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A Tribute to Trish

Of the seven billion people on Planet Earth only one called me ‘My Handsome Oke’. This blog is a tribute to that perceptive lady Trish – ‘Aitch’ – our sweetheart and Mom!

What a busy character, she took our lives by storm. From headgirl in Muizenberg (she was Humphrey) to working on hearts with Prof Chris Barnard to coastal and celestial navigator of yachts to Brazil, the Caribbean and onward;
After leaving government hospital service, she took to selling pharmaceuticals with gusto, first to pharmacies, then doctors, then specialists – ending up selling the oncology drugs she herself then used when she got breast cancer;
Nature and wildlife, especially local KZN plants became a passion and she grew them, sold them, gardened with them and advocated for them with love;
Then she started raising kids and omigoodness, did she revel in that! Fostering at first, then adopting and raising Jessie to 13 (“and a half”) and Tommy to 9 (“and a half”). Those early child-infested days was the only time she didn’t work fulltime, so she baked wicked fattening cakes for coffee shops.

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Four years as an estate agent followed, then back to selling cancer drugs.
Energy! Drove me mad.

We miss her intensely, we loved her as dearly as she loved us, and we dedicate this site to her memory, which now has us laughing fondly often, and ooh!-ing when we do something wrong or not ‘up to standard’!

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Trish’s Early Days

This was Aitch before me. She and her twin Janet were born in Johannesburg in 1958 and placed in the JHB Children’s Home, from where Neil and Iona Humphrey adopted them.

The new family moved to Cape Town while the girls were still tiny.

Muizenberg, Cape Town – She’s Head Girl! 1975

Aitch, head girl, Muizenberg High

Boyfriends and Biking! Here she’s seen ready to leave for the Buffalo Rally in East London, dressed in yellow rainproof kit; Cars, too. She had a little VW Beetle, but would say ‘You should buy me a sportscar. I used to drive an Alfa Spyder you know!’ – but this is the only pic of an Alfa I can find in her albums. She was a Girl Guide; Here too are her Dad Neil, Mom Iona (and a previous fiancee! shh!).

Coming of age! Trish & Janet’s 21st:

Aitch pre-Koos (14)

I found some of her old diaries. Boy, was she busy! Here’s one week in the life of a cardiovascular perfusionist who is learning to sail, becoming a navigator, going to braais, catching movies and plays and having friends round to meals in her flat; All while working at Grootte Schuur hospital. After reading each page I had to go and lie down for a while.

Sailing Daze

Aitch wanted to go overseas, couldn’t afford an air ticket, so decided she’d work her way over. She started sailing weekends while taking evening courses at Cape Town’s General Botha Naval Academy: ‘Coastal & Celestial Navigation’ and ‘Ocean Navigation’.

Her plan: To earn a place on an Atlantic crossing.

Aitch Navigator Ocean.jpg

Eric & Lola had a 36ft boat called Danné. They wanted to head off into the wild blue yonder but they couldn’t navigate, so offered Trish a berth as navigator and crew to sail from Cape Town to the Caribbean via St Helena and Brasil. She decided to do it, resigning her job as cardiovascular perfusionist at the provincial hospital. Notes in her diary tell of weekend days spent sailing and nights spent preparing the yacht for departure. ‘We varnished food tins, then packed them under the floorboards’.

Danne: Eric the Skipper; Lola crew; Aitch the Navigator

Her dear old Dad Neil was so worried when she was about to set sail from Cape Town off across the Atlantic that he pulled her aside once and said “Trishy, you know boats drag a rope behind them. If you fall overboard, make sure you grab that rope!”

On St Helena:

St Helena?

Brasil – a local water taxi in Salvador returns Aitch to Danné after shopping ashore:

In the Caribbean she left Danné and looked for a new berth. She joined Chrismi II – an 85ft aluminium-hulled, teak-decked charter yacht. She was the catering deck hand, cooking for mainly French guests. Despite having to scrub the teak deck, she loved that boat!

Chrismi II cruised around here: *click on pic*

Chrismi II trip

To sail on to Europe she’d have to find another ride. She signed up as navigator and crew to deliver Drumbeat, a 1957 Clare Lallow 60ft wooden cruising sailboat, to France for a refit via the Bahamas and the Azores. Despite having to scrub and polish the deck, she loved that boat!

Aitch always told a tale of a whale that surfaced alongsides. “It was bigger than the boat!”

She told me in great detail for years afterwards about this whale

And of how she was swept off her feet by a wave during an Atlantic storm. She hung onto the wheel for dear life. All the other hands were belowdecks. As the water receded they shouted out “Are you still there?!”

In Durban before I met her she was taken on as crew on a yacht but then got a call saying the opportunity had fallen through as the boat had been sold. Turned out later it had been sold to bank robbers! The boat was the Lily Rose, used by notorious bank robber Andre Stander.

Later, whenever she’d talk about “completing her circumnavigation” I’d say “OK. But I’ll fly in and meet you at anchor behind a sheltered reef on an island somewhere.”

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Aitch’s Atlantic Voyage

I found a series of postcards written by Aitch to her folks, her boyfriend and his parents, obviously given back to her on her return. They serve as a diary of her travels, though she kept a diary, too.

In 1982 – 1983, she crossed the Southern Atlantic from Cape Town via St Helena to Salvador Brasil as the navigator on a 36ft yacht named Danné.

Eric and yacht Danne.jpg
Danné in Cape Town

Aitch on St Helena, and catching a dorado on Danné – fresh food!

She loved Brasil. In Salvador they sailed up the Rio Paragau. At anchor she would catch river taxis manned by young boys to go ashore and return to the boat. They visited people, went to a symphony orchestra and chamber music recital in Joao Pessoa, caught fish, crayfish and crabs to eat and rode a bike  on the cobblestones.

Brasil Salvador.jpg
Salvador, Brasil

They then carried on to St Vincent, Bequia and Martinique.

Soon after, she left Danné and joined Chrismi II, an 85ft aluminium charter yacht, as a deckhand and chef. That story here .

Then she sailed north from St Maarten on the 65ft wooden ketch Drumbeat to Bermuda, then across the North Atlantic to the Azores, on to France and then Jersey in the English Channel.

Aitch sails Atlantic on Drumbeat  (13).jpg
Drumbeat

On Drumbeat they went to Bermuda and on to the Portuguese Azores.

Drumbeat is a beauty:

Aitch sails Atlantic on Drumbeat (1)

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Cruising the Caribbean on Chrismi II

Chrismi2 (1)

She sailed in on Danné from the east and left northwards on Drumbeat. In-between she island-hopped on the luxury Chrismi II with French tourists aboard.

 

 

Aitch Caribbean Cruises

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Our Early Days

Just the two of us. We spent most weekends in game reserves, or on rivers canoeing, or mountain biking, or traveling further afield. I have too few pictures of Trish, I’m afraid as she was the cameraman! Always with our bird and tree books, binocs and telescope. We camped or cabin’d – and occasionally we’d go luxury, cos we were rich – blissful DINKYs (“Double Income No Kids Yet”). Trish also enjoyed parties. Especially throwing them!

At SabiSabi River Camp Trish broke the ice and got the “Seven Habits” weekend going when her loud peal of delighted laughter at discovering how they’d tricked her (when everyone else was keeping quietly embarrassed) allowed everyone to relax, forget stuffiness and start relating as equals. Talk about shattering the ice! Colin Hall wrote to her afterwards:“Your contribution was so special so wholesome so special – you may never know just what magic you made. We really wanted you here!”

Focus!

Kariba houseboat

Kariba Houseboat (12)

40th celebrations, still child-free! Mine, “Cartoons and Disney”, Trish’s theme: “You’ll Never See Me Like This Again”. For hers I had my hair died (fake), tattoos (fake) and my ear pierced and a stud fitted (real).

 

Duncan, Pete Brauer, Janet, Terry Brauer, Pete Stoute

ongoing:

KZN reserves and Phinda, Malachite,

Drakensberg, Sani

Botswana, Kenya, Malawi, Namibia