The Faces of Knysna

Having lived most of my life now in Australia, South Africa has become a holiday destination. Before starting this adventure with the yacht, I didn’t know a place like Knysna existed. I thought all the Western Cape had was Cape Town and the rest was just little towns dotted along the coastline. Most of my experience of Cape Town was in Stellenbosch so when it came to Knysna I had no expectations or idea of what was to come. I have to say looking back now I can safely say I was so far wrong, it’s laughable.

Landing in Knysna I started looking at this town as more than a tourist destination where people stop over for the night, soon it became a home. Faces became routine, people became friends and locations became familiar. Little by little, life began to settle and the weeks started to roll past. After writing about my first week on-board Catching Up, I quickly began the process of trying to figure out what to make next, what to film and what to write about. I started filming early in the morning and soon the marina would be alive with activity. Standing on the deck of Catching Up trying to capture shots, person after person would walk past her and say their morning greetings as they began their day. Local workers would stream in with their tools all prepared to tackle that issue that they’ve been struggling with for the past week. Four legged friends would be rushed down the jetty to the patch of grass for their first bathroom break for the day. It was just a flurry of movement around Catching Up as we slowly began to blend in. I continued trying to attempt to capture the perfect shots but life just seemed to get in the way.

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A common view of the yacht club on my runs around the Lagoon.

Days would start with a coffee, a quick clean up before Malcolm, (the delivery skipper and all round handyman for the Knysna Yacht Company) arrived. From there onwards over a coffee we would discuss the days activities, who would be coming down to the yacht to do what and the snag and extras list that he had been working through. The morning would move on with countless faces appearing on the boat. Peter Abbot would arrive early and stay late working on wiring and connecting power to all our creature comforts on the yacht. Peter would provide true words of wisdom as he carefully and meticulously conducted his work making sure to focus on the primary task. He would bring such positivity to the workers on the boat and really brought the overall on-board mood up in the busy days. One of the assistant workers Sheldon would spend his days on the yacht doing odd jobs, paint touch ups and help run wiring. He would bring his lunch with him, sit on the back of the yacht enjoying his sandwich. This became a common occurrence throughout the week while I was on the yacht. Conversations would continue day after day as they blended and transformed with new topics. These conversations made it so hard to say goodbye to the people in Knysna as we cast off and set sail for Cape Town.

While work was still on going, I spent my time exploring the local areas of Knysna and getting to know my way around. Most if not all of the primary services we needed were within walking distance, however since the town was so small you were always bound to bump into one of the yacht company guys who would go out of their way to give you a lift. As life carries on people need to eat, exercise and even do laundry. So quickly, routines were set and days were dedicated to doing laundry, eating out in fancy restaurants and doing long runs along the Knysna Lagoon. A little Laundromat was located just up the road hardly 500m away from the marina. Inside Laundry Girls, 4 Afrikaans Coloured ladies were always hard at work washing, ironing and folding laundry. I don’t think I’ll forget the smiles and greetings from these lovely ladies for a long time. Similarly walking into Café Mario after hearing such strong reviews garnered a response as if you were a family member. The owner Gennaro and his family were so welcoming of us in their restaurant that we decided to arrange for some catering to bring along with us on our trip. Their little café soon bustled as our deadline to leave Knysna kept moving, due to the changing weather forecasts.

Our large order of semi frozen, prepared pizza and pasta was placed on the morning of our expected departure. At 4pm we collected our order and we were ready to depart. There are few places in the world where you can so quickly become a part of a family and Mario’s in the Waterfront is one of those places.

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The view from Cafe Mario’s at the waterfront.

Going to Knysna started as a simple “stay with the boat and take it to Cape Town” situation however the longer I spent there the faster I connected with the people around me. It made for an emotional goodbye as we waved farewell to the countless people who decided to arrive at the Knysna Yacht Club to wish us fair winds and a safe trip. Knysna was never meant to be a part of this adventure, but I can now say I can’t think of any better location to start this amazing journey. I can easily understand how salty sailors pull in through the heads, drop anchor and never leave. The views, the people and the food are like glue that once you land there you’re stuck and it becomes even harder to leave. All good things must come to an end and the next stage of the adventure has begun!

I can only hope the experiences to come are as good as the ones I’ve had so far.

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The reason sailors never leave Knysna.

4 thoughts on “The Faces of Knysna

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