17/11/2015 – Our first week in Richards Bay

The first few days here sped by in a whirl of activity, beginning Monday evening with the Braai, BBQ to non South Africans. Monday evening is the only night both the bar and kitchen are closed so the club provides charcoal and allows members and visitors to bring alcohol onto the premises. The Braai area is set out with 6 brick built hearths, tables and chairs. We had an enjoyable evening talking to other yachties but gave up fairly early because our body clocks were on La Reunion time (2 hours ahead of South Africa) plus we needed to be up and ready to leave by 0800 Tuesday morning. We slept very well. Tuesday we went on a trip to a game reserve about 2 hours drive away. This reserve has all of the big five: elephant, giraffe, buffalo, white rhino and lion; we saw all but the lion. We also saw warthogs, vervet monkeys, zebra, various antelopes including nyala, bushbuck and waterbuck and wildebeest or gnu. We came across an elephant just feet from the edge of the road, busily eating leaves. He wasn't at all bothered by our vehicles and slowly meandered away. It was a superb trip. Wednesday was another early start for a trip to a wetlands reserve. This trip was not quite so successful because the area is suffering from drought, many of the waterholes were dry and the lake levels were well down. We saw more antelopes, mainly impalas, one rhino standing in a field and a number of wildebeest. In the afternoon we went on a river trip to see crocodiles and hippos. The crocs were a little shy and stayed largely hidden in the water. We passed two or three family groups of hippos, all standing or laying on sandbanks, with only their backs and ears above the surface. We also saw a lot of birds including the goliath heron, African spoonbill, yellow billed stork, great egret, little egret, African fish eagle and a snake eagle. It was a good trip and we got back to the coach as the skies darkened, suggesting rain. Thursday was our first chance to sort out the boat. Most of the afternoon was taken up for both of us repairing the tear near the top of the jib. We took the sewing machine to the BBQ area where we had space to lay the sail on a picnic table. It is quite difficult to manoeuvre the sail to get at the site of the tear. We stuck one side with insignia tape then sewed on a large patch. Friday's job was the generator. The fuse was easy to fix but the jammed starter motor was a bit more difficult. Johan delivered a replacement on Saturday afternoon but it didn't engage the engine so on Sunday John stripped the non-working one, freed up a rusty shaft, put it back on to the engine and it started once John had repaired a broken wire on the fuel pump. Now it won't start! We fitted in a quick trip to the Boardwalk Mall on Saturday morning, we needed potatoes and bread but also bought some meat and wine. In the evening I set about cooking dinner, starting with lighting the oven....no gas. The gas valve wasn't opening so we ate at the yacht club. Sunday John searched out the spare gas valve which he was given about 25 years ago! Success, the stove now works. A word on the weather. We arrived in sunshine which lasted until Wednesday evening then the weather changed. The wind wandered round to the south and we had wave after wave of showers and some very strong winds. This weather lasted until Tuesday morning when the cloudy skies were replaced by sunshine, the wind died completely before moving around to the north. This is the sort of weather we are looking for before we set off for Port Elizabeth. In this instance the favourable weather window slammed shut this evening (Tuesday) so we will continue to wait. We may be here for some time, we'll just have to find other things to do. Joyce

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