Yes, we're back aboard Nine of Cups. Our trip to Swaziland and Kruger Park already seem like a lovely, but distant memory. I keep looking at all of our photos to remind myself it was just a few days ago that we returned. It's easy to forget what you've just experienced once you're immersed in boat work again. As much as we enjoyed our trip, towards the end, getting back to Cups was always on our minds. Our new bimini and dodger were in place and though a few tweaks were necessary for the dodger, we were well satisfied with the final result.
I had recovered all the saloon cushions back in Panama in 2009. It was really in need of replacement, but it's a big project and I wasn't game for starting it now. As David mentioned previously, the South African rand is quite soft against the US dollar at present (R11.5:US$1). We took advantage of this by ordering new saloon upholstery before we left. The final cost wasn't significantly more than my cost for just buying the materials. The new saloon upholstery wasn't quite finished when we got back to the boat, but Clyde delivered everything within a couple of days. It adds a whole new elegance to the saloon, I think … and it's new and unstained. Hallelujah!
We returned the car to its downtown Durban location … about a 20 minute walk away. It seemed odd to be in the midst of the noisy hustle-bustle of the city after nearly 10 days of pretty much peace and quiet. It's hot and humid here … except when it rains, then it's hot, humid and wet. The city sidewalks are always crowded and the decibel level of the noise is incredible.
The boat was a wreck when we first unloaded all of our stuff, lugged it below and crammed it into the saloon. We sorted and stowed everything almost immediately and Cups was shipshape (at least below deck) for nearly 14 hours before David got to work on his projects. He wasted no time. His latest effort was installing our back-up autopilot system which required access under the aft bunk in our cabin. The mattress came off. Tools and parts and equipment were everywhere. This is not unusual on Cups or any boat for that matter. Everything is compact and snug. When a project needs doing, everything is affected and is in turmoil until the project is complete.
As for me, I've been writing up a storm, cooking, cleaning, sewing and … dare I say it? … preparing for another inland trip. We just got word from Brennan and Hannah (our oldest son and our daughter-in-law) that they're planning a trip to Africa in early February. We only have them for a few days. They're hiking enthusiasts and want to visit Lesotho (Leh-soo-too), that tiny landlocked country surrounded by South Africa only a few hours drive away. How could we resist that opportunity?
We need to get all of our work done before they arrive so that we can play and then depart Durban on the next weather window after their departure. Always lots to do and lots to look forward to.