05 April 2012 | Freizeit

"Gone fishing"

By Myl 61 ja daar draai jy af, en dan vat jy die pad na die see. Hier lê die visplek van Sarah de Jaer, aan die Weskus van Namibië. Sarah de Jaer was so sterk soos 'n bees, met haar viskêps en kakiebroek. Om haar te sien visvang is vistermansfees, want die visse baklei vir haar hoek." It's the most famous song about a lady who wrote history in the fisherman's town of Henties Bay at the coastline of Namibia, beeing so successful in fishing that a song about her legendary luck was written by Jan de Wet and sung by South African singer Carike Keuzenkamp.

In 1955, when Sarah de Jager was 27 years old, she came to the small fisherman's village and wouldn't accept to sit at home while only men could go out fishing. Surely she was one of the first independent and strong minded ladies who would go their own way even when having a husband and five children. She's said to been driving up and down the coast looking for the best fishing places and always ended up near Mile 61 north of Henties Bay. There she caught the biggest Kabaljou, spending all night fishing at the beach, beeing "strong like a beast, in ther fishing cap and khakie clothes", while most men had long returned home. Her favourite fishing place was even named after her, "Sarah se Gat", being amongst the preferred places for fisherman, like Mile 68, Die Walle, Trappies, Predikantsgat, Bakleigat, and Winston Wreck.

Also her children and grand children love fishing, and one of her granddaughters was named after her, said to be looking a lot like the legendary grandmother.
"Just five or six families lived in Henties Bay permanently in 1970, when I moved there", says one of the until-today successful businessmen, Patrick Eagleton, called "uncle Patrick" by everybody in town. There were no water pipes, no electricity, just one hotel had been built in 1965 and some few wooden houses without foundation, with water tanks on top of the roofs. Uncle Patrick built the first petrol station with a hand pump and a small shop and later on founded the first bar apart from the hotel, "Mile 50", which still exists until today. Born in Windhoek, Patrick Eagleton came regularly for fishing like many other people, but settled in the village which today is home to 3350 people from all over the country, like Herero, Damara, English speakers, South Africans and a handful of Germans.

At high season like Christmas or Easter the little town is packed with fishermen and women, everybody is out fishing at the beach or the ocean. More businesses sprang up, some just to store and look after passionate fishers' cars. A message is felt all over Henties Bay: "Gone fishing!"
The most famous fishing festivalWhile Henties Bay looks abandoned during the day, from early afternoon until night the restaurants and bars are filled with stories brought from the sea, fairy tales and true stories about the catch of the year, with music and live shows, with barbeque and burned faces, hurting a little, but smiling all over with shiny eyes.
Once a year, the fishing festival pulls thousands of people to Henties Bay, while the South African school holiday brings families with children and even on normal weekends people from all over Namibia come to enjoy the little town with its great atmosphere. Friendly and open minded inhabitants provide food and drinks and of course - everything thinkable about fishing.
"Leon's Tackle Shop" is said to be one of the best. Leon Kauze and the girl working in his shop have been fishing for the Namibian team, so whatever is needed, they will exactly know what's best.

Leon was born in South Africa but came to Henties Bay every school holiday since his forefahters were amongst the first permanent settlers there. So he found his new home at the Namibian west coast some years ago.
A number of young men and women have settled in the fisherman's town, like Wynand Carstens from Outjo who used to come fishing at Henties Bay for 15 years until he married a young lady, his best friend married her sister, and nowadays Wynand runs the "Pirates Cove" bar which has a long tradition in town, beeing renovated and enlarged for guests. It belonged to his father in-law, said to be famous for cold drinks, best pizza and the young people's place "to party the night away".

Not only young, but also older people have settled in Henties Bay, saying "It's the only affordable town in Namibia for living comfortably with a good infrastructure."
The Beauty and the Priest The town is developing fast nowadays, new properties are beeing built, while the oldest hotel in town "the Duine" was bought by a well known Namibia business man, Johan Venter, last year. 90 units of luxury accommodation are planned to be built within the next two years, while the old hotel with a stunning atmosphere will be renovated and a bar at the beach will be set up with a view over the ocean day and night. Fishermen are welcome even in slippers, just relaxed as the whole town, "gone fishing".

Sport clubs and a golf course offer more entertainment in town, the "Skubbe Bar", years ago said to be a place for lots of alcohol drinking and even fights, has developed into a bar with restaurant and an upgraded dining room called "Beauty and the Priest" for families, run by a South African couple, Paul and Petra de Witt, since 2008. "My wife is the beauty and I am the priest", explains Paul, smiling all over his face, since quite a lot of people think that a priest shouldn't run a bar. "But the bible states that even Jesus made water into wine so it can't be too bad at all", Paul states. "My father was an alcoholic and I received my call from God to become a priest and help people out of drinking problems when I was still a youngster. So I try to make people aware that apropriate drinking is no sin and that control over alcoholism makes their lives easier." That way, Paul turned the worst place in town into a pleasant family restaurant.

Anything seems to be possible in Henties, as shown in Paul's and Petra's establishment. They bought the nearby property with the former municipality-owned fish washing place, and also added a car wash. That way they receive a lot of guests.
Where more and more tourists come for holidays and weekends, lots of guest houses and B&B's get established and renovated, like the cosy "Namib Shore Guesthouse" which offers not only accommodation but also fishing tours like many of the places in Henties Bay.
Boat and beach fishing The only boat fishing oppurtunity is offered by "Sea Ace Fishing Adventures", run by the Scottish couple Simon and Sharon Mc Gowan who live in town since eight years ago. They had come for fishing many years during their holidays and now offer ocean fishing tours for up to eight people with lunch and fun and fishing all day. Depending on the weather, of course, like all the fishing and angling related businesses along the Atlantic coastline of Namibia.
It's a lot to tell about that tiny little town of Henties Bay, it's a lot to hear and listen to, and it's a lot of fun definitely to go out fishing all day, sit together with nice people all day and get rid of all stress and hustle which life can cause sometimes. Just put a small signpost on your window if you want to tell your friends and neighbours who might be looking for you: "Gone fishing".

More information is shown on the web: www.hentiesbaytourism.com

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