It’s easy to blog when our life is filled with the adventure we’ve become accustomed to, but we’ve been fairly boring the last few days.  We’ve settled down nicely here at Simon’s Town and have been anything but adventurous.  We’re enjoying a bit of “normal” land-like life for a bit.  We even have a membership at the local movie rental shop.

Simon’s Town came well-recommended to us by a couple of South Africans and we haven’t been disappointed.  It’s a small, walkable place with two pubs, a “historic mile”, numerous shops, a couple of backpackers’ hostels, and a few corner stores.  Seals swim and play in the marina and along the rocky shore, and a stretch of shoreline called Boulders Beach is home to a penguin colony.  There’s one robot (traffic light) in town that’s just there to allow pedestrian crossing across the main street that runs along the waterfront on a narrow strip of fairly flat land between the steep mountainside and the bay.  It’s a pretty safe place, the pace of life feels very relaxed here, and people not only have the time to talk to you, they actually seem interested in you and want to chat.  Families are often sunbathing and braaing on the yacht club lawn with kids playing in the cold, fairly clear water, climbing up onto rocks, jumping off the footbridge and swimming platform, swimming through swaying kelp, and paddling kayaks.  The town’s most famous resident is a dog called Just Nuisance that lived here during WWII when Simon’s Town was an often-bustling naval town. He was formally made a member of the Navy in order to allow him to ride the train and carry out his desire to always be around the town’s seamen.  There’s still a Navy base here with a few seamen in uniform wandering the streets, but the two modern-looking Navy ships here haven’t moved once since I arrived and the flashing Christmas lights still strung about the top decks would seem to indicate that they aren’t going anywhere soon.

The prices here are a bit higher than Durban, but they’re still a good enough bargain that we ate delicious wood-fired pizza from the same great restaurant three days in a row.  On the third day I promised the waitress that we wouldn’t come back the next day, so we ended up down the street for dinner at a combo sushi/Italian place for what else, sushi and pizza.  Lauren loves sushi, and it’s not an easy find in many places we visit, so having a sushi place across the street where I can get a pizza as well is really something to take advantage of.

DSC_0001 A still life for all the cheap, gourmet pizza lovers like us

Our Swedish friend Jonatan from S/V Marionette came by the other day, and we enjoyed a relaxing day chatting and hanging out at Boulders Beach soaking up some sun and photographing penguins.  There is a colony of about 3,000 jackass penguins here, and we were able to get pretty close to about 20 of them hanging out on some rocks at the edge of beach.  Even though they can mangle a finger pretty badly if you get too close and try to feed them by hand, their jackass name doesn’t come from their behavior.  I actually didn’t know they were called jackass penguins until later, but as soon as I heard the name it was obvious where it came from.  They make loud, strange sounds, and the end of it, it sounds a lot like a donkey braying.  I was commenting about how much they sound like a donkey before I even know about their name, and it’s clear whoever “discovered” and named them was thinking the same thing.

DSC_0877 Doesn’t look like a penguin beach does it?

DSC_1007 Making the donkey sound is a full-body effort for these little guys

They are sort of fun to watch, although they weren’t incredibly active while we were there.  Their combined solitary behavior, standing alone and well apart from each other, with social behavior like cleaning each other, “kissing” while hidden behind the rocks, and taking walks/swims together.  Their walks are fun to watch as well due to their short legs.  They can waddle/walk if the ground is fairly flat or gently sloping, but due to their short legs, even small discontinuities require them to jump or hop, which is pretty cute or comical, again because of their short legs (imagine Will Ferrell trying to hop up some steps with his legs tied together down to the ankles and both knees locked).  I don’t know if penguins hold the record, but they have to be very near the top in terms of leg length relative to total body height for an animal that stands and walks upright.  They make a dachshund look like a leggy cheetah.

DSC_0883 Typical jackass penguin action shot

DSC_0904 This high-stepper should be featuring in Johnnie Walker’s “Keep Walking” campaign

DSC_0913 Lauren’s off to the left (apparently penguins also notice the pretty girl on the beach)DSC_0929 Sunning a bit after a swim

DSC_0967 Handsome devil

DSC_0996 Awwww

After a nice long break, I’m trying to get back in the routine of doing boat work as the time to leave and cross the Atlantic is fast approaching.  So far I’ve done a better job of calling people to help with jobs I can’t do than tackling the long list of stuff I need to do myself, but at least it’s a start.  Today we had a couple of rusty motor mounts on the starboard engine replaced, the scratch I put on the hull on the way in has been repaired, and a really nice German woodworker is about finished repairing one of our ailing hatch trim pieces.  I do have to put in a good word for Clyde at Texwise in Durban just in case any other sailors are reading.  Clyde did a lot of canvas-type work for us and was a pleasure to work with.  Unfortunately, virtually all of the snaps on the new suncovers started rusting badly within two days of being installed.  I gave Clyde a call a couple days ago to tell him about the problem and he immediately admitted to getting a bad batch of snaps that had rusted on another job as well.  He told me who to call here in Simon’s Town to have them replaced and is having the bill sent directly to him.  So cheers to Clyde for standing behind his work as well as being a nice guy in general.