Old Willow No.7 Houseboat charters. A different perspective

“Living on the water took away the boundaries created by land and custom and introversion. Without fences and driveways, the water provided a constant thread of connection and dependency.” ― Lily Graham, The Cornish Escape



Although the weather on our first day started off with a cloudburst, it did get better and by the following morning the storm clouds had lifted and there was the possibility of sunlight on the cards. While waiting for my wife to wake, I took a short walk down the jetty to get this image of both the ‘fleet’ and the river. Although the clouds had not entirely vanished, the was the possibility of a great day of cruising up and down the Vaal River.



Time to start the engine! The houseboat does no careen off at a ridiculous speed but is more regal and sedate in how it cruises. This allows plenty of time for decisions to be made and action to be taken when it comes to carrying out manoeuvres when going in and out of the inlets and coves.



This map is given to all guests before they leave the jetty and it is good to quaint yourself with the various landmarks along the way. There are several overnight spots available to guests in order NOT to stay in the main channel at night or to tie up at private property. We turned to port (left) as we cleared the dock and went off in search of where we had spent a night back in 2006 when I proposed to my then-fiancee, now wife. We thought that we had anchored at Eagles Inlet, but there are now houses where there were none 15 years ago so we found a different mooring spot for the night at Otters’ Cove.



If you get lost there is always a lighthouse to guide you safely back to the harbour. Except this one seemed to be a garden ornament in a private garden.



There are some truly ENORMOUS home on this stretch of river, but I felt that it might be an invasion of privacy if I did plaster this posting with pictures of the largest or most over-the-top. That being said, my favourite house is marked as a “4-storey glass house” on the map and it is exactly that. With the lower floor being and entertainment right at river level. I am uncertain what would happen if the river overflowed its banks… A manicured lawn and stunning indigenous garden made up of predominantly succulent plants were what caught my eye as we drifted past. The building in the background of this image is a pumphouse that seemingly pumps water from the river to who knows where.



In 2006, the braai’s all had lids, but too many of those had been blown overboard and into the depths of the Vaal, that now they don’t have lids and you are requested to braai on the metal covered lid over the engine as a safety precaution. We were going to braai for dinner, but changed our minds and did lunch instead. However, the colas remained hot enough to re-heat the leftover kebabs for dinner. While the meat is sizzling away, let me take you on a tour of the houseboat



The ‘heart of the boat and where we spent the most time if we were inside, the kitchen or to give it its correct nautical term, the galley. It had a fridge, small but adequate, a two-burner gas hob as well as an oven. Aside from the kettle, the boat also comes with more crockery, cutlery, pots and pans than the two of us required.



This dining area converts, very easily and quickly into a double bed.



Looking up towards the main cabin in the bow of the boat… Galley to the right and the toilet and shower through the doorway on the left. The gas geyser supplied more than enough piping hot water to allow us to wash the dishes and have showers.



The main cabin was ‘untidy’ in a heartbeat…and it stayed that way for the rest of our time onboard.



Sunset as seen from Otters’ Cove. It was a very peaceful evening that allowed us to enjoy the silence and the bird calls as they settled in for the night. I have to say that we were not far behind.



An adult female Malachite Kingfisher was enjoying success at it searched for some tasty snacks. It worked its way closer and closer to us, but never actually stopped on board.



By the light of the moon… every time we turned on lights, the insects would descend on the fitting with gusto. In order to enable us to keep the windows open, we turned off all the lights after we had finished dinner and we could then enjoy the silence of the cove and the splendour of the moon without any ambient light.



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