Welcome to the blog of the sailing yacht Sea Bunny.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Hluhluwi/iMfolozi Game Reserve

We had two trips to this reserve, having been summoned back to the boat after our first night.
Sightings included four of the "big five", missing out only the leopard - which are thought to have moved to the more inaccessible areas of the park.
Blue wildebeeste

Warthog getting down to his dinner


Oxpeckers on a giraffe

White rhinoceros and calf

Rhinos have favourite communal toilet spots

For both "no 1"and "no 2

"This buffalo is having his ear cleaned

Elephant drinking 


We were very lucky to see a pack of  African wild dogs

This elephant - a lone male - didn't seem too happy with us 

Another lucky sighting

Now we wait for the red helicopter to crash land on deck!

After our traumatic introduction to Tuzi Gazi marina we were pleased to have been moved to the main pontoon that had not collapsed around us.
So in high spirits we set off for three nights in a game park.  After the morning game-viewing drive we viewed messages suggesting that we return to the marina immediately as a pilot boat had lost control in another strong wind, ramming the boat next to us. This had driven both her and Sea Bunny up onto the main pontoon and had broken the connection between the main pontoon and the finger to which the boats were tied - resulting in the finger being free to move. Sea Bunny had also been driven up onto the pontoon and also sideways onto the power boat on her other side.
Damage sustained by Sea Bunny comprised a major scrape on the bow. Being driven sideways onto a power boat also bent the guard rail and damaged the outboard motor mounted on the guard rail.
In the dark with strong winds and pouring rain the yacthsmen had secured all vessels - miraculously no one was hurt!
We spent the rest of the day returning boat warps and thanking people.
Another scrape

Bent rail and damaged outboard

South Africa Battlefields

Together with the crews of Minnie B, Zen Again and Vulcan Spirit we set off on a partly guided tour of battlefields of the conflicts between the Afrikaners and the Zulus, the British and the Zulus and the British and the Afrikaners (Boers). Links under each heading lead to a fuller description of the battle.

Siege of Ladysmith 1899-1900

We started at the excellent siege museum in Ladysmith which gave an excellent account of the siege of the town by the Boers in 1899 - 1900 which lasted 118 days before relief.

Blood River 1838

Meeting our extremely well-versed and enthusiastic guide the next day in Dundee the tour went back 61 years to the conflict at Ncome River (Blood River) where 470 Afrikaner pioneers (Voortrekkers) seeking to obtain land defeated a Zulu army of some 20000 with 3 Voortrekkers wounded and some 3000 Zulu dead. The Voortrekkers established a ring of wagons which they could defend with firearms, against which the Zulu spears were to no avail.

The wagon ring is reproduced, in full size bronzed steel, at the battlefield site - making a significant monument.

 Isandlwana 1879

In the first engagement of the Anglo-Zulu war the battle of Isandlwana was a disaster for the British. Poor command decisions left a significant force at the mercy of a massive Zulu army resulting in a defeat that shook the British establishment.

Isandlwana Hill with monument in foreground

The battlefield - each cairn is over a mass grave of British dead

The monument to the 2000 or so Zulu dead
Rorke's Drift 1879

The line of the hastily constructed defensive rampart
Immediately after the battle of Isandlwana a small garrison รณf 139 held Rorkes Drift against a Zulu army of around 4500, resulting in the award of a record number of 11 Victoria Crosses.
None of the original buildings remain but a church occupies the site of the original store and the original hospital has been reconstructed and houses the offices and cafe.

Monument to the British dead
Reproduction of the hospital
The Zulu monument

As the main regiment involved was the 24th regiment of foot, we had come prepared to sing "Men of Harlech" the regimental hymn of the South Wales Borderers. However, our guide pointed out that the 24th only became the South Wales Borderers in 1881, some two years after the battle. At the time it was the 2nd Warwickshire Regiment. Our recital was cancelled.

Ulundi 1879

The battle of Ulundi was the final battle of the Anglo-Zulu war in which a large British force attacked and burnt to the ground the large "kraal" of the Zulu king Cetshwayo and destroying his army.

The royal kraal site has been excavated and has been reconstructed.

The Ulundi monument

Reproduced guard hut

Reproduced dwelling hut

Spioenkop 1900

On our final tour alone we drove up steep Spioenkop hill, overlooking the Tugela River.  This was held by the Boers and was impeding the British advance to relieve Ladysmith.
The British initially took the hill but were then forced to retreat by rifle and artillery fire from adjacent hills, allowing the Boers to retake it. The inadequate British trench is now the mass imposing grave.

First British assault up this ridge 

Line of the inadequate British trench

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Our first game park - iSimangaliso - hippos and crocs

Our first foray into the nature reserves of KwaZuluNatal was to St Lucia and the iSimangaliso Park. Specifically we took a "water safari" on the estuary side of Lake St Lucia.

The water level is apparently at its lowest for 55 years, which means that the wildlife is more concentrated than normal.

The major fauna comprises Nile crocodiles and hippotamus - both of which are present in abundance. As it is a wetland area, there is also bird life.

Family group

A large "bloat" or "pod"
Walking on the bottom

Off to look for fresh water and food

Nile crocodile

Goliath heron

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Welome to South Africa - We're blown away!

Safe arrival and snug in bed for a couple of hours we were woken by the small boat beside us trying to leave. We assisted him to do so, manhandling our mooring lines over his boat. The wind was now blowing a full gale and rising.
At this point the main pontoon started to concertina and the finger pontoons to rotate. The situation was deteriorating rapidly and we could foresee a serious risk of personal injury and/or of Sea Bunny being sunk if the whole pontoon with some 15 boats upwind of her blew down onto her, or if the main pontoon collapsed sideways.
We gave ourselves 5 minutes to leave hurriedly dressing and collected a few essential items and temporarily left the boat crawling up the pontoon to safety. Returning to attempt to mitigate the damage when things has stabilised somewhat.
Over the next few hours the situation did indeed get worse, but this happened relatively slowly. By the next day Sea Bunny was sandwiched tightly between rotated finger pontoons on both sides. The next boat to windward was similarly sandwiched - the entire gap of two spare spaces having been filled by the collapse.
Sea Bunny was being damaged on both sides by the pontoon cleats and the sharp unprotected metal edges of the pontoons. One of our bow lines was bar taut, holding up a submerged part of the main pontoon. Releasing this would probably have caused further closure and increased crushing.
The wind dropped during 3 November and by 4 November the marina were able to straighten out the pontoon sufficiently to release Sea Bunny and the boat next to her. They did this by running a large hawser across to a tug on the wall opposite the marina and winching in on this.

0529 2 Nov  The pontoon starts to collapse

0617 2 Nov Main pontoon further collapsed

0618 2 Nov Pontoon buoyancy detached

0709 2 Nov Getting worse

0746 2 Nov Pressure now on Sea Bunny's starboard side

0747 2 Nov Main pontoon collapse nearly complete

0748 2 Nov Cleats gouging into the hull

0850 2 Nov About 50 m of pontoon affected

0917 2 Nov Cross pontoon also affected

0938 2 Nov View from the bow

1040 3 Nov We were able to get some protection in

1041 3 Nov Sea Bunny's port side. The barnacles on the floats holed the other boat!

1043 3 Nov Our dockline was holding up the submerged pontoon. Before it was released slightly the bow was being pulled down 50 cm

Inspecting the damage - with the insurance surveyor. (Photo:Yvonne - Happy Bird)

1200 4 Nov Alois enlarging the gap

1206 4 Nov Pulling the finger pontoon clear 

Nearly free with Alois & Tom's help (Photo: Yvonne - Happy Bird)
On the move (Photo: Yvonne - Happy Bird)
1348 4 Nov Main pontoon nearly stretched ou