If you were asking and I was being brutally honest with you a year ago, I would have told you I think rowing across oceans is the most boring idea ever. How wrong I have been thus far and especially this last week. Vasti and I have no nerves left. We’ve used them up before halfway!
Swimming has been a special treat, apart from the exotic location we swim in of course, it is a welcome cooling down when the midday heat rises above 30 degrees. I for one have regularly just jumped overboard between rowing sessions, with not too much concern that something like being separated from the boat and drifting off in opposite directions? Yip, never thought it could happen. Our boat can drift at 1.5 to 2 knots which equates to a manageable 3.5km an hour. A speed I can easily swim at.
This Tuesday lunchtime we decided we both were going to swim. Of course after the other for safety reasons. Vasti swam first and had a great time. We filmed her jumping in and hanging alongside the boat in bright blue Atlantic waters. I eagerly followed her and entered the water with a brave backflip off the side of the boat. I was a ball of energy; swimming alongside the boat while Vasti filmed me. We incidentally had put on three cameras that day to film the swim. We want everyone to see how unbelievably beautiful it is. I asked Vasti for the one Go Pro so I could film her sitting on the boat, St Tropez super yacht style. I slowly drifted away, alongside the boat, Vasti continually shouting ” don’t go too far, Riaan! Don’t go too far!”
I answered her with slight irritation, as if insulted she believed I could let anything go wrong. I knew what I was doing. Just let me be. Sjoe, how quickly things happen. I had now drifted behind the boat, to get the back part of her clearly on film. I was meters away when I decided that I should not take a chance. I rolled the small rope of the camera around my wrist and placed the GoPro firmly in my right hand palm. I began freestyle sprinting towards the back of the boat, with slight difficult but still managing good speed. I could at every breath take to the grab ropes near the right rear end of the boat, but also see that the boat at times accelerated with each passing wave. I lunged once, and missed the ropes. I tried harder this next attempt. But again, my finger slipped as they grabbed at the ropes. I couldn’t swim with the camera in my hand. I could hear Vasti’s loud screaming for me to try harder. Not to stop. But I now was swallowing water on every breath take. And, as you can see in the footage of the one side camera, a bit panicked. I stopped to take stock, and get a breath in as well, think about throwing the camera towards the boat. But I’ve drifted off even quicker now. Vasti screaming at me to try swim again. But I couldn’t.
The boat drifted to twenty meters away from me before we had any plan in place. Remember, we are in a rowing boat, it has no engines to quickly start and use for rescues! Vasti cleverly turned the rudder sharply to combat while I realised the fishing line trawling behind the boat was somewhere in m vicinity. I t was my last chance. Without thinking I stuck the camera into my underpants; yes it was still rolling; and grabbed to my left underneath the water. I found the line. Fortunately a meter or two ahead of the dangerous Rapala. I was not going to let go. I was sure this equipment can catch 100kg fish.
Keeping a very dramatic long story short, Vasti managed with the slowing down of the boat and the reeling me in with the fishing line, to probably save my life. In the three cameras footage we scanned over, Vasti and I both agree we have no idea how lucky we were. It shows the reality of quickly things can go wrong. I just laugh at how demonstrative Vasti can get when she is scolding me, but I know I did wrong and admitted never be so frivolous in open seas ever again.
Now I knew the one story would take up all this space we have. In Short, the week also gave us whales and dolphins. Not just drifting by us unaware of our existence but rather whales and dolphins that followed our boat, swam alongside us, circled us and even swam underneath us. We got plenty of the underwater footage as well.
While still in the Canary Islands we marked a halfway mark for our journey. A point that doesn’t represent halfway between Morocco and New York but rather middle of the Atlantic Ocean we will cross without seeing any land. We reached that this week. We have completed over 4400km of rowing and still have 2600km to go before we see land again. Incidentally the famous Bahamas archipelago.
We look forward to seeing the winners of the TAKE ME TO NEW YORK competition end of April underneath the Statue of Liberty. What it special picture. Thanks to everyone that has entered.
Riaan and Vasti are attempting to be the first in history to row from mainland Africa to New York, USA.
Posted in Activities, Events & Entertainment, News | Tagged new york, ocean, Riaan Manser, sea, Table Bay Hotel | Leave a comment April 14, 2014
The sea has calmed tonight as we sit and recover from another long days rowing. Quietly taking in the special place we find ourselves. The most central part of the North Atlantic Ocean. Yip, almost dead centre. Not a piece of land within 2500km from us. We even had a swim late this afternoon so that we can tell an even more special story about this place. But it’s not a happy time on board. Actually a sad, demoralized one.
I think it would be right saying people have enjoyed my cavalier, entertaining but more so ‘warts and all‘ reporting over the last decade of even when the warts are embarrassing and ugly, they still have had us ask ourselves more honest questions.
I’m skirting my story this week because it’s not an easy one to write about. It’s personal and very painful. Vasti and I have never been this far from each other in our lives. Figuratively of course even the nearest land I’d guess. We have had small disagreements, as couples have, but this last week fireworks have been flying. We fought tooth and nail, about almost anything imaginable. The amount of sugar we are allowed in our coffee to even more ludicrously, how much sunscreen is enough for each, it has been a sad week. We have not spoken to each other, unless gravely needed, for two days. This pressure, fatigue and emotions have just boiled over, out of our control. And I can only share how I feel but I know Vasti feels the same. The bottom line is that this scenario feels way out of our control. It has just consumed us and our environment.
Vasti is my best friend. The only person on the planet that knows me so well. And I’m avoiding her? On a tiny boat in the middle of the ocean? This doesn’t make sense. Anybody sitting back home and reading this would say the obvious. The expected. Say you are sorry bla bla. And I’d most probably agree with everything. It’s just that this scene is very different from the normal one. Very different.
Personally I think the boat capsize had a tremendous emotional impact on Vasti whereas the equipment failure has had me stressed more than ever. The reel with her in my care is not speakable. It is responsibility I have never had or dreamed I’d have. I can’t make a mistake in judgement. And I can understand the realization of last week weighs heavy on her. It will bring angst with the fear. This week has played itself out to be a tough one for us both.
Vasti and I though did make a pact before leaving Morocco. We promised each other that no matter the excuse or the obstacle, we would never ever let each other down in our quest in completing this incredible world first. It’s day 35 since we last saw land and I know I’m sure as heck going to do my cross safely to see land again. I have faith all will work out for the best. I also have faith that Vasti knows all will work out for the best. We knew it was going to be challenging, just not as relationship challenging!
Tomorrow, early morning I will surprise Vasti with coffee and muesli in bed. Fanatically as possible, I’ll help her get her rowing gear ready so we can row another 130km.
Riaan and Vasti are attempting to be the first in history to row from mainland Africa to New York, USA.
Posted in Activities, Events & Entertainment, News | Tagged boat, new york, ocean, Riaan Manser, sea | Leave a comment April 2, 2014
To win tickets, simply follow @TableBayHotelSA and tweet, “I want to win tickets to have a TASTE of what the #CamissaTBH Chefs at the @TableBayHotelSA have whipped up @TasteofCT this weekend!”
We’ll follow you back and DM you details of where and when you can collect your tickets … simple.
closes at 12:00 on Friday 4 April, so get tweeting and soon you’ll be eating!Competition closes at 12:00 on Friday 4 April, so get tweeting and soon you’ll be eating!
Posted in Events & Entertainment, Food & Wine | Tagged food, Table Bay Hotel, taste of cape town | Leave a comment April 1, 2014
This week was the week of almost disaster. This was the week where we were put in our place and made to understand the might of an ocean.
We’ve all seen those dramatic, lump in the throat images on the big screen. Those of huge ocean liners that are rolled onto their sides and engulfed by waves the size of mountains. It always seemed surreal to me, vaguely possible but inevitably it remained in the category of tsunami fiction. This week we had reality visit us like we have not imaged it would. Rowing in our second hour of the morning session in tough conditions; we had a giant wave hit us and capsize our entire boat. I was thrown entirely out while Vasti hung on for dear life. We were lucky; and not so lucky.
Vasti spotted the swell after I had already called for her to row ‘left’. Usually a term to warn each other of a breaking wave. The boat needed to turn for it not to hit us side on. This case the wave was racing towards us from the left. Vasti only had time to join me on one strong left oar stroke before the wave came crashing onto us and over. The wave made contact with the aft(back) left side of the boat forts, exactly where I am seated still trying to make another oar stroke while Vasti says she could see the wave break over me and then she just remember grabbing on for dear life. Her decision at the moment probably wiser than mine. She held onto the safety harnesses either side of her, leaving her oars to flay wildly about.
For me I remember the violent impact, then seeing white, the boat falling down over me and then the realization that my feet were stuck in the foot holds. I thought of Vasti and if she would be able to get out. And then…. Then it was over. I spluttered water out my mouth, wiped my hair away and came to the rope clasped firmly in my right hand. I don’t know how it got there. I was alongside the boat, a few meters away, and saw Vasti still in her original rowing position. Her face draped in fear. For me it still felt like a dream.
For Vasti, she remembers looking to her right as the boat was hit downwards. Then she was underwater and holding on no matter what. It’s what I had begged her to do if this ever happened. The boat had rolled right over her. She too realized her feet were stuck in the footholds and, still while turned upside down, under water, Vasti clearly remembers telling herself to focus on the undoing of her feet. She began to untie her feet but at the same time she could feel the self righting design of the boat kicking in. Relief engulfed her as she realized the boat was turning her back to the surface. And that’s when she saw me in the water, outside of the boat. Vasti screamed to swim as fast as I could, unknown to her that I had the rope in hand. We were lucky.
What though has been a very demoralizing aspect to this accident is that our Imtech Communications Satelite phone has been damaged beyond repair. We spent a day and a half successfully drying out the interior electronics of the exterior dome that holds the satellite receiver, to get it to work again.
This was the way we did all our radio interviews, sent the photos for our articles and more importantly how we weekly made contact with loved ones. I know Vasti especially is going to miss the Sunday afternoon chat to her mom and dad, her very emotional and understandably rejuvenating chats.
As to the guys at Imtech Communications, I can imagine they have already begun mobilizing friends in ships all over the Atlantic Ocean. Maybe we will see some magic delivery of sorts in the next few weeks.
We are safe, rattled but grateful for our good fortune. Africa to USA is not an easy thing, or else everybody would be doing it. Wouldn’t they?
Riaan and Vasti are attempting to be the first in history to row from mainland Africa to New York, USA.
Posted in Activities, Events & Entertainment, News | Tagged boat, Cape Town, new york, ocean, Riaan Manser, sea | Leave a comment January 20, 2014
Let’s just cut to the chase and say that we really didn’t know what we had got ourselves into for this journey. It’s as simple as that. From a ship nearly running over us to waves the size of buildings throwing us and our little boat around for 24 hours! It was a week where we again learnt that there is no reward without hardship.
The dream has been to depart from mainland Africa and arrive a few months later on mainland USA. We didn’t understand why most people have avoided the Africa to Canary Islands section. It’s clear to Vasti and me now after spending 13 days, 500km of slogging away against unfavourable rowing conditions and overcoming storms that locals say they haven’t seen in years.
Samir Benjoulloun, our friend from Agadir Marina in Morocco reported the worst damage his marina has seen in decades. 12 pontoons and three structural pillars destroyed by the storm that Vasti and I believe taught us what we have been missing. Experience. Samir is surprised we didn’t require, or even request an evacuation this last week.
The sea was very angry but reached its peak Thursday. The swell from the North West was advertised at 7 meters and the winds at a gusting 50 knots in exactly the opposite direction! This Thursday Vasti and I awoke at 4 am as usual to a sea that was frothing and agitated like we had never seen. In the darkness you could still see the white foam around us from breaking waves. We didn’t think it could get worse. It did. Waves in the early morning were dramatically breaking entirely over our boat. The afternoon though held the true test. Locked inside our little box cabin we could often visually make out waves about to hit us but normally sound would give it away first. The thunderous rumble of breaking waves is deafening.
Vasti and I lay down at one point to try “de stress”. I heard a huge rumble coming towards us and made her brace for serious impact. The boat shook, the window darkened and we bounced around the cabin. We both laughed nervously but both aware of what our little boat was enduring. No less than ten seconds had passed when we heard another thunderous sound, similar but louder than the one before. I warned Vasti to hold on even tighter this time.
Our boat was smashed, rolled onto its side and then washed dozens of meters to one side. The wave had obviously broken just before us and the foam wall had engulfed us entirely. We were in shock. I was worried for Vasti and my safety right then, as I had not before on this journey. The adventure was ‘real’ now and promptly had us both don life jackets, our GPS rescue beacons and clothing that would keep us warm in open seas!
It was only till the following morning that Vasti and I got to see the brutality of the storm. Our parachute anchor (water anchor), that for us is the most crucial piece of equipment in a storm, had been ripped apart by the ferocity of the ocean. I have always said this in my other journeys; “you will never win against the sea”. The fact is she doesn’t even know she is wrestling with you.
But with trauma does come some happiness. The guys from Dion Wired and Imtech Satellite Communication in Cape Town had been hard at work to make our satellite phone operational all week. The miracle is they had it done the morning right after the storm. It was emotional for me to see Vasti chatting to her parents. They needed the chat as much as Vasti did. This satellite set up, specifically designed for our boat is what will bring the articles and pictures to you from middle of the Atlantic.
The fact that a giant cargo ship, over 300m in length, nearly ran us over now pales into the insignificant category after such a wild week. The captain of this passing ship, via UHF radio, was quite blasé about his near miss though. While I shone a led flashing light in their direction, Vasti chatted to him. Vasti’s main concern was whether he had actually seen us while passing so close by, especially that it was at night. His response was candid, brief and in a heavy Spanish accent.
“We are good sailors, do not worry. Sleep well.”
We arrived safely in Lanzarote, the most easterly Canary Island, on Saturday night. Had a pizza and a beer for dinner and then slept for 12 hours. We plan to row down the islands and hopefully make it to open ocean again by early this week. Remember to enter the ‘Take me to New York’ competition to join us at the finish in the Big Apple. We have a long way to go but fortunately a long way with a tad more experience.
Posted in Activities, Events & Entertainment, News | Tagged Canary Island, Riaan Manser | Leave a comment December 18, 2013
Table Bay Hotel’s Camissa the new social hotspot this summer
You’ve seen the splendour of Cape Town, heard its lively beat and felt the warmth of its people. Now complete the experience by tasting the best the region has to offer at our newest food adventure – the Camissa brasserie.
The brasserie is named after the Khoisan word for Cape Town, offers diners a relaxing and sensory experience while overlooking the busy, working harbour inside the scenic V&A Waterfront. Camissa also includes a separate wine bar and wine tasting room and an elegant private dining space for those special occasions.
Our Executive Chef, Jocelyn Myers-Adams has pulled out all the stops with her locally inspired and sourced menu. The focus is on a holistic approach to food, using the finest, freshest ingredients sourced from local farmers. Food is presented in beautifully simple dishes where home-grown flavours shine and we cannot wait for you to taste it for yourself.
At Camissa we invite you to indulge in mouth-watering dishes like: Willow creek olive, fennel and lemon tapenade with cornbread crisps; Rooibos tea smoked Franschhoek trout with watercress, radish, celeriac and apple, hibiscus vinaigrette and Oscar lager braised Karan beef short rib with parsnip puree, local porcinis and rainbow asparagus.
Complementing the menu is a wine list that captures the very essence of the Cape and its Winelands regions. The extensive list of local wines will find favour with all tastes, ranging from full-bodied mature wines to lighter, more youthful ones, from established to small niche local wineries.
Camissa offers a gourmet experience that takes local flavour to a new level of excellence. Our doors open on 12 December 2013 and operating hours are Monday to Saturday 11h00 to 15h30, 18h00 to 22h30 and Sunday 18h00 to 22h30. Please call Ilse on 021 406 5988 to book your spot.
Posted in Food & Wine | Tagged camissa, fine dining, food, opening of camissa | Leave a comment October 3, 2013
It’s the small things that count
Sun International’s Table Bay Hotel at the V&A Waterfront will be celebrating National Marine Week between 7 and 11 October 2013. Executive Chef, Jocelyn Myer-Adams has created a special Marine Week Set Menu that not only celebrates our spectacular ocean heritage, but also celebrates our diverse culinary heritage.
“In Cape Town we are intrinsically linked to the sea – it surrounds us. As much as we gain enjoyment from our beautiful coastline we need to be reminded that the ocean’s future is also our future and we need to protect its biodiversity,” says Executive Chef Jocelyn Myer-Adams.
For only R275 you will enjoy a 3-course set menu. For starters, enjoy Oscar Lager steamed mussels with farm style mealie bread. The Table Bay’s Oscar Lager is brewed with Jack Black Beer in Woodstock using locally sourced ingredients and water fresh from the springs of Table Mountain.
The main course is seared yellowtail with confit waterblommetjie, fennel and garden wild garlic rice and vine tomato relish. Yellowtail is sustainable and delicious and the unusual flavours are inspired. Waterblommetjies translated means water flowers. They are indigenous to the Western Cape and are also known as Cape Asparagus.
The dessert course is a refreshing combination of fresh summer berries with Méthode Cap Classique sabayon and lavender meringue. The Sabayon mousse dessert from our French Huguenot heritage offers a delicious melt-in-the-mouth end to a great celebration.
Marine Week is not only about eating Green List fish, it is also an opportunity to take this opportunity to get closer to this wonderful natural resource – explore the seashore, discover where two oceans meet, build a sandcastle or spend an afternoon snorkelling with playful Cape Fur seals.
Cape Town’s coastline is rich in marine life and ecosystems but demands by commercial fisheries, fishermen and recreational anglers are proving too immense for this fragile ecosystem to survive. These factors and the increase of marine pollution have caused the decline of many species. Marine Week reminds us to take care of our coastline and its inhabitants in order to help conserve and utilise this natural resource in a more sustainable manner.
Posted in Activities, Food & Wine | Tagged 3 course meal, marine week, table bay | Leave a comment July 29, 2013
STYLISH SOCIALITES, FASHIONISTAS AND FOODIES ARE IN FOR A HIGH TEA TREAT AT THE TABLE BAY HOTEL THIS FASHION WEEK
It’s nearly Fashion Week in Cape Town (Thursday, 8 to Saturday, 10 August 2013) and to coincide with this exciting event,
The Table Bay Hotel is launching a special fashion high tea menu, in collaboration with fashion designers, Stefania and Shana Morland.
Stefania Morland’s Summer 2013/2014 is inspired by a great South African abstract artist, Walter Battiss. Battiss’ bold use of colour, hieratic and symbolic characters and his appreciation for beauty and the sensual treatment of the human form is brilliantly captured in Morland’s new collection, which will be launched at Fashion Week and at The Table Bay Hotel.
“This year orange is the new black,” exclaims Stefania Morland. “In my new Summer Collection you will see it often but in a totally new way. I’m very excited about this collection as it is the first time I have interpreted someone else’s artistry, and combined it with my own design flair.”
“Walter Battiss has been lauded by local and international art enthusiasts and I cannot imagine any other South African designer more suited to reflect this extraordinary artist’s work than Stefania and Shana Morland,” says Sherwin Banda, General Manager of The Table Bay Hotel. “She’s not giving away too much information about her new collection as she wants the fashion set to be stirred by her designs. I personally can’t wait!”
Lasting from 2 to 11 August, the Table Bay Hotel Fashion Week High Tea in The Lounge features savoury bites, cranberry scones, fashionable tortes, delectable desserts and cupcakes.
What highlights can you expect from Pastry Chef Bhupender “Bobby” Kumar An exquisite orange pleated mandarin cake, peach-pink Bavarois shorts with fresh fruit, red macaroons with rose ganache and chocolate ruffles, a gorgeous pink marshmallow hat and orange print chocolate éclairs.
We suspect you’ll be raving about our Fashion High Tea for months to come. The cost is R185.00 per person. For more information and to make a reservation call Ilse Barnard, at firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone on 021 406 5988.
Posted in Food & Wine | Tagged fashion week, fashion week 2013, High Tea, Table Bay Hotel | Leave a comment May 27, 2013
CAPE TOWN MAKES TRIPADVISOR’S TOP 25 TRAVELERS’ CHOICE LIST
Here’s some good news for The Mother City. Cape Town has been voted as one of the Top 25 Travelers’ Choice World Destinations as part of its 2013 TripAdvisor Destination Awards. This makes Cape Town the number one city in Africa.
The Travelers’ Choice Destination Awards are based on feedback from millions of travellers from around the world. The winners are chosen from travellers’ favourite and most visited destinations which are indicated on TripAdvisor’s Website and Facebook applications.
TripAdvisor recommends visits to Robben Island, Blaauwberg Beach, Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens and The Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve which has sweeping sea vistas, hiking trails and numerous wildlife encounters. Sun International’s Table Bay Hotel, ideally located at the V&A Waterfront, is a great base from which to enjoy all these excursions.
Listed below are the top 25 World’s Best Destinations, as listed by TripAdvisor for 2013:
1. Paris, France
2. New York City, USA
3. London, England
4. Rome, Italy
5. Barcelona, Spain
6. Venice, Italy
7. San Francisco, USA
8. Florence, Italy
9. Prague, Czech Republic
10. Sydney, Australia
11. Berlin, Germany
12. Istanbul, Turkey
13. Bangkok, Thailand
14. Chicago, USA
15. Tokyo, Japan
16. Cape Town, South Africa
17. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
18. Buenos Aires, Argentina
19. Marrakech, Morocco
20. St Petersburg, Russia
21. Beijing, China
22. Shanghai, China
23. Siem Reap, Cambodia
24. Chiang Mai, Thailand
25. Queenstown, New Zealand
Posted in News | Tagged awards, Cape Town, Table Bay Hotel, travelers choice list, tripadvisor | Leave a comment May 27, 2013
- Lamb Shank
- Eagles Nest Shiraz – The nose gives way to prominent white pepper notes complimented by red berry fruits and twist of violets. These flavours are met on the palate by scents of leather and a touch of spice from the use of oak, all well integrated and upheld by firm tannins. The wine has a soft and creamy finish.
- Grilled Salmon
- Waterford Chardonnay Reserve – This wine shows bright aromas of citrus fruits supported by delicate oak flavours. The palate is full with a crisp acidity. The wine has a soft smooth finish
- Meerlust Rubicon – Ultra dark, intense, opaque & concentrated. The wine is very youthful with cerise rim. The wine has exuberant cassis fruit on the nose, black cherry, blackcurrant & nettle-bush followed by cigar box. Full bodied with a concentrated fruit core wrapped by lush, sleek tannins and an earthy minerality.
- Lamb Rack
- Tokara Directors Reserve – A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Petit Verdot. The wine has a complex array of aromas like cassis, dark chocolate and spice are evident on the nose. These flavours follow through a pallet that is full yet elegantly soft. Long smooth finish.
Posted in Food & Wine | Tagged Cape Town, Table Bay Hotel, wine pairing | Leave a comment