Saturday, February 13, 2010

February 13, 2010 - Simonstown, South Africa

These past two weeks since our friends left we have been busy with the business of getting ready to go to sea. We have spent the days provisioning, doing boat work, and going back and forth with Quantum Sails about repairs to our mainsail, dodger and bimini. We've also found time for a bit of touring and some good eats.

On Saturday morning, two weeks ago, after we dropped Amy and Kate off at the airport, we headed on into Cape Town to visit the Neighborgoods Market, a food and design market that is held every Saturday morning at the old Biscuit Mill in Woodstock. Looking around at all the tempting baked goods, I was so bummed that I was still stuffed from the bagel I'd scarfed down for breakfast. Somehow, Sten managed to find room for a perfectly poached egg on a potato pancake smothered with hollandaise. Then we came back to the boat and I slept for four hours. For the past few weeks, as we toured around, I'd ignored the cold that was still dragging me down, and finally I just had to give in to it. The following day was also spent in recovery mode.

After weeks of hemming and hawing we finally bit the bullet and ordered a stackpack, which is basically a mainsail cover, but much easier to use. Hopefully, by making it easier to stow and unstow the mainsail, the stackpack will encourage us to use the main more while dayhopping the Caribbean or doing daysails out of NPT. Anyway, that's the idea. In six months we'll report back on how it works out for us.

Before we delivered our old canvas to Quantum for repairs, we spent half a day cleaning it so that the dirt stuck to it didn't gum up their machines. We were amazed by how a South African cleaning product called Blade took the Richards Bay coal dust out of our Stamoid. We were afraid that it would melt the cloth, but it seemed not to harm it and our canvas is once again white. The difference is really remarkable.

The following day we took the dodger and bimini in to Quantum. Since we were driving into Cape Town, we invited Bob and Glenda off of Nero and Jonas from Pelican to join us. With five yachties in the car, it was inevitable that we would wind up driving around the industrial section of town, hunting down the various boat bits we all needed.

We eventually broke free of the industrial area and found our way into downtown Cape Town, where we made a bee line for the bakery and take out window at Jardine, one of the best restaurants in town. We ordered up some sandwiches and found a seat at one of the picnic tables outside. Upon my first bite I couldn't help but exclaim "Hell yeah." It was that good.

After lunch, we made our way to the District Six Museum, which documents the effect of removals undertaken pursuant to the Group Areas Act in the District Six neighborhood during Apartheid. The heart wrenching displays chronicled the lives of the displaced and left us with a better understanding of the terrible effects of Apartheid. Afterwards, we wandered around Long Street. Actually, Glenda and I wandered. Bob and Sten quickly found some seats at Bob's namesake tavern and ordered a beer.

While Glenda and I were browsing in a shop, the shop girl realized that her purse had just been stolen. It seems unbelievable, but we have literally been exposed to more crime in the past three months in South Africa than our entire lives leading up to this point.

We decided to return to Simonstown via Chapmans Peak Drive, to take in the stunning views one more time. Along the way we stopped at a favorite lookout point, only to find a makeshift memorial for a man who had been blown off the ledge a few days before. The Cape is seriously a hazardous place for tourists. First Leroy, a Zimbabwean guy gets eaten by a shark, then a few weeks later some other poor guy gets blown off a cliff.

The next day, Sten, who was sick and tired of listening to me hack up my lungs, declared that he wasn't going anywhere until I got better. So I finally made a doctor's appointment. After a consultation we were both relieved to find out that I didn't have TB or the pig flu. And after a few more days of codeine-laced cough syrup and some nasal spray, I was right as rain.

Last Saturday we decided to drive up to Stellenbosch to visit one of the two weekly farmers markets held there. While in town we decided to go in search of some more wine for the bilge. Really, we should have known better than to head out to the winelands on a weekend. But it was a beautiful day spent in beautiful surroundings.

This past week I was missing having Kate and Amy around. After some arm twisting I convinced Sten to come with me to Kalk Bay for a Girls Day Out, without the girls. We wandered around the small coastal town, poking in galleries and shops. He made a valiant effort, but try as he might after an hour or so he resorted to finding the nearest seat in each successive shop we visited. He did get an almond croissant and half a latte out of the deal, so it wasn't a complete waste of an afternoon for him.

The day after our foray to Kalk Bay, we had to go into Cape Town to take our dodger back to Quantum for some additional repairs. Sten also decided to find a place to repair the windlass motor. So we made a day of it. We went to Signal Hill to get our eardrums blasted by the cannon that is fired every day at noon. Then we had some traditional Cape Malay dishes for lunch at the Noon Gun Tea Room and wound up the afternoon at the V&A Waterfront.

We spent most of the following day, which was unseasonably rainy and gray, working on the boat. Mid-afternoon we decided to celebrate Valentines early and so we booked a table for that evening at the Food Barn in Noordhoek. After all our discussions with Amy and Kate about what we might do after this trip, we've both been mulling things over. And so, over rack of lamb and cape salmon, paired with carafes of local wine, we hashed out a tentative plan. But our plans seem to change daily, so we'll wait a while before making any proclamations here.

On Thursday, after our last provisioning trip, we drove back out to the nature reserve at Cape Point. We enjoyed having one last glimpse of bucks and ostriches grazing in the fynbos. The swell was pumping, and it was exciting to see it rolling in along the west coast. But we're hoping for much calmer conditions when we round the Cape tomorrow.

Friday was the last day of our three month visas, and so we needed to go into Cape Town to clear out and return the rental car. Midmorning Quantum delivered our new stackpack and returned our repaired dodger. After spending some time making sure the stackpack fit, we drove into Cape Town to clear out and pick up the repaired windlass motor. One last trip to the cheap middle eastern food baazar on Darling Street capped off our Cape Town experience.

Today was a crush of last minute tasks getting the boat ready to go to sea. But we somehow got it all done in time for one last braai with cruising friends on Nero, Vixen, Millenium, Afar and Jan Plasier.

And now, like our friend Buddy the Cape Fur Seal, we are (soon to be) Out of Africa . . .

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