serious electrical fires, broken forestays, broken side stays, bent propellers and shafts from hitting whales, engine failures, shredded mainsails, etc.), we feel like we and Mata'irea came out of it pretty well.

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