KNYSNA NEWS - Two vessels of the South African Navy, river-class minehunters, with their combined crews of 90 men and women will visit Knysna for the Pick n Pay Knysna Oyster Festival 2013.
Weather permitting, the two ships will be off the Knysna Heads by 11:00 on Tuesday, July 2, preparing to make their entry through the perilous passage. The NSRI, who provides the pilots, will go out to meet the captains to assess the conditions. If the decision is in favour of the attempt to pass through The Heads the ships can be expected to enter at about 12:00.
The Knysna Heads passage is one of the ten most dangerous in the world, and Lloyds of London refused to provide insurance coverage on ships passing through it in the late 19th and early 20th Century. South African Navy officers believe that a man (or woman) is not truly a captain until he has taken his ship through the Knysna Heads, ... twice! It is truly a spectacle worthy of viewing.
Not only is there the tense lead-up to entry as the conditions are monitored, but the vast number of people who take up vantage points on the Eastern Head from shore to hilltop make it a special occasion. A mini-Dunkirk flotilla of keelboats, yachts and powerboats wait to welcome the ships, and as they enter they are treated to a mighty cheer. Then follows a stately procession up the channel with the attendant flotilla accompanying them, to berth at Thesens Jetty.
Once in Knysna, the crews will enjoy a visit to the alehouses and places of entertainment. Then there are duties too. Bondi, the Royal Naval Ships dog who died in Knysna while on duty in January 1931, has a grave at Thesens Jetty that must be tended. The ships' crews will also visit crèches in the disadvantaged areas to carry out repairs, maintenance and re-decoration. They will participate in the most impressive Right of Entry Parade ever to take place in Knysna, in the Main Road at noon on Saturday, July 6.
The ships' captains and first lieutenants, in full regalia, swords and medals and all, will make a courtesy call upon the mayor to thank her for safe harbouring, and to apologise in advance for any excesses that their crews may perpetrate! Chief of the Navy, in Knysna for the festival, will entertain the mayor and special invited guests to a cocktail reception on board the senior ship, and the Navy Band will entertain the guests at a marvellous concert at Knysna Quays at 10:30 on Sunday morning, July 7. A special addition this year will be a half-hour performance by the Waterkloof High School Orchestra, rated one of the finest in the land.
The Chief of the Navy will be honoured by Knysna at a ball held especially for him at Featherbed Nature Reserve on the Western Head. His very own SA Navy Dance Band will provide fantastic dance music, and the chef of Cruise Café will present a superb four-course dinner. He will also read the lesson at the Sea Sunday Church Service in St George's Church at 07:55 on Sunday, July 7. As he is retiring at the end of this year, Knysna will provide a superb send-off to a popular chief.
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