±JOIN OUR NEWSLETTER

Get useful expat articles, health and financial news, social media recommendations and more in your inbox each month - free!



We respect your privacy - we don't spam and you can unsubscribe at any time.

±Compare Expat Providers

Expat Health Insurance Quotes

Foreign Currency Exchange Quotes

International Moving Quotes

We're very social! Follow Expat Focus on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Google+

Expat Focus Facebook PageExpat Focus on TwitterExpat Focus Pinterest PageExpat Focus Google+ Page

Notify me when new content is added about a country

±Expat Focus Partners

Columnists

Columnists > James King

James King

South Africa Diaries: Part 5 – Langebaan Here We Come Penguin Wake-up Call

  Posted Wednesday November 19, 2014 (03:15:58)   (1247 Reads)


James King

No need for alarm clocks here. Inquisitive penguins were playing round the boat before dawn broke. Seagulls, cormorants and oyster catchers added their voices to the cacophony of the morning chorus long before we rose and set sail north, along the Western Coastline to Langebaan.

Most of the other yachts had sailed on to Langebaan the night before so we were one of only a few who stopped off at Dassen Island. This part of the cruise was very leisurely, as the Lagebaan leg was organised as a holiday for a few days before Christmas, where the crews socialised in the marina restaurants and bars and played at water-sports.

Most of the owners left their yachts in the marina on Christmas day and Boxing day and made their way by road back to Cape Town, returning a few days later to continue up the coast. A few of us, who had no homes to go to in Cape Town, stayed on the boats in Langebaan lagoon. Spending a non-traditional Christmas, in glorious weather, on the boat was very therapeutic indeed.

Charlie had decided he needed to relax before we reached Langebaan and handed the tiller over to me when he thought it was safe enough to do so. No one seemed too concerned that I had never handled a 40ft yacht ploughing through the sea at, what seemed like a fair rate of knots to me, so why should I? How exhilarating to be at the helm with the wind whistling around my ears as I spotted a school of whales ahead. A slight, temporary, alteration in course, of which I was quite proud, and the danger averted a collision was avoided. That was the first and the last time I saw whales while at sea. Although potentially dangerous, to be so close to a school of magnificent Southern Right whales is an experience I shall never forget. You know they are big but when you are in close proximity you realise how big.

The weather turns

As they say ‘all good things come to an end’ and as soon as the crews returned to Langebaan the weather turned nasty. Squally rains battered the lagoon and looked as though they might not relent for a day or two. So the reveries continued. Not thinking for one minute that we would sail tomorrow I entered into the spirit and partied the night away. The next thing I realised, while hanging on to my bunk for dear life, was that we were flying, it seemed, out of Langebaan, with a hurricane astern bursting the sails and propelling us at hair-raising speed through a mountainous sea.

Not only did I have the mother of a hangover but I could not conceive how anyone in their right mind would set sail on a day like this. I soon discovered that I was not the only crew member suffering. Save for Dave Murch, who had a reputation for occasional unbridled lunacy, the rest were somewhat jaded. I learned later that he had taken a unilateral decision, without consultation with Skipper Charlie, who was locked in his cabin with a female companion, to sail. He navigated single-handedly from our moorings to the harbour walls and then seconded a couple of the more able seamen to raise the sails, firing the boat out into the open sea. The first words I heard that morning were “That’ll fuck ‘em” courtesy of Murch at the helm.

A day from Hell

That was a day from hell I’ll never forget but would prefer not to remember. It is probably the only time in my life I imagined death to be a pleasurable experience. Dragging my body around the lurching boat, permanently at 45 degrees in attempting dignified evacuation of unwanted stuff from both ends was hardly possible in that environment. That I was still alive when we docked at Lamberts Bay was a complete surprise and not entirely welcome when the last words I heard that day were “I need a drink” from Mr. Murch.

Jumping ship

By now it was evident that a mutiny was brewing. Rations had all but gone; the captain was conspicuous by his absence; Murch had had his day of glory and the boat was like a ‘tip’. There was only one thing for it. Jump ship, which David and I did late one evening. Bobby had a couple of spare bunks and was happy to accommodate us for the trip back to Cape Town. I don’t think Charlie even noticed we had gone as we met up at the Yacht Club back in Cape Town Waterfront for a celebratory drink. I have no idea what we were celebrating but despite the near mutiny we had a great time, a wonderful experience and I could nearly call myself a sailor at the end of it.

New Year’s Eve party then back to Durban

Every New Year after the cruise Gunter, who owns a horticultural nursery, used to host a fancy dress party in the grounds; and it really was a fancy affair. One of Bobby’s crew, Budgie put us up at his house for a few days and a few of the wives and girlfriends cobbled together outfits for David and I. The theme was Arabian Nights and whilst we weren’t likely contenders for ‘Best Costume’ we certainly would have walked off with joint first for the scabbiest thieves from the Kasbah.
The flight back to Durban, after the best New Year party ever, allowed time to reflect on two weeks of enormous fun during which time I met many people, some of whom were to become a part of my new life in South Africa for the next 20 years and a few who still remain friends to this day.


James King is a writer, blogger and photo-artist. Born in England, he travelled to over 20 countries and in 1995 emigrated to South Africa. In 2011 James moved to Thailand, in semi-retirement, where he built and sold one house, renovated another, wrote various e-books and started a blog (jamoroki.com).


James King
James King is a writer, blogger and photo-artist. Born in England, he travelled to over 20 countries and in 1995 emigrated to South Africa. In 2011 James moved to Thailand, in semi-retirement, where he built and sold one house, renovated another, wrote various e-books and started a blog at jamoroki.com.
 
Link  QR 

Expat Health Insurance Partners


Aetna International

Our award-winning expatriate business provides health benefits to more than 650,000 members worldwide. In addition, we have helped develop world-class health systems for governments, corporations and providers around the world. We want to be the global leader in delivering world-class health solutions, making quality health care more accessible and empowering people to live healthier lives.

Bupa Global

At Bupa we have been helping individuals and families live longer, healthier, happier lives for over 60 years. We are trusted by expats in 190 different countries and have links with healthcare organisations throughout the world. So whether you're moving abroad for a change of career or a change of scene, with our international private health insurance you will always be in safe hands.

Cigna International

Cigna has worked in international health insurance for more than 30 years. Today, Cigna has over 71 million customer relationships around the world. Looking after them is an international workforce of 31,000 people, plus a network of over 1 million hospitals, physicians, clinics and health and wellness specialists worldwide, meaning you have easy access to treatment.