We arrived on the South African coast in February, at the height of the southern summer. Our first port of call was Durban in Natal province, the busiest port in the country. We were due to be there for two weeks loading steel. In the event, we anchored for three weeks in the roads, waiting for our berth. The anchorage was chock full, there were over fifty ships waiting to go alongside. A long anchorage spell in fine weather allowed us to ensure all the outstanding work was carried out. The crew and cadets spent their days smartly painting all the scruffy areas. The second mate laid out all his Admiralty charts and brought them up to date with the latest corrections, new lights and wrecks and amended depths and changing shoals. I was assigned two cadets for a week, and used them to strip out all the lifeboats, wash and paint the woodwork, oil the oars, change any worn or rotting rope-work, rig and air the sails. We changed most of the stores, the cadets ate the old barley sugar to the point of being sick, we changed the fresh water, we dumped the out-of-date pyrotechnics. I had both lifeboats run out down to the water, then wound back up again, greasing the wires as this was done. The winding in by hand was backbreaking, and I had to help the cadets.

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