We left Luderitz in awe for what we discovered. The town itself is very nice, with interesting colonial architecture, the anchorage is very well protected from the swell and people are very friendly. What’s there not to like? Truth to be told, we would have liked to do some kite-surfing, but because of the cold Benguela current the water temperature here is around 10/12 degrees Celsius. A little too cold for us…
In Luderitz there is a spot where the kitesurfing and windsurfing speed world records are set every year. The event is called Luderitz Speed Challenge. I think this year’s speed record for kite surfing was set at about 52 knots. Insanely fast. Too bad the contest was held in October. Two months too late for us.
About the Benguela current
The Benguela current is a very important oceanic current that flows northward in the South Atlantic ocean along the west coast of South Africa almost up to the equator. It is thought the be responsible for the arid desert in Namibia, which is believed to be the oldest desert in the world.
The Benguela current affected our passage in two different ways, a positive and a negative one. On the positive side, it helped us sailing north by pushing our boat on average about 0.5 knots. On the negative side, it prevented us to make fresh water on the boat. The current makes these waters so reach in plankton that running the water maker would be a disaster: Our filters would be plugged with jelly stuff in less than 20 minutes.
Another important aspect of the Benguela current is fog. This stretch of coast is more often than not hidden in thick fog, but during our passage we were lucky enough to have fog only one night, so we were able to sail close to the coast and admire the spectacular view. The absence of fog was also the reason why we decided to break up the passage in a couple of legs and stop for a night and a day in Hottentot Bay.
We arrived in this beautiful bay under a fresh breeze flying our Parasailor. As soon as we dropped the symmetrical spinnaker, all of a sudden the wind increased from 20 to 35 knots. Bow into the wind, we motored into the bay, and dropped anchor in 6 meters of water, close to the shore on the leeward side. Our oversized 35 kg Spade anchor set right away and even if the wind kept blowing all night, the boat didn’t move. This anchor is the best dollar invested in the boat. Better than a mooring ball.
The next morning the wind was gone. We decided to organize a little expedition on shore. But the swell was still quite large, so we weren’t sure we could land with the dingy. We tried one spot but we had to give up, then we moved to a different one and by timing it very carefully, we made landfall. It’s been our little Normandy landing. There was no one but us. And a jackal!
The bay is surrounded by tall sand dunes, and the contrast between the golden sand dunes and the blue ocean is spectacular. We climbed one of the dunes and saw Oroboro safely at anchor in the middle of the bay, the one and only boat on this desolated coast.
When looking north, we could see hundreds of dunes than on our Navionics charts are marked as Blue Mountains. Now we could understand why “blue”. They really looked blue from where we were looking!
There is only one other place in the world were the light is so surreal that makes you feel as if you were dreaming, and that is Venice, Italy. Venice and Namibia. Two different worlds, a contradiction in terms.
I am a lousy photographer, and I’m sure that these pictures can’t make justice to this place and show how magic it is. But I hope that at least I captured a fragment of it.