30 November 2017 Richards Bay, South Africa
At 08:00, I greeted the Zulu yard workers with “Sau-bona”, which they tell me is “Good Day” in Zulu - they always smile broadly and repeat it back when I say it, so I’m mildly suspicious that they’ve taught me a swear word or it means “Big Arse”. I’m going to confirm the word before I say it to the ladies in the supermarket…
By 08:15, the yard was at work on our rudder shoe. The major job today is to pour polyester resin into the inside of the rudder shoe, which moulds it to the skeg. I first asked Khumalo to remove the screws and smear with releasing wax, so that the screws will not bind on the polyester resin - this will make it easier to remove the next time. The ends of the bolts were ground flush and a centre punch used to bind the end of the bolts.
Pouring the polyester is a messy job and the viscosity of the resin is critical - thin enough to flow, but thick enough to have strength. Initially, Khumalo had it too thick, but after adding more resin, we used a piece of cardboard to direct the mixture into the narrow ½” gap at the top of the shoe - most of it seemed to go in, so I think that it’s a good job.
Khumalo then put epoxy filler in the 1” gap at the top of the rudder shoe - hopefully, the epoxy filler will be a little more flexible than the Polyester filler that I used last time, which cracked because it was brittle and didn’t flex. The final job was to put some sealant on the bolt heads and pump grease into the new bearing. We will wait until tomorrow to paint on a couple of coats of anti-foul paint before we launch at 14:00.
In between supervising the rudder shoe, I re-fitted the new valve and pipework for the front toilet. After an epic struggle, I discovered that one of the joints on the valve is moving - the two year old thread sealant that I’ve used must have gone off. I nipped into town to buy some new sealant and then with a heavy heart, pulled the pipework apart, cleaned the threads on the valve and reassembled everything. By 16:30, I’d got it all back together - hopefully the new sealant will work.
1 December 2017 Richards Bay, South Africa
It was launch day and we were a little late arriving at the boat yard because we had to clear out of the apartment. We arrived to find that the travel lift was already being trundled into position to lift Alba. I rushed on deck and removed both forestays, which is very scary because the mast is not supported very well.
An hour later, we were lifted in the slings and they were able to knock away the props supporting the boat. One of the yard guys then finished off the antifouling, so we were ready to go into the water.
Yannie, who runs the boat yard is a little chaotic and I had to ask for the bill. When he produced his figures, it was roughly what I expected, but he’d not charged us for 4 tins of antifoul paint and the work on the new cutlass bearing. I was an honest Indian and pointed out his error, which added an extra £450 onto my bill, but he gave me a £50 discount for being honest.
Yannie has a policy of “No Cash, No Splash” and wanted the bill paid before he would launch us. To make matters worse, he doesn’t take credit cards and wants cash. It was a bit unreasonable, especially because he only gave me the bill one hour before we went into the water and, with a bill of £1,000, there was no way that we could get our hands on that much cash without getting our credit cards blocked. We came to a compromise that I’d pay him 50% now and 50% tomorrow.
The launch went very smoothly and we motored into our marina berth, happy to be afloat. It was boiling hot in the afternoon, so we only managed to replace the forestays and do a bit of tidying up, before we collapsed in the heat. We went to the Friday Braai evening with “Full Circle” and treated ourselves to a huge T-bone steak and a bottle of wine.
2 December 2017 Richards Bay, South Africa
After breakfast, before the wind picked up too much, we fitted the genoa and staysail. I then poured three jerry cans of diesel into the tanks while Glenys continued to tidy up the boat and put the carpets back down - it feels like home again.
We’re hoping to get a weather window to leave Richards Bay in the middle of the week, so Glenys wanted to re-provision with enough food to last us for a month until we get to Cape Town. While she was wandering around the supermarket, I did a couple of runs to the garage to get more diesel and we now have a full fuel tank and full cupboards.
In the evening, we went to the bar for dinner and met Svein and Irene from “LovindaToo”. Svein plays guitar, so we ended up on their boat playing guitar until midnight.
3 December 2017 Richards Bay, South Africa
We had a slow start to the day being slightly worse for wear after drinking too much red wine last night. I worked on my blog while Glenys quietly browsed the internet. The weather here is amazing. At 09:00, it was blue skies with a gentle north-east wind. At 10:00, the wind suddenly switched to 25 knots from the south-west causing us to jump up and sort out our mooring lines.
Des Cason came for a visit, so a lot of cruisers turned up at lunch time to say hello and thank him for his weather forecasting. We had a Sunday lunch and couple of beers and then chilled out for the rest of the day. In the evening, the strong south-west winds were accompanied by a terrific thunderstorm with huge bolts of lightning - I'm glad we're not out at sea.
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