Durban and East London - Page 2

22 December 2017   East London, South Africa
When we dragged ourselves out of bed, there about a dozen yachts anchored - a horde of international yachts taking advantage of the weather window.  I’m guessing that they will all be staying for Christmas, so we shouldn’t be “Lonely This Christmas”.

Moored in Buffalo River Yacht Club


The Yacht Club is all closed up, but the toilets and showers are open.  I rang the club secretary, Ilsa, who confirmed that we’re okay to stay on the visitors berth for as long as we want.  We’re really pleased that we’re alongside for the Christmas period.  There’s a strong south-west gale forecast to hit East London on Christmas Day and it’s nice to know that we’ll be tucked up nice and secure instead of worrying about dragging our anchor. (Although we’ve been told that the holding is good.)

We rang Eagle Taxis, who took us to the Hemingway shopping mall, which is on the north side of town.  East London is a large city, but once again, there’s no real town centre, just a lot of sprawling suburbs.  There’s a small shopping mall about a mile away from the yacht club, but it looked really dodgy and the taxi driver told us not to walk around by ourselves.  

The shopping mall is another huge place packed with the same shops as in Richards Bay (and I guess every South African shopping mall.)  The place was heaving with people panic-buying for Christmas - just the same as the UK.   We’d come to do our Christmas shopping.  As usual, we made it into a game - we had 1½ hours and a budget of 200 Rands (£10) to buy presents for each other.  Not surprising, we bumped into each other in the only Dollar Store in the mall… 

After a nice lunch of pasta and provisioning at the supermarket, we tried to get a cab back to the Yacht Club.  Eagle Taxis said that it would be at least ½ hour before they could get there, so we decided to get one from a taxi rank.  After asking around, we were directed down the road to the “Taxis”, which turned out to be the local minibuses - I don’t think so.  We tried asking again for the taxi rank, but it seems that there is none.

Ready for Christmas

One of the security guards said that he’d get a cab for us and stopped a dodgy looking black guy in a dodgy looking car, who didn’t have a clue where we wanted to go and wanted to charge us more than Eagle Taxis - I don’t think so…  We lugged our heavy shopping bags back to the mall entrance, called Eagle Taxis and only had to wait 20 minutes.

The yacht club was open when we arrived back and we were astonished to be given a Christmas Bouquet that had been sent from the UK by our son Brett and his wife Tasha.  Glenys was so overwhelmed that she shed a few tears.  It put us in the Christmas spirit, so back at the boat, Glenys dug out the Christmas decorations and plugged Christmas songs into the stereo.

The yacht club bar was open in the evening and they lit a braai, so all the yachties turned up and we had a good evening making new friends.  We met a few boats briefly in Durban, but most are new to us.  There’s a huge mixture of nationalities - German, French, Spanish, Dutch, USA & Israel.  Each country celebrates Christmas in a slightly different way, so it will be interesting time.

23 December 2017   East London, South Africa
Graham from the yacht club organised a fuel run.  Eight or so people took him up on the offer and we all jammed into 2 pickup trucks with our 30+ jerry cans.  We were taken to a truck refuelling station, where the pump attendants were totally unfazed by us all piling out of the pickups - they’ve obviously seen it before.  We were back at the marina within an hour - a great service from the yacht club.

The yacht club is very friendly and eager to help their international visitors.  They have plenty of fore-aft trot moorings, which most of the fleet have picked up.  After the fuel run, they took two separate groups of cruisers off to the nearby supermarket and had eight huge sacks of wood delivered to make sure that we would be able to Braai over the Christmas period when they are closed.

Repairing a lock

A spring had broken in our aft heads door lock, so I brushed up on my Metallurgy and made a new one.  I used a spring from a clothes peg, first heating it up to glowing red and letting it cool down slowly - this tempers the steel and makes it very malleable.  I was then able to bend the steel wire into the shape that I wanted.   

The next stage was to re-harden the steel, which is done by heating the spring up to cherry red and plunging it into water.  This makes it hard, but also very brittle, so I needed to temper it back to be slightly more malleable.  I cleaned up the surface of the metal, so that I could see shiny steel and then reheated the spring slowly until the surface went a straw colour and then blue.  I then let it cool naturally which gave me a strong spring.  It took a couple of attempts, but I soon had a working lock again.

It rained in the afternoon, so everyone hunkered down and the planned Braai was cancelled.