Running the gauntlet in a St Francis 50 #2

Stephen's Scribble

This article will be published over the hree days o be sure to join us to the end

If you haven’t yet read Part One Click Here

Part Two

Continuing on from Part One ….. I suppose this marked the beginning of an amazing and memorable voyage. But I had no idea then, (doing some delayed paperwork), that what lay ahead would be far more serious than I would ever have imagined..

The “blue on blue” carries a unique energy.  Day in and day out you progress on your relatively tiny vessel across the vastness of the ocean. Somehow the sky above you feels massive. There is no cell phone signal. Your daily diary becomes appointment free. What you could have or should have done before you left is irrelevant. It’s you, the boat, the crew and the elements. The days of the week are registered in the logbook, but Saturday means as little or as much as Monday. In our case we travelled in style.

All cabins were en-suite. We had a huge chest freezer, two fridges, four plate gas stove, full size oven, microwave, TV, DVD, surround sound (including exterior speakers) etc etc. I divided the day into 3 four hour watches and the night into 4 three hour watches. This works well as the watches roll evenly between sunrise/sunset and the inevitable “dog watch”. The person on the 08h00 – 12h00 prepared lunch as well as did the dishes etc. Similarly the person on the 12h00 -16h00 did dinner. Breakfast was always a help yourself affair.

Steve at the helm on Penelope

Stephen at the helm on the Dog Watch

Aboard “Penelope” everybody (Skipper incl) made a real effort to prepare a meal when it was their turn. Food is always a highlight of the day at sea so; when it’s not your turn (which is 3 meals out of 4) you can kick back and enjoy the other person’s effort. We ate extremely well, baking bread every other day. We caught fish too, but not as many as we would have liked. (Maybe 6 in total) We landed only one good size Dorado but it the hook pulled out of its mouth as we were getting it up the transom steps. Instead of the fish being gutted, I was ! Doradao is my absolute favourite fish to eat.

We sailed practically all the way across the equator, which was amazing. I had received permission from Duncan Lethbridge (Owner of St Francis Marine) via satellite phone that we could use the new gennaker. We did, but took it down every night without fail! We dressed Deon and Kat in their foul weather gear on the day we crossed the equator. They sang to Neptune while wrapped in the remnants of “Patch”. As they sweltered, we toasted Mother Ocean with a bottle of Pongraz. Looking up at the gennaker I pinched myself at how smooth the trip had been so far.

For the Atlantic leg, we’re being weather routed via satellite phone by Duncan himself, and my brother Pete. Pete is an avid surfer and I couldn’t have wished for anybody better. Duncan too, was always spot on. As we approached the bulge of Brazil, the hurricane forecasts started coming in. It’s early September. At this time of year the hurricanes develop west of the Cape Verde Islands and come screaming across the Atlantic towards the West Indies. Generally they bend north from there, but as we all know, many don’t……….. Often slamming into the Caribbean Islands, the Bahamas or South Florida. “Igor” was the first one that we got wind of. Way north of us it wouldn’t pose any direct problems but it was scary. As Pete put it…………”Igor looks like a hung-over Viking who just caught someone in bed with his wife. If that thing gets anywhere near you, best you find some underground parking!” We all had a nervous giggle but the reality was that we were entering “the zone”.

With Igor to the north of us, I decided to tuck in behind it and head straight for St Lucia. After 32 days at sea, the Pitons familiar silhouette greeted us at dawn. Land holds an unusual smell after being at sea for a month. I breathed in its earthy sweetness with satisfaction. It had been a long haul but leg one was over.

Ideally I would have only liked to stay for 2 days but swells from Igor were smashing into the Bahamas and I knew it would be a very uncomfortable ride. As it turned out, we stayed for 4, long enough to enjoy some wonderful St Lucian hospitality and experience the famous Gros Ilet street party. The boat was in great shape and after taking on some fresh produce and diesel we set off towards the Bahamas.

Conditions were favourable and we made good time with the screecher, logging several 200nm plus days. Nighttime was always a little unsettled though with squalls forming quickly. Under clouds we were getting 35+ knots of wind. Lots of lightning as well but luckily never too close. The water temperature was 35 degrees centigrade……. ideal hurricane conditions.

After 6 days we arrived at St Francis Resort on Stocking Island where we were welcomed by George Godfrey and his family. Leg two was over. The few days there were chilled enjoying crystal clear waters and evening games of poker with the locals.

We were constantly keeping an eye on the weather as there was lots of activity south of Cuba. Tropical storm “Nicole” was developing and starting to head north. Our time was running short with winds forecast to go north off Cape Hatteras in a few days. Risking stiff breeze on the nose against the Gulf Stream was not really an option. If we didn’t go now, we’d probably miss the Boat Show. So we left in a hurry trying to duck in underneath the advancing Nicole.


NSRI issues warning after a busy weekend

NSRI STATION 21 - St Francis Bay

Multiple fatal and non-fatal drowning accidents and water related emergencies occurred around our coastline and on inland waters this weekend.

NSRI are appealing to the public to be cautious in and around coastal and inland waters.

Only swim at beaches protected by lifeguards and children should have responsible adult supervision in and around water / Don’t try to cross rivers that are in flood.

This appeal follows on a weekend where NSRI and the emergency services attended to multiple serious incidents including fatal drowning accidents.

2 adult females drowned at Trafalgar Beach on the KZN South Coast.

In that same incident a teenage girl and a teenage boy were rescued safely.

An adult male drowned at Palmiet Beach, Kleinmond and in that incident an adult male was also rescued safely.

A 12 year old girl drowned at Glencairn Tidal Pool in Cape Town.

An adult male is missing on an inlet river to the Vaal Dam in the Freestate in a drowning accident.

Emergency Services and Police Divers are believed to still searching for at least 5 people missing in flood related incidents that are reported to have claimed another 8 lives in Mpumalanga in flood related incidents.

A 13 year old girl suffered serious injuries after falling from rocks into Clanwilliam Dam.

And in numerous incidents people survived non-fatal drowning accidents or incidents involving boats and paddle craft.

In many of these accidents public members stepped in to help prior to NSRI and the emergency services arriving on the scene and they are commended for their efforts.

We are urgently appealing to the public to adopt a safety conscious mind set in around water particularly now that beaches are reopened to the public and in light of floods from heavy rainfalls being experienced or expected to be experienced in some Provinces. 

Public are urged to be cautious. 

Running the gauntlet in a St Francis 50

Stephen's Scribble

This article will be published over the next three days o be sure to join us to the end

South Africa has numerous catamaran manufacturers that have established a solid reputation in both the cruising and charter world. Right here in St Francis Bay we have Nexus yachts run by the Paarman brothers as well as St Francis Marine owned by the Lethbridge family. Both produce world class cruising catamarans. Many of us remember Duncan Lethbridge tragically passed away not so long ago. I still have many fond memories of my time spent working at St Francis Marine (almost a decade ago now) and would like to dedicate this previously penned article to Duncan, an old school sailing Legend, and one of the founders of St Francis Bay.

South African catamarans feature prominently at every major boat show worldwide. Now being located on the Southern tip of Africa has always presented its challenges to boat builders. Regardless of the time of year, getting their product to these shows on time and in pristine condition is crucially important. Enter the “Delivery Skipper”

It’s a crisp morning in late July as this particular delivery skipper watches the massive sliding doors of Bay 3 open at St Francis Marine. The latest “Phantom” 50 is wheeled into the elements for the first time. It’s impressive but there’s no time to admire her just yet. The brand new rig from Southern Spars has just been driven up from Cape Town on the yards customized trailer. The rigger is standing by and the clock is ticking. We get straight to work.

As we hoist the mast aloft on the yards crane my phone rings…’s one of my delivery crew wanting to confirm the trip. I answer the phone, “Ja Bru, get the U.S visa sorted for you your lady, we’ll be in Cape Town in a week or so.“

St Francis 50 Catamaran - Duncan Lethbridge

Penelppe off to Port St Francis for launch

3 working days later we are sea trialing off Port St Francis enjoying an impressive turn of speed. Full main and the new screecher from Quantum have us doing 12 knots in a heartbeat. As we calibrate instrumentation it appears that all the systems are functioning well. I am happy for the 48-hour shakedown cruise to Cape Town that will follow, but my concerns lie in the Atlantic and beyond.

The Annapolis Boat show runs from the 7th to the 11th of October, some 8200 nautical miles from Cape Town. In order to get there we need to get going soon. It looks like the hurricane season is going to be a busy one and I’m feeling edgy.

We finally left Cape Town on evening of the 12th of August. Four of us, Deon and Kat are newlyweds and both recently qualified Yacht Masters who are doing the trip for the miles. Karl is an experienced Yacht Master and acquaintance from the “Stock”. I was confident with my crew even if we’d only just met. They are good people I told myself, and they all have tickets. Over the next 2 months we would definitely get to know each other, hopefully becoming friends. Carrying extra 600 litres of fuel on top of our standard 880 litres, I was confident of making Trinidad. My logic was head there first. It’s below the hurricane belt. We could re-victual then head up through the Caribbean Sea to the Bahamas where we were to rendezvous with the new owner. I was also carrying an old gennaker from one of the 44’s and was pleased that we had this sail. I intended to fly it as much as possible, should the conditions suite.

And they did………. After 24 hours we had a F5-6 southeasterly and we hoisted that Gennaker aloft. We were still getting to know each other so I took my time double checking the tack line and sheet leads. Then Deon hoisted the sock as I trimmed on the sheet from the helm station. The gennaker ballooned out in front of us and watching the smile broaden on Karl’s face, we took off ! I soon realized that this cruising catamaran is designed to perform. Downwind with just the gennaker we were regularly hitting 15 knots, surfing into the late teens. As I flipped a perfect “easy over” fried egg we hit a 20knot surf! Passing a sandwich of note to Karl at the helm I thought it impossible for his grin to get bigger……..but it did! Surfing down waves at 20 knots with ham, cheese and egg “sarmies”…….we were clearly having a good time! Thank you Angelo Lavranos !

But all good things have to come to an end. The delivery gennaker had been repaired more than once and as we flew along, chewing up the miles, we aptly named it “Patch”. I made a call to keep flying it through the night. The sea was quite big and fairly short with the wind gusting a bit, so in retrospect I should have got it down before nightfall. But we had a deadline to meet and I didn’t. A few hours later right in the middle of a quiet moment on the toilet, there is a hammering above me. “Patch” had blown…exploded actually! We’d punched into the back of a swell off a16knot surf. Boat speed dropped to 9 knots and simultaneously the wind had gusted to 30……….”Kaboom!”……….Patch had gone to sail heaven! All hands on deck we soon retrieved the tattered sail, furled out the genoa and continued on our way.

I suppose this marked the beginning of an amazing and memorable voyage. But I had no idea then, (doing some delayed paperwork), that what lay ahead would be far more serious than I would ever have imagined.

Now read PART TWO

Municipality reseals and repair roads across the region

Kouga Municipality - logo

Kouga Municipality has made considerable progress in the resealing and repair of roads across the Kouga.

With more than R8 million budgeted for the resealing of roads in the current financial year, ending on 30 June 2021, the first-ever gravel roads in Kruisfontein were tarred.

Other roads that already received a new lease on life are the access roads to Loerie, Dolphin Street in Pellsrus and the access road to Ocean View that passes Jeffreys Bay Comprehensive High. Humansdorp, Hankey and Patensie are among the other communities set to benefit over the next three months.

Kouga Speaker, Hatting Bornman, said that the backlog in road maintenance across the region is massive and totals more than R500 million. “It is, therefore, impossible to address the backlog all in one go, but we are making progress,” he said.

Roads tarred since 2017:

  • Tarragoma Road
  • teenbras Street
  • St Francis DriveLyne Road
  • Swan Drive
  • Dolphin Drive
  • Joe Slove Drive
  • St Francis Street (partly)
  • Dolfyn Street
  • Woltemade Street (plastic)
  • oraal Street
  • Uys Street
  • Vriesland Street
  • Rotterdam Street
  • De Reyger Street
  • Seetuin Street (partly)
  • Kudu Street
  • Noorsekloof
  • Salie Street
  • Blackberry Street
  • Perlemoen Street
  • Nanto Road
  • Ketse Road
  • Saffery Street
  • Du Plessis Street
  • Booyce Road
  • Jacobs Street
  • ohnson Street
  • Nerina Drive
  • Felix Street
  • Human Street
  • Vuyo Katoo Road
  • Chris Hani Street
  • Tshume Street
  • Elsa Street
  • And more to come …


Yvonne Craig-Bosman honoured by the St Francis Bird Club

Yvonne Bosman East Cape Birding

Mrs Yvonne Craig/Bosman enjoying the birds from the comfort of the bench Photo: Colleen Smith

Yvonne Craig-Bosman honoured by the St Francis Bird Club on her retirement from the position of Chairperson after 27 years of leadership.

The St Francis Bird Club has placed a bench on Shore Road, overlooking the Kromme River, in recognition of, and with heartfelt thanks to, Yvonne Bosman, a well-known resident of St Francis Bay.

Yvonne was presented with the bench as a surprise on Friday morning early, when she went to Shore Road to watch the birds feeding in the shallows near The Cove, one of her favourite birding spots. Members of the Club also presented her with a gift to express their gratitude for all the work she has done since she founded the Club with some friends, nearly 28 years ago.

After Yvonne moved to St Francis with her late husband Vic Craig and family, she joined Bird Life Eastern Cape. At that time (1990) she did not know much about birds at all but had been inspired by a talk about birds at a Garden Club meeting. On her first local birding trip she was told to be ready at five o’clock in the morning. She had never been up that early before! This did not deter her or her husband, however, and so began what would become a lifelong passion for both of them. Her interest and enthusiasm led her to start the St Francis Bay Bird Club.

Yvonne Bosman on backs of Kromme River

Yvonne Craig/Bosman after she received her gifts Photo: Colleen Smith

Since the first meeting on 5th March 1993 (which involved birding at the St Francis Golf Club!), she has brought both serious and social birding to St Francis Bay. Over the years she has shared her knowledge generously and inspired birders to join the birding fraternity, to learn more and to contribute to birding science, something she has been doing, herself, for many years. She is a recognised citizen-scientist in this field. Many longstanding friendships have been forged through the Club.

In 1994, Jean and the late Chuck Cook started assisting Yvonne in her duties whilst Vic, with his charm, secured access to farming and other nearby properties for the purpose of Club outings  Jean is still a devoted member of the Club, 27 years later.

Yvonne met her second husband, the late Peter Bosman, through the Bird Club when Peter and Madeline Bosman joined as members in 1996. Another great friendship bond was formed and, after both were widowed, Yvonne and Peter decided to tie the knot.

Yvonne, over the past nearly 28 years, and helped by her informal and later formal committees, has organised many day trips and longer excursions for the benefit of the Club members. She is always willing to assist others, and imparts her knowledge gently and beautifully, where needed and asked for. Some of the larger outings became rather stressful but, no matter how errant the birders were, Yvonne was always willing, able and ready for the next birding outing.

In her time in the Chair, she inspired members to join the Co-ordinated Waterbird Counts (CWAC), the South African Bird Atlas Project (SABAP 2), to be part of Co-ordinated Avifaunal Roadcounts (CAR) and to get involved in windfarm monitoring. Data collection on the numbers of birds in windfarm areas, which is co-ordinated by Maggie Langlands (Vice-Chairperson of the Bird Club for many years), has resulted in the co-operation of windfarms in mitigating the environmental impacts of their activities.

This involvement in citizen science started when the Club was asked to participate in a nation-wide survey of African Black Oystercatchers, between 11 and 18 March, 1998. This striking bird was in danger of dying out as its breeding season coincided with the height of the holiday season in December, and beach activities disturbed the nesting birds. The survey was headed by Professor Phil Hockey at UCT. His proposal was to ban vehicles on beaches and run awareness programmes along the South African coast, where these birds nest. This project has been one of the most successful in saving a species from extinction and it was the Club’s first, but not last, collaboration with UCT.

Yvonne was awarded the Tony Dechant Memorial Award by Bird Life Eastern Cape, in 2017. This award was made to Yvonne for her services to birding, that went “above and beyond the call of duty”.

The Bird Club is very happy that Yvonne will remain a member of the committee, in the role of Vice-Chairperson, so that she can mentor some of the committee members who are taking over her tasks.

Hers are truly big boots to fill.

Yvonne Bosman with Colleen Smith

Presentation Colleen and Yvonne: Mrs Colleen Smith Incoming Chairperson thanks Mrs Yvonne Craig/Bosman and presents her with the bench and a gift on behalf of all the club members – Photo: Paul Stevenson