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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental. Note: While authors are asked to place warnings on their stories for some moderated content, everyone has different thresholds, and it is your responsibility as a reader to avoid stories or stop reading if something bothers you. 

Never walk alone - 9. Chapter 9

As I only posted one chapter last week, here's an early one to make up for it.

Belle Catherine welcomes the first passengers.

Eventually, their time alone drew to an end and dawn on Sunday morning found them approaching the tiny harbour at the foot of Hermanus, a small seaside town on the southern Cape coast. They were a few hours ahead of schedule and they quietly found an anchorage in the harbour. Then they both went to lie down.

Just after 08h00, Andrew's mobile buzzed in the locker next to the bed. At first, befuddled with sleep, he was puzzled by the sound. They had not heard the sound of a mobile for four days. Just as he realised what the sound was, it stopped, before starting up again seconds later. Before he could speak, a voice excitedly said,

"Is that you guys on that aircraft carrier in the harbour? The big blue and white cat?" Andrew grinned.

"Morning Paul, and yes, that us. We got in at about 05h00 this morning. Where are you?"

"Still at the B&B. Just woke up, opened the curtains and saw the yacht. Just knew it had to be you guys. God, she's huge. Much bigger than I imagined. How are we going to get to you?"

"We cannot get a berth in the harbour, so we've had to tie up to a mooring buoy. We'll have to drop the dinghy and fetch you at the bottom of the boat ramp. Do you know where that is?"

"Yeah, I can see it from here. When can we expect you?"

"I think let's stick to the plan for 10am. We're both quite tired, so we just crashed after we had tied up to the mooring bouy. We have a few things to do on board before you arrive and we have to go the harbourmasters office and pay for the mooring. Then pick you guys up."

"How about I go the harbour master and sort out the mooring, then you can just come and collect us when you are ready. From what I can see from here, the harbour masters office is just adjacent to the boat ramp."

"That would work. Have breakfast, check out, and come down to the harbour. Give me a call when you get to the harbour masters office and we'll come to fetch you."

"OK, see you later"

"I take it that was Paul", muttered a gravelly voice beside Andrew.

"Yes, it was. He woke up, opened the curtains, and wondered," Andrew giggled, "if we were the blue and white aircraft carrier in the harbour? We're not that big are we?"

Ryan looked sideways at Ryan.

"Are you sure he's not gay? He can be a real drama queen sometimes."

Andrew giggled again, getting out of bed at the same time.

"Paul! Straight as a dye. Best friend a guy could wish for. Loves Marie to heaven and back! Right, priorities! We need to get our butts out of bed and get showered and changed. We have guests coming aboard in two hours. I need coffee and something to eat, and the cockpit table and seating needs to be changed back from a bed. Fortunately, the cabins are ready. We just need to open the hatches so that they can get some fresh air. Paul is going to sort out the mooring buoy payment, and we need to collect them and Donna and Craig at the bottom of the boat ramp at 10am or whenever Paul phones and says they're ready. As soon as you are ready, can you get the dinghy in the water and I'll rustle up some breakfast. How's that sound? Have I left anything out?

"No, don't think so. Proverbial model of effeciency," muttered Ryan sarcastically. "Except, I didn't get my morning kiss and cuddle."

"How about we share the shower. You might just get more than a kiss and cuddle," said Andrew, waggling his eyebrows. That got Ryan out of bed fast and they scurried into the bathroom for a shower that took slightly longer than normal.

Freshly washed and dressed, both in the uniform of navy blue board shorts, white polo shirt and blue deck shoes, they both left the, now tidy, cabin and climbed the stairs into the saloon. Ryan went out on deck, did a check and walkaround and then launched the dinghy into the water, securing it to the stern.

Breakfast was just bran cereal, fresh fruit, toast, preserves and cheese with tea or coffee. They quickly cleared up, changed the aft dining area back from bed mode, plumped up all the cushions and put out some brightly coloured scatter cushions that, up until now, had been stored in a locker. They had decided to present the yacht as it would be presented for any guests on arrival.

For the arrival of their first 'guests', they had prepared the aft and midships cabins in the port hull, so the two cabins had been fully equipped with all the standard guest requirements including the fluffy white bathrobes. By 09h30, they were ready. They both stood in middle of the aft cockpit and looked around at their efforts.Andrew nodded, grinned at Ryan.

"I think she looks great, don't you?"

"Yeah, you were right about these coloured cushions. They add a nice splash of colour."

"Ry, can you do the pickup. Then while you're gone, I'll get the welcome drinks organised"

Part of the proposed package that they would offer arriving guests would be champagne, fruit juice or mimosas on boarding to welcome them followed by a quick list of do's and don'ts and a walk around, before being shown to their cabins. While they did the walk around with one of them , the other would move the luggage to the appropriate cabin.

Andrew looked over to the harbour and saw a cab pulling up, four people emerging and removing bags from the trunk. He nodded in their direction.

"I think that's them. Time to rock n' roll"

Ryan pecked Andrew on the lips.

"Be back in a few," before turning to walk down the scoop steps. He stepped into the dinghy and started the motor, after attaching the 'kill switch' to hix wrist, while Andrew untied the mooring rope and tossed it to him. The dinghy floated free and Ryan slowly motored away from the side of the yacht, before gunning the motor and racing away towards the boat ramp.

Andrew quickly got all the champagne, juices and glasses, arranged it all on silver tray and set it down on the cockpit dining table. Then he went to the main control board and turned on the entertainment system, and selecting some instrumental music, pushed play, adjusting the volume so that the music could just be heard over the background noise. Then he walked back into the cockpit to see what was happening at the ramp.

At the ramp, Ryan raised the motor and allowed his momentum to ride the bow of the dinghy up onto the ramp so that the front third of the dinghy was clear of the water. He pulled out the 'kill switch' and the motor stopped immediately, and then he stepped out onto the ramp before tethering the dinghy to a nearby stanchion.

As he walked up the ramp, a young woman detached herself from the group at the top, running down towards him. He opened his arms and she ran into them.

"Ooof sis, take it easy. You nearly knocked me over there." He hugged her to him.

Donna lifted her face, smiling, but eyes swimming with tears.

"I haven't seen my little brother since he got married. I think I'm allowed a suitable greeting."

Ryan grinned down at her. The resemblance was evident to see. Both blonde and blue eyed. But where Ryan was tanned and robust, she was small, fair skinned and almost fragile.

"Hello Donna, it's great to see you. How you doing?" She sniffed.

"I'm great. All the better for seeing you though. I've missed having you around. You come back from the Med, we don't see you and suddenly, I am in Mauritius watching you get married, now here I am at the bottom of the country, about to board a yacht that you have a share in with your new husband"

"Well, I'm pleased you're here. Things have been rather hectic since we got back, as you can see behind me. And I haven't met Craig either." He looked at her. "Does he know your little brother is gay and married, and that his partner is on the yacht as well?"

She nodded.

"Yes, he does. And he's fine with it. His sister has a partner. His parents are not happy about it, but he sees her often and we go out together."

Ryan glanced up as Paul emerged from a doorway above and to the left. He looked down at Ryan.

"Moorings paid for, we're good to go. How do we do this?"

Ryan put his arm around Donnas waist and together, they walked up the ramp. Ryan shook Paul's hand and hugged Marie in greeting. Then turned to the other male in the group. Donna took Craig's hand and drew him closer.

"Ry, this is my boyfriend, Craig Kenton. Craig, my brother Ryan."

They shook hands and exchanged pleasantries. Then Ryan said,

"Right, let's get you all on board and we can get going. Andrew's probably watching and wondering what we're chitchatting about. Is that all the luggage?" looking at the bags next to them. Without waiting for a reply, he grabbed two of the bags and started down the ramp. The others all followed, with Paul and Craig each carrying the remaining two bags.

"You all get on board, just leave space for me at the controls. Then we can arrange the bags in the spaces left. Craig, could you get in first. Then you can support the ladies as they step in. Paul, could you just hold onto the handhold on the side of the bow to prevent her sliding back."

Ryan pushed the dinghy back slightly until it was just beached on the ramp, then assisted everybody on board and made sure they were safely seated. Then, he shoved the dinghy clear of the ramp, and hopped over the bow immediately after. His shoes did not even get slightly wet! He seated himself at the controls, and inserted the 'kill switch' before starting the motor. Then he opened the throttle, and turned back to the yacht.

As he approched the yacht he turned and slowly motored around the yacht, so that the guests could have a good look at her exterior, with Andrew keeping pace with them up on the deck. Then Ryan swung round and slowly edged up to the stern and tossed the mooring rope to a waiting Andrew, who swiftly secured it to the cleat on the side of the hull. Moving down the scoop steps, Andrew paused while Ryan gently nudged up against the scoop, then held the dinghy in place, as Andrew assisted everyone onto the yacht. Ryan then killed the motor and hopped aboard himself. He stepped up into the aft cockpit, where everyone was gathered and greetings were being exchanged. Ryan walked over and encircled Andrew's waist with his arm. Andrew did likewise. Ryan looked around at the faces.

"Craig, have you and Andrew been introduced?"

Five heads nodded in the affirmative and Andrew said

"Yeah, I introduced myself to Craig as he came aboard."

"OK guys, welcome aboard SV Belle Catherine."

Andrew reached out and picked up the tray with the glasses and handed it to Ryan.

"Welcome aboard guys. Champagne, juice or both? A bit of a confession here. As we are going to be doing charters, we've invited you on board test the waters, and act as guinea pigs, in a way. Hope you don'tmind? But most of all, we want you to have a good time and enjoy the cruise. OK, who wants what?"

Once they all had a drink in there hands, Ryan cleared his throat and everyone quietened down.

"OK, we don't want to be stuffy and regimented, but just a couple rules. Most of them are for your own comfort and safely, so listen carefully."

"On the counter behind you are non slip loafers. Please wear them when on board or you can go barefoot whichever you feel more comfortable with. The deck you are standing on is flexiteak. It is a synthetic product that looks like real teak, but is softer underfoot and stays cool in the sun. It also marks very easily, so please, no dark soled shoes to be worn. If you are out on the side decks or the bow, wearing the loafers or being barefoot will prevent you from slipping. The yacht is very informal. And comfort is important. If you would prefer to be barefoot, no problem at all. Andrew and I are dressed in the uniform that our charter guests will see us in, at all times, except if we are at anchor and the water toys are out. Because you are family, and we consider you all as such, once we've got you settled, we'll change into less formal gear. We just wanted you to experience what paying charters will be getting."
"Now while the yacht is very stable, we are still subject to the whims of the ocean and the wind. Andmotion can sometimes be erratic and unexpected. There are handholds all over the yacht so you should be OK. But, and it's a very big but - if you are going to go onto the side decks or the bows, we insist that you wear the safety harnesses that are in your cabins, especially if we are at sea. The harnesses have built in flotation devices. If you go out on deck, before you step out of this space, attach your harness to the rail in the roof. You can detach once you are on the bow deck. If you want to sit in the dolphin seats,
attach your harness to the rail next to you. If you do happen to fall overboard, the harness will prevent you from becoming detached from the yacht. You can remove the harness if you want to sunbathe, but please keep them close and use them. Remember, this is for your own safety.
Third, no open flame except in the galley or behind us on the BBQ.

Now, this one is for the guys. I've already mentioned the unexpected movement. If you need to pee, I would suggest you sit down to do it."

Marie and Donna burst out laughing at the look of horror on Paul and Craig's faces.

"Ryan's not kidding guys", Andrew added. "If you're standing holding your dick and the yacht moves strangely or unexpectedly, not only could you get hurt, but you're going to be spraying all over the place."

The two women, were by now chuckling so hard, they had tears running down their cheeks and were clutching at the counter behind them. Donna looked up with a very unladylike snort,

"Oh my God, has my day just been made. The look on your faces. Priceless. No, make that my year. It's the funniest thing I've heard and seen in a long time. Oh man, am I going to dine out on this one", she giggled.

The guys didn't seem to find it quite so funny, and Andrew and Ryan were both battling to stay serious.

"It's just some friendly advice guys. Take it or leave it. But, if you make a mess, you clean it up."

"Right," Ryan said, "let's give you the two penny tour. Right now, we are in the aft cockpit. Over on the right, forward is the helm station. No one touches anything there unless I say so. We will also probably take most of our meals here and will be the main gathering place. You came aboard via the stern scoops.
The scoops are where most of the water toys will be deployed from. Under the seat over on the right is a cooler. It is topped up with beer, sodas, coolers and water. Help yourselves. If you want to cool down after being in the sun or wash off salt water, there are two hot and cold water showers at the top of the scoops in the overhead bimini. The taps are on the side of the top step."
Ryan paused for a sip of juice and Andrew took over.

Leading the group forward, he entered the saloon.

"This is the main saloon, galley and over there, the indoor navigation station. Wine is in the cooler next to the door. The TV can pick up satellite TV, and there are numerous dvd's in the cupboard beneath the TV. Generally, one of us will put on some music. Let us know if you want anything in particular. I can't promise we will have it, but we could always try YouTube on the TV. To the left and right are stairs down into the hulls and the cabins. We gave five cabins in total, all with bathrooms, small, but perfectly functional. Your cabins are in the port hull, this way please." and Andrew led then down into the port hull.

"Paul and Marie, we've put you in the aft cabin, Donna and Craig are in the midships cabin. Babe, will you show Donna and Craig to their cabin?"

The guys showed everyone to their cabins, pointing out the TV and remote, the bathrooms, and how the electric flush worked on the toilets, the air conditioning controls and fans and most importantly, the escape hatches in an emergency.

They all dumped their luggage and everyone returned to the cockpit where Ryan prepared to get them underway. He hoisted the dinghy from the water and stored it in it's cradle.

Then he fired up the starboard motor, and after some manoeuvring, retrieved the mooring line, then slowly motored out of the harbour after advising the port captain that they we departing. Paul and Craig joined Ryan at the helm, while Marie and Donna kept Andrew company as he started preparation for lunch and dinner. Lunch would be Andrew's take on the chicken and mango salad from the lodge, while dinner was a seafood BBQ, with salads and garlic bread followed by pecan nut pie and ice cream.

Andrew put some potatoes on to boil for potato salad and then grilled the chicken breasts and sliced the mango. Then he made a dressing using sweet chilli, buttermilk, and yogurt and arranged salad greens on a large platter, added baby tomatoes, cucumber, sliced peppers, spring onions and avocado - Andrew firmly believed that a salad was not a salad without avocado. Then he sliced the chicken breasts and poured a little of the dressing over them and arranged the slices on the platter, before adding the mango and some chopped cashews and silantro. This was served with a chunky seed bread and farm butter. The ladies assisted him with the table settings, the food was brought to the table and lunch was served.

The southern African coastline slowly slid by as they sailed - Ryan had raised the spinnaker soon after leaving harbour. The wind was fresh and cooling and drove them forward at 10 knots towards Cape Town.

Ryan sat back in the helm seat and looking at everyone said,

"I have a suggestion. I think we should stop overnight in Gordons Bay. Then tomorrow, we sail around False Bay and spend the day anchored off Strand or Muizemberg. The water there is a bit warmer and we can deploy the water toys and have some fun. Maybe even go ashore for lunch. Stay where we are for the night, then set sail early Tuesday morning, to get onto Table Bay by 10h00 with breakfast at sea and then on to the marina by 11or 11.30. How does that sound? It will just give you the opportunity to get out and use the water toys."

Andrew nodded.

"That works for me. What time will we have to leave to get to Cape Town?"

"Probably at about 04h00 to be safe. I don't want to get into Table Bay too early."

"I like the idea, mainly because we won't be doing any night sailing, so no watches. It's easier on both of us."

"I like the idea as well. I for one would love to get onto that tube and go for a spin," added Paul and everyone else agreed to the plan

After lunch, the two new couples, retired to their cabins to unpack and get settled. Meanwhile Ryan and Andrew put out the deck loungers on the foredeck. Donna and Craig reappeared first, Donna in a swimsuit and sarong and Craig in a knee length costume and vest. They both had their harnesses and asked Ryan to assist them with wearing them. Andrew was relaxing on the sunbed at the side of the cockpit.

"Ry, do you think the harnesses are necessary. The sea is calm, we have a following wind so she's not pitching or rolling. If they're careful and just make sure to hold onto the safety rail, I think it will be OK."
Ryan looked at the sea and considered the movement of the yacht, then nodded.

"Alright, I'll go along with that. Just hold onto the hand rail and be careful. Here, let me go with you the first time." and he led them along the side deck, showing them how to hold the rail and move forward until they were on the foredeck. He then repeated the demo with Paul and Marie who had by then appeared back on deck. Andrew filled a cooler box with drinks and took it forward for them to make use of and to minimize the risk of moving between the bow and the aft drinks locker.

Then just before 4pm there was a flurry of excitement as a pod of dolphins was spotted in front of the yacht. As they got closer to the pod, the dolphins became more inquisitive and approached the yacht before taking up positions right in front of the bows and swimming with them. Andrew went forward and showed their guests how to lie on the trampolines and watch the dolphins. After about twenty minutes they suddenly disappeared. Everyone was elated at what they had seen and it was a very happy group who eventually disappeared into the port hull to freshen up and change. Andrew and Ryan took the opportunity to prepare the BBQ and lay the tablefor dinner.

Andrew then went down to their cabin, had a quick shower and changed, before coming back up to the saloon. Ryan wanted to shower and change as well, so with Andrew at the helm, keeping an eye on the autopilot, the two ladies offered to do the salads for dinner.

When Ryan returned to the helm, Andrew took over duties in the galley. He made up a jug of cocktail for sundowners and set to work on the garlic bread, before starting on the seafood.

They would be having crayfish tails, that they had bought off a trawler they had met at sea just before sunset the previous day, basted with lemon herb butter, fish parcels with tomato, onion, peppers, butter and white wine, and a mussel pot with garlic, white wine and cream. To go with dinner, he had done a potato salad with bacon and chopped hard boiled eggs, and a green salad with the inevitable avocado, this time in as a dressing.

Once it was all ready, with just the seafood to be done, Andrew joined everyone else at the aft table, where conversation was lively and convivial - not that he had been completely excluded while in the galley, as the sliding windows in the rear bulkhead had been slid open so that he could participate in the conversation at the table.

Just as the twinkling lights of Gordons Bay appeared ahead of them, Andrew fired up the BBQ and fetched the seafood from the galley. Once the grill was fiercely hot, he started the mussel pot and placed the fish parcels on the flat top grill. Then he placed the crayfish tails onto the ribbed grill and soon, mouthwatering aromas wafted around the table. He went back in and carried out the salads and the bread and placed it all on the transom top next to the grill.. When the seafood was ready, he called everyone to help themselves and went to collect the wine that he had chosen for dinner - his favourite Southern Right Sauvignon Blanc.

By the time dinner was over, they had almost arrived at their night stop, the Gordons Bay Yacht Club. Andrew delayed dessert until they were tied up to the dock at the club and all the formalities had been dealt with. They were plugged into shore power, so the generator was turned off and the air conditioning turned up full, easing the muggy heat that had decended on them soon after lunch.
Andrew served dessert and they sat chatting at the table until Ryan announced that he was turning in to be up for the early departure the next morning.Having had an almost full day of sunshine and sea air, they all decided it was a good idea and headed for their respective cabins. The boys secured the yacht, turned off all the unnecessary lights and went down to the master cabin where they showered to get rid of the BBQ smells and hopped in bed


Copyright © 2020 Andre Delport; All Rights Reserved.
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental. Note: While authors are asked to place warnings on their stories for some moderated content, everyone has different thresholds, and it is your responsibility as a reader to avoid stories or stop reading if something bothers you. 
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Chapter Comments

Fantastic chapter!

The sailing details are spot on. Your descriptions of the 'Welcome Aboard' walk-around of SV Belle Catherine plus that  of leisure time and dining aboard plays in my mind like a very well done travel-log or YouTube video. Make that video part of the advertising, and you'll have a waiting list seasons long.

Well done. Man I wish this C-19 pandemic was over so I could safely travel.

Stay Safe. 2m (1 dingy width) apart, and yes, #WearTheMask (every time I hear those instructions, I'm a wee lad and Mom's reminding me 0:) .

More chapters please.




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Another entertaining chapter on board, as they settle down for the night🛌Well written as one has come to expect, great stuff😎

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What a great way to start the business.  Give friends and family a taste of what the paying guests will experience.  

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