Experience a True Boarding Party

Nautical terms can be confusing. If you are a land-lubber – and that’s not a disparaging term, given that the bulk of humanity lives inland – then the language that accompanies trips aboard boats can be tricky to follow. Take sheets. At home these are big square pieces of cloth that are draped over beds; so it seems likely that aboard a yacht ‘sheets’ would be sails. Nope; they are ropes, cables or chains that are attached to the lower corners of sails. Except they aren’t called corners – they are called ‘clews’. And while we are on sails, did you know that submarines have sails too? Except these are not big canvas sails to mysteriously pull the sub along underwater: they are the large tower-like structures on the topside of the sub that holds the periscopes.

One of the more eyebrow sailing raising terms that give confusion is the ‘poop deck’. It’s not what you think: that particular bodily function is catered for in…the heads. The poop deck is actually named for the French la poupe, which means stern. Not stern as in ‘serious’, but stern as in rear or, more accurately at sea, aft. You see what we mean about confusing. The poop deck used to be the control area of ships, where captains and officers stood and ordered their crews up and down the ratlines between the shrouds to set the yards, clapped telescopes to their eyes and if they were Admiral Nelson, exclaimed “I see no ships!” leading to a great victory at Trafalgar. The ‘heads’ referred to above are the latrines aboard ships, for the simple reason that the captains on the poop decks wanted them to be as far away as possible from where he stood, so in the days of tall ships, they projected from the bow. Oh, that’s ‘bow’ as in ‘cow’ – the sharp end of the boat, not in ‘flow’ which is something that shoots arrows. But you knew that.

"Would'st thou,"—so the helmsman answered,
"Learn the secret of the sea?”

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow; The Secret of the Sea

At Waterfront Charters there are a couple of nautical terms that we think all land-lubbers should become acquainted with. We’ll get to them in a minute; first, let us propose the perfect opportunity to use them. You have an upcoming event. A party, perhaps, or corporate launch. A soirée with a difference is what you have in mind - you are tired of the clichéd venues that are the first choice of every person or company that wants to entertain. If it’s a private event, you shudder at the thought of fifty of your closest friends thronging your house; sure, it’s intimate, but the clean-up afterwards…not to mention the preparation. Corporate launches: the big room with closed curtains has been done to death.

Here’s the answer: go down to the sea again, the lonely sea and the sky. Board a pre-chartered Waterfront Charters luxury yacht. Welcome your guests as they step aboard. Get the skipper to raise the gangplank and set the tiller for points distant. Leave the rest to us. Nature provides the perfect venue with constantly changing views of the magnificent Cape coastline and mountains. The entertainment can be provided by a top DJ, or you can listen to the soft sounds of water on the hull, sail flapping in the breeze and seagulls calling above you. Extra guests in the form of pods of dolphins, basking sunfish, penguins and perhaps even whales don’t require extra catering, which, by the way, we handle as well.

You can be adventurous aboard Serenity One, a sailing catamaran, or power along aboard Enigma, propelled by twin diesels. Or – and here’s a thought – for larger groups, charter both vessels and give your guests dual sea-experiences. With comfortable capacities of 50 guests aboard Enigma and 40 aboard Serenity One, the permutations are endless. We can note with a smile at this point that we have had charters of precisely two people before: the ultimate in a private adventure. Chartering a luxury vessel is easy, extremely affordable and probably the last word in venues. Our crews are professional, and we have a range of add-on options that can tailor your charter to perfection.

To the two nautical terms we’d like to teach all our guests. Firstly, when the skipper looks up, nods and says, “The sun is over the yardarm,” it’s time celebrate. Traditionally this was the thirsty time of day that the sun was heading for the horizon – over the yardarm, the spar from which the mainsail was suspended. This is followed by phrase number two: “Splice the mainbrace!” This command meant the ladling out of the daily rum ration, a happy tradition that lasted right up to 1970 in the Royal Navy. The name stemmed from the extremely difficult task of splicing together the longest line (rope, remember) in the running rigging aboard a ship. A broken mainbrace meant no control, and so it had to fixed immediately, often under fire or in a storm. The deckhands who managed that – regardless of the time of day or night – received an extra ration of grog. Eventually they just cut out the middle bit, the actual splicing, and went straight to the grog. Difficult to fault that logic.

Join us aboard a luxury catamaran and believe us, when the sun is over the yardarm, the mainbrace is spliced and the party’s grooving, you’ll be very, very happy you did.

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