Day 51 - Walvis Bay
|Wednesday, November 29, 2023: When we awoke this morning, we were still making our approach to Walvis Bay. By 7:45 AM, our pier was in sight, and we settled down to breakfast of muesli and French toast.
|We were outside looking at the harbor when we heard the siren of a firetruck. It drove around the containers in the port and stopped just opposite our ship at a partially-crushed Maersk container at the harbor's edge.
|Crew from the truck got out wearing hazmat suits and strung do-not-cross tape around the container and then sprayed it with water. Dockyard workers stood calmly on the other side of the tape and took photos of the container with their phones. We weren't sure, but it seemed like they had been moving the damaged container when the doors came open, spilling the contents and maybe starting a fire within the container. It was very exciting to watch.
|We watched as passengers got off the ship and walked toward the tour buses wating just off the end of the pier. We had a private tour today that started at noon, so we were in no rush to go anywhere.
|Here's a zoomed-in view of the damaged Maersk container. That's one of the firecrew in a white hazmat suit on the right side of the container.
|At 11:00 AM, we dashed up to the Lido to grab lunch before our tour. We both got a meat-filled pastry, and Debbie added a piece of chicken and fruit to hers, and Tom added mac and cheese and tortilla chips to his.
|We met our tour group outside the Ocean Bar on deck three, and then proceeded as a group down to the pier.
|As we were walking toward the port entrance to meet our tour guide, we saw South African fur seals playing in the water near our ship. They rolled on their backs and clapped their flippers together as our group looked down at them.
|Tom performed a quick safety inspection on the mooring lines. Thanks, Tom. The captain appreciates your diligence.
|Vendors were lined up at the entrance to the port, as well as a large contingent of taxi drivers and would-be tour guides.
|Some of the vendors were Himba tribal women, ...
|... who covered their skin with a mixture of ochre mud to protect them from insect bites and sunburn.
|Our tour company, Sun Sail Catamarans, picked up our group at the entrance to the port, and took us to their office on the other side of the harbor. We went into the beautiful sail-shaped office to pay for the tour, ...
|... and then walked down near the restaurants and shops to wait for our catamaran to arrive.
|We watched as other boats arrived, unloaded their passengers, and sailed off.
|After waiting for nearly thirty minutes, our boat arrived, we found seats on the top, they handed out blankets of anyone who wanted one, and we set sail.
|Only a few minutes after leaving the pier, this pelican landed on the front of the boat.
|One of the tour guides brought out a bucket of fish and fed it while people took pictures.
|Eventually, seagulls came to get their fair share, and he fed them as well.
|We sailed past a sunken ship. Our guide, Seraphina, explained that the ship had been anchored in the bay during the pandemic and was badly in need of maintenance. While she waited, the wooden bottom of the boat rotted through, and the ship sank.
|Another guest came aboard. This time it was a South African fur seal that the crew had named Junior. He was very used to the routine, and would climb up and pose for pictures while the crew fed him fish. The crew noted that there were five seals they know of who have learned how to do this.
|Here's Junior posing with Rick and Tina as Seraphina takes their photo. Rick and Tina are two of about thirty passengers on this trip that are staying aboard the Zuiderdam for the short Caribbean cruise when we get back, and then going on the World Cruise that leaves in early January. They will have been away from home for about eight months by the time they are finished.
|The crew walked Junior up the stairs to the roof of the catamaran, and Junior happily crawled up onto Debbie's bench.
|The crew fed him a fish, ...
|... and then he sat still while their photo was taken. Good boy.
|He did the same for Tom, although Tom looked a little shocked when Junior steadied himself on Tom's upper thigh. Careful, boy.
|Our other guide, whose name we never did get, came around with shot glasses in a wooden holder and poured each of us a glass of ...
|... Sedgwick's Old Brown, a fortified wine made from sherry.
|Our catamaran was headed across the bay toward the tip of Pelican Point. In one area, there were many of these blue-buoyed oyster farms in the bay. There is a basket dangling on a three meter line below each of these buoys.
|Our second guide was working hard, bringing out Namibian Tafel beers for everyone.
|Clink! As he was serving the beers, Seraphina told everyone that "the more you drink, the more you see the animals."
|Cheers! We now had the upper level trained to do a group cheers whenever alcohol was served.
|There were lots of ships anchored in the bay, with each awaiting maintenance, or resupply, or something else that Walvis Bay can provide. This ship with the odd stern is a fishing vessel. The hole in the stern allows the net to drain as the catch is hauled aboard.
|As we neared the point, we started to see seals just floating in the water with one flipper in the air. Our guide explained that they were sleeping, and that they keep one flipper up like that to regulate their body temperature.
|The lighthouse on Pelican Point is now a hotel: the Pelican Point Lodge.
|This platform is a staging area for kayak tours. Boats bring tourists to this point, they transfer to a kayak, paddle around the point, and return. On the shore behind the platform were hundreds of flamingos.
|Here's a closer look. This is as close as we got to the flamingos, ...
|... because we were really here to see the seal colony.
|There are an estimated 100,000 seals that make their home on Pelican Point, and looking at this photo, we believe it. This is about the mid-point of the colony, looking back toward the lighthouse. There were an equal number from here out to the end of the point.
|Seraphina pointed out that babies had just been born at the colony, and we realized that the tiny darker seals were all babies that were just a few weeks old.
|Look at this pile of baby seals! Totally adorable!
|A flamingo flew almost directly over our boat, and amazingly, Debbie was able to quickly turn around, focus the camera, and get this incredible shot. Look at those colors!
|The sound was amazing. It sounded like a drunken crowd at a football game, all grumbling about a bad call.
|Debbie moved up to the front rail near Annie and Kate as the boat moved closer to shore. There were lots of seals in the water, swimming around the boat, some were sleeping, and some were prowling for fish.
|As we rounded the tip of the point, a four-wheel drive vehicle arrived. It drove around the colony, stopping to allow its occupants to take photos, and then it drove off back down the peninsula.
|A penguin! There was a single African penguin swimming around. Seraphina said that it was very rare to see them this far north.
|Several bottlenose dolphins were hunting nearby, and a few came over to check out our boat.
|They are such beautiful creatures.
|Namibia doesn't have active offshore oil drilling operations, so this rig must be here for maintenance.
|Debbie loves the ocean.
|This fish processing ship had a steady jet of water coming out of it, and the seagulls hovering around it were hoping for a free meal.
|As we sailed back to the harbor, our guides brought out a buffet and set it up at the front of the ship. There was calamari, oysters, fish, sausage, hard-boiled eggs, spring rolls, salami sandwiches, egg salad sandwiches, beef croquettes, chicken, and meatballs, with champagned to wash it all down. It was all delicious and there was more than enough for everyone.
|There were so many different ships anchored in Walvis Bay. This one had a crane and helipad, ...
|... and this was a drilling ship, ...
|... and this was a bird sanctuary. From the looks of it, only the birds had visited this ship for quite some time.
|More beer appeared, and so did more bottles of champagne.
|As we neared the dock, a pelican landed on the roof of the boat, ...
|... and was joined by a seagull who didn't want to miss the party.
|The pelican was very obviously used to being around people. The pelican seemed to recognize our male guide, because he would walk from one side of the roof to the other, depending on where the guide was below. He knew who the fishgiver was.
|When you are on a small boat on a tour, you really appreciate just how big our ship is.
|A different fur seal tried to stop by but he was denied entry. Seraphina explained that it was because he is known to be more aggressive.
|Several more pelicans landed on the ship, bring the total to four. Three of them stood on the roof while the fourth one was on the bow among the passengers.
|Almost exactly three hours after we had departed, we were back at the pier where we unloaded and waited for the tour company to shuttle us back to the port.
|There were seventeen of us, and they were using a small sedan, so it took several trips carrying four people at a time.
|When we got back to the port, we decided to hop on the shuttle bus and ride it over to the mall so that we could see more of the city. The roads were nicely paved with curbs and sidewalks.
|There was almost no other traffic on the road, so when our shuttle bus driver ignored a road closed sign and simply drove on the wrong side of the road, it wasn't scary at all.
|The median had ads for KFC. KFC! In Namibia!
|After a short ride, we arrived at the Dunes Mall.
|It was an actual modern shopping mall. We walked the length of the mall, looking at the shops, ...
|... but finally deciding to spend our money at the Pick-n-Pay grocery store.
|They had colorful bottles of Candi brand soda, ...
|... and the most interesting energy drinks we've ever seen: Jelly Babies and Flavor 14 Orange Bubblegum. Who is the target market for these? Toddlers?
|We passed on the mini snowballs that weren't so mini, and settled on another can of Fruit Chutney Pringles, some Aero candy bars, more SPF lip balm, and two cans of Sprite Zero.
|We took our loot back to the shuttle bus drop-off, avoiding agressive taxi drivers who offered to get us back to the ship quicker, and watched the scenery as we headed back to the port in air-conditioned comfort. We passed the Walvis Bay Private School, ...
|... and housing complexes where every unit had a garage, ...
|... including these pretty white homes.
|We arrived back at the port, ...
|... and passed the row of vendors who were still camped outside.
|LEGO Debbie and Tom had a very similar day to regular Debbie and Tom, having oysters, seeing flamingos and seals, and getting a good view of the sand dunes that surround the area.
|Namibia also requires an in-person interview when you are leaving their country, and at 6:00 PM they started the process of sending everyone through immigration. This time, it was in the Stuyvesant Room on deck three since they couldn't use the dining room at dinner time. We were amazed at how fast the line moved. It was only about five minutes from the time we arrived until we were done. Well done everyone!
|We went directly to the Lido Market, picked up some pizza and some chicken, and brought it back to the cabin to have dinner on the balcony. It was a perfect evening, with the temperature in the high 60s or low 70s, and just enough of a breeze to keep you cool without getting cold.
|We headed out on to the balcony again around 9:30 PM as the ship prepared to depart.
|Tom loves to watch as they load everything back onto the ship and reel in the mooring lines, then the thrusters push us away from the pier.
|There was a low fog covering the bay as we made our way out to sea. The red and green channel markers lit our way out of the narrow harbor and into the open ocean beyond.
Copyright © Deborah Schilling/Thomas Bundy