Setting Sail for St. Helena

The Picton Castle sailed into Luderitiz, Namibia in most of a gale 5 days ago and we will be sailing out today in most of a gale as well. It will be on our stern though. Dragging us along into the SE tradewinds bound for St. Helena, 1,300 miles away.

The day came in bright, fair and clear. We have all hands aboard bending sail, catting the port anchor, hoisting boats, lashing the deck and other miscellaneous jobs undertaken before putting to sea. Yet, it has been a fine few days here in Namibia. Quite an interesting contrast to the lovely Western Cape and Cape Town of South Africa. We must start with Namibia is mostly desert. Everywhere desert. Sand, rocks, hot in the sun, cold in the shade.

A good secure berth on the main jetty allowed a generous watch system here for this visit. Crew got off the ship to see so much. Massive sand dunes, ghost towns once devoted to diamond mining. Diaz Point and an adjacent small cove where Bartholomew Diaz anchored in 1488. A good little cove on this wild coast. But it must have been brutal for getting their little wooden caravel here way back when. No charts, no idea where the land was, howling winds, poor visibility and not much on land should you find a safe place to anchor. This is called the “Skeleton Coast” for a reason. Treks into the desert to see wild horses, ostrich and antelopes somehow surviving on a landscape perfect for filming the next movie about Mars. Dry, rock, barren, desolate yet somehow offering some hope for life. Do not pick up any pebbles along the dirt roads or in the desert as they might be diamonds. A diamond company already owns them. Namibia is a big country with a small population. They are finding valuable resources here every day, expect big changes soon, with an influx of foreign capital.

The dry, dusty small fishing town of Luderitz has been welcoming to us.  Folks seemed to remember the ship from previous visits. The little home-spun “yacht club” is close by, friendly and has good internet and showers as well as a decent menu. Laundry service was much in demand by our crew and they stayed open over Easter for us. We had a school visit from the Blue School. Days have varied. Some come in cold and foggy, others, like today, with a bright burning sun and a stiff SSE breeze. Big, I mean BIG, oil supply ships servicing the offshore rigs come and go. A 600 ton bulk loader taking on manganese sailed a couple days ago. A strange looking diamond mining ship just pulled into the big wharf. Rusty, odd pipes going every which way. They vacuum the diamonds up off the sea floor. What else do they suck up? My guess would be just about everything. I recently learned that diamonds burn like the coal, hard white coal, they are.

It is time for us to sail. Time to get back to sea.

It is necessary to navigate.

The trade-winds are calling….

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