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Namibia: Sand, Bratwurst & Diamonds

January 20, 2019

It’s amazing what a difference few days (4) sailing makes. We’ve now been here in the small (12000) town of Luderitz almost two weeks and seen a bit of this big country by car.

The sail from South Africa, gave us some examples of the fantastic wild life that the Benguela current provides. We saw a lot of sea birds; a couple of Albatrosses and of course plenty of Fur seals and dolphins. Day two, with a lot of big waves we set the genoa pole. Due to a quick roll Eva got the end of the pole hitting her head. Thank God the wound could be taped and is now completely healed.

As usual we reached the anchorage in darkness, but after a couple of tries we were safe until the morning, when our anchor started to drag at the same time as a big cruiser was entering the narrow channel. We got a mooring, with assistance from Andy, a local guy who manages them, and the cruiser felt that the swell was too big and the channel too narrow and decided to anchor instead. All well. The anchorage is very protected from the consistent southerly winds that almost every afternoon and evening produces gale winds.

The town of Luderitz has an interesting background. In the early 1900’s Germany colonized what was to become South West Africa and by coincidence diamonds were found on the huge sand dunes near the small settlement. Luderitz got almost the same fame as Alaska and California and many fortune seekers came here to get rich. At the peak years the yearly mining produced tons of raw diamond. The co-venture between the Namibia State and De Beer, a giantic South African mining company, has the monopoly of all mining. 30 % of this large country is “Sperr Gebit”, with heavy fines or prison term for trespassing. Today the diamond industry is rapidly declining and mostly moved from land to sea where huge, oil rig type vessels, are sucking up the coastal water bed to find what is left to find. The town of Luderitz is now mostly living on a relatively large fleet of fishing boats plus some diamond ships but not many tourists, mostly Germans. A benefit of the diamond era is that education (up to high school), health care and basic housings are paid for by “NamDeb” the Diamond company. Meaning, parts of the very poor communities and violence of parts of major towns of South Africa doesn’t exist here.

In addition to above, a major change from South Africa is the sea temperature. Between 11-15 C. Daytime temperature are 25-30 C. Another big difference is the low population density. Namibia is almost twice as big as Sweden but with only 2,5 M inhabitants. Next town from Luderitz is Aus, 120 km away, which has maybe 1000 inhabitants. Most roads are gravel roads so ideally a 4×4 truck is best. We chose to rent an ordinary mid-size sedan and (mostly) stay on the tarmac roads for a 4 day road trip, and have a bed and a roof rather that a tent for the night.

First stop was a deserted mining “town”of Kopmankoop. A very funny guide told us the story of German engineering and how they managed to make this place in the desert to work. In 8 months they built a 120 km railroad to bring the water supply in. The settlement got electricity when most of Europe was still without. A Casino, Bowling track, Hospital, Theater etc was set up. Today, what is left has to some extent been taken over by the sand. The guide told us that during big storms the dunes can move and build 16 meter high ridges overnight. We noticed big excavators working non-stop on the road near Luderitz to fight the moving sand.

Next stop, about 150 km further east was Kalk Ofen. The founder established a brick factory using the limestone coles by. It was used to build the German towns around the area. Today the place was converted to an Eco Lodge with a lot of wild life.  The owner was doing a lot of research of “Lithops”, a variety of desert flowers (see picture). Oryx and Spring Bocks were visible near our lodge all day.

Final trip was to OrangeMuind, a recently opened mining area adjacent to the South African border.
One reason for this 450 km trip was that Oryx Antelopes, safe from poaching, gently walked around in the city. Driving to OrangeMuind and back to Luderitz was really fascinating. Most of the road was on old sea beds with huge mountains of all shapes and forms on the sides. Antelopes and Ostriches could be seen close to the road. Inland the temperature was around 38 C. The very little traffic with huge distances made us think about what could happen if the car broke down. Telephone coverage is not very good!

Back in Luderitz we are now planning for a departure to St Helena a week from now. Due to 45 knots wind yesterday, we postponed our shopping to Monday. We know St Helena, about 1400 nm NW, doesn’t have a lot of supplies so we need to stock up also for the next 2000 nm to Cape Verde.
Too bad our freezer has given up. We need to rely on fishing and what we can store without freezer.

From → Sailing Notes

5 Comments
  1. Vivi Maj Miren permalink

    Hej! Roligt att följa er segling och se vad som hänt sedan 2010 då vi seglade från New Zealand till Europa via Sydafrika. Är denna Andy som hjälpte er kanske samme man vi mötte i Luderitz? Har glömt namnet men då, 2010, bodde han på en katamaran och hade planer på att segla till Polynesien, med mera. Vore kul att höra hur det gått med hans planer.
    Ha det fortsatt bra!

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    • Hej! Alltid trevligt med blog följare. Jodå, det är säkert samma Andy som ni träffade. Ev har han bytt till en trimaran. Tyvärr är den nog inte i skick för längre segling just nu. Trevlig prick och väldigt hjälpsam. Ska kolla med honom om hans ev planer. Mvh Peter & Eva

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    • Hej igen. Jodå Andy var det ni träffade 2010. Tror dock att han lagt planerna på att segla till Polynesien på hyllan.

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  2. Please let us know off your impressions of the provisioning at Luderitz. Can you recommend a good tour guide there? We’ll be following in your wake in a week or so. Good luck!

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    • Provisioning is ok, but not as excellent as in SA. Prices are slightly higher than in SA and the two shops are small. As mentioned I the blog update most “yacht essentials” are easily sourced, fuel which I forgot to mention, is at a nearby gas station, your jerrycans are delivered to dinghy dock! Our “roadtrip” was helped by advice from the tourist info, but we made the trip on our own. There are a couple of tour ops in town. Also, the near coast sail, esp night time is very cold so dig up your cold weather gear. We measured 12C water temp. If you run a watermaker, use it before the anchorage. The wind stirs up fine sand and silt so not very good for your filters.
      Cheers

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