We met Lynn and Mike who live in Simonstown and also have a Nordhavn. They walked down to our boat and introduced themselves and one day Lynn drove us out to Cape Point and the Cape of Good Hope to look around.
At the tip of the Cape Peninsula 60 km south-west of Cape Town, lies Cape Point, a nature reserve within the Table Mountain National Park; a declared Natural World Heritage Site. Rugged rocks and sheer cliffs tower more than 200 metres above the sea and cut deep into the ocean to provide a spectacular background for the Parks’ rich bio-diversity.
The natural vegetation of the area, fynbos, comprises the smallest but richest of the world's six floral kingdoms. The diversity of fynbos plants is extremely high, with over 9000 species of plants occurring in the area, around 6200 of which are endemic, i.e. they do not grow anywhere else in the world.
It was windy that day and the sea was impressive. We will watch the weather forecasts carefully to pick the right day to round this area.
The annual sailboat race to St. Helena started from the False Bay Yacht Club while we were there and bands played as the boats made ready to put to sea. We had boats all around us heading out and it was nice to talk to several skippers that had been there before and could pass on information that we will need (as we will also go there in February).
We had a good Christmas and New Years at the dock in Simonstown and enjoyed more sea lions and toy sailboat races with Emily’s friends.
One day we walked to a place where they tumble-polish local gemstones and they can be gathered by the bag full. Of course we bought some of the jewelry made from the native Cats-eye stones.
We spent the days strolling the lovely town and art shops. Emily got a library card and was determined to read every Childs book they had.
Not much boat work was accomplished since all of Africa shuts down from about 22 December to Mid-January, but we managed to get a rental car for 2 days. We all had our eyes checked. Emily’s eyes were worse, Kim’s got better and Dads stayed the same. New glasses for Emily and Kim were ordered and will come to Cape Town when ready.
We went to a Cheetah Outreach reserve where we learned that the cheetah can run faster than any other land animal— as fast as 75 mph in short bursts covering distances up to 1,600 ft, and has the ability to accelerate from 0 to over 62 mph in three seconds. This cat is also notable for modifications in the species' paws. It is one of the few felids with semi-retractable claws offering extra grip in its high-speed pursuits. We also saw several servals which look like miniature cheetahs.
A personal encounter with a cheetah is a humbling experience: Upon meeting these graceful African cats, it is easy to understand why they have been doted on by kings and noblemen across the globe for centuries. We were led into an enclosure and allowed to kneel down and pet the adult one at a time and then as a group.
We knelt and were instructed to stand up if the cat moved. Three times the cat rolled over and it was clear to me that the cat would have been quick enough to attack us if he wished. Based on the loud purring as we stroked his back, however, it was clear that this was one happy, contented cat!
Also nearby was the Imhoff farm where we enjoyed a nice lunch and Tom and Emily took a 40 minute camel ride. We had expected to see camels as we went through the Red Sea, but this may be our only chance on our current route.
We are still considering visiting Namibia before crossing the Atlantic and understand they are also seen in the Namib and Kalahari Deserts. The ride was quite comfortable and the most challenging part was staying on as the camel stood up with us on his back, back legs first and then front legs. Since the process was reversed and repeated when we got off, we had two opportunities to hang on.
Our time in Simonstown has been nice but we will be rounding the Cape of Good Hope tonight and heading into Cape Town. We are still researching yards to haul out and hope that we can complete some boat jobs as the Africans return to work after their long holiday break.