L O G B O O K - by John & Michelle Philp


TUE 14 DEC - Our friend Peter drives us inland to the world famous Cango Caves. The drive takes us through the small and quaint town of Oudtshoorn and past numerous ostrich farms. In the caves we clamber through tunnels on an adventure tour that seems to go on for miles and miles, squeezing and forcing ourselves through ridiculously small openings, think 26 centimetres wide by half a metre high! One opening called ‘the letter box’ requires one to breathe in deeply then exhale before slithering through the narrow gap. This has Kristy and Michelle in hysterics as they watch and wait for Tony to get through. Kristy goes, “if you plug up this cave Dad, I will die laughing!”

That isn’t all the physical activity for the day, Peter is adamant that John’s South African experience should include riding an ostrich! So he pulls into a farm where he enjoys arranged this amusing side show.....

Back in Mossel Bay that evening Peter drops the Tau crew back and goes home to change in readiness for dinner on the boat. He turns up well after 10 pm driving his semi-rigid inflatable, with music, suited out in his best dinner jacket and tie! What really takes the crew aback is the fact that he is also wearing shoes. In the little time that we have known Peter we have never seen him wearing shoes! It is a memorable evening...

WED 15 DEC - Peter, who has spent the night aboard with us, convinces us to take a dawn cruise in his inflatable out to Seal Island to view the busy seal colony and nearby dolphins. Eyes are also peeled for great white shark’s - the natural predator to the hapless seals. Then back to the yacht for a champagne breakfast - at Peters insistence. They broke the mold after they made this guy!

In the afternoon Peter again extends his gracious hospitality to the crew and invites us back to his holiday cottage for an evening braai (barbeque) - this our final night in Mossel Bay as Tau is prepared for an early morning departure for Simons Town on the Cape Peninsula. Last good byes are difficult especially to Peter and his family and to Pierre, the manager of the Mossel Bay Yacht Club who has lavished us daily with hospitality, gifts and good humour.

THUR 16 DEC - We rise early, at daybreak. It is cold and dull and raining - not the best sailing weather but typical for this coast - later however the skies clear, and 20 knots of breeze fill in from the south east driving us along at speed towards the cape.

At approximately 10 pm we pass the southern most point on the African continent - Cape Agulhas. We say farewell to the Indian Ocean now as we now venture into the cold Atlantic.

FRI 17 DEC - A squeal from the shower this morning confirms the drop in water temperature. The cold Atlantic sea against the hull has cooled the water in our tanks tremendously. The average water temperature here in False Bay is about 20 degrees celcius in high summer, and Cape Town a few miles round the other side of the Peninsula averages 12 to 16 degrees. At 7 am we are making our way across False Bay, with another twenty miles to go to Simons Town. Seals are a regular sight now, popping up to gaze at us inquisitively, then diving away to forage for more fish. We anchor just off the False Bay Yacht Club. Simons Town is very old and quaint, a former eighteenth century English naval base.

SAT 18 DEC - John leaves the yacht and flies out from Cape Town to Fiji where he will spend Christmas and the millennium celebrations.

The rest of the crew take a half hour stroll down to Boulders Beach to visit the penguins. This used to be a quiet, secluded stretch of pretty coves surrounded by large boulders and mostly accessed by the residents of the area.That was until the penguins arrived. No sooner had the first little fellow landed, than they arrived in droves - now two and a half thousand Jackass (African) Penguins dominate the beach front, soldiering up and down this reclaimed haven. They’ve become a popular tourist attraction and don’t seem to mind mingling with the humans in and out of the water. They’ve become so brave that they wander into private gardens and the parking lot. Motorists are warned to check under their cars before they drive off!

MON 20 DEC - We move Tau over to the navy dock where we will be berthed for our remaining time in Simons Town. We no longer have the to and fro experience in the ‘rubber duckie’ whenever we wish to step ashore.

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