We can sail again!

Been a while since I posted here, must be honest, at one stage I thought I probably wouldn’t post here ever again as my sailing days were over, however, things change and here we are again, planning if, and where, we can sail to.

Everyone has handled lockdown and 2020 in a different way. Although we were used to living together in close quarters we still took a helluva lot of strain in lockdown, as did everyone in different ways. All part of life I guess. After 5 months of soul searching, we are stronger and more focused than ever, we plan to sail and so we shall! So here’s to round 2 of “The Journey” on the as yet, unnamed ex Marty Alessa!!

Michael left the river around 1 December due to a whole lot more unpleasantness from the locals, robbed so many times I have lost count, even while we were on board. He filled up with water one morning and decided on the spur of the moment (as he does) that it was time to go, the wind was pumping and he motored the 4 or 5 miles into St Helena Bay and dropped anchor opposite Alegria restaurant – honestly if you haven’t been there and you are in the area you should!! Amazing place, staff, and owners!

Glorious view of our boat in the bay from Alegria.

He stayed there for 3 weeks and I joined him on Tuesday, 22 December. Naturally, this called for a huge celebration at Alegria and upon stumbling out of there around 10 pm, Captain decided it was not a good idea to try and find the dinghy and promptly lay down in the grass on the way to the dinghy and went to sleep. No problem, my car was there and I hopped in, found myself a bottle of sparkling wine, and sang to golden oldies on the radio. He joined me at about midnight after he woke up not knowing where the hell he was, we finished the sparkling wine and at 5 in the morning loaded the dinghy with my bags, shopping, both of us, and off we chugged to the boat watching the magnificent African sky come to life. What an amazing welcome back to the boat. (We have a new, TINY dinghy, we still have no idea how we fitted everything in!)

New dinghy. Named her Noddy.

Around 9 we set sail, no destination in mind, just knew it was time to sail again. Magnificent dolphin display as we left, cartwheeling and somersaulting in the sky, absolute show-offs! Quite a rollercoaster ride, 4 meter swells so we rolled quite a lot, didn’t do the nausea any good. Only our second sail since our drama in the Atlantic when we lost the mast. Captain wanted to push through to Saldanha bay but the wind was not co-operating and was coming from the wrong direction so we pulled into Paternoster, slowly inched our way into the bay, lots of hidden rocks so kept a keen lookout. Dropped anchor. Cocktails on deck to celebrate the fact that we were back on the ocean after 10 months! Had a bloody drone seriously invade our privacy for ages, only left when Captain stood up ready to throw a rope at it, seriously annoying.

Had a marvelous sleep in the slightly rolling boat, I love the gentle movement, Captain hates it!Lazed around a lot and slowly started getting the boat in order on Day 2, lots of packing away and organizing, getting into the rhythm of boat life again. Day 3, a load of washing done (yes, we have a fully automatic washing machine on board, my best friend), sorted out lazy jacks on the mainsail, and put on new sail cover. Peaceful Christmas Eve.

Day 4 – Christmas Day in the bay, Captain cooked, life is exceptionally good now that we are back on the water, amazing how everything seems to fall into place now that we are not stuck in a river, not allowed the freedom of the ocean. Boxing Day spent much the same as Christmas day, pottering around, fixing bits and pieces, cooking, time passing by pleasantly and productively. Sunday, Day 6, and we feel brave enough to test the new little dinghy again and take a trip to shore. Still deciding if we should name her “Noddy” or “Unsinkable 2”. Off we puttered to De Seekat, a restaurant in our line of sight. What a find!! They were fully booked, mentioned we came all the way from “the yacht” in the bay and of course we were ushered in like celebrities, I am honest enough to admit I loved it!!!

Spent hours there and of course, realized that the tide had receded and we were high and dry when we got to the dinghy around 10 pm. No problem, waterproof gear is on, nice and warm, kip on the beach next to the dinghy like 2 stranded seals. Woke up around 1, feet were cold, pushed off, and dinghied back to the Nameless boat under an almost perfectly full moon, just glorious! Unfortunately, our brains were a tad confused, and as we got back to the boat, we both stood up together in the front to tie on to the Nameless boat. Capsized the bloody dinghy, I remember shouting “Oh no!” as we tipped!! Anyway, cold Atlantic water sure woke us up, I climbed on board as fast as I could so Captain could right the dinghy, pull her up on the davits and drain the seawater out of the engine. Slept under several blankets, bloody half frozen!

Day 7, time to get the car from Alegria in St Helena Bay as we heard rumors of another lockdown and need to get some booze supplies in. Oh, yes, and some food. We have a still on board and make loads of vodka etc but a girl has to have bubbles on New Year’s Eve! So glad we shopped, would have been high and dry and bloody miserable if we hadn’t. Still or no still. Mike first spent an hour or 2 stripping our nearly drowned dinghy engine, luckily there was no damage and she started beautifully after he had given her some tender loving care. After loads of incredible sushi at De Seekat, Mike toddled off and I settled down with my book and a good bottle of Chardonnay, still at the restaurant. Not for long! Tons of conversations with other patrons, what boat do we have, where are we from, where are we going to…..was a wonderful afternoon! Car safely back with us, provisions and both of us safely back on board, no mishaps or unplanned swims this time!!

Day 8, Tuesday……wonderful sight mid-afternoon as another yacht sailed into the bay, then another, and another, 18 in all! The “West Coast cruise” is held annually and we recognized a lot of yachts from Port Owen and Saldanha bay. Lit a little braai and watched them all maneuver their way into the bay and settle down, some dinghying to shore, others dinghying between boats, one or 2 nutters swimming……a strangely comforting feeling having so many yachts around us but at the same time as irritating as hell that “our” bay was overcrowded with boats to the left, right and center of us!

Day 9 – wonderful treat, my son and daughter in law came through from Cape Town for lunch, at, yes, you guessed it, De Seekat, I swear we are their best customers at the moment. A glorious, magical day, back to the boat late afternoon after Michael had shopped to replace his missing shoes, sunglasses and hat that went down when we capsized the dinghy. Full moon, drinks on the deck, what a lifestyle, so blessed.

Boat in the background if you look carefully!

Day 10 – last day of this topsy turvy, unsettling year. Time to reflect and thank the Universe that everyone we love is healthy and safe. We are so grateful for our lifestyle and the relatively free life we are living. It is HARD living on a boat, I have more scratches and bruises than I have had in the last 6 months, my arms are sore, sleep is erratic, provisioning is hard to get back to the boat in a choppy sea, water is a priority (water maker has a glitch, next week’s problem)…….but we wouldn’t want it any other way.

What a year! Truly wishing each and every one of you reading this the very, very best for 2021. May the lessons we learned in 2020 make us stronger and ready to face the New Year with energy and hope.

Love to you all.

Captain Mike and pirate wench.

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