Sailing

Don’t you just love Rod’s sailor suit in this video?! (The song was a number 1 hit in the UK in September 1975.) 

First of all, thank you to everyone who has asked after Buddy. He is much improved although still not 100%. The other evening when we took the dogs walkies, he managed to flush a hare out of the long grass. We screamed at him to stop running because he is not supposed to exert himself and, if truth be told, should not have been walkies in the first place. Usually he would have ignored our commands but after a half-hearted attempt to give chase, he gave up of his own accord. That little bit of exercise set him back a bit and now we are trying to keep him more subdued, which is no mean feat. All I can say is that he is a totally indulged puppy.

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On Tuesday last week we woke up to snow on the Berg. If that wasn’t surprising enough, we had a bloody frost on Wednesday morning (4th November). All our our pumpkin, squash and marrows and some potatoes growing in the field, where it is a bit more exposed than the allotment, were frosted. Two days before the frost, I had planted out heritage sweet potato slips that a friend of mine had picked up for me from Livingseeds  in Jo’burg. It’s too early to tell if they will recover.

snow on the Berg (3rd November)

snow on the Berg (3rd November)

What with a drought and a heat wave sweeping the country, followed by snow and frost, it’s not easy being a gardener. A more philosophical approach to life certainly comes in handy in times like these.  I’ve quoted Charles Dudley Warner before but this comment from his book My Summer in a Garden is such a gem, I can’t resist repeating it:

The principal value of a (vegetable) garden is not understood. It is not to give the possessor vegetables and fruit (that can be better and cheaper done by the market-gardeners), but to teach him patience and philosophy, and the higher virtues, – hope deferred, and expectations blighted, leading directly to resignation, and sometimes to alienation.

Ah well, he doesn’t mention perseverance but persevere we do.

It also helps to get away from it all for a bit. There’s truth in the saying a change is as good as a holiday, or in the words of the waitress at the El Morocco tearoom in Balham – “it does you good to have a fling occasionally” (Balham – Gateway to the South)

Last weekend I found myself sailing offshore in Durban. When I went to university in 1975, I knew very few other students there. My boyfriend at the time (Derrick) worked as an electrician and I wasn’t particularly friendly with any of the girls from school who had gone to uni with me. Freshers’ Week was quite daunting with no mates to hang about with so, when I came across the friendly bunch from the University of Natal Yacht Club (UNYC) trying to recruit new members, I signed up in the hope that it would help me to meet people and make friends on campus. As a schoolgirl I would often spend weekends hanging about the yacht mole, drooling over the yachts moored there.

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Derrick and I at the Durban Yacht Mole (1974)

Yachts were symbols of freedom to me and I had visions of sailing off into the blue yonder when I finished my studies. So, although I had never been on a yacht, I was genuinely interested in learning how to sail.

Apart from sailing in the harbour and off Vetchies, the club also organised sailing weekends at Midmar Dam and Richard’s Bay. And of course there were lots of non-sailing activities as well. It was a whirlwind of sailing and partying and as I became more involved in the yacht club and making new friends, so Derrick and I drifted amicably apart. I gained many good friends during those halcyon days and, thanks to Facebook, some of those friendships have been rekindled. I also fell in and out of love rather frequently. Eventually and inevitably, when I was in my second year, my heart was broken and I decided to leave the club in order to regroup. It was however, at a yachtie’s house party a year later that I met Peter (who has never sailed) and the rest, as they say, is history!

The first person I made friends with at UNYC was Richard, a friendly and gregarious chap who was a first year like me and had joined the club at the same time. As I’ve mentioned in a previous post (yacht club swing), one of the most exhilarating things I’ve ever done is trapeze sailing and it was usually Richard who took me out in the Fireball and let me go out in the trapeze. Suspended parallel above the water, flying over the waves, spray in my face and screaming at the top of my lungs from the sheer joy of it is one of my all-time favourite memories.

So when I got an invitation out of the blue from Richard to go sailing on his yacht with some of the other old UNYC members, whom I haven’t seen since university days (including Richard), I was delighted. And a tad anxious. Well, it’s been almost 40 years for god’s sake since some of us last clapped eyes on each other. We were in our prime then (although, I must admit, my hair did leave a lot to be desired).

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I needn’t have worried. We had a glorious sail and caught up the years with lots of “remember whens” and “whatever happened to so-and-so”.  Afterwards, Warren very generously invited us all back to his home for an impromptu braai and the reminiscing continued. It was quite simply a perfect day.

the motley crew (November 2015) on board Richard's yacht Caversham Caprice. From left to right: Richard, James, Cathy, Warren and Tim in front

the motley crew (November 2015) on board Richard’s yacht Caversham Caprice.
From left to right: Richard, James, me, Warren and Tim in front

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a hazy view of the Durban beachfront with Moses Mabhida Stadium on the right

a hazy view of the Durban beachfront with Moses Mabhida Stadium on the right

this scene makes me feel quite nostalgic

this scene makes me feel quite nostalgic

The next day as I headed back home I again marvelled at the ease with which we were able to relate to one another, after years of not having been in touch. Perhaps that comes from having shared a seminal moment in our lives, not only our student days but also our UNYC days. How lucky and privileged we were to have had those opportunities.

Adam and me on board Red Amber (Richard's Bay 1976)

Adam and me on board Red Amber (Richard’s Bay 1976)

James on board Red Amber (1976)

James on board Red Amber (1976)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Red Amber crew

Red Amber crew. From left to right: James, me, Adam, Noel (in front of Adam), Tim and Greg in front. Richard was taking the photo.

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