Falling In Love with a Cape Town Girl.

This article is going to be slightly different. When I started this I wanted to document the entire journey, new revelations have meant a significant person has entered my life and I will continue to do as I intended…. Document it.

When I left Australia, I never thought I would end up meeting anyone let alone falling in love. Even tho that thought did cross my mind, I never thought it would happen in the first country at the very start of this adventure. Having sat in Knysna for a few weeks, I got talking to this amazing girl in Cape Town named Dantelle. She lived near a place called Durbanville, a 30-minute drive from Catching Up!’s berth at the V&A Waterfront. After countless back and forth messages between us, I struck up the courage to ask her to be my tour guide in Cape Town and show me the sights when I arrived. She of course said yes and the plans were set.

Pulling into Cape Town a few days later, I asked if she wanted to meet up before going on the tour. She came down to the Waterfront and we took a stroll through the area. We decided to go to a Greek Restaurant in the area before ending the night with a ride on The Cape Wheel. The wheel was completely barren and the wind was howling, however it did nothing to take away from the beauty of Cape Town at night. The night ended there and soon enough we were messaging each other again. Dantelle was competing in a tournament in the area the next day and offered to come past and see me again. Once again, we took a lovely walk through the waterfront where I was challenged to a game of Chess on the oversized public chessboard. For those that don’t know, Dantelle is a National Chess champion so it was safe to say I was publically annihilated in the shortest game of chess I’ve ever played. We returned to the yacht and spent the rest of the evening relaxing on the deck of Catching Up! looking at Table Mountain.

During the boat show preparations, I decided I needed a break from the chaos down in the marina and Dantelle was kind enough to take me up on my request to show me Cape Town. We got all set and hopped on the Cape Town Red Bus Tour right outside the Aquarium at the V&A. The first stop was Down Town Cape Town where we had a small layover before hopping on the Blue Route. Soon we were back in motion… right into the chaos of Cape Town traffic. It gave me the chance to carry on talking and spending time with this girl who was quickly becoming my favourite person to spend time with. Soon we left the confines of Cape Town City on route to Devils Peak and the lovely drive through the Kirstenbosch botanical gardens. Our first hop off point was the Constantia Nek Winery where we had a beautiful view of the Cape. We returned to the bus with a long beautiful drive down to Hout Bay. It still sticks with me how vast and diverse the Cape area is. Hout Bay is completely different from the forests of Kirstenbosch and the wineries near Constantia Nek. After an amazing local fish lunch it was back on the bus where we decided to hop off at Camps Bay and walk along the coast to Bantry Bay.

All was going amazing until two lovely individuals decided we looked like nice targets to try mug. Unfortunately for these two less intelligent individuals, we noticed their not so smooth plan quick enough to spook the guys making them leave. Being rattled and shaken we decided to quickly walk to Clifton’s first beach to calm down before getting an UBER to the next pickup point. We hopped on the bus and finished back up shortly after at the V&A. To finish the afternoon on a high I pulled the portable speaker and a blanket out and set everything up to watch the light fade away from Table Mountain. Despite the two fine idiots who tried pulling a knife on us, I couldn’t ask for a better tour of the Cape area.

The days with Dantelle continued to become more frequent as we grew closer to each other. Dantelle spent multiple days with me at the boat show, breaking up the repetition and adding some fun to the long drawn out days. It was this growing connection and bond that made me ask her if she wanted to join me on the trip to Namibia and onwards. I am happy to say she has accepted and decided to join me on this amazing adventure as we sail around the world. The time in Cape Town has been amazing and most if not all of my fun in this amazing city can be attributed to this incredible person. She has helped me grow a new love for this City and its people. I can’t wait for what’s to come as we continue to build and grow closer to each other.

Into The Fire: STCW’s Part 2

The biggest and probably the most dangerous risk on Catching Up isn’t sinking … it’s fire!!!

If we have any other kind of emergencies we can stay on board and manage with whatever is left of the yacht! A fire on board has one outcome, we would have to abandon our yacht because it’ll burn till there’s nothing left.

Due to the high risk of fire on board, we decided to enrol in a 3-day course at Pulse Training where we would be introduced to marine fire fighting. We arrived on the Monday having already completed two other STCW courses at the Maritime Safety Training and Development Centre the previous week. We were all led into the classroom where we spent the first few hours doing the required paperwork before starting the theory learning. Before going into this course I had a basic understanding of fire, this theory though was brutally eye opening, especially how quickly fire can get out of hand. A video was put up on the screen with a timer. The video was of a couch with a cigarette dropped down the side of it,. within 3 minutes, the entire room was engulfed in flames. On a boat, you have approximately 3 minutes to evacuate before the entire vessel is on fire. This is why fire awareness is so important!

Once we’d completed the theory, we were divided into two smaller groups. Our group was seconded to the side area where we were given an introduction to breathing apparatus or to the layman, oxygen tanks. The breathing apparatus has three components: the mask, tank support frame and the tank. We were shown how to connect the tank, pressure test it, then to hoist the tank support onto our back and breathe using the oxygen tank Our group moved on to the fire extinguisher component of the course, this involved  using a powder and CO2 extinguisher to put out a class C (Electrical) and Class B (Liquid) fire. The first thing I noticed when using the powder extinguisher was the huge mess it makes, it covers everything in powder but it will extinguish the fire. CO2 extinguishers are incredibly effective in extinguishing electrical fires; powder can be used on both but given the mess I would prefer to use the CO2 extinguisher, should the situation allow. I have never operated an extinguisher before so it was a good learning experience to know how to actually use one. After safely going through extinguishing the fires, we had the opportunity to see how a wet chemical foam extinguisher works. These are more commonly used for liquid fires or cooking oils and tend to be less common. The instructor Leon showed us the various methods to effectively use this extinguisher. The extinguisher component kept us busy until it was time to go home for the day.

The next morning we arrived early to our awaiting exam on the theory from the day before. Once completing the exam we were yet again set up on the fire ground for an instruction on how to use the fire hose and nozzle. The other instructor Zack Botha  instructed us on how to operate the nozzle when we would enter the fire simulator. On completing this, I was selected to be a part of the first fire team to enter and extinguish the fires in the three floor simulator.

We would enter from the top deck and use ladders to make our way down to the ground floor to fight the fires. Both Leon and Zack would accompany the 6-person team with a third instructor Sydney De Jager providing external support should it be required. The rest of the class was separated into a BA Officer, the backup fire team and a support team.

As I was part of the first team, I was sent off to don my fire fighting gear, breathing apparatus and then get into my spot. Once we had all our equipment on and the fires in the simulator had been lit, we were guided to the top entry point. One by one, we carefully descended into the pitch-black, smoke filled room. The entire area was dark with only small beams of light entering through the gaps in the container doors. There was no noise except the inhales and exhales of our group. It was a very surreal experience mixed with fear and excitement. Once all 6 of us were set, the fire hose was fed through a small opening in the container wall on the second floor. We did a role call, before opening the hatch to the ground floor. As the door opened you could immediately feel a change in the temperature. We descended through the thermal layer, it was extremely hot, probably about 190 degrees The fire-fighting suit did an excellent job insulating my body however I could feel my left ankle getting incredibly hot and painful as the hot air penetrated through the equipment. Team member 1 and I (number 2) both then moved further into the room on the ground floor to combat the first fire. We kept low and slowly moved over an obstacle to get into a second room. As we rounded the corner we saw a bright glow coming out of a cut open barrel packed with burning timber. We hit the barrel with a burst of water before slowly moving forward right up to the barrel and fully opening the hose to ensure the fire was completely extinguished. We then returned to the staging area to assist the rest of the team in fighting two more fires. On completing this exercise, we returned to the top floor before exiting the simulator. The heat in the room was not nearly as hot as it could have been but exiting the simulator, I was covered in sweat and felt incredibly hot.

The last day of the course consisted of some more hose training, search and rescue training throughout the simulator and an evacuation exercise from the simulator filled with a fire fighting foam bubble solution. I would have to say after completing the 3-day course I can easily say I never want to be a fireman. It takes a special type of person to enter a burning structure and extinguish a fire. Zack and Leon provided very good tips on the Do’s and Don’ts when dealing with a fire. I strongly feel that at least everyone should experience how to use a fire extinguisher and be aware of how quickly a fire can spread. Zack, Leon, Sydney and the rest of the team from Pulse Training provided an excellent fire safety course. If anyone ever intends doing a STCW Marine Fire Fighting course, I would highly recommend them doing it here. Leaving the course, I felt more confident knowing that I know what to do should I ever have to deal with a fire. I also left with a much higher respect for the men and women who do this daily.

Training Day: STCW’s PART 1

A common saying within fire fighting is “Let no man’s ghost return to say his training let him down!” I am no fire fighter but I feel this quote is very relevant when dealing with Mother Nature. The ocean can be very dangerous and we believe that training is essential to know what to do should an emergency take place. We decided to enrol into a number of international accredited maritime safety courses. They are known as STCW’s or Standards of Training and Watchkeeping. These safety courses are required for any professionals intending to work at sea. We were seriously expecting to feel like “a fish out of water” when walking into the lecture room on day one.

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Boat Works in Cape Town

Everyone who owns a boat or yacht knows that no matter how new your boat is, there will always be something broken, about to break or dirty. Catching Up had just finished an onslaught with hundreds of people touching, feeling and walking through her at the Boat Show. She was in need of a well deserved clean. After doing a full exterior detailing she was back in a presentable condition. Since leaving Knysna, we never had the time or chance to fully sort out the storage and layout of all the things on-board and the boat show provided an excellent opportunity to do so.

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Cape Town: A Boat Show and New Friends.

Having made it to Cape Town, it was full steam ahead preparing the yacht for the Cape Town International Boat show. Malcolm, who came down with the yacht from Knysna, stayed on board Catching Up to finish up the last minute work projects that were required on the yacht. Grant Boshard and Peter Abbot were not far behind, arriving a few days later with more supplies. The week purely involved cg, touch ups, wiring, sorting and storing all our personal belongings.

During the process preparing for the boat show, a St Francis Catamaran named S/V Wanda Rose came floating in at night into the V&A and docked next to us. Quickly Wanda Rose became more than a yacht you’d pass on the way to the ablutions. On board were Rorke (The owner), Joe (his brother), Meryl (Rorke’s partner) and Geoff (Rorke’s best friend). These Americans had travelled all the way from around the world to pick up this yacht and like us, were preparing to leap across to the Caribbean before they’d head up into the Great Lakes of the United States. After having a few chats on both yachts, the group invited me to join them on a trip up to Table Mountain. Having only gone up Table Mountain once as a child, I was super excited to jump at the chance to go back up and experience one of Cape Town’s natural wonders. I was the only one with a South African sim card and decided to order an UBER to the base of the cable car, however, if anyone was paying attention to the number of people on that boat it would become very clear that the UBER was not big enough for all of us. This resulted in a squished up car ride with 4 in the back and me in the passenger seat. Table Mountain is notoriously deceptive, one moment the skies above the mountain are crystal clear, the next it’s covered in a thick layer of cloud, the locals say that Table Mountain then has a tablecloth on it! We arrived at the base just as the cloud had descended onto the top of the mountain. The views from the car park were already fantastic. The ride up was amazing until we hit the clouds, then there was no visibility. We returned down after a short walk on the top of the mountain, before departing back towards the V&A Waterfront.

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