March 8, 2016

Around the World for a Haul Out

The best moments of cruising have always occurred when we’re in an isolated anchorage surrounded by clear blue water that’s bubbling with fish and life. The best things don’t happen in a boatyard.

Boat chores are the price we pay for this life though. Boats wear quickly in the tropics, and even faster when you live aboard and push them across oceans. By the time we hit South Africa we had a long list of things needing done. The last item on the list was the haul out—to paint the bottom and build new bearings for the rudders to solve the kick-up problem.

There are a variety of boat yards in South Africa—but we rejected most of them because we couldn’t fit in the travel lifts or because we’d be pulled out on our bridge deck. This left only two places we’d fit—both were expensive and wouldn’t allow us to live aboard while we did our work.

Then our friends on Evita came across little Port Owen. The little yard sounded ideal: The ten ton crane could accommodate us; it was affordable; Frank Stuyck, the manager, was responsive and helpful by email (which is rarer than you might imagine) and it was the last stop in South Africa—so our paint would be fresh for the Atlantic crossing.

Flamingos in the wetlands of the river as we travel upstream
So we set off from Simon’s Town and rounded the Cape of Good Hope in perfect conditions. Our sail took into a wide bay then into the river at Port Owen, past fishing boats and flamingos, and to a dock where Frank surprised us by meeting us just before sunset on Sunday evening. A neighbour had called him when they saw us go by. So Frank came to tie us up and settle us in. He gave Evan a tour and a shower key for the yacht club, and promised to return in the morning—to rearrange the haul out schedule (we appeared unexpectedly after suddenly solving a stubborn engine problem and someone else was due to be hauled out rather than us).

Haulout by crane!
We were hauled out by a 10 Ton crane Monday morning, another first for us. While Alastair and his helper cleaned our hull—we were offered coffee (free muffins and coffee on Tuesday and Saturday mornings), office space and unlimited internet (kind of like crack for cruisers…) as well as mini golf and a loaner car. Dinner invitations at the yacht club followed, the haul out went as smoothly as any haul out ever has. When the courier lost a part we were waiting on, Frank took it upon himself to hunt it down—making hours of phone calls and always making us feel as welcome as a friend.

Amy from "Morning Glory" offers moral support as Evan begins painting
None of this may sound as spectacular as swimming with sharks or finding a lemur in the wild. But if cruising has taught us anything it’s that the world is filled with unfathomable kindness. We’ve been invited into homes, fed meals, been toured through towns and villages. We’ve been given gifts and shown beautiful sights. We’ve held babies and heard secret dreams. We’ve made friends of strangers.

We didn’t set off to sail the world to find goodness in a boat yard—but that’s what we found. And why we travel.

Frank's son, Jean-Paul, owns a local winery - and gave us a gift of some of his wines!


Jonathan said...

Excellent! Your fellow boat owners know this is just about as good as sharks and lemurs! Especially when you are drinking wine next to "some guy" who is sanding your bottom.

Neil & Ley said...

Ahhh... you guys bring out the best in every one, where ever you go. More power to you, and Charlie too.