The Port Owen Yacht Club’s members had been able to sail for a couple of months, under the umbrella of SAS (South African Sailing) and observing the applicable safety regulations. Now came the Opening Cruise. With the Covid-19 outbreak causing us all to adapt our lifestyles, this likewise adapted to different circumstances.

The opening ceremony in the morning was more subdued than usual, with a slightly smaller crowd attending than we are accustomed to. No guest speaker had been invited. The Commodore welcomed those present in a brief speech. Everyone proceeded to the Wall of Remembrance to pay their respects to members who had passed away, observing a minute’s silence. Then the flags were raised: the national flag, the club one, and then those of the flag officers. The club President, Anne du Plessis, then declared the 2020 sailing season open.

The sail-past was held in the river, with the President and Commodore (Derek Robinson) on the holding jetty – the Vice-Commodore (John Scudder) sailed past on his yacht. The yacht crews saluted the Commodore. It was a beautiful day, neither too warm nor too cold, with just a slight wind. The yachts were beautifully dressed, and the mood was festive. This might have had something to do with the bottles of bubbly that were issued to them! The same number of vessels that usually participate, turned out to express their joy that the season had started again.

The customary formal dinner in the evening was replaced by a casual braai, with everyone bringing their own food. A smallish but happy band of people enjoyed a relaxed time together.

We are fortunate in Port Owen that the village in which we stay is relatively isolated and thus the number of known cases of virus infection low. It is thus fairly safe for us to get together, as long as we observe all the sensible precautions. But wow, are we looking forward to a return to normal life!

In the meantime, our sailors are planning to enjoy another happy sailing season in the safe waters of the St Helena Bay.