Over 60 yachts and other craft took to the water to sail to Robben Island in tribute to the life of Nelson Mandela, while he was being laid to rest at Qunu.
The flotilla sailed from Granger Bay at noon, and it was a fantastic sight to see so many yachts, families and friends paying special tribute…
After or while making memorial offerings of flowers (amongst other things) to the ocean between Murray Harbour and the old Jetty, a vast majority of the memorial fleet anchored in the lee of the small harbour at the island.
At 2pm, the national anthem was played over VHF 06 (admittedly the crackle remix) and there was absolute silence across the anchorage as people stood to attention.
There was a diversity of activity thereafter, with braais, music, swimming, and some yachts continuing on sailing around the island and others taking a more direct route home. The positive buzz on the club deck afterwards was fantastic.
It was a remarkable day on the water for our club in tribute to a very special life. There was a very good feeling across the flotilla throughout the day, and it is a day we will remember. Thank you for sharing your magic with us, Madiba! Rest well.
Despite the specific importance of the day, I felt a discomfort in it being such a rare occurrence that we utilize and enjoy the anchorage at Robben Island without feeling that feeling of trespassing into the one mile exclusion zone around the island shown on the charts, or the dark coldness of the prison and it’s legacy lying ominously beyond the harbour. As sailors and club members, we should encourage and challenge the relevant authorities to make Robben Island available to us to encourage our participation in the memory of the island, its past and its future. It is also too rare that we all get together for a sail, other than the racing that we undertake under differing levels of competitiveness. There is a real feeling of togetherness and greatness in the common positive human spirit in sharing a day like yesterday. It was awesome.
In memory and in tribute to the life and contributions made towards the unification of all South Africans by Nelson ‘ Madiba’ Mandela, the RCYC will hold a special commemorative ‘Nelson Mandela Tribute Sail on Sunday 15th December 2013. See more detail here –