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Yesterday I got an email from Renata saying that they had arrived safely in Cabedelo, Brazil and would send more details of the trip later. Cabedelo is Renata’s home town, so I suppose she is catching up with family and friends whom she has not seen for the many years Hout Bay was her home. Congratulations guys!

Good memories – enjoying myself on Dixi Rollar’s bowsprit last year!

On Friday we heard via a comment on this site that Dixi Rollar had arrived in St Helena after 30 days and today Renata sent an email summary of their voyage. Seems they had light winds most of the way and only averaged 45-50 miles a day! That is slow.

Dixi Rollar charging on a reach.

This photo was taken in August last year. She seemed to be capable of easily doing 4.5-5 knots downwind. But 50 miles a day is an average of 2 knots and that is very slow.

This photo, which I have been using as my desktop background, also gives an impression of speed. Lets hope they go a bit faster when they leave for Ascension Island on Wednesday.

The photo above also shows the blocks Steve made for the stays and the jib boom. He also made the boom out of pine and the stainless fitting on the end of the boom!

Dixi Rollar is not a fast boat, being very wide well forward. With due respect she is shaped slightly like a bath tub. As can be seen from the photos, she pushes a lot of water when she moves and this gives the impression of speed.

In the previous post I spoke about hoisting the mainsail. Here is a picture of the beginning of the process. Steve is loosening the reefing lines whilst Gary pulls the gaff up. Whilst taking this photo I decided they needed help as this is hard work without winches! Note the baggiewrinkles made of rope which protect the sail from chafing on the stays.

I helped Steve put the main sail up whilst she was still moored to the marina – it is a bit more work than on Nolwandle!

On Thursday morning at about 10am Dixi Rollar left Hout Bay bound for St Helena and Cabedelo, Brazil. It was a sad and happy departure. This was the fulfilment by Steve of his dream. After about 15 years in which he built her, left her, came back again and for the past four years or so has completely refitted her. Today he was able to sail away in his dream boat – Dixi Rollar. Together with his wife Renata, Liz (the former owner of Nolwandle) and Lize they will be spending the next few months on the South Atlantic.

Dixi Rollar was built in steel by Steve. The main mast is a pine tree chopped down at Rhodes Memorial, from a stand specially grown for ship masts.


Then they disappeared from sight. A few hours later we saw them as a small speck out to sea opposite Llandudno. We wish them fair winds from behind and a relaxing cruise to Brazil.


Laser sailing

Thats me, many years ago, approaching the slipway of Stilbaai harbour, which is why the centreboard is up. The Goukou mouth is in the background with the concrete pillar very noticeable.

Thanks to Alison for this great picture and more memories. This Laser went up and down the Goukou, but mainly on its way to the mouth, or out to sea as in the picture. I later bent the top section of the mast when it got pushed into the sand by the waves, after a capsizing during a gybe to avoid a sandbank, whilst surfing in the mouth.

When I was young, thin as a rake and weighed 58kgs, I was a bit light to sail her. Yet Alison and myself enjoyed planing her two up in the sea and especially at Groenvlei (Lake Pleasant) where there are some nice long windy reaches!

What a simple and brilliant boat with few vices. Well done to the designer – a Canadian by the name of Bruce Kirby.

Postscript: One well known vice of the Laser is that the mainsheet, if you do not keep it away, gets caught on the transom corner as you gybe. I often forgot to do this, which may, or may not, have contributed to the above mentioned capsize and damage.

x628

Not to be outdone by Phillip, Adi sent this photo of him sailing Extra 628 with our father, opposite our house at Stilbaai. The road bridge over the Goukou is straight in front.

I spent alot of time on that Extra. It is an outstanding dinghy, designed by Herbert McWilliams for the Cape Southeaster, she is an incredibly seaworthy boat. She can be sailed one or two up. Originally designed for plywood construction, this one was built in GRP, which made her slightly heavier than a racing version. I sailed this boat all over Stilbaai, in the river, the mouth and the sea. With both a main and a jib, she is a bit of handful for singlehanding, but very rewarding if you get it right.

I think that I took this photo from a rowing boat – I would like to blame the poor contrast on the scanning, but must admit that I was a general problem that I had with the camera I was using at the time.

We eventually took Nolwandle home on Saturday morning. It had been a long six weeks for her in Table Bay and Tabisa, Nolwandle and I were all missing Hout Bay.

Peter and Fay joined me for the trip home. We were planning on leaving Friday evening and enduring the rain and dark for the 20 nautical miles.

Table Mountain, Signal Hill, Lion’s Head, Green Point and its lighthouse emerge from the mist. The diagonal red stripes are very good at distinguishing it from the surrounding blocks of flats.

It was pouring with rain, but I had not reckoned with the fog. Peter and Manuel insisted that the mist was too thick, so we decided to spend the rest of the evening in the RCYC bar and leave in the morning. It was after a very enjoyable evening with the sailors of the Royal Cape, and a very tasty Portuguese Steak that we retired to sleep on Nolwandle.

Fay and Peter in the cockpit

Fay and Peter hide from Nolwandle.

We left at about 0830 – sunrise was at 0750 making it one of the shortest days of the year! There was a gentle 8 knot northwester blowing. We put up sail just before the breakwater and tacked across the channel to the buoy. We tacked again, now towards Green Point and made it to Sea Point on one tack, where the wind died. Actually I thought that at some point we would sail into some real fog, but it was not to be.

Off Sea Point it was on with the 22 horses and we motored till just round Duiker Point – about 3 hours later. Reviewing our progress on the chart, it was clear that we had a strong 2 knot current behind us, most of the way. This is normal in an northwester, when the usual Benguela current is conquered by the wind.

Fishing-vessel Fuchsia rushes past on her way home to Cape Town

As we approached what Cape Town’s sailors call Barker Rock – shown as South Lion’s Paw on the chart – a Taiwanese trawler came up close to us from straight astern. Later she over took us before turning West at the end of the traffic separation scheme off Duiker Point.

Taiwanese boat

Taiwanese trawler which harassed us off Camps Bay. Nolwandle strongly supports a One China policy!

After Oudekraal Fay took over the helm. It was her first trip on Nolwandle and she managed to overcome the tricky 3 metre swell and after an hour was steering very confidently.

Fay at the Helm

Fay on the tiller.

Peter took over as we passed the Oudeschip peninsula, using his NSRI experience to cut it close to the rocks.

Off Oudeschip

Submerged rock north-west of “Die Middelmas” (The Middle Mast), off Oudeschip (Old Ship). Note Llandudno, hide away of various dictators, in the background. Perhaps a Welsh sailor could tell us what Llandudno means?

Peter says that NSRI Station 8 regularly exercise in Maori Bay, the bay immediately to the north of Duiker Point, using the Boss 400 crane barge and the large granite boulders to practise evacuating patients and survivors. This is a very rough terrain ideal for their training. They have named some of the features of the area to help with their communications. In the picture below, the rock next to the Boss 400 is called Elephant Rock. They take a 10 metre rescue boat through the gap between the rock and Duiker Point. The water is deep – about 3 meters right next to the rock. Duiker Point is the western most point of the Cape Peninsula.

Boss 400 rock

Boss 400 crane barge, Elephant Rock and gap from the mainland through which a rescue boat can fit!

After Duiker Point we turned East and then it started raining. The wind came up and we let out the genoa and switched off the engine.

Vulcan rock roaring

Vulcan Rock roaring

Past Vulcan Rock there were two rowing boats poaching. Off Badtamboer, this literally means “Bath drum”, which may be a reference to the loud sound of the sea I guess, we switched on the iron horse and braved the speeding line of snoek boats to return to mooring 53, HBYC Marina.

View from Nolwandle’s deck – back on the marina.

It is good to be home!

Sunday afternoon aerobatics over Hout Bay.

More Reflections on Entering Gansbaai Harbour

There are a few other things I want to say about Gansbaai harbour, which I could not find space for in the previous post.

In “Nolwandle’s December Holiday Part 1” I described our difficult entry into Gansbaai Harbour. The “South African Sailing Directions Volume 2,” SAN HO-22, Fourth Edition, Section 7-7, Paragraph 50 begins,

“The approaches to Gansbaai are fraught with danger, and entry into the harbour should not be attempted without local knowledge.”

Well, we entered without local knowledge and survived! Facetiousness aside, I have a number of times gone through our steps and the various options open to us on that day. In retrospect the best approach may have been to go to Hermanus harbour which is about 15 miles away. Hermanus has serious problems with scend, but the sailing directions make no mention of it being difficult to enter.

Forward control cabin of the “Arno Louis”. This is used when fishing.

Paragraph 51 says,

“A rocky ledge over which the least known depth is 4.3 m extends for 0.5 miles in a WSW direction from near the head of the North Breakwater. The sea breaks over this ledge during moderate westerly or northerly winds or when even a slight swell is running. Breakers also occur over Langebank, another rocky patch 6 to 7 cables to the westward of the North Breakwater Head, where the least known depth is 8.4 m. Local fishermen start the run into the harbour with the lights at the heads of the North and South Breakwaters in line bearing approximately 083 degrees. This takes them over the tail of the first-mentioned rocky ledge, but clear of the other rocky patch. When any sort of sea is running, it is necessary for the skipper of a trawler entering to watch carefully for a lull before crossing the distrubed water at good speed. When strong westerly or northerly winds are blowing it is inadvisable to attempt to enter.”

When we entered, both the rocky ledge and Langebank were breaking. I found it very difficult to identify the North and South Breakwater lights and then get them in line. Partially this was because we arrived at sunrise and the sun was straight into our eyes. But the problem is also that the lights and their pillars/towers are not distinct.

On my second run I was able to use the notch, about a third of the way up Duinefonteinberg on it’s west side, as a guide. I noticed that this notch was in line with the North and South Breakwater lights. This notch is clearly visible in the this photo just to the right of Nolwandle’s mast.

After some observation during my time there, I would also suggest an approach a bit closer to the West Breakwater and a bit more from the south-west. A study of this Google earth map would seem to suggest this as well. If you are entering the West Harbour, I would alter course to run parallel to the West Breakwater wall once abeam the West Breakwater light. It seems to be deep right next to the wall. Once the entrance is reached turn hard to starboard.

Paragraph 53 says,

“Because of the persistent swell in this locality, heavy surf breaks right over the North and West Breakwaters when even moderate westerly or northerly winds are blowing. It is extremely dangerous to venture on foot along the West Breakwater under these conditions, so much so that access to it has been entirely barred to the public.”

This is true and not true. The swell often breaks over the West Breakwater, even sometimes when the southeaster is blowing. But it has not been “entirely barred to the public”. I went for a number of walks there and it is a favourite spot for fisherpeople.

West Breakwater

End of the West Breakwater. Note the fishermen’s bakkie and their fishing lines.

Paragraph 54 says,

“The spire of the Dutch Reformed Church at Gansbaai is conspicuous.”

I have yet to see this spire and definitely could not see it on entry. By the way the Dutch Reformed Church is English for the “NG Kerk” mentioned in the previous post!

Lastly I want to say thank you to Ou Bols, the owner of “Merlene”. I hope that I have spelt his nickname correctly and if it is correct I wonder how he got this name? “Ou” means old in Afrikaans and “Bols” is a type of brandy, so maybe it has something to do with that? I met him the second day that I was there when he came down to check on his boat. He was very friendly, quite happy that I tied up to his boat and we had an interesting conversation about fishing for sardines and the coming fishing season.

Four Days in Gansbaai Harbour

We had tied Nolwandle up on the outside of three fishing boats – seine trawlers. The outer most one’s name was “Merlene”. Inside her was the “Arno Louis” and inside her the “Berggans”. Moving to and from “Nolwandle” required climbing over each of the three fishing vessels till finally the West Jetty was reached. On the jetty is a hut for a security guard and a gate without a lock, but an impressive gate none the less.
Nolwandle and trawlers“Nolwandle” on the outside of the fishing vessels moored to the West Jetty. Duinefonteinberg is the mountain covered in cloud. If you look carefully at the top of Nolwandle’s mast you can see a large duiker (cormerant) sitting on the windex, which one of them later broke!

The West Jetty becomes a groyne off which there is a berth for “White Pointer”, a shark cage diving boat and then in shallow water another jetty. At the foot of the West Jetty is a beautiful white sandy beach. It seems that the development of most of South Africa’s fishing harbours has been at the cost of a number of beautiful beaches – in some cases it was not even necessary to destroy the beach, but this still took place. I know of cases of the theft of the beach front in Hout Bay, Kalkbaai, Saldahna and now Gansbaai. There are probably examples at other harbours.
White pointer and beach“White Pointer” and a Flamenca off the beautiful white sandy beach in West Harbour

However a part of the beach in Gansbaai harbour remains, and I hope that in the future it is not destroyed by a few truck loads of rock, as the south-west shore of the harbour already has. I had a swim each morning from the beach, once in the rain. At all the times the sea temperature was between 18 and 22 degrees, the water sparkly clean and very pleasant. There is also a long concrete slipway which has collapsed on that shore of the harbour.

West harbour filled inMCM’s House of Sin, dolosse and the west shore of the harbour destroyed by rock fill

After Peter, Dick and Nicky left I sorted out the boat. I took the table which Peter had taken off its mountings out of the saloon and left the box in the cockpit. The table top stored easily on the bunks. Anyway I was alone on the boat so there was lots of space.

Supper was fried pork sausage and as I was sitting in the cockpit finishing off my first plate, a hard rat face appeared over the gunwale of “Merlene”. He said that he was Hennie and the security guard in charge of the gate. I introduced myself and offered him a sausage roll which he grasped with two hands. He claimed he had woken up late and had left home without eating, to be on time for duty at 1900. This according to him was non-negotiable and stipulated in his contract with the trawler owners, who were his bosses.

Nolwandle from beachHennie’s charges – Nolwandle and trawlers seen from the sandy beach

Hennie was immediately bought by my pork sausage. From then on he and I were “friends” – he having summed me up as an average white South African racist, just like him. That night he told me how he spent 23 years on the SAR (South African Railways) mainly as a shunter in Walvis Bay. He left school to at the age of 16 to join them – doing his military service later.

The next night he told me how he liked to sabotage the “kaffirs on that poesboot. Piece of shit, I tell you they made a fortune when they sold it to a BEE company! Serves them right, only I don’t allow them to bring their meide here. No, they don’t go through that gate whilst I’m here. Fucking kaffirs just want to suip and screw all night till they go to sea!”

Poesboot
“Poesboot”. An unusual design for a South African fishing boat. Constructed out of fibreglass. Held to the jetty by just one spring!

Hennie also had his opinion on the comings and goings at the Marine and Coastal Management (MCM) building which had been used as a fish store in the past but was now used as accommodation for MCM staff deployed in the area to combat poaching. I had observed that there was a continual flow of vehicles, mainly MCM bakkies and including the occasional police van, to the building. Clearly there was an all-hours party going on and there were many young girls present. This was the “house of sin” and Hennie was sure that nothing would ever stop the evil.

He told of, “klein hoere (small whores) van Blompark who partied with the poachers sometimes and the MCM staff at others.” Perhaps they were even sent by the poachers to party with the gamekeepers?

Of course at the centre of every evil is money, and in this case the money made from perlemoen (abalone) poaching. Gansbaai is a key hub of a multi-billion dollar perlemoen poaching operation, and the harbour is a central piece of real estate in this hugely profitable cat and mouse game.
West HarbourWest Harbour with West Jetty on left and West Breakwater behind

West Harbour has no offices or factories around it and thus is relatively dark at night – ideal for bringing high speed rubber-ducks in and out without lights. So especially in the early hours of the morning – from 02:00 till 04:30 when it started to get light before sunrise, there was a steady flow of various craft without lights in and out of the harbour, mostly at speed and right in front of the party at the MCM base.

Hennie also claimed to have been offered R20 000 if he switched off the jetty lights for 20 minutes, to allow poachers to off-load perlemoen into the harbour.

Net storage
Fishing nets stored under shade cloth

But this was holiday time, so on Boxing Day I was privileged to see numerous floating things, including boats, taking families for rides. These included many rubber ducks which were clearly Christmas presents – a few hundred-thousand rands of rubber, glassfibre and outboard and I was happy to note that Santa had not only been visiting white families, with quite a number of black owners at the steering wheel. I also spotted a few other 8 meter plus ducks – high powered with rigid bottoms and inflatable tops, mainly darker in colour, well used, well serviced and much faster than the Christmas presents. These looked to be the work-horses of the poaching industry taking the “neefs en niggies vir ‘n rit” (taking the nephews and nieces for a ride) on Boxing Day. So what? Poachers also have families!

Poachers also have connections to gangsters of all kinds. There’s is is a hugely profitable export industry, with connections to the Chinese triads and of course a number of the local high fliers are also in on the game. The centre of this quick cash is Gansbaai – under its face of harsh fynbos beauty is a crooked town. It is like many of those in what I used to call the “Fynbos Republiek” – the Fynbos republic – a large section of the Western Cape coast where everywhere you look are beautiful fynbos plants, mountains and proteas, but behind the walls of the large houses is a den of gangsterism, drug dealing, sex, racism, the NG Kerk, the broederbond and poaching. All this and more monsters than you can imagine.

Merlene bridge close up

Merlene’s pretty bridge – too much wood work for me

Speed, not the drug high – though tik is everywhere – but high velocity, also worried me in the harbour, as it does on the rivers of our country. Boats of every kind travelled at very high speed, the worst offenders being the Trans-Agulhas speed cats which launched off the beach and then immediately attained a high speed as they passed “Nolwandle” turning hard to starboard on their way to the harbour entrance. Even “White Pointer” came in at high speed on occasion, not being able to see around the bend of the harbour entrance. An accident is sure to happen soon. Perhaps that is what it will take before speed in our harbours is policed. This situation is worse on our lakes and rivers.

On the last day of my stay Errol and Eddie brought Melly and Karl, his brother, who were to sail with me the next day.

Eddie, Errol MaxEddie, Nolwandle with Melly and Karl, Errol, Max, Merlene

It was great to meet up with Errol again – he has been living in England for nearly 2 years. He had not been out on “Nolwandle” since May 2006 when the old crew came to see the then new Nolwandle. Eventually, after helping with chaotic shopping at OK Gansbaai they left us to prepare for excitement of the next day. Departure was set for 05:30, which was sunrise, with wake up planned for 04:30. We turned in at about 23:00.

gold sunset

Hout Bay to Gansbaai

In December 2007 we went for a long sail. I had been planning for the most of last year to take Nolwandle to the Southern Cape. Having finished all my work commitments on a high at Polokwane, the big day arrived on Friday 21st December. At about 1900, Peter, Dick and myself left Hout Bay bound for Mossel Bay. The weather forecast was south-easterly 20 knots, switching to north-east and then west the next day. I was hoping that if we were somewhere between Cape Point (about two miles East of the more famous Cape of Good Hope) and Cape Agulhas (the Southern most point of Africa, 80 miles south of Cape Point) when the Westerly came through, it would be an easy broad reach to Mossel Bay.

Tabs&Zuma
Tabisa and Jacob Zuma, President of the ANC, elected at the ANC’s 52nd National Conference held in Polokwane in December 2007

Well this is the “Cape of Storms”, so we left Hout Bay in a 30 knot southeaster, which is normal for a summer evening. I was convinced that once outside the Bay the wind would drop. We motored to Slangkop where the wind dropped as predicted. Here I managed to destroy the crown gear on the self-steering. I called Cape Point lighthouse (call-sign Penguin) on the radio and was told it was blowing 40 knots south-east there. I did not actually believe this and anyway I thought it would drop. So we chowed the food Peter had made, put the second reef in the main, rolled the genoa a bit and put a tack out to sea. About an hour later we put in a tack back to the land and soon we were off Scarborough. In 30 metres of water another tack to avoid the land and we were now heading due South with the wind coming up to about 40 knots off Hoek van Bobbejaan. We put the third reef in the main, rolled the jib some more and Nolwandle was a having a ball, going in the right direction in a huge chop.

I was helming and the other two were down below when I heard a loud crash from the cabin. As the boat had fallen off a chop, Peter had fallen against the saloon table and taken it off its mountings. Actually, what I did not know at that stage was that the mountings were only 10 brass self-tapping coach screws! He said he was okay but in retrospect he must have hit it with a hang of a force. He tried to tie the table so that it would not move around and went to sleep on the floor – which was the most comfortable place. I carried on helming for a bit and then handed over to Dick.

I went down below and lay down, still in my oil-skins and got some sleep. Every now and then I would wake up as Nolwandle fell off a large bit of chop, slamming down the back. I slept for about 3 hours, till about 0400, when I relieved Dick on the helm.

At 0430 it started getting light, the wind was now about 35 knots from the east-south-east. We were romping along in a southerly direction at about 5 knots. Our position was about 10 miles south-south west of Cape Point. As the sun came up we were able to see the Point, which was our last sight of land for the next 24 hours. As the morning progressed the wind dropped and shifted more to the East. Things were good. By 1000 it was blowing about 20 knots and the chop had gone to be replaced with a 4 metre swell. During the day the wind continued to drop and it was very hot. We shook the reefs out and spotted a few fishing boats and continued to sail south parallel to and about 50 miles from the coast.

Cape Point Cape Point is on the far right. The better known, but less prominent Cape of Good Hope is on the left. It is slightly further South than Cape Point.

All was well, but Peter was not feeling okay. He said he was feeling sea-sick and just wanted to sleep – lying in the cockpit occasionally throwing up. I have sailed quite a bit with Peter over the last two years, sometimes in huge swells. He is also a former ship’s engineer. I have never seen him sea-sick and was surprised. He couldn’t eat and we forced him to drink water and juice. In retrospect I think that Peter was in some kind of shock from the blow he received and not just sea-sick. Whatever it was, had put him out of action. He could help for short periods of time, but was not able to steer. When we left he had told us that he was not able to helm at night, as he struggles to stay awake. I had no problem with this as Peter is a brilliant cook and I was expecting to enjoy the fruits of his slaving over a hot stove. Anyway sailing at night is my favourite, so Dick and myself could easily stand in for him.

In the late afternoon the wind dropped completely as we waited for the westerly to come through. Not all the crew were convinced that it would eventually come and there was a motion that we turn around and head for Simonstown. I was not in favour of this. I was convinced that the westerly would come and was very keen to get to Mossel Bay. Without a westerly Mossel Bay is a 150 mile slog to windward and in summer westerlies are rare, so I did not want to miss this one.

 

Crew in Gansbaai
Crew and “Nolwandle” tied up to “Merlene” in Gansbaai Harbour – Max, Peter, Dick

With Peter out of action I volunteered to cook – a simple matter of browning the chicken fillets and throwing in the stir-fry veggies (except that our cook had confused potjie veggies with stir-fry – no problem just ignore the hard butter-nut bits) and a packet of brilliant pepper mushroom Denny sauce. Even the skipper could make a tasty meal!

Whilst I was slaving over the hot stove I was thinking: If Peter is out of it and Dick wants to go home and was not convinced by the westerly, perhaps we should cut our loses and head for Gansbaai. We were about 60 miles away, equidistant between Agulhas and Gansbaai, well out to sea. We were perfectly positioned for the westerly to speed us to Mossel Bay, but if the crew were not keen, prudence, as opposed to my pride and sense of adventure, said go for plan B. After a supper I told them of my decision. We turned the boat to the north-east, put the donkey on and motored for about 3 hours towards Gansbaai. Then a perfect westerly came through – 15-20 knots and we were reaching under full sail at 6-7 knots towards Gansbaai. I was cursing myself as I napped below.

At 2400 I took over the helm. Peter was sleeping in the cockpit and I was having one of the best sails of my life. The wind came up a bit to about 25 knots, there was 4 metres of swell and we were surfing on a broad reach doing an average of 7-8 knots boat speed, often reaching 10 knots down the waves. This was bliss. At times there was a clear starry sky, occasionally rain squalls, but brilliant sailing. At about 0300 we crossed the bows of container ship. She came up to about 500 meters from us, slowed down and waited for us to pass. Otherwise we saw a lot of lights but there were no incidents in the busy shipping lane. I thanked the fact that we had hoisted a large radar reflector on the burgee halyard before we left. At about 0400 we sighted the Danger Point light, which marks the southern entrance to Walker Bay and is about 5 miles from Gansbaai. At sunrise, about 0530, we passed Danger Point and altered course for Gansbaai harbour.

Danger Point
Danger Point from Gansbaai New Harbour breakwater

Now it was blowing about 20 knots from the west north west – straight into the harbour mouth. The “South African Sailing Directions” warn against entering Gansbaai in a strong westerly. Is 20 knots a strong westerly? Anyway there were few other options – the closest was Hermanus – but all the books warn about this being an uncomfortable harbour. We went in close, struggling to see the leading lights as the sun was rising straight in front of us. The swell was steep, at least 3 metres high in places, and breaking occasionally. I turned around and asked the guys to remove the dodger, as it was spoiling my view. A group of dolphins began to play around the boat. Then we headed again for the entrance – it was now or never and I just had to do it. Motoring we surfed a few waves. It was breaking regularly about 200 metres to our port. We started off in the middle of the entrance, but as we approached the harbour I edged slowly to starboard and as we came alongside the breakwater light did a hard turn to starboard, opened full throttle at the top of a big swell and entered the New Harbour. Immediately we were in a calm millpond – what an excellent harbour with a terrible entrance. I was still shaking from the adrenalin. We considered tying up to a fishing boat, but decided on picking up one of the buoys. Soon the kettle was on and Peter was heating up the left-overs for breakfast.

Gansbaai entrance calm
Gansbaai harbour entrance calm in a South-easter. It is difficult to imagine the steep breaking swells that we faced entering in a Westerly. The Old Harbour is on the right, New Harbour on the left.

I phoned the harbour master’s office and a security answered – he said I should phone at 0800, which I did. The fisheries control officer said we could not stay on the buoy, but should tie up to a fishing boat. If we did not want water or electricity there was no charge and we could stay as long as we liked. That afternoon Nikki came to pick up Peter and Dick, we had a few drinks in a harbour pub and my 4 days break in Gansbaai began.

On the 22 September, Peter, Shannon, Yousuf and myself went for a great sail. Actually Peter and myself really enjoyed the sail. Yousuf, who was fasting because it was during Ramadaan, definitely did not. He was very seasick, but dealt with it stoicly. Shannon was a bit sick as well. The sailing was great, a nice 10-20 knot North Westerly, which gusted a bit when we were off Vulcan Rock, and a big 5-6 meter swell.

Poaching in 6 meter swell off Vulcan Rock, note the buoy to the right of the boat, looking for a keel to wrap around!

Whilst we were off Vulcan we came upon two boats poaching kreef, also known as rock lobster. This is in the middle of the Karbonkelberg Marine Protected Area (MPA) Restricted Zone and is also part of the Table Bay Closed Area in which “no rock lobster may be caught between Melkbos Point (beacon MB1) and Die Josie (near Chapman’s Peak – beacon MB2), extending 12 nautical miles seawards from the high-water mark.”

The one boat was a rowing boat and the other had a small outboard. What was amazing was that this was happening in clear day light, about 1 mile from the shore. What pissed me off was that they had set long lines with tiny buoys which were very difficult to see. I was going to be very pissed off if one got caught on Nolwandle’s rudder!

Poaching sentinal

Poaching off Karbonkelberg, near Hout Bay is very dangerous. The boats are launched from the beach behind Duiker Island, often through big breakers. Just off this beach is the famous Dungeons surf break, where the Red Bull Big Wave Action takes place. One of the biggest waves ridden world wide in 2006 was ridden here! This is a picture of a 55 foot wave at Dungeons!!

BWA Jamie

These poachers take their boats out through this surf, often with disastrous results. Earlier this year at least one poacher was drowned off this spot and there are rumours that at least two others have drowned this year, but their deaths were not reported as they were poaching. Of course most of the time the poachers are not wearing life-jackets as in these photos, often are drunk or stoned (Norman told me he saw a poacher make a white pipe – mandrax mixed with dagga – in a boat at the same spot last week!) and their boats mostly leak. We saw water being bailed from this boat whilst taking these photos. This is dangerous stuff! If it were a sport it would be an adventure sport.

Poaching neck

I am very glad that the NSRI has been giving life-jackets to poachers. This might seem like encouraging poaching to some, but think about it – the sentence for poaching is not death and most poachers (but not all) are driven to this dangerous activity by poverty. I say more life-jackets to them and more and better policing.

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