Monday 21st January 2019
We have loved our short time in Cape Town. A vibrant city of stunning views, bright blue skies and an eclectic mix of people. We will be sad to leave but this morning we have checked out with the authorities and plan to set off on the ten day sail to St Helena first thing tomorrow.
Our visit started well when the guys from North Sails who with only two working days to restitch our main sail and hoist our new Genoa, were actually waiting on the dock as we arrived into the marina on Wednesday afternoon. The good service continued when thwarted by the high winds on Friday they came, out of hours, to bend on the two sails early Saturday morning.
Our location moored right in the middle of the V&A Waterfront complex is ideal. Not only is there, close by, a supermarket that I trudged to six times, back and forth, to fill the boat with enough fresh food for the ten day passage, but also street buskers to entertain, a very nice arts and craft market and dozens of restaurants many perched right next to the docks, affording great views
Table mountain from the V&A Watefront.
In fact there are great views everywhere, Table Mountain dramatically dominating wherever you look, but the best views of all have been from the top of the mountain looking back down. Having worked flat out for three days, everything was ready and we took Sunday to enjoy the city. With so little time we opted for the open top sightseeing bus that wound its way past the most interesting sites before heading up to the cable car base station. We had left early and were rewarded by clear fresh skies and short queues. The views from the top were incredible, in every direction – peering down to the city centre that sits snug in the bowl of the mountains, looking out to far off towns and hills that fade gradually into the distance or gazing down to the Cape where the sea sparkles in the sunshine.
Signal Hill and Cape Town City
The Cape Peninsular and the mountain are an area of floral importance, recognised by UNESCO as one of the worlds special areas in terms of diversity, density and number of endemic species. Flowering shrubs, succulents and exoctic flowers nestle between the boulders that cover the plateau at the top of the mountain. For the intrepid, paths wind through this unique landscape, steeply up the mountain side that takes about 3hrs to scale, for those like us who opt for the slightly less strenuous fives minute ride in the cable car, paths zigzag around the top to make the best of the surroundings and it’s majestic scenery.
Taking a break and enjoying the view out to the Cape.
Back down at the bottom of the mountain we took the bus to Camp Bay, one of the lovely seaside communities that surround the beaches SE of Cape Town. Th sea looks welcoming in the heat but unfortunately a cold current runs down this part of the coast, a few brave souls were playing in the surf but most of the visitors were just soaking up the sunshine from their deck chairs. Having never been to anywhere on the South Atlantic I felt the need to dip at least one toe in the water, I can confirm it is freezing. We strolled along the beach for a while and then went for a very pleasant lunch, enjoying the waves from the warmth and comfort of our restaurant table.
A bit cold for a swim
Every time we have looked at the weather over the past few days the winds for Monday and Monday night have been getting lighter and lighter, it seemed foolish to leave just to motor for 24hrs, using precious fuel that we may need later in the trip. We took the decision to wait to leave until Tuesday morning, this having the added benefit of giving us a little more time to further enjoy the city.
We chose to visit a vineyard, we have really been loving the wine since arriving in South Africa and the oldest area of wine production in the country is just 20mins out of town – Constantia. One vineyard, Groot Constantia, was establish in 1685 and quickly became known for its production of excellent desert wine, drank by Napoleon while imprisoned in St Helena, the cellar still produces bottles of Grand Constance to this day. We had to try some and very delicious it was too. We left a few rand down but loaded up with a selection of bottles and some of the delicious chocolate they have produced to accompany each of their different wines. A white chocolate to pair with Sauvignon Blanc, a blackberry flavoured milk chocolate for the Pinotage and a dark chocolate to go with their Grand Reserve.
Next stop St Helena, where we can complete the Napoleon experience and see where exactly he sat to enjoy his wine.