|The back of Table Mountain through the mist|
I recently had the opportunity to start instructing students at Competent Crew and Day Skipper level in the art of sailing a keel boat. The school is situated in the Cape Town waterfront. Perhaps one of the most beautiful settings imaginable.
So we sail out of Cape Town harbour into Table Bay and surrounds. This includes voyages to the nearby town of Hout Bay, a most picturesque village and small harbour, for an overnight stay.
However, this is where the bland, routine part of the story ends and the “adventure” part begins.
I have now done this return voyage once a week for three weeks running and never had the privilege of plain sailing, so to speak, all the way. This last week being the outstanding adventure of the period.
On our way down to Hout bay in quite misty conditions, the engine starter gave up the ghost. Which meant that we had to now sail in ever so little puffs of wind past the most notorious section of the Cape Peninsula into Hout Bay. Luckily for us the little wind was offshore. But I had to put out a precautionary PAN PAN message on the VHF radio. A PAN PAN is a message just under a distress signal, informing the shipping near you of your predicament. Just in case.
The students performed quite well, having to suddenly navigate in anger, as opposed to the normal, almost, academic exercise when the weather is clear. Then we sailed the boat into the berth at Hout Bay marina, as we had no engine. The operator at Cape Town radio bid us a safe voyage and signed off just as we entered the harbour at Hout Bay.
Chalk up another plus for the Cape of Storms and sail boat karma to make your life interesting.
The next day was spent in some theoretical excercises, as the boat was practically unserviceable unless we got a tow out of the harbour. Not prudent in that neck of the woods, methinks. And we had a very nice pasta salad with tuna, prepared by the students.
|Early morning time in Hout Bay|
We set off again back to Cape Town the next day, sailing in a strong breeze of around twenty knots. This time on a broad reach, we sometimes did eight knots. This is sailing at its best. Clear skies, warm weather, blue water and lots of wind from behind.
Until we got to Clifton, when the engine and wind gave out again, the engine this time from another ailment. We arranged help for later the afternoon and carried on sailing.
With the lull in the wind, the students opted for making a decent cooked lunch. This time a spaghetti Bolognesa. Halfway through their latest culinary adventure, the wind picked up to around twenty-five knots as we rounded Green Point. This meant a real culinary adventure, as the students were now preparing food and cooking in literally a near gale.
Having eaten the cooked lunch in these conditions, we carried on with some sailing exercises, after which we sailed the boat back to the port and called for our arranged assistance. By this time the wind was quite heavy, as it had picked up towards sunset. The tow was not going to be able to tow us, so we opted to sail into the V&A Waterfront.
|Sunset in Hout Bay, the wind picking up.|
The question now arises on whether all of this was good or bad.
For my money we all had an adventure that you probably could not buy for money. The students not only learned to sail in heavy conditions, they also learned to cook in such conditions. They navigated in earnest in misty, low visibility conditions and sailed a boat into the berth.
|Final closing cruise. Wonderfully |
mild weather after our adventure
But mostly, after all has been said and done, it is about the adventure. Lin and Larry Pardey must count among the most famous of sailing cruisers in this world of ours. The title of Herb McCormick's book on the lives and times of Lin and Larry Pardey reads “As Long As It's Fun.”
He got the title nailed on the dot.
I shall follow that motto to the end. And I am sure my students will agree.
Authored by Johan Zietsman
Last updated on 2014-02-01