Taking off from Australia I knew what journey was ahead of me. Having previously met “Catching Up,” I was so eager to get back to seeing that beautiful piece of craftsmanship. We landed in a cold Johannesburg and after a short layover; we were quickly on our way to Port Elizabeth. We’ve been asked why we decided to fly to a place that is 3 hours away when we could easily fly to George, which is only an hour away. The reason is the garden route. People pay thousands of dollars to come and visit this amazing landscape where lush green foliage meets deep canyons of granite. It simply is a stunning route to drive regardless of the impact on our time! The 3-hour drive goes by quickly with the weather changing from clear blue skies to dark storms. Soon we are pulling into 31 Boswerker St Knysna… the Knysna Yacht Company Factory and birthplace of Catching Up. Peeking through the big blue doors is a familiar sight. Suddenly I am taken back to the first time I saw her, with her bows facing outwards and her while hull reflecting the florescent lights of the factory. It brings back a grin that never seemed to go until we were leaving our baby in her spot at the marina. This time seeing her however, things were different from what seemed like an endless list of additions, modifications and changes that had been made since I saw her last.
Rika Fouche met us at the doors and said they had something to show us. She prefaced it saying if we were not happy it can be removed but she was confident in her workers and the design. We had little knowledge but what she was about to show us quickly became the best and my personal favourite feature of our yacht. As I climbed the wobbly wooden staircase, I glanced up at our solar panel system (not a new picture to me) and was met with this elegant fibreglass moulding underneath the solar panels. What originally was such a stunning feature on the yacht was suddenly stepped up by 100% with this new addition that seemed to blend the solar panel system to the rest of the structure. Knysna Yacht Co (KYC) was kind enough to show us our functioning electrical system with all the lights on, the Fusion sound system and the external courtesy lighting all functioning. By this point, I was already blown away and barely coherent at how much work had been done since the last time I was there. Since it was already 17h00, we decided to call it a day and go to our accommodation. I am glad I managed to get an early night as I severely underestimated the emotional, mental and physical demand of what was to come the next morning.
04h00 August 8 2018, I was woken by the annoying sound of my iPhone. As groggy as anyone who is cold, jetlagged and regretting setting an alarm for 30 minutes before I was supposed to wake up I soldiered on, got showered and changed. We arrived just after 05h15 at the factory and quickly got our GoPros ready and mounted. We had a few short moments to walk around the yacht in the factory one last time while the tow truck was getting into position and the crew were prepping the yacht. Before I knew it, they were already moving the yacht out of the factory. Suddenly the yacht was moving around the corner and down the road. It looked as if the truck was going at about walking speed I thought I’d just keep walking in front of the convoy for some cool photographs. My body aches and sore muscles would tell me later that this was probably not a clever idea. As the convoy rounded the corner of the factory we encountered our first snag, a beer delivery truck was parked up blocking the path of the convoy. Thankfully, the traffic police escort quickly dealt with the truck and we were back on the move. From where I stood, it appeared that two workers were situated on the bow and one was running with me ahead of the yacht. The whole experience was quite surreal. Everyone was calling out hazards, instructions and movements while slightly being drowned out by the engine of the truck.
During the long stretch down the main road out of the industrial area towards town, we encountered our first heart stopping moment. The traffic police escort ahead of the convoy had strayed too far ahead leaving a massive gap where traffic could approach head on. A small hatchback car didn’t see the yacht until his headlights lit up the starboard bow. Suddenly he saw the yacht and swerved onto the side of the road and continued driving on the grass past the convoy. The convoy proceeded to speed up a bit with the yacht seeming to disappear into the darkness between the streetlights. The second tricky bit appeared more due to nature than human error. Approaching down town Knysna, an unlucky tree met its fate after its tree branches hung over the road. The convoy stopped and the workers from the trailer crew and KYC were quickly sawing away at the overhanging branches enabling a damage free route for our baby to the water. As the convoy continued through the town, the few people that were awake did stop and gawk at this surreal experience of seeing a yacht moving through the streets. We passed the Fire Station as the fire crew stepped out to see this massive yacht moving past. The third breathless moment came when our yacht was nearing her destination. The centre of the road has a raised island filled with plants. The trailer and the truck needed to time and space it perfectly to ensure that the left hand wheels would rise up onto the island… proceed to crush the poor flowers to no recognition… then slowly return down as we continued towards the Knysna Yacht Club. During this movement, the yacht tilted what felt like 60 degrees but was more likely 2 degrees. At one point, it felt as if the yacht was going to fall off the trailer but she was expertly lashed down to her trailer and she survived her tilt.
Before I knew it, “Catching up” had safely been moved over 5km from the warehouse past trees, onto the longest national highway in South Africa and through down town Knysna. I know I rag on about skill and professionalism of the workers yada yada yada but really, you have to see these people work in action to truly understand how much care they take into moving their yachts from the warehouse to the waterfront. Whenever there was even a hint of a potential threat of damage of the boat it was an all stop. Nothing was left to chance and beyond the idiot in that little hatchback; there were no further issues on the move. Moving a boat is not as simple as putting it on a truck and taking it down the road to the waterfront. It’s an adrenaline-pumping ordeal in what feels like an interruption in the dead of night. Roaring truck engines, workers shouting, flashing orange, reds and blues of the convoy lights, interrupted the quiet darkness of the early morning. A kilometre long line of white car lights tailed our convoy as unfortunate commuters attempting to beat the morning rush were faced with a walking pace truck carrying our special baby to her natural habitat. The freezing cold morning left a blanket of water on nearly every surface, it pierced through the layers of my clothing, but it was really was worth it. The first stage was a perfect success… Now’s the time to freshen up and get ready for the next stage.
SV Catching Up!
18 Aug 2018.