I guess it’s not AS bad as the title implies, but it was pretty chaotic. Sometimes everything goes wrong. We had initially wanted to leave Simons Town three days ago but now we are still here and have yet another 2 days to wait before we can leave to go on our longest trip, to Brazil.
We have gained a lot of experience with these kind of things but this time it was a little more than expected. We usually set a date for departure and then we’re delayed by random things happening or not working out, but we can generally leave the next day or the one after that. But now it’s a whole 5 days, and it’s important that we get a move on, because Captain Ben needs to catch his flight from Brazil so he can be at his cousins wedding in time.
It all started with an email I received from the people at Istec, who were generous enough to sponsor us with one of their awesome Parasailor sails. We were, and still are, extremely excited about this new piece of equipment, especially because our Rat Rudolf had completely ruined our old spinnaker sail and these are the exact sails that we would need for the stable stern Atlantic winds. This Parasailor was specifically designed for around-the-world sailing couples such as ourselves. In our current Marina we were also registered as a couple, so it all makes sense. But I talked to Alex from Istec and considering our planned date of departure, he couldn’t have sent it down to us in time. Bummer. Bummer number uno.
T minus 48 hours
We started cleaning and tidying up the boat and the Captain decided to quickly exchange the diesel hosing on our motor to make sure everything is fresh and good to go for the big trip. Just to make sure, we started the motor once to test it. Or I guess we almost started it. What we got was a promising short sound of awesomeness to get our hopes up and then it died. All of our sailor friends and even the Marina mechanic tried their luck. But all came to the same conclusion: the diesel pump is ready to be replaced. Repairing this would take a few days, a few days that we don’t have to spare.
Anyway, that same night we got together with a guy named Dino from the boat next door. He plays the Djembe and we ended up jamming all night long, with Benni on the Cello and myself on the guitar. What a night! (Later, Dino watched and listened to the recordings … and decided to never drink alcohol again … )
T minus 24 hours
This day was completely consumed by our efforts of trying to get that old rusty machine up and running again. At the end of the day we decided to just go the 3,500 Miles to Rio De Janeiro without the motor. Why the heck not. We generally try to avoid using the motor anyway. First of all because it’s annoyingly loud and we can’t listen to music in parallel, and secondly because we can run it for a maximum of 2 days only anyway, then the Diesel is all used up. And we know that winds come and go, but if you are patient, the wind always comes to save you in time. And the energy for our laptops and fridge we can still get from our solar panels and the wind generator.
T (is up)
We realized that we again could not depart today, also because we still have to do our laundry, go shopping, and we have to clear out with the authorities. And we still need alcohol. Not for drinking, but for cooking. And not for inside the pot, but for underneath the pot. We use ethanol for getting our flame on the stove. So I went to the pharmacy to get some pure ethanol, but it turns out they will maximally give out half a Liter (which will last me for only four days approximately), because some poor old addicts have been known to drink that stuff and die. But strangely enough, the label had a phone number on it, which I called asap and a one-of-a-kind voice answered and was willing to provide us with more alcohol if she could join us on our trip. I of course agreed to take her with us and was thus successful in getting a big canister of alcohol to the Marina in time. Luckily it turned out she wasn’t really interested after all. I guess too long of a trip?
Finally we were ready to head off to Andrews place, who was kind enough to lend us his good ol‘ car for transporting our 25-Liter canisters of water, our kilos of veggies, bread, and canned food. This way no need to pay for a taxi or wait for trains. And luckily, the Marinas wheelbarrow-like thingies allowed us to get everything right to our doorstep. Wicked. We even had some time left to check out the sunset at the Cape of Good Hope from the land, before we pass it on the sea. In these regions they even have penguins, and the corresponding road signs, which we found interesting.
T + 24 hours
Clearing out time. We had to sign out with the authorities, and since it used to be possible to conveniently do this in Simons Town, but now all that had changed, nobody really knew what you have to do. Supposedly you have to sail to another Marina in Cape Town, get some paper work there, pay a hundred bucks for stopping by with the boat, and then head to customs.
So we decided to just head up to Cape Town by train. We had some difficulties finding the immigrations office, and a nice gentleman that drove by picked us up and knew where he had to take us. During the ten-minute drive he told us that at first he didn’t want to stop for us at all, because he had thought we were heroin addicts looking for money or a place to sleep. Wow, thanks for the compliment. I guess. Whatever. But he was also a musician, so we exchanged contact details and then he dropped us off at our destination. Turns out this was the wrong immigrations office and we had to go back to exactly the place that he had picked us up at. Thanks for nothing. A couple complications later, and a customs officer who wanted to see papers that we had already given to the immigrations officer later, we finally got our stamps and were good to go.
While I went home to go hang up my new nets that will allow us to transport our fruits without damaging them, Benni still had to go on a little trip to Century City. He went there to go pick up our laptop that was supposed to get fixed by them. They had ordered the necessary spare parts, they had arrived, but they were broken. So now I guess we will take this pile of crud laptop to Brazil and see what they can do for us.
T +48 hours
Today is the day. Secured everything in the shelves so that nothing will fall out, sent emails to family and uploaded a departure picture on the book of faces dot com. And then came the guy who wanted to tug us out to sea because our motor would not start. Dino helped us get out of there and waved goodbye, and then Benni and I were slightly skeptical of the guys technique of towing us out. He attached a rope to our stern/rear of the boat and then started going relatively fast. We thought that this guy was probably experienced in what he was doing and let him carry on for a minute. But we were right, the streamlined shape of our boat is just not made for going backwards and the rudder was blocked in one direction at some point due to going backwards, so we could not steer. And Mr. Knowitall did not want to hear us yelling at him to stop. So he ran us into a barrier. But that was not that bad, because they are soft and do not damage a boat. But our tug boat captain decided to come closer to our boat and talk to us, but he did this with so much enthusiasm and full throttle, that he just crashed into our boat and ripped a hole into the hull. He then did what any honorable man would do. Hit and run. Good job bro, thanks a lot!
So that was our reset button. Back to the Marina. Oh, and his brilliant way of attaching the rope to our boat and then driving around our boat also damaged our self-steering system. What a guy! It’s Sunday, no one here to help us fix our stuff. Whatever, we will make the best of it and hope that maybe they can still send us the Parasailor if we have to stay here for longer anyway. Turns out it’s too short notice now.
The only smart thing to do was to get some beers for our last Rand that we still had left.
Some time later:
Motor’s up and running, the hole is fixed, we’re ready! See you in Brazil!