• Carla

leg 8: Port Owen to Luderitz

We left Port Owen at around 7am after a spectacular sunrise. Callum and I both suffered with seasickness but we had an uneventful first day of sailing and our first night at sea went well, although Denzell nervously slept in the cockpit whilst I was on watch.

The next day we didn’t have much wind and decided to start the engines. The port engine wouldn’t start and after repeated tries Denzell opened up the engine bay to have a look. What he found was an engine that was full of seawater. Definitely far from ideal. We had also blown the starter motor by repeatedly trying to start an engine that was full of water. So he removed the starter motor from the starboard engine and used it to replace the blown starter, then took the injectors out and cranked the engine over to flush the water out. And the reason I’m telling you all this technical stuff is that in the process of blowing the water out we also managed to blow a little tiny bit of the injector out of the open porthole. Complete disbelief. We didn’t have a spare one so we were down to only the starboard engine until we could order the spares.

We reached Port Nolloth in the late afternoon on our third day at sea with a plan to wait out the two days of no wind that was forecast and possibly get the engine spares sent up from Cape Town. However, we changed our minds pretty quickly after a look through the binoculars. It looked a bit like we would be anchored in a tidal pool with water coming in over the reef and then draining out through the harbour entrance. Denzell spoke to someone ashore who confirmed that there was a strong current running through the harbour and we decided to rather keep bobbing along slowly in the direction of Namibia. I was feeling a lot better now that the sea was calmer and even managed to fry steak and chips for dinner, I think Denzell was chuffed to finally be relieved of galley duty.

We still didn’t have much wind the next day and took the opportunity for a salt water bath on the foredeck by filling buckets and leaving them in the sun for a few hours to warm up, even so it was still a bit chillier than I’d have liked. Eventually a bit of wind arrived and we sailed into Luderitz the following day in a strong south easter (I would have described it as gale force, but Denzell says that’s overstating it) with a pod of Heaviside dolphins keeping us company. We found a mooring buoy and then headed ashore to check into our first foreign country and have a well deserved beer at the yacht club.

Luderitz was a great little town, full of atmosphere and colourful characters. We met some other cruisers from South Africa and New Zealand and took our tenders around to shark island for a beach braai. A tour of the ghost town at Kolmanskop was definitely a highlight, apparently during the diamond rush the barmaids were paid in diamonds when the cash ran out. We didn’t find any diamonds but when we went out to agate beach I picked up a few tiny sparkly possibilities.

After all this fun and sightseeing and beer drinking we thought we should also do some boat jobs too, so we spent a few back breaking hours scrubbing the deck with fresh water we lugged from shore in the pillager. The very next day a 50 knot south easter blew in and proceeded to blow for two solid days. More than half the Namib desert landed on our deck.

Leaving Port Owen keeping close to the fishing boats docked in the deepest part of the river.

First night at sea for us

Snoek! We decided they aren't really worth the effort, not much usable meat and full of bones!

Another spectacular sunset

Deciding that Port Nolloth looked a bit sketchy

Sun sets...

....and full moon rises

Will the wind ever arrive???

Nervously waiting on the foredeck with my mooring lines ready even though we are still a long way from the anchorage at Luderitz.

Tender raid on shark island for a sunset braai with the other cruisers we met.

Kolmanskop ghost town

The Kolmanskop tram, how the local housewives did their grocery shopping on the main street.

An eerie foggy walk to Diaz point.

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