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April 13th – 18th, 2013…..(Eastern Hemisphere)
The sail to Namibia turned out to be a 72 hour motor boat ride. The good news was that it was calm, the AIS was working well and we could see any vessels either on the AIS system or radar. The plan was to stop in Luderitz, re-fuel and head to Walvis Bay; 235 miles further north. From there we would visit the famous Sossesvlei Sand Dunes of Namibia. These are extraordinary as they are amongst the largest dunes in the world and they can be pink or red in the morning light.
We arrived in the sleepy mining town of Luderitz and explored it pretty thoroughly in about 2 hours….:-) We waited for the weather window and set off for Walvis Bay two days later.
Nikki at the Luderitz Visitors Center. This was a bit of an oxymoron btw!
Then all heck broke loose. First, the steering failed while sailing almost dead down wind. This in retrospect was due to a technician in Cape Town who improperly bled the hydraulic system. Once this happened, we attempted a course correction manually and the steering was so loose that the boat couldn\’t be controlled. We did an accidental gybe and when the boom came across, it broke our traveler system, the preventer system and most importantly, sheared the back bearing right off the boom and that was that. Other damage occurred, but would be far more minor. The drama of the moment was that it was blowing 25 knots and building. The main had to come down and therefore lowered onto the deck (we couldn\’t roll it into the boom per usual). As the boat was unmanageable due to the steering failure, the main sail blew overboard twice (half of it). The sail weighs around 200 lbs (100 kg). Amazingly, Nikki and I were able to maneuver the boat so the wind would start to blow it back onboard and finally after about an hour and a half struggle (with the wind now at 30+ knots), we got it on the deck. The steering seemed to re-habilitate itself. This was due to the air bubble finally working through the system. We had to motor 10 hours at 3.5 knots against 10+ foot (3-4 meter seas). We re-arrived at Luderitz at around 8pm and promptly went to bed. It was quite a day!
Bent Boom Mandrel…. (This wasn\’t the half of it!)
The next morning, we determined it could only be fixed in Cape Town (a back track of 475 miles!). On a boat, that\’s like a drive from LA to Chicago!
We quickly found that we could get a rent-a-car in Luderitz and decided while the wind blew, we\’d re-arrange our Sossevlei trip for the next day. All the plans fell into place; fortunately for us.
\”Big Daddy Dune\” If you look close, you\’ll see a person at the very top of the dark section and others at the bottom right…..
Dune Hike…… We didn\’t go all the way up Big Daddy, but you get the picture; a truly slippery slope
We drove 6 hours each way and stayed in a lovely B&B recommended to us by Kathie and Dave of \”Sunflower\”. Hoodia Lodge see: http://www.hoodiadesertlodge.com The owners were lovely, the food delicious and the accommodation delightful.
We were very lucky in the boom incident that it wasn\’t worse and also at how or plans to visit Sossesvlei managed to work out in a B&B that was booked solid for months!
Next…..Back to Cape Town for repairs and some R&R at the V&A!…..
Scott and Nikki