Having moved to suburbia from an apartment in the inner city, I have been surprised by the diversity of the wild life in Newlands. Birds and bugs of all kinds abound. A falcon recently flew within a metre of where I was sitting, chasing a small bird!

But suburbia also has it’s demands – like it’s electric fences. Two of my neighbours have them, and when they are shorted by something touching them, they cause a lot of RFI (radio frequency interference), especially on the HF frequencies.

Many things can get the electric fences shorting. When shorted they make a regular ticking noise on the radio and sometimes you can hear and see it outside as a bright spark and a loud crack every second or so. Very irritating and surprisingly loud at night.

These are radio transmissions. The owners of the fences don’t have licenses to transmit on these radio frequencies, so their transmissions are illegal!

As I don’t want to get into a legal fight with the neighbours, I take it upon myself to regularly ensure that nothing touches the fences, to reduce the shorting.

Electrified gecko, just the perfect length to short two wires of the electric fence.

The biggest cause of the fences shorting seems to be geckos, small lizards which eat insects and which I encourage around the house. On average I find two dead geckos a night, sometimes more.

That is a lot of geckos dying – it  seems like the great garden gecko massacre to me!

The geckos are usually severely burnt where they touch the wires, but I presume they die of the electric shock.


The coolheaded driver with his truck which lost its brakes this morning in Newlands. The driver maintained control as the truck gathered speed in reverse down a very steep hill. He steered it backwards into tree to stop it, narrowly missing my parked bakkie and the house where it stopped. Thanks to the skill of the driver no one was injured.

I struggled for some time to load my approximately 2500 contacts onto my HTC Desire. These were on my Xperia X1, but I was lucky enough to have a backup and be able to copy them to a .CSV file.

When I uploaded the .CSV file to Google Contacts most of the data was not there. I struggled for sometime with this, until I found this web page which has a template of fields to use for Google Contacts. These are the correct fields as expected by Google Contacts.

This is also a good description of what Google Contacts expects and how the fields are named. Google Contacts Help does not explain the fields and how to map them at all.

Instructions for Use

Download the template. I opened my .CSV file in OpenOffice.org Calc, but you could use Excel or some other spreadsheet. I then opened the template in another window and then copied and pasted the phone records to the correct fields in the template. Note that next to the phone and email fields there is a column (field) which must state the phone type for each entry. This is easily filled using copy and paste. When you are happy that all your data is correct, save it and exit the spreadsheet.

Then delete the contacts you don’t want in Google Contacts. Synch your phone to Google Contacts. Now upload the template filled with your data to Google Contacts. Hopefully all the fields will appear in the People App on your Desire (or other Android phone), populated with your data.

Also make sure that you have filled in your name the “My contact card” which is the first contact which will appear in People. If you do not do this People will not display the phone fields.


Yesterday I got an email from Renata saying that they had arrived safely in Cabedelo, Brazil and would send more details of the trip later. Cabedelo is Renata’s home town, so I suppose she is catching up with family and friends whom she has not seen for the many years Hout Bay was her home. Congratulations guys!

Good memories – enjoying myself on Dixi Rollar’s bowsprit last year!

On Friday we heard via a comment on this site that Dixi Rollar had arrived in St Helena after 30 days and today Renata sent an email summary of their voyage. Seems they had light winds most of the way and only averaged 45-50 miles a day! That is slow.

Dixi Rollar charging on a reach.

This photo was taken in August last year. She seemed to be capable of easily doing 4.5-5 knots downwind. But 50 miles a day is an average of 2 knots and that is very slow.

This photo, which I have been using as my desktop background, also gives an impression of speed. Lets hope they go a bit faster when they leave for Ascension Island on Wednesday.

The photo above also shows the blocks Steve made for the stays and the jib boom. He also made the boom out of pine and the stainless fitting on the end of the boom!

Dixi Rollar is not a fast boat, being very wide well forward. With due respect she is shaped slightly like a bath tub. As can be seen from the photos, she pushes a lot of water when she moves and this gives the impression of speed.

In the previous post I spoke about hoisting the mainsail. Here is a picture of the beginning of the process. Steve is loosening the reefing lines whilst Gary pulls the gaff up. Whilst taking this photo I decided they needed help as this is hard work without winches! Note the baggiewrinkles made of rope which protect the sail from chafing on the stays.

I helped Steve put the main sail up whilst she was still moored to the marina – it is a bit more work than on Nolwandle!

On Thursday morning at about 10am Dixi Rollar left Hout Bay bound for St Helena and Cabedelo, Brazil. It was a sad and happy departure. This was the fulfilment by Steve of his dream. After about 15 years in which he built her, left her, came back again and for the past four years or so has completely refitted her. Today he was able to sail away in his dream boat – Dixi Rollar. Together with his wife Renata, Liz (the former owner of Nolwandle) and Lize they will be spending the next few months on the South Atlantic.

Dixi Rollar was built in steel by Steve. The main mast is a pine tree chopped down at Rhodes Memorial, from a stand specially grown for ship masts.

Then they disappeared from sight. A few hours later we saw them as a small speck out to sea opposite Llandudno. We wish them fair winds from behind and a relaxing cruise to Brazil.

Laser sailing

Thats me, many years ago, approaching the slipway of Stilbaai harbour, which is why the centreboard is up. The Goukou mouth is in the background with the concrete pillar very noticeable.

Thanks to Alison for this great picture and more memories. This Laser went up and down the Goukou, but mainly on its way to the mouth, or out to sea as in the picture. I later bent the top section of the mast when it got pushed into the sand by the waves, after a capsizing during a gybe to avoid a sandbank, whilst surfing in the mouth.

When I was young, thin as a rake and weighed 58kgs, I was a bit light to sail her. Yet Alison and myself enjoyed planing her two up in the sea and especially at Groenvlei (Lake Pleasant) where there are some nice long windy reaches!

What a simple and brilliant boat with few vices. Well done to the designer – a Canadian by the name of Bruce Kirby.

Postscript: One well known vice of the Laser is that the mainsheet, if you do not keep it away, gets caught on the transom corner as you gybe. I often forgot to do this, which may, or may not, have contributed to the above mentioned capsize and damage.

He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone…” John 7:53-8:11

I’m a political activist. I joined the ANC in 1983 when I was 20, and shortly afterwards uMkhonto weSizwe. I was young and passionate and wanted to liberate our country.

In 1987 I was forced to leave South Africa, but returned to Cape Town as part of Operation Vula in 1989. Since then I have served in various leadership structures of the ANC in the Western Cape.

Some say I’m a hard man. Some say the ANC made me hard. I have witnessed many things in the service of our movement. I even had the misfortune to stand next to my provincial secretary, Mcebisi Skwatsha, as so-called ANC members stabbed and attempted to murder him.

At all times I have tried to act in a manner that upholds the traditions of honesty, volunteerism and sacrifice that mark the ANC.

I know I’ve made some mistakes. Nevertheless, despite my shortcomings, I have twice been elected by the ANC branches as regional secretary and later twice as deputy provincial secretary.

Since 1994 I’ve seen many good comrades corrupted by power in government, business or both. Because of this, I took a decision that while I was a public representative I wouldn’t get involved in business or be beholden to any interests.

My pursuit over the years as an ANC public representative was and is simple: ensuring effective oversight over government and ensuring that the programs of the ANC are implemented.

It was in trying to do this job that I was confronted by serious misuses of power by comrade Ebrahim Rasool.

Rasool says that Mcebisi Skwatsha and myself destroyed him and his premiership, that we gave information to the DA. The SACP provincial secretary implied that we are “impimpis”.

Rasool also says I stopped the building of a hospital in Mitchells Plain, leaving the impression that I had something to do with depriving coloured people of a much-needed amenity.

Rasool made this accusation because I opposed his government’s selling its most valuable asset, Somerset Hospital, prime waterfront real-estate valued at over R1-billion.

He has left me no choice but to defend myself. Unless we are honest about the real problems facing the ANC in the province, the ANC will never be able to regain the trust of the people of the Western Cape.

My questioning the sale of Somerset Hospital was an attempt to ensure that there was no corruption. For halting the transaction the ANC’s provincial leadership received widespread praise. It is something of which I am proud, believing that in the process, I have helped to look after the best interests of the province and its people.

As for Rasool’s allegations about leaks to the DA, for which he has provided no evidence, it is as well to consider his own record. Rasool’s term as premier can only be understood if you understand his relationship with the media.

In the run up to the 2003 ANC’s list process to prepare for the 2004 national and provincial elections, then community and safety MEC Leonard Ramatlakane, who was a close ally of Rasool, got his department to produce an “intelligence report”. This was leaked to the press as an official document. It said there were three factions in the ANC in the Western Cape and that I, a white, was a leader of the “Africanist” faction.

The Cape Argus ran a serious of libellous articles based on this document, in an apparent campaign to undermine potential rivals to Rasool. Eventually he became premier after an election campaign coordinated Skwatsha and myself.

Rasool became intimately involved in briefing journalists, and at least one senior journalist from the Cape Argus, but I believe more, benefited financially from their proximity to a web of companies contracted by the province. I don’t make this allegation lightly, there is proof. The journalist was compelled to resign because of it.

Rasool also met with representatives of companies that were aggrieved by the outcome of a tender process in the then ANC controlled City of Cape Town. Information was then leaked to The Voice and the Cape Argus, which wrote false stories that Skwatsha was involved in an R40-million fraud.

At the time Rasool was provincial chairperson of the ANC. Instead of raising the issue with his provincial secretary, Skwatsha, Rasool instructed South African Police Service Captain Piet Viljoen to raid the city council offices. The ANC and its mayor, Nomaindia Mfeketo, were deeply embarrassed by this action. The National Prosecuting Authority declined to prosecute the case.

Although Rasool denied in a press conference that it was he who briefed the police to obtain the search warrant, he confessed doing so in a meeting with the national officials of the ANC.

Skwatsha’s traffic fines, which he had already paid, were also leaked to The Voice.

In 2007 a document from the forensic investigation unit of Rasool’s office was leaked to the Mail & Guardian in an attempt to accuse Skwatsha of corruption in the sale of state land. Skwatsha’s actions were vindicated by the high court even though Rasool refused him legal assistance.

The ANC legislature caucus refused to support Rasool after he knowingly misled the Legislature, by saying that the AG had condoned over-expenditure on Ramatlekane’s house. Rasool refused to attend a special caucus meeting called to discuss the matter, or to apologise to the House.

Out of loyalty to the ANC I’ve not commented publicly on these matters. I now believe that my silence has allowed the damage to continue for too long.

While I deny ever giving documents to the DA, I want to confess to giving documents to the Cape Argus that helped expose the Rasool government’s relationship with senior journalists.

In 2006 the ANC was asked by the lawyers for the newspaper to provide them with evidence for the allegations that journalists were paid to write stories. A formal decision was taken by the provincial leadership of the ANC that, to protect the best interests of the party, documents in our possession should be handed over. We provided the same evidence to the national leadership of the ANC.

A disciplinary process was undertaken at the paper that led to the quiet resignation of one journalist, but I do not believe that the full story of this extraordinary scandal was ever told. Comrade Rasool, and those media institutions that worked with him, must come clean about who really campaigned to destroy the ANC in the province, and how.

Max Ozinsky is the ANC’s chief whip in the Western Cape Provincial Legislature. He writes on his own behalf.

This article was published in the Mail and Guardian of 6 November 2009.


Dates for recreational west coast fishing season announced

Water and Environmental Affairs Minister Buyelwa Sonjica has announced the new recreational fishing season for west coast rock lobster. The new season will open on 15 November and close on 15 April 2010. From 15 November to 31 December this year, fishing will be allowed every day of the week, but from 1 January next year to 15 April fishing will be restricted to weekends and public holidays only. Fishing times for west coast rock lobster will be from 8am until 4pm and rock lobsters must be landed by 4pm. The bag limit is four lobsters per person per day and the size restriction is 80 mm carapace length.

No person catching west coast rock lobster with a recreational west coast rock lobster permit may sell it. Any west coast rock lobster caught, collected or transported must be kept in a whole state. A maximum of 20 rock lobsters may be transported per day, on condition that all the persons who caught such rock lobster are present in the vehicle, vessel or aircraft during transportation, and that such persons are in possession of recreational west coast rock lobster permits. West coast rock lobster permits will only be sold to persons above the age of 12 years. – by Nthambeleni Gabara, BuaNews


Not to be outdone by Phillip, Adi sent this photo of him sailing Extra 628 with our father, opposite our house at Stilbaai. The road bridge over the Goukou is straight in front.

I spent alot of time on that Extra. It is an outstanding dinghy, designed by Herbert McWilliams for the Cape Southeaster, she is an incredibly seaworthy boat. She can be sailed one or two up. Originally designed for plywood construction, this one was built in GRP, which made her slightly heavier than a racing version. I sailed this boat all over Stilbaai, in the river, the mouth and the sea. With both a main and a jib, she is a bit of handful for singlehanding, but very rewarding if you get it right.

I think that I took this photo from a rowing boat – I would like to blame the poor contrast on the scanning, but must admit that I was a general problem that I had with the camera I was using at the time.


Click on a image to see it in good quality. All images are copyrighted unless stated.


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