We've had several delays in leaving ports before, some much akin to our delays in leaving Durban. We had repairs to make, but South Africa closes down around the holidays for a couple of weeks, so things weren't as streamlined as we'd hoped. We planned to leave in mid-January, but our sails weren't finished, nor was our bimini or dodger … nor the saloon upholstery. David was still working on several “A-list” projects subsequent to my returning from the States with boat parts. We took off for a land trip and returned.
Then February rolled around. The new staysail was complete and the Yankee and jib were repaired, but the bimini and dodger were still not finished, although they were close to completion. Brennan and Hannah visited for a couple of days, then the bimini and dodger were done at last and we were ready to take off. Alas … no weather windows. Looking at pilots and Jimmy Cornell's World Cruising Routes, January through March are the best times of the year to make the transit from Durban to Cape Town. Patience is a virtue when it comes to waiting for weather windows. We've said it many times before and at the moment, we were practicing it … waiting for a good window to leave Durban. In fact, it seems like we've been waiting forever, but the windows that have appeared have been elusive and much too short. At last, however, our patience was rewarded with a short, but adequate window to sail from Durban as far as Port Elizabeth, about 390 nm away. We checked the forecasts religiously and waited hopefully . At last … a real window appeared and then it was high-stress rush, rush, rush.
We hurriedly provisioned. A resident cruising friend took us to Liberty Liquors and Mozzie's Butchery and the biggest Pic'n'Pay hyper-supermarket we've ever seen. We loaded up on everything we'd need and we were ready to go. We don't have much time left on our visas, so we provisioned as if we were heading across the Atlantic.
We paid up at the marina and checked out of Durban port. In South Africa, it is necessary to check out of and into every port … not so different from a few South American countries, actually. This is a saga to be told another day.
We stopped in quickly at Tony Herrick's new shop and picked up a copy of his South African Cruising Notes, something we'd planned on doing much earlier, but forgot till the last minute. Tony is a local cruising guru with lots of sailing experience and several cruising guides under his belt. He's also the SSCA Cruising Station Host, and he took the time to share his knowledge of the passage from Durban to Cape own with us.
Five boats are scheduled to leave with this window, all hoping that the window doesn't disappear with the morning's weather forecast or worse yet, mid-route. We'll see how it goes. Tune in tomorrow for “Checking Out is Hard to Do”, a popular cruiser's lament in Durban.