Lat: 24 49.362′ S
Lon: 11 03.883′ E

When we returned from our road trip after sunset, we found ourselves facing a small problem. We were on the dock and our dinghy was behind our boat. We’d loaned it to RDJ while we were gone instead of leaving it tied up at the dock, and the other boat we know in the anchorage had locked their dinghy to the dock before leaving town on their own road trip, so had no chance of borrowing it or calling for a ride. I was half disrobed and planning to swim the few hundred feet to the boat, but I was feeling pretty chicken because of the large jellyfish we’d been seeing washed up on the beach. Sharks are one thing — they have to sort of choose to attack you, but jellyfish are another, as all you have to do is be in the same place at the same time to have a bit of a problem. While I was wavering, Tracey found a kayak paddle to borrow at the yacht club and I borrowed someone’s dinghy from the dock to go and fetch ours.

Luderitz isn’t a very common stop for yachties, but it has been pleasant and is also a really safe place compared to Mozambique and South Africa. It was fine to leave our dinghy behind the boat at night and we could walk around at night as well with no worries. The only downside to Luderitz is that the wind can be pretty intense. We were really fortunate in that although we had gale force winds on our way into the port, we never experienced the 40-60 knots winds that are a common occurrence in the anchorage. Everything we you might need for a stop is within easy walking distance and there’s even an internet cafe where the internet works most of the time.

We’re a bit behind schedule and had already spent longer than planned, so we checked out the next day for a Saturday departure and started going though the usual list — water, provisioning, internet, last hot shower, etc. Lauren and I took time for a dinner out together and then we stopped at the convivial yacht club for a final visit. A cruise ship with some fuel problems had decided to turn a typical afternoon stop into an overnight visit and so the yacht club was filled with passengers watching rugby and crew enjoying an evening out. We joined up with some of the crew and visited a couple of local night spots that were fun and friendly, but definitely had a small town feel to them. Talking to the cruise ship reminded us of how much closer we’d come to the Somali pirates than we’d wanted to by sailing through after the monsoon change. Their ship was chased by pirates in Mozambique waters this month and last month several ships were chased and one taken hostage near Bazaruto, an area we’d sailed through about halfway into our trip down the Mozambique coast. The increase in the pirate operating area has been incredible this season. When I got back to the boat, and checked email with the sat phone, we had two urgent messages from Martin on Anima. He and 20 other boats were anchored in the Maldives on the way to the Gulf of Aden, but were now deeply concerned and undecided about what to do due to the recent escalation in pirate activity. It sounds like some of them may alter course and head for South Africa, but we just heard from Martin today that he’s finally decided to join a convoy and head for Salalah, Oman. We wished him luck and will be keeping in touch until he’s safe in the Red Sea.

Before leaving, we nearly caused a riot by taking some local kids for a dinghy ride and then finally giving away all our cheap soccer balls that we’d purchased in Bali for kids in Madagascar. Like Lauren said, I guess the good thing about giving out some soccer balls is that although there aren’t enough for everyone, they’re no fun to play with by yourself. We also had an unexpected treat for lunch when Tracey cooked up a Durban-style beans bunny chow. I didn’t think I’d be having one of those again anytime soon, but I loved them in Durban, and this one was excellent as well. It took a bit of work to get the anchor loose from the thick mud in the harbor, but before long we were on our way with favorable winds.

bunny Mmmm.  Beans Bunny.

On a bit of a side note, we ended up sailing away with only one engine. Lauren freed the port engine of fishing line our first day in Luderitz, but the starboard engine was acting pretty strangely on our arrival (enough so that I was prepared to turn and head for St. Helena if things went wrong during our arrival in gale-force winds). It’s been hard to start, fuel consumption has gone up, and it was idling at 1500 rpms instead of 850 when we came in. When I finally found the time to look at it on Saturday, I found the throttle lever on the engine seized. Unfortunately, the entire gear housing at the front of the engine would have to come off to work on it from the inside, so I was a little bummed at first. However, after a bit of WD-40, physical therapy, and hot oil splashing around the inside of the engine, I was finally able to work it loose and it now moves better than ever. Now I just have to crawl back down in the engine room and get the idle and throttle cable re-adjusted properly and we should be back to two engines. Although all the maintenance can be a chore, I definitely don’t miss the old days of owning a monohull and only having one engine to rely on.

The waters near Luderitz are teeming with seals and it didn’t take long before we were sailing near them again. They are mostly in groups of 20-40 and when they see the boat they do little spy hops in groups of up to four or so, swimming upward with enough force to push nearly half their body out of the water, head turned toward us, for a quick look as we sail by. We actually sailed right through one group of them. They stayed at the surface until we were within a few meters and then dove out of sight.

seals2 The seals are active when we’re around

Yesterday morning I was treated to several groups of pilot whales and our first Atlantic flying fish on my morning watch. The day turned out to be a beautiful sunny one that reminded us how close we’re getting to the tropics. Unfortunately, it wasn’t without tragedy. We kept our large, beautiful tri-radial spinnaker up a bit too long when the wind picked up and blew it out, ripping off the entire reinforced clew. We’re already looking marginal for making Carnival in Brazil as we’d hoped to do, but hopefully our second, smaller spinnaker will be enough for us to keep our speed up in light winds. For now, we have a pleasant beam reach in calm seas under full main and jib and are enjoying shorts and T-shirts during the day. The water has turned that clear, beautiful offshore shade of blue, and this morning I woke up to Lauren in the midst of a yoga session on the deck (try that on a monohull). Now if only we could entice some fish to have a bite of our lures…

pilot2 One pilot whale blowing while another’s fin breaks the surface

spinnaker What used to be the clew (aft corner) of our large spinnaker

yoga Did we mention seas were calm?