Where we left off… our baby had just been delivered to the Knysna Yacht Club on a bitterly cold morning. By now, it was 07h00 and the sun had already started cresting the horizon. As we all huddled around trying to get some feeling back into our fingers I noticed out the corner of my eye, two ladies in swimming costumes strolling down to the water. We collectively commented that they had to be crazy to get into the water when it was almost unbearably cold outside. I did admire their commitment though! We decided that by now there was no point in being at the yacht seeing as there was no way for us to get on board her, as well as no one would be working on her until 10h00. We decided to head back to our accommodation, warm up with a hot shower and go grab some breakfast. For those inquisitive, we decided to go to what appears to be South Africa’s national breakfast hangout WIMPY. The place was packed and the food was not half bad… explaining the high occupancy rates of the restaurant.
After breakfast, it was straight back down to the Yacht Club where we were met with our mast, rigging and boom all sitting on this massive trailer system. On our mast, most of our gear had already been installed such as the security cameras, mounting brackets for the Garmin Radar and our spreader lights. Our mast kind of resembled a Christmas tree with all the ornaments neatly arranged. At about 10h00 the real work began, our static dissipater for our lightning system went on, as well as the antennas for our range extender. While this was all happening, someone brought over a flimsy rusted ladder and placed it under the sugar scoop. I decided to risk it and climb up to see what was going on inside. Out in the daylight, the interior really came to life. While it was still quite dusty, most of the interior was already clean. You can only really appreciate the woodwork when you have good lighting conditions these were perfect. I admire how the Knysna Yacht Company has such a good attention to detail. For example, on our helm seat we have a lifting cushioned armrest for those long days on watch. When the armrest isn’t being used, it’s stowed upright. Knysna realised that the underside of the armrest would always be visible when stowed upright and decided to add a stunning wooden finish to the polished stainless steel.
Returning down to the ground I strolled around the car park turned worksite getting footage of the yacht. As you can imagine, tourists, boat workers and the public were walking past us. The yacht was in the heart of the tourist spot, as well as in an operational marina. My favourite thing to do was to stand back and pretend to be one of the media crew that Knysna Yacht Co hired and to listen to these strangers’ opinions on the yacht. The comments I overheard just brought a smile to my face. People commented on the style, size, height and even our Flexofold propellers with rope cutters. Every single comment was positive; I never overheard a single negative comment that entire day.
Before I knew it, the crane was already pulling up and getting into position to lift the mast. The skill involved in a feat like this is insane. I quickly noticed how close Kevin Fouche parked his vehicle to the mast and left it there throughout the entire lift. I like to think he did it to show how confident he was in his crew and I completely agreed with that. As they slowly lifted it vertically, we were all called over to the base of the mast. As they unscrewed the base plate of the mast, almost a bag worth of shavings, plastics and other bits came falling down. Once they had completed in giving the mast a good shake, I watched from afar, as they slowly lifted the mast onto the deck and brought it down onto the base plate. The whole process probably took 40 minutes, as they wanted to ensure that it was done correctly. The forestay and electric furling motor was first to be installed. Next was the shrouds and backstay. Reading through this whole process makes it sounds easy but I need to stress that it was not an easy task installing the rigging. Once it was all done Trevor (a rigger from Sparcraft Masts South Africa) went up the mast to remove the strapping from the crane and to ensure everything was safely secured.
I was walking around inspecting the rigging on the yacht when I noticed the crane had been replaced with the same truck that did the delivery. I quickly ran and set up my go pros and just as I pressed record on the bow camera the boat made a giant lurch into motion. I walked to the back and to my shock; I noticed a man walking away with the rusty ladder (the only way off the yacht). I realised then that I’d be stuck on the yacht for the launch. While the consequences meant that, my intended Facebook Live event would be from a different perspective, I ran with it and ultimately I’m glad I got stuck on the yacht for the launch. I got such a cool perspective from the sugar scoop of the hulls slowly entering the water. She backed slowly down the boat ramp where we paused. I went back up to the bow where a good family friend christened and blessed our boat. Once the champagne was all served out, I returned to my position at the stern to watch the rest of the process. As she backed completely into the water, the bilge pumps suddenly kicked. After a bit of an inspection, it appeared that someone forgot to close a seacock down below leading to a bit of water entering the bilges… I prefer to call it a controlled calibration of the bilge system!
Following the bilge situation, Malcolm the delivery skipper for Knysna Yacht Co turned over the engines as they spluttered to life for the first time. One of the best feelings you get as a sailor is leaning over the side and seeing water coming out of your exhausts. Water coming out the exhausts is a good sign! She rumbled and shook, almost too much at that point as our poor Weber barbeque nearly shook itself loose. Malcolm tried to put the engines into gear and suddenly they cut out. After multiple attempts, it seemed there was some issue with the port engine. Malcolm decided to take her off the boat ramp under a single engine to her slip. As she slowly reversed under her own power, it was such a surreal feeling. Time seemed to slow down as we moved around the bend for the short passage to her slip, I was one of the first to be on her as a fully floating, functioning yacht. She moved gracefully even if it was just around the corner. It was just perfect seeing her where she belonged. She pulled up nose to nose with her sister ship and fellow Knysna 500 marvel SV Amber.
Beyond the bilge and the minor engine issues, I believe the launch went off with great success! SV Catching Up left under her own power and didn’t need to be pulled to her berth by line or by a second boat! She is now in her temporary home, moored in the Knysna Marina. Over the next 3 weeks our yacht will be completed and ready for occupation, we’ll be moving onto her full-time, sailing her to Cape Town to be featured on the Cape Town International Boat Show. We will spend some time exploring the Cape coastline. November will be the time we plan to venture North towards Namibia before making our big leap across the great Atlantic Ocean! We are so excited that our journey is around the corner and can’t wait to bring you along!
SV Catching Up
28 August 2018