Greece, Preveza to South Africa.

Esprit was lifted onto the hard at Cleopatra Marina in Preveza, Greece on the 30th November 2019.

I pondered this name for a marina and then read up on the history of this area. It goes something like this:

Esprit moving onto the hardstand.

After the assassination of Julius Caesar in 44BC, a civil war was intermittently waged until 31BC, when Octavian’s victory over Anthony, decided the fate of the known world. Anthony had assembled his soldiers and ships here at Actium (Preveza), intending to invade Italy.

Map: The Battle of Actium.

Now, as we know, Mark Anthony had a thing going with Cleopatra (she bore him 3 children), so she brought her Egyptian ships across to support Anthony. History tells us that Octavian’s fleet routed Anthony’s fleet here at the mouth of the estuary. Cleopatra fled, taking her Egyptian ships and Anthony followed, leaving his men and ships to be scattered by Octavian. So, Voila! a name for the marina, exactly where Anthony’s camp was.

Nicopolis, the city that Octavian built to celebrate his victory over Anthony.
The extensive city walls of Nicopolis.

On the 3rd December we departed Preveza by bus for the 5-hour journey to Athens, where the bus promptly got stuck in traffic jams. It gave us ample time to study the graffiti covering every available surface on walls next to the main roads – even the trains were covered in graffiti. The thought occurred to me that if the Greek government levied a tax of 1 Euro on every can of spray paint sold, they could wipe out the Greek national debt within a year.

A flight to Istanbul at 8pm connected us on a flight to Johannesburg where we arrived at midday on the 4th. The next three weeks was a whirlwind of social engagements catching up with family, school and uni friends. My twin brothers arranged visits to Pretoria, live music shows, BBQ’s with friends and a visit to our old yacht club on the Vaal dam, Pennant Nine Yacht Club.

The three brothers, Vanna, Dirk and Peet, at the Upper Deck for music and lunch.
Afrikaans music would not be the same without a concertina.
Starting your BBQ the South African way.
Christmas day: the three Amigos and the three Annie’s.
Property security in Waterkloof, Pretoria
Our mob at Pennant Nine Yacht Club. (The no. 9 pennant means “Come on board for a party”)

After consuming too much food and drink over Christmas, we flew to Cape Town to spend January enjoying our old stamping grounds of years ago and catch up with friends. There were also fellow sailors in Cape Town who took the route from Thailand around the Cape to the Caribbean that we wanted to meet up with. Amongst them, Colin Villiers from the UK and Thant Zin from Burma on Burmese Breeze in Hout Bay.

First, we stayed with Debbie Preller and Jan de Waal in Muizenberg: Above, Muizenberg beach and False Bay.
Historic Muizenberg station. (Muizenberg = Mice Mountain)
St James beach, next door.
With Jim and Gail at the Garage market.
Thant Zin, Annie and Colin on Burmese Breeze in Hout Bay.
More than twenty-two years ago, our girls grew up here on Bakoven beach.
Jim, Reini and Lynne covering Van Morrison.
The Adelbert chorus.

On new year’s eve we got word from Karen that she was stoked to have summited Cotopaxi in Ecuador after five days on the mountain – quote: “the hardest thing I have done”. Cotopaxi is an active stratovolcano in the Andes Mountains, located about 50km south of Quito, Ecuador, in South America. It is the second highest summit in Ecuador, reaching a height of 5,897m (19,347 ft). It is one of the world’s highest volcanoes. Since 1738, Cotopaxi has erupted more than 50 times. The last eruption was in 2016.

And here I was, thinking our daughter was a sailor.

Karen on the summit of Cotopaxi.

New Year’s eve was spent with Jim and Gail Petrie. Starting with sundowners at the Brass Bell in Kalk Bay, followed by a BBQ at their lovely house overlooking the harbour, concluding with the arrival of 2019 and Annie’s 64th birthday at midnight. A very happy and liquid affair! New Year’s day meant recovering after a late rise, with a swim at Muizenberg beach. It was rounded off with more sundowner drinks and pizzas at Reini and Lynne Adelbert in Simonstown.

The view from Jim and Gail’s house over Kalk bay harbour.
New Year at Muizenberg beach.

Good weather gave us the opportunity to do a number of walks along the False Bay coast before we drove along the east coast to Hermanus. We stayed at the lovely waterside house of David and Patricia Bruce.

Patricia and Annie.
Dave and Dirk.
Launching the Hobie tri-sailor.
Canoeing with Dave.
Walking party up the mountain.
The Newfoundland dory which Dave built.

The five-day stay was busy, with visits to other friends in the area, walks in the mountains and sailing on Dave’s fleet of water toys. We also went to visit the Greek chapel where we got married in 1987 – sadly now, like everything else, behind security fencing.

The chapel where we were married in 1987.
Dirk, Etna, Torben & Annie.
Skulpiesbaai, Hermanus.
Melissa, Annie & Andrea.

Back in Cape Town, there were numerous dinner parties and catching up with fellow sailors at the V&A and RCYC. After two weeks of staying in Debbie Preller’s beautiful office/flat in Muizenberg as our base, we moved to Jim & Gail Petrie in Kalk Bay (Chalk Bay), a few kilometres to the south.

Surfing lessons in Muizenberg.
Fishermen net fishing from the beach.

Our stay with the Petrie’s was most pleasant with walks along the coast to Fish Hoek, up the mountains above Kalk Bay and listening to music in Constantia.

The pretty Kalk Bay community centre.
View across False Bay from St James.
Cameron Bruce (left) and his daughter Rosie at “Pastis” in Constantia.
View towards Simonstown from the mountain.
Annie and Jim taking a breather at Weary Willy’s.
Beautiful Cape fynbos.
more,
and more.

We took a trip up to Langebaan on the West coast to visit some old friends.

Lunch at Liesl and Jannie – now you know why he always beat me at squash.
Our first bungalow at Langebaan – the name is not ours!

There were outings to Steenberg, to visit the Norval Foundation gallery, the V&A to visit the MOCAA (Museum Of Contemporary African Art) gallery and the Cape Town stadium, constructed for the soccer world cup.

Norval gallery with an Eduardo Villa sculpture.
The Norval sculpture garden.
The MOCAA interior – clever recycling of the old grain silos at the V&A.
From the basement..
To the top.
An installation from Ghana making a statement about military rulers.
The stadium – like Fort Knox: I walked around it and couldn’t find an entrance.
A laid back evening with Jim at Cafe Roux with “The Lift Club” – Seniors rule!

After 10 days of the Petrie’s hospitality, we moved to the deep South to stay with Reini and Lynne Adelbert in Simonstown for another 10 days. We were very grateful for all the hospitality we received in South Africa, but were worried about wearing out the thresholds of the various friends we stayed at.

Breakfast on the Adelbert’s balcony overlooking False Bay.
A Guinea fowl for company.

The Adelbert’s immediately got us into their morning swim routine at the local tidal pool and beach. Very invigorating!

Annie and Lynne inspecting the Glencairn tidal pool.
Walking down to Fisherman’s Beach.

Simonstown has changed very little over the years and still has most of the Victorian buildings intact along the main street, next to the naval base. Although far from the city, it is a relaxed place to live.

The main street.
The ornate British Hotel.

We drove to Somerset West to have lunch with two of my primary school friends. We also had lunch at Constantia Nek with Annie’s old friend, Lanie.

Comrade Ben, Salty Dirk and Doctor Carl.
Lanelle and Annie.

Our last week in Cape Town was filled with numerous farewell dinners with friends. We were sad to leave on Saturday the 2nd of February to fly to Sydney for the following two months.

Jean, Derek, Dave, Nusheen, Thea and Annie.

We leave behind a country with beautiful scenery, large numbers of refugees from the rest of Africa, a huge disparity between rich and poor, but despite this, friendly and hospitable people with a never ending sense of humour.

But sadly, with endemic corruption in the ANC government and bankrupt para-statals following the nine year presidency of Jacob Zuma, we can only hope that the new president, Cyril Ramaphosa, will be able to sort out this mess. From the country that gave you “Apartheid”, comes a new term, “State Capture” – a trite synonym for cronyism and corruption.

We will write again from Australia – cheers for now!