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Never walk alone - 7. Chapter 7 -Launch

Exactly five hours later, they touched down at Cape Town International. Customs and immigration were cleared with minimum fuss and a driver from the lodge was waiting for them when they stepped into the arrivals concourse, Paul and Marie having collected Andrew's SUV on their arrival from the island.

Paul had arranged for them to stay overnight at the lodge, mainly because the staff were anxious to see them and congratulate them. The driver was not familiar to Andrew and he wore no name badge, which he would have to talk to Paul about. He was friendly, introducing himself as Martin, and congratulated them before leading the way to the lodge van. Curious, on the way, Andrew engaged him in conversation.

"Martin, I have not seen you before. How long have you been working at the lodge?"

"I started on the 2nd of January, sir."

"Okay, that explains why you don't have a name badge"

"Uh, no sir, I do have one. Just before I left the lodge to pick you up, I spilt some coffee on my jacket. When I changed my jacket, I forgot to take my name badge off the dirty one." sounding a little nervous..

"Okay, It was a mistake anyone can make. Don't worry about it. Has housekeeping got your other jacket? Just make sure you get your badge back from them, otherwise you will have to pay for the replacement".

"Yes, Mr Andrew, I will. Thank you Mr Andrew".

He drove them smoothly through the light evening traffic and stopped under the portico at the main doors of the lodge. Andrew could see Paul waiting inside with a large group of staff. Thomas opened the vehicle door and smiled broadly at them.

"Mr Andrew, Mr Ryan, welcome and congratulations. It is good to see you. The staff are very excited"

"Thank you, Thomas. It is always good to see you"

Stepping out of the van, they walked toward Paul, standing at the open door. They shook hands and he whispered,

"Be prepared ", grinning as he said so and stepped back to allow them to enter the lobby.

They were greeted by ululating and applause, and stopped when surrounded by a circle of staff who broke into a traditional song, dancing and singing around them. It was beautiful and they were both moved at the welcome. The song ended with more ululating from the ladies and then everyone lined up to shake their hands each one slightly bent at the waist in deference and smiling broadly. Andrew held up his hand for quiet.

"Okay, thank you everyone for the lovely welcome. But, we have other guests as well, back to work" and they all dispersed while Paul escorted them to their room for the night, right at the end of the corridor. When they opened the door, they grinned at one another. They had their own elves.

Candles flickered on the dresser and the bedside tables and the comforter on the bed was strewn with red rose petals that perfumed the room. A wine cooler with a bottle of sparkling wine stood on the coffee table with two glasses.
They walked into the room, Paul behind them, and heard him giggle.

"The bubbly is from me and Marie.
The rest must be housekeeping. I had no idea that they were going to do something"

"Thanks Paul, please pass on our thanks. If we see any of the ladies, we'll thank them personally as well".

"Do you want to have dinner here, or are you going to come down?", Paul enquired.

Andrew glanced at Ryan, raising a questioning eyebrow. Ryan answered,

"I think we must go to the restaurant. The staff obviously want to fuss over us, especially you, so we can't disappoint them". Looking at his watch he added, "We can just freshen up, and be down by 8.30."

Andrew nodded. "Okay, agreed. We'll go down to dinner"

Paul nodded. "Good. How was the rest of your week?"

"It was great actually, we did some day tours, and just chilled. The worst part was saying goodbye to Claude. He was so sad, but then so where we"

Paul looked at them both. "Well I may have a solution, but we can talk tomorrow or Monday".

Andrew looked at him quizzically. "Okaaay, how much is this going to cost me?"

Paul chortled, "Heh heh, you know me too well. But not now. We can talk later. Nice to have you back guys", and he left the room closing the door behind him.

They quickly splashed water onto their faces, changed into fresh shirts and, taking the sparkling wine with them, walked down the stairs to the restaurant where they were treated like royalty. The restaurant was fairly busy, but they were shown to a quiet table, also scattered with rose petals and had a quiet, attentively served dinner. The staff were friendly and efficient, but did not fuss, which they were grateful for.

They ordered Irish coffees to the room, went back upstairs and sat on the balcony enjoying the cool breeze and the less humid air. It felt good to be home. They finished the Irish coffees, staying on the balcony holding hands, and gazing at the shimmering lights of the city across the bay and the dark, looming bulk of Table Mountain behind it. The only lights visible on the mountain were at the cable station on the summit, and much further down , vehicles drove along the road to the lower cable station viewpoint. Fatigue eventually started catching up on them, and they got undressed, brushed their teeth, and went to bed, spooning together and falling asleep almost immediately.

They woke up fairly late at 9am and realised they would have to hurry, as breakfast service officially finished at 10.30 in order to prepare the room for the Sunday family lunch buffet. They showered and dressed and walked down the corridor towards the landing.

A housekeeping maid was, apparently, dusting the artwork on the wall, but as soon as they appeared she hurried down the stairs and there was in unseen flurry of movement from the lobby below. When they reached the landing at the top of the stairs, they realised the early shift staff had decided to get in on the action as well. As soon as they appeared on the landing, the staff once again started ululating and singing from the bottom of the stairs. They came to a stop near the bottom, and waited, hand in hand, until the song ended. Once again they had to run the gauntlet of hand shaking, deferential bows and happy, smiling faces.

They had breakfast on the patio and afterwards sat sipping coffee and nibbling at Danish pastries. Andrew glanced towards the restaurant, and noticed a group of waiters standing at the desk, examining the Sunday paper and made a mental note to chat to Paul about it.
Paul appeared about ten seconds later, also with a newspaper and looked down at them.

"You better see this," folding open a page and handing it to Andrew, who took the newspaper and glanced at it. His eyes widened and he passed the paper to Ryan who had a similar reaction.

The page was the local society page, and blazoned across the top was a headline,

'Hitched in Paradise - Local entrepreneurs tie the knot in Mauritius ', followed by several pictures of them and the venue as well as a short report. It had obviously been gleaned from social media and was a little short on details, but speculating that, even though the event had been small and intimate, it had by all accounts been pretty spectacular. They had somehow made the Sunday papers. The activity at the desk had been explained.

"Must be a slow news day", muttered Ryan.

Paul grinned at him. "Well, makes no difference. You two are in the news".

Andrew glared at him. "Thanks for that. Now what did you want to tell me about. Sit down and get some coffee".

Paul sat down and cleared his throat.

"Okay! It's something I was looking at late last year already, but only really jelled in my mind after we got back from the wedding. We are either experiencing a huge bounce from the publicity surrounding the opening, or our marketing team are performing miracles. For a while now, we've been turning away business because we cannot accommodate them - we do not have the rooms available. Even for the winter season. So I started looking for solutions. Obviously, the first priority was to acquire more bedrooms. But how do we do that? Two possible ways. Extend the existing infrastructure, or acquire more property. The second option was not on the cards at that stage, so I investigated option one. Then, upon my return from your wedding, I found that option two, might be feasible. Both have pros and cons.

Option one. I found the original construction plans and had an engineer have a look at them. We can add a second floor of bedrooms with no problems at all except for the nuisance factor. The foundations and supporting structures are all actually, over-engineered and are more than capable of supporting the new level.

Option two came about, when two 'For Sale' signs went up next door. One is the spa, which we use any way, but, what none of us knew, was that the property next door, between us and the spa property, is owned by the same people and they want to sell both properties. I have had a look at the property next door, and it could work. The pros are that the basic structures are already in place, they would just need some remodeling, and the nuisance factor for the lodge would be minimised. The cons are that we would have to get council approval to consolidate all three properties, and that the lodge would be very spread out.
That's the jist of it. I have all the details in my office so we can look at it anytime you want, if you want to go for it."

Andrew grinned at him.

"Hmmm, you been a busy little bee Mr Mason. Million dollar question. What's it gonna cost?"

"Well, I've just got rough estimates right now. Option one will be slightly cheaper, About eight million and that's with superior finishes.
Option two, the properties are on the market at 2.5K each negotiable. Remodeling and getting the necessary council approval will be about another 6. My guess, about ten million all in".

Andrew looked thoughtful and glanced at Ryan, who asked, "How does Claude fit into all of this".

Paul looked slightly bashful.

"Well, it's a little self serving. Firstly, I was thinking two of the new rooms could be suites where we could offer a butler service. He could also be my deputy, then I can get a little more time off, instead of just one day a week, if I am lucky. I'm not complaining, I love my job and I love this place. But, Marie and I want to start a family, so I am going to need a bit more free time".

Andrew looked at Paul, horrified.

"Why did you not say anything to me about time off. I could have come in for a day or two each month to give your more time off. I've been an idiot and I apologise, my friend. God, I feel like shit!"

Paul laughed, placing his hand on Andrew' s arm.

"No mate, you don't have to feel bad. If it was really unbearable, I would have said something, and we both know what openings are like. In the beginning the hours are always long. It's just that with a baby planned, my priorities have to be adjusted slightly".

Andrew looked at Ryan.

"What do you think Ry?"

"I think both ideas are feasible. We would have to look at the detail to make a firm decision one way or the other and I agree with Paul about Claude. It would give us a more solid management structure and take some of the pressure off him", he grinned mischievously adding, "so he can make some babies".

Andrew giggled

"True dat. Okay, we need to make decisions asap. My thoughts right now are that we look at the end of the summer season, after the Easter break., obviously subject to getting approvals, whichever way we decide to go. In the interim, we get Claude here anyway. He can assist Paul and act as a consultant for the new suites and the services we need to provide, and deputise for him. From now on, you will take a day per week and a three day weekend per month, beginning immediately. If you need more, let me know. Until Claude arrives, I will deputise for you, just send me a roster so we can coordinate shifts. I need to find out how soon Claude can be here", reaching for his mobile. He dialled and waited for the call to connect, turning on the speaker

"Claude, bonsoi. Ca va - good day, how are you?"

"Mr Andrew, it is so good to hear your voice. Did you have a good trip home? " Claude sounded excited.

"Yes, we had a good trip. Now, I need to know. How long do you need to come here? What is your notice period? I did not expect it so soon, but I have something for you?

"Oh, Mr Andrew, thank you, thank you. I have to give the resort two weeks notice."

"Okay, I will email you some details tonight of the plans we have. If you are happy with them, resign and advise me so I can arrange your work permit, flight and accommodation. Will you be bringing your dachshund with you? If so, I need to get the necessary approvals as well. Give me all the details when you reply to my email. Okay"

"Oui, Mr Andrew, thank you. Tell Mr Ryan I say hello".

Ryan leaned closer and said, "Hello Claude, I can hear you. How are you?"

"Mr Ryan! Bonjour. I am much better now that I have heard your voices again. This old man is very happy."

"Good, Claude. We look forward to seeing you soon, okay "

"Oui monsieur, merci", reverting back to French in excitement "Yes, sir, thank you"

Andrew spoke again. "Okay Claude, expect my email later. I must go now" :

"Goodbye Mr Andrew, keep well".

"Okay, so in two weeks he can be here. Let's say, end of January at the latest. Now, when can we have a look at your plans", turning to Paul .

"Well, if you want to we can have a look now. If not, then how about you stay here tonight as well, and we have a look in the morning. Actually, now that I think about it, the two properties next door are on show this afternoon from 2pm. We can have lunch and the walk over and have a look see. You already know the spa building, it's really just the house that we have to look at".

Andrew looked at Ryan, really wanting to involve him as much as possible.

"What do you think babe?"

Ryan shrugged.

"It can't hurt to have a look, so why not. I would like to sleep in our own bed tonight though. We can always drive over in the morning ".

"I agree. It would be nice to be in our own bed again. Okay, so we have a look at the properties this afternoon, we sleep at the apartment, and come back in the morning. Agreed?" There were two nods.

"Right now, I need water" and he signalled, for a waiter ordering mineral water for all of them.

"How are you for time now, mate? Are we keeping you from anything?", Andrew asked.

"No, it's just lunch prep, and I can keep an eye on that from here. Once the guests start arriving, I'll have to go. Why do you ask?"

"Tell us more about option one, if we go up. I will admit, it is the one I am leaning toward. My only concerns are the disruption to guest comfort and operations, and that if the properties are sold, we stand to lose a great selling feature, the spa, if it closes down.".

"Well, as I said, the structural engineer I brought in had a look at the plans and had a good look around. His opinion is this place is built to last. The foundations and support columns are way over spec. We could go straight up, with room over room , but I thought it might be better to set the top floor slightly back,terrace style. The roof is flat, and is already a concrete slab. The existing rooms don't occupy the full width of the building. If you remember, there is that covered passage, that is part of the emergency exit route. So the new rooms get moved right back to the rear edge of the slab, giving us an extra 2.5metres to work with on the top floor. Obviously, all the aircon and extraction equipment on the roof will have to be moved up one level, but that is just a matter of extending the existing trunking. So, move the rooms back, make them slightly larger with the extra space. Instead of having ten extra rooms, we would have eight, with the rooms on either end, being two roomed suites with wrap around balconies. That moves us from ten to eighteen rooms which we market as ten doubles, the existing rooms, six executive rooms, and two suites.

The central landing would have to be extended up as well, and possibly an elevator installed. From what I understand, there will be very little drilling noise. It will mainly be brick and mortar construction, plastering, painting etc. It will be noisier than usual, especially during the day, but the nights will be normal. Just the nuisance factor, the biggest of which will be dust. That will be a nightmare."

Ryan looked at Andrew and Paul,

"I really like the sound of that. How are we going to solve the spa problem though?"

Andrew looked at this watch and made a quick decision.

"It's 11.30. The girls know us, so how about we go over and ask them if we can take a look before the show house. That way way may get a head start, and could solidify our ideas."

They left the patio and walked past the pool, across the lawn to a gate set into the corner of the garden, passed through it, and exited onto the sidewalk of the road running along the beach. They walked past the house that was for sale and walked up the pathway of the spa building and went in.

They were greeted by the receptionist, Jackie. Michelle and Joselyn, the two owners and therapists came through when they heard the voices. Sunday was normally a quiet day and they were only open until midday and it was almost that now.

"Hi Paul! Andrew, Ryan, great to see you guys. Congratulations, your wedding sounds like it was a blast ", Jocelyn greeted smiling.

Andrew grinned at them.

"Don't believe everything you read in the newspapers. But yes, it was great, thank you"

Michelle asked, "What can we do for you?"

"Well, we wanted to find out what was happening. We see the your place and the one next door are for sale. What's gonna happen with you ladies? Ryan asked.

"Well, we're not quite sure yet. The sale notice came as a bit of a shock. We had no indication from the owners that they wanted to sell. It's not only our business, it's our home as well. Why, are you interested?"

"We may be, it's an option. Would you mind if we had a look around"

"No, not at all. Michelle will take you over. Do you want to look around here as well?"

"I don't think so, we know the spa fairly well. It's just the house we want to see"

Michelle walked them over to the house and let them in. For the next 15 minutes or so, they walked around and Paul took notes, then they said goodbye and went back to the lodge, where Andrew and Ryan had a quick buffet salad lunch and drove home to the apartment, where they unpacked, got all the dirties into the washer, and hung up and put away the rest.

Liverpool were playing Manchester City in a Premier League match so Ryan was glued to the TV, while Andrew composed his email to Claude and hit 'Send', then joined Ryan on the couch with two beers and some popcorn.

As the sun was setting, they strolled hand in hand along the marina dock, but the mood was soured by four dark skinned men on one of the charter boats, who jeered and passed homophobic comments as they passed, so they turned round and returned to the apartment. Dinner was just simple toasted cheese and tomato sandwiches with crisps which they ate while watching TV and discussing the proposed changes at the lodge and they were in bed by 10pm.

The following morning they were back at the lodge, and things had solidified in Andrew's mind, especially after viewing the buildings next door and his discussion with Ryan. Paul watched them walk across the lobby toward him, and he knew, by the look in Andrew's eyes, that a decision had been made. They greeted one another and went onto the patio for coffee. Paul looked at Andrew and said, "Okay, I know that look. What have you decided?"

Andrew chuckled, but his eyes stayed serious.

"Ry and I had a chat last night and I believe we are in agreement." He looked at Ryan and said, "We go up!" at which Ryan nodded in agreement.

"It may be a bit more disruptive, but we feel in the long run, it will be better for the lodge. It will maintain the aesthetic look of the exterior, instead of looking haphazard and disjointed. I want to get going asap and you're going to have to run with this Paul. I know it's a lot on your plate, particularly in view of what was discussed yesterday, but you need to hand over as much as possible to Claude when he arrives. I had an email from him this morning. He has accepted my proposal and will resign today. He will be here on the 30th, just over two weeks away. Ry and I will assist where we can, but we have the yacht project as well. By my reckoning, we should have just started construction by the time we launch the yacht. Then we will, hopefully have more time, on our hands to assist here. We're not taking any major charters until the winter storms are over, just day stuff. And by the beginning of summer, construction should be almost complete "

"What about the spa? Until when do we continue to market it?", Paul enquired.

"Let's play it by ear. Do you know how the show day went yesterday?"

"From what I hear, not very well. There were very few potential clients, and all felt the properties were overpriced and needed work"

Ryan interjected.

"Yeah, that was what Drew and I felt last night as well. They are solid and well built, but are old and in desperate need of modernisation, especially the house."

Andrew added.

"So they might just take a while to sell. We'll just have to keep an eye on it".

Ryan was staring out over the garden when his eyes narrowed and a frown appeared on his brow.

"Guys, I think there may be another solution for the spa"

Andrew and Paul looked at him speculatively.

"And that would be, husband dear?

"Look carefully at the garden, in particular the areas around the pool"

Andrew and Paul studied the area indicated.

"Ry babe,what are you seeing that we aren't?"

"Okay, that piece of grass on the far side of the pool, closest to the driveway. It slopes down to the driveway does it not." Andrew thought he had a glimmer of what Ryan was thinking as he continued.

"I don't think I have ever seen anyone, except kids on that piece of the garden. What if we build a spa in that area. Excavate the ground and hide it behind the pool. That slope is enough to almost hide it I think and it won't detract too much from the view towards the island, if it has any effect at all. It would also help to hide the drive-way from the pool area and provide another patio seating area".

"Ry, you may have just had your most brilliant thought, apart from the one agreeing to marry me." said
Andrew, making Paul chuckle.

"Let's go take a look.". They walked over and examined the landscape. The pool area and the grass in front of the main building was essentially level, dropping down a terrace before sloping down towards the beach.
The pool was situated at one of the highest points in the garden, and the grass on the right hand side between the pool and the driveway sloped down quite steeply to a low retaining wall. Andrew now saw what Ryan had seen.

"Okay, we excavate the slope down to driveway level so we can build in that gap, and it will be all but hidden. The wall on the pool side would have to be reinforced, because that would have to act as a retaining wall for the earth holding the pool in place. If we get it wrong, we could have a disaster on our hands, but it will work. It's a clever idea. Well done Ry".

Paul piped up.

"I hate to be a Debbie downer, but it will add significantly to the cost"

"Let's get quotes and look at it then. But I do like the idea. We could rent the space to the girls at a fair rate and let them run it for their own account. I don't want to get involved in running spas. It is not our core business, just an extra service we offer our guests. So the spa is theirs to run, they just pay us rental and a small commission for the reservation. I think that's fair"

And so the decision was made. Construction would begin on the new rooms and spa as soon as all the necessary approvals had been received and Paul would project manage it. Andrew and Ryan would concentrate on the yacht and Andrew handling Claude 's move from Mauritius.

Things actually happened quite quickly once the decision had been taken. Plans were drawn up by the original architects, surveying was completed and costs determined, a buider was appointed and Andrew was surprised that construction costs were only ten million rand with the spa construction accounting for a hefty two million of the cost. He estimated a further two million for decor and furnishings. The girls were happy to move the business to the lodge and they would handle all the fixtures and fittings themselves.

Claude arrived as scheduled on the second last day of January and there was a happy, but tearful reunion at the airport. Andrew had rented a cottage in Bloubergstrand for him as part of his package. It was just a five minute walk to the lodge. He and Paul clicked immediately, and the staff loved him.

At the end of March, Paul and Marie announced that they were going to be parents, and asked Andrew and Ryan to be godparents, which they ecstatically agreed to.

After meeting Claude's dachshund, Andrew and Ryan acquired one too. A lovable little puppy, that stole
their hearts and their slippers. They named him Rascal (by name and nature) and he would burrow himself between them whenever they cuddled on the couch. From the beginning, they insisted he sleep in the kitchen, but every morning, tiny nails could be heard scampering down the passage to the bedroom, before a small brown bundle of energy came sliding through the doorway and leaping onto the bed, licking their faces and wagging his tail like crazy. They adored him from day one, and he was spoilt rotten. He even took a liking to tea, and whenever Andrew had a cup he would sit at Andrew's feet, with mournful eyes and wagging tail, to drink the last dregs straight out of the cup And he got a dog biscuit when they had coffee after dinner, and one before bed, when he would sit on the kitchen floor, staring unblinking at the biscuit container until he received it.

The construction on the additions to Blue Bay commenced in the last week of March and in early April, they were advised that the yacht would be ready for launch within two weeks.
Andrew reserved a flight for them to fly up for the launch and sea trials. They would then sail the yacht back to Cape Town.
Rascal would stay with Claude, as he and Claude's dog, Toby, had become best of mates.

They flew to the the town of George on the Garden Route and then drove to the seaside resort of Knysna where the launch would take place. The yacht had been placed on a low bed transporter and slowly driven to Knysna overnight, and now waited at the boat ramp at the Knysna Yacht Club.

When they arrived at the ramp, Andrew was almost beside himself with excitement. He could not stand still for ten seconds. Steve and Neil were there with a crew of a dozen workers to assist with the launch, and a crane was lowering the mast into place before being secured in place. Once the mast was secure, and it was deemed safe to approach the yacht, Steve took Andrew and Ryan and they walked around her.

Her white hull gleamed in the sunlight, reflecting vague images. A navy blue stripe, ran the length of her hulls, narrowing down until it morphed into the script that formed her name, now hidden by tarpaulins.
Climbing aboard, Steve led then on a brief tour, starting at the bows and working back to the aft scoops and cockpit and helm area, before going into the main saloon and down into the cabins.

To Andrew and Ryan she was just perfection. At first glance they could not find a single fault. They would have time for a more thorough inspection later, but the time had come for her to be in her element, to be in the water
Steve took them to the bow where two of his assistants stood waiting. He handed a bottle of champagne to Andrew and said,

"Go ahead, do the honours"

Andrew motioned Ryan closer.

"I want you to do this with me" and placed Ryan's hand over his as he gripped the neck of the bottle. Taking a deep breath, fighting to keep control of his emotions, he said in a loud voice filled with emotion,

"I name this vessel, Belle Catherine. May she always have fair winds and kind seas. Bless this vessel and
all who sail in her".

They leaned over the bow, and smashed the bottle on the edge, spraying champagne in all directions. The two assistants released the tarpaulins to reveal her name and the truck reversed slowly backwards until she floated free of the cradle that held her.

They moved back to the helm station and Steve indicated that Ryan must sit at the helm station, Steve turned a key, pointed to a button and said

"Press it."

There was a rumble from beneath and behind them as the engines came to life. Andrew gripped Ryan's shoulder, his eyes swimming with tears. Gently, Ryan pulled the throttles back and the yacht, reversed slowly way from the launch ramp into deeper water. When he judged they were clear of all obstacles, he put the throttles back into their neutral position.

"Drew, come sit here next to me", patting the seat beside him. He looked at Andrew and enquired,
"Do you know what you are looking at?". Andrew studied the array of instruments, buttons and levers, and looked back at him.

"Yes and no. That's the throttles for the engines, forwards, neutral and back. That is obviously the steering wheel, the helm. The keys are to activate the engines, from what I can see, port, or starboard. The rest, no clue whatsoever".

Before Ryan could answer, Steve interjected, pointing to a black joystick.

"Ryan, that is the bow thrusters control. Just remember that they operate counter intuitively. If you want to spin the bow to port, you use the starboard thruster and vice versa. Spin her slowly to port", watching intently as Ryan activated the starboard bow thruster. The bow rotated slowly to the left, port..

"Good. Well done . Now, seeing as you seem to know what you are doing, see those two monohulls berthed stern on?"

Ryan nodded.

"Okay, our berth is between them, we need to berth stern on as well. Med style. You okay with that?"

"No problem, said Ryan and he pushed the throttles forward.

The yacht moved slowly towards the other two yachts. When he was almost past them, he pulled the throttles back into reverse, spun the wheel and nudged the bow thruster control, and they pivoted neatly in line with the vacant berth, before bringing everything back to a neutral position. He was grinning from ear to ear. Steve grunted, looking at him with respect in his eyes.

"You do know what you are doing. That was very well done. It seems I won't have to watch over your shoulder . Okay, let's get her tied up" and Ryan slowly backed her into the relatively tight berth, and Steve's assistants secured them to the dock.

"Good, well done captain. I think, turn off one engine and turn on the generator, just so we can be sure the batteries are full. The solar will probably do the job during the day, but I would rather know for sure that they are fully charged for tomorrow." He pointed to a digital screen.

"That is your battery charge indicator. When the bars reach the top, they are full. We are going to leave you two alone for the rest of the day to explore and I will see you at 07h00 tomorrow".

He gathered his crew, disembarked, and they were finally alone on the boat, Andrew scanned the area around him. She was beautiful.

The seating in the aft cockpit and helm area was upholstered with a luxurious, but durable fabric in navy blue with white piping, accented with colourful scatter cushions in red, yellow and green and curved around the table in a U, that could be lowered level with the seating and turned into large bed.

Behind the seating, was a walkway with a small work table, and a gas BBQ grill. Above the top step of each scoop, fitted into the overhead roof, were two freshwater showers. On the right, just behind the helm station, was another small upholstered seat, under which a drinks cooler had been fitted. To the left of the glass sliding doors to the saloon was a counter that contained the washer/dryer, a small refrigerator and an ice maker.

The decks were all covered with flexiteak, a synthetic, faux teak flooring that did not absorb heat and thus stayed cool underfoot and the overhead ceiling was fitted with small LCD down lights on a dimmer. The entire area could be protected and enclosed with two, layered, drop down screens, a mesh, to keep out insects, the other, stout canvas with clear window inserts for protection against the wind and rain. The screens, when not in use, were rolled up and stored in custom recesses in the overhead roof.

The main saloon was airy and bright. Large windows on the sides and facing forward provided 180° views and a skylight provided light from above. Recessed LCD lights provided further illumination. All the cupboards and lockers were finished in oak wood, both veneer and solid.

The galley was situated on the port, or left, side in a U shape. The oak counters were topped with white Corian and contained a five plate gas burner, large oven, microwave, double sink, two drawer type refrigerators, a deep freezer and a dishwasher. Smaller appliances sat on the counter tops. In the cupboards on the galley walls above the counters, the crockery and glassware that Andrew and Ryan had selected was displayed ready for use. The cutlery and utensils were in drawers in one of the upright units. Forward of the galley were the stairs down into the port hull, and forward of that was the small interior navigation table, with instruments mirroring those at the helm station. Instead of the wheel, the yacht could be steered with a steering throttle.
The saloon seating area, curved in another U shape, was situated slightly aft of the front wall, allowing for a narrow passage behind it that led to the stairs down into the starboard hull. It had a solid oak table that could also be lowered and covered with a custom mattress to become a queen size bed. The seating was upholstered in white leather with blue piping and bright striped scatter cushions.

A large TV was fitted to the wall above a counter, adjacent to the sliding doors that could be rotated to face the cockpit seating as well.

The port hull contained three cabins, forward, midships and aft. They all contained queen size beds and the forward and midships cabins could be converted into twin beds if needed. They also had a long wide shelf next to the bed that could be used for storage or converted into a slightly smaller bed for a child, with the addition of a mattress.

The biggest cabin on the yacht was the master cabin in the starboard hull,that took up the same space as the aft and midships cabins in the port hull. All the cabins had their own private showers and basins with hot and cold running water and electric flush, fresh water toilets or heads. Every cabin was air-conditioned, as was the entire yacht, had extra fans fitted over the beds, a TV and individual sound system with plenty of storage and counter space.

The beds were covered with white and blue striped comforters and the headboards were upholstered in navy blue with white button detail. Overhead hatches and side portholes could be opened to allow fresh air to blow through the cabins.
Two fluffy white bathrobes hung behind each cabin door.

The overall look was simple and clean, but luxurious at the same time, without being over the top. It was exactly what they had hoped to achieve.

They looked at one another with huge grins on their faces. It had actually happened. They had a yacht!

Copyright © 2020 Andre Delport; All Rights Reserved.
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Wonderful homecoming x2.

First to the Lodge and its bright future. Expanding a property while retaining the original look is a hard trick to pull off. (For reference Chateau Lake Louise  in Banff, Canada was expanded twice, but harkens to its original appearance).

The second homecoming, is to the launch of Belle Catherine named in honour of Andrew's late mother. Well done indeed, properly fitted and welcoming Drew and Ry to their water abode.



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Great ideas have now spawned even more great ideas.  The addition to the lodge with its new spa will draw even more guests.  I'm glad Claude is on board are ready to assist Paul.  I think there will be even more changes coming.  The launch of the Belle Catherine seems to have Andrew as excited as Ryan.  I hope the few cruises they take before winter are smooth and prove the ship's ability.

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It’s becoming a real buissenes now A great hotel, a Spa and now the yacht .I know it’s fiction but when you reading it’s just like reality.😇😀😅

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