It’s still a waiting game for the Bluff Yacht Club in Durban, which remains on a month-to-month lease with the National Ports Authority, as it has been for the past 12 months. The club tendered for a new lease over a year ago but is still waiting to hear whether they have been successful. “At this stage of the game nobody knows what the decision will be,” Club Commodore Peter Dormehl told SABBEX. “It is a really tightly held secret – none of us know.”
The 200-member, 56-year-old club is one of several clubs facing an uncertain future along the Silt Canal in the wake of the new Portnet policy on leases . “All of us are waiting for Portnet to say, Here is the lease for five year and are you prepared to honour the terms that you put in there? That is roughly where we standing. It is very harrowing,” Dormehl said.
He said Bluff Yacht Club had not fallen into rental arrears (as had been the case with two other Clubs around the coast) and had been a good tenant, allowing port authorities to use its slipway facility: “It is difficult to know on what basis they could say we haven’t done this or that properly and haven’t been a good tenant. The landlord does use our slipway (for free) to launch vessels for themselves – for instance to maintain lights in the harbour.”
The club site itself was also still zoned for sport and recreation, which suggested it would not end up accommodating containers or suchlike, he said.
Dormehl also bemoaned the popular misconception that sailing was the preserve of the rich elite, pointing out that most of the club’s members were nowhere near that category. He said the current uncertainty was an additional burden to Club already hard-pressed to attract a new generation of sailors and acclimatize them to the rigors of sailing: “Today youngsters sit and play with their fingers on virtual reality (games). It is becoming more and more difficult to catch youngsters to get them interested in a sport that can be a times quite physically unpleasant,” Dormehl quipped. “equivalent to standing in a cold shower, fully clothed, throwing up, and tearing up R100 bills, while a bunch of other people watch you)..”