Whenever we arrive in a new port, we have a particular routine we follow for learning the layout of the land and getting to know the new area. Since we're in a new country, as well as a new port, our first order of business after getting Cups tidied up and secure was to check in. We arrived in Lüderitz late in the afternoon and by the time all was secure, it was too late to check in. Darn, and we were so wishing we could launch the dinghy in 20 knot winds and dash into the port. Actually, Port Authority had no problem with us checking in the next morning and, in fact, told us we had 24 hours for check-in formalities. We always like to see that Cups is secure on her mooring or anchor and how she lies relative to other boats, not to mention we were tired.
The night and morning were quite cold, but tolerable. The warm, bright morning sun burned off the early fog and by 1030, we could feel the day start to warm up a bit. We launched the dink and made our way to a floating jetty. All the authorities were close by … Immigration first, then Customs, then Port Authority. All officials were friendly and welcoming. The paperwork was minimal … one page. There were no costs involved and the whole process took less than hour. Our kind of check-in.
We'd heard from other cruisers that Lüderitz was a charming, laid-back, little town and at first glance, it appears to be so. It's a fishing harbor and the colorful boats are all tied up in a separate fishing harbour along the docks, closer to Port Control. Small ships seem to come and go, but we haven't seen any larger container-type vessels and doubt they could be accommodated.
There's a waterfront “mall” with several little shops and souvenir vendors and a cafe or two, which opens onto a large plaza overlooking the anchorage. We visited the little Lüderitz Yacht Club which appears to be more social than serious, but no one, other than the bartender, was around. We were invited to sign the guestbook and offered showers (was that a hint?). We were warned to let the barman know a couple of hours in advance of when we wanted to shower, so he could turn on the hot water.
A reasonable sized OK Grocery was directly across the street from the waterfront. The traffic was light and the drivers courteous as we crossed over to give the grocery a quick look. We had a vague idea of the town's layout, but just strolling along suited our purposes. We spotted the local Shell station for diesel and petrol, another grocery, a hardware store, a place that filled propane tanks, a laundry and a bank with an ATM. All this within a 5 minute walk from the waterfront … definitely a cruiser-friendly town. By noontime, we were shedding our jackets and enjoying 70F/20C temperatures.
We were looking for a Namibian courtesy flag. It was a bit more elaborate flag than I cared to tackle and we found none available in Cape Town. I asked a lady on the street if she could suggest a place to buy one and she happily pointed us in the direction of Lüderitz Safaris and Tours, a couple of blocks away. The shop was a combination tour office and curio shop with a great selection of unique local crafts, souvenirs and books on Namibia. Liz, the owner, had Namibian courtesy flags in stock and we bought one immediately.
Liz was chatty and amiable and provided all sorts of local information about the town, recommended some local tours and gave us a town map for self-guided walking. The town has some historical significance, as well as lovely views, and we're looking forward to exploring further over the upcoming weeks.
Liz also gave us directions to both of the competing telecom companies … just up the street and pretty much next to each other. MTC was the most widely used, we were told, and after waiting in line at both places to get all the necessary info and pricing, we decided upon MTC. We bought a Netman wifi router and a data package so we could have internet on the boat. We have a small box full of dongles and routers and SIM cards and phones aboard … they differ from country to country. We're always hopeful one of the old ones will work in a new country, but so far, no luck, except our unlocked Australian phone. Since we can use Skype for phone calls, we don't need a phone here.
On the way back to the boat, we stopped to say hello to a local fellow working aboard his moored trimaran. Andy was friendly and a fount of information. He was also the one who informed us that we were on a fishing boat mooring and hence had such a hard time trying to tie up to it. He suggested moving Cups to a hefty yacht mooring just in front of his boat that he happened to know was safe and vacant. Its owner's boat is on the hard for the winter months.
We checked out the vacant mooring and its pick-up line and headed back to Cups. Within minutes, we dropped our mooring lines for later recovery and headed to the new mooring. It was a breeze to pick up and we were able to loop our bridled lines directly through a large, robust chain link. All snug and secure and about ¼ mile closer to the floating pontoon, David retrieved our lines from the other mooring and tidied up the rat's nest of lines we'd left behind.
Without a doubt, we're going to enjoy Lüderitz.