Since I last wrote Pete and I have been to another wine tasting! This time we took 2 days up in Stellenbosch and had a personal driver and tour of 4 wineries - a very different experience compared with the bus tour variety. Our driver John was very informed on African history as well as the current post apartheid situation and politics - extremely interesting. Each winery took us to a special tasting room and at Fairview we tried their own cheeses made on the estate to compliment their wines - bought some. At Waterford we tried their own chocolates with the appropriate wines - bought some! The countryside was lovely and varied, part of the Pirates of the Carribean were filmed here and we passed prate ships in afield! Our little boutique hotel very nice - a restored former residence of an early Dutch family, Coopermanhuis. Stellenbosch is a university town as well as wineries and tourists so is quite busy but very cute. LOTS of security everywhere though. A person on every corner! There is a shop called Oom Samie which is famous for selling everything anyone could just about ever think of! rabbits feet to dried droppings to jam and dolls.....

We are really enjoying being at the V and A Waterfront. a very clean safe marina and a walk or dinghy ride to the Malls and cafes/restaurants. So far we've eaten ostrich, springbok, gemsbok and eland. The nearby beaches are lovely and quite built up with a strange mix of European architecture with a African/ Moorish influence somehow. They compete with each other as to which is the least windy and therefor the more valuable real estate! LOTS of security everywhere again! Razor wine glinting in the sunshine. Seriously - there is not a house, shop, carpark, wall or entrance that is not topped with spikes, razor wire (strands and coils), electric fencing and has a security guard either publically or privately employed. it rather spoils the whole effect really. If you lived here you would have to get used to it and be constantly looking over your shoulder. It appears it's mostly street and drug gang related along with poverty of course. We feel very fortunate to be who we are.....there are huge slum areas just out of Cape Town like Soweto- miles and miles of leaning up corrugated iron sheds (all with satellite dishes). the government built homes for thousands and thousands of the people and less than 20% of them are still occupied by the intended residents - they sold them or rented them out and moved back to the slums! today the rand went down again, the government is embroiled in a bribery scandal and 6 whole towns nearly got their power shut off for not paying the bill, and the trains were all late due to "theft and vandalism".!

New Year was a braii (BBQ) on the marina and was great fun. We all took our plates and ate on Makena, the 62 foot Lagoon - about 50 of us and room to spare - a huge huge boat! I set my sore knee back a few days pole dancing (with clothes on!)

We now have a new gennaker on it's own permanent furler so we no longer have to put it away each use and Pete and I can use it on our own....we went for a test sail the other day with the sail maker and it was brilliant - what a difference! We were all so nervous of the old one in the end and were reluctant to use it - not much point in that.  Whan we were at a restaurant a few weeks back the young waiter was telling us that he had moved to CT from Johanesberg so as to be near the water and learn to sail with a view to getting his papers and doing yacht deliveries. After another meal there we invited him to look at the boat and the result is that he is joining us from CT all the way to St Lucia! We also have Dustin arriving tonight to sail with us to Salvador. He had been following us on the ARC tracker and emailed to ask how we found the boat etc as he is planning to buy one the same. after a few emails we suggested he may like a long test sail and he jumped at it. So we are all crewed up now again. Dustin is 34 and Galen 24 and both seem fit and well, eat anything and generally able. Dustin has sailing experience and Galen is KEEN.