A Travellerspoint blog

July 2009

Fun, Fishing and Hijinks at the Southern Tip of Africa

Finally, the great day of departure had arrived. Jay and Joshua’s two friends, Leo and Daniel slept over last night, all the luggage was packed and we just needed to pack the food and overnight bags, hook the trailer to my Caravel and leave.
The house was dark and silent when I arose and crept about doing those last minute chores and ticking off my checklist. I always have a phobia that a vital item will be forgotten and then because of it the holiday will be ruined! Once I was satisfied, I woke Earl and when we were almost ready, we got the four excited boys out of bed, gave them a quick bowl of cereal and by 7:30 we were on our way – the boys and I following Grandpa and Greg who were towing the ‘cat’ Kiora. As we left, I told the boys to say a silent prayer to God to look after us. Jay decided that he would say the prayer aloud and said, “Dear God, please protect us on this trip, make sure we don’t crash and keep us safe and Grandpa and Greg too.” “Did you hear the prayer, Grandpa and Greg?” he’d pressed in the button of his walkie-talkie while he prayed! “Yes thank you Jay,” came Greg’s reply.
By way of explanation – Greg is 21 years old and crews on Whale Rider and Kiora for Earl. He will be fishing in the competition at Kleinbaai next Saturday and it is his penance to help look after the boys this week!
I checked the time on the dashboard clock and at the same time noticed the fuel gauge. I had forgotten to fill up! So Jay was once again given the opportunity to call his grandfather to inform him that would stop for Diesel in Fish Hoek.
As we travelled, we watched a stunning sunrise as Cape Town was graced with yet another clear sunny day. The temperature, however, did not rise above 15⁰. Earl stopped in Grabouw to buy meat at a friendly butchery whose fare is the best in the Western Cape! I continued and the trip was smooth with only one stop/go and very little traffic. The boys were chatty but well behaved and played the odd game of car cricket but otherwise just enjoyed each other’s company. Daniel’s mom had packed each boy a snack pack so I did not have to worry about handing out from the general one with contributions from all. We have so much ‘lekkergoed’ that I doubt we will get through it all!
I tried to make the trip educational and gave snippets of information from time to time – we are on Baden-Powell Road – note the birdlife here – do you see any oystercatchers on Strandfontein beach – we are now on the N2 –We are passing through Somerset West – this mountain pass is called Sir Lowry’s. At the bottom of the pass we have the turnoff to Grabouw village – Grandpa is getting our meat there. Now we turn into Caledon – we are halfway there now – two more towns – Napier and Bredasdorp then we turn off to Struisbaai. I also pointed out the birdlife. Jay and Joshua remembered the names of some but the other boys were new to birding. They did know the national bird was THE BLUE CRANE – there was a huge flock in a field just outside Caledon. A few minutes after giving them the information I tested them – what is the name of the pass we have just been over, what is the town we have just been through? They gave me some amusing answers – Canada! - for Caledon – Sir Laurie’s pass for Sir Lowry’s – omigosh – hopefully they will get it on the way home!
We left the petrol station at 7:50 and after a splendid 215km drive, arrived at our holiday house at 10:25. Earl and Greg arrived half an hour later, which was not bad going since he was towing a boat and stopped to buy meat.
While we were waiting for the guys to arrive, Jay and Leo walked to the beach and Daniel rode around on one of the bikes. Then again, after they’d helped unpack, they hopped on the bikes and went to explore Struisbaai.
I made ham and avo rolls for lunch, and then Earl and Greg took them for a drive to Agulhas. They made a noisy return at 14:00 and then raced off on their bikes again.
After tea, they all jumped into the back of the Hi-Lux and Earl took them to the dunes where they clearly had a ball. While they were gone, I prepared the braai salads and then went to the shop to get the boys a pack of cards, drawing books, crayons, pencils, and more juices for tomorrow.
We braaied steak, chops and sausage and the kids ate like the growing boys they are! After supper, they set up their beds and after a bit of hi-jinks we all sat down and watched Strictly Come Dancing on T.V!
We got up at half past eight this morning. Earl said it was not a good day for fishing so we should take the boys to de Hoop. He set about making a delicious breakfast of scrambled eggs, tomato, bacon and banana on toast and by 9:30, we were packed and ready to go. “You would never get my family out of the house so quickly,” Daniel pipe up. “We always take hours to get ready!”
Welcome to our life, Danny boy!
The rain held off and it was a pleasant drive to the reserve. On the way, we saw blue crane, one or two jackal buzzards, a few grey and black headed herons, pied starlings, common fiscals, bokmakieries, canaries and weavers. In one farm field, we saw flocks of Egyptian and Spur wing geese interspersed with grey herons and pied starlings. The boys did not know much about birds but they showed a great deal of interest. We also spotted a number of yellow mongooses in the farmlands.
As we entered the park, we spotted three ospreys flying overhead. We concluded that they must have been a male and female with their fledgling. We also saw a black sparrow hawk but could not get good photographs of any of these birds. The first buck we saw were bontebok of which there are many in the park. Koppie Allen was our first stop and we took a walk down to the beach. The boys were thrilled to see an accessible sand dune and raced up to play on it. Greg, Earl and I continued to the beach and explored the rocks before the boys came to join us. Two beautiful African Black Oystercatchers sunned themselves on a rock and I saw Cape weavers in the dune vegetation as well as a prinia and some bulbuls. After examining the life in the rock pools and some scrambling over rocks we made our way back. The boys ran ahead and as it was low tide discovered the cave! The adults left them to play, climbed up to the outlook, and scanned the bay for whales – luck was with us and we observed three frolicking happily in the bay.
I had to go back to drag the boys away from their ‘strandloper’ cave and they were quite disappointed when I explained that nobody would have lived in a cave that the tide washed into on a daily basis. However, I said, they probably used it as a daytime shelter. That consoled them.
By this time, it was after one and all the activity had stimulated the young appetites and so we headed for the restaurant which has been up and running for a year now. As we arrived, I noticed some unusual looking buck and made Earl do a u-turn to check them out. They were eland – lovely to see as they are not very common.
The menu did not indicate anything appealing for kids and so I suggested they go for a mussel starter – but the faces said it all – they wanted junk food! Fortunately, the friendly owner noticed and said, what do you want for lunch? “Hamburgers!” came the reply. The waitress said – “he is not the waiter – hasn’t your mother taught you not to talk to strangers? We have pizza – what kind would you like? “ The faces lit up and in unison they all said, “Hawaiian” Except Jay – he dithered as he really loves mussels but in the end he couldn’t resist what the others had chosen. Greg doesn’t eat mussels but Earl and I decided to have a starter portion each, and we all had the cob with a mild curry sauce and vegetables. I knew that Jay and Josh would help me with the mussels but ended up having only one as the other two decided that they looked two delicious to miss! Next time I will insist that they have ‘proper’ food and skip the kids’ pizza – if there is a next time!
After lunch the weather turned for the worse and it poured all the way home. We’d heard that it had been stormy and miserable in Cape Town all day so we were not surprised that it had caught up with us too. I hope that tomorrow will clear up because these boys are dying to fish.
Once home they played cards for a while then got itchy feet and jumped onto the bikes and rode to the harbour. They returned begging to go back to fish off the harbour wall but they did not have the right tackle.
Earl and Greg went to get two pizzas for supper and together with the left over ones from lunch this is what we had for supper. We went to bed at 8:30 leaving the boys to watch a bit of television. It was late before they finally quietened down and went to sleep!
MONDAY, 13 JULY 2009
We woke up to the sound of pelting rain at half past seven this morning. Oh no – a wet and cold day – what will we do now? We roused everybody (they only got to bed at 11 o’clock last night), gave them scrambled eggs, kidneys, bacon and mushrooms for breakfast then set off to the Maritime Museum in Bredasdorp. After exploring its every nook and cranny and resisting the temptation to touch the fascinating exhibits and to climb onto ox-wagons, old hearses and ancient fire trucks we did some shopping at the Spar and returned to Struisbaai. The sun was shining in Bredasdorp but as we got closer to Struisbaai, the weather got worse. It poured and so boat fishing was out of the question. Undaunted the intrepid anglers, equipped with new hooks and frozen bait made their way to the harbour and spent a cold and wet hour casting their lines – but no luck. They radioed Captain Grandpa to fetch them and returned wet and bedraggled.
They changed into dry clothes and then played cards, did a few charades and then hopped on the bikes and raced off as soon as the sun peeped out again.
Earl, Greg and I prepared a curry for supper and it is bubbling on the stove in its big black pot as I write. A landscaper came and measured up and gave us a quote to fix our lawn, plant a rockery and some other indigenous plants in our garden. The boys came back from riding just as he left and Earl and Greg piled them into the Caravelle and they’ve gone off to climb to the top of the Agulhas lighthouse, while I have a couple of hours to relax!
The returned with stories of what fun they had. They climbed to the top of the lighthouse then went to the southernmost point where Greg took photographs to prove that it happened!

Last night we told the boys to go to bed straight after “Survivor” but we heard them until much later than that. This morning I found that they had not gone to their beds at all but had slept on the couches in the lounge and Jay had passed out on the Lazy Boy! They all declared that they’d slept very well thank you. Greg said he’d encouraged them to go to their own bed but they’d refused! Boys!
It was freezing when Earl got up to check the weather at half past seven. The rain had gone and the sea was calm so he rallied the lads and whipped up another stunning breakfast, which they quickly wolfed down, and off they went. I, the chief cook and bottle washer, only got out of bed once they’d left and quickly tidied up. I took a load of wet and sandy clothes to the laundry, picked up a few supplies and then returned to relax and read my book! No sooner had I sat down to do this diary when the cell sang out and it was Earl to tell me – “Daniel caught lunch – a lovely big red roman!” Well done, Danny!
They returned at 2 o’clock and I went to the harbour to meet them and take photographs. There was a slight mishap when the Toyota was stuck in the mud as Greg tried to pull the boat out of the water. They had to take the boat off again. Luckily, there was a chap with a 4x4 at the harbour and he kindly towed Earl out using the anchor rope! Greg had wanted to use the other slipway but Earl thought it would be okay. So they had to go to plan A, anyway!
The boys all caught fish, some being sharks which they threw back. After the boat was washed and the fish cleaned, Earl fried their catch and they ate with relish! Daniel was particularly proud to be eating fish that he caught himself.
After lunch, Greg dropped them at the dunes where they built ‘forts’ and ‘bases’. There is no keeping them still while the sun is shining. They told Greg to fetch them at 6 o’clock. But at quarter to six, they phoned to say, “Please can we stay until 7 o’clock.” Greg and Earl were already on their way to the shop and to collect the intrepid explorers, but when they arrived they allowed them to play a little longer. Jay forgot to appreciate the privilege and tried to hide when Earl called them to get into the bakkie. To teach him a lesson he left without him and made him walk for quite a while. He was very upset when he arrived home. It was his own fault but he couldn’t see it that way. I told him that he should think about it and reminded him that his grandfather and I had warned him several times about his attitude. It didn’t take long for him to get over it and he was soon back with the group enjoying every minute of the rest of the evenings activities – singing in front of the fire, playing soccer in the dark and performing in front of the adults after supper. They decided once again to sleep in the lounge and we heard the chatting continue to well after 10 o’clock.
Another ‘Early’ breakfast had everybody out of bed, dressed, and ready for another action-filled day. It was too windy to go to sea so we decided to take a drive to Arniston. On the way, we looked out for interesting birds and wild life, being particular hopeful of spotting a Denham’s bustard of two. We were in luck! We spotted springbok, yellow mongoose, grysbok, guinea fowl in flocks of over 50 each, weavers, bokmakieries, stonechats, Cape sparrows, grey herons, black headed herons, hadedas, sacred ibis, cattle egrets, little egrets, blacksmith lapwings, crowned lapwings and many other common birds. I encouraged everybody to look out for the bustard when suddenly I spotted a small flock of blue crane and at a distance in the same field more than 20 Denham bustards dotted about. We have seen these birds before but never so many all together. I checked the bird book and it did mention that they are seen in either pairs or small flocks. This is by far the biggest flock I have ever seen.
We drove around Arniston and then took the boys to the big sand dune near the famous cave. We did not end up exploring the cave as the dune was a great attraction and they spent a couple of happy hours running up and down and rolling in the sand. Greg walked to the cave but as it was so cold I decided to stay in the car and read my book.
We got back at lunchtime, gave the boys rolls and left over steak and fish from yesterdays meals and as soon as they were finished, they raced off to the harbour with their fishing rods. Earl and Greg joined them an hour or so later.
While I had the house free I did a quick clean up of the cesspit they called their bedroom. I unearthed wet towels, discarded underwear, damp fishing clothes and smelly socks. I folded the sleeping bags, swept the beach from the floor and hung up the wet things.
The car, too, needed a spring-clean so I did a rubbish removal and sand excavation from there too. Nobody noticed but it made me feel better
At 4 o’clock they returned from the harbour and immediately left with Earl and Greg to go ‘real’ fishing down the big beach.
They had fun trying to catch fish at the big beach and when they got back, they got on their bikes and went to the harbour again. Daniel hurt his foot and he and Josh came back and had a bath. In the mean time, Jay and Leo found that there were some ‘big’ small fish in the harbour. Jay came back to fetch a bucket and encouraged Josh and Dan to return to the harbour. They did - in their pyjamas! At quarter to seven, we sent Greg to fetch them! Belinda phoned to speak to Leo. I had to explain that we’d lost her son! She didn’t believe me until I explained that the boys refused to come home!
For supper we had ribs, chops, sausage, sweet potatoes, butternut, cauliflower and broccoli.
16 JULY 2009
The weather was beautiful today. There was no wind and the sky was sparkling blue. Earl and Greg took the boys to sea with the intention of returning before 12. But they enjoyed themselves so much that they stayed out until half past two. Jay caught the biggest fish – a red roman, Earl caught a smaller one and a white stump. Joshua caught two small Hottentots and they all caught sharks and barble.
While they were at sea, I packed up as much as I could, swept the house, went to refuel and went to the supermarket to replenish the snacks.
We left Struisbaai at half past four and took the dirt road to Kleinbaai. Some parts were pocked with potholes, others were slippery after the rains, and I found I really had to concentrate on my driving.
Our house is a double storey with a stunning view of the sea. The boys have to share a room with one double bed and a single mattress. Earl and I have a double room with en suite bathroom, Michael Pulcella and Greg are sharing a room and Gus and Jacky have the other double room upstairs next to ours with a separate entrance to the bathroom. The open plan kitchen/lounge/dining room is also upstairs.
After a delicious supper of steak, chops, sausage, sweet potato and salad the boys, still full of unrestrained energy engaged in a raucous pillow fight. I warned, “Boys, this will end in tears!” and not five minutes later one was crying because another had roughly tangled his head in a pillowslip. I calmed them down, gave them hot chocolate, and encouraged them to settle down for the night. It was after 9 o’clock and it didn’t take long for silence to rein as they drifted off to probably dream of the big one jumping onto their lines.
Mike Pulcella is part of the team that will fish in the competition. Earl can only take six on the boat and so the boys had to decide which two would stay behind today. Jay is in the league so he will get to fish in the competition so he and Leo decided to let the younger two go today.
The beautiful still, clear skies almost fooled us into thinking it would be a warm morning. The chill bit into one’s bones the minute one left the cosiness of the duvet. Earl warmed us up with his now famous scrambled eggs etc and the anglers went off to seek their quota. While I went to Gansbaai to shop, Jay and Leo went off to explore the rock pools, which are right opposite our house. I was gone less than an hour but they did not give up their pursuit of the klipvis until half past one. I popped across to see how they were doing and they proudly showed me their catch safely preserved in a zip-lock bag! They were disappointed when I explained that their pets would have to be released before they came home.
Meanwhile at sea, the anglers saw great white sharks leap out of the sea next to the shark boats. They also observed whales breaching right next to the boat. As if that were not thrill enough, they also had their adrenaline rush when they all caught some impressive red roman and stump. Daniel also caught an octopus.
After cleaning the boat and having something to eat, they went off on their bikes, played cards and went off on their bikes again. My only rule is – no running in the house – but even that is disobeyed!
Jacky and Gus arrived just after 7 o’clock and we had fried fish for supper. The boys got up to high jinks again but soon settled down after a cup of hot chocolate and some stern words from ‘grand dragon’
SATURDAY 18 JULY 2009-07-18
The men and Jay were all up by 6 o’clock. Earl made them breakfast and Jacky kindly packed some sandwiches, fruit, biscuits and juice. The other three boys and I surfaced at 8 o’clock and they settled for coco pops for breakfast. They played with Carla for a while then went off to the rock pools while we went to shop at Kleinbaai. We treated ourselves to coffee and cake at the local coffee shop and had fun chatting to the “camp” owner of the establishment. He is about to give it up to start a seafood restaurant near the harbour.
After giving the boys hot dogs for lunch we went down to the rock pools and watched them and Carla having a great time investigating the marine wildlife. The boys used rocks to build a dam and trap their fish.
In the meantime, the anglers were having a successful day at sea. Jay caught his quota of species and got a junior 3kg line record a red-stump of 4.3kg. Mike set up a new S.A. record on 2kg line with a stump of 4.5kg and the others got some good fish. All this was thanks to Daniel’s sea cat which they used as bait. In competition, the anglers have to catch as many species as they can. Each species has a limit on the number allowed per angler so they have to choose when to release and when to keep. Jay caught a good-sized roman and decided to keep it. Later he caught bigger ones but had to release them.
We went to the club to watch the weigh-in and stayed to have a drink and a sandwich. Earl was super proud of Jay and of his whole team but we won’t know the results for some time.
On the way home I dropped the boys at the pools so they could show Jay their dam. Josh and Daniel returned some time later with the latter in tears. Jay had thrown a rock which hit his ankle. It swelled up and I treated it with ice and voltarin ointment and hoped for the best. He made a miraculous recovery and after another great braai was soon in the thick of a play-fight with Earl and the other boys. They all got their pyjamas twisted into straitjacket but after a great deal of hi-jinks and hilarity and further accusations of this one is hurting that one, I sent them off to bed and it wasn’t long before silence reigned supreme.
The anglers ate a cooked breakfast and left later than expected at 8 o’clock this morning. The rest of us were out of bed and breakfasted by half past nine. The boys went down to the rock pools but returned and played cards and entertained Carla for a while. At 11 o’clock, we all piled into the Caravelle and headed to Hermanus where we watched the whales perform for the tourists. It’s as if they know they are being watched. The waterfront at Hermanus is lovely with rolling lawns, pavement cafes and buskers performing African music. We watched breaching whales for a while then went to Fusion for lunch. The boys had the most amazing beef hamburgers topped with onions deep-fried in batter. Jacky and I shared a vegetarian nacho. It was delicious!
After lunch, we went to the street market and the boys spent their pocket money on trinkets for their moms, dads and siblings. Joshua got himself two caps – U.K. and Arsenal. After Daniel had spent money on each member of his large family, he said, “Gee this has cost quite a lot. It must be expensive for my parents to look after all of us!” Yes, indeed, Daniel – glad you appreciate it!
Lines up was at 3 o’clock and we got back just in time to have a cup of tea before going to the weigh in at the boat club. Team Kiora did quite well but did not catch as much as they did yesterday. Jay was disappointed that he’d missed the market and was envious of the African Stick Game that Leo had bought. I told him that privilege was being old enough to fish with men! He told me of his adventure with the whales today. “Granny, this Minky whale circled the boat and then popped up and said woof right next to my ear! I got such a fright!”
After the weigh in Jacky and I took the kids to the rock pools. It was a perfect evening. It never ceases to amaze me how the weather can change from freezing to hot from one day to the next. Today was the first day this week that I wore a t-shirt!
Mike left for Cape Town at about 6 o’clock and Gus and Jacky a little later. Earl and I decided that it would be better to leave early tomorrow morning. I asked Leo and Daniel how they’d feel about another night away from home. Leo said, “No problem, but my mom will probably be upset because she’s missing me.” A few days ago after talking to his mom on the phone Daniel said, “My mom’s voice sounded strange. I think she was trying not to cry. Poor mom, she misses me so much!” So his response was, “I’m fine with another night away but I know my mother will be very upset. She hates to be away from me.” I phoned the moms and Leo’s mom Belinda said she’d rather we left in the morning as it would be safer. Daniel’s mom said, “Daniel is just like his dad. They both think I can’t live without them. Please tell my son I’ll cope.”
“Daniel, mom says she’s happy for you to stay another night.”
“She’s just been brave. As soon as she puts the phone down, she’ll be in tears.”
Dream on my boy!
Greg wrapped a red roman in foil and cooked it on the braai, I warmed up some left over vegetables and made a salad and that was supper.
The boys entertained us with jokes, songs and poems and ended the evening by making a movie with Earl’s cell phone! However, they obeyed without too much of an argument when I insisted on calmness and sent them to bed. I think they have finally worn out!
We got up at 5 o’clock, packed and after a breakfast of coffee/hot chocolate and Ouma rusks were ready to leave by quarter to seven this morning. The men and the boys had to strap the bicycles to the trailer by torch light, as the house has no garage or outside light!
Jay prayed for a safe journey and all went well until we were just 40 km from Kleinbaai. I was travelling behind Earl and Greg and saw the boat swerve. I slowed but did not manage to avoid one of the cement bricks fallen from a truck right in my path. Gadoof, my right wheel hit the brick and I heard a hiss as my tire blew out. Fortunately there was space on the shoulder of the road and I pulled over immediately. Two other cars had met with the same fete before me. I phoned Earl and he had to find a safe place to leave the boat before he could come back to help. Greg stayed with Kiora.
The Caravel has a special implement to unlock the wheel nut before one can change the tires. Murphy ensured that ours did a little disappearing act and Earl thought it might have been left in Durban where we had 4 tyres fitted in December. He raced off to Hermanus to see if he could obtain another one. After a long wait, I decided to tidy the luggage in the boot. I moved one item and said gadget magically reappeared. At that moment, Earl returned with a mechanic who had not been unable to find what we needed and had come with a selection of objects that might do the trick. None of them would have worked so thankfully I found our tool!
This delayed us by two hours but once we were on the road again the trip went smoothly. This time Daniel said a prayer and made sure to ask that no more punctures would occur!
I was impressed to note that they remembered the name of “Sir Lowry’s Pass”.
The boys kept asking whether they would have to go to school. I gave them the choice and there was great debate as to whether or not they would go. The pros were that they would see their friends and get to choose new groups to sit with. The cons – they were tired and unwashed and Dan and Leo didn’t have their uniforms. In the end they compromised – didn’t actually go to school but went to the fence at break and chatted to some of the kids

Jay scored 1000 points on Saturday and Sunday in the junior section of the competition and ended up 13th out of the 80 or so contestants. He was 2nd top junior. This is amazing, as he has only fished in two legs out of the five fished.
Earl is lying 10th, Mike Pulcella is 11th, Greg is 19th and Gus 21st. Greg and Gus have only fished two legs of the competition.
Kiora was top boat on Saturday having scored 1000 points and is lying 5th overall after only fishing two legs. The other legs were fished on Greg Morrison’s boat, Devenish.
There is one more leg to be fished. Good luck, guys!

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