Basking Questions?

‘I never was on the dull, tame shore,
But I loved the great sea more and more.’

The Sea; Bryan Waller Proctor, 1844

‘Basking’ is a word that lends itself to a Waterfront Charters cruise. To quote an eminent dictionary, Basking – verb: ‘to lie exposed to warmth and light, typically from the sun, for relaxation and pleasure.’ We might expand the definition slightly by adding that you don’t necessarily have to lie down to bask: aboard our luxurious boats you can stand, sit or lie on a handy trampoline (or bowsprit) – just so long as you are experiencing relaxation and pleasure, we don’t mind what posture you adopt.

Waterfront Charters are currently in the enviable position – relaxation wise – of being allowed to operate our vessels and offer a full range of cruising options. While other pleasures are currently denied the population because of Covid-19 level three lockdown regulations, we can continue to provide a much-needed opportunity for stressed locals and visitors alike to just, well, bask. It’s worth emphasising at this point that we don’t take the protocols lightly: the virus has reasserted itself internationally, and it’s foolish people who ignore sensible precautions. But we do believe that with our social distancing measures in place (we have reduced passenger numbers by over 50%) and requesting the wearing of masks we keep our guests protected. Besides – the environment we take you into could not be more health conducive: fresh ocean breezes, far away from the enclosed spaces landlubbers are subject to.

The word ‘bask’ was recently brought to mind by a happy sighting from one of our Atlantic cruises. A group of fascinated guests were absolutely awestruck when they drifted past a Cetorhinus maximus recently. More commonly known as a basking shark, these behemoths are yet another of the incredible sea creatures that inhabit our two Cape oceans. A video of this particular event is punctuated with bilingual expressions of amazement at the sight of this huge denizen, basking (there’s a hint as to its common name) just below the surface of Table Bay. Some of the bilingual expressions were emphatically punctuated by equally bilingual profanity, so viewing the clip has a ‘Parental Guidance (Strong Language)’ caveat, but the viewers can be excused. It’s not often you come across a lazy creature that makes Jaws look like a minnow.

Basking sharks are big. They are the second largest shark in the oceans, after the whale shark, and regularly reach lengths of 8 to 12 metres. When the shark you are observing is almost the length of your luxury catamaran, you tend to take a step back from the gunwales and hold on to something substantial, like a mast or the skipper of the boat. But for all their bulk – 6 tons is an average – basking sharks are absolutely harmless. As the skipper of the Enigma can be heard saying, they are capable of giving you an uncomfortable suck, but a bite is more or less out of the question. Unlike other members of the Chondrichthyes family – the Great white Shark springs to mind – they have tiny teeth, a few rows of gnashers only 5mm in length, which are used as filters rather than flesh-rending implements of destruction. As an aside. they are cousins to the diminutive dogfish that also occupy our waters – the dogfish not only looks like a miniature shark, it actually is a member of the shark family.

The main problem a basking shark has is the fact that it looks very similar to the aforementioned Great White, so boaters and bathers do tend to avoid contact. It’s a mistake you would only make once, swimming up to a Great White and attempting to bask with it. The best way to differentiate a Basking Shark from a Great White (for amateurs – we exclude our ichthyologist friends) is their speed. At full throttle a Basking shark might nudge 3 knots, about 4 kph. A Great White can nudge its speedometer over 40 kph, which is faster than most cruise boats. No contest, then. Basking sharks are also, you won’t be surprised to hear, lazy. The main reason our skippers can identify them so easily is the fact that they don’t make any effort to avoid our boats; in fact they’ll float around, giving wide-eyed guests the opportunity to wax profane for the camera.

The oceans surrounding our peninsula: an incredible place to spend as much time as possible. Waterfront Charters live on and love the sea; our passion for all things nautical, above and below the waterline, is what drives us. Join us for any of our scheduled cruises or, and this makes enormous sense during a time when gatherings on land are banned, charter any of our luxurious boats for your own private function, party or celebration. Lockdown can be sidestepped legally, and by keeping your numbers to the acceptable capacity of the chosen boat, you can still enjoy any occasion that might arise during these tough times.

All details on the website, or call our office to chat about arrangements. We look forward to helping you bask on the beautiful Atlantic Ocean, friends and family at hand.