Each time we move from one marina to another, we find ourselves in a totally new neighborhood. We don't usually know our neighbors or the lay of the land or what's where, and it takes a few days to get things figured out. Depending on the friendliness of marina staff and/or an associated yacht club, the learning process can be easy or painful. It's been pretty easy here in Durban at the Durban Marina, mostly because of the people.
The marina itself is nothing to write home about (which, of course, still doesn't keep me from writing about it, does it?). The International Jetty where we first docked only accommodates one boat at a time and has minimal turning room. There are tie-ups for several boats all crowded along the shoreline there and all behind a locked gate. There are two other piers which jut out from the shore and we're located on the C dock. We use our thumbprints for entry to the piers which we thought was rather novel although sometimes it takes a few tries to get in or out. Good thing is we always have our thumbs with us and don't have to rely on having a key.
The piers are long and rickety and the heavy rust would indicate they're in definite need of some maintenance. We wonder what holds them together.
The newer pier has both water and metered electric power on the dock. Our pier has water, but unfortunately does not have power. We're still depending upon our wind generator and solar panels to keep the batteries charged and generate power. Without the nav instruments running, however, this hasn't been a major problem unless I want to sew or David wants to run power tools or we happen to want hot water, for instance. We can always run our trusty little gas generator, but it's noisy (for us and our neighbors) and we'd usually rather do without.
As I mentioned before, unlike most marinas, Durban Marina only takes care of the boat berthing and offers no other amenities. The Point Yacht Club, which offered us free 2-week membership for just showing up, is next door and offers all the amenities we need. It's quite a friendly club. We're nearly at the end of the pier and the long walk to the club … probably ¼ mile … is always an issue first thing in the morning when nature calls. We've found a solution, however. South Africa does not have Daylight Savings Time and thus, the sun comes up around 0430 currently. This has worked well for us as we usually awaken with the sunrise. We've been lugging our laptops to shore around 0530 along with our cuppas in the morning. We can do wifi to our heart's content in a comfy lounge with rarely anyone else around and still be close to the bathrooms when necessary. We're all for efficiency.
I must tell you that the prices here in South Africa are definitely budget-friendly. When we visited South Africa in 2007, the Rand vs. US $ was 7:1. The South African rand (ZAR) is currently about 10:1 US$. We've been dining out frequently lately since tasty meals at the on-site Tradewinds Restaurant run about $12 total for the both of us including a beer or glass of wine each. It's hard to compete with that at the end of a long day of boat work. Just for grins … a Castle beer costs about $1.40 US and a glass of house red or white wine is $1 US.
We can deal with the long walk, the rickety piers and the lack of shore power, but the harbor water and smell in the marina, especially at low tide is abhorrent. Raw sewage comes to mind. It literally takes your breath away some days. It's amazing that the fish life thrives here, but it does. There are good size mullet and lots of smaller fish hanging out … eating critters from the reef-life on the bottoms of unused boat.
Interestingly, there are none of the usual sea birds around, perhaps because we're right downtown Durban. Instead of waking to the calls of seagulls and terns in the morning, there's the cooing of doves and pigeons and the squawking of ibis and herons.
We'll be here for about six weeks … resting and repairing … and we'll know the marina and our surroundings well enough … and then, of course, it'll be time to move to a new neighborhood.