Waiting for Weather

11 December 2017  Richards Bay, South Africa
With no hope of departing for the next four days, we decided to renew the hire car.  They refused to do it over the phone, so we drove to the airport.  We had to pay a more expensive “local” rate, but it was still only £15 per day.  On the way back, we ran a few errands at the Boardwalk Shopping Mall. It's a nice time of year to drive around South Africa because the flame-red Flambouyant Trees are blooming alongside the roads.

Back at the boat, Glenys finished off investigating horse-riding centres and managed to book us a couple of days later in the week.  In the evening, we went to the usual Monday night Bring-Your-Own Braai at the yacht club and had a natter with “Red Herring”.

Flambouyant Tree

12 December 2017  Richards Bay, South Africa
Not much to do waiting to go horse riding tomorrow, so we pottered about on the boat.  I managed to sort out our satellite phone contract.  We still have 184 minutes left on our phone, but the contract terminates on the 17th December. 

To keep the existing minutes, I had two choices - buy another block of minutes or pay £50 per month to extend the current contract.  A six month contract gives me 200 minutes for £460 whereas a 12 month contract gives me 500 minutes for £640. Confused yet?  I decided to extend for 3 months, which costs £150, but will get us to St Helena.

I had a problem with paying the satellite company, who are based in Malaysia.  Our UK bank takes up to 7 days to transfer international funds and if the funds don’t arrive before the 15th then I will lose my minutes.  Fortunately, our friends Carlos and Sarah on “Sea Monkey” are in Penang and Carlos has paid the money directly into the satellite company’s bank account. 

I then had to transfer funds to Carlos’s Australian bank account.  Carlos told me about a really good money transfer service called “TransferWise.com”.  You go on-line, type in the recipient’s bank details, enter your credit card details and the money is put into the recipient’s bank account within 2-3 days.  It’s so quick and easy.  

Another plus to the TransferWise service is that they guarantee that a fixed amount will go into the Recipient’s Bank account - funds from our UK bank often arrive with some deductions for “local fees and currency exchange rates”, which causes massive problems when a supplier is waiting for a payment for goods or services.   I’ll be using them again.

Riding through Cane Sugar fields

13 December 2017  Richards Bay, South Africa
We were up early to drive 70 miles to the Redwoods Riding Centre, just south of Durban. They took us on a 2 hour “out-ride”, which was mostly walking along muddy trails in between sugar cane fields.  We did a few trots and a couple of canters, but the other people in the group were total beginners, so there was a lot of waiting about because they had to walk.  However, it was a pleasant ride and only cost £20 each.

We popped into Ballito, a nearby seaside town, to have a very filling Fish and Chip lunch, sat in a restaurant over looking the beach.  In the afternoon, we had a one hour lesson as part of a small group, which really showed how bad our riding skills are.  My horse was very bloody-minded and refused to do anything unless I gave it the correct signals – I had no chance when trying to canter.

We drove back to the marina and had dinner in the bar.  We shared an Eisbein, which was the special of the day and it was much better than the first one we had a few weeks ago – this time the outside was nice and crispy.  We were knackered after our long day and were in bed just after eight o'clock.

14 December 2017  Richards Bay, South Africa
It was another early start to get to the Horse Riding Centre by 08:30.  They took us on a slightly different route today, which was even more muddy than yesterday.  The guide was a young lady who obviously hadn’t taken out many groups.  Again, we had inexperienced people in the group and I virtually had to plead to get one short trot and a short canter – I was a grumpy bear.

Intense concentration during a lesson

We had another long lunch at Ballito this time in an Italian restaurant overlooking the beach – I could get used to doing this every day.  In the afternoon, we had another hour-long group lesson.  My horse today was a little more tolerant and gave me some nice canters, whereas Glenys’ wouldn’t canter at all for her.  We obviously need more lessons.  

Towards the end of the lesson, we did some jumping.  The instructor put up cross poles which were all of 1 foot high.  The rest of the class (mostly little girls) had no problems in getting their horse to trot over the poles.  My horse loved jumping and was very excited, wanting to break into a canter and “go for it”.  I’ve never done any jumping and never been told what to do...  It was inevitable.  

I carefully controlled the horse in a trot until we were 10 metres from the jump.  The horse broke into a canter, in a blind panic I tried to slow the horse, pulled too hard on the reins and the horse skidded to a halt in front of the jump - I flew over it’s neck onto the ground. It was the first time that I’ve fallen from a horse, but fortunately 15 years of skydiving has taught me how to land on the ground and I didn’t injure myself. I got back on the horse and survived the next two jumps.  We definitely need more tuition.