Day 4, Year 6 All About Weather
Date: Thursday, October 28, 2010
Weather: Overcast and Rainy; Winds NE 5 am, NW 25/gusts to 40 pm
Location: International Wall, Richards Bay, South Africa

There’s no way to get a rest from the weather in this country. Even in port you have to worry about the strong SW blows that come through. This afternoon we got our first taste of 40 knot winds in the harbor. It sounded worse than it was but it makes you feel like you are on constant watch. Friends from Armelle T, a boat we met in Chagos and again in Madagascar, arrived this morning coming from the Barren Islands in Madagascar, following the same route as we did. They had a good trip across, stopping at Europa while we were having the southerly winds on Monday here in Richards Bay, and getting in here before the strong southerlies started blowing this afternoon. If our wind indicator is correct we were getting a constant 25-30 knots with gusts to 40 during the peak of the blow this afternoon. I’m coming to the conclusion that South Africa is going to be disconcerting in many ways, the weather being only one of the ways, but with highlights that will make it all worth it. We went back to Richards Bay to Boardwalk Mall today. We had a 9 am appointment with an optometrist at the mall. They were able to take the lenses from Mark’s frames that broke last year to give him a good back-up pair just for the cost of the frames. But since my only good pair of glasses went overboard in Chagos, and the frames on my back-up pair broke in Madagascar, I was starting from scratch. To got the Varilux lenses that I am used to along with new frames plus the cost of the exam, the total was about $750 for a new pair of glasses. So in about an hour and half we blew almost $1,000 between the two of us just so we can see. But that is important! It is probably the same amount we would spend in the US, but there we have vision insurance that helps a bit.

After getting over the cost of seeing, we visited the two supermarkets in the mall that we did not visit on Tuesday. We were basically just checking prices and seeing what is available. What we are finding is that food here costs about the same as in the US at high-end supermarkets. There is no Sam’s Club or Costco here. We have friends in Cape Town and we are hoping they are going to tell us that things are cheaper there and that here is more variety. We’ll have to wait to hear from them on that one. And then there are things like sandals. My soles on my Tevas separated while in Madagascar but there are no Tevas to be found in Richards Bay. We found a pair online but with VAT tax and delivery charges they were going to cost $130. I decided to wait until we visit Durban and see if I can find them there without paying the tax and delivery charges, and in the meantime I am going to see if I can find a shoe repair place that might be able to glue the soles back on. So no shoes and no good book stores And we are finding the same problem with boat parts. They just aren’t here. We desperately need two new marine toilets but there are none to be had in Richards Bay. We did find them in Durban online, so again, it looks like a trip to Durban is a necessity.

On a more positive note . . . our anniversary dinner at the Thai restaurant here in the Tuzi Gazi complex was delightful. The couple who owns the restaurant are a Thai-South African mix. They have had the restaurant here for eleven years and it was packed last night despite the ugly weather. The food was very good and the highlight was that we were able to get a Singha beer, straight from Thailand. The food and the beer brought back great memories from our time in Thailand. But we must put that behind us now and get on with life in South Africa. Tomorrow morning we move Windbird from the wall to a slip at Tuzi Gazi, winds permitting. Once we are settled in a slip we can start thinking about inland travel. I’m really hoping to visit our first game park next week. Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Game Park is only about a one-hour drive from here and you can see all of the Big 5 there-buffalo, elephants, leopards, lions, and rhino. So even if we only go for two or three days, we should get our first taste of South African wildlife.