After spending 2 wonderful weeks in Cape Town at the V&A Marina, climbing Table Mountain, visiting the city, its surrounding wine areas, fixing the rig (again), getting things in order and provisioning up we headed out of Cape Town with new crew Dina and Anna on the 500 nm passage northward to Luderitz, Namibia. We sailed in the SE trades which lightened as we sailed north. Leaving Cape Town we had another spectacular view of Table Mountain and were escorted past Robben Island by a pod of 6 Southern Right wales. Our budding South African Day Skipper Felicity who sailed with us from Richards Bay waved us out of the harbour, which we were quite sad to leave.
Luderitz lies just north of the South African – Namibian border and is an old diamond mining town. Diamonds are still mined in the area but no longer simply picked up off the desert sands in the moonlight but by all number of dredges that scour the sands of the sea floor, sucking up the precious stones that have been washed into the sea down the rivers. The port is strictly monitored and no diving is allowed. We were greeted into Luderitz by a 35 knot wind that blows almost constantly here. In closing daylight we fought our way the 3 miles upwind to the town and the moorings. We lost one boat hook trying to pick up a mooring but had more luck with the backup boat hook and were securely tied up for the evening on a diamond dredge mooring. The following morning we moved to a yacht mooring closer in to town and were greeted by a local Brit who has taken on the job of managing the moorings which cost a small fee per evening.
We took the dinghy ashore to explore the town of Luderitz which has two supermarkets, a gas station, a number of bars, a large hardware store, a chemist, tourist agency and surprisingly a number of hair dressers and barber shops. Two friendly ladies at the laundry took our washing and worked their magic with it, returning it smelling better than new and folded neatly.
A visit to the tourist agency had us booked the following day in a private car (a Mercedes Benz from the ‘90s) and so it was we were chauffeured (by an elderly German lady) to the ghost town of Kolmanskop where the diamond mining boom began back in the 1800’s. Thousands of people lived here back in the 1800’s and scoured the desert floor in the evenings under the moonlight to collect the twinkling diamonds that scattered the sandy surface. The buildings today are filled with sand and only a small number have remain open to the public to enable a window into the past. The museum is very well maintained and informative and the guides very knowledgeable about the history of the town. Back in the day water was so scarce and money so plentiful that the women used to bathe in Champagne sent from Europe. An ice factory supplied ice to every house once daily to keep goods stored in their ice boxes from going off. A mural in one of the quarters depicts Miss Kolmanskop in the early 1800’s. I had to visit this room and photograph the mural. I’m sure the artist that drew it was longing for his wife or partner at the time. It’s a very lonely and remote place even now. Back in the 1800’s it must have been even more so.
We visited a café (daily) in the north of the town that had such good food and wine that we didn’t visit another place for any meal while we were here. The staff were super friendly and the décor of fishing nets and pots so inviting that we made this our second home. We admired the German architecture of the houses and buildings and met the local yachties and internationals (about 6 of them) who were also visiting. Two German solo sailors who were real characters were great company and we were invited back to Andy’s yacht Kama to see how solo sailors do it in style. We planned to leave Luderitz on the Sunday but decided to wait out the 40 knot wind that was howling northward down the bay.
Sunday saw us leave early in the morning bound for St Helena 1400 nm NW into the southern Atlantic.