The Kinleys see more of the southern South African coast as 'Belle Catherine' plays hopscotch down the coast and they encounter a rather sticky situation. Read on please and enjoy.
Ryan dropped anchor off Lookout Beach, a short distance from the breaker line. Darren had woken from his nap and helped Ryan secure the yacht and then started deploying the water toys.
The first item of business was to lower the swimming platform and get the dinghy into the water, the operation closely observed by Dan, Tanner and Brandon with enthusiastic commentary from Dan. The water tube was retrieved from its storage locker, inflated and left to float tied to a cleat on the starboard scoop, as were the inflatable paddle boards. The waterskis and towing rope were also pulled out and the water scooters, face masks and snorkels were laid on the deck.
When everything was ready, Darren stepped into the dinghy with the water tube rope in his hand and secured it to the towing bar on the dinghy, then slowly motored round so that the tube was floating at the starboard scoop. Dan boarded the dinghy as well to act as spotter. Brandon, Tanner and TK were the first to go for a spin and Ryan assisted them to board the tube, making sure that their life vests were properly fitted and that they were secure in the seats on the tube. When he gave the all clear, Darren slowly motored clear of the hull and gradually opened the throttles until they were skimming over the water. The squeals and shouts of exhilaration could be heard clearly as he turned the dinghy round at speed to head back in the direction of the mother ship. After about half a dozen passes, he brought them back alongside to fetch Tessa, Julie and Cassie. Tanner replaced his dad as spotter, and off they went again. Brandon was grinning from ear to ear when he stepped back on board.
"That was awesome! It's the most fun I have had in a long time. We have got to get one of those for 'Texas Lass'."
The rotations continued through the afternoon with each of the childen going with their grandparents as well. They attracted a bit of attention from the beach and a number of surfers paddled out to float around them to observe the activity. Ryan took the opportunity to don a facemask and snorkel and use one of the water scooters to dive under 'Belle Catherine' and check her hull, propellers and rudders. The rudders had a small amount of seaweed attached to them, as had the bow thruster housings, which he cleared. The water was quite clear and he dived down towards the sea floor to see what it looked like. There were a number of small colourful fish about and the sandy seafloor was strewn with small black boulders.. When he surfaced, he was also observed by the surfers who were obviously commenting on the scooters. When they had all had their fill of the tube, Tanner and Brandon each went water skiing, showing more than average ability on the skis. The conditions were perfect, with absolutely flat seas and the wind had dropped as evening approached. Andrew grinned as he sensed the energy levels on board surge and was pleased that their guests were having fun.
After the skiing, they all took turns to use the scooters and paddle boards which were cause for much hilarity as they all took tumbles into the water. Late in the afternoon, tired but very happy, they clambered back on board and Dan took great pleasure in demonstrating the fresh water showers in the deck head. They all grabbed something to drink and a snack from Andrew's basket of goodies and found somewhere to relax in the still warm sun. Andrew had a feeling it was going to be an early night.
He had planned a braai for dinner based around skewers. The rump sosaties had been a hit on New Years day, so he had more of those. Then there was chicken kebabs and bite sized pieces of boerewors on skewers as well. As side dishes, he and Kerry had potatoes which would be cooked over the coals as well, with sour cream, chives and butter, a big green salad, with avocado of course, and a coleslaw with apple and cheese. There were several loaves of garlic bread as well.
As the sun started sinking below the horizon, Darren and Ryan fired up the grill on the transom with Dan once again expounding the virtues of the yacht, and while the coals were burning down, their guests disappeared into the port hull to shower and change out of their bathing suits. When they all reappeared a short while later, two surprises awaited them. The first one was the green glow that surrounded the hull from the underwater lights that Ryan had turned on.
"I thought I noticed a greenish glow through the escape hatch while I was showering", Tanner commented. "But I thought it was just light reflecting off the water. It's really cool. We have underwater lights on 'Texas Lass' as well, but they only seem to illuminate the waterline. They don't spread out like these do. Very cool"
The second one came as Andrew was organising pre dinner drinks. A large rubber dinghy approached 'Belle Catherine' and slid alongside. Ryan stepped out onto the side deck and retrieved four large flat boxes, before the dinghy raced away back to the beach. Tanner Jnr was the first to realise what had just arrived.
"Ryan, is that pizza?", he asked eagerly, with a huge grin on his face.
"Got it in one TK. For us to snack on while the meat cooks".
"How the hell did you arrange that ", Dan asked in amazement.
"Very easily actually. Andrew just found a local pizzeria on line, ordered and requested they deliver. There was a bit of a problem when he told them where he wanted it delivered, but with a bit of extra incentive, the manager arranged for a mate to bring it out for us. QED!", Ryan explained. Dan roared with laughter.
"You guys never cease to amaze me. That's why I like you so much. You are both perfect gentlemen, but when you need to, you have loads of gutzpah" Ryan put the boxes on the transom shelf as Andrew bought side plates.
"Help yourselves folks, don't let it get cold".
After all the exertions of the afternoon, they attacked the pizza with gusto. The ladies settled themselves at the table while the guys all stood around the grill, each with a beer in hand as Ryan and Darren were allowed to have alcohol as they were at anchor.
Dinner was essentially ready except for the mea, the garlic bread was in the oven to keep warm and the potatoes wouldn't take long as Andrew had par boiled them before wrapping them in the tin foil.
Kerry set the table, more informally than the previous night , with a navy blue and white checked cloth, navy blue serviettes, rattan placemats and the less fancy dinnerware. The cutlery was the the same, apart from the knives that were steak knives. Andrew opened bottles of his favourite Hamilton Russell Pinot Noir and Southern Right Sauvignon Blanc and had sodas on hand for the children.
While they waited for the meat to cook, Andrew fed the twins with Joan assisting. They tucked into the beef strips left over from lunch with some slivers of baby tomato and cucumber and he gave them a little ice cream for dessert. He was pleased that they hadn't been bathed yet as their hands and faces were smeared with ice cream by the time they were done. With time to spare, he quickly took them for a bath and to dress them for the night before bringing them up to the saloon again. Andrew put them into the playpen, turning on another cartoon on the TV to occupy them. Tanner Jr and Cassie also gravitated into the saloon to watch the movie.
His timing was flawless and a few minutes after, Ryan announced that the meat and potatoes were ready. Andrew helped him to put it on platters and onto the warmers and Kerry fetched the bread from the oven, popping in four pecan nut pies to warm up, and dinner was served.
Once again there were rave reviews with everyone again commenting on the unique flavour of the boerewors. The meal was far simpler than the cuisine of the previous night, but was enjoyed just as much, if not more, judging by the way everyone was licking their fingers. There were compliments on the wine as well with both Tanner and Brandon wanting to get some to take home. When Andrew told them that the two wine estates were on the excursions list once they got further down the coast, they were ecstatic. He, Kerry and Darren cleared the dinner table and when he emerged with the pecan pies and a large tub of vanilla ice cream, there were groans.
"Oh my god", Tessa exclaimed."You're going to have to roll me off this yacht by the time we get back to Cape Town."
"That's fine by me love", Tanner replied with a cheeky grin."You know I love more bounce per ounce", he said, wiggling his eyebrows at her and eliciting roars of laughter from the others at the table. His wife glared back at him and giggled.
"Don't I know it! But you're gonna get just as tubby the way you are eating".
"Now, now, children!", Joan interjected. "Behave yourselves"Despite all the protestations, everyone had pie and ice cream followed by coffee.
And Andrew was proved right. By 10pm, their guests were all in bed. He told Ryan and Darren to go their cabins with Ryan taking the twins with him and he and Kerry did a good clean and took out the breakfast ingredients. Andrew did a quick check around the decks, checking the anchor as he passed. He was abit concerned about the dinghy and water toys that were still deployed, but widened the view of the movement sensors on the security system to cover the area over the stern, turned off all but two interior lights, secured the security door, activated the intruder alert and went to join his family in the master cabin.
The next day was spent at anchor off the beach. Breakfast was muesli, fresh fruit salad and yogurt parfaits, and flapjacks with maple syrup, bacon and link sausages. There was the usual toast and pastries and, of course, fresh juice and tea and coffee.
The Kinleys were on or in the water for most of the morning until almost lunch time although they were transferred to the beach immediately after breakfast to take a stroll along the shore line.
Following the success of the wraps the day before, Andrew decided to do a 'Build your burger' lunch. When he transferred the family to shore, Andrew had Darren run up to the nearby bakery and buy two dozen fresh hamburger buns. He made up his own meaty patties and had a plethora of goodies to go with it including the usual lettuce, sliced tomato and onion, gherkins, cheese slices, guacamole, crumbled bacon from breakfast and a range of store bought dressings and sauces. Kerry's task was to produce a lage bowl of French fries. Andrew kept all the fixings in the saloon, as it was cooler there with the air conditioning activated. The sun was beating down once again and although the cockpit was cooled by the soft breeze, items like the lettuce would wilt and the cheese would have become oily. He seared the patties to a medium rare and when it was apparent that the hordes were heading back, he popped them into a fiercely hot oven to heat through. The burgers and fries went down a treat, even the twins had some.
Kerry felt like living dangerously and offered to produce milkshakes for dessert. Darren jumped in to help her with them using both the normal blender and a stick blender. They didn't have milkshake glasses, but Kerry had found some large polystyrene cups with lids and straws that had been purchased for Ivan's annual Christmas year end office event and used those. The Kinleys loved it. After lunch, they all decided to go ashore again and explore the seaside town, so Darren took them to the beach and stayed with them as a guide.
As much as they enjoyed the interaction with the guests, Andrew and Ryan enjoyed the quiet peace that descended over the yacht while they were gone, although they were far from idle. Ryan checked all the mechanical elements especially the water maker, air conditioning, the generator and solar system and was pleased to find everything functioning perfectly. He also pulled all the toys from the water, hosing them down with fresh water before deflating the tube and the paddle boards and storing them in their lockers. He also rinsed off the scooters, snorkeling gear and the water skis and packed them away as well.
Andrew and Kerry did a quick run through the cabins, checking on anything that required replenishing or needing attention, did some tidying up, refreshing bathrooms and straightening bed linen. By the time their guests returned in the late afternoon, 'Belle Catherine' was neat and tidy once again and looking good. Joan noticed it the moment she stepped into the saloon..
"Don't you ever just relax Andrew. I see you and your elves have been busy while we were gone" she commented.
Andrew shrugged. "It just gave us the opportunity to do a bit more than tidy up, that's all"
"Well thank you, it is much appreciated"
"You're welcome. There was plenty of time because there was no dinner to prepare. We're dining at the hotel tonight", Andrew informed her.
"Oh, that's nice. Does that mean we have to dress up?', she enquired as the family gathered behind her.
"No, just smart casual. It is a resort hotel after all. We have a table reserved for 7.30pm. So I think we should aim to leave 'Belle' by 7pm. If we're too early, we can always have a drink in the bar. And I think tobe on the safe side, we should transfer to the beach in two groups. If we all pile into the dinghy, we might get a little damp."
And so, promptly at 7pm, Darren left 'Belle Catherine' with Tanner Snr, Tessa, Tanner Jnr, Brandon, Julie and Cassandra, dropped them on the beach below the hotel and returned for Joan, Dan, Kerry, Andrew, Ryan and the twins. Andrew's heart nearly broke when he spotted Rascal watching them leave from inside the saloon.
The trip was not as easy as Andrew thought it would be, as Darren had to judge the breakers very carefully before attempting to proceed to the beach and Andrew thought the trip back was going to be interesting. Once on the beach, he looked back to see 'Belle Catherine" gloriously lit up with every possible light turned on and her mast light indicating she was at anchor. They trudged carefully over the beach to the road and strolled the short distance to the hotel.
They entered the impressive foyer and walked down the stairs to the Coral Reef Restaurant where the maitre d' welcomed them and showed them to a long table next to the windows with an awesome spotlit view of the ocean and the rocks below. 'Belle Catherine' was also clearly visible.
The dinner was thoroughly enjoyable with great food and even better company. Ryan and Darren kept to sodas as they would be piloting the dinghy back to 'Belle Catherine'. Andrew had one glass of wine. As they were preparing to return to the yacht, Ryan got up to go settle the bill and returned a short while later with a strange look on his face. Andrew noticed immediately and when they stood up to leave asked,
"What's the matter babe? You look, I don't know, slightly miffed"
"Just a little irked, for want of a better word. When I went to settle the bill, Dan had already paid it. I know he has far more money than us. It's just....... This is part of our service to them that he has already paid for. Now he pays for dinner. I know he means well and that it doesn't faze him. But it fazes me. Or am I just being petty?".
"No my love. I totally agree with you. We'll just have to find some way of compensating him. Without him realising it. Don't let it worry you. It's done and we can't change it. We just carry on as normal and thank him".
The transfer back to the yacht proved to be a lot easier than expected. The breakers has calmed considerably on the waning tide so they had no trouble getting over the breaker line. Andrew and the twins were in the first group to return so that he could open up the saloon door and security gate and deactivate the alarm. Kerry helped him get the little ones to the cabin and while he got them into bed, she went and made more coffee for the rest of the returning group., who all had a cup and a nightcap before heading for their beds.
Ryan and Darren weighed anchor just after 08h00 the next morning, waiting until they saw Julie come up to grab two mugs of coffee and a small cup for Cassie, and doing their best to make the anchor retrieval as quiet as possible. 'Belle Catherine's' system was not too bad, but there was always a certain amount of noise as the anchor came on board and the guests in the forward cabins were always the ones most affected.
Darren was at the helm and swung the bows west heading for Knysna just a morning sail away and 'Belle Catherine's' birthplace. The light southeasterly breeze made for slow but steady sailing on extremely calm seas that looked like a huge millpond. The sun was already well above the horizon and it was going to be yet another swelteringly hot day. The blessing was the sea breeze which helped to mitigate the blazing sun.
The Kinleys all seemed to be in no rush to make an appearance which meant that Andrew and Kerry could take their time with breakfast preparation, but it wasn't long before the aroma of freshly baking muffins made them appear from their cabins, all dressed in shorts and t-shirts or golf shirts, and barefoot. . On the menu was the usual selection of cereals, fresh fruit - sliced and in salad form - fruit juice, yogurt, creamy scrambled eggs with smoked salmon, chives and spring onion, grilled cherry tomatoes and toast. There was also the muffins, Danish pastries and croissants.
The family all felt they had had too much sun the day before and would therefore take it easy for the day. Consequently, after breakfast, Ryan and Darren rigged up a large tarpaulin over the foredeck to provide more shade for them to chill under. It disturbed the windflow to the mainsail a bit, so they deployed the spinnaker and although the conditions were not ideal, they were sailing. The pods of dolphins that accompanied them for most of the morning was an absolute bonus that had all their guests enthralled.
Andrew and Kerry ensured that the refreshment cooler in the cockpit was kept well stocked and also set up a portable cooler on the foredeck so that everyone could keep well hydrated and not have to move back and forth between the foredeck and the aft cockpit.
Andrew planned a slightly delayed lunch due to breakfast having been later than normal and also the most exciting part of the journey would occur at what would have been the usual lunch time. The transit between the Knysna Heads into the lagoon!
Even with calm seas and light winds, the narrow channel between the two promontories was not to be taken lightly. Their timing would have to be perfect to take advantage of the rising tide rushing into the lagoon. The current was very strong, and there were always breakers to negotiate, with rocks very close to the channel. The approach to the entrance was well marked and aided by the wind now almost from directly astern and both engines ticking over, Ryan guided them through, seemingly effortlessly, but Andrew could see he was very tense. There was a bit of rolling and pitching as they passed through the breakers and eddies, but once past that, it was smooth sailing once again. Ryan found a quite cove and hove to so that they could have lunch of cold meats and salads, followed by a large platter of koeksusters for dessert.
When lunch was over, they set sail once again across the lagoon. Andrew's mobile rang and he moved onto the foredeck to take the call, smiling happily as he spoke. As they approached the entrance to the small harbour, Darren lowered the spinnaker while Ryan furled the mainsail using the electric winch, engaged one of the engines and they cruised slowly into the harbour under power. Andrew came back to stand next to him and pointed.
"There they are!. Steve says we can use their berth right where they're parked".
Ryan saw Steve and Neil standing on the dockside next to a Mercedes Vito people mover with the company logo on it and a Mercedes sedan. They were both grinning widely and waving as he pivoted 'Belle Catherine' around and carefully moved astern towards the dockside. Steve and Neil walked to the bollards while Andrew and Darren took up positions at the top of the scoops with the mooring lines in their hands. When they were about three metres from the dockside, Ryan stopped the yacht and Darren and Andrew tossed the lines to the men on the shore who quickly looped them over the bollards and stood back. Darren hurried forward to deploy the anchor and they all watched as Ryan engaged the winches that slowly tightened the mooring lines and drew them towards the dock. When he was happy with their position, he gave Darren a thumbs up and he engaged the anchor winch to tighten the anchor chain to prevent the bow from swinging too much.. There was applause from Steve and Neil, and from Dan, who had been observing the docking manouvere with interest and patted Ryan on the shoulder.
"Very nicely done, my boy. You guys continue to impress me with your professionalism"
With them safely tied up, Darren deployed the passerelle from the top of the starboard scoop onto the dock, fitted the handrails and placed the thick navy blue rug with 'Belle Catherine' on it. Steve and Neil watched the activity and nodded when they saw the rug, both giving Andrew and Ryan a thumbs up. When Darren was done, he stepped onto the dock and invited them on board which they did and were met by Andrew, Ryan, the twins and Rascal as they stepped onto the deck.
"Hi guys", Ryan greeted, "Good to see you again" There were handshakes all round and Steve replied.
"Thank You. You too! Nice docking moves there, by the way. And I like the rug. Another idea I want to steal for future builds if you don't mind". He glanced around. "She's looking really good. We were watching you with binoculars when you shot the heads. She looks impressive when she's flying her spinnaker. It's always special to have one of our boats pay us a visit. And we have a soft spot for 'Belle Catherine".
Andrew turned and said,
"Steve, we're being very rude. Allow me to introduce the Kinley family from Dallas and Miami. They are our clients for this charter, but have also become very good friends. We were privileged to cruise on their motor yacht, 'Texas Lass' in the Mediterranean in June. Dan and Joan, Tanner, his wife Tessa and their son Tanner Jnr and sitting down are Brandon, Julie and Cassandra. You already know Darren and Kerry". Steve and Neil greeted the Kinleys and Dan joined the conversation.
"So you are the outfit that built 'Belle Catherine'. I can't tell you how impressed I am with her. The build quality is superb. If I was looking for a boat in her category and size, I would definitely come calling".
"Thank you Dan. Your comments are appreciated. A lot of the honour should go to Andrew and Ryan though. Although there was no interference with the actual build, they were very exacting clients who knew exactly what they wanted."
"Steve, I really appreciate you helping us out while we are in Knysna. Having the Vito to get round in will make our stay a lot more comfortable", Andrew told him.
"No problem at all, Andrew. I'm glad we could be of assistance". He gestured to the vehicle on the dockside.
"She's had a good valet clean, and the tank is full. All I ask is that you fill her up again before you leave. I assume you're heading for Oudtshoorn".
"Correct. The Cango Caves and an ostrich farm".
"Good. Well, we'll love and leave you. Here are the keys. Let me know when you're leaving and one of us will come and collect it". And they disembarked, got into the sedan and drove away. Andrew turned to their guests.
"Okay, guys. It's too late to drive to Oudtshoorn now. It will be a full day trip. I suggest we all go ashore and explore. I need to get a few things for dinner tonight".
There was general agreement all round and the Kinleys were soon on their way. Ryan chose to say on the yacht with the twins, and Andrew, Darren and Kerry went to get what they needed returning about twohours later laden with parcels. Ryan just shook his head in resignation.
Andrew and Kerry got going with dinner, while Ryan and Darren dropped the bug protection screens to give the cockpit some privacy but still allow some airflow through although Andrew had nevertheless decided to serve dinner at the table in the saloon.
While out shopping, Andrew had purchased six dozen fresh Knysna oysters for the hors d'oeuvres. The entrée was whole roasted beef fillet, sliced and served with a choice of sauces. Either green peppercorn or mushroom. It was paired with chunky potato wedges and a vegetable medley. Dessert was strawberry and shortbread stacks with Creme Anglaise, which Kerry would prepare.
The oysters he prepared a few different ways. Four dozen of the juicy morsels would be kept absolutely natural and served on ice, with freshly ground pepper, tabasco and fresh lemon. A dozen of the remainder would be topped with fresh breadcrumbs combined with garlic butter and parsley and baked while the final dozen were dipped in a tempura batter, deep-fried and served with a dipping sauce.
When the Kinleys arrived back in the late afternoon, they had several parcels with them as well, including an oil painting that Joan had fallen in love with at one of the local galleries, which Ryan carefully stored in one of the lockers behind the saloon seats. While they were all together Andrew called for attention.
"Okay guys. Just a bit of a heads up on plans. I suggest we have an early night, as we have an early start tomorrow. We need to be away here by no later than 08h00. It's a good one hour drive and the caves and ostrich farm will be busy. We'll do the cave tour in the morning, have lunch, and then go the the ostrich farm afterwards. We might get back quite late in the afternoon, so I want to suggest we just get take outs for dinner. Can we get a consensus on what to order? I have a brochure here from Mr Delivery with a whole range of restaurants to select from. I would suggest we limit it to three restaurants. Or you can leave it to me to just order what I think everyone would enjoy. Or we can go out to eat. Speak to me!" Julie was the first to speak.
"I think we just get take outs. We'll more than likely all be tired after a full day excursion, and I for one will not feel like dressing to go out to dinner. And I'm happy to let Andrew make the menu decision" Tessa nodded.
"I agree with Julie. The kids will most definitely by tired. So they would be able to go to bed whenever they feel like it, instead of having to wait until we got back from dinner". Dan made the decision.
"Okay, so we get take out. Andrew, we'll leave it in your capable hands. And I promise I won't butt in and pay for it", he added looking meaningfully at Ryan and grinning.
"Alright, I'm happy to do that. Dinner tonight will be ready at 7pm"
The Kinleys once again scattered, some grabbing a drink and going onto the deck, while others just sprawled in the cockpit with their drinks. Dan and Joan went down to their cabin to rest and freshen up.
With Kerry busy making shortbread cookies for dessert, Andrew set about laying the saloon table, keeping the centre as open as possible. The idea was to just put the platters of oysters in the middle of the table and everyone just help themselves to whichever preparation they preferred.
Ryan took the twins for their bath and to get them into bed clothes and freshen up himself and Andrew followed shortly after to shower and change. Then he went up to relieve Kerry, who went to do the same, and while Ryan fed the twins, and gave Rascal his chunks, Andrew quickly seared the tenderloins and put them in the oven to roast, keeping a watchful eye on the clock so that they wouldn't overcook. He took them out to rest and prepared the sauces using the juices in the pan as a base and popped the par boiled wedges into the hot oven to roast as well. The vegetables, a mix of julienned carrots, leeks, zucchini, green beans and sweet red peppers were already sliced and would be stir fried just before the main course was served.
When Kerry came back, they spent a while building the strawberry stacks. Kerry had laboriously sliced strawberries in half, cutting pieces off the bottom when necessary to get them more or less the same height. The bits had been mixed with whipped cream, a dollop of which was placed on a white chocolate glazed cookie and halved fruit arranged around it on the edge of the cookie. Another cookie was placed on top and the process repeated until they had two layers of strawberries between three rounds of shortbread. The stacks were placed on side plates and dusted with icing sugar. All that had to be added was the creme Anglaise. The twins were given some strawberries, broken biscuits and creme Anglaise as well which they loved.
Andrew dimmed the saloon lights, placed candles strategically around the saloon and turned on the sound system to play some KennyG. When the Kinleys arrived for dinner, they seated themselves immediately and Andrew opened two bottles of his Santorini sparkling wine before placing the platters of oysters on the table and inviting everyone to help themselves. There were ooohs and aaahs as they examined the spread in front of them. The kids were not keen on the raw oysters, but enjoyed the cooked versions, particularly the deep fried one. The sparkling wine complimented the oysters perfectly. The entrée and dessert were met with similar appreciation, with Ryan surreptitiously feeding Rascal bits of meat under the table. Andrew and Kerry served coffee with the remaining shortbread and by 10.30, everything was neat and tidy, the yacht was secured and they were in bed.
When morning came, Andrew and Kerry were up early and had fresh coffee ready and water boiled for tea when everyone came up from their cabins. They had also grilled bacon and set about producing bacon and egg rolls for breakfast. There was slices of cheese for those who wanted and fruit juice was available as well. Before they all piled into the Vito, Kerry made several flasks of coffee and tea, and Andrew packed two boxes of buttermilk rusks into the insulated container with the flasks and some mugs and disposable serviettes.
Kerry then told everyone that she would not be going on the excursion as she wasn't feeling 100% and thought she might have a migraine coming on. Darren said he would stay as well, but she assured him she would be fine on her own and that he should go. Andrew was secretly quite pleased as it meant the yacht would at least have someone on board and Rascal would not be alone the entire day, both of which he had concerns about.
With Cameron and Elizabeth in their car seats, they all piled in and the excited group drove away. Ryan was at the wheel with Dan in the passenger seat up front. Andrew has chosen to sit on the seat directly behind with Joan and the twins whose car seats were secured to the drivers and front passenger seats. They had to cross over a range of mountains to get to Oudtshoorn and as they approached the mountain pass they encountered some thick mist which forced Ryan to drive a bit slower. They arrived at the Cango Caves just after 9am and there was already a short queue of people waiting to purchase tickets for the guided tours. Ryan went to purchase the admission tickets and Andrew hauled out the tea and coffee for everyone to have a cuppa and some rusks to tide them over until they emerged from the depths of the caves.
Their group was taken into the caves at 9.30 led by a very friendly and knowledgeable guide and they all thoroughly enjoyed the tour. Andrew had visited the caves with his parents when he was still at school, so it was with some nostalgia that he walked with Ryan and the twins who were in the harnesses on their dad's chests. He and Ryan opted to stay with Dan and Joan while the other members of the family went down the tight confines of the Jacobs Ladder which would not have been possible with the twins and instead sat in the little coffee shop and enjoyed some tea and scones with cream and jam. They all eventually emerged back into the bright sunshine two hours later to find the cool early morning mist had burned off and had been replaced a blazing hot sun. The temperature in the caves had been cool as well, so warm sweaters were rapidly discarded and in very short order , everyone was in board shorts and short-sleeved shirts.
They all piled back into the Vito and drove back to the town for lunch which Andrew had arranged at one of the local guest houses. The obviously well heeled suburb it was located in on the edge of the town had beautiful, large, old houses, the so-called 'feather palaces' built in the day when the ostrich feather industry had been at its height and Oudtshoorn had been at the centre of it. The guest house was housed in one of these houses off a shady street lined on both sides with massive trees.
They entered through impressive wrought iron gates and parked on the gravel area near the front door. The owner, a large lady wearing a bright flower print dress greeted them as they stepped onto the covered veranda that ran round the front and sides of the house. Speaking in heavily accented English, she showed them to a long table set up on one of the side verandas, over which two large fans turned lazily. The magnificent wood table was polished until it gleamed and was set with white tablemats on which a place setting of white crockery, heavy silverware and a wine and water glass stood, with a large white linen serviette tucked into the wine glass. A huge flat arrangement of proteas and local vegetation, known as fynbos, lay in the centre of the table. She gave them directions to the cloakrooms for anyone who wanted to freshen up or wash their hands and bustled away to get their lunch while a young lady took a drinks order. The proprietress returned with two breadboards with thick slices of, still warm,farm bread, butter and chunky apricot preserve, all homemade, which everyone had at least one slice of.
Lunch was a typical South African country style meal. Thick meaty blocks of slow - roasted beef short rib, cooked until it was almost falling apart, potatoes that had been roasted with the meat, green beans with onion and a sweet dried peach compote. It was hearty, filling and utterly delicious and the plates were almost clean when they were done. It was followed by large slices of milk tart with lightly whipped cream dusted with ground cinnamon, and strong coffee. They sat back for a while after the meal and after Ryan had settled the bill, they continued on to the next stop, the ostrich farm.
They were taken on a drive through the arid landscape to view the stately birds in their natural habitat before going back to tour the hatcheries and care centres. They all had photos taken of them standing on an ostrich egg and then went out to watch the 'jockeys' race the birds around a track. Tanner and Brandon both wanted to try riding on the birds, and to everyone's surprise, they actually did quite well before both being dumped in the dirt. The Kinleys all bought something from the curio shop and then it was into the Vito for the drive back to the yacht arriving back in the late afternoon.
Dan asked Ryan if he could use the satellite phone to call Robert and get an update in the situation back home and he talked to Robert for almost twenty minutes before disconnecting and reporting that although the fire had done some damage and that part of the facility would be out of action for a while, there had been six workers injured, mainly with burns in various degrees, but no one had been killed, much to his and Joan's relief.
Kerry was feeling better, having taken some medication and had long cold refreshments waiting when they all came back on board with Rascal scampering around their feet excitedly until Ryan picked him up and he and Cameron promptly both got their faces licked. After giving the twins something cool to drink as well, Andrew took them to the cabin to have a short nap and then turned his attention to the dinner he had to order.
After studing the take out menu, he decided he would just order items that could be eaten with their fingers or a fork and ended up with pork spare ribs, lamb cutlets, chicken wings, and beef rissoles with French fries, deep fried onion rings and a large salad from one restaurant and butterflied prawns and sweet and sour pork with rice from a Chinese eatery, along with some sushi. He placed the order for delivery at 6.30pm, paying with his credit card and then took the opportunity to just sit back and chat with the family who were all gathered in the aft cockpit, discussing their day.
When Andrew wanted to set the table, Joan told him not to bother and just leave everything on the counter. The food arrived on time and it all went onto the counter as well where it was set upon with alacrity despite them having had a fairly substantial lunch. When the feeding frenzy died down, there was still a fair amount left over and Andrew packed it away to put out the next day for everyone to snack on, but it wasn't long before Tanner Jnr asked Andrew shyly,
"Andrew, may I have some ice cream?" Andrew knelt down and put his arm around the boy and grinned at him.
"Of course you can have ice cream. Why don't you go find out if anyone else wants some?"
Naturally everyone did, so ice cream was scooped onto sugar cones in any flavour the recipient wanted. After dinner, Darren and Kerry took the younger members of the family to explore the night life in town and Andrew and Ryan kept Dan and Joan company as the two elderly people were feeling a little weary. They just sat drinking coffee, chatting and going over plans for the next few days. The revellers arrived back just before 10.30pm carrying Tanner Jnr and Cassie who had both fallen asleep, and after having coffee, all retired to their cabins for the night.
The Kinleys all slept in the next morning and a continental breakfast was waiting for them when they trickled up for breakfast. Andrew called Steve at 8am to tell him they sailing within the hour and that he could collect his vehicle. He arrived about twenty minutes later with Neil, and after coming on board to say goodbye, Andrew handed him the keys and thanked him again for all his help. They slipped their mooring ten minutes later, motoring across the placid lagoon towards the channel to the ocean. The exit was hairier than their arrival and Ryan had to use both engines at almost full power to negotiate the strong current flowing into the lagoon and the fairly substantial waves. They all had to brace themselves and Andrew and Kerry had a tough time ensuring there were no breakages, but once through, it was plain sailing again with the next stop being Mossel Bay just on the other side of the bay and a light southeasterly propelling them along.
Ryan took them on the scenic route, sailing into the bay and hugging the coast instead of just cutting straight across as the crow flies, so they were able to see the many beautiful beaches, seaside hamlets and dwellings, small and large, built on and above the beach along the way. They dropped anchor off a lovely pristine beach and ferried ashore for a picnic lunch on the beach and a swim. They took the four body boards with them and where thrilled when a pod of dolphins joined them to surf the breakers, with the friendly creatures even following them into the shallows and allowing them to touch them. It was a magical experience that none of them would ever forget. Dan captured it all on video and promised Andrew that he would download a copy onto the yachts entertainment system for them to use on the website.
Back on board, it was only a two hour slow cruise to Mossel Bay where they were met by the commodore of the yacht club who was very happy to see them again. Due to space constraints, they had to, once again, tie up stern on, Mediterranean style. He and one of the other members watched with interest and approval as Ryan skillfully manouvered 'Belle Catherine' and positioned her so that Andrew and Darren could toss the lines ashore. They had been given a berth right in front of the yacht club, and with 'Belle Catherine' being the largest vessel in the marina, and the only catamaran, she attracted a great deal of attention.
Ryan and Darren took the Kinleys to see the Bartholomeu Dias Museum and the Post Office tree, to explore the town and collect the minibus that Andrew had reserved.
Andrew and Kerry strolled down to the fishing harbour to see if they could buy some fresh fish off the boats for dinner and were able to find some nice big prawns, and some plump red snapper. The fishermen and their wives were extremely friendly and helpful and offered to clean and fillet the fish and devein the prawns and deliver them to the yacht when they were done. Andrew accepted in a heartbeat as it was the one thing he hated about cooking - cleaning fish. He and Kerry returned to 'Belle Catherine' and began preparing for dinner.
The prawns were going to be the star of the hors d'oeuvre, with an avocado fan, fresh orange segments and drizzled with an orange spiked dill dressing. The entrée was his version of a dish he had eaten on board 'Texas Lass'. A pan seared fillet of red snapper on a bed of ratatouille with the addition of marog, an African wild spinach, and buttered new potatoes. Kerry was making pastry for lemon meringue tarts which would be dessert.
Once again, due to the privacy issue even though the bug screens were down around the aft cockpit, Andrew elected to set the big table in the saloon. They set it with the 'good' china and glassware and when the others returned very late in the afternoon, there were murmurs of appreciation for how the saloon looked and a comment from Brandon summed it up.
"Wow, looks like we're going fancy tonight!"
They all went to their cabins to shower and change and Andrew spent some time with Cameron and Elizabeth, who had been with Ryan the whole afternoon, bathing and feeding them while Ryan freshened up and fed Rascal. Back in the saloon, Ryan and Darren poured pre dinner drinks while Andrew and Kerry plated the prawn salad and seared the snapper to go under the oven grill to finish cooking later.
With the salads on the table, Andrew called dinner and everyone sat down to eat. To accompany dinner he had opened some Sauvignon Blanc and Blanc de Noir wine. Andrew popped the fish under the hot grill to cook through and for the skin to crisp up while he and Kerry plated the thick, unctuous red sauced ratatouille. The wild spinach had been sliced finely, flash fried and added to the ratatouille at the last minute so that the spinach retained it's deep green colour. The contrast of the red and green against the brilliant white plate was lovely with the buttery yellow potatoes. The fish was placed on top of the ratatouille at the last minute and served immediately. The dish was a triumph, tasting as good as it looked, and Andrew and Kerry basked in the compliments they received.
Before dessert was served and while the table was cleared, they just sat back and chatted, enjoying good wine and the company. The lemon meringue was served with coffee and was also thoroughly enjoyed. After dinner, everyone gravitated to the aft cockpit to relax, Ryan swivelled the saloon TV to face the cockpit and turned on the 'Avengers - The Winter Soldier' movie to watch. Later, Andrew made more coffee and took out some choc chip cookies for them to nibble on.
The yacht club marina was quite busy, with several monohulls also docked there, so there was a fair amount of activity around and people walking by with many of them slowing to have a look at the big catamaran floating in its pool of hull lights.
The Kinleys started heading for their beds soon after the movie ended and when the marina started quietening down. By 11pm all was quiet around them, and they were buttoned up for the night.
After breakfast the next morning everyone, including Rascal, piled into the minibus to go zip lining. Kerry's fear of heights meant she did not take the ride, staying instead with Andrew who, having been on the zipline before felt it wasn't necessary to go again, and had the twins and Rascal to watch as well as Tanner Jnr and Cassandra who were too young to go on the line. They left the zipliners at the top of the cliff and drove down to the end point to wait for their arrival. Andrew had his video camera and filmed them as they approached the lower platform, their faces a mix of exhilaration and sheer terror and their screams audible from some distance away. It was very funny and Andrew would not have missed it for the world. Better yet, it had all been captured on film. Another upload to the website. Andrew had to give Dan and Joan credit for attempting the hair raising trip across the water on the zipline, but both were very proud of themselves when they arrived and enjoyed the experience tremendously.
They drove through the pretty seaside town and toured the older part of town with its narrow cobbled streets and quaint white painted houses. The kids spotted a McDonald's and pestered their parents for 'South African' Big Macs. They eventually relented and they all ended up having fast food for lunch. Then they visited the Inverroche Gin School@ Cafe Gannett where the Kinleys had great fun crafting their own bottles of gin to take home with them. On the way back to the yacht club, they stopped off at a carnival to let the kids have a few rides to compensate for the zip line the adults had been on in the morning.
For dinner, Andrew opted for quick, easy and tasty and went with curry, making a chicken and prawn curry with basmati rice, poppadums and condiments. It was spicy as apposed to hot, even the twins had some for their dinner - he had a small bowl of finely chopped chillies for anyone who wanted it hotter. For hors d'oeuvres and in keeping with the theme for the evening , Kerry deep fried samoosas - chicken, beef, vegetable and cheese and onion which she arranged on a big round platter with a bowl of chutney to dip them in. There was creamy trifle for dessert. The meal was different to anything the larger family had eaten in their time on board, but polished their plates, so it seemed they enjoyed it.
They said farewell to the yacht club after breakfast, setting a course for Still Bay, a little way down the coast where they would spend the night. They arrived while having lunch and received a huge surprise. Instead of anchoring off the beach, Ryan guide 'Belle Catherine' through an estuary and into a wide river, taking them through a lagoon and motoring about 12km upstream before dropping anchor with farmland all around them. There was nothing and no one near them and the tranquillity was awesome. Just the gentle lapping of the river against the hull ,the twittering of birds and crickets, and the rustle of the wheat in the wind.
The river was also wide enough for them to deploy the tube and to go water skiing. On the first of the excursions down the river with the tube, Andrew had Darren drop him off below the town and then called him on his mobile to pick him up an hour later. In the town, he had gone to the butchery and purchased some of their signature boerewors, some large, thick rump steaks and marinated chicken drumsticks and stopped off at the bakery for some long French loaves.
In the evening, everyone ferried ashore to a sandy beach where Andrew had a huge bonfire going as well as a fire to braai meat over. There were large logs arranged around the bonfire and braai fire and he had thrown blankets over and in front of the logs with scatter cushions from the yacht for everyone to sit on. The Kinleys were gobsmacked and thanked the crew for all the trouble they were going to to make the trip a memorable one.
Kerry had stayed on board to make some salads - green, potato, and a carrot, orange and red onion and mix some dough for griddle bread that would be cooked over the coals,and Darren eventually ferried her to the beach with everything going on a folding table nearby. Darren also collected his guitar from their cabin and brought it back as well. There was beer, wine and soft drinks available and once everyone had a drink and had found a spot to sit, Darren picked up his guitar and began strumming some tunes and singingin a surprisingly good voice. When Darren got up to help Ryan with meat, Brandon took over from him and played and sang some country and western music, which had them clapping and singing along in no time at all.
When dinner was ready, they all filled their plates, and almost by agreement, ate quietly enjoying the profound still-ness around them. The twins were wide awake and facinated by the dancing flames and even Rascal, after also getting some meat to eat, just lay down between Andrew and Ryan's stretched out legs and stared at the fire.
After dinner, Darren and Brandon took turns playing the guitar while Andrew and Kerry prepared dessert which consisted of a whole banana, in its skin but with the skin sliced open and filled with roughly chopped chocolate, marshmallows and nuts. Everything was then enclosed in tin foil and placed over the coals to heat through and melt. The parcels were then opened, placed on a plate with a ball of ice cream added to finish it off. It was sweet, rich and utterly decadent, but it disappeared in no time at all.
On the way back to 'Belle Catherine', they all felt a slight hesitation as the dinghy powered to the side of the yacht, and Ryan's eyes widened in alarm.
"Oh, dammit! I didn't think of that". They all looked at him quizzically .
"I think we may have just a small problem", he said. "We may be aground. I hadn't thought about the tide going out".
He was proved right when they got to 'Belle'. Although there was water around her hull and evidently just sufficient for the dinghy to sail on, ''Belle Catherine's' keels were firmly in the mud . When the Kinleys were on board, he, Andrew and Darren motored slowly round the hulls to check that everything was okay, using a spotlight to illuminate the hulls. Ryan was particularly concerned about the rudders and the propellers so had a good look at them and was relieved to find they were still well clear of the bottom, mentally thanking Steve for recommending the feathering propellers that folded into the slipstream when they were not in use to reduce drag. After satisfying themselves that she was safe and secure, they clambered back on board and faced their guests.
"Sorry about this folks, my bad I'm afraid. The tide skipped my mind completely. But she's all sound so there's nothing we can do until the tide lifts us clear again. I suggest we all get a good night's sleep and see what our situation is in the morning".
Before going to bed, Ryan turned off the water maker so that it wouldn't suck up any mud and took a walk around the deck, running his hand over every surface he passed, in his own way of apologising to 'Belle Catherine ' for getting her into a difficult situation.
Ryan jerked awake at the instant 'Belle Catherine' broke free of the mud, his body attuned to her every movement. The bedside clock told him it was almost 5.30am and he slipped out of bed and padded through the saloon onto the side deck, deactivating the alarm as he went. He peered over the side and breathed a sigh of relief. They were indeed afloat but the water was still so shallow he could clearly see the bottom. He glanced around noting the soft tendrils of fog hanging over the water and a thin mist on the fields on either side of them. He sat at the helm, opened a locker, removed the tide charts for the area and studied them, seeing that high tide was at 7.40am. He wanted to set sail at that time and get them out of the river, slightly embarrassed that he had got them aground. It had never happened to him before and was not an experience he wanted to repeat. He jumped as a hand landed on his shoulder and turned to find Andrew next to him.
"Drew! You scared the crap out of me"
"Sorry babe. Didn't mean to. How we looking?"
"Well, we're afloat. We just have to wait for high tide to get out. Which happens at 7.40. I'm sorry", he said, looking at Andrew sadly Andrew kissed the side of his head and hugged him.
"Running your beautiful yacht aground! I feel like an idiot. It's something I should have thought of"
"Ry, my love. It's okay. What happened goes with the territory. It was bound to happen at some time. Now we know to be more careful. Don't let it hassle you. I'm not."
"Thank you. I think I must go shower and get ready. As soon as possible I want to check that she sustained no damage and then get us out of here. I'll have to go into the water to be absolutely certain".
"Okay, if it makes you happy. But rather shower when you come out of the water. Cam and Elizabeth are still fast asleep. I'll get some coffee and boiling water going while you get into your swimming gear so you can have a hot cuppa when you're done."
He went to the cabin to get his costume and Andrew turned on the urn and the coffee machine. The brew was half done when Darren came into the saloon.
"Morning boss. I thought I heard Ryan's voice?"
"Morning Darren, Yes you did. He just went to change. He wants to go into the water to check our hulls. We're afloat and the tide is rising, so he wants to get us out asap".
"I sensed we were free. What can I do?"
"Not sure actually. Check with Ry when he comes up. Oh, here he is now".
"Morning Darren. Yeah, could you check the bilges in the starboard hull for me. See if there are any leaks. Particularly the bows and the bow thruster locker. I sensed that she settled slightly bow down. When the Kinleys come up, we'll need to check the port hull as well. I'm going overboard to have a good look and check the bow thrusters."
"Okay boss, will do. Are we going to need the dinghy again?"
"You can make a quick run to the beach after you've checked the bilge to check that we haven't left anything behind and that the fire is properly extinguished. Then come back and stow the dinghy for departure"
Ryan walked down the starboard scoop and slid into the water which was just below his shoulders and Darren vanished into the depths of the starboard hull and re - emerged ten minutes later.
"Good news, I don't see any leaks Andrew. She's as dry as a bone down there"
"Thanks Darren. That's great. You going ashore now?"
"Yeah. Just want to check where Ryan is. I don't want to run over him with the dinghy".
He went out onto the deck and walked around peering over the side and found Ryan examining the port bow thruster. When Ryan noticed him standing above him he surfaced and spat out the snorkel mouthpiece.
"How she look down below Darren? "
"No leaks at all. Not even a trace of moisture" Ryan nodded.
"Good. I'm very relieved very to hear that. We seem to have dodged a bullet. She looks perfect down here as well".
"Great. I'm goIng to check the beach"
"Okay, see you in a few" and Ryan dived back under the yacht.
Darren stepped into the dinghy and after checking again that Ryan was nowhere close, started it up and motored slowly away to the beach. Finding nothing except footprints, he came back seeing Ryan boarding via the scoops again. He slid the dinghy expertly up to the swimming platform, stepped out with the mooring rope in his hand and secured it to a stanchion. Then he extended the boom crane and lowered it over the dinghy, leaning over it to attach the clips to the dinghy and then raised it from the water. Leaving it suspended, he washed the exterior of the hull down with fresh water and then lowered it onto its cradle on the transom and secured it to the cradle, then stowed the crane back into the boom and entered the saloon where Ryan was downing a mug of coffee before going to have a hot shower and get dressed for the day. Darren poured two cups as well and took them to his cabin for him and Kerry, and Andrew followed Ryan down to the master cabin, taking some baby cereal with him and two bottles of formula in anticipation of the twins waking up soon.
When they woke up, the doting dads spent some time playing with them and then fed them and got them dressed. At 7am, the all went to the saloon and after checking that all the safety gates were closed let them run around the saloon and cockpit, until they settled down with their toys.
By request from Tanner Jnr, Andrew started preparing maple pancakes with bacon and link sausages. Kerry came to help, setting the table in the cockpit and putting out the cereals, fruit juices and yogurt andthen sliced up a selection of fresh fruit for a fruit platter. She also mixed two batches of muffins and put them in the oven to bake.
At 7.30am Ryan and Darren took a walk around the deck and judging the water deep enough, decided to up anchor and head for the ocean where he was far more comfortable.
The anchor came up with its inevitable rattle, alerting Dan who appeared at Ryan's shoulder looking slightly dishevelled as if he had just thrown on his clothing. Ryan turned on the engines and let them run at idle for a few minutes, monitoring the instruments to ensure that they were okay. When he was happy, he slowly engaged the port bow thruster, ready to turn it off at the slightest hint of trouble. The bow swung around to face downriver and he advanced the throttles until they started slowly heading back towards the estuary and the safety of the ocean. Darren was standing in the bow with one of the walkie talkies keeping a watchful eye on the river ahead of them and warning Ryan of any sandbanks or obstacles lurking below the surface. It took almost an hour to thread their way downriver and Ryan breathed a huge sigh of relief as they passed out of the river mouth and 'Belle Catherine's' bows rose to meet the ocean swell. They motored the length of the headland and then swung round to starboard. The winch whirred as the mainsail rose on the mast and Darren let the spinnaker fly. Ryan cut the motors and 'Belle' sailed serenely on a southwesterly heading on course for the next stop at Arniston. His concentration had been such that he had not even noticed that the rest of the Kinleys were up and already starting breakfast. He turned and grinned at them as Darren came to put the walkie talkie in its locker.
"Good morning everyone. My apologies. I was a bit zoned out there. I hadn't even realised you were here." They all greeted him and he set the autopilot and joined them at the table leaving Darren to monitor their passage and reactivate the water maker.
The moment he sat down, two small human bodies and a four legged canine one descended on him, clamouring for attention. He picked up Cameron and Elizabeth, standing them on the seat on either side of him and bent to scratch Rascal under his chin. Not to be outdone, the little dog promptly jumped up onto his lap and made himself comfort-able. Joan just shook her head and smiled saying,
"When I die, I want to come back as a dog in your home"
Between the twins and Rascal, Ryan had his hands full until Andrew arrived to deliver the mountain of pancakes when he took Cameron. They both helped themselves to some pancakes, bacon and sausages, and ate breakfast, being obliged to share it with the twins and Rascal who nudged Ryan's arm when he felthe was being neglected.
They day passed under sail, with the family mainly relaxing on the foredeck or in the cockpit. In the afternoon, after a hearty lunch of subs made using the French loaves with a variety of fillings, Dan asked if would be possible to launch the dinghy and sail alongside the yacht so that he could film her at sea under sail. Ryan agreed to take him and they spent almost thirty minutes filming 'Belle Catherine' from various angles. When they viewed it later, it was fantastic so it was uploaded onto yachts system to be used on the website.
In the late afternoon, on approach to Arniston, they encountered a number of fishing boats also headed back into the small harbour. They hailed the boats and carefully moved alongside and Andrew asked if they had any crayfish to sell. There were two who had crayfish and after a bit of haggling, managed to get twenty of the crustaceans at a very good price. They would dine like kings that night.