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Written by: Kate Addison

Arriving into Kaapstad: Table Mountain, Lion’s Head, Lion’s Rump: the Cape Town skyline is iconic. Sailing in past False Bay aboard Tall Ship Picton Castle was magnificent – the crew running up aloft to furl sail as we motored the last few miles in light winds, the ship surrounded by an entourage of birds and sea lions.

© Kate Addison

We anchored for the night in Table Bay ready for our morning appointment with the tug boat pilots and finally slipped in past the breakwater to the V&A basin and the city.

© Kate Addison

© Kate Addison

© Kate Addison

We are now tied up right under the Table Bay Hotel. ‘The Best Address in Town’ is their strap-line, and staying practically in their back garden we have to agree.

tallship-Picton-Castle-VnA-Waterfront

© Kate Addison

© Kate Addison

You don’t have to stray far from the ship to have a great time in sunny Cape Town: if you never leave the V&A Waterfront, you’d still come away with a great impression of the city. Shops, restaurants, hotels, sculptures, musicians and street performers: all set between glimmering water and majestic mountains.

And we like to think our tall masts, neatly furled sails and miles of intricate rigging add a certain something to the elegant holiday atmosphere.

© Kate Addison

We’ve been doing some exciting rigging and sailmaking work aboard the ship: removing the heavy wire main stay that supports the main mast and making a new one to replace it; cutting and stitching up bolts of snowy cotton canvas to make brand new sails and sending down yards and a topmast onto the dock for maintenance.

© Kate Addison

© Kate Addison

© Kate Addison

Then there’s always ‘gooping’ to do: tar, paint, pitch, oil, grease and varnish must be applied aloft in the rig, on deck and everywhere else it’s needed – the hardest part of this is not dripping it all over the rest of the ship!

© Kate Addison

© Kate Addison

© Kate Addison

© Kate Addison

But it’s not all work! Highlights for the off-duty watches have included wine tours – especially horse-back wine tasting in Franchhoek – and eating all manner of wonderful food!

horse-riding-Cape-Town

Horse-riding-wine-tasting-Franshoek

© Kate Addison

From sushi and salads to bobotie, boerewors and kingklip and sour aromatic Ethopian injera and wot. I’m having a lovely time sampling the world class restaurants here – though the variety and choice is almost too much for a sailor not used to making food decisions beyond adding ketchup or hot sauce!

And what shall we do with the drunken sailor? We’ll take him to Mitchells of course! It’s a pub and second home of every sailor I’ve met in Cape Town – certainly the Picton Castle crew are right at home here. Then there’s Long Street and the hectic fun of a big night out – if you’re not stiff the next day, then you just didn’t dance enough last night!

© Kate Addison
© Kate Addison

But first: it’s time to scrub up – traditionally sailors have always looked snappy stepping off the gangway on shore leave – and our crew are doing their bit to pay this tradition forwards. The transformation is nothing short of miraculous when the girls swap tarry shorts and grimy T-shirts for pretty dresses and clean hair, and the boys dig up long forgotten shoes and shirts out from the dark corners of sea-chests and under-bunks .

© Kate Addison

In a city as stylish as Cape Town anything less than your Sunday-best feels like you’re letting the side down!

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