Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Vaal by the Weekend

We spent friday night at home mostly because we were both too tired to actually do anything at all and I honestly can't remember anything from Friday.

On Saturday morning we left for the Vaal for the weekend, packed the Mini to the roof with clutter and departed. The way that we pack one would think that we were either going for a week or that we were catering for a family, which I suppose we were in a roundabout way. Very quiet trip down, Caron driving and me reading the Mail and Guardian getting my weekly dose of bad news. It's not always bad, I think that it just seems that way.

Arrived, unpacked the caravan, set up the tent and got the boat ready to launch. Discovered that the battery was flat and that there wasn't any fuel left and since there wasn't any wind we thought we were going to need quite a lot of it. Filled up and added the two stroke oil which always, for some reason, requires some mental gymnastics even though it is about as easy an equation that one could get.
Launched the yacht and manually started the motor which proved to be relatively easy thank goodness. I desperately hoped that the battery would be enough to power the depth finder since I don't fancy navigating around the Vaal without one. Packed the yacht with the contents of the Mini and before we knew it, we were on our way for our first weekend on the other side of the Vaal dam. We had just cleared the DAC moorings when a very pleasant breeze sprang up and continued to freshen all the way around the back of the island and to Kirsten and Carls place.
Managed to get Caron to skipper a bit before the wind picked up and she started bleating about the yacht heeling over too much. One day she is going to get over this and realise that, no, the yacht is not about to tip over no matter how much it heels. Quite annoying while I wait for the realisation to dawn on her. It was actually a very nice sail and we left a much larger yacht trailing in our wake which made me feel very good even though there was no way to tell if they were or weren't racing me nor whether or not their yacht is meant to be faster or slower than mine. Since I am a below average sailor, either of these could be true. Rounded the northern tip of the island and started the beat up the channel to Kirsten and Carl's place while Caron clung onto the coach roof like a drenched cat, claws gouged into the coachroof. If I wasn't in so much trouble, it would have been quite funny. We were examining what we thought was their bay when the phone rang which was rather opportune since we could confirm the location and we proceeded to motor in and moor at their jetty. The trip took about 3 hours and I found it really nice to be sailing with a destination and a purpose, not just sailing for sailing's sake.
Met everyone and had a quick cup of tea before we headed out on Carls current pride and joy, a 21' 200hp motorboat. Definitely not going to struggle to put a skier up out of the water and we had a great time playing around on the “Scooter” and the knee board. The scooter is a bit like a floating mattress with handles and upturned ends and is great for people who aren't able to actually ski. Managed to cajole Caron to have a go and she clung on for dear life for about 5 minutes before her wrist started to give way and she asked to stop. The scooter is a bit tricksy because one has to lie quite far back to prevent the nose digging in. Having been warned of this Caron promptly forgot about it an all but went arse over kettle, much to our amusement. My own turn on the “Scooter” was quite spectacular as the photograph below shows. In the wipe out, I hurt some of my ribs which were still sore a week later. After a couple of spills on the scooter I tried the kneeboard which was rather fun, especially since, even without any skills, one can do jumps and career around behind the boat like a madman. Before we knew it, everyone had had a turn and it was time to go home and start making supper. The never-ending chore.

Even though Kirsten and Carl had a bedroom available we decide to sleep on the yacht which was great. On the way down to the yacht we went past the club pub and there was some idiot singing away at the top of his voice which we hoped was not going to keep us awake half the night. Carl remarked that it only takes a small amount of alcohol to turn the average idiot into an exceptional moron. A perspective to which I heartily agree and a quote I shall remember.
We both slept in the bows of the yacht and had a great nights sleep. Caron complained because she hadn't turned over once and woke up in exactly the same position in which she had gone to sleep and when she does that, her back seizes up and it takes a couple of hours to get flexible again.
Had breakfast up at the house before we left Caron behind and went for a couple of hours sailing with everyone else. There was great wind, just enough to heel the yacht over and get her going but not enough to be difficult to handle. I think that everyone really enjoyed it. Megan doesn't accept that the first time she went on a yacht she was absolutely terrified. Had fun letting them helm and getting them to actually steer the yacht and I think that they really enjoyed the experience. Megan said that next time we sail over she wants to come and sleep on the yacht with us which I'm sure we could organise. Back at the house caron had had a great morning, drinking coffee and reading. Nothing too stressful.

After we returned we had a quick morning tea before Caron and I had to make tracks all the way home. Great sail all the way home, the wind veering between a dead run and a broad reach which pleased Caron no end since the yacht doesn't heel over too much. Arrived back at DAC and managed to get the yacht onto the trailer without too much difficulty although steering without the keel down and a fresh cross wind was not that easy.

By the time we had packed up and were on our way home to join Pippa and Glynne for supper we were about an hour late and to make matters worse, we couldn't get through to them. Fortunately, about an hour out of Johannesburg, Glynne phoned to say that they were going to have to cancel because he could hardly walk after the mountainbike race that he did on Saturday which neatly cleared up the problem of being late.

Bought a prawn curry for supper which was absolutely delicious. I can highly recommend Ghazal in Peter Place, Sandton for a very good indian meal. Both of us were feeling quite knackered having spent just about the entire day in the 35+ heat and while I wasn't sun burnt, I certainly felt pretty tired and we retired early for a really good nights sleep.

No cuts from the yacht. A miracle weekend.

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