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    Andre Delport
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Never walk alone - 16. Chapter 16

The exclusive charter continues, they receive an unexpected invitation and the boys prepare for the twins first Christmas


They slept a bit later than normal, waking at 7am instead of 6am. Surprisingly, the twins were still in baby dreamland, so they packed pillows around them, showered and dressed for the day and went upstairs.
Ryan wanted to get going, but did not want to disturb Dan and Joan by starting the engines, so he retrieved the anchor, raised the mainsail and used the wind to push them further out into the bay. Then using the bow thruster, he pivoted 'Belle Catherine' to face the mouth of the bay and sailed out, heading for Langebaan, roughly three hours away. They sailed a northwesterly course out to sea, before raising the spinnaker and reefing the mainsail, then turned on a more northerly heading for Langebaan, the spinnaker billowing off the port bow in the fresh wind.

Andrew got busy with breakfast, whipping up a batch of blueberry muffins, and a banana bread for later. He set the table, lowering the protective screens to shield the area from the cool, following wind. Then he made some fruit salad, muesli and yogurt parfaits and set them on the table. He cooked sausages, grilled bacon and tomatoes in the oven and used the grease from the bacon to saute some potatoes and onions. Lastly, he beat a dozen eggs, added some cream and salt and pepper, and placed it on the hot spot of the warmer to slowly cook, giving it a stir even now and then, to make perfect, creamy scrambled eggs.

He eventually heard some baby noises from their cabin, so he dashed down to get the twins changed and dressed, before carrying them up to the helm to say good morning to their other dad, whose face lit up whenhe saw them. Andrew handed them to him.

"Hello, my little angels. How are you this morning? Daddy thinks you must be well, because you both look and smell so beautiful". He kissed them both on the forehead and settled more comfortably in the helm seat, a baby cradled in each arm and looking totally content.

Dan and Joan came up from their cabin, greeted them and stepped out onto the deck, clipped their harnesses to the rail and walked forward to stand on the bows. After a few minutes they came back with Dan saying,

"The wind is quite cool this morning. Definitely much cosier in here. These screens do a great job of shielding this area from the weather.

Ryan nodded.

"Yes, they do. There are actually two layers. We only have one down at the moment. The other is a mesh screen to keep bugs out. It gives some privacy and does cut some of the wind, but not all. And this one we have down is totally waterproof as well."

"Oh and by the way. Very nice manouver to get us away this morning. If I hadn't been awake, I would never have noticed it. Joan slept right through it", Dan said, smiling.

Ryan blushed and grinned.

"Thanks Dan. I just wish they could invent something to not make anchor chains so noisy. I cringed when we raised the anchor this morning".

Andrew appeared with two jugs of fruit juice.

"Breakfast is ready. The starters are on the table and hot food on the warmer on the galley. Coffee is on the way".

Dan and Joan sat down and Andrew returned with the coffee pot and filled their mugs, then went to fetch the twins chairs, propped them in the usual place and took Elizabeth from Ryan. They secured the babies into their seats and Andrew sat down next to them. Ryan moved back to the helm.

"I think I'll have to eat here this morning. We have a lot of fishing boats crossing the bows and in the immediate vicinity. And by the looks of things, some of them either don't have radar, or their radar is not operating. AIS is not picking them up". Andrew took him his parfait and sat down again.

"How did you sleep after our excitement last night. I really must apologise" he said, looking at Dan and Joan. Joan waved her hand dismissively.
"Nothing to apologise for. You could not help it. And we slept just great, thank you"

Ryan nodded, looking serious.

"It could have turned nasty had we not become aware of them. True the intruder alert was there. I'm thinking seriously of getting a weapon for protection". He glanced at Andrew. "Yeah, I know you don't like guns, neither do I. But the day might come where we may need one.".

Andrew sighed, not happy.
"I know, it's just another layer of responsibility. And the paperwork will be horrendous"

Joan touched Andrew's hand.

"Ryan has a point. You never know when or where you might need one"

They finished up breakfast and while Andrew cleared the table, Joan entertained the twins and Dan sat with Ryan at the helm. Then, with everything tidied up and the dishwasher going, and an hour to Langebaan, Andrew sat down with Joan and the twins to feed them and chat.

They sailed into the Langebaan lagoon just after 11am and found a quiet, secluded anchorage close to the town, to spend the night. Sheltered from the wind, it started getting quite warm in the cockpit, so Ryan rolled up the screens to allow the breeze to cool things down, leaving just the corner, where the twins were now sleeping, with some protection. Andrew had put little sunhats on their heads, and gently applied sunscreen to all exposed skin without waking them.

Ryan rigged a tarpaulin from the saloon railings to the stays on the bows for shade and arranged the sun loungers under the tarpaulin, then set about getting the dinghy into the water.
Dan watched as Ryan launched the dinghy. Extending the crane arm from the mast boom with the remote control, he attached the hook to the harnesses, lifted the dinghy off its cradle on the transom and lowered it into the water. Then he swung the boom around so that the dinghy floated to the bottom of the scoop and he walked down and secured the dinghy to a deck cleat, before unhooking it and stowing the crane back in the boom. Dan was grinning like a Cheshire cat.

"Now I've seen everything! This boat just has surprise after surprise. And all included in the price! Amazing!"

Andrew helped Ryan inflate the kayaks and the tube which they secured to the ski rope rail of the dinghy.

Ryan looked at Dan and Joan.

"Are you folks ready to have some fun?"

Joan nodded eagerly,

"Bring it on buster!"

Ryan boarded the dinghy and started the motor, moving away from the yacht until the tube was level with the scoop. Then Andrew assisted Dan and Joan onto the tube after checking their life jackets. Ryan motored away towing the tube behind him, then slowly opened the throttles to pick up speed. Soon, they were wizzing around the lagoon, accompanied by shrieks from Joan when they turned the corners.

While they were away, Andrew prepared a smoked chicken salad with mango, avocado and pecan nuts for lunch and as soon as everyone arrived back, windblown, slightly damp, but laughing and exhilarated they sat down to eat. The twins were awake and Ryan played with them for a while, eating salad in between. They all had a siesta after lunch to allow the food to digest, but by 3pm, Dan and Joan were back on the water, this time on the kayaks, paddling around the yacht. There were a couple of shrieks as Joan toppled into the water, but she soon got the hang of it and paddled around quite happily. When they returned on board, they were tired and collapsed onto the seating in the aft cockpit.

Andrew made tea and coffee and brought out the banana bread and they had a small snack before they went onto the bows and lay on the sun loungers. Andrew took the twins into the saloon, reasoning that they had been outdoors for long enough, and one could still get sunburn from the sun's reflection off the water.

It was quite hot, even with all the portholes and doors open, so he turned on the air conditioning to keep them cool, and they soon dropped off to sleep. Ryan was busy deflating the tube and kayaks, and then recovering the dinghy from the water and washing it down with fresh water and Andrew set about preparing dinner which was going to be the pickled fish, that he had made the day before, with crusty French loaf and butter. Tge main course would be bobotie with yellow rice, raisins and flaked almonds, pumpkin fritters with cinnamon sugar, and sambals consisting of bowls with chutney, coconut, chopped tomato, onion, cucumber and chilli, and sliced banana.

Dan and Joan came in from the bows and watched him chop and dice vegetables for a while, before going down to their cabin to rest and freshen up for dinner.

The bobotie was essentially minced lamb, flavoured with Malay spices, topped with a beaten egg layer and baked in the oven. For dessert, they would be having one of Ryan's favourites, peach Melba. Ice cream, peaches and a raspberry coulis. He even themed the dinner table, covering it and the counter with bright cloths and adding a brass candlelamp and burning inscence on the transom so that they just got a whiff of sweet smoke every now and then.

He put the bobotie into the oven, and the rice on the stove and then he and Ryan took the twins down to their cabin to bath them and get them ready for bed. Once that was done, Andrew went to the galley and turned off the rice to steam, adding the raisins then returned to the cabin where he watched the twins while Ryan showered. When Ryan was done, he took over from Andrew, while he showered. They dressed and took the twins back into the saloon, sitting them in their chairs so that they could see everyone moving around them.

The saloon smelled faintly of rich, warm curry spices, but the galley ventilation was excellent and it was only very faint. Joan noticed it immediately when they came upstairs at 7.30pm. and sniffed appreciatively.

"Lordy, something smells absolutely heavenly. I'm already salivating".

Andrew giggled.

"Tonight, we are going Cape Malay. Pickled fish to start, and then a traditional dish called bobotie, spicy, not hot, ground lamb with an egg topping. To go with that we have yellow rice with raisins and flaked almonds, what the Malays call funeral rice, because it is traditionally served at funerals, pumpkin fritters and sambals. Ryan is busy making coconut rum cocktails with pineapple juice, so make yourselves comfortable, I just need to plate the fish".

They moved out into the cockpit, Ryan carrying the twins, and sat down, sipping their cocktails. Andrew brought a basket of sliced bagette to the table, then fetched the four plates of fish. Although it was now nearing 8pm, the sun had only just touched the horizon, prior to sunset.

The fish was eaten very simply, just fish and bread. When Andrew cleared the plates, Dan commented,

"That was delicious. Another recipe Joan needs to get".

Andrew grinned.

"Thanks Dan, I'll print out all the recipes before you leave". He took the plates to the galley and Ryan followed him in to assist with carrying out all the bowls for the main course. Andrew brought out warm plates and invited Dan and Joan to help themselves. Joan murmured appreciatively as she tasted the food.

"Yum, lovely. A simple meal, elevated by the use of lamb and the extras that go with it. I love the spicy, sweet combinations".

"The Malays love the spicy sweet. Many of their dishes are eaten with something sweet to go with it. It also counteracts any heat from the spices".

They sat eating and chatting and as the last bit of the sun dipped below the horizon, Ryan stood up and flipped the switch to turn on the deck lights and underwater lights. The water in the lagoon was so shallow that the halo around the yacht was almost yellow, as opposed to the green from the deeper water the previous night. They all had seconds, and when they were done, Andrew and Ryan cleared everything to the galley.

The twins had fallen asleep and as the air was getting cooler, he carried them into the saloon and put them on the seating there.

Andrew had not told Ryan about dessert, so when he saw the glasses with the peaches, ice cream and coulis, he grinned delightedly and rubbed his stomach. Andrew laughed as he set the desserts down.

"Please excuse my husband acting like the village idiot. This is one of his favourite desserts. It's not Malay, but I thought the combination would suffice. I've added my own twist, with some crushed biscuits and a dash of peach schnapps". It was yet another hit and when they had finished, Joan leaned back and threw her arms over the backrest.

"Oh lordy, I have eaten far too much today. I feel like a beached whale. At this rate, you boys are gonna have to roll me off the boat when we get back to Cape Town."

They all laughed and Ryan said, "Well, isn't that what a cruise is all about. Food, food and more food". Andrew made coffee and they sat companionably, talking mostly nonsense. Dan had a cognac and Joan had three glasses of her new favourite liqueur, Amarula.

Cameron and Elizabeth woke up just before 10pm, hungry as they had slept through the usual 9pm feed. But by now, the disturbed night and the day on the water and in the sun were taking their toll and they were all flagging. Dan and Joan thanked them for dinner and retired to their cabin. Ryan took the twins to feed and change them, while Andrew sorted out the galley and packed the dishwasher. When he was done, he secured the gate, turned off the lights and activated the intruder alert, then went to their cabin.

Ryan was burping Cameron, Elizabeth had already been done and was sleeping. Andrew picked her up, held so her Ryan could kiss her good night and carried her to the crib, where he kissed her soft cheek before laying her gently in the crib. When Cameron spewed milky fluid on the towel Ryan had over his shoulder, he carefully removed the towel, wiped the little boys mouth and chin and carried him to the crib. They both kissed him good night, and put him next to his sister. He was asleep before they turned away.

The boys undressed and stood side by side brushing their teeth and got into bed, They lay face to face for a while kissing and caressing one another, before turning on their sides to spoon and falling asleep.

The next morning, their dual alarm clock woke them just before 6am. Both were rather whiffy, very hungry and petulant. Andrew hurried to the galley to organise bottles while Ryan started changing them.
When he got back with the bottles, Ryan was just finishing up but the twins were very unhappy campers. That is until their bottles were put into their mouths. Blessed silence except for furious sucking sounds and contented snuffling! Ryan quickly showered and Andrew followed while Ryan got dressed.

When Andrew appeared from the bathroom, Ryan went to the saloon, deactivated the intruder alert and went out onto the deck. He retrieved the anchor from the sandy bottom, and hoisted the mainsail. The sail caught just enough wind in their sheltered position to get 'Belle Catherine' underway. The plan was to sail to St . Helena Bay, about two hours north to buy fresh snoek and crayfish for the seafood BBQ that evening, and then sail southwest out to sea, then turn south on a close haul. This was due to the wind still blowing from the southeast, and would have to sail virtually directly into the wind, but was forecast to begin swinging round to the west later in the day. Otherwise they would have to use the engines and motor back to Cape Town.The destination for the night however was the beach at Veldrif, North of Melkboschstrand. From there it would be a short sail or motor, to the marina.

Andrew, meanwhile had finished feeding the twins, winded them and taken them to the saloon, where they now sat in their usual place. Then he started on breakfast. Fresh strawberries and sliced banana, cereals, yogurt, buttermilk pancakes with lichee honey, link sausages and bacon. There was also a bowl of whipped cream if anyone wanted to indulge. Then there was thick slices of toast and bran muffins, cheeses and preserves. When Dan and Joan appeared, they immediately had breakfast and then sat nibbling toastwith their coffee.

They sailed into St . Helena Bay shortly after 10am, and motored to the fishing harbour, hailing the boats as they passed. They eventually found one that had a small snoek and were directed to a boat which would sell them crayfish and mussels. Four beautiful crayfish and a bag of mussels later, they came about heading southwest out to sea. It was never going to be fast, but they moved through the water at steady pace until the coast disappeared below the horizon.
Andrew was not entirely comfortable being so far out to sea with the twins, but he had complete confidence in Ryan, knowing he would not put them in any danger.

As the day was essentially a day at sea, guests had to be entertained, so he turned the TV to face the cockpit and invited them to watch TV or DVDs. They watched CNN for a while, catching up on all the murder and mayhem across the world, and then
watched The Avengers.

Andrew knocked up a batch of scones that he served, still warm, for teatime, with preserves, the cream from breakfast, and grated cheese. Lunch was easy, as there was nothing to be cooked. Thinly sliced biltong on mixed salad leaves, balsamic beetroot cubes, mozzarella cheese, white seedless grapes, spring onions and croutons., followed by a warm tart with apricot preserve and a coconut topping with ice cream. Everything was either already cooked, in the refrigerator or in the pantry.

After lunch, Ryan made a turn to the east, and Andrew took over from him at the helm and he went to lie down with the twins.
Dan went to lie down as well, but Joan kept Andrew company, relaxing stretched out on the cockpit seating, talking babies, recipes and yachts.
When Ryan came back to the helm at 6pm, showered and freshly dressed, he brought the twins with him, also clean and ready for bed. Andrew grinned at him.

"My hero, and here I thought you were snoring in dreamland. Instead, our babies are bathed and dressed for bed. Thank you my love".

"No problem, you took over from me here, it was only fair I do something to help you too".

Joan huffed,

"Looks like I married the wrong man. Too late now , I'm stuck with what I got. I'm going to freshen up for dinner. Nice talking with you Andrew".

"Thanks for keeping me company, Joan. It was fun, wasn't it. See you later".

Ryan looked at the chart plotter.

"Hmmm, we haven't done as well as I had hoped. We're fighting the wind and the current. Still about two hours to go. I think I'm going to fire up to one of the engines and motor sail. It will give us a small increase in speed, but will get us there just a little bit quicker. Fortunately it only gets dark at about 9pm. I don't want to have to search for the mooring bouy in the dark."

Andrew dashed down to the cabin to shower and change and half an hour later he was in the galley prepping for dinner which would also be fairly easy, but very luxurious.
The mussels would be the starter, prepared mariniere style, and served with crusty bread to sop up the juices, BBQ whole snoek with and apricot preserve and mustard glaze, coal baked sweet potatoes, the traditional accompiament, and grilled whole crayfish with lemon garlic butter and savoury rice and a garden salad. Dessert was a deconstructed version of caramel peppermint tart, with layers of crushed biscuits, creamy caramel and chopped peppermint crisp chocolate all topped with fresh cream, served in martini glasses. Andrew chose his favourite Southern Right Sauvignon Blanc wine to serve for dinner.
It was quickly done, with just the mussels to be added to the pot with some cream, and the fish to be cooked. The coast had come into view, a dark line on the horizon, about an hour away.

Dan and Joan came up and Andrew offered them something to drink. They had the usual scotch and soda for Dan, gin and tonic for Joan. He brought some crisps, peanuts and pretzels for them to snack on, explaining,

"We're going to hold dinner until we are moored, if you don't mind. It will be less distraction when we are approaching the buoy. We should be secure by eight or shortly thereafter". Ryan and Andrew just had fruit juice as they never had alcohol whilst underway.

"No problem", replied Dan. He addressed Ryan, "If you need an extra pair of hands, just shout".

Ryan smiled at him,

"Thanks Dan, we'll see how it goes. This is only the second time we have used this anchorage, and the previous time was in broad daylight".

The closer they got to the coast, the closer the sun dipped toward the horizon. Roughly a third of the sun remained above the horizon when they coasted up to the mooring bouy. There were three buoys formooring, and Ryan chose the most sheltered one. They were lucky. Just as the sun disappeared, a monohull sailed into the small cove and moored at the next bouy across.

Once they were secure, Ryan fired up the grill, while Andrew finished the mussel pot. The snoek and the crayfish would not take long to grill, so Ryan put the foil wrapped sweet potatoes on the grill and closed the lid for them to bake.

Andrew ladled mussels into four bowls, added some of the mussel liquor, an extra drizzle of cream and chopped parsley and served the bowls to the table, where they all tucked in, slurping plump, juicy morsels of mussel meat straight from the shells and dipping the crusty bread into the sauce.

When they were done, Andrew cleared away while Ryan put the seafood onto the grill. Andrew had used only the tails of the
crayfish, as the whole crustacean would have taken up too much space on the grill. As the tails were grilling, Ryan basted them with lemon garlic butter, and when the snoek was almost ready, he basted the meat with the apricot preserve and English mustard mix, then closed the lid so that the glaze could get sticky. The aromas were amazing and had all their mouths watering. He served the seafood directly onto plates and they all added the extras. There was a large bowl on the table for the bones and the tail carcasses.

Andrew looked at Dan and Joan

"I know the fish looks a little intimidating with all the bones, but they are quite large and very easy to remove. If you pull on the end, it will just slide out., and when you flake the meat apart, they are easily seen, and please, if you want to use your fingers, feel free to do so"

Once the bones had been removed, they started eating.with Joan commenting,

"Hmmm, gamey but subtly so. And the combination of the apricot and mustard is ingenious".

They ate slowly, chatting, sipping wine and enjoying the company, until Cameron woke up and started crying. Ryan jumped up to attend to him, but before he got there, Elizabeth had woken and was also crying. They took the babies out of their chairs to go back to the table, but Ryan stopped dead halfway there.

"Uh, oh, can't take you to company smelling like that, can we baby boy?" He looked at Andrew. "What about Elizabeth?"

"She seems fine. Maybe just wet. Dan, Joan will you excuse us. Parenthood calls".

They quickly cleaned and changed the twins and took them back to the table, where Ryan held them while Andrew fixed bottles. They seemed to be perfectly happy in their dad's arms, baby chatting, gurgling, smiling and generally being their normal sunny selves. Andrew came back with the bottles and they latched onto them as soon as they came in range.

"Shame, my little angels are hungry".

Cameron choked, and Ryan lifted him, taking the bottle from his mouth.

"Slowly baby boy, it's not going anywhere except into your tummy", with Cameron desperately searching for the bottle. He put the bottle back into the little boys mouth and he sucked energetically. Andrew came out again with the desserts and coffee and they ate dessert and fed the twins. They were obviously hungry, as the bottles were empty very quickly and after being winded by Andrew and Ryan, they soon fell asleep again. They just sat with the babies cuddled in their arms, while finishing their coffee, then took them down to their crib in the cabin, and settled them for the night. They went back to the table and Joan smiled at them.

"They really are two little angels. No trouble at all. We have hardly been aware of them, You two are very blessed. And they are blessed to have you as parents. It's been a privelege to watch. Now we are going to bed. Thank you for yet another lovely dinner. Good night boys, sleep tight!" Dan said good night as well and they went to their cabin.

Andrew started clearing the table, while Ryan got big plastic basin, poured in hot water and lots of dishwashing liquid and put the bars of the grill into it to soak overnight. Then he checked the mooring, turned off the deck lights, and helped Andrew tidy up and pack the dishwasher. Andrew turned on the oven on high for five minutes, then turned it off, before taking some frozen croissants and Danish pastries out of the freezer, packing them on baking trays, and popping them into the warm oven to thaw and prove overnight. He would bake them off for breakfast in the morning. Then they secured the yacht, doused the lights and turned in for the night.

For the final day of the charter, Andrew had planned breakfast and a big lunch, with a planned arrival of 4pm in the marina.
So after getting Cameron and Elizabeth, sorted out, he and Ryan took them into the saloon and secured them in their usual place on the saloon seating. Ryan deactivated the intruder alert, and stepped out onto the aft deck, stretched and smiled. The wind had changed. He opened the electronic weather page on the helm console, and studied it. The wind was blowing slightly north of West, which would be a great help on the leg to Cape Town.

He looked around the anchorage and noticed that a third yacht had arrived during the night. He had not noticed anything when they were having dinner, but then he and Andrew were sitting with their backs to the other buoys. It was also a catamaran and it looked like an XqusiteX5, what he considered to be the Rolls Royce of cruising catamarans. Slightly shorter than 'Belle Catherine' at 50ft, she was only a four cabin maximum, but had electronic systems that were leading the industry. Andrew
stepped out onto the deck.

"What are you looking at? Oh, nice, isn't she", noticing the other catamaran.

Ryan nodded, "That she is my love. I really like that targa arch over the aft cockpit. Gives her very nice lines. She's smaller than us, only 50ft, and she only has a max of four cabins, but I am told the engineering and finishes are superb. Very custom! And if you had to put all we have into her, you're probably looking at a R20 000 000 plus price tag. I think just standard her price tag is R15 000 000. Anyway, I am perfectly happy with our 'Belle' and we are bigger anyway. Size matters, in my opinion."

Andrew peered at him with a mischievous smile on the face.

"Well, I'm not complaining. In all aspects of size". He ducked and hurried away, chortling as Ryan took a swipe at the back of his head.

Ryan poured himself and Andrew coffee and then sat next to the twins, while Andrew got breakfast together. It would be a continental breakfast with fruit juice, fresh fruit, yogurt, croissants and Danish pastries, with ham, salami and smoked beef, cheeses, cream cheese and preserves. It was a slightly lighter breakfast than normal, but he planned a full lunch with a starter of prawns and avovado, roast lamb and potatoes., roasted butternut, and green beans., and meringues with strawberries and cream. So he had a lot to do.

Ryan set the table for him, and then Andrew laid everything out on the counter in the aft cockpit. Then he started on lunch prep, peeling all the vegetables, larding the lamb with garlic and fresh rosemary and shelling and cleaning the prawns, ready to be flash sautéed in butter, lemon and a splash of Cognac.

Dan and Joan came up the stairs from their cabin.

"Why does this galley always have the most amazing aromas. I smell fresh baked goods, mixed with garlic and rosemary. That's not breakfast I hope?"

Andrew grinned at them.

"Morning Joan, morning Dan. The baking is croissants and Danish pastries for breakfast. The garlic androsemary are in the lamb for lunch"

"Hmmm, sounds good. Now that's sorted out, I really need some coffee and breakfast. What you got for us this morning?" asked Dan.

Andrew wiped his hands on a cloth and led them out to the aft dining area.

"Continental breakfast this morning. It's all out here already, just go at it. Coffee is ready as well. I am doing a full lunch so just a light breakfast, or as light as you want to make it".

They all helped themselves, sat down and started eating, not saying much, but all watching the monohull yacht prepare for departure. It turned and motored quite close to them before heading out to sea and raising the sails. Andrew just had coffee and a croissant with cream cheese and strawberry preserve and stood up.

"Please excuse me, I need to get into the galley. Lunch will unfortunately not prepare itself. Ry, what time are we sailing?"

"I think we can get breakfast done, then sail afterwards. 10 or 10.30ish". Andrew nodded and went to the galley, while Ryan kept their guests company and finished breakfast.

Ryan got them underway just before 10.45 with Dan assisting to detach from the mooring bouy. He motored out of the bay, before turning to port to hug the coast back to Cape Town. Dan was comfortable keeping the yacht on the correct heading, so Ryan went to the bows and unpacked the spinnaker and let it fly, slightly off the port bow. They picked up speed and were soon swishing comfortably through the water.

The rest of the morning, Dan and Joan just relaxed, watching some CNN on the TV, and later a documentary on the History channel. Ryan looked after the sailing and watched the twins, who were on the helm seat next to their dad, and Andrew bustled around the galley.

As everyone seemed quite comfortable in the aft seating area, Andrew set the table in the saloon for lunch which he announced just after 1pm as they were abeam of the nuclear power station at Melkbosstrand.

The starter was on the table with the avocado sliced and fanned on the plate. The whole prawns were artfully placed around and on the avocado and drizzled with a lemon and dill mayo with some micro herbs and sprouts on top.

They all helped themselves to main course, the lamb succulent and still slightly pink, redolent with the aromas of garlic, rose-mary and the red wine used to finish the gravy. The meringues with macerated strawberries and cream was a tasty, light finish to the final meal of the charter. Once again Joan complemented Andrew.

"The standard of food you produce from that galley is truely amazing. That was absolutely superb".

Andrew smiled, blushing ever so slightly.

"Thanks Joan. It does take a little bit of work, but careful planning is the key. And to be honest, I don't cook like this on every cruise. Usually the meals are simpler. But you and Dan were exclusive clients, andthen we splash out a little. I'm pleased you enjoyed it".

With lunch over, Dan and Joan relaxed for a while, before going to the cabin to pack, so that they could be on deck for the arrival. Andrew cleared lunch away and got the galley back in order prior to entering port and Ryan concentrated on the yacht and the twins.

As it was a Sunday afternoon, in December, the water was very busy with craft of every description in the vicinity. There were a number of yachts and powerboats laying at anchor off the beach at Bloubergstrand, with inflatable rubber boats, jetskis and seadoos all over the water, as well as windsurfers. Ryan kept a careful watch as they sailed into the channel between Bloubergstrand and Robben Island and Andrew went and stood on the bows for an extra pair of eyes.

Once they were into the bay proper, it was much easier, but they still had to be watchful for unexpected traffic, especially the windsurfers, who would often sail in right under the bows without heed to their safety or that of the vessel on who's course they were encroaching. Approaching the channel to the harbour entrance, Ryan radioed harbour control for permission to enter and was told to heave to and wait for the departure of two cruise liners. He engaged the engines and lowered the spinnaker, keeping them on station with the engines ticking over.

The first cruise ship to pass ahead of them was the local cruise company heading for Durban, the sail away party in full swing on the lido deck. Five minutes after she had turned to port to head up the coast, the black hulled behemoth that was Cunards flagship, Queen Mary 2, slid by in front of them, destination Rio De Janeiro. Once she was clear, Ryan was given the go ahead and they slipped through the harbour mouth heading for the marina. Dan was at the helm with Ryan, and Joan linked her arm
through Andrew's.

"I really have enjoyed this trip. You and Ryan run an excellent operation here and I will be recommending you to everyone I possibly can. She's comfortable and stable, very well appointed, great food and the company is great. Dan and I want to invite you, Ryan and the twins to join us at the end of June, when we do our maiden cruise on the new yacht in the Mediterranean. We would love to have you join us".

Andrew gently pulled her closer to where Ryan was sitting at the helm.

"Babe, we just got and invitation to cruise in the Med in June. Dan and Joan want us to join them on the maiden cruise of their new yacht"

Ryan grinned at Dan and Joan.
"That would be great. Thank you! We will be in the off season. Darren and Kerry can handle anything that comes up.
Where would we be sailing from?"

"More than likely, from Genoa,", Dan answered. "That's where the final fitting out is being done. We are flying to Italy when we leave South Africa, to launch in the middle of January, then six months to completion. In fact five and a half months. I want her ready to sail two weeks before the actual maiden cruise for sea trials and troubleshooting. We want to spend a few weeks in the Med before taking her home across the pond. Then take the kids and grandkids down to the Caribbean"

Andrew hugged Joan and then leaned forward and shook Dan's hand.

"Thank you for the invitation. We accept. As soon as you have a definite sailing date, we will reserve our flights and advise the details".

Joan waved a finger.

"Not so fast mister! We will advise you of sailing date, and we will reserve your air tickets. No don't argue with an old lady! We have invited you to join us. We will cover the expenses. No arguments!, she said pointing a finger at Andrew who was about to protest.
Andrew drew in a breath to say something and then exhaled, shoulders sagging.

"It's too much, but okay, I know when to accept defeat. Thank you, both of you".

They were negotiating the bascule bridge canal into the marina, and Andrew could see the lodge guest transport waiting for them. Claude stood at the open door to the passenger space.

Joan asked,
"Is there anywhere in particular you would like to go in the Med?"

Andrew looked at Ryan.
"You're the expert on the Med".

Ryan thought for a moment.
"For me, the best places were the islands, and Croatia. It is a very busy time of the year in the Med. So Iwould stay away from Cannes and Monte Carlo". He looked at Andrew and said "Definitely Santorini. If you could drop us on Santorini at the end of the cruise, I would like to spend a week there in a little cottage Andrew and I stayed in the winter after his parents passed away. It was there that I knew I could not live without him. It would be nice to see it in summer".
Andrew's eyes misted over, as did Joan's.

"Splendid, we'll arrange an itinerary around that then".

They were approaching the dock when Darren and Kerry appeared at the end, walking briskly. By the time Ryan had manouvered 'Belle Catherine' close enough, they were ready to grab the lines that Andrew tossed to them and secure them to the dock. They jumped aboard to assist with the luggage.

"Dan, Joan. This is Darren and Kerry, the other half of the 'Belle Catherine' team", said Ryan doing the introductions.

They greeted Dan and Joan, exchanged some pleasantries and then went to collect the luggage from the cabin, carrying it up and placing it near the boarding ladder to the dock. Dan and Joan were bent over the twins saying good bye to them. Then they hugged Andrew and Ryan, thanking them and Joan whispering in Andrew's ear,

"There's a little something for you on the counter in the galley"

Andrew thanked her and asked,

"How long are you still staying with us, at the lodge I mean"

"Just tonight, then tomorrow up to Kruger for a short safari. Then Christmas in Paris and New Year in Rome, before we go to Genoa for the launch". Ryan and Dan were talking closer to the bow.

Andrew took her hand and walked her to the boarding ladder."Have fun in Kruger, it's going to be hot. And have a wonderful Christmas and New Year"

"You too, my dear, you and your beautiful family. We should have dates for you by the end of January. Then we can make more plans".

"Thank you again. We are already looking forward to it".

Darren and Kerry helped them to disembark, carried their luggage to the van and hoisted it into the luggage compartment. Claude stepped forward to greet them and assisted them into the van, before turning to Andrew and Ryan.

"Bonsoir Mr Andrew, Mr Ryan. I hope you had a good trip".

Ryan shook his hand.

"Yes Claude, we did. Very enjoyable!"

Andrew greeted him as well.

"Hello my friend. Yes it was very good. You look after them tonight!"

"I will Mr Andrew. Claude's special service as always. Your doggie is at home. I dropped him on the way here".

"Good, I know you will. And thanks for looking after Rascal"

They watched as Claude got into the van next to the driver and it drove away, Dan and Joan waving as they went. Darren and Kerry were double checking the mooring lines.

"What were you and Dan talking about?", Andrew asked Ryan.

"Just wanted to thank me for allowing him to sit at the helm with me. Apparently, even though he is the owner, his captain is not keen on having Dan hanging around the bridge. Which just seems all kinds of wrong to me. But anyway, he was very impressed and appreciative. Said they had left something for us in the galley".

"Joan mentioned that too. Let's go see"

They boarded the yacht again, checked on the twins who were sleeping, and walked to the galley, where a cream coloured envelope lay on the counter. Andrew opened it and inhaled sharply. He counted quickly.

"Thousand dollars, ten crisp hundred dollar notes"

Ryan grinned, looking at him.

"Hmmm, nice tip. You should get most of that my love. You worked hard this trip"

"Uhuh, we worked hard. And I have a feeling we are going to get lots of business from this trip. I want to give some of this money to Darren and Kerry.Would half be okay with you?".

"Yeah, I'm cool with that. Keep them motivated. It was good to see them come down and help with the mooring lines and luggage."

Darren and Kerry came back on board and joined them in the saloon. Darren asked,

"So it was a good cruise. They seem to be very nice people. And they looked happy".

Andrew grinned at him.
"It was a good trip. I was just saying to Ryan that we may get a lot of goodwill out of it. We had a bit of drama at Yserfontein. Suspicious rubber dinghy with four guys in the middle of the night. But the cops sorted them out. As for happy, happy enough to invite us to join them on their motor yacht in the Mediterranean at the end of June, and to leave us to a thousand dollars as a tip. Ryan and I want you and Kerry to have half of it." handing over the five bills.

Darren's eyes bulged and Kerry put her hand to her mouth.

"Oh, wow, thanks guys. Now we can go to Kerry's folks in Durban for Christmas and New Year. Unless you need us back here?"

"No, go. Ryan's family are coming down again this year. It is the twins first Christmas, so we will be spending it as a family, to make it special for them. There is nothing booked for that period. We'll more than likely take 'Belle ' out at some stage. So you two can go to Durban. We just have Ivan's weekend shindig starting on Friday. You two are handling that one"

"Great, thanks. You guys go on home with the babies. Kerry and I will get her sorted out tomorrow and Tuesday. Do the service company know to do the black and grey water service tomorrow?", Darren asked.

"I contacted them before we left. I'll leave a reminder on their service tonight. They did say they would be here at 9am.Is that too early?" replied Andrew.

"No, we were planning on being here by 8am anyway" said Kerry.

"Thanks guys. Appreciate it. Just check the port midships cabin bathroom. They might have used it was well as the aft cabin. I told them it would not be a problem. There are some leftovers from lunch in the refrigerator. Roast lamb and veggies. Take whatever you want". Andrew said.

Darren rubbed his stomach.

"Yummy, roast lamb. No cooking tonight babe", grinning at Kerry

Kerry just looked at him, eyes wide.

"You, if it doesn't move for long enough, you'll eat it"

Ryan was with the twins and called out,

"Darren, do me a favour and bring the SUV down here. Cam and Elizabeth are still sleeping, so it will be easier to get them in the car here, instead of walking all they way, trying not to wake them up"

"No probs, give me five minutes"

Ryan and Andrew gathered the few things they had brought with them, mainly baby stuff, and were waiting on the dock with the twins when Darren arrived with the car. They secured the twins on the seat, with Andrew sitting between them and Ryan drove them home.

Rascal was yapping excitedly when Andrew got to the front door. He unlocked the door and Rascal launched himself at them running in circles around their feet, almost causing Ryan to stumble with the twins. Then he sped up and down the stairs a couple of times before they reached the landing, before scampering around the lounge and dining room. Ryan had the twins and Andrew was laden down with baby paraphernalia, so neither could pick him up. When they didn't pick him up, he stopped in the middle of the lounge and looked at them reproachfully, tongue lolling out the side of his mouth. Ryan put the twins on the
counter, turned and clapped his hands. The little dog yapped happily and leapt into Ryan's arms, squirming and licking his face. Andrew put the bags down and walked over to Ryan and tickled the puppy's ears. He squirmed out of Ryan's arms into Andrew's and repeated his welcome kisses on Andrew. Leaving one bag that he knew was all laundry, Andrew hefted the other and carried it and Rascal to the bedroom with Ryan behind him with the twins.

The house felt very closed up, so they went around opening the sliding doors to allow fresh air to flow through. Ryan went downstairs and did the same with the dining room and lounge doors. Soon, lovely cooling breezes were wafting through, curtains billowing in the wind.

Rascal had made himself comfortable on the bed, laying, stretched out, his head on his front paws. His eyes watched the twins
intently for a while, then they too drooped and he fell asleep. Andrew and Ryan changed their uniforms for soft shorts and t-shirts, then they too lay down to nap.

A wet nose touching his woke Andrew and he opened his eyes with Rascal standing looking at him with soulful eyes, his tail wagging.

"What is it boy?. You need to go out?"

Rascal turned his head to in the direction of the babies laying in the middle of the bed where two little arms were waving about .

"Good boy, you came to call me because Cam is awake" he said scratching Rascal under his ear. Rascal backed away and sat close to Cameron who reached out his tiny hand and touched Rascal. He looked surprised for a moment and scooted back, then dropped on his stomach and leopard crawled back to Cameron. When Cameron touched him again, he scooted back causing Cameron giggle, seemingly, all the way from his tummy. Ryan woke at the sound and Andrew put his hand out with his finger to his lips. Rascal and Cameron played for another few minutes, before Rascal got too excited and let out a sharp yap that startled the little boy and his face puckered as he started to cry. Rascal crawled to him and nuzzled Cameron' s face then just lay next to him, not moving, looking very contrite.
Andrew picked him up, and Ryan took Cameron into his arms, where he quickly calmed down. Rascal lay with his head on Andrew's arm looking at Cameron sadly. Andrew stroked him and scratched his ears.

"It's okay boy. You didn't mean to frighten Cam. You were just playing with him". Andrew kissed the top of his head and his body shook as his tail wagged back and forth. Andrew put him back on the bed and he slowly slunk toward Ryan and Cameron and lay his head on Ryan's leg, looking up at him and Cameron.
Ryan scratched him under his chin, and he crept up between Ryan's legs and sat with his front paws on Ryan's thigh, sniffing Cameron's feet and legs, his tail wagging.

All the movement woke Elizabeth so Andrew picked her up. They put the twins down on the bed between them and Rascal jumped over Ryan's leg and lay down close to the babies, watching them. Andrew started getting their bathwater ready and taking out clean clothes for the night while Ryan entertained them. He bathed Elizabeth and handed her to Ryan, who dried, lotioned and powdered her, before dressing her. The process was repeated with Cameron and soon both were happily on the bed sucking bottles.

Neither Ryan nor Andrew were in the mood for cooking, so they ordered in pizza and sat on the bed eating and watching TV. The only time either of them went downstairs was to meet the pizza delivery guy, lock up and go to the kitchen to make coffee.
Otherwise they little family enjoyed a quiet evening in the haven of the master bedroom, all snuggled on the huge bed.

Rascal took up his usual position when the twins were moved to their cot for the night and when Andrew and Ryan became too boisterous, he huffed, gave them a look that said he was not impressed with their antics and jumped off the bed and lay down next to the cot. Not that the remaining two occupants of the bed actually noticed. They were far too absorbed in one another.

With two weeks to go to Christmas, the next day they decided to start their Christmas shopping. They drove to the mall, sat the twins in the stroller, making sure they had the diaper bag and the cooler with the bottles of milk and set off to plunder the mall.

In order to to that, they felt they needed fortification, so they had large breakfasts at one of the restaurants in the food plaza.

When they exited the mall just after lunch, giggling like two teenage schoolgirls, Ryan was pushing two trolleys, one containing two huge teddy bears each one personalised with Cameron and Elizabeth's names and various other shopping bags. The other was filled to the brim with soft and educational toys of every description suitable for the twins ages and a little older, a reindeer that danced and played 'Rudlolf the red nosed reindeer' when it's ear was pinched, and enough Christmas paraphernalia to open their own store. But they had had a blast.

Andrew had the stroller with the twins, who had fallen asleep, and every place where it was possible to hang or store a bag had been utilised. They were both fully aware that they had gone totally overboard, but justified it as being the twins first Christmas and their first as dad's. The downside, where Ryan was concerned, was how they were going to get the twins, stroller and baby bags, themselves, two humungous teddy bears and everything else into the SUV. However, with some judicious packing and filling every nook and cranny, everything and everyone was eventually in SUV with the two bears sitting upright on the back seat eliciting some amused stares from other shoppers and motorists on the way home.

The crunch of tyres on the gravel driveway and Rascal's excited bark, alerted Yvonne to their arrival and she hurried downstairs to help with the babies. Her eyes widened in astonishment when she saw the packed vehicle

"Did you two leave anything in the shops for the rest of the public to buy", she queried cheekily, grinning at them when the stepped out of the vehicle. Andrew laughed.

"We did go a little crazy, but it was such fun buying stuff for Cameron and Elizabeth. It is their first Christmas after all. Could you take one of them, and I'll take the other and get them upstairs. They're both sleeping at the moment. Shopping up a storm is very tiring business, you know".

The twins were carried into the house and Andrew came back to help Ryan with all the parcels and bags, putting everything into the guest bedroom, with Rascal running around sniffing each item as it was put down. When they carried the teddy bears in he dropped down onto his belly and growled softly as they went past. Yvonne made tea for Andrew and coffee for Ryan and left for the day soon after, telling Andrew that she had taken some lamb cutlets out, and had made roasted vegetables and couscous for dinner. There was a small salad in the refrigerator.

Cameron and Elizabeth woke up, and as it was quite hot, their dad's took them for a splash in the pool which they enjoyed immensely. It was late in the afternoon when they took the twins upstairs to bath them, in tepid water to keep them cool, and change their diapers, putting on short sleeveless babygrows so that they would be comfortable. Although the house was fully air conditioned, it was only turned on when the temperatures were really uncomfortable, as both Andrew and Ryan, probably by virtue of spending so much of their time at sea, were fresh air fiends and preferred natural cooling breezes to mechanically cooled air. The worst of the days heat was over and the light southeast wind was beginning to cool things down. Ryan extended the awnings over the front balcony and closed the curtains to block out the sun that was shining directly through the windows, and that helped considerably to lower the temperature in the room. Andrew fetched beer for him and Ryan, and diluted apple juice for the twins, and the family sat together on the couch watching TV, the twins enthralled by the flickering images.

By 6.30pm, both Andrew and Ryan were feeling quite peckish, having not eaten anything since breakfast, so Andrew went to the kitchen, fed Rascal, and after reviewing what Yvonne had put together decided that Moroccan was the flavour of the day for dinner. He rubbed a spice mix on the meat and set it aside to marinate while he made a carrot, orange and red onion salad to add to the meal. Then he heated a cast iron grill pan and when it was really hot, he grilled the lamb cutlets, mixed the couscous and roast vegetables together and popped the couscous into the microwave to heat up. Ryan, meanwhile, had set the table,
and Andrew put the two salads on the table, before plating the couscous and the lamb cutlets and carrying them to the table.

After a delicious dinner, Ryan cleared the table while Andrew tidied the kitchen and made bottles for the twins, and in no time at all, they were back on the couch, each with a large bowl of ice cream and chocolate sauce, the twins happily sucking on their bottles on either side of them, and fast on the way to baby dreamland. Andrew and Ryan watched the news on the TV, then
Andrew nudged Ryan.

"Babe, I really think we should get a start on wrapping all those Christmas gifts. It's going to take a while to get them all done."

"Okay! I think we as we wrap, we move them from the floor to the bed".

Andrew collected all the wrapping, ribbons, gift tags and scotch tape and put them on the couch where they had been sitting. He and Ryan moved to the couches at either end of the coffee table each with an assortment of parcels to wrap. They had to be fairly methodical, as two of each fluffy toy had been bought for the twins. They worked through their parcels and were finished just before 9pm, in time to watch their favourite police crime series on TV. Andrew put everything away on the other couch, while Ryan made coffee and they settled back onto the couch to watch the program with Rascal snuggled between them. When the program was over, Andrew stood up and walked to the guest bedroom to survey what they had accomplished. Ryan joined him and Andrew looked at him and said,

"You do realise that we've got to get this bedroom cleared by Friday when your sister and Craig arrive. Unless we put them upstairs.".

Ryan gazed at what still had to be wrapped.

"I think we can do it. Christmas is next Wednesday, tomorrow week. I think we get all this done over the next two days, get the Christmas tree up on Friday morning, and move all this out to the tree. Then Yvonne can get the room ready for when they arrive in the evening. I mean, the room is not dirty. It just has to be properly equipped for guests. Fresh linen on the bed, fresh towels, stuff like that. And that should not take long".

Andrew nodded and kissed him on the lips.

"My practical husband at his best. You're right, it is doable. It's going to be strange not having mom and dad here this year".

"I'm sure we will see a lot of them anyway. And we can go to them as well. They're not exactly far away. Are we having dinner here as usual on Christmas Eve and lunch at the lodge on Christmas Day?"

Andrew nodded, "Yeah, I've reserved a table for us including Nicky and Beth, and François. Darren and
Kerry are only flying up to Durban early on Christmas Day, because they wanted to have dinner here with us on Christmas Eve. New Years Eve, I would like to have a get together on 'Belle Catherine'. Just us, mom, dad, Donna and Craig, and Paul, Marie and Jonathan. Claude is managing the event at the lodge, and Paul is off on New Years Day. So maybe we spend the night on board, and the sail over to Clifton for the day and come back in the evening".

Ryan turned off the light in the guest bedroom and nodded.

"I like that idea. We can maybe take her out on New Years eve and anchor out on the bay somewhere, where we can see all the fireworks up Sea Point way, the Waterfront and along the coast here. Then comeback once all the excitement is over"

"Sounds like a plan. I want to do as little as possible though. I'm just going to order in some platters for us to snack on".

Ryan grinned.

"Okay, now that we have our festive season program all sorted, I think it's time to take our family upstairs and get them into bed", carefully lifting Elizabeth out of her chair. Andrew picked Cameron up, they turned off the lights and walked up the stairs to the main bedroom, Rascal bounding up the stairs ahead of them.

The guest room was back to it's normal pristine state when Ryan's parents arrived on Friday evening from picking Donna and Craig up from the airport. David and Janice were staying for supper, so while Andrew showed their guests to their room, Ryan poured drinks for his parents, who were standing gazing at the Christmas tree in utter horror, each one holding a baby. The tree was almost dwarfed by the two huge teddy bears that flanked it, but it was the enormous pile of gayly wrapped gifts that caught the attention.

"Boys" Janice enquired archly, " Just how many people did you buy gifts for?"

"Oh, just the usual mom," answered Ryan flippantly. "Although 80% of that is for Cameron and Elizabeth. We got a tad carried away"

"That, my darling son, is the understatement of the year! You two do realise they are just over four months old."
Andrew grinned at her.

"We do, but we just felt it was their first Christmas so it had to be special, for them", then added sheepishly, "and for us".

David chortled loudly, putting his arm around Janice.

"Let the boys have their fun Jan, it only happens once in a lifetime, buying Christmas gifts for your firstborn. They just have two. So it's twice as many. Can you remember what we bought for Donna for her first Christmas? Multiply that by two, and they're not that far over what we bought".

Janice glared at her husband, then giggled.

"Okay, I guess we did. But they will never remember it".

Ryan waved his video camera.

"Oh yes they will. We intend catching every moment on video for them to watch when they are older. Do you and dad want to come over a bit earlier on Christmas Day when we open gifts, then you can be in on it as well"

Janice nodded, beaming.
"Definitely yes, we would love to be here. Say 10am"

"Sounds good to me", Ryan agreed

It was a lovely evening, so dinner was going to take place on the patio with its great view of the bay and the mountain. Donna and Craig joined them after unpacking, Donna having wine and Craig a beer. Although it was after 8pm, half of the sun was still above the horizon in yet another spectacular sunset.

Andrew had made lasagne with homemade pasta sheets, using a machine they had purchased on their shopping trip and was supposed to be one of Andrew's Christmas gifts. To go with dinner there was a large Italian salad and garlic bread. It was a simple dinner, but extremely tasty, with everyone complimenting Andrew on his homemade pasta. Dessert was warm pecan nut pie with ice cream.

Both Janice and David had eaten one handed, as they had both refused to relinquish their possession of the twins. They had not seen them for almost two weeks, David and Janice having been away and then the boys and the twins had been on charter. Both the infants had fallen asleep so Andrew suggested taking them upstairs to be put to bed for the night. The proud grandparents carried the little bundles up to their cot and gently lay them down after kissing their foreheads. Andrew turned on the baby monitor and picked up the receiver. Rascal jumped up onto the bed and stood guard over them. They went back downstairs to join the others and have coffee.

The next day, they were all going on the annual foray into the wine lands so plans were made for departure and meeting times and on Sunday, weather permitting, they had reservations to take the cable car to the top of Table Mountain for breakfast before coming down and driving to Hout Bay for a seafood lunch.

Andrew touched Ryan's arm and said

"Ry, I think I have a great idea for New Years Day. Instead of going to Clifton, how about we leave early, and sail up to Yserfontein and have lunch at that beach restaurant with the bedouin tent. We can anchor offshore, or if the tides are good, we beach 'Belle', go ashore, have lunch and sail back again. We may get in quite late but there is no rush".

Ryan went to his laptop and opened up the tides page for Yserfontein.

"It could work. Low tide at Yserfontein is at 12h20 on New Years Day. So we should be able to get off the beach on the incoming tide. We would just have to use a stern anchor to stop her from beaching herself further on the incoming tide.".
He turned to their guests. "Would you like to do that. We had thought of spending New Years Eve on the yacht anyway, sailing out into the bay and watching all the fireworks from there, then spending the night on board and going to Clifton for the day on New Years. But Andrew's idea is a good one. Go to Yserfontein for lunch."

Everyone agreed, and so Andrew sent the restaurant an online reservation request adding a request for information on anchorages off the beach.

Just then Rascal came scampering down the stairs, yapped at Andrew and Ryan and bolted back up the stairs, stopping halfway to look around at them as if to say "Well are you coming or not?"

Janice looked at him then ar Ryan and Andrew.

"What's he so agitated about?".

Andrew grinned

" Oh, one of the twins is awake or waking up. That's his way of telling us. He watches them like a hawk when we are not in the room. If one of them just twitches, he comes running to call us. I must admit, I haven't heard anything on the monitor".

Craig chortled.

"You're kidding us , right. He watches the twins and calls you when they wake up. Now I've seen everything!"

"Come with us and see for yourselves".

Ryan led the way up the stairs and Rascal was sitting at the bedroom door waiting for them, looking back at the cot every few seconds. He leapt up onto the bed when they came in the door and approached the cot. Ryan grinned and looked at them.

"See, told you so!"

Cameron was awake, but quite happy, gurgling and cooing to himself, his arms and legs waving about. When he saw Ryan and Andrew bend over the cot, he broke out in a huge smile, his blue eyes sparkled and he held out his arms. Andrew was closest and picked him up holding him in front of him.

"Hi there my little man! You've been such a good boy. Playing all by yourself and not waking your sister. Rascal had to come tell us that you were awake".

Andrew cuddled him to his chest, his face looking over Andrew's shoulder at Ryan. He smiled at Ryan and gurgled, one tiny hand reaching for him.
.
Ryan reached forward and took the little boy in his arms, cuddling him. Andrew heard a sniff, and turned his head to see Janice and Donna standing with one arm around the others waist, smiling but with tears rolling down their faces. Donna whispered,

"That was one of the most incredible, beautiful things I have ever seen. That look on his face when he realised his dad's were close. Just breathtaking. You two have no idea how lucky you are." She walked over to Rascal and scratched his head. "And you, such a clever fellow, coming to call your dad's when the babies need them". Rascal wagged his tail so hard, his whole body wriggled. The encounter left a profound mark on those who had witnessed it. And on the youngest couple in particular. They were very thoughtful when they retired to bed soon after.

The winelands trip was uneventful, but tiring. It was very hot, even though the vehicles had air conditioning. It still meant that when out of the cars, the heat had to be endured, although most of the tasting rooms were quite cool. They had lunch under the trees on one of the estates, and although they were in the shade, and a breeze was blowing, the heat was nevertheless uncomfortable.
When they arrived back at the house, everyone went for a swim, including the twins and Rascal. Andrew and Ryan never got tired of seeing them enjoy the cool water and the surprised expressions on their faces when water unexpectedly splashed into their faces or on their heads. After a big lunch on the wine estate, no one wanted a big evening meal, so on the way home Ryan stopped at a supermarket and Andrew ran in an bought two roasted chickens, some crusty rolls, and a few salad ingredients he knew they did nothave at home.

After their swim, Ryan took the twins upstairs to bath and dress them. Donna offered to help so she went with him. Andrew organised long, cold drinks for everyone and then quickly put together a large chicken salad with a honey mustard dressing and popped it into the refrigerator until needed. The evening was spent chatting, catching up, eating and enjoying being around family.

The excursion to Table Mountain started early the next morning. They had reservations for the 8.30am cable car departure from the lower station and had to be there fifteen minutes before.
First thing Ryan did was check the wind, which was barely discernable. The water in the bay was almost a mirror.

They were both showered and dressed by the time the twins woke up. They gave them a face cloth wash, got them into fresh diapers and cool clothes and made sure had everything they needed to keep the infants happy. The dad's would be carrying the babies in their chest harnesses as the stroller was too bulky and the terrain too uneven. They were securing the twins in their car seats when David and Janice pulled up in the driveway to pick up Donna and Craig.

The drive was quick, being early on a Sunday morning, but they were obliged to park some distance from the cable station due to the number of vehicles already there. With the twins in their harnesses, they walked to the cable station and checked in.

The procedure was simple. Those with reservations at a particular time were accommodated first, and if there was still room on board the car, those waiting in the long queues were permitted to board on a first come, first served basis.

The car arrived from the top station almost empty and they were allowed to board, followed by those who had purchased tickets at the cable station. The car left promptly at 8.30 for the climb to the upper station. Andrew had made reservations for breakfast as soon as they arrived at the top, advising the maitre d' on which car they would be arriving on. They went straight to the restaurant when they reached the summit, where it was a lot cooler than at ground level. Breakfast orders were placed and received, although eating it proved a bit of a challenge for the boys.

They had the babies facing forward on the chests and as soon as the plates were put in front them, little hands started reaching for anything they could grasp. The first casualty was one of Andrew's sunny side up eggs, that was virtually obliterated when Elizabeth slapped her hand down on it, leaving it covered in sticky egg yolk. Wet wipes were pulled out, but it still took
a while to clean the mess up.

To keep the twins occupied, the waitress was asked to warm two bottles and while one hand held the bottle for the baby, Andrew and Ryan had to eat breakfast with their free hands. Donna and Janice made things easier by cutting everything up on their plates with a remark of,

"They may be adults, but just sometimes you have to treat them like babies", much to Andrew and Ryan's annoyance and the mirth of the rest of the table.

Breakfast was completed without further incident, and Andrew, having noticed that it was very busy and that tables were at a premium, suggested they get going, after ensuring that the, now, slumbering twins were well covered with sunscreen and putting their sunhats on. They walked the circular route of the summit, viewing the Peninsula from all angles, with Craig videoing on Ryan's camera, and they left the summit at 11.30 for the drive to Hout Bay for lunch.

The drive would be the scenic one from the cable station, down to and through Sea Point and Camps Bay, then past Clifton and Llandudno onto Chapmans Peak Drive, built into the side of the mountains. The views were spectacular and they stopped at a couple of viewpoints along the way to take photographs and more video.

The restaurant was a tourist hot spot and was bustling when they arrived. Andrew had, once again, made reservations, so they were seated immediately on a shady terrace cooled by the sea breeze and large overhead fans. The twins were on chairs in their baby carriers, fast asleep.

They all ordered the house fish and chips with a large salad to share and bottle of white wine. Once again they didn't linger, as the long queues at the door hinted that that tables were needed, but decided to stop for gelato on the way home.

Cameron and Elizabeth started getting restless just after Andrew took the off ramp to Bloubergstrand, probably from bring cooped up the whole day, and even more likely, from needing a diaper change and freedom from clothing. As soon as they arrived home, Andrew and Ryan got them undressed and cleaned up, and then, taking a bit of a chance, took them for a splash in the pool with out their diapers, which they seemed to enjoy immensely. It was too hot to stay outdoors for long, so Ryan cranked up the air conditioning, closed all the curtains and, after putting on clean diapers, lay them down on a soft blanket on the rug, propped up with pillows, in front of the couch, arranging soft toys, rattles and other toys around them to play with. David and Janice had taken one of the upstairs bedrooms to go and have a nap, while Donna and Craig were in their bedroom. Andrew and Ryan sprawled on the couches and watched the twins play, with Rascal adding to the entertainment by using his left paw to push toys closer to the twins. Inevitably, they fell asleep, which allowed their dad's to also nap on the
couches close to them. Rascal kept watch. The sound of voices and movement woke Andrew and he opened his eyes to see Craig filming the little family group with Ryan's video camera.

"What you doing?", Andrew queried sleepily.
"Well, you guys said you didn't want the twins to miss anything of their first Christmas. This is part of that".

Andrew sat up and glanced at his watch It was getting on for 7pm.

"Shit, is that the time already! I haven't even thought about supper".

Janice touched his shoulder.

"You and I can have a look now Drew. We just need something small. We've had breakfast and a big lunch".

The discussion woke Ryan and he sat up running his hands over his face.

"What's going on?"
Janice answered him,

"Nothing darling, just trying to decide what to do for a light supper"

"Oh, okay. Is that all?", peering at the twins, who were still sleeping.

"My little angels, tough day huh!"

Andrew went to wash his face then met Janice in the kitchen. He went through the refrigerator, pulling out leftovers. There was an almost whole roast chicken, just missing a breast. There was a container with savoury mince that he had not used for the lasagne and some sliced ham and cheddar cheese. Andrew looked at Craig.

"Craig, please drive down to the 7-11 around the corner and get me some cocktails rolls. A dozen each white and brown or wholewheat. Take my car. Oh, and some mozzarella cheese and a large packet of crisps. Preferably Lays".

"Don't worry Drew", said David, "I'll take him. We need milk and bread for the house anyway".

"Thanks dad".

David and Craig left and Andrew turned to Janice.

"Right, mom! Can you strip all the meat off that chicken and chop it it up and add some of that bottled sweet and sticky BBQ sauce and a bit of mayo please. I want to make a mixture with the cheese and ham.
Donna, can you organise us something cold to drink? I'll leave it up to you".

"Do you need me to to do anything?", asked Ryan.

"No, my darling husband. You can just sit there looking gorgeous and look after our children", at which Janice and Donna dissolved into hysterics. Ryan pouted and glared at Andrew, but didn't say anything. Andrew started explaining as he grated the cheese.

"Okay mom. The idea is to make a selection of filled cocktail rolls. Chicken , savoury mince and ham cheese and tomato. We put some mozzarella on the chicken and the mince, double wrap the whole lot in foil, and warm them in the oven until the cheese is melted. Put them all on a platter with a packet of crisps and we have supper! How does that sound?"

"Yummy, sounds good to me. Quick and easy".

Andrew grated the cheese into a bowl, added diced up ham and deseeded chopped tomato and fresh basil. Then he added a large spoonful of mayonnaise, salt, pepper and smoked paprika and mixed it all together and set it aside. He turned on the oven and got out a large baking tray that he lined with a double layer of tin foil. When David and Craig got back with the rolls, he and Janice split them and filled them with the fillings, adding a slice of mozzarella to the top of the chicken and the savoury mince.
He arranged them on the tray, covered them with another double layer of foil, after sprinkling the rolls with a little water, sealed the edges and popped the tray into the oven. After 10 minutes, he checked them, decided they were fine and put them back in the oven for a few minutes for the rolls to crisp up slightly.
He took them out of the oven arranged them on a platter, and emptied a packed of his favourite Lays sweet Thai chilli crisps into the centre. Janice grabbed six side plates and napkins and they set it all down on the coffee table in front of the couches, where Ryan sat playing with the, now wide awake, twins and watching TV. They ate supper and David and Janice left for home immediately after.

They heat of the day had sapped everyone's energy and they were all feeling a little wiped out. Donna and Craig offered to tidy up after supper, an offer which Andrew happily accepted and allowed him and Ryan to go upstairs to bath the twins and get them ready for bed. They brought the infants back to the lounge to give them their bottles, while Andrew and Ryan had coffee with Donna and Craig.

After feeding and burping the twins, they settled them in the crooks of their arms and cuddled them till they fell asleep, then took them up to their cot for the night, while Craig locked up and turned off the lights.

Morning found Andrew at home with the twins and Yvonne. While Andrew was starting with preparations for Christmas Eve dinner, Ryan was out with a shopping list of ingredients he needed and to collect some items that Andrew had pre ordered from the butcher. Donna and Craig had asked to borrow Andrew's car to go Christmas shopping.

Yvonne came in to tidy up after the weekend and do the laundry and was all done by midday. She came back into the kitchen after washing her hands in the laundry and asked, "Mr Andrew, the house is done. Is there anything I can help you with?"

Andrew turned and smiled at her.

"Yes Vonnie, there is. I want you to go home and have a good Christmas and New Year. We will see you on the 3rd". He handed her an envelope. "In there is your full months salary, plus a bonus of a full month as well. Merry Christmas"

Yvonne teared up and threw her arms around Andrew.

"Oh, thank you, Mr Andrew, thank you! And Mr Ryan too, please say thank you to him from me"

Andrew smiled at her.

"It's only a pleasure Yvonne. You may not realise it, but you keep things ticking over in this house, and you love Cameron and Elizabeth. Ryan and I trust you implicitly with them, and your bonus is just our way of saying thank you. Now go home and enjoy the holidays".

"Thank you Mr Andrew, and you have a merry Christmas too. Look after my two angels. Don't forget the cleaning service is coming in, tommorow and probably on Friday, because Thursday is a holiday as well".

"I won't forget. I'll be here all day tomorrow anyway, getting ready for Christmas Eve dinner. Be careful, and keep that money safe. I think from January we must transfer your salary into your bank account. Just bring me all your banking details in January, and I will get it set up on the computer".

She gathered all her bags, kissed the twins on the forehead, and left. He made himself a mug of coffee and went to play with the twins who were on the blanket covered rug between the couches. They both broke out in big smiles when he sat down in front of them. He shook rattles and squeezed squeaky toys to entertain them, eliciting squeals and giggles from them both. Then he blew raspberries on the stomachs and that really got some belly laughs from them. He was so engrossed with them that he did not see Ryan had come back and was watching the giggling group from the top of the stairs. It was only when Ryan walked into the lounge that Andrew caught his shoes in his peripheral sight and looked up in alarm, his eyes wide.

"Crap babe, you gave me a fright".

"Sorry my love. Didn't mean to scare you. You were all having so much fun, I didn't want to disturb you"

Andrew looked down at the twins lovingly.

"Yeah, we were having lots of fun, weren't we my angels", tickling them both causing them to squirm and giggle some more. He stood up and put his arms around Ryan, pecking him on the lips.

"I missed you while you were gone. They did too. Did you get everything?"

"Hmmm, missed you all too. Yeah, just got to get everything out the car".

"I'll do that, you play with Cam and Elizabeth for a while. When I'm done, I'll rustle up some lunch"

"Where's Vonnie? She can help you"

"Sent her home at noon for the holidays. She said I must thank you for her bonus".

"She deserves it. I think she needs a raise come the new year."

"And I told her from January, I want to transfer her salary directly into her bank account. It's much safer than her carrying cash around"

"Good idea. Why don't I get the things in the car and you organise some lunch. I'm starving. Our little munchkins seem to be quite happy at the moment".

"Toasted sandwiches okay for you"

"Yeah, two please. See you in a moment" and he left to fetch the bags from the car.

Andrew made the sandwiches and while they were toasting, he unpacked and put away the items that Ryan had purchased. Then they sat down with large Coke's and had lunch while the twins drank bottles with diluted grape juice.

"How did your prep go this morning?" Ryan asked.

"Not bad", Andrew replied around a mouthful of sandwich. He swallowed and added "The crayfish tomato soup is done and in

the fridge, and the cray tails are cooked. All the veggies are cut ready for the pot and the meringue cases are in the oven drying out. The only thing I still want to do today is stuff the pork loin. The rest is for tomorrow"

Andrew's menu for Christmas Eve was fairly simple, but elegant and every course contained the colours of Christmas.
A duo of cold soups, crayfish bisque and an avocado soup, roast pork loin stuffed with apples, prunes and pecan nuts, and glazed with a plum sauce, and a classic mixed berry pavlova.

The trickiest part of the meal was the soup, which had to remain separate in the bowl. To do that, he had made rings of stiff plastic and dipped the bottom edges in melted butter before centring them in the bowls, that were presently in the freezer, allowing the butter to harden for a seal. The red bisque would be poured into the ring of plastic and the avocado soup around it, forming a pool of green with a centre circle of red. The plastic would then be, very carefully, removed and the dish garnished with a swirl of cream and diced crayfish tail, tomato, avocado, spring onions and chives. It would be served with melba toast.

Craig and Donna arrived back and declined Andrew's offer to make lunch, citing a late breakfast, they also advised that they had met friends from Johannesburg who were also down on holiday, and that they would be going clubbing with them that evening, so they would not be having dinner either. Their friends were staying at a lodge on an estate near Melkbosstrand, and would pick them up on the way to the city. The twins were sleeping on their blanket, so Ryan tidied up lunch while Andrew got started on the stuffing for the pork loin.

"So it's just you and I tonight", commented Ryan.

"Looks like it. What do you feel like for dinner".

Ryan frowned, thinking, then replied,

"Let's not cook tonight. You're going to cooking tomorrow anyway. I'm in the mood for a huge burger and chips. I say we go to the steakhouse. With the twins, we never seem to get out that much at night anymore".

Andrew nodded.

"I'm cool with that. Shall we ask mom and dad to join us?"
Ryan shook his head.

"No, I don't think so. I'm being selfish and just want to be alone with my husband and children tonight. Am I being horrible?"

"No, I see your point. Just us will be nice"

Andrew completed his prep on the loin, wrapped it in plastic wrap and put it into the refrigerator. He took the meringue case out of the oven and stored it in an airtight container.

The weather was a great deal cooler than what the previous days had been, so they sat on the patio, eating bowls of fresh fruit salad and relaxing, keeping an ear out for the twins sleeping in the lounge.

"I have a suggestion for tonight", said Andrew. "Why don't we make it an early dinner, say 6pm. We take the twins in the stroller and we walk to the steakhouse along the beachfront and then after supper, walkback again. It doesn't get dark before 9pm anyway, so light will not be a problem. And it will be good exercise. The big push will be the hill back to the house. We can take turns with that".

"Yeah, don't see why we can't do that. A walk would be nice. And it's not so hot either. Might just need another shower when we get back"

"Hmmm, how about we shower together", grinned Andrew, wriggling his eyebrows.

"Now there's a suggestion I can live with! You're on!"

When the time came, they showered and changed, got the twins bathed and dressed, made sure they had blankets for the cooler night air on the way back, put them in the stroller, with all the baby paraphernalia and set off on their walk. Donna and Craig were still getting ready for their evening out and Ryan reminded them about taking their key. The walk to the steakhouse was very pleasant, with lots of walkers, joggers and cyclists passing by them. They reached the steakhouse, had dinner, feeding the twins at the same time, and left for the walk home just after 8pm. The sun had not quite set, so it was still quite light, and a cool breeze blowing from behind them. Andrew made sure that Cameron and Elizabeth were well covered as the breeze was blowing directly into the open hood of the stroller.

The roughly 500m climb to the house had them both breathing harder and they were greeted by Rascal, as welcoming as ever. They gently carried the twins upstairs to the bedroom, and put them down in their cot, and leaving the bathroom door open, should they wake up, the boys took their second shower of the night, this one far more satisfying and, well, steamy, in more ways than one. They emerged from the bathroom, flushed and naked, donned sleep shorts and t-shirts and lay on the bed watching TV, shoulder to shoulder.

Ryan went to the kitchen to make coffee and came back with a plate of choc chip and shortbread biscuits which they ate while watching some sport highlights. After a while, Ryan heard a soft snuffle and turned his head to see Andrew sleeping peacefully. He rolled off the bed, walked round to Andrew's side and gently pulled back the covers under Andrew, then pulled them back over him. He went downstairs to check that everything was secure, returned to the bedroom and checked the twins then got into bed next to Andrew, who had rolled onto his side He scooted closer, spooning him from behind, slid his arm under the pillow and was asleep within minutes. They did not even hear Donna and Craig returning in the early hours.

Copyright © 2020 Andre Delport; All Rights Reserved.
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Chapter Comments

Hi guys.

To those of you who read the original version of this chapter, my apologies.

Not quite sure what I am doing wrong, if anything, but for some reason, once I have uploaded onto the site, and saved, checking the 'Don't publish' button, and I started editing, for some reason the chapter is getting published and the first time I realise it, is when reactions begin appearing on my screen.

Here is the fully edited version, hopefully without too many errors is I just skimmed over it to get it republished as soon as possible. Enjoy!

 

Edited by Andre Delport
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A beautiful chapter. The cruise and the food served on it sound totally amazing. The European vacation will be a change for Andrew and Ryan. The babies are gonna be totally spoilt by there daddies for there first Christmas. I really loving the story and look forward to reading more.

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Andre, I have good news.....and more good news. I am really impressed with the last couple of chapters....just a couple of minor typos and spelling errors. You are an excellent story teller. I feel like I’m aboard the Belle with Andrew, Ryan and the bairns. It’s such a pleasure to read now with so few errors.
I typed up a manuscript for a lawyer client, his memoirs, who was born in Cape Town, leaving there after college as he was disgusted with apartheid. An extremely well read man, and very interesting. He was the great, great, great grandson of the governor of St. Helena, who governed when Napoleon Bonaparte was sequestered there.

I don’t want this story to end...I’m sure there will be some harrowing adventures yet to be told!

BTW, regarding the publishing problem you seem to be having. What if you produce your chapter in a WP app, such as Word, edit it in that format, and when all is well, download it, or copy and paste it into your publishing app.

Edited by Coastguard
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8 hours ago, Coastguard said:

Andre, I have good news.....and more good news. I am really impressed with the last couple of chapters....just a couple of minor typos and spelling errors. You are an excellent story teller. I feel like I’m aboard the Belle with Andrew, Ryan and the bairns. It’s such a pleasure to read now with so few errors.
I typed up a manuscript for a lawyer client, his memoirs, who was born in Cape Town, leaving there after college as he was disgusted with apartheid. An extremely well read man, and very interesting. He was the great, great, great grandson of the governor of St. Helena, who governed when Napoleon Bonaparte was sequestered there.

I don’t want this story to end...I’m sure there will be some harrowing adventures yet to be told!

BTW, regarding the publishing problem you seem to be having. What if you produce your chapter in a WP app, such as Word, edit it in that format, and when all is well, download it, or copy and paste it into your publishing app.

Coastguard, thank you for the comment. As I said in a previous post, the chapters are fully edited before uploading onto the site. It is at this stage that I find the errors are creeping in, and I'm not sure what the reason for that is. 

Sentences are cut off and moved to the next line, the ends of words are chopped off and also moved to the next line  etc.  The upshot is that the chapter then has to be re-edited and not all the errors are always picked up. But we are dealing with it as each chapter is uploaded. 

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On 12/5/2020 at 3:40 PM, chris191070 said:

A beautiful chapter. The cruise and the food served on it sound totally amazing. The European vacation will be a change for Andrew and Ryan. The babies are gonna be totally spoilt by there daddies for there first Christmas. I really loving the story and look forward to reading more.

Thanks Chris. You have no idea how thrilled I am that my story is actually being read, and getting reactions.

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Wonderful story - please remember to check apostrophes - eg “dads”   - most “s” are normal plurals - don’t need apostrophes 

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Wonderful story - please remember to check apostrophes - eg “dads”   - most “s” are normal plurals - don’t need apostrophes - “it’s” always means it is . Careless use of apostrophes just spoils the story. Sorry to be picky!! 

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Great.chapter.it’s verry funny to by those enormous teddy bears for the babies 😂😂🎄🥰. Those 4 man in the dinghy was scary. The police did a great job.

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