12 February – 15 February, 2013
We left Port Elizabeth with lovely Southeasterly conditions and after clearing the point, we were soon able to set sail. The trip would be all day, all night with a 7 a.m. arrival to enter the infamous Knysna Heads right before high tide. These “heads”, which are two promontories with a very narrow pass are some of the trickiest of the South African ports to enter. Several vessels have been lost here including very experienced locals. I think the biggest problem is in Winter storms and it is Summer here now, but still we must enter cautiously, the heads are not to be trifled with. The predictions were for 2 meter (6 foot swells) and little wind. So as we would be entering at high slack water I wasn’t too concerned. There is an underwater rock in the entry. It is now well charted and with our daggerboards in shoal draft position, we couldn’t hit it if I aimed at it. The entry at first light was indeed dramatic, but only as to the scenery. No worries mate! We went along the winding channel getting a luscious view of all the very expensatanium real estate. There is Thiesen and Leisure Islands, high bluffs, great views and a most beautiful setting.
As it turns out, my cousins David and Gill Block used to have a house here! Gill is from South Africa. I had emailed her and asked about recommendations for things to do here. One of the things she said we should do was, “take a boat out the heads. They’re beautiful but very dangerous”. I reminded her I would be sailing THROUGH the heads in less than 18 hours!….:-) Gill also noted that there was a webcam at the heads (in a follow up email) and that I should let her know when we would be leaving so she and David could see if they could see us. More on this in the next blog.
After we checked in with the Knysna Yacht Club, we were told we’d have to anchor out as the marina was full and their guest dock was “just that”. It’s very shallow in the lagoon and we were in mostly 2 meters of water (6 feet). The current is very strong as the water flows through the narrow “heads”; the width of which is about 200 feet at most. The boat swung with the tide and if against the wind, it could be a bit uncomfy. Overall, it was okay. > After we got settled, we walked around town which was very touristy, but lovely. There was a nice art gallery there and Alexandra particularly enjoyed it.
The next day, we hired a car and drove to Plettenburg Bay and Buffles (Buffaloe) Bay. Plettenburg was not overly interesting, but Buffles Bay was quite nice. We “did lunch”. The following day, we drove to Mossel Bay and stopped at a small beach town called Wilderness which was a highlight. We found a really nice restaurant here called “Salinas” and walked along the beach looking at the very very expensive large beach houses on the cliffs. Most of them were almost “B&B’s” or for rental. These were by and large huge homes, perhaps 4-6,000 square feet (350-425 square meters). The owner of the restaurant was of Italian descent and born in Kenya. Welcome to diverse South Africa! The food was great, the area a bit of magic. Alexandra kept raving about “Wilderness”.
We had a nice dinner at “Sirocco” on Thiessen Island. This is where we first had a bottle of wine from the “Hillock Vinyard”. (More on this when I blog about Nikki and my trip around the Western Cape).
The next day, we’d be off for Alex’s final leg, from Knysna to Simon’s Town going around one of the world’s “great capes”; Cape Agulhas. Cape Agulhas is the southern tip of the African continent and where the Indian and Atlantic Oceans meet.
Standby, more to come. KIT,
Scott with Alexandra