Sunday, January 27, 2013

South Africa And Beyond

South Africa--What an interesting place! After having spent almost two months here, I haven't even scratched the surface, for lack of a better cliche. I don't really know what's going on beneath the surface, but I can tell there's a lot. Apartheid ended roughly a generation ago, but it's obvious that some of its legacy remains. On the other hand, the diversity of South Africa's people is wonderful (if you like that sort of thing). Desmond Tutu apparently coined or popularized the nickname, "The Rainbow Nation," and it fits. There are 11 official languages and seemingly as many ethnic groups. It tickles (delights) me  to walk down the street and hear Afrikaans (basically old Dutch), several varieties of English, and native African languages that incorporate clicking and popping sounds (for example Zulu and Xhosa).
Cape Town seen from Table Mountain

After a couple of days sightseeing around Cape Town (including the obligatory hike up Table Mountain, with fellow sailors Andrew and Diana--that is to say it's not obligatory to hike it with Andrew and Diana, only to get up the mountain), Alison and I rented a car and headed for wine country--specifically the towns of Stellenbosch and Franschhoek.  We managed to visit a few wineries, sample some tasty wines, and eat some delicious meals in two days. Stellenbosch and Franschhoek are charming and quaint (now 25% quainter) but also very homogeneous compared to other parts of South Africa I've seen. We returned to Cape Town via Betty's Bay, False Bay (where we saw Jackass Penguins on the beach in Simon's Town), and Hout Bay (scenic, stunning, and more stunning, respectively).  

Hout Bay

After Alison headed home, Paul and I ventured up Table Mountain again, this time with some of Paul's climbing gear. I had dabbled in so-called sport climbing many years ago, but this was my first time doing "trad" (traditional) climbing (where there are no bolts in the mountain so you have to bring your own devices for securing the rope to the rock) as well as my first time doing a multi-pitch climb. We selected route that was supposed to be relatively easy as we are both out of shape and I was climbing in running shoes. It turned out maybe a little boring for Paul and not overly challenging for me but still a lot of fun.
Paul leading the way
Boat projects have been going well--I was finally able to find parts and fix the roller furler, new anchor chain is in the anchor locker, I've installed an inner, removable forestay (backup in case the other one breaks, but also to be able to fly twin jibs or a hank-on storm jib), the masthead windvane has been replaced, and Twister has brand new mainsail and genoa (sails are relatively inexpensive in South Africa). Only a few chores remain before I'm ready to head north into The Atlantic Ocean.

Here's a rough itinerary for 2013:
January 30:  Depart Cape Town
February 13:  Arrive St. Helena
February 16:  Depart St. Helena
March 2:  Arrive Recife, Brazil
March 12:  Depart Recife
April 4:  Arrive Trinidad
April 14:  Depart Trinidad
April 24:  Arrive Cuba
May 8: Depart Cuba
May 10:  Arrive Florida
May 20:  Depart Florida
May 30:  Arrive Bermuda
June 10:  Depart Bermuda
June 25:  Arrive Azores
July 1:  Depart Azores
July 12:  Arrive UK
July 25:  Depart UK
August 1:  Arrive Norway
August - April:  hibernate

I've added a few more photos to the South Africa album.

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