A lifetime ago,when Yellowtail still swam all the way up the channels to Churchaven to spawn,this truly remarkable event took place in the very waters inhabited by swarms of fish and other sea-creatures.This was a time when flights of black Cormorants blended into one continuous fly-past,stretching all the way from their nesting sites on the marshes near Geelbek,along the shoreline past Churchaven,past Postberg towards the
bay past Donkergat and Salamander Bay,untill they turned towards the West and the Atlantic ocean and their fishing grounds.
It was on such a morning that Oom Andries and his son,Boeta set sail from Langebaan,their destination Chuchaven.It was election time and Oom
Andries was responsible for the registration of voters for the United Party
of Fieldmarshall Jan Smuts and the good people living at Churchaven were
potential voters(in those days Coloured South Africans could still vote in the elections for an all-white government)and Oom Andries had to solicit
their votes for the Nats was threatening to abolish the coloured vote should they win the election.Oom Andries,therefore,was on a mission of national importance.
In those days,one had to plan one's excursions up the lagoon with meticulous detail.The rise and fall of the tides and the direction from which the wind blew,determined whether one could reach Churchaven,
drop one's passenger on the sandbar which was a short wade from the shore at the settlement,return to Langebaan to attend to some serious
interaction with cold beverages at the Panoramic Hotel and sail back to Churchaven in time to meet one's father before the turn of the tide.
On this particular day,all went well at both sides of the lagoon.Oom Andries's mission was so successful,that he accepted an invitation from the village elder to partake in some liquid refreshment decanted from a fresh cask received from the Paarl that very morning.At Langebaan,Boeta was holding his own against the resident Nat(the opposition)and like a true
Sap(member of United Party),he was not going to relinquish his seat until the opposition either threw in the towel or passed out.What made him remember about having to fetch Oom Andries,was a matter many speculated about long after that day.
Oom Andries,well-prepared for the return journey by the hospitality of the village elder,his brothers and the cask,was back where he was to meet his boatride home.On the sandbar,through the shallows,opposite Churchaven.Boeta,already in the boat,sail set,was doing his best to convince the resident Nat that he had every intention to resume the argument as soon as he and his father returned from Churhaven.By the time he left the wind had shifted and the downwind run became a nightmare of tacks which became more difficult the further he sailed into the shallow water and narrow channels of the lagoon towards his destination.
Oom Andries,fortified by both his confidence in Boeta and his sense of well-being following his session at the cask,only became slightly concerned when he discovered that the satchel hanging from his shoulder was in danger of being drenched by the swiftly rising tide.He became"a bit
worried" when his waist disappeared under the swirling water,he later reported.Oom Andries knew he could not return to the village shore,because the shallows he had earlier waded through,was now a raging torrent and much deeper than he was tall.Still,he did not panic,he knew Boeta would arrive within minutes,although,for the love of him, he could not spot a sail.He started rueing the day he had decided that real men did not learn to swim if the knew how to sail a boat,but he was a Bloedsap and moved the satchel so that it rested on his hat.
Boeta was rather fortunate to spot Oom Andries in the dark.He believed an angel from heaven had cast a moonbeam in the direction of Oom Andries's satchel's copper clasp and it was this reflection which caught his eye and caused him to steer in that direction.By then the tide had reached its high-water mark-Oom Andries's moustache.
What followed, is history.Jan Smuts lost the election,D.F.Malan won and the forty-four year drought began.Oom Andries and Boeta,however,were the toast of the town for decades to come.Their dedication to the task at hand,be it the canvassing of votes at the risk of dear life,or the strength of character not to give up on the task of drinking a political opponent into submission,were admired by all the regulars at the Panoramic and emulated by those who needed an excuse for a night out
with the boys.
Was it coincidence that not long after this event, Mr Marra's seine threatened to tear, due to the weight of the Yellowtail trapped inside,while being dragged on to the beach at Churchaven?
No man is an Island...