Friday, December 11, 2009

Port Owen our base

Early the next morning we started sailing back to Port Owen. The sea was beautiful but the wind was no where to be found. We had to motor a long way and only late afternoon the wind was picking up. Jaco sailed us into Port Owen where we are going to spend some time.

The big cleaning job started! Every thing is unpacked, unscrewed and washed out and re-arranged. The Yacht Club has a washing machine and we could even dry our washing on a line in the sun! The kids made a couple of new friends and were invited with Patrick and JC for a sail on their mono-hull. They also went diving with Patrick and saw how cray fish successfully can get into your boat! Thanks for friends...

We are getting ready to leave Catlyn for a week or two, to visit George, and then we will be back to sail the West Coast Cruise in January!

Lamberts Bay's Bird Paradise

It was dribbling softly when we woke up, but soon the sun was shining again. The men spend the morning in the open sea trying to catch some cray fish, but just like all the locals they came back with empty nets. Was it the weather? The stormy sea? Bad luck? We still have so much to learn.
With no fish for dinner we decided to check out the town. We secured the dinghy, and our nostrils were filled with the awesome smell of the potato chips factory! Just needed the vinegar and salt... This big factory use potatoes from the Sandveld and the Free State to make their chips.

The boys' tummies were rumbling by now, but luckily we found some real butter fudge in the Sandveld Shop. What an interesting shop with an old record playing in the back ground. Antiques filled the shop, and even a big buffalo was keeping watch from the wall...definitely no shoplifting in this shop. We found an old "Huisgenoot" magazine dated back to 1964, but unfortunately I couldn't buy it, Andria. I am sure you missed this issue!

On our way back we visited the Bird Paradise. Truly breathtaking is the thousands of Gannets living here. We followed the path ways to the outlook where you can sit and watch their neck scissoring, their sky looking and the way these big birds with a wing span of up to 1.8m take their clumsy lift off. In the back ground the seals and their young were living their lives.

Just remember to wear shoes because the path ways are made of the broken sea shells and that's how Marco landed on my back. While we were walking around, we read on one of the billboards that the Kelp gulls while breeding can be dangerous and you have to keep clear of them. If you do come too close they will start making their squawking noises and if you don't back off they will start attacking you by flying over your head and attack you with their wings and claws and drop their droppings all over you! Needless to say we were strolling and giggling all the way, when we passed a gull without noticing and according to her, it was too close! We didn't notice her warning signals and it was only when Johan saw a couple of them lifting off and flying in our direction that he realised there was trouble. He made a run for it, of course leaving me with Marco still on my back! Luckily he was making a bigger noise than the gull and they just hovered around us,and we fled!

Dinner time was spend at the lovely place, Kreefhuis restaurant ( where we had the best steak in a very long time and ended it off with a delicious cheese cake. Marco had the meat basket which is really a basket filled with value. Don't miss this old house close to the chips factory in Strand street for a special time and good food and very friendly service.

Ps. Johan tried to take a photo of the can see the big eye!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Cruising North

It was our anniversary...22 years of fun and games! Isn't that exactly what a life journey and games? Some games are not so nice, some are breathtaking, some are boring, some are gruelling but afterwards in memory, just fun!

We sailed away from Port Owen at high tide about two o'clock the afternoon and had an awesome sail with the wind pumping at 15 knots pushing us towards Elands Bay. The day before we sailed the St Helena Bay and visited Stompneus Bay, Shelley Point and decided to anchor at Slippers Bay opposite a little restaurant in a house. We had our own candle lit dinner with the kids while the people in Slippers Bay gave us a show of fire works in the distance and somewhere a big party was happening. The bay was quiet, and it was strange to be woken during the night by a little puppy howling through the night.

Five o'clock the next morning we left and almost had to motor all the way because the wind had died down. Lots of dolphins played around us, on our way to Lamberts Bay.

We arrived at about four o'clock and sailed into the fishing harbour with a couple of fishing vessels and diamond mining vessels lying in the bay. Luckily we were welcomed by a little crayfish "bakkie" and the three fishermen told us where it would be safe to anchor.

The boys were immediately in the water diving to see where the crayfish will be. Quite tired after the whole day on the sea we hit the beds, but at one o'clock were awoken by a noise. After investigating we realized that the water level dropped significantly during the tide and we were bumping against sand or rocks. We shortened the anchor line and fasten Catlyn to two moorings as well for a safe and secure night.

Lingering in Port Owen

Besides the fact that we had some maintenance to do on our main sail, we loved the time in Port Owen. Early morning Johan and I put on our shoes and took off to town...Velddrif. A quaint little town, with the most interesting "handelshuis" filled to the roof with everything you might need or not. After a couple of kilometres later we found the little hotel next to the Bergrivier, and enjoyed a lovely breakfast with a litre of fresh orange juice. Close to it lies the Pont Bridge, called after the Old Pont from the 1900 to 1950, helping vehicles to cross the river. On our way home we spend our last R9.40 on apricots, sold by a friendly old man in the street.

The day was spend by the boys in the water to cool down. Some more work was done on the main sail, and the boat needed a good spring clean. I had time to phone my friends, and shared with them the image of ten little ducklings with their mama swimming around the yachts begging for a nibble.

And then we dressed up for a night out! We went to the Port Owen Yacht Club, the guests of Patrick and his family. Anne, the beautiful Commodore welcomed us all and with Juliette and her Cook sisters, we had a lovely dinner!

Ps. Nature is so cruel...and the next morning only five little ones survived.

Mola Mola!

Early the next morning we left Paternoster, while the whales were lazying just outside the bay. We had a light wind and time for the screecher to help us on our way. The sea was flat like a lagoon and the sun was hot. While we were enjoying the smooth sail, we did a bit of maintenance. Lanolin! Every little screw gets unscrewed, cleaned and then polished with lanolin and then screwed back in. Lanolin is a hydrous substance that keeps water out and prevent rust.

And then we saw that mysterious fin again! Johan saw it coming closer, and to his surprise saw a half eaten shark...only the head and top part of the body floating! We saw this too! But then it started moving and we saw a fish! A Mola Mola or a Sun fish. A pre-historic fish, half a fish. It can way up to two tons and eats jelly fish. After we met this fish, we saw lots of them basking just under the water in the sun. I couldn't get a photo yet, but am awaiting the opportunity.

We were on our way to Port Owen. Late afternoon we phoned Patrick the Marine Manager, and this gentle man, met us at the entrance of the Bergrivier at Laaiplek's jetty, got onto Catlyn and safely took us through to our berth. There we were greeted by so many friendly new faces, all just helping a hand to secure Catlyn to the poles in the water. No jetty...only poles to fasten her to. Hands were shaken, stories told and new friends made!

That evening we were invited to the yacht Club for a braai and little bottles of red wine.

Here we can stay!

Time to go

Catlyn was getting restless. She was fighting with the lines tying her to the jetty in Langebaan, and we decided to set her free! The water tanks was full and the diesel tanks and all the food "tanks." We had a choppy sail all the way to Paternoster. On our way we were accompanied by the usual seals and dolphins, but then confusion struck. The kids saw a funny fin in the waves. I saw it too, and we started guessing. Dolphin-no, seal-no, shark-may be? But it disappeared and we had to anchor at Paternoster with no answer to this mysterious fin.

What a lovely protected bay when the westerly winds aren't blowing. The bay was filled with the usual "bakkies" full of fishermen on their way home after a good day at sea. Kids were playing in the sand and elderly people were walking down the beach. We dropped the dinghy and me and the kids went to town, while Dad is cooking supper and looking after Catlyn.

We were offered cray fish as soon as we set foot on the land. R70 for a beautiful cray fish, but luckily we had a couple in the fridge. By law you are allowed to catch four crayfish with a license, and believe it or not, we are licensed. Paternoster had ice cream and fudge and ginger cookies!

A full moon smiled over us and Paternoster, while the little town was sleeping and we crept into our cradles for a peaceful night.

A touch of the future...

We enjoyed three days in Kraalbaai before we needed some proviand from the shops. We sailed back to Schaapen Island where we anchored on the sheltered northern side amongst all the kite surfers. We got into the dinghy and after a wet bumpy ride by Johan junior, we set foot on land. We walked to the Spar and Clicks Chemist to get some necessities and a bar of chocolate for a treat. A buzz of excitement was going through me and the felt like we are only visiting a foreign island, browsing around and then going back to our water home.

But the reality of life is always close by, when Dad had to go back to Cape Town to fetch our broken down blue bus. A clutch plate and a lot of money later, the blue bus travelling with us where he can, was up and running again. We were all relieved to see the blue bulk when Johan parked him opposite Pearly's, and waited for us to fetch him with the dinghy.

He came back to Catlyn and in his arms this big bunch of roses just for me. In that moment I felt so special looking at this soul with his arms full of roses in this tiny dinghy on this wide open sea! I got roses from land!

Physical exercise around

Being in Langebaan is so much fun for the kids and family. Lying in the Mykonos Marina the whole family goes to the gym in the mornings, or walk to town for an ice cream. If they aren't too lazy they play tennis or putt-putt or Marco catch little fish with his net. Being in and around Mykonos resort the swimming pools and couple of restaurants are there for your entertainment. We still have to go and try our luck in the Casino!

Sailing around in the lagoon is such good easy sailing for new sailors. I don't know why there are not many more yachts around. Holiday season small craft are around trying their luck fishing.
Sailing to Kraalbaai and Oude Post you pass the beautiful Schaapen Island. The kite surfers and wind surfers enjoy the wind opposite Pearly's restaurant. Johan loves every opportunity taking off with the wind surfer and gliding through the wind!

And then for some exercise is they rather spend it lazying in the hammock underneath Catlyn!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Another Born Day Celebration!

Our skipper celebrated his birthday, or maybe it is more appropriate to say his family celebrated his birth day! With not a lot of social happenings on a yacht the chance for cake and celebrations doesn't pass silently. The kids landed on our bed with party hats and paper vuvuzelas with the same amount of noise! It was Dad's birthday and with all the limited sources we had a great party!

A Happy Born Day, our Skipper and many safe nautical miles for you!

Not only fun....

We have to look after Catlyn gently, for I believe then she will look after us. If you live in such a small space with the floor and the ceiling just something like 1,9m apart, no dirt or scratch escape the eye. If you walk only barefoot in your house every speck of dirt touches the soles of your feet. If you sit and walk around on the roof of your house no dirt goes unseen.... That is why cleaning takes up a big part of our mornings.

Johan and Marco spend their time in the roomy engine room of Catlyn, checking the oil and belts and drying out excess water. They just lifted the lid on the aft deck and started working. For those of you who don't know, this is very nice, because on some catamarans to get to your engine you have to lift a bed in a cabin!

If your house stands in the middle of the ocean in wind and weather with no trees to protect her and her belly sleeps in a salty water bed all the time a lot of things get eaten away by rust. If your house gets blown in all directions from all directions all the time, you need to look after all the "cloths" keeping her speed up during your journey. That keeps us busy some time.

There is no job too big or too small to attend to, and there is no inhabitant not too big or too small to do the job.

Another issue learnt very quickly is that you can pick up the cellphone in the middle of the blue and phone an expert for a problem, but the only "expert" aboard is you!!

So when the "slugs" came apart from your main sail you learn how to sew new stainless steel "slugs" on....compliments from North Sails. When the impeller from your outboard stops working and no water squirts out any more, you try to find the thing in a manual and make it work again....and luckily we 've got a lot of brains to stick together. On the jetty in Langebaan the Experts got together!

And so this amazing learning curve continious.