We met Ian and his wife Jean at a bring-and-braai at walk-in “movie night” where we improvised a movie screen by rigging a computer projector and stretching an old bed sheet between two palm trees to view “The Kings Speech”. This arrangement was also used to play x-box and computer games projected onto a giant screen suspended below our boat- making Bill the hero of the boatyard amongst the younger set. Ian and his wife are ex-Rhodesians who had spent an interesting life farming and operating various businesses before retiring aboard their steel sloop “Ocean Spray”. Stocky, bandy legged Ian has completed several circumnavigations and invariably has a personal anecdote about every port and yachting destination. Unlike “terrestials” yachties are more concerned with their waterlines than their waist lines. The unending struggle to resist the temptation to accumulate non-essential belongings that weigh the boat down ever lower in the water is a source of constant concern and discussion. Many embarrassed owners have reluctantly repainted their waterlines after failing to pare down excess baggage. Grizzled Ian, beer in one hand ever-present half-smoked cigarette in the other, was regaling the less experienced yachties how he had worked out the definitive plan to return his ever submerging boat to its marked waterline. “I told Jean that anything I have not used in the last six months has to go!” Deadpan, Jean interjected – “So I told Ian -I suppose that means me too!” as the assembled yachties roared with laughter.
Uli ( short for Ulysses, a retired Greek Café Owner, who owned several boats guffawed more heartily than most. He had sold up in Benoni, and moved his wife and teenage daughter from their luxury home and suburban lifestyle onto a gigantic steel ketch that was too large for the walk on moorings so he had tied her up against the concrete jetty usually reserved for international arrivals. Uli’s women were clearly ill at ease in the yachting community. They still wore make-up and nail polish and changed their outfits at least every other day. Clearly the transition from suburban shopping centres and leisurely lunches was going to be difficult for them. Ian was explaining how his boat “Ocean Spray” was named after the vessel design used by his hero Joshua Slocum who had circumnavigated single-handed over one hundred years previously in a sloop named Spray -the design of which would remain virtually unchanged for over a century. He pointed out another Spray moored nearby. It was owned by another ex-Rhodesian and was aptly named “Settlers Edge” –which needed no explanation. I asked Uli why he had chosen to name one of his yachts FIFO. He smiled broadly at the group who clearly were keen to know the origin of the name.
“It’s an acronym which encapsulates my business and personal philosophy. He studied the puzzled faces of the group mischievously
“It stands for Fit In Or Fuck Off!” I cringed as he shot a challenging glance toward his wife and daughter who pretended not to be listening.