Boatsheds to Battlefields 18 Taking Command

I would like to thank the photographers and the passionate people who have given me access to photographs from the late 1800s and early 1900s for bringing my grandfather’s story to life.

End of 17th Entry:  “Come aft and tell me how I must steer to get on the bank.” Quickly working his way back the eager youngster looked shorewards.

“Look at Bartholomew’s Cross,” said the Skipper “Got it?”

“Yes” answered the boy, his eyes on a long straight cleft in a granite cliff below the Lion’s Head. Across this perpendicular crack was a horizontal cut which tradition asserted had been worked out by the Portuguese sailors of Bartholomew Dias.

Image result for Bartholomew's Dias South Africa Cross

“Now Mick take the top chimney of the Queen’s Hotel and get the line just tell me how to steer Port or Starboard.”

Image result for Queen's hotel Cape Town 1910

Wildly excited Mick began to issue his orders “Port a little – Oh! they’re going further from each other, Starboard a little! Starboard! Oh! More yet.”

Can’t be done Sonny, the boat won’t sail against the wind – we’ll have to beat out a bit further until we’re to windward of the imaginary straight line between those bearings and then come about and run down so I’ll keep on as I’m doing until we’re crossed that line – Now look back towards Cape Town and get the Three Anchor Bay Dutch Church spine in line with the signal station.”

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Three Anchor Bay Dutch Church

Image result for signal station cape town south africa 1910

CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA ~ SIGNAL STATION ON SIGNAL HILL ~ c. 1904

“They are slowly coming into line as we’re going Skipper.”

That’s alright then – that bearing will give us the distance the bank is from the shore, the other the whereabouts of the bank and the cross bearing the exact spot.”

“We’re almost right with the Three Anchor Bay bearing.”

“Yes, but we’ll carry on until past the other, lower sail and drift or row down on to the bank.”

A little later Mick shouted – “We’re cutting the imaginary line now!”

“All right! Standby to lower” as the crew scrambled to their stations the Skipper put the boat into the wind and at the shout “Lower away!” down came the sail, out went the sprit, the shaking threshing canvas of fore and mainsail was smothered and furled the mast unstepped and the oars out.

“Oh! we’ve drifted past the one bearing”, cried Mick.

“Pull up Jack! Pull quickly! Koos”.

“Steady Youngster! Keep your head and don’t get flurried, come take the tiller and take command.”

Shivering with nervousness the boy obeyed, a roar from Jack as swinging broadside on the boat skipped a nasty bit of sea most of which got Jack terrified the lad, but putting his weight against the tiller, he brought her head on again – aided by a couple of hard strokes from one of the Port oars.

“Pull yourself together Youngster, don’t try and capsize us”, laughed the Skipper and gradually gaining confidence Mick after a mistake or two got the idea of steering and cross-bearing, “Pull her up a bit to allow for the anchor slack Kid – right – drop anchor now. We won’t worry about the bank testing.”

“Standby to drop anchor!” piped the childish treble “Pull her up a bit more. Come on Koos, you’re loafing! Pull! Let go Jack!” and over splashed the stone.

“Smartly done me, lad! Smartly done!” said the Skipper laughing as he dropped his line overboard.

2 thoughts on “Boatsheds to Battlefields 18 Taking Command

  1. Wow, what an awesome experience it must have been for the kid ……… lessons which can’t be taught in a classroom or from a book. I echo your acknowledgement and thanks to the photographers and the passionate people who have given you access to photographs from the late 1800s and early 1900s to bring your grandfather’s story to life.

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