Bottled Boat

On the kitchen  table in the Strandveld Museum, run by Jan "Pyp" stands a model boat in a bottle. A small label on the bottle identifies as a gift from the artist, one PNP, to a Mr Druker of Luderitz. The date is 1945. The model shows the yacht "Firecrest" with skipper Alain Gerbault at the helm.

Gerbault, who was in the French Air Force in WW1, bought his boat - a Dixon Kemp racing sloop built in 1898 - and sailed alone around the world in it in the early 1920s.On his way home across the Indian Ocean he called in at Durban. From there he sailed to Cape Town via Cape Agulhas, a trip of three weeks, with his engineless boat often becalmed. From Cape Town he sailed back to France via St Helena, Ascension and the Azores, reaching St Malo early in 1929.

The model finally ende up in the Strand, at the home of Mrs Lenie van Staden, widow of "Oom Tommie", founder member of the Gansbaai fish factory and owner of the farms Bergvliet and Fransche Kraal, where he lived.

The ship in the bottle had been donated to Mrs Van Staden by a Mr Druker in 1945, while living in Luderitz, where Oom Tommie was magistrate. The unidentified artist who made the model may have seen Gerbault and Firecrest in Cape Town, but his model shows the boat sailing past a Pacific coral atoll, with clear blue seas and palm trees bending to the trade wind.  

JHF