Day 1, Year 6 Getting Acquainted with Richards Bay
Date: Monday, October 25, 2010
Weather: Beautiful Day; Winds SW 15-25
Location: International Wall, Richards Bay, South Africa
Year 5 of the Voyage of Windbird (VOW) ended yesterday with our arrival in Richards Bay. Year 5 commenced when we flew out of LAX on October 27, 2009 headed back to Windbird in Malaysia. From there we revisited Thailand and then traveled on to Southern India, the Maldives, Chagos, and Madagascar. Every stop along the way was fantastic. Southern India was exotic, Chagos was paradise, and Madagascar will rank up there with the Top 5 in terms of places we have visited in our circumnavigation-gracious people, beautiful islands, bizarre and wondrous plants and animals. Normally we would be getting Windbird ready to leave and would be flying home to visit with family and friends before launching into another year of the voyage, but time and money constraints aren’t allowing that this time. We have to have Windbird hauled out of the water for a survey required for our insurance and while out of the water we will paint the bottom and replace old thru-hull fittings and then we have to make our way south from here around the Cape of Good Hope to Cape Town which will be the jumping off point for our South Atlantic crossing to Brazil in January. And in between all of that, we do hope to see some of South Africa. We will only be here once and there is much to see. We started today by getting acquainted with Richards Bay. Taking a taxi from here to the mall in Richards Bay and back costs about $15US. We shared that cost with Ed and Lynne. We went in to buy SIM cards for our cell phone and for our cell modem that allows us to access the internet and to buy FRESH fruits and veggies. I had hoped to find a pair of Tevas as mine bit the dust a few weeks back. Finding Tevas is not going to be easy-none at the big mall we visited today. Buying the SIM cards was easy and our experience at the first supermarket we visited, a Pick ‘n Pay, was not all that great. But then we were told that we should visit another market in the mall called Fruit & Veg and we were a little more successful. We are used to buying fresh produce in open markets with no refrigeration and the produce is much fresher. But there is more variety here-broccoli and cauliflower and greens that we are familiar with like Swiss Chard. It is going to take a while to figure out just what the good values are here-nothing seems particularly cheap. But we did have a really wonderful lunch at a restaurant in the mall called Elephant & I. The food was fabulous and plentiful, each meal for about $6US. And I couldn’t believe that going to the restroom could be such a pleasant experience. The restroom was decorated with beautiful artwork, had individual cloth towelettes for drying hands, and an intricate mosaic fountain for washing hands. None of these are things you find in Southeast Asia, India, or Madagascar. And I don’t think you will find a restroom like this in the US at a mall restaurant where meals are under $10. We have lots more exploring to do here to just figure out Richards Bay. So tomorrow while the SW winds are still blowing strong (sure glad we made it in before they started blowing this morning), we will stay put here and walk over to the Zululand Yacht Club where we hope to have a slip for our time here. So that will be tomorrow’s explore.
A special thanks to all of you who emailed us today saying how relieved you were that we made it here safely. We’ve never gotten so many emails in one day and it made us feel really good to know that we have such wonderful and supportive family and friends.