Visiting Saldanha Bay Yacht Club

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For those cruisers sailing along the Coast of South Africa , don’t pass Saldanha Bay without stopping for a visit , it is well worth your time. Yes I know that it means back tracking to Cape Town to Clear out of South Africa . But don’t let this stop you from visiting the best natural harbour in South Africa.
          From the moment I arrived at the Saldanha bay yacht club to the time I left I was made to feel welcome, not only by the club members but the whole community . For a sailor traveling alone to be so quickly made to feel apart of the community was a unique and a very special experience .
          I had been at sea for three nights , sailing alone from Simons Town in difficult conditions. Coming to anchor off the Saldanha Bay Yacht club in the morning I had a quick bite to eat then hit the bunk. While I was asleep two members of the club thoughtfully came out to check that I was ok.  They had watched me sail in and had wondered if I had engine trouble. The kindness to a stranger didn’t stop there.
           A few days later Ernie and his wife Belinda took me for an all day drive to show me the surrounding country side.
           On another day I went for a sail with Sandy in his lovely little sloop for the day to Longebaan , where we had lunch and a beer before returning to the yacht club.
            The club manager , Simon , was very helpful and on one day came out to Sara.m to pull me up the foremast so that I was able to make some repairs.
      Friky ( sorry wrong spelling) a master on a ship docking tug and also a club member invited me out for the morning on the tug he captained to assist freighters coming into the port.
               Other club members offered to drive me to the different stores so that I could re supply Sara.m for the Atlantic crossing.
                While in Saldanha Bay I had Sara.m hauled out at Yacht port for bottom paint and some other work. I can highly recommend Yacht port as a place to have your vessel serviced . The facility and staff are excellent and the prices very competitive .
The manger Glen ( another club member) was very helpful . I had anchored Sara.m near the shipyard on the day before I was to be hauled out . When I went to raise my anchor I found that the chain was caught on the bottom. Glen organized a diver right away to clear my chain , later on I needed some welding done on my rudder. Once again Glen organized a welder to come over to the yard for this job. ( the welder was Andrew , the club Commodore ) . In each case the fee for these services was very very reasonable.
               Of interest to cruisers , Saldanha Bay is a commercial fishing port .  It is well supplied for servicing vessels……yes even yachts!  If you can’t find what you need for your vessel there , Parrden Island in Cape Town is an hours drive away.
                  I was there for 7 weeks anchored off the yacht club and found the anchorage to be well sheltered and the  holding to be good in moderately soft mud and sand. Despite Saldanha Bays proximity to the Cape peninsula and it’s intense weather Saldanha Bay has much milder conditions . The club has moorings available if you prefer them. The club itself is small , tidy and very user friendly . Should I ever travel this way in the future I will be spending much more time visiting this friendly place.
                 Special thanks to Brian , Shirley , Anje , Andrew , Sandy , the triplets and everyone else in Saldanha Bay for making my stay there so enjoyable and memorable .
               Alan H. Macdonald , owner , Master , S.V. Sara.m

What is VHF DSC and what does it do

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There has been some talk about DSC (it was mentioned in SAS’s Annual Report Inland and Offshore) and the possible need for boat owners to redo their Restricted Radiotelephone Operator’s Certificate which would now be called VHF Short Range Certificate and include training in DSC.

So what is DSC and how can it benefit yachties

DSC is a digitised message broadcast on VHF channel 70 designed to alert other stations of a situation of DISTRESS, URGENCY, SAFETY or ROUTINE matters.

Every DSC radio has a unique MMSI number which can be used to call other DSC radios just like a mobile phone.

Your identity is also stored so in the event of an emergency not only will the receiving station know who you are but if your DSC radio is connected to a GPS your position will also be broadcast.

By pressing a single button on your radio an automatic distress call to all DSC equipped stations will be sent. This message will be automatically repeated until stopped by an acknowledgement message.

VHF marine channel 70 is dedicated to DSC and voice calls on this channel are prohibited.

Every DSC call contains the following information

  • Identity of the calling station
  • Priority of the call Distress, urgency, safety or routine
  • Stations(s) being called – specific or all
  • The channel on which subsequent communication are to be carried out (distress defaults to 16)

Class D equipment is specifically designed for recreational craft. It provides VHF DSC distress, urgency and safety as well as routine and position polling. The equipment is fitted with both aural and visual alarms to indicate reception of a Distress or urgency message.

A dedicated red distress button is provided which requires two independent actions to activate a distress call.

Radio

For under R5000 Standard Horizon offers the MATRIX is Class D class DSC VHF with a separate Channel 70 receiver, which allows DSC calls to be received even when listening to traffic on Marine VHF channels.
The DSC DISTRESS function when activated transmits a digital MAYDAY including vessel identification, Latitude / Longitude and time (with GPS connected), to facilitate prompt response. Additional calls that can be made are Individual, All ship – Urgency and Safety, Group, Position report and position request calls.

However before you rush out and spend R5000 of your hard earned cash on a DSC enabled VHF radio and some more bucks on the envisaged new radio course be advised that our coastal radio stations Durban. Port Elizabeth and Cape Town do not at this point monitor VHF DSC channel 70 nor does the NSRI Therefore after hitting the red button your only hope would be a response from another VHF DSC enabled vessel.

So while there is a lot to be said in favour of DSC the good old Mayday on channel 16 would at this point still be your best option.

GUIDANCE ON IMMIGRATION PROCESSES AND PROCEDURES IN THE MARITIME PORTS

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Please take note of the email received from RCYC regarding clearing in and out.

We have all been somewhat surprised by the recent move by SA Home Affairs in enforcing existing regulations pertaining to the clearing of vessels from our various ports.

I had asked the Director to supply us all with clearer direction as to what exactly will/is required of our visiting vessels in terms of the clearing in/out processes.  As such, please find a recent guideline attached.

FYI – RCYC have now designated two permanent 24hr turnaround ‘hot berths’ which will only accommodate those vessels clearing in/out.

We’re expecting an avalanches of vessels clearing in mid to end Jan – please make sure your guests are very well aware of the requirements set out by RSA Home Affairs.

Guidance for Yachts Clubs