Sailing Around A Great Cape, Numbers Gangs and Wheel Spinning.


Jerrican was launched at the Royal Cape Yacht Club on the Atlantic side of the City of Cape Town. We had much to do to get her ready for the 9 to 12 hour trip around the Cape of Good Hope and Cape Point to our home yacht club in Simon’s Town. Temporary floor boards had to be dogged down, carpentry equipment stowed, gas bottles secured and most importantly, a certificate of safety had to be obtained before we could leave port. We were a little disappointed that everything was not “perfect” with the rig “set up”. Our Forstay was a little too long. We would be limited to Main Sail, Stay Sail and motor as movement options. Our weather window arrived on the 30th of December and with some trepidation we set off. This was going to be the first time we would take the boat out to sea, the maiden voyage (think Titanic and that will provide some idea of my irrational anxiety). It all seemed a bit surreal. An old sailing friend, who has 11 Atlantic crossings under his belt offered to sail with us. We were so very grateful.

We left Cape Town harbour at 10am in a beautiful calm. Soon after our departure the expected fesh South Westerly came up and we sprung into action, reefing the main sail and rolling out the stay sail. With a 27 knot South Wester, Jerrican proved herself to be a sailing boat, sailing along at 6 – 7 knots. I glanced over to Jeremy and saw a most satisfied smile.
From here on we settled into the lazy routine of chatting in the cockpit in between excursions below decks for snacks and coffee, and of course trimming sails, sending out a lure to catch fish and just generally enjoying being on the sea. The appealing thing about sharing a journey on a boat is the opportunity to chat and to really get to know fellow crew, (while the weather permits) without the normal distractions of daily life . . . things like, the internet, traffic, radio . . .

Our old sailing friend (OSF) began life in a very dysfunctional and poor family. He was one of a few kids from “disadvantaged” areas who were hauled off to learn how to sail as part of a social upliftment project sponsored by the Mediterranean Shipping Company and the SA Navy. Story has it that he and his brother were on the streets. OSF has used the opportunity to make a career out of sailing. With 11 Atlantic crossings ticked off as part of his sailing log as well as being part of “Team Shosholoza”, the South African America’s Cup entry some years back, at 28 years of age, he is an encyclopedia of boat knowledge.
OSF, during “cockpit conversation” ┬átalked of his current passion, of how he built a Ford engine for a car from scratch and began competing in “Spinning” competitions. The art of “Spinning” involves using a car with a powerful engine to spin wheels around until the they burst into flames. This has become a popular activity amongst a growing community of vehicle specialists and “Spinners” in South Africa. There are “Spinning” clubs and the entire sport is becoming very organized. Our local Southern Peninsula club is known as OVS, the Ocean View Spinners.

OSF also shared some knowledge of the numbers gangs of the Cape. I have a small knowledge of these gangs through a book I read some years back on the subject, but this does not compare with the knowledge that OSF has since he lives in a community where they form part of daily life and daily conversation.
I wonder at the fear so many people must live with, having members living in their communities. 26’s are rapists, 27’s murderers and 28’s are social manipulators and can be anything from an obliging sodomist or a fraudster. OSF has a brother who simply could not transform from life on the streets and is now a member of the 27’s.

There is a long history to the numbers gangs of the Cape.

We rounded the Cape of Good Hope in an unusual calm and arrived at False Bay Yacht Club to a welcoming committee from new yacht club friends S, L and their son who piped us in with bagpipes!! It was a very generous gesture on their part and we felt totally elated. In the ensuing chaos of sound, people and congratulations I turned around to introduce OSF only to find he had quietly slipped away. I am reminded that quiet spoken OSF does not like crowds, preferring the quietness of cockpit conversation at sea.