Of delays, spares and repairs et al.

Getting Spares in Mozambique

It is 13th November and we arrived here on 28th October and normally we would have moved on by now, further north to explore the Querimba Islands en route to Tanzania. However there is the question and difficulty of getting spares in Mozambique. Basically they do not exit locally and everything has to be brought in at great expense from South Africa. Based on our experience of getting boating spares here, the Mozambique economy is almost totally dependent on getting imports brought in via South Africa.

In Maputo we met many South African businessmen who have moved to Mozambique and are doing very well, once they have overcome the almost stifling bureaucracy that everyone has to endure. A few have left RSA due to BEE (Black Economic Empowerment to the uninitiated) requirements, whereby if they wish to trade with government organizations, they are required to be BEE compliant, which can mean handing 51% of the business that they may have spent years building up, to a black or coloured person. This is certainly a land of opportunity as so few goods are available here and nothing much is manufactured in country.

We left Durban way back at end of May and said goodbye to Nick Hastie and his excellent staff at Seaport Supply, little thinking that we would still be getting supplies from them in November!

In Maputo our engines parts and other items we found we needed, nearly all came from South Africa (the others came from Holland), road transported to us from Durban, through customs at 30% extra cost. After dragging and losing an anchor at Inhambane, we decided we must have more chain than the 10 metres we were advised was sufficient and even that is unavailable in Mozambique. Also portholes to make it cooler and give us more air inside, as Cherry must have moving air, otherwise she gets claustrophobic. We do have 12v car fans, three in the saloon and one in each forward cabin and these have been a life-saver. Later models of this boat had portholes to provide more air circulation inside but we don’t. These, plus quite a few other items all from Seaport Supply, eventually arrived in Maputo last week, after many delays and thanks to the good offices of our Guardian Angel Charlie, are being flown up to Pemba, hopefully to arrive this week, before the local elections which take place next week, during which we are told nothing much will happen.

Comfortable, Safe and Trouble Free Cruising Life

With this delivery, we hope finally the last from South Africa, we reckon we are now well set up for a comfortable, safe and trouble free cruising life for the foreseeable future – we don’t think! One thing we have learnt about cruising is that it is not very often comfortable and most of the time it is just plain hard work and sometimes very stressful. However there are compensations, like watching beautiful sunsets most nights from the cockpit, with a sun-downer at hand of course, so we shall not be going back to our humdrum life in South Africa for a little while yet!

We are certainly learning to become self sufficient and there is great satisfaction in that. There are always things to fix and Alec is becoming a dab hand at bush mechanics and so far has managed to fix most things that have gone wrong or to get replacements when he can’t. We have had to replace most of the navigation lights and instruments that came with the boat, as they were just too old and corroded.

For example:

A couple of days ago it was Zodwa the wind vane with bolts stripping threads and dropping out, lost into the sea and mended by forcing self tapping screws into the holes. We have a large selection of stainless steel screws and bolts for such purposes. Where possible, everything on a yacht is made and fixed with stainless steel, the only metal apart from aluminium which can withstand the harsh marine environment. It is a continuing battle to keep tools, including electric drills and jig saw in a usable condition as many of these are only available in mild steel, which inevitably rusts very quickly.

Yesterday the solar panels suddenly stopped charging, which was a potential disaster, as we have to have power. First had to read the handbook to understand how the system worked and follow where the wires went – whenever anything goes wrong, we learn something new! Spent a worried and concentrated day testing every circuit with our multi-meter to identify where the fault was and eventually found that the ammeter was not working, which was a relief, as we just happened to have a spare because we had previously removed one that was surplus to requirements.

Today after practicing with our Hookah diving machine for an hour, Alec spent a further hour under the boat cleaning off a veritable garden of growth, all of which has appeared since we left the mud of Maputo Marina, only seven weeks ago. A few small barnacles but mainly soft kelp like growth that has attached itself directly onto the anti-foul paint, which was a surprise. The paint is advertised to prevent such happenings and it looks as if another anti-fouling coating will be necessary when we get to Tanzania next month. While cleaning around the propeller he noticed that the nose cone that retains the propeller was loose, only held by the locking washer and certainly would have dropped off in the near future. So with large spanner and block of wood it was re-tightened and then with hammer and punch he managed to flatten the locking washer, all done underwater using the diving gear, not as difficult as it first appeared.

Tomorrow there is the chewed anchor warp (‘rope’ to you landlubbers!) to cut and splice. It was damaged during the anchor dragging debacle when it became wrapped around the propeller in the dark and this is possibly also why the propeller came lose. We downloaded ‘How to Splice’ from the internet yesterday, using the Lodge connection for free, the only reasonably fast connection we have found in Mozambique and the reason there are now some pictures on the blog.

After that we need to repair our wind generator, which has started to vibrate so badly that we have not used it for a couple of weeks. It sets up a resonance with the solar panels, such that it seems to be shaking the whole lot to pieces. To repair this may be a step too far, as have no idea where to even start and have been putting it off. It is very noisy anyway, such that an adjacent boat while moored in Maputo complained that they could not sleep at nights! But in good winds it produces lots of amps and is invaluable when there is no sun and also at night, to keep the batteries topped up, so we must either repair it or eventually replace it.

Tropical Living

We are now at latitude 13 deg south, so right into the tropics and getting mighty hot as we approach the southern summer, with the sun virtually overhead at midday. We are not finding it so easy to adjust, particularly Cherry who has never lived in this type of heat before and already has a prickly heat rash. Alec spent ten years living in such climes before coming to South Africa, so his body knows better how to cope. We shall most likely be in the tropics from now until near the end of 2010, so we better soon get used to it!

We are trying to cool the boat down and have erected a cover over the front windows, which has certainly made a big difference, particularly for cooler nights in our front cabin. We have an awning we can put over the top deck when there is little wind when we are anchored and also an extra bimini and rain catcher that protects us from the overhead sun through the cockpit windows.


Getting potable water is becoming more difficult as we move further north. Maputo water was good but our next refill here at Pemba all had to be treated with Aqua Salveo. According to East African Coast Pilot it gets worse in Tanzania where untreated river water comes out of some of the taps, so catching water from the skies is important. We are now getting into the rainy season and can expect tropical downpours, so most nights we now put out our water pipes just in case.

Unlike most modern day cruisers, we do not have a water maker, as they are expensive and use a lot of power, so all the time we have to be very careful not to waste water. This is no problem and is really just a mindset that you get used to.

We did a check when we filled up in Pemba and found that we have been using 10 litres a day, so our 600 litre capacity will last us for two months, plus another 60 litres we carry in cans for emergencies.

Our abiding principal is that we do not run the engines just to generate power and nowadays we seem to be one of the very few cruising yachts that can run all their systems on only solar and wind power generation. We have six service batteries, which is twice what most other boats carry, so plenty of capacity and also two separate engine batteries.

Spoilt South African Housewife (SSAH)

By her own admission, Cherry is a spoilt South African housewife, who all her life has had a maid or housekeeper to do the household chores for her. Never in her life before has she had to clean a toilet or even get down on her hands and knees and clean a floor! Well life is different now and in her 69th year she has come down to earth with a bump and for the first time has done all these things and much much more. This is a different world we now live in, the romantic world of self-sufficiency and getting back to nature, where if you want something done, you do it yourself. Division of responsibility is generally that Cherry cleans the inside and Alec does the outside, though the stainless steel is normally a joint effort.

We have no washing machine, unlike some spoilt South African yachtie wives that we know, (who Cherry envies with a deep and abiding passion!!) and who flatly refused to go sailing without one on board! So Cherry washes by hand about once a week, which is not her favourite task but is very good exercise. She uses both feet and hands to wash and rinse, with a little help from Alec in lifting and disposing of the seawater. Not quite as clean as with a washing machine and Cherry does sometime wistfully dream of days gone by, which seem a world away now. She also dreams of finding a yacht club with a washing machine, which we may well find in Tanzania.

It comes to our mind that Cherry’s daughter Nadine was also a SSAH until July this year when they emigrated to Northern Ireland and she would also have suffered a similar culture shock this year. Now into her first British winter and its attendant almost sunless and short days, all very un-African.

Cherry is a superlative cook, the queen of making a wonderful meal out of not much at all. She often makes up her own recipes as she goes along, almost never religiously following the book recipe and always adding spices to add flavour, having a very good understanding of what goes with what. And nothing gets wasted, all leftovers always used up as a basis of another meal. So we eat extremely well and now eat very little red meat and meals are often vegetarian and very tasty and healthy for that.

Cherry has perfected baking brown bread, after many trials and some disappointments. When at sea, she uses part seawater, which gives it a pleasant different flavour. It does not keep of course, as no preservatives, so she usually bakes every other day.

Our one failing is that almost every night we like to have a drink before and during the meal, even when we are sailing, though then probably only one – all for medicinal purposes of course.

This might be our last blog entry for a while as we hope to leave for Dar es Salaam ann Zanzibar day after tomorrow and will be out of comms again. We will still be on sailmail however, so PLEASE keep the emails coming.

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