Wow – a whole nine days in a normal bed, with normal sleep and on the flat.  I think I might get used to this!

After doing the deep clean, I got a taxi to my home for the next nine nights – the Waterfront Village Apartments sorted out by Lucy at Visions of Africa.  She must have had the patience of a saint – I was arriving  the 25th, then the 21st and finally got there on 22nd.  They knew who I was, and everything was ready for me straight away.  Phew!

The view was somewhat not what I expected – there was a little canal of water under my balcony, but the main view was of a huge crane and skyscraper that was being built in front of the apartments.  I could just see the Cape Grace in the distance, but the view from the balcony of my bedroom was of Table Mountain.  But very noisy with the door open, as there was a main road just underneath.  The view was good with the door shut though.

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As I had a washing machine, I did all the washing for the boat.  Tea towels, mattress covers, aprons and the odd other thing that crept into the bag.  There were a couple of supermarkets just a few hundred yards from the boat, so Clipper had not organised a truck for the food this time.  We had to buy it and get it back to the boat ourselves.  I had a quick look round, and thought we could get most of what we needed there.  Just a few odd things – like freeze dried meat – that were going to be an issue.

First of all we had to get all the food off that was left over, count it, and put it back in bags ready to re allocate to the new day bags.  There was some odd stuff still left from leg one, so Val and I devised a menu plan for the first week that used up virtually all of the left over items.  We also have a garlic intolerant on the next few legs, so I had to go to the supermarkets to make sure what we were going to buy did not have any garlic in.  The first few days flew by, without me seeing anything of Cape Town at all.  Not that I planned to do the whole tourist thing – this was one of the cities that I had not visited in the past.

One of my first visits was to a doctor’s surgery.  I had a nasty lump appear in the middle of my ribs, that was rather sore and looked very angry.  Pippa and Pops had been dressing it on the way to Cape Town, so I made that one of my first stops.  It was apparently a epidermal sebaceous cyst.  The doctor suggested that I needed to have it cut out, which would involve a two inch incision.  But there was not time for this to heal, so we had to go with Plan B.  I had a local anaesthetic, and he did something not very nice, but it cleaned it out.  Lovely.  I had to make an appointment and go back three days later to have the dressings changed and to check it.

Over the weekend the dressing got absolutely soaked in blood, and it looked awful.  I left it as it was, as it was under waterproof tape and I didn’t want to scupper any chance of having my daily shower.  There will be enough of that when we set off again.  It did start to be a bit smelly by Monday, but when I went back he said it was fine.  He had put a “bung” in to keep it open which is why it had bled so much, as he wanted the internal wound to heal before the outside one.  Then he gave me dressings to change it every day for the next two weeks.  OK now, but not sure how that is going to work at a 45 degree angle and being thrown up and down.

The rugby world cup semi finals were on at the weekend, and most of the crew watched both matches in a bar.  The first featured South Africa, and the place was absolutely heaving.  Not a good result for them though.  The next day was the Australian match – and having many Australians on the boat meant that this was very important.  So important, we were late getting to the prize giving party.  The clocks had been put back in the UK the night before, so the game we expected to start at 5pm didn’t start until 6pm, and didn’t finish until well past 7.30pm.  When we should have been somewhere else.  I am sure they didn’t miss us – after all, we weren’t part of any prizes.  Not sure that we can be late if we watch the final – we leave Cape Town about two hours before it starts.  Lot of Australians not happy about that!   As it happens, nothing had started when we got there, so we could just slip in unnoticed.  But probably didn’t!  The first three teams were presented with their pennants – wonder if we will ever get one?  Would be nice to get the odd one.  “Must try harder”  is probably written at the bottom of our race reports!!  But at least we still have a skipper – Teletubbies have had their skipper resign, and Qingdao has parted with theirs “by mutual agreement”.  Rumours abound about that!

Tuesday we did most of the food shopping, apart from the freeze dried meat and a few other things, and wheeled it back to the boat.  Well, Val and Pops wheeled theirs.  I found a man to wheel mine.  I gave him a 20 rand tip – about £1 – and he was very happy.  A lot easier than pushing it myself.  Remind me again – why am I sailing round the world??  We then had to lay it out on the pontoon, and pack it all away in day bags.  In about 30 degrees of heat (it was the hottest day since we had arrived) and absolutely no shade.  I nearly keeled over a couple of times – it was so hot.  But several of the crew helped, and we got it all packed away by 6pm.  That was a long day.  And there was a few holes in my spreadsheet, so I have a few other things to get to make up the day bags.  We had most of the new crew for the next leg join us today – we are losing five and gaining eight.  Healthy balance!

Wednesday morning I decided I would take off, and Pops and I would go to Robben Island.  Should have consulted a travel agent!  It was full.  We could have gone on the 1pm ferry, but we had an appointment with the Vietnamese Ambassador to South Africa at 4.30pm and it wouldn’t get back in time.  So we went on a hop on – hop off bus tour instead.  And Sean from Ichorcoal joined us as well.  I just did the one red route, and then went back to the apartment to start typing up the menus and recipes for the next leg.  Pops and Sean went on the yellow route as well!  We got back to the boat, to see a whole Vietnamese entourage with the Ambassador on the boat.
They had brought us all Danang Rice Paddy Hats, and little gift bags with snickers in.  Very nice thought.  They all had a tour of the boat, and we had several official photos taken.  Then they took us all to a very nice Vietnamese Restaurant for dinner.
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Lovely food.  By the end of the evening, a horrible little niggly throat I had when I woke up this morning had turned into a full blown cold and sore throat.  Great.  First cold I have had in about two years.  Hope it goes by Saturday.

Thursday I had booked a car and driver for the day.  I invited Pops and Sean to join us, so the three of us met early, and went on our tourist day of Cape Town.  The first stop was meant to be Table Mountain, but it was topped with cloud and the wind was gusting so the cable car was closed.  The two main attractions in Cape Town were not to be for me!  Tim Freeman, the guide, was absolutely full of information.  I have no idea how you can keep that amount of facts in your head.  Every question we had, he had the full story.  Very impressed.  We then went on to Langa Township, where we met Thando, a local who was going to be our guide.  This township is the oldest in Cape Town, and was not really what I was expecting.  Most of the accommodation was in brick built buildings, although there were a few shacks scattered about.

We saw a Pottery Workshop that some of the residents have set up to help bring in money and tourism, and also give some of the locals work.  We then went to a shack, and had a local home brew.  The tradition, which we heard all about, was to have this at special occasions, although I gather it is drunk probably on a daily basis.  When we went in the shack, several locals followed.  I saw why when the bucket was passed along and we all have to have a sip.
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They had a bit more than a sip – the bucket was almost empty when it got to the end of the line.  I think they know when the free beer is about to be consumed!  We then went into one of the brick buildings.  This was a dormitory, with one communal area with a table and bench and sink with one cold tap.
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Each bedroom housed three families.  We went into one with three single beds (well, a mattress on a concrete slab) which actually housed ten people.  And I thought the clipper sleeping arrangements were cramped.  At least mine is temporary.

We also visited a pre-school class, which was a very noisy affair.  Could have been any pre-school in the UK.
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The children were very keen to show us their drawings, but were all extremely well dressed and very clean.  Thando said that no matter how  families lived, they always were well turned out for school with smart and clean uniforms.

Some ladies were working by the side of the road offering fare to eat.  They apparently do this every day, and always the same fare.  Sheep’s head.  They cooked them over an open fire and they were meant to be very tasty.  Afraid I had to decline – just wasn’t in the mood for sheep’s head today.  After a couple of hours we wandered back to the car, and moved on to Kirstenbosch Gardens, where we had a lovely walk around and a nice lunch.  Tim was also very knowledgeable about plants as well – is there anything he doesn’t know about?

We then went on to Boulders Beach to see the penguins.  A colony of African Penguins live here, with about 12,000 mating couples visiting every year.  There were several young that had not shed their baby fur.  Tim knew all about penguins as well – and where particular ones were.  I think he may come here quite a few times every week!

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We drove back to Cape Town via Chapman’s Peak – a 9km stretch of road that resembles part of the SS26 (the road that the Italian Job was shot on) that has sheer drops on one side and towering mountains on the other.
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Unfortunately the towering mountains still had cloud cover, and the cable car to Table Mountain was still closed.  The scenery along this stretch of road was breathtaking though – well worth the drive.

We got back to the V & A Waterfront at just after 6pm, where I felt like falling into bed with my Lemsip.  Only I didn’t have a Lemsip (or anything else for that matter) and I still had the menus to finish typing and the shopping list to finish for the morning.  Great!

Early to the boat for the last full day, as all our gear had to be on and stowed away.  That meant packing most of what I had taken to the apartment, but leaving enough for my last night of freedom.  Oh, how I am going to miss a normal bed.  With all the gear stowed, it was back to the shops for the last minute items.  Two more trolley loads to be exact.  Then it all had to be packed away.  And there is still some to come for the last morning.  I also met with a guy that helped victual for the Volvo Ocean Race – brought about by Kirsty who found him somehow.  Whereas he couldn’t help with freeze dried meat, he could supply freeze dried meals.

As he explained “I have looked at the weather, and you are going to get the shit kicked out of you for the first four days, so no-one will want to be cooking”.  So, freeze dried meals I bought.

Probably put me over the budget again, but by then I had gone off food completely.  And it was delivered to the boat within two hours.  Exceptional service!

We had a crew briefing for Leg Three – The Southern Ocean Sleigh Ride as it is called.  I have now been scared silly with thoughts of waves higher than buildings, having to put a short tether on to stop the waves from washing you into winches and it being described as the hardest leg of the race.  And everyone was advised to take seasick pills early.  Oh what joy.  We then had a boat briefing with our team, and went out for our last dinner before having to be on the boat 7.30am in the morning.  I am already dreaming of that bed in Albany……

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