Sunday, April 19, 2009

Crayfish at Dassen Island

Sunset at Dassen Island, Western Cape, South Africa

Catlyn at anchor and @peace
We were licenced and totally equipped to catch the crayfish in our nets! Being the 15th of April, it was the last day of the crayfish season for us. Catlyn and Genevieve set our sails and started our trip to Dassen Island!
The sea was quite choppy and the wind about 22 knots, but all aboard Catlyn enjoyed this new adventure of being a part of the big ocean. We were accompanied by so many curious seals while we pass Yzerfontein. Genevieve found a safe place to anchor in the sand in House Bay of Dassen Island ,about 5 hours later and we anchored just next to her. We were surrounded by fishing trawlers with their crayfish net beacons bobbing all over the bay!

We couldn't wait to put our own 4 nets into the water...Marco at first not so keen, but then following his new friend Dillan's example, breaking the sardine's tight bodies in half. The nets were lowered among the many coloured balls of the fishers'.

According to our neighbour Johan you have to drink a beer while waiting for the cray fish to crawl into your net...well, a beer later and the nets were pulled vigorously up and were filled with 4 beautiful crayfish. Another beer later and we had enough for a lovely dinner with fried rice and a freshly baked bread in Anette's galley.

Johan(jnr) for second helping !!!

After a splendid evening we wanted to return to our Cat, but got the surprise of no dinghy waiting for us where Dad fastened her to Genevieve!
The men went searching for her in the pitch dark bay, while the wind was howling, but we all realised that she could be very far by now. With heavy hearts we went to bed in a borrowed dinghy...

But the wind was blowing and me and Johan just couldn't relax. The whole time he was worried that we were dragging...

For the first time I realised how difficult it is to pin point your position in the dark with no fixed marks. We were up every couple of minutes, and then Johan came back with the dreading words! "We are dragging!"

While lifting the anchor we realised that our prop and rudder got entangled with one of the fishers' cray fish nets and the whole lot of rope disabling our engine to start. What a catastrophe to try and manoeuvre the Cat between all those trawlers and nets with one engine and a strong wind in the dark. We succeeded to anchor safely and securely far away from all, and just imagine Genevieve's surprise when she wakes up the next morning with us gone.

When the first light of day came through Johan jumped into the iciness of the water to cut the rope away. Guys from a trawler gave us a bucket full of crayfish for the trouble caused by their nets.

The weather was miserable and all the trawlers were pulling up their nets, too heavy for a man, and they left in a hurry. We realised that they know this bay, and if they are leaving so quickly, we have to do it too, quickly!

The swells were big and we watched Genevieve in front of us disappear deep into the swells and then popping up again. We left Dassen Island with a heaviness in our hearts knowing that somewhere on this big ocean our little silver dinghy lies.

About 12 km away from Dassen Island, Genevieve radioed us. They followed the smiling seal, the jumping dolphins and then the miracle happened - they suddenly bumped into our silver dinghy! We were dumb struck, and while we stare at them securing our dinghy to their boat the whale jumped out of the blue right next to Genevieve sharing in our gratefulness!

We sailed back to Langebaan with lots of lessons learnt, until the next time....

Limeriek deur Andre le Roux in reaksie op mandjie vol kreef :

Met 'n krat vol kreef

kan mens mos streef

Met mae vol

En seile bol

Om voluit te leef !!!!

Birthday on Catlyn

Friends came to visit! Charles and Yolanda with their kids stayed in Mykonos on top of the restaurant looking out on the Marina, the closest they could get to the jetties. We sailed to Saldanha, passing all the massive ships, to anchor close to the beach next to Genevieve, the neighbour's catamaran. We realised that it is not a good idea to braai fatty lamb chops on our gas was flamed eventually. The children couldn't wait to get together in the cold water, with all their water toys, and we tried to get some fish. We landed 8 stomp nose, enough for dinner. Catlyn, decorated with 44 balloons for Charles, sailed us home in a brisk breeze.

We spent the day at the scenic Paternoster, (Our Father), eating fresh hake and chips at the restaurant and giggling at the famous bar, decorated with the 'finest' underwear. Hawkers with crayfish in plastic bags were tempting us under the Bluegum trees.
Our friends left this morning and we are busy getting everything back to normal again. Johan and Janlie, busy studying for their matric exam, needed some peace and quiet and I dropped them at the Langebaan Library for 5 hours of serious concentrating.

We are planning to go to Dassen Island, about 5 hours south of Langebaan, and the Brand family from Genevieve wants to join. The weather looks good for Wednesday morning, so everything has to be checked. Crayfish nets are bought, and the two Johans are sitting together fixing the lines for the big fish trawling behind our catamarans. We were all ready for the next morning going on our first overnight somewhere away from the safety of a Marina.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Catlyn is alive!!!

Sipping a cup of coffee, made by Janlie, still snugg in my rocking bed, I caught a glimpse of myself in the bathroom! At last at peace, in my new home on the water. How swiftly life can go in a new direction by only one decision.

We left Cape Town behind us on the 1st of April. All the predictions on all the weather channels gave us hope of a strong wind blowing from the south, pushing us gently to Langebaan. But it was April fools day, and we nearly had to motor all the way, slipping through the big swells.

But we were welcomed by the ocean, sending us so many whales playing and fooling around us. Seals, penguins and jellyfish entertained us all the way to Langebaan.

Rudi got us safely into Langebaan Marina. What a delightful contrast! We were greeted and helped by the neighbours, Johan Brand and his family. Anschen, the manager of Langebaan gave a hand to get us safe into her Marina.

We woke up the next morning, for the first time all alone on Catlyn. There was a respectful silence among my family, realising the awe of being here, finally. But it didn't last long. Marco found friends, and the rest of us started cleaning and scrubbing and arranging and then rearranging again.

And then the whole family, with Jaco visiting from Stellenbosch, were briefed by our Skipper to take our first solo trip. Quite nervous we did it and close to Perlemoenkop we tested Catlyn's anchor for the first time. Everything went smoothly and we were ancord. We had to celebrate with a braai!

But besides all the new excitement in our lifes, Johan and Janlie received their Matric exam's timetable, and the reality struck. They are starting the 6th of May. Luckily Langebaan has a library, and the two find peace and quiet there.

This morning we are waiting for someone from Cape Town to come and set our instruments, which we realised isn't working properly, and we have to look at the bilge pumps in Catlyn.

But for the first time in a very long time, I feel alive again!!