Captain’s Log 2010

2010 is closing upon us and here we are still in Knysna….

Well there are certainly worse places to be!

After all the partying over last Christmas & New Year & into February to celebrate Lynne’s 50th, our yachtie friends finally sailed off to Cape Town, Namibia and ultimately to Brazil.
Meanwhile we stayed behind to get on with some boat work, some of which Eric carried out at Mossel Bay slipway in March.

In addition to boat refurbishments, Lynne went to UK in February for more birthday

celebrations with family & friends and had a fab birthday weekend in Blackpool with
a number of friends from various parts of the UK & even Sweden joining her for a party at ‘Funny Girls’ Cabaret Club. Excellent fun!!

In March, whilst Eric was busy with the boat at Mossel Bay slipway Lynne’s friend Joan joined us for a visit to South Africa and we managed to explore the local area & even got away for an overnight trip to Oudtshoorn to ride on Ostriches, visit the Cango Caves and experience the local wineries. We stayed overnight at a luxury game lodge to give Joan the African safari experience!

In April it was Eric’s turn to get away, as his son got married in Australia. True to form the wedding took place onboard a yacht!

Lynne was on boat and dog duty in South Africa so wasn’t able to join in the festivities, but

managed to get to Australia in May to catch up with all the family and friends and was particularly excited to finally meet and spend time with Nicole & Dave’s gorgeous twin daughters, Abbigail & Brooklyn, born in January.

In South Africa we enjoyed a mostly, very mild winter. Apart from the occasional cold, wet, windy day the weather was lovely. Of course from June 11th to July 11th we had football mania with the World Cup, which was organized and carried out exceptionally well –
Congratulations South Africa!

After the World Cup ended we took the opportunity to do a couple of road trips with the dogs, as South Africa is such a dog-friendly country. We had been trying to find a First Aid course to renew our Skipper’s certificates and we finally managed to find one on the weekend of 17/ 18 July in Cape Town. Luckily our friend, Sandra, helped out by taking care of the dogs during the day time whilst we did our course.

All went well and not only did we complete our course successfully, the dogs & Sandra had a great time together. An added bonus was the great weather, which enabled Lynne to sneak in a trip on the cable car to the top of Table Mountain! Awesome!! We’re moving to Cape Town………

From Cape Town we drove north to Velddrif via the coastal resorts of Blouberg beach, Yzerfontein and Langebaan. 

From our farm cottage base in Velddrif we explored Saldahna Bay and the Port Owen marina development, before meandering through the scenic coastal villages of Jacobsbaai, Paternoster, St. Helena Bay and Strompneus Bay, where Vasco da Gama apparently landed in 1497.

Chui & Scrumpy enjoyed the wide, open spaces on the farm, but weren’t too sure about sharing them with the resident sheep and cows! Fortunately, despite their curiosity they didn’t get too close and we thoroughly enjoyed our visit to the west coast. From there we drove inland across to Piketberg and Porterville then turned south down to Tulbagh where we wandered along Church Street with its impressive collection of national heritage
buildings. We passed through Ceres towards the N1, where we turned off for Montagu and finally reached Bonnievale, where we spent the night alongside the
Breede River in a well-appointed farm cottage called Peet se Plek.

The resident Jack Russell joined us for part of our stay and enjoyed playing with Chui & Scrumpy on the
cottage deck.
The next morning we drove to McGregor, a village literally at the end of the road! We decided to take a walk with the dogs and at almost every house people, dogs and children came out to wave, bark and stare at us. After a coffee at one of the local cafes on the main road we decided to drive further up into the village only to find some of the
prettiest cottages in the region – a great place to disappear and write novels or paint without too many interruptions! We carried on our circular tour of this popular and scenic wine tasting region taking in Robertson and back to Montagu. As we had the dogs in tow we decided against wine tasting (yes, I know that is hard to believe – it doesn’t mean we didn’t buy plenty to consume at our lodgings!)

We continued along Route 62 to Barrydale where we had booked another dog-friendly farm cottage for the night. The cottage (Modderas farm) was a lovely, cosy cottage with everything we needed for a relaxing stay and great views across to the mountain peaks surrounding the area. We had 2 nights relaxing here with one of the highlights being watching Australia beat South Africa in the rugby on the Saturday! What a picture on the faces of the SA fans when Australia scored and Eric cheered! All faces in the pub turned to him & he held up his hands and said ‘Sorry! I’m Australian!’ Luckily the dogs saved the day as they played so well with the barman’s lovely Golden Labrador ‘Bella’!

En route to our final guesthouse in Oudtshoorn we began by visiting Ronnie’s Sex Shop, actually a pub between Barrydale & Ladismith that apparently rarely got customers until they came up with the afore-mentioned name and now you simply have to stop to say you’ve been there! Once again the dogs were a big hit and had the lady owner throwing their Frisbee for them. We took a number of detours off Route 62 to explore the stunning Seweweekspoort area and the circular route from Calitzdorp via Kruisrivier to Oudtshoorn.
We finally arrived at the lovely 1880’s cottages at the Rooderandt Hillside Lodge at around 5pm, just in time to share a bottle of Goedverwacht Sparkling Crane Brut whilst watching the sun set behind the hills. The owner’s dogs got along great with Chui & Scrumpy, in particular her 6 month old crazy Staffie, who decided that Frisbee is great fun and even tried to play it with Chui’s food bowl!
We all had fun watching their antics and Marojean (the owner) kindly showed us around the area the next day and joined us for a walk along the Gamkaskloof road off the
spectacular Swartberg Pass. Once again we stretched our trip out to an extra night and from Gamkaskloof we continued to Prince Albert and back via the scenic Meiringspoort valley and waterfall route just in time for a quick shower, then dinner at Buffelsdrift Game Lodge.
We returned to Knysna via Prince Alfred’s pass, yet another spectacular drive, made even more eerie as there was low mist in the mountains and we couldn’t see more than a few meters in front of us. It was like winding our way through an enchanted forest until finally the mist lifted and we were treated to views down into the valley below.

Back in Knysna we continued with more boat jobs and prepared for our next trips to Australia in September.

However we had enjoyed our road trip so much that we decided to fit in another one in August whilst we had the opportunity.
This time we took our friend Gyda and her dog Max along with us, as Gyda had kindly offered to dog-sit enabling us to visit Hluhluwe-Umfolozi NP amongst other places.

So off we went on Wednesday 11th August and spent the first 3 days travelling through the Eastern Cape (Kenton-on-Sea, Mthatha, Port St. Johns) and KwaZulu Natal to St. Lucia, where we then based ourselves for 3 nights. St. Lucia, surprisingly, was full of dogs and on each of our walks we seemed to collect more, with the dog from our accommodation even joining us at the Pizza restaurant for lunch! The walk along the beach to the boardwalk
alongside the estuary is incredible as there are hippos out basking on the sand banks as close as 40 metres away. We had a drive through the St. Lucia Marine Reserve up to Cape Vidal and saw a number of animals including the black rhino, of which there are very few in Tanzania. This was a special treat and also one of the main reasons we wanted to visit Hluhluwe, which is one of the parks that is renowned for white rhino and was allegedly instrumental in saving them from extinction. We were not disappointed as we had 2 very close sightings of 2 pairs of white rhinos there.
Not only did we have close encounters with white rhinos we had an even closer encounter with elephants. We came upon a herd of 50+ elephants crossing our path. There were 2 other cars and we all backed up to let them pass. The other cars backed down the road, whilst we backed into a clearing and watched them saunter past. Gradually we noticed they were getting closer and 2 matriarchs were in the trees right in front of us. Eventually they came out and stared at us, then a third one stepped right into our exit route. We were totally backed into a corner whereby we had nowhere to go and simply had to sit it out and hope for the best. Luckily they saw that we were no threat to them and they moved on. As we moved back on to the road and started to head off we noticed a huge bull
elephant to our right with ears flapping and suddenly he began to charge towards us. Eric’s foot on the accelerator and we were off, thankfully he called a halt to his charge
and followed the rest of the herd. All in all a very exciting safari!
After St. Lucia we went to explore the Battlefields area.

KwaZulu Natal (KZN) is famous for numerous battles between Boers & Zulus, Brits & Zulus and Brits & Boers.

We visited some of the more famous sites such as Isandlwana, where Zulus massacred Brits, Rorke’s Drift where a small number of Brits held off huge numbers of Zulus and also the Battle of Blood River where a group of about 470 Voortrekkers managed to hold off between 10,000 – 15,000 Zulus. The history of the area is astonishing, particularly the suffering on the part of the Boer women and children in the British concentration camps, which is well documented at the excellent Talana Museum in Dundee. A visit to this area is indeed a very sombre experience. Not only was the history incredible but so was our accommodation. We stayed in a luxurious thatched ‘ranch,’ which was beautifully furnished and a piece of heaven in a dry, dusty landscape. The ranch looked out over 2 dams and we were treated to glorious sunrises and sunsets on our 2-day stopover there. Not to mention the wonderful hospitality of the friendly hosts, Frans and Dora. Frans showed us some Rock Art that had been discovered on the property and also took us on a
game drive and Dora cooked up a delicious 3-course supper for us, which was served on the comfortable veranda overlooking the dams.
From here the scenery improved even more with a visit to the Drakensbergs, one of the most scenic holiday destinations in South Africa. The Drakensbergs are a dramatic mountain range separating KZN from the eastern border of the Mountain Kingdom of Lesotho. As much of the area is National Park and doesn’t allow dogs, we drove as close as we could to enjoy the spectacular views, just short of actually entering the National Park
areas. Many of the roads here are unpaved and can be quite bad, so we decided not to go too far off the beaten track, as the car was making some rebellious sounds!
After a couple of nights we decided to start making our way back towards Knysna via the route north of Lesotho through the Free State. We were in for yet another magnificent treat as we passed the scenic Sterkfontein Dam and through the Golden Gate Highlands National Park with its majestic sandstone mountains to arrive in the quaint village of Clarens with its pretty village square complete with about 16 restaurants and bars!
The next day, not far out of Clarens, we read about a huge sandstone overhang (the largest in the Southern Hemisphere) that sounded worth a visit, as it was a spiritual site for the local tribes people. We drove down a dirt road and wondered if we were going the right way when we suddenly came across a couple of cars and buses parked at the far end of a path leading across a stream and up towards some hills. As we followed the path a stream of local people wandered down towards us piled high with luggage and bedding. We finally came across the cave and overhang where there had obviously been some kind of spiritual retreat over the weekend. We hung back as a sign of respect but were made welcome and invited to enter and look around. It was eerie and we felt quite humbled by the experience.
Moving on we followed the mountainous border of the Free State and Lesotho until we arrived at the sleepy little town of Rouxville, where we had booked our overnight accommodation. We were delighted to enter a lovely, old sandstone house, which was superbly kitted out with an old Hi-Fi system even down to the record player and a selection of LP’s!! We also had a washing machine, which was a first on this trip, so we made supper and played LP’s whilst doing our laundry, which had been piling up for the
past week & a half! Rouxville’s only claim to fame is its beautiful sandstone church, which happens to be the oldest Dutch Reformed church in the Free State!
The final stage of our journey was a 2-night stay in Hogsback in the Eastern Cape,  a place that Lynne had read about in a guide book soon after we arrived in South Africa last year. It was everything we had hoped for – lush and green with plenty of heavenly doggy walks and the spiritually inspiring Labyrinth walk and Diana Graham’s mesmerizing Eco-Shrine.We needed a week, but sadly had only 2 nights here, however we would definitely return if we had the opportunity.

September saw both of us heading back to Australia, separately again unfortunately. Eric went first for a Navy reunion in Perth, then to his daughter’s wedding in NSW, then Lynne overlapped for a few days so we could attend an appointment at DIAC (Dept of Immigration & Citizenship) in the hope of sorting out Lynne’s residency issues.

Eric departed to resume boat and dog watch duties in South Africa, whilst Lynne visited family and friends as she waited for a resolution to her residency situation.  This turned out to be a blessing in disguise as she managed to spend 10 wonderful days with Nicole, Dave & the twins really getting to know them. A real treat!
Certainly, 2010 has been a busy year for travelling, although very little sailing, but we hope to rectify that next year as we plan to sail round to Cape Town before Christmas, where we will complete the final refit work.
Then up to Namibia before heading across to Brazil in 2011.
In early December we are looking forward to attending ex-Dar friends, Cliff & Cindy’s, wedding in Pretoria and also catching up with a group of other ex-Dar friends.
So for now we want to wish you all a wonderful Christmas & the very best for 2011.

Lynne, Eric, Chui & Scrumpy xxx

For previous Captain’s Logs, please click here