Friday, March 24th, 2006
It doesn’t seem possible but we were in Cape Town for more than a month! The time flew by in a haze of contractors, dirt, dust, school children, family, receptions, sightseeing, visits to Christel house, wine-tastings, and way, way too much food! The crew have been busy comparing what we have started to refer to as our “Cape Town Belly”; it wobbles and moves with a mind of its own and we have no control over it, our trousers don’t want to do up, and we can’t wear shorts because we have no tan left after wearing pants for 4 weeks. Besides, it is still a little chilly!
Cape Town is an amazing city with more to do than you can fit in, in one month. South Africa as a country could keep you going for at least 5–6 months, and you still wouldn’t be done exploring. But we had 4 weeks and we gave it all a good shot. Jack, Rebecca, John K., Zimmer, Andrea Deyling and her sister, Papa Jack, and Bruce all went shark diving, and most of the crew made it up to the Van Schalkwyk farm in the Free State where they were kept busy driving tractors and herding sheep. Many of us went on safaris. We spotted the Big Five munching grass and petted cheetahs (you can actually do that at the reserve were they raise this endangered species). We drove the garden route, and we tried to go whale-watching in Hermanis, where—believe it or not—they get over a hundred whales at a time in their harbour. They also have the only town whale crier in the world.
Most of us went up Table Mountain a couple times. At the top is a lovely little café where you can sit and watch the sun go down with a truly breathtaking view of Cape Town, Table Bay, Robben Island, and miles of shimmering Atlantic Ocean. We had braii after braii, which is a South African barbeque—usually no vegetables, just meat and lots of it, including Springbok, Kudo and Ostrich as well as beef and chicken. Sometimes you will even get crocodile! And of course, we had the whole Christel House School come for visits, as well as Trinity school. It was great!
The Picton Castle also hosted a reception for the Cape Horners Windjammers Society, the sailors who sailed on the big four-masted barques like the Passat and Lawhill. Those were the guys who sailed around the Horn. We ate and listened as they told stories—very cool!
I said when we left Cape Town the ship would look like “da bomb. ” Well, she looks pretty good. We did tons and tons of work. The crew has done a lot of rigging and overhauling, as well as the obvious things like painting and the less-obvious things like helping overhaul the water tanks. Brett and Danie have been hugely busy down in the Engine Room where we did a lot of engineering work. Joe has provisioned us almost all the way home. All in all, I think we had a great stay—productive and fun. We laid out lots of sails including an upper-topsail we made for the last sailing whale ship, the Charles W. Morgan at Mystic Seaport Museum at Mystic, Connecticut. This sail we will sew completely by hand on the upcoming ocean passage.
It is always sad to leave a place where there is so much you still want to do and where you have enjoyed being, but there is also always the pull to get going, to get back to sea, to start your next passage. We are, as ever, sad to say goodbye to our friends and family we leave behind. All 500 kids of the Christel House School came to bid us farewell yesterday and give us one final dance on the quayside. They shouted and cheered as we cast off our lines, and we shouted and cheered back as well, honking our horn. This leg has us running up toward the tropics and closer to home now. It feels great to be out at sea! Goodbye Indian Ocean. Hellllooo, South Atlantic!