Welcome to the blog of the sailing yacht Sea Bunny.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

More nature - Addo Elephant Park

Having missed the best weather windows for getting to Cape Town before Christmas we decided to drive there - only about 2000 km and fly back to Durban.

The Addo Elephant Park near Port Elizabeth was on the way. It has a total of 600-800 elephants as well as black rhinoceros and some other animals we haven't seen before. It is also one of the largest reserves in South Africa, although this is a bit misleading as it is split into sections with different access requirements and, indeed, different wildlife.
On this occasion we stayed in a B&B -Elephants Footprint just outside the park where the room was like a zoo elephant enclosure very neat complete with thatched roof, thatched toilet and outside shower. Fortunately no mahout came to groom us!

Panorama of the park from Zuurkop hill.
Much of the park used to be farmed, which has enabled different habit areas, ranging from open grassland to thick scrub, to be established.  The thick scrubland areas  make it quite difficult to see the animals - in particular black rhinos.

Again we'll let the pictures largely speak for themselves

This one has right of way!
The elephants are supposed to be relaxed, but it's slightly worrying when they came down the road towards you and carry on past. The advice is to stop, switch off the engine and enjoy!

Grazing lone buffalo


Red-necked frangolin

Black-headed heron and african helmeted turtles

Greater kudu

Red hartebeeste

Hadeda ibis

At the waterhole

Female warthog and brood

Lioness - close to the road 

and the lion

Females with calf

Zebra and foal

The young one
Leopard tortoise

Ostrich male and female

Cape longclaw

Secretary bird

Hi-tech(?) lift out

After the incidents at Tuzi Gazi we needed to inspect the underwater parts of Sea Bunny's hull for damage before submitting our insurance claim. There was a large excess/deductable during the crossing which dropped by 60% on our entry to South Africa some 3 hours before the start of the incident! Membership of  The Cruising Association then halved it again.
Arriving at the cradle
This was done at Zululand Yacht Club, still in Richards Bay where there is a slipway and boat lift.
With Sea Bunny's draft of 2.3 metres the lift should be done at high water spring tides so that the boat can get far enough up the slipway and the boat lift can get far enough down it without running off the end.
Lift-out. Nearly far enough for the slings
Ready to go
Unfortunately the boat that was to be launched was not ready and had to be removed from the lift and chocked up.  Laurie from Apogee came on board to help us while Robert took photos.  As a result it was nearly 2 hours after high water when Sea Bunny got to the slip. She ran aground when she was in the lift cradle but not far enough in to use her marked slinging points. We were, however, happy that she would be secure enough if supported at the points that could be reached. Sea Bunny was duly lifted and moved a short distance up the slip, where she would be dry for most of the following day.

Coming up the slip
Perhaps a bit too much epoxy!
We took the opportunity of finishing the sealing of the damaged areas of hull with epoxy before painting above the waterline with nearly matching paint and below the waterline with black antifouling. Mr Oh, who gave us an excellent paint job in Phuket in 2012 would certainly not be impressed with the finish - nor with the fact that the topsides job will have to be done again, probably in Trinidad.

Not too bad

Gravity takes care of the launch - the tractor is the brake

Low tech but effective

Re-launch. One of the agile team

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Africa's highest pub!

From Richards Bay we took a short land tour to the Drakensberg mountain range.
Sani pass road - South African side
First stop was Underberg from where we had a 4WD tour across the Sani Pass into the kingdom of Lesotho as far as Mokhotlong. The road is gravel and steep on the SA side but paved on the Lesotho side (Chinese money and fewer environmental concerns). Lesotho - mountain kingdom - is full of mountainous vistas and very poor people. Susan had her usual hairdressing lesson in one of the huts.

Just inside Lesotho
Village housing - Lesotho

Boy with dogs near the highest point

Hair braiding is a popular entertainment

Rock art - Kamberg

On leaving Underberg it was a morning drive to Kamberg, mostly on a gravel road, for the 1230 guided walk to a rock art site. On arrival we were told that the guide had gone home but that we could take the key and let ourselves into the enclosure. This we did, ignoring the signs that promised dire consequences to anyone proceeding without a guide. It was a 1 1/2 hour uphill walk to the site, which was quite impressive, under a rock overhang.

Rock art site

The third area on our trip was to the Champagne Valley area of the Central Drakensberg.  The 6-hour walk up to Blindman's Corner on the plateau stretched Richard's comfort zone in respect of proximity to long drops. Although none were sheer cliffs a slip would result in a long fall down a very steep slope. The thunderstorm that started just as we reached the top and were exposed on the plateau was also a bit scary. On the way back the sun came out, our clothes dried and we ate our belated lunch in a meadow of fresh smelling grasses - perfect.
Seats for one of the Drakensberg Boys Choir School Christmas concerts were obtained at the last minute - it was encouraging to see boys of all nationalities enjoying singing together.
The way up

On the plateau

It goes higher in the "wilderness area"