Monday, February 28, 2022

Namibia to St. Helena. Also, track us!

Matt mentioned the other day that when he had seen other cruisers' pictures of the Namib desert, he had no idea how cold it would be. I mean, it's the desert. It's supposed to be hot during the day, right?

Perry surrounded by dunes at Hottentot

So why have we been bundled up with every layer we own during our sails through Namibia? It's the Benguela Current, which acts like an air conditioner for the entire coast of Namibia. The water temps hover around 55 F, and the air is about the same. Our sail from Luderitz to Hottentot Bay was cold, fast and a bit lumpy. There was a lot of fog, seals and dolphins too.

Hottentot Bay is a deserted desert with endless dunes, a few abandoned and semi-abandoned buildings, and a handful of lobster fishing boats. After an afternoon enduring howling winds, the next morning was relatively calm. We were able to launch the dinghy and spent a morning climbing some dunes and exploring the shore. Later, one of the lobster boats insisted that we take a huge (~15 kilo) bag of very small spiny lobster, which they delivered to us by having us throw a rope at them and tying the bag of lobsters to the end of the rope. There were way too many for us to eat and even though we appreciated the gift, we ended up letting over half of them go to keep growing. But some weren't going to make it. So we've been feasting on lobster for the last 3 consecutive meals (breakfast excluded, although we would have made lobster omelettes if we had been on our game).

Perry in Hottentot Bay

The anchorage was comfortable enough for us, but the wind was screaming in the rigging and there was a bit of an onshore swell. Based on the conditions we decided to skip Spencer Bay, the next possible stop to the north, and make our way straight to Walvis Bay (pronounced something like "Vahlfish" by some of the locals). We sailed past Spencer Bay in the dark so we didn't see the resident penguin colony, but I could sure smell it.

Whale skull at Hottentot

Besides wanting to visit Hottentot Bay, we came to Walvis Bay mostly because the forecast for the weekend showed very little wind down in Luderitz. Now mind you, leaving from either Luderitz or Walvis Bay to go to St. Helena, is about the same distance. So we basically sailed 261 nautical miles over two days and two nights to catch the wind and avoid motoring. We have apparently become true sailors, which is to say, a bit touched in the head.

Namport Container Terminal in Walvis Bay

Today, Walvis Bay has a very distinctive and strong fish, sulphur and guano smell (apparently there is an algae bloom that is killing off some fish) and Perry is anchored next to a big dock with huge cranes and hundreds of shipping containers. We stretched our sailing-atrophied legs to walk to and around town, which is a couple miles from the Walvis Bay Yacht Club, near our anchorage. We got a bit spoiled being at the V&A and Luderitz, where the stores were very close to our boat. One of the kids (I won't say who) was at a 7/10 on the whine-o-meter. There are lots of seals in the harbor and several have already tried to take up residence on our transom.

Are you really going to make me move, dude?

Dune 7, which, at 1,256 feet (383 meters), is the tallest dune in Namibia (the seventh tallest in the world), is the other reason we wanted to visit Walvis Bay. It's a short drive out of Walvis Bay and it beckoned us. We had to maintain our sordid history of mounting whatever high point exists in the area. Apparently, we also really like having sand in our teeth and every crevice of our bodies. This was also an acceptable form of exercise that did not involve parental cajoling or whining.

Dune 7 near Walvis Bay (not to be confused with Dune 7 in Sossuvlei)

After a couple days in Walvis Bay, we are headed to St. Helena. Because St. Helena is a very small country with limited resources, they can only do PCR tests (which are free) on Thursdays. So we have to time our trip to get there before Thursday, but not so soon that we are cooped up on the boat for more than a couple days. The journey should take about 10 days.

Racing down the dunes with our taxi driver, John, looking on. Spoiler: I lost.

Also, because Internet in St. Helena is a million dollars a megabyte or something crazy, we may not be updating the blog much until after we have finished crossing the Atlantic. While we are underway, you can track our progress here:

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