L O G B O O K - by John Philp




GOODBYE AFRICA!


TUE 4th JAN - I rejoined the yacht in Cape Town in the late evening, after spending Christmas in Fiji. Winging in with me was our newest crew member - Monifa, Sefo’s Rotuman daughter who up until now was teaching on Koro Island. She’s never been out of Fiji before so this journey should expand her mind a little!

Everyone on the boat is in high spirits and eager for the latest news from home, copies of the Fiji Times, and mail.

WED 5th - Tau is anchored directly off the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront - a vast commercial development that dominates the Cape Town waterfront. It contains 290 shops and restaurants, a marina, dry dock, 18 cinemas, seven hotels, and an aquarium! The ocean water is absolutely frigid here - 12 degrees centigrade. It is also very clear, in the mornings the sun illuminates every conceivable detail in the sandy bottom forty feet below .

In the afternoon Monifa and I ride the cable car up to the world famous 1,086m Table Mountain which overlooks Cape Town. We’d picked the perfect day! What incredible views; the startling white sand of the beaches and the turquoise, green water surrounds make vivid contrasts with the rocky volcanic headlands. We can even make out the ‘Tau’ at anchor off the city.

The famous 'table cloth' (blanket cloud cover) is doing ‘it’s thing’. We walk over to a cut in the plateau a short distance from the cable car base, hang our feet over the edge and watch the thick white clouds streaming across the flat mountain top from the far side then tumbling over the rim less than a hundred metres from us, and flowing vertically down and vapourising almost immediately in the warm air. The effect is hypnotic, it is like being in the abode of the gods. We walk over to the cloud mass. It is icy cold and every so often the wind would blow a moisture laden cloud over us that would deposit icy water droplets on our skin.

A colony of rabbit sized creatures live up here, quite tame - called Rock Dassies. Very cute, but sometimes not so. Lydia was up here a week ago and tried to touch one - it bit her on the finger!

THUR 6th - At daybreak we head for Saldanha Bay 60 miles north west. This is to be our last landfall in Africa before heading across the Atlantic towards Brazil.

Before long we are passing Robben Island, Nelson Mandela’s dominion for much of the twenty seven years he spent behind bars during the apartheid era. It is a chilly morning, cloudless and beautiful. The monolithic Table Mountain dominates the city and her surrounds. It is a stunning vista, changing by the minute as we pull away steadily, the early morning light suffusing the landscape with rich colours. Perhaps thinking this may be the last time we ever get to gaze upon this beautiful city we take long lingering looks, hoping to imprint the image on our retina’s.

We reach the dry, rocky, sun bleached port of Saldanha in the mid afternoon and anchor just off the local yacht club.

FRI 7th - Our day is spent making last minute preparations, tending to laundry, and shopping for fresh fruit and vegetables. Saldanha is a town of four thousand hardy souls - just the right size that we could get around on foot.

SAT 8th - We depart at 10am in a light norwester of 8 knots bound for St Helena Island 1,650 miles away. The ocean is an odd, brown, kava colour, probably from the kelp growing on the ocean floor. The odd inquisitive seal pops up between the pitching swells peering at the yacht in that curious short sighted way they do. They are such adorable creatures - every time you see one you want to take it home with you!

The dry coastline disappears behind us and we listen to the popular K-FM radio station as we sail away. It seems strange that our last memories of this country aren’t the goodbyes, or the last views of the land, but South Africa filtered through commercial radio.

SUN 9th - We catch one and a half Blue Fin tuna’s today! The second one comes partly disassembled, it’s back half torn off by a shark, leaving enormous long teeth marks beginning at the eye’s and ending at the raw extremity half way down it’s belly.

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