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Matilda - Durban's Shifting Sands

We made it safely to Durban, a mere overnight hop from Richards Bay. We knew that space was tight here, and so it proved to be. Durban marina had no berths so we had to anchor in a very narrow channel with sand bars on both sides (a little disconcerting to watch a guy fishing in waders near where you are parked). We knew we would have to stay a few nights as the weather window had closed and the Southerly did come with winds of 30 knots and above. Unfortunately Matilda's main anchor (a CQR) does not like the 180 degree swings in this very slippery sand/mud (not great holding) and we found ourselves having to re-anchor and re-anchor with more boats piling in. We were getting to the stage where we were nervous to leave the boat unless we put another anchor down (we have three different types), a major hassle. Fortunately we had heard by then that there were secure fixed moorings to be had at the Bluff Yacht Club right at the end of the bay, so yesterday we upped sticks and parked ourselves over there. Not as central to Durban as the anchoring area - but at least we know we are safe for the next big Southerly blow expected tonight and they don't appear to charge anything like what we were having to pay to anchor out!

The Durban Yacht Clubs (Royal Natal and Point) have proved very friendly and offer free temporary membership with a bottle of bubbly thrown in. The Bluff YC is a mite more basic than the central clubs, but what they lack in state of the art facilities they make up with a real welcoming family atmosphere, and it has the best swimming pool of all the clubs.

We have managed to get out and about a bit. We decided we were ready for a bit of culture so scrubbed up and went to the ballet the other night. The ballet was Coppelia performed by the Cape Town (South African National) ballet with music by the Kwazulu Natal Philharmonic. It makes a nice change from the Nutcracker which is usually performed at this time of year. I was not sure what to expect, but it was of a very high standard and a really good night out. The theatre itself is a mite odd. It is a cross between arts and crafts, mock tudor and Disney. However the reception area really worked with all the Christmas decorations and a real cross section of Durban society, so it was great fun to hang out there and people watch. We have also been to one of the museums, although they really need to make a bit more fuss of them. Even the tourist signs contradict each other and they took some finding as it would appear not many locals know where they are when asked.

Security is a bit of an issue here and everyone tells you not to walk out at night and be careful during the day. We have been out to restaurants on the beach and such at night and have not encountered any real problems, but we will be wary. Tonight we are off to Durban's only revolving restaurant, so looking forward to that. Not sure we will see a lot as we could only get a 9pm booking. Perhaps we will head there for sun-downers to get the benefit of the view.

We are all following the weather intently here, although we are having problems tuning into the Peri Peri net at this end of the bay. This is a volunteer-run service by radio hams that help out yachties with the weather in these challenging circumstances. They are also happy to keep in touch and answer queries as you go along - a truly noble service that really is well beyond the call. However, it looks as if the next weather window will not be happening for some time (we will need at least 3 days to get to Port Elizabeth comfortably - where we plan our next stop) so it may be another week in Durban. Time for me to hit the beaches methinks - also there is a wine show on the exhibition centre, paddling with free beer at the local club on Tuesday, Comedy Club night at the restaurant opposite on Wednesday - what a bummer just hope we don't get too bored.

Finally a big thank you to the yachts on the move ahead of us (Umineko, Anastasia and Ruby) who have been keeping us all updated on what they are experiencing down the coast. It has been really helpful, thanks guys.

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