Ode to my Forester

Posted by batman on Nov 30th, 2013
2013
Nov 30

IMG_4613_3.jpgMy Subaru Forester 2.5 XS (2010) is really a remarkable vehicle, and has afforded my family and I many opportunities to go off the beaten track and see things we would otherwise not have been able to. I feel obliged to honour some of the achievements of my Forester.

Sutherland, Karoo, South Africa
A well-timed long weekend in Sutherland, South Africa co-incided with a beautiful cold front that left this small Karoo town (home of the SALT telescope) covered in snow – from space a white circle measuring approximately 50 km would have been seen, up to half a metre deep in places. In wet, muddy, snowy and icy conditions my Forester was supreme – I had so much traction it was hard to believe. I could hit the brakes hard, accelerate strongly from standstill and the loss-of-traction warning light never even came on. While other 2WD vehicles were sliding around and being recovered, the snow-covered roads were my playground.

Baviaanskloof, Eastern Cape, South Africa
Just a weekend spent camping with family, with a few dirt roads (and passes) thrown in for fun. I lost a tyre here in an “accident” as an inconsiderately driven Toyota Hilux approaching from the front squeezed me to the side of the (very narrow at that point) road where I hit a rock on the full – any tyre would have burst. I picked up a slow leak on another one which was easily fixed with a plug.

Cederberg, Western Cape, South Africa
I travelled up the Cederberg, Western Cape, South Africa, and down the other side again – a roundtrip of 300 km of gravel travel. This included the notorius Eselbank Pass en route to the quaint Moravian village of Wupperthal, as well as some really smooth, fast gravel roads with delicious sweeping bends. Again, supremely competent, no obstacles it couldn’t overcome and rather surprisingly no problems from the Bridgestone Geolanders.

Sani Pass, Lesotho
But the crowning achievement has been on a recent trip to Sani Pass in Lesotho. We (my brother, my two teenagers and I) covered 1,900 km over three days (with no driving on the middle day). We left and returned from Port Elizabeth in the Eastern Cape, travelling very comfortably at or around the national speed limit and returning an overall fuel consumption of a mere 8.6 litres / 100 km. We conquered the mighty Sani Pass in Lesotho – gaining 1,000 metres in altitude over just 8 km of a very bad gravel road with no difficulties whatsoever, despite sporadic appearances of ice and snow on the road. We were surrounded by hardcore 4×4 vehicles with primarily AT and even MT tyres – I was seriously concerned that my Geolanders would not be up to this test as they have already covered 50,000 km and are described as being best for highway use with a bit of offroad thrown in – but again experienced no problems whatsoever. Ground clearance also amazed me with the ONLY touchdown being the towbar on a man-made cement drain crossing the road. Our last three hours of the return trip was in darkness with heavy rain, and driving through potholed mountain passes around Grahamstown – again the fantastic AWD system of the Forester providing absolute confidence during these tricky conditions. I’m really struggling to find many other vehicles that could match this kind of overall performance!

I really love my Forester – it offers me so many cars all in one – a 4×4 to tackle Sani Pass, a car with rally pedigree to tackle a good gravel road or a wet mountain pass with enthusiasm, a comfortable and relaxed (fairly economical) long-distance cruiser, a daily commute vehicle to work and back, space for a fourball’s golfclubs (and the fourball), space to pack in furniture, or dogs or picnics – it’s got it all.

Subaru Forester Forever!

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End of Wolraad Woltemade

Posted by batman on May 1st, 2010
2010
May 1
wolraad01.jpg

The Beginning

Wolraad Woltemade and her sister ship John Ross were in their time the most powerful of their kind on the planet. This pair of South African tugs, or salvage vessels, patrolled the seas around Cape Point and further afield. According to contract, one of them was required to remain in port to handle any emergency, while the other was free to roam the high seas competing for international salvalge prizes. And work there certainly was – with the constant traffic of overweight supertankers going around the point there was almost always someone in trouble.

Wolraad Woltemade was built by Robb Caledon Shipbuilders in Scotland and delivered to Safmarine in Cape Town during 1976, while her sister ship John Ross was built by the Durban shipyards of Elgin Brown & Hamer. These immensely powerful vessels were powered by two Mirrlees-Blackstone type KVMR16 diesels with 19,200 bhp (14,132 kW) – providing unmatched pulling power. They were 94.6 metres long. Ownership of these two sisters has been transferred between Safmarine, Pentow Marine and Smit Marine Cape Town. Current owners have renamed John Ross to Smit Amandla.

wolraad03.jpg

The End

Wolraad Woltemade’s time has unfortunately run out. The ‘Standby Tug Contract’ requires the presence of one tug in a South African port at any given time, a duty that has for some years been taken up by her sister tug Smit Amandla. This contract was due for renewal in November 2009, but the South African goverment decided not to renew – leaving our coast unprotected for the first time in 30 years. She was unable to find a buyer, and her somewhat ignomius end is that she has been sold as scrap.
As can be seen from the accompanying photograph, she is riding high, and showing signs of her age. All insignia have been removed in preparation for the breakers. She has since sailed from Cape Town, appropriately her last port of call, and is now awaiting her fate at the hands of the breakers.

Rest in peace, WW.

The Legend

Wolraad Woltemade (c.1708 – June 1, 1773) was a South African dairy farmer, who died while rescuing sailors from the wreck of the ship De Jonge Thomas in Table Bay on 1 June 1773. Read about the legend of the man here on Wikipedia

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Buddy, the amazing talking dog

Posted by batman on Mar 7th, 2010
2010
Mar 7

buddy-crop.jpgBuddy, the charismatic brindle Boxer brought to the small screen by Toyota South Africa and its marketing partner of nearly half a centurys’ standing, Draftfcb Johannesburg, has featured in a few television commercials. These commercials are amongst the few that I really don’t mind watching – over and over and over again.

Sophistication in a Toyota Corolla

Buddy is introduced to the South African public as a sophisticated, aristocratic beast of pedigree who disassocates himself with any lower form of life.

What a chop

In this commercial the canine star is off to a dry Karoo farm for the Toyota Hilux. Buddy abandons any attempts to behave with sophistication and grace. Instead, he has fun on the farm mocking the sheep he encounters and making bad jokes, while recognising the Hilux’s toughness. This is my favourite “Buddy” commercial – “what a chop”!

Game Park with the Wild Dogs

In this commercial he is on a game drive, once again pulling up his nose at the “lesser” elements of the animal kingdom.

Automark Used Cars – I don’t do tricks

Here Buddy is strolling through a used car lot, quite adamant that he “doesn’t do tricks!!!”.

If you have any other links to share of really classic commercials that have been made, please post a link – I would love to hear about them. (Please note – this is NOT an invitation for you to market your own product – regardless of how good you think it is, or of how important you think your miracle pharmaceutical product might be – I will not approve/moderate your post)

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Highest definition picture ever taken of Cape Town

Posted by batman on Feb 27th, 2010
2010
Feb 27

Virtual Tours are an organization that provide virtual, often 360º views of various sites, amongst them Nelson Mandela’s jail cell on Robben Island.

One of their most spectacular creations is the so-called “Highest definition picture ever taken of Cape Town” – click here to view. It really is a mind-blowing photographic achievement. Since this photo (the word ‘photo’ somehow seems so inadequate), they have been commissioned to do similar projects of scenes in Gautend and Durban – the start of great things i feel.

Some details as to the size of this image (taken directly from their site):

  • It was created by stitching 1850,fully zoomed (x 20 optical zoom), 10 MegaPixel images together.
  • The time it took from the first shot (top left) and last shot (lower right) being taken, was about 3 hours.
  • It’s 205 000 pixels wide.
  • That equates to a printout of about 90 m x 15 m!
  • The end result was a 25 GigaBytes RAW file which takes about an hour to open on my Macbook Pro.

Enjoy – I certainly did. It just reminds me once again why Cape Town is considered one of the most scenic cities in the world!

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2010
Feb 25

I took these photo’s while on vacation on the South Wild Coast, South Africa.

I have a Canon EOS 350D, with standard 18-55mm lens. Haga Haga, Eastern Cape, South Africa
Haga Haga, Eastern Cape, South Africa

Haga Haga, Eastern Cape, South Africa
Haga Haga, Eastern Cape, South Africa
Haga Haga, Eastern Cape, South Africa

Haga Haga, Eastern Cape, South Africa
Haga Haga, Eastern Cape, South Africa
Haga Haga, Eastern Cape, South Africa

Haga Haga, Eastern Cape, South Africa

Haga Haga, Eastern Cape, South Africa

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