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					                                            Cape Town

                                    Newsletter - April 2007
          Editor: Gavin Cosgrove – Phone 465 0850, Fax 465 0851, cell: 072 930 7558

                                         “At the Helm”
                                   (Commodore’s Report)
          Unfortunately, our Commodore is still out of the Country, so no report this month.

                                         (General Skinner)

    A new set of Regalia has been produced, so please bring your chequebook to the next

The Classic and Wood Boat Rally is behind us and what a great success it was. The weather
played its part and the racing, although subdued by gentle winds, was extremely competitive. Friday
and Saturday night were a wonderful gathering of friends with good music and fine food.
And on Sunday night the prizes went to:
Modern Classic;Pure Magic - Alan Taylor, Apricot - Bat Tromp, & Morgenster - Joanne Lamprechts
Modern Wood; Impact - Jay Barnes, Touch Wood - Gerie Hegie, & Ambre - Larry Davis
Best Restored; Zeeslang - Bernard Diebold/Tommu Walker
Best Vintage Wood; Squire - Michael Moore
Trophy's for classes went to;
Foam - Barry Wolf: Best Modern Classic              Ambre - Larry Davies: Best Modern Wood
Squire - Michael Moore: Best Vintage Wood          Zeeslang - Bernhard Diebold; Best Restored

A very special thanks to Barry Wolf for all his effort. This job was landed on Barry’s lap about
three weeks before the event. Barry, we compliment you on your commitment to this task.

The new “Museum” has opened at the Waterfront, and Captain Jack Clarke visited it and gave us
some feedback. Although the new venue is quite a nice space, it really is not fitted out as a Museum.
Being on the second floor also creates a set of problems. They have managed to erect about 18
models but not much else. At the last Committee meeting, it was suggested that we form a lobby
group to aggressively tackle this problem. We will keep you informed.

Terry Gilman sent us his thoughts …

To preserve our sailing heritage, a small-craft museum for exhibition, restoration and
educational purposes is needed - By Terry Gilman

I believe we should conserve the boats, sails, plans, fittings, films, photos, books, articles, magazines
and regalia from the past millennium in a proper small-craft museum. Donations should be securely
housed for study, display and restoration. For example, the New SA Flag carried around the world by
J.J. Provoyeur on “Grinaker”, and donated to the Government when Steve Tshwete was Minister of

The National Maritime Museum at The Waterfront was recently closed down and its collection broken
up, to the dismay of the TBA which met there once a month. It is sad that Cape Town, the „Tavern of
the Seas‟, with its rich history of ships under sail and steam, fishing boats at Woodstock and
Roggebaai, Captain Granger and his whalers, the Alfred Rowing Club, and the Southern Cross Yacht
Club, cannot afford one.

There were valuable model ships and yachts in glass cases, old books, all the SA Yachting
magazines, a traditional oared fishing boat, the Oldroyd‟s 24-ft yawl „St George‟, a rowing eight and a
Bongers‟ Finn. These have been stored somewhere and the TBA is worried about their condition.
Some artefacts are now displayed in the Union-Castle Building and curated by the IZIKO Museum of
Cape Town. Thank goodness RCYC has many historic photographs; these will become Africana. As
an amateur yachting historian, I have written this article on our post-war sailing heritage, from the
magnificent Stormvögel to those small Gibb and Lewmar Tufnol blocks we used in the 60‟s. Each one
I restore brings back happy memories.


A Royal Cape Redwing, the “Kingfisher” is, unfortunately, missing, although the curator has very
kindly offered to let me look for it in storage. This is a pity, as Redwings kept one-design sailing alive
on Table Bay between the wars, and started sailing off at ZVYC.

The 1st Kenilworth Scouts donated this “Last Cape Redwing” to the Museum, but there is some
confusion as to where she is now. The Scout‟s “intended” to donate her, but cannot remember
physically taking her to the Museum. The same thing happened to their previous Redwing, the
“Peewit”, donated to the Hermanus Old Harbour Museum, but lost in transit.

What a shame the “Kingfisher” was not restored for the 100th anniversary of RCYC, because the
Linton Hope design is nearly as old. She was built by Thesen‟s in the early 50‟s, and sailed by
Dorothy McCarthy, neé Burn Wood, at Hermanus. She has a foredeck and Bermudan rig with
beautiful red Terylene sails. Original Redwings were gunter-rigged.

A Cape resident, who had plans, and built a new Redwing, donated them to the Museum. I myself
visited the “reference” section, only to find an unholy mess of valuable documents, uncatalogued
books, sailing magazines, and a drawer full of plans, also unsorted, because they cannot afford a
librarian. I believe RCYC should commission a new Redwing, or have someone at the Ship
Modeller‟s Society build one for display.

In phoning round the country, I have located other wooden dinghies, which could become exhibits in
a small-craft collection. For example, the FD “Taderoli,” in mint condition, is stored in a boathouse at
Hermanus. Perhaps one of FD maestro Helmut Stauch‟s “Hakahana‟s” or John Sully‟s exquisite
“Athena” or “Nausicaa” could be found. There is a Goodricke and a pre-Spearhead “Scratch” boat at
ZVYC and the original Sprog “Stroppy” is in the PE Museum. Don Ord‟s Sharpie “Circe” is sailing, but
do any 20ft Scows still exist? They were our premier dinghy class until Sharpies and FD‟s took over.
“Taeping” was a famous Scow.

The late sixties saw a swing to keelboats. This came about when Voortrekker I, skippered by Bruce
Dalling, created a huge public interest in sailing at a time when the Sports Boycott was starving the
public of sporting heroes. “Shosholoza” confirms our progress towards democratic sailing. I‟m sure
Captain Sarno would donate a special collection concerning her.

Our greatest keelboat sailor, Cornelis Bruynzeel, of Stellenbosch, led the way with “Zeeslang”,
“Stormy” and “Stormvogel”. Photographs or models of all these yachts deserve a showing, and could
stand next to those of Albatross II, first Rio Race winner, “Jakaranda” (sixth in the Fastnet), and
Arthur Holgate‟s massive, home-built steel schooners, “Titch”, “Lorraine” and “Antares”.

It‟s wonderful that “Voortrekker I”, “Zeeslang”, “Mariquita”, “Yvette”, and “Astra” have been restored.

It‟s ironic that while Apartheid was tightening its noose and isolating our yachtsmen in the 60‟s and
70‟s, there was an economic boom, during which a flowering of design talent occurred, led by Frank
Spears, HH Mc Williams and Jack Köper. What plans of theirs still exist? “SA Yachting” published the
beautifully draughted lines of Frank Spears‟ Andy and Spearhead, for example, but it‟s amazing that
designs like the Sonnet, Extra, Tempo, Sprog and Spearhead will soon become museum pieces!

Chris Köper recently designed the “Sonatina” and the neo-Dabchick, the “Chickadee” in memory of
his father, and Margarethe Köper has the plans.

What other artefacts, besides yachts, should be preserved? Old fittings, (meaning pre-s/s and plastic)
like wooden and Tufnol blocks, wooden cleats, brass turnbuckles, shackles and snap-shackles,
piston-hanks, bronze Highfield levers, furling gear and goosenecks are collectable.

Such heavy items were thrown away in the quest for lightness, but are beautiful, despite being a level
below such fashionable nauticalia as binnacles, portholes, compasses, sextants and steering wheels.
I have, for example, three parallel rulers, showing a progression from brass to Tufnol to plastic.
Tufnol is typical of the 50‟s and 60‟s and is a resin-impregnated cloth with a mahogany finish. It has a
lovely soapy feel when cleaned.

Transitions are interesting, and sailors would appreciate the progression of a range of blocks from
wire strops, ash cheeks and brass sheaves onwards. These fittings need upkeep, but ironically, that
very feature is what makes them alluring today.

The catalogue of fittings for yachts from “Southern and Central Africa”, from Tony Herrick‟s Boating
Center, Johannesburg (dated 1973), contains photos and descriptions which create nostalgic
memories of my youth. At 16 I coveted these fittings. It‟s amazing that many are still functional and on
The early canvas and cotton duck sails, many imported from Ratsey, haven‟t lasted, because of
mildew. Terylene was more durable, and only the Finn class rules specified cotton up to 1960. There
is a photo of Bruce McCurragh in 1959 with his famous cotton Elvström. Few such sails are left.

The Maritime Museum had some traditional sailmaker‟s tools. Included should be: a palm, cigarette
tin with some needles, scissors, seaming and whipping twine, beeswax, stamps, cringles, fids,
marlinespikes and knives. Various knots, splices and stitching would show the craft of the traditional
sailmaker. Later there were excellent local sailmakers such as Mercer, Bach and Hickson, Arthur
Saul and Jack and Margarethe Köper. The logo of (say) Köper Sails should be represented.

A museum collection should include a reference library of all the yachting books published in SA. The
definitive text is “Yachting in Southern Africa”, by Anthony Hocking. Some can remember Rhodesian
sailors competing at Lourenzo Marques, Beira and Saldanha in the sixties. The standard was high,
as David Butler came 4th in the 1960 FD Olympics at Naples. Numbers were also swollen by
Portuguese sailors from colonial Angola and Mozambique, and Germans from SWA. The winds of
change blew them away, to our detriment.

Other local authors include Cox, Steward, Kuttel, Robb, Preedy, Rabinowitz and Whitehead.

Frank Wightman‟s classics “The Wind is free”, and “Wylo Sails Again”, are in the National Library.
Frank spent 20 years working alone in far-flung telegraph offices in order to spend the next 20 living
as a recluse aboard “Wylo” at Kraal Bay, Saldanha. Lawrence Green‟s last, evocative book “A Giant
in Hiding” about Frank is a masterpiece. Such books will become Africana. Amazingly, “Wylo” has
been found and is undergoing restoration in Hout Bay.

An extremely rare book is “Sports and Sportsmen in South Africa and Rhodesia, Vol. II”, published in
1929 by the Cape Times, with chapters dedicated to yachting in Cape Town by H. Warington Smyth
CMG and Durban by George H. Goodricke, his being the more informative. Even the National Library
does not have a copy, but I bought an excellent, second-hand, 76-year-old copy for R1000. It is the
Imperial edition, limited to 200 copies and has a leather-bound, gold-embossed cover, gilt-edged
pages, and photographs covered by tissue-paper, a bibliophile‟s dream. The sense of our connection
to the world-wide British Empire is strongly evident, and our subsequent isolation dealt our sport a
huge blow.

Many white boys did their two-year call-up in the Navy and could identify with Wilhelm Grütter‟s book,
in Afrikaans, “‟n Naam wat Seevaarders Eer” about the General Botha. Rick Nankin‟s late father,
Captain Phil Nankin, features as a tough-looking skipper of the sail-training ship “Howard Davis”, built
by Louw and Halvorsen and still sailing. Grütter can be thanked for translating English sailing terms
into Afrikaans, as did the Navy Language Bureau in its quest to Afrikanerize the Navy. Such terms
as: “kotter,” (cutter), “weeflyne” (ratlines), and “strykende loggerseil” (dipping lugsail) appear in the
Some yachtsmen were also surfers in the 60‟s. Cornel Barrett‟s “Hitting the Lip”, which features
bronzed young surfer gods Jonathan Paarman and Peers Pittard, would be of interest.

One must also acknowledge the huge contribution of publisher Wally Flesch and editor Brian Lello in
founding “SA Yachting” in 1957. This magazine is now of historical importance. The National Library
has a set and the Maritime Museum has a partial set, uncatalogued. Fred Raas‟ magazine “Now
Hear This” is also valuable. The “Cape Odyssey” number 74 was an excellent edition devoted to the
RCYC centenary. It had old photo‟s and articles, mainly by Colin Farlam.

John Whitmore was a pioneer surfer and Hobie manufacturer and he showed Bruce Brown‟s film
“Endless Summer” in halls round the country. John shaped and glassed Colin Forster‟s (National
Sprog Champion, 1964) beautiful surfboard, and Gerhard Köper‟s FD “Concorde‟s” centreboard,
which broke in heavy weather at the FD World‟s at Naples. Old home movies, like the Snowball‟s,
should be preserved. Photographs of their yachts “Mistral” (Sharpie C 133) and Gemini” (FD 182)
graced the cover of SA Yachting in 1962 and 1964. Pat Cullen shot a full-length feature-film about
“Sandefjord‟s” circumnavigation, starting in 1965 and showed it in the USA and elsewhere, giving
audiences a taste of cruising.

I know of only three classic Beken photographs of SA yachts and owners. One is of the magnificent
Herreshoff schooner “Westward” running down the English channel under a cloud of sail. She was
owned by the ex-stevedore and philanthropist TB Davis of Durban and competed against King
George V‟s “Britannia”. Another Beken photo is of HH McWilliams sailing a Firefly at Torbay, in the
single-handed class during the 1948 Olympics. He came last. Finally the magnificent Stormvögel is
captured reaching across the Solent.

Luckily the David Baker collection is preserved in the National Library Archives, “Sailing” magazine is
a valuable source and Gerhard Köper has many of his father‟s. Jack was professional photographer.
Molly Warr wrote an article on him for the Traditional Boat Association.

“Sailing” carried a photo of Gerhard Köper (D 4) and his friends with the first fleet of Dabchicks. This
photo launched a thousand more. I seem to remember a not-so-historic photo of “China” Willcox at a
“smoker” with a beautiful Arabian dancer on his lap!

Overseas, many grand yachts are restored regardless of cost, and old photographs are source of

The SABC has very few clips of sailing, but our Olympic representatives in Atlanta were extensively
interviewed and filmed on the water. I ordered the video of Dave Hibberd shown gunning his Laser
across False Bay.

The apex of the 60‟s dinghy boom was the huge, 284 boat, All-Class Nationals at Saldanha in 1968,
when Paul Elvström beat the reigning World Finn Champion and Olympic gold medallist Willie
Kuhweide, in a fleet of 84 Finns. The newspaper articles on the regatta were kept by Ion Williams,
first Secretary of the FD Class, and his daughter Judy, (Sprog No. 9, “Sziz”). A professionally-
catalogued, temperature-controlled selection of yachting articles is stored at the Roeland Street
Archives of the National Library. For example, the Lipton Cup of 1964 is fully documented and
available on shelf CTN. Articles can also be accessed on the internet.

The regalia of great sailors like the late Eric Bongers could be preserved, if their safe-keeping was
guaranteed. When I phoned Mrs. Bongers, she immediately offered to donate his Olympic blazer, not
that I accepted. Club burgees, ties, cravats and white-topped naval caps could be featured.
All these will become Africana, hence my plea; let‟s honour the books we read, the fittings we used,
the plans we followed and the wooden boats we sailed in a proper Small Craft Museum.

Traditional boat-building skills will be lost if not preserved in a working Small Craft Museum. If I found
the plans of the Redwing, is there anyone who could teach me the art of clinker boat building? I
would gladly attend classes as offered at many museums in the USA and Britain. I suppose this is the
difference between archives and museums. Some yacht clubs have well-curated archives; others
may only have black and white photos of yachts on their walls, and tarnished, anonymous trophies in
their cabinets. A living museum could shed light on these.

There are many shipping enthusiasts and yachtsmen lobbying for another venue for the SA Maritime
Museum, whose collection has been dismantled, split between venues, and stored.

This is of concern, as valuable items could get lost or stolen. What is the legality of closing a National
museum, and who „owns‟ the artefacts? I intend to start a „Friends of the Maritime Museum‟ lobby
group, to keep an eye on proceedings. I‟ll write to various clubs and bodies, but please e-mail me if

The Thesen‟s connection makes Knysna an possible venue. Thesen‟s is no more; the sawmills have
cut down the forest, but the romance of wooden yachts could live on there. There are enough artists,
and wealthy retirees, to make it happen. A beautiful new gaff Sharpie was recently built there, and a
Chris – Craft was restored.

If a physical museum cannot be founded, then a virtual one could. A website should carry the entry
list of ten significant Nationals: 1958 – 1968. Every serious yachtsman and woman of that time would
have attended one. The memories flood back as I read the names, including my own. Such great
sailors, administrators, my heroes, and so many (like my late skipper and mentor), Stan Midlane,

I also believe it‟s time to create a Yachting Hall of Fame for the past millennium, to pay tribute to
those heroes whose lifelong devotion to sailing and administration will never again be equalled.

t‟s not easy writing about the past. As I did research, I found myself conflicted by happy memories,
which contrasted with the failure I am now. I fell into a depression, had a nervous breakdown, and
admitted myself to hospital. Only my passion for the sport kept me going. In my 58 th year, I‟m into my
50th year of sailing, and send my love and respect to those friends and heroes of my youth, some of
whom, like the Redwing, deserve to be in a museum themselves!


                                        THE CLARKE QUIZ

 Figure this one out and lets hear your understanding at our next meeting on Thursday 31 May 2007

                                       “THE DEVIL TO PAY”

                                           “Bright work”
This month‟s “Clever Trick”

Have you ever tried the frustrating task of getting a cupboard doorframe or picture frame to square up
when you are trying to glue all the bitts? Have a look at this little gadget.

If your “Clever Trick” is published, you will be presented with a good bottle of wine and a TBA
Key ring at the following Monthly meeting. So lets have them sent by e-mail to


Iron Bark from Galapagos to New Zealand - By Annie Hill
Part 2.

As we approached the Îles Gambier lagoon on the morning of 11 June, the wind picked up to about
                                               F5 and headed us. The breaking waves distorted
                                               colours and hid the coral heads: beating across
                                               with an inadequate chart would have been folly, so
                                               we ended up motor sailing to the anchorage in
                                               Rikitea (23° 06'S, 134° 58'W), which rather took the
                                               shine off an otherwise perfect 22-day passage. But
                                               if the lagoon looked uninviting in the prevailing
                                               conditions, the little town, dominated by the twin
towers of its church, looked the more appealing. The anchorage is not only perfectly sheltered and
adequately roomy, but is in an attractive setting, with several shops and pleasant walks near at hand.

Mangareva was as interesting as we'd hoped, although I was surprised at how many other yachts
were there, several of whom had very little experience. GPS, electronic charts, large engines, SSB
radio and, of course, the fact that you can now 'phone home' for help, if you have the appropriate
EPIRB, have completely changed voyaging. Independence and self-sufficiency are quaint
anachronisms in this new world. Iron Bark is a fine and functional cruising home, but we are
considered cruising fundamentalists because we don't have refrigeration or pressurised water and
don't use our engine to keep to the 6 knots of the passage plan. While we consider our boat
adequately large and comfortable, other cruisers regard us as Spartans. After spending several
years off the beaten track, it was something of a shock to realise how isolated we have become. The
norm of a decade or two ago is now eccentric and the remote places of the world are now become
accessible. I'd be happy to chuck my GPS away, if everyone else would do the same.

One of Mangareva's attractions is a number of excellent walks. The roads are reasonably empty
(one wonders that there are any cars on such a tiny island) and there are several trails that are
managed and marked; we

spent quite a lot of time ashore, walking and exploring. Some of the trails are obviously very old and
some follow roads built by the tyrant priest, Père Laval. Between 1836 and 1871, he forced the
islanders to build a cathedral, 10 churches and a convent, in addition to roads and other buildings.
Many of them died in the process: his response was they the got to heaven sooner! I'm sure he had
the best of intentions and he set up schools so that the islanders could learn to read (the Bible) and
organised threading and weaving mills using locally grown cotton. But overall, although many
islanders revere his name as the man who converted them to Catholicism, he must have done more
harm than good. The local mairie had a small tourist brochure, which portrayed Laval as an
enlightened benefactor, but when I questioned one of the locals about this, he told me he'd laughed
aloud when he read this bowdlerized version of what was obviously a mad man. (This same
brochure says that the 'era of the French nuclear test ... gave a new life to the Gambier'!)

One of the best walks we took was to the top of Mount Duff, which overlooks the anchorage. This
entailed a long hike through undergrowth and forest, which kept us pleasantly in the shade. We
followed a ridge up the side of the mountain, occasionally hauling ourselves up using ropes provided
for that purpose, and finally came out into the open, well above the town. At the top of the mountain,
the ridge became a razor back and it was frankly daunting picking one's way along the narrow track
with sheer drops on one side or the other and, finally, on both. But the view and sense of
                                                 achievement made it worthwhile.

                                                The island was generally well wooded, with a
                                                surprising number of Scotch pines, which seemed
                                                inappropriate in the climate. Wandering through the
                                                woodlands was a delight with vast numbers of
                                                marvellous fig trees, which covered large areas,
                                                sending down aerial roots and creating great wooden
                                                cages. Water (coco)nuts abounded and a machete
                                                was worth taking. I included a couple of plastic
                                                drinking straws in the backpack, which made the nuts
                                                a lot easier to drink! We had to resist the temptation
                                                to scrump delicious pamplemousse and papaya that

grew in abundance and often fell to the ground. One or two other yachties had been helping
themselves or simply asking for fruit. Approached in the right way, the islanders were very generous,
but not surprisingly, they took rather a dim view of visitors who felt that they had a right to their
produce, even if it were otherwise going to waste. Because of the extraordinary way in which the
French run their Pacific colonies, there is very little incentive for people to go in for a bit of market
gardening to increase their income, and this makes it ridiculously difficult to buy local fresh produce.
When it is for sale, it's often at least as expensive as imported food. Bread is subsidised and we
could buy the standard yard of bread for about 20p, but in an area with high levels of diabetes, it
seemed stupid to be putting a huge subsidy on white bread while wholemeal loaves were about eight
times the price and completely unavailable on the smaller islands. We soon discovered that it was
worth ordering bread in advance. If you arrived when it was delivered - about 0645 - you could
sometimes buy one of the extra few loaves ordered on spec, but these were all gone by 0715. But
there are worse ways of starting the day, than taking down the anchor light, climbing into the dinghy
and rowing ashore to collect warm bread for breakfast. Tinned butter was also affordable and I would
often make a litre or so of café au lait to wash down the crusty bread and butter.

The culture of black pearls is now a major industry in French Polynesia. Mangareva, being a long
way south, has cooler water and apparently this makes for better-coloured pearls. The farming is on
                                           a large scale and many inventive ways have been devised
                                           to use pearls of all shapes and sizes, as well as the oyster
                                           shells themselves. I have always loved pearls and was
                                           fascinated to see what was for sale in Rikitea's little shops.
                                           While the large, black, perfect pearls are very beautiful, I
                                           much prefer the baroque and many-coloured misfits, that
                                           are used in less formal jewellery. The smaller ones are
                                           known as keishi and are arguably more 'honest' than the
                                           flawless ones, being formed around chips of shell. The
                                           perfectly spherical ones are built up around small plastic
                                           balls, which account for between 75% and 90% of the
                                           finished pearl. Should you have a necklace of the latter
                                           and wear it constantly, you can wear away the nacre down
                                           to the plastic, while keishi pearls are formed entirely of
nacre. A local jeweller had made a gorgeous little necklace of local keishi, ranging in colour from
white, through kingfisher blue and aubergine down to the deepest black. I fell in love with it and
Trevor bought it for my birthday.

A teacher arranged for the yachties to                                                        visit the
local craft school and watch the students                                                     working on
the pearl shell. This is polished and                                                         made into a
variety of articles from dishes to jewellery                                                  and little is
wasted. The standard of workmanship                                                           was very
high, but the most impressive thing was                                                       that the
craftsmen were all schoolgirls ranging in                                                     age from 11
to 15. They were brought in from the                                                          Tuamotus
and other Gambier Is and it was a                                                             required
subject. A couple of days later we saw                                                        the best on
display in the mairie: the standards were                                                     extremely
high. The shell is often used very
imaginatively - for instance, several                                                         pieces will
be shaped and polished and then threaded on a band of material to make straps for a dress. The
effect can be truly stunning. The girls' wares are regularly sent to Tahiti to be sold there, but we
could buy on the island. The teacher marked each piece to identify its creator and it was lovely to
see the girls' delight when they were introduced to the person who'd bought something they'd made.
I think they got more pleasure from that than from the money.

 We very much wanted to explore some of the other islands in the archipelago, but being so far
south, we were no longer truly in the Trade Winds. All too often the winds was either blowing from
NW or forecast to do so and if it went round to the S, the sky was too overcast to allow for safe coral
navigation. We did manage to get away for one night, anchoring off the W side of Taravai I in a
deserted anchorage. Here we went ashore and wandered around abandoned palm groves, where
the new trees were growing up so thickly, that we felt no guilt about cutting some down for hearts of
palm. Sadly, for us, the breadfruit and pamplemousse that had once been in abundance had
succumbed to the indigenous flora. It was a lovely spot, but the wind backed the next day, so we
returned to Rikitea.

A few days later, we set off for the                                               Tuamotus. Once
known as the Dangerous                                                             Archipelago, GPS,
large engines and excellent cruising                                               guides have made
them a cruising destination in their                                               own right. This
doesn't mean to say that they're                                                   without problems,
however. The passes are on the lee                                                 side of the lagoons
and frequently have strong currents,                                               caused by the
ocean spilling over the windward                                                   reef and then
pouring out of the leeward side.                                                   These currents can
be countered by incoming tides                                                     causing frightening,
standing waves. While these are                                                    manageable when
you're being spat out, they can be                                                 extremely daunting
when you're slugging in. Many anchorages are far from comfortable, being encumbered with coral
heads, strategically spaced to snag your anchor cable, instantly reducing a comfortable 5:1 scope to
up-and-down. Laying out the anchor with care can avoid this situation, but if the wind shifts or dies,
you can find yourself back at square one.

We decided to make for the atoll of Tahanea: it has a wide and easy pass, was more or less on our
way to the Society Is and was uninhabited, which had its own appeal. We would visit other inhabited
                                                   atolls later. As is usual in the Tropics, we had to
                                                   heave-to until it was light enough to enter
                                                   (because of the long nights and need for good
                                                   light when sailing around coral, there's only 8
                                                   hours in 24 available for pilotage). Astonishingly,
                                                   (to me) some of the boats that we were sailing
                                                   with would risk night entrances, showing a
                                                   touching faith in their electronics and the accuracy
                                                   of the chart datum. Some of them gave
                                                   themselves considerable frights because of this,
                                                   but astonishingly, they generally got away with it.
                                                   Only one boat was lost this year - to our
                                                   knowledge - but I'm amazed there weren't more.
                                                   Many of the cruisers are sailing right on the edge
                                                   of their competence and one major error would
see them in serious trouble. However, no doubt the insurance would pay out. We have no insurance
because we can't afford the enormous premiums charged for the out-of-the-way sort of sailing that
we do. Considering how insurers seem to be prepared to pay for unforgivable carelessness as well
as unforeseeable calamity, it's not surprising that it costs what it does. Replacing Iron Bark would
require rather more than a couple of telephone calls. Knowing this makes us cautious sailors, but
then I've always believed that prudence is an essential part of seamanship.

It was on a bright, sunny morning that we approached our first Tuamotu, a lovely sight, with white surf
crashing along the reef, green palms nodding in the trade wind and glimpses of bright blue water in
the lagoon. After a couple of false starts, we located the pass and turned towards it, our assumption
being confirmed by the almost-inevitable yacht anchored inside. This turned out to be a charming
French/Tahitian couple with their little girl. A couple of days later, they moved to another part of the
lagoon leaving us in solitary splendour.

We wasted no time in going ashore. The little island off which we'd anchored was well endowed with
coconut palms, but there was no sign of either breadfruit or citrus. Even close to the old village,
which only 20 years ago was still inhabited, only the palm trees remained. It makes one appreciate
                                                      how much loving care the Polynesians put into
                                                      their gardens when one sees how quickly the
                                                      wilderness returns. However, coconuts have a
                                                      lot going for them and the groves were beautiful
                                                      with the sunlight filtering through the trees. We
                                                      found enormous entertainment in the hermit
                                                      crabs, which range in size from diminutive
                                                      creatures in the tiniest of shells to the
                                                      endangered coconut crab, which grows to such
                                                      an enormous size that it can no longer find a
                                                      shell to protect its unarmoured abdomen. They
                                                      reverse down burrows - or climb palm trees - in
                                                      times of stress, but this is of little use against
                                                      human predators, who generally wipe them out
                                                      in short order: they take 15 years to reach full
maturity. Regardless of size, however, all these crabs shared a passion for coconuts, particularly for
the soft, sweet spongy meat found inside a sprouting nut that has yet to root. We split two or three of
these as we wandered along the beach; when we returned to them, they were covered in hermit
crabs, with many more coming at a gallop out of the undergrowth, to enjoy the feast!

There were more than a few black-tipped sharks in the lagoon, which made me a little reluctant to
snorkel far from the boat, but simply by                                                 looking
over the side I could watch and wander                                                   at myriad
beautiful, gaily-coloured fish swimming                                                  around the
coral. We were so reluctant to leave                                                     this
wonderful lagoon, that we stayed there                                                   until it was
time to leave for Tahiti, where we had                                                   arranged
to meet Trevor's sister and her husband.

We disentangled our chain from the                                                        coral and
set off on 11 July, in an ESE F3 to have                                                  an
enjoyable sail past Tahanea and out                                                       through the
gap between the next group of islands. We had a good run until we got into the lee of Tahiti Iti where
we were completely becalmed. In order to make it in that night, we started the engine; even so, we
ended up anchoring in near dark, having to drop our hook in 22 m - far more than we'd choose
without a windlass. The following morning we pottered up to Port Phaeton, (17°44'S, 149°20'W) on
the SW corner of Tahiti, back among the cruising boats.
Although I'd expected Tahiti to be a disappointment, I'd always wanted to go there and see it for
myself. It has an aura, a romance, that won't go away in spite of the fact that of all the Society
Islands, it is probably the least attractive and the most spoilt. All the old cruising books talk of tying
up along the Papeete waterfront, dancing the night away in Quinn's Bar, of the vahines riding
sidesaddle on motor scooters, wrapped in colourful pareus and with flowers in their hair. W
Somerset Maugham wrote of seedy characters, raffish remittance men, and mysterious women.
Alas, all of this has gone. The beach and palm trees have been replaced by concrete and marina
berths; the vahines ride in chic little motor cars and wear tight dresses, the seedy characters are
swamped in a sea of Bermuda-shorted tourists and the remittance men have gone somewhere
cheaper, taking their mysterious women with them. All the remains are the flowers in the hair and
shopkeepers put gardenia blooms next to their till in the way in which sweets are offered in other

French Polynesia is run in a way that confounds the imagination. In a nutshell, the French are
determined to hang on to this empire, which covers a huge tract of the Pacific. To this end, they
subsidise enormously and then set a ridiculous exchange rate on the local currency, so that nothing
locally produced, could ever be exported. The inhabitants are kept tranquil by easy living and no
incentive, but for foreigners, the place is ludicrously expensive. Prepared for this, we - and most of
the other cruising boats - had stocked up in Panama, to such and extent that we actually found
French Polynesia one of the cheaper places to cruise! When you were about to be charge £1 for an
orange, it wasn't a difficult decision not to buy.

French xenophobia is displayed by the attitude they have towards foreign yachtsmen. There was a
time, probably before the Second World War, when yachts would sail into Papeete and stay and
stay. They were generally harmless and looked after themselves. Somewhere along the line, the
Authorities decided that This Must Stop and insisted that all visiting yachtsmen, excepting the French,
would put down a bond equivalent to the cost of a plane ticket back to their home country. That the
only yachtsmen who are likely to stay and become a burden are the French, is something that
apparently was never accepted. Some years ago, this policy was questioned in Brussels as being
against the principle of free movement among European countries, so the French reluctantly had to
scrap the bond for Europeans. However, it still applies to the rest of the world and in our case, this
meant Trevor. The bond amounted to 95,000 Pacific francs, or £545 and in theory could be paid
through the bank. This was just as well, because the magic money machines only allowed you to
draw out 40,000 francs in any one week. So we went along to the bank to arrange this. As ever,
there were long queues and in the first bank, the lady leant over and whispered to me that she
thought I should try another one, as they would charge me about £20 for the privilege of handling our
money. So we went to another bank and queued for about 45 minutes at the end of which the young
man couldn't help us, because the necessary forms were in his colleagues locked draw. We had to
go away and kill time over his lunch hour and then ended up waiting in line once more. At last we got
to his counter, filled in the forms and passed over my credit card to be swiped. It wouldn't work. After
several attempts, we tried with Trevor's card, which we avoid using because of the charges that come
with it. No luck. After some discussion and several phone calls, we went outside and tried my card
in the magic money machine. Out came 40,000 francs. Trevor's also worked and we had about
20,000 in cash, so we could now pay the bond. It turned out that the swipe machine would only deal
with French credit cards! We lost greatly on the artificial exchange rate and lost again when the
money was returned to us in Bora Bora, because we had to change it into another, more usable
currency. We were lucky. An Australian couple we knew had only one credit card and were
therefore unable to withdraw the necessary money. All they could do was leave. It goes without
saying that a lot of foreign yachts simply didn't bother to clear in at all, but this was a risk that many
were not prepared to take. The best move seems to be to avoid Tahiti altogether: apart from Bora
Bora, which is almost 'the end of the line', none of the other islands can deal with the issue of bonds.
After this wonderful welcome, it is perhaps not surprising that I never grew fond of Tahiti, but in
addition, the island has been badly mauled about. I don't think I've ever been anywhere with such
                                                  unsightly buildings, jerry-built of concrete and
                                                  corrugated iron, badly designed - if designed at all -
                                                  and poorly maintained. The shopping strips were
                                                  hideous, Papeete itself boasted no more than 3 or 4
                                                  attractive buildings and even expensive houses
                                                  seemed to be gratuitously ugly. But we did find a
                                                  lovely anchorage down by the Botanic Gardens,
                                                  where we enjoyed a lovely walk through the woods.

                                                                                           We went
                                                                                           back to an
near Papeete known as Maeva Beach. This was                                                crowded,
deep, and at times very uncomfortable, if a big                                            swell was
running and flooding over the barrier reef.                                                However, it
was the best on offer. Joan and Michael arrived                                            on schedule
- well at least on their schedule: somewhere                                               along the
line, Michael had got muddled over the dateline                                            and they
arrived a day earlier than we'd anticipated. This                                          meant them
having to stay a night ashore, but they were very                                          lucky: a
young man at the airport gave them a number to                                             call and a
charming man had driven down and taken them                                                back to his
group of holiday flats. I went to see one the next                                         morning and
it was in a glorious setting, with a cantilevered                                          balcony
looking over luxurious vegetation out to the ocean.

After a quick look round Papeete, we sailed for Moorea, where they spend much of their holiday.
This was my favourite island, spectacularly beautiful, with good anchorages. We went for several
walks enjoying all the flowers and admiring the astonishing, pinnacled peaks: all that's left of ancient
volcanoes, the hard core remaining while the softer rock has weathered away. Cook's Bay was
breathtakingly lovely, certainly one experience that all voyaging sailors should have.

                                      It was lovely getting to know Joan and Michael better and they
                                      survived the experience of living aboard very well. Their last
                                      couple of days were marred by bad weather and torrential rain:
                                      indeed, during a lot of our time in the Pacific we had indifferent
                                      weather. The Trade Wind zones appear much less predictable
                                      than in the Atlantic. After they left, we sailed back to Moorea
                                      and then on to Huahine, much less touristy than the previous
                                      two. We visited Tahaa, briefly and then went on to Bora Bora.
                                      This has a reputation for being incredibly beautiful, but while it
                                      looks lovely from the distance, close to we found it less
                                      appealing. I suspect that its reputation comes from the first view
                                      that visitors have from an aeroplane: a shallow lagoon
                                      surrounds it, which is bright turquoise from the air. In

                                     combination with its dramatic peaks and white beaches, it must
                                     be a glorious sight.

                                     Trevor and I were both impatient to move on to somewhere
                                     more 'real' - an impatience that I suspect meant we had less
                                     pleasure out of French Polynesia than might otherwise have
                                     been the case, so on 21 August, we headed off towards
                                     Suvarov in the Cook Islands, an island as different from those in
                                     the Society group as can be imagined.

“Shore Leave”          (Social Calendar)
FIRE SIDE CHAT (Circumnavigation)
Colin Davies will host this at our next meeting on 31 May 2007. At the club house, 19:30

                                      “From the Crow’s Nest”
                                           (Editors‟ Bit)

Open and Public Apology to Barry Wolf.

I hate letting someone down when I‟ve committed to helping with a task and I did this with the Classic
and Wood boat Rally. Firstly, none of the Hout Bay team made it. We believed that the weather
would turn on us and force us to stay at RCYC for an extended period. We were wrong. The sea was
angry but we could have made it.
Secondly, I left all the organizing of the weekend to Barry and apart from Saturday night, I was
unable to attend. My feeble excuse is that I went down with a bout of Pleurisy. Being wet and cold for
three days over the Admirals Cup in Hout Bay the previous weekend caused this.
Barry, I apologise for letting you down and I compliment you for stepping up to the plate and
organizing one of the best rallies ever.