We struck out finding a mooring to rent. We asked at the yacht club, and no one knew. We found a number for the commodore, who told us they have none available. The local boat tour operators said none available. Yet there are plenty of empty moorings. The second morning here we saw a Sunsail Charter crew cleaning a boat nearby, so I dinghied over and asked them. “Oh, the mooring you’re on belongs to a boat that is up on the hard; just stay there, no problem.” Okay, that works.
We also struck out finding a 4×4 we could rent and drive out into the desert. Nothing available. But while we were asking one of the waterfront tour operators about moorings, she booked a tour for two women from Germany, and…we thought…maybe we should switch gears and do a tour instead of wandering about on our own. What a good move that turned out to be! We declined the harbor tour in the morning (cold, damp, and besides we have a seal hauling out on the back of our boat — we don’t need to book a tour to see ’em). We signed up for the afternoon tour to see the desert sand dunes.
Herman was our guide, and in his very cool Land Rover it was just the 3 of us and the two Germans. Herman turns out to be a rather special character. One of 6 people with permission to go anywhere in the national parks. A vast knowledge and a wicked sense of humor. We drove out the point that makes Walvis a bay. It’s just a sand bar, largely covered with salt pools drying in the sun. We “peppered” him with questions about how the salt works works. He had the answers, and I think he warmed up more and more to us in appreciation of our thoughtful inquisitiveness.
Then south along the desert/beach. Fast. Herman is a test driver for BMW, and it became ever more clear that he is an expert in driving in sand. We got stories about overturned self-drives, and vehicles stuck in quicksand. There were seals on the beach (some alive, some dead), springbok, jackals and ostrich. But mostly amazing sand dunes.
Herman dropped us off atop a particularly beautiful dune, and told us to meet him at the bottom — lunch would be ready. Very nice to take off the shoes and walk in the hot sand. And a very nice touch that lunch included chilled oysters on the half shell (raised in Walvis Bay, and perhaps the best I’ve ever had), and champagne!
On the way back we told Herman we were hoping to visit Dune 7 tomorrow. Everyone says you have to go to Dune 7. He gave us the name of another guide who might be able to take us there plus other destinations. We had an enjoyable sushi dinner at a restaurant near the yacht club, that had photos on the wall of boats competing for the world speed record under sail. Checking online, we see that the record was set 4 years ago in the lagoon right there in Walvis Bay. And the record is…65 knots! That’s hard to imagine. Wish we could have seen it happening. (That record, which is about 75 miles per hour, is over a 500 meter course.)
Next morning we call Herman’s friend Matthew, and we find he is available (despite a cruise ship coming in; he despises cruise shippers), and will give us a tour to the town of Swakopmund and the “moonscape” and Dune 7. So again we are off and touring. We got to see some interesting places, but for me at least, the day was about climbing Dune 7. You have to see the pictures, of which I can’t resist providing too many… On the way back Matthew let us stop at a supermarket to top up our supplies, and he also invited us to his house for coffee (surprising his wife by bringing guests home unexpectedly).
A little more wifi at the yacht club before heading back aboard to cook dinner. Tomorrow we will clear out. Matthew is going to meet us at 9 to take us to customs/immigrations, at the other side of town. Then off to St Helena, 1200 miles (about 8 days) toward Brazil.