Our first excursion was anticipated with much excitement. Richards Bay was a veritable hive of activity with boats of every size and shape occupying every available berth at the ZYC Marina.
The World ARC 2016-17 Circumnavigation Rally, having departed on January 9th from Saint Lucia (a sovereign island country in the eastern Caribbean Sea on the boundary with the Atlantic Ocean and located north/northeast of the island of Saint Vincent, northwest of Barbados and south of Martinique), had stopped over to enjoy Christmas and New Year in South Africa.
Some boats would have left the rally in Australia, with more joining for the restart of the second half of the adventure from Darwin in September 2016. Avoiding the troubled areas of the Indian Ocean, the World ARC route takes in Lombok, Cocos Keeling, Mauritius and Reunion and then South Africa.
From Cape Town, later on, the boats will visit St Helena, before enjoying carnival in Brazil and then heading back into the Caribbean via Grenada to finish the circumnavigation in Saint Lucia in April 2017.
So amidst this august fleet of bravehearts, we too planned an epic journey of our own – the journey to “nowhere in particular”. Stout-heartedly joined by our nephew Richard, his girlfriend Pam, and our recently-made friends Mark and Annie, hailing from Bourges, France, we prepared Catarina and tossed off the dock lines with gay abandon.
Mark, a seasoned sailor and owner of a sailmaking business back in France, was a source of invaluable information and guidance and our little excursion proved to be an enjoyable lesson for Nigel. Richard was thrown in at the deep end and proved to be a very able-bodied seaman and line handler, reefing and winching with enthusiasm all under the watchful eye and guidance of Mark.
Once outside of the harbour mouth, engines cut and sails hoisted, Catarina soared through the waves like a flying fish. At one stage we spied another catamaran on our tail and to port side, struggling to overtake. Alas for them, Catarina is a fast boat and effortlessly retained her upwind position, forcing the opposition to fall back and veer off, to save face. Lots of sun and sea air brought us back into harbour and we found a sheltered, secluded spot near the beach area and anchored securely out of the ship traffic area. Gently bobbing and swinging on the anchor, the ladies lay out the picnic lunch of wholewheat rolls, cold roast chicken, avocados, lettuce and tomato, cheese and potato crisps. Idyllic setting and we close our eyes and succumb to that certain afternoon time of rest and repose.
Later, textbook docking procedures ensued under a myriad of blatantly watchful eyes from neighboring moored boats, but Catarina was safely secured and bedded down in her new berth with nary an incident! Capt Nige drawing from the sage advice of those hardy sailors who have gone before him advising that one shouldn’t approach a dock any faster than the speed at which you would not mind hitting it.