Cape Town International Boat Show! : By Andy Selfe
It was Waterfront Port Captain Steven Bentley's idea to make the most of the expected 20 000 visitors to the event over Heritage Weekend, 24th to 26th September 2011, by giving us a prime position at the 'Knuckle', next to Elliot, the Coca-Cola man.
Although we had people on standby for the Friday of the Boat Show, owing to a glitch, we were only moved to the Knuckle on Saturday morning. By that stage, as a result of meticulous planning, we were established on the quay with trucks, generator, welder, plasma cutter, and for the General Public, a tent with displays, apples, wine and grape juice (to give away to generous Donors!), a raffle, and a collection box! Danie van Rooyen had a small Stationary Engine puttering away all day, which certainly attracted interest!
In order to show that we were very busy with the dismantling of the boat, we set ourselves the task of making sure the cutting we had done in preparation to lifting off the superstructure, was in fact complete. We had Johannes Uys from Machine Moving & Engineering who is doing the lifting for us, there to advise us. We had pre-made brackets to bolt onto the walls of the superstructure, under which we could place 30-tonne jacks, in turn on wooden planks to make sure we didn't spoil the deck planking.
In the event, the plasma cutter gave trouble, but we had back-up oxy-acetylene equipment to cut through the last troublesome places which we had missed before, or where the molten metal had fused together again.
Meanwhile, our PR people were engaging with the interested public and squeezing money and information out of them! An example was meeting Mr John Morton, who owned at a time SJ Harrison, one of our sister-ships, now dieselised and last heard of in Angolan waters. He experienced exactly the same problems as Maritime Museum and Pip Lorenz when trying to make Alwyn Vintcent into a paying, working attraction under Steam: too many staff, too little passenger accommodation with no cover for them during inclement weather. It was even more interesting to hear from him that his father once owned 'HMS Toutou', which along with 'Mimi', was transported to and served on Lake Tanganyika during World War I. The story is described in detail in Charles Miller's account of the legendary Colonel Von Lettow-Vorbeck's campaign, 'Battle for the Bundu'.
The malfunction of the plasma cutter certainly retarded our progress, but by the time we packed up after dark, there was only a section in the lamp locker at the top of the fo'c's'tle steps to free off. We fitted steel plates, bolted across the cut line, for safety, because now the superstructure, particularly the engine room, is loose.
Some of the same team, assisted by others, arrived on Sunday. There was no actual work going on on the vessel, but the PR operation continued. More tickets were sold for the raffle, a braai in the shape of a tug, made by Eniel Viljoen, our chairman. This will be drawn at the Villiersdorp Agricultural Show on 14th and 15th October. Before packing up, all doors were locked and again welded closed.
We are not sure of the actual numbers of visitors. The rugby certainly had an effect, a point we were reminded of by the clever Patriotic 'new-look' of the Clock Tower, seen here from our perspective, over Chavonnes Battery!
The weather could not have been more pleasant, clear and not too hot. In the evening, Captain Bentley took us around the Marina in an inflatable. It was sobering to hear from him how much the Waterfront Administration is writing off on our behalf for mooring; R35 per metre, per day! We will forever be appreciative of this daily 'gift'.
The Fishing Fleet was looking immaculate over the water, ready for their Blessing of the Fleet the following weekend:
We were lucky that they were present the following weekend, because Port Captain Bentley received several calls from them, saying Alwyn Vintcent was lying seriously down at the stern. He reacted immediately to find the Fishermen already helping, as he describes:
The AV hung her starboard rubbing strake on a tyre fender on Saturday morning at about 06h00, under a NW wind. With the falling tide (10h30) she stayed put and heeled over to port, and then dipped her port stern under the water. The Fishermen across the way on East Quay phoned initially that she was sinking stern first.
After my phone call to yourself, I rushed down and met a group of 6 Fisher Skippers and two 4x4 bakkies. They had taken ropes and the two bakkies and attached the AV to the tow bar and were keeping the stern up. The Port sent a launch, and after a strong push amidships the AV rocked off the fender. The port berthing gang then re-secured the mooring lines by tightening the stern and pulling the bow off the quayside. It looked a lot better this morning, and I am satisfied that the AV is suitably secured.
We owe them all a debt of gratitude for intervening!
We expect to be busy for one more full day, cutting the last problem area, as well as cutting the coaming off at the stem and stern to be under the height required to clear the Eskom and Telkom lines on the road.
3rd October 2011