Fire and Ice: Romancing the chrome

2013-11-18 08:42

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Weaving from side to side on a motorcycle, I love, but put me on a boat and I feel queasy.

There's nothing romantic about it to me, just a colourful reminder of what I recently ate. I've lost my lunch steering a fishing trawler off the coast of Alaska and fed carrots to Nile Perch in Lake Victoria. I've worked on a cargo ship so unseaworthy even the captain joined me along the side.

Each time I swore never again.

But it's a hazard of my profession as a travel writer and there are certain invites one cannot turn down. The last time I took to sea I joined writer, Paul Theroux, and Cape Town chef, Bruce Roberston, on a sunset cruise. You don't say no to that. But even seasoned traveller, Theroux, looked green. By the time we docked I was determined it was my last boat trip.

How easily we forget.

When Fire and Ice Cape Town, invited me on a champagne sunset cruise, I signed on immediately. You see, they dangled a rather appealing carrot: spending the day weaving from side to side on a motorcycle as part of their “Young at Heart” package.

A Fire and Ice chauffeur drove me to Harley Davidson in Tyger Valley where a glittering ship awaited me: a 1700cc Road King.

"What do you normally ride?" asked Charl of Harley Davidson.

"A 650 scrambler," I replied, expecting him to steer me to a nimbler machine. But he just handed me the Road King key and said, "Have fun," adding that I just needed to squeeze between the security booms to get out.

(Anton Crone)

I wasn’t sure how I’d manage that. I took off on the immense bike and drew in my breath as I approached the boom, hoping the bike would do the same. Somehow we just glided through.

After that my smile grew with every turn of the throttle.

Despite its size, the balance of the bike was completely reassuring; the expansive foot boards and padded seat, so comfortable it was like riding a Mississippi mansion from the veranda settee. But it didn't suit the real estate along the N1.

There was only one place for it, so I steered for Franschhoek. And went right through it.

(Anton Crone)

By the time I got there my confidence had grown and the mansion had turned into a sleek hotel with fast clientele – kind of like Fire and Ice.

An on board sound system might have rounded it off but the 1700cc soundtrack was enough and I blasted by the pavement posers of Franschhoek town and took to the mountain pass. We weaved from side to side, we danced in the road and we took in the view.

It was as romantic as man can be with machine.

I was sad to walk away from that bike, sadder to find myself alone that evening on a dock in Waterfront Harbour. But they did say "champagne" sunset cruise and I needed a drink. It would quell my sense of loss (the bond between biker and machine is forged on the first bend and we had taken more than 60 together) and enhance my sense of gratitude for not having lost control and tumbled down a wine valley in a tangle of chrome and chardonnay.

There were quite a few couples on the boat, the sky was clear and a wisp of cloud would catch the last rays of the sun.

The boat had a sail.

I eyed the tall sheet with trepidation. I had been on many boats but I had never sailed, and the wind was shoving the waves around out there. I wasn't looking forward to it at all.

But the truth is, I found romance on that boat.

(Anton Crone)

I began feeling queasy the moment we took off. Then we found the wind just beyond the harbour. The sails took hold, the boat leaned over and we tasted the sea spray.

It wasn't the champagne that had us giggling - we had lost the ability to drink since we had to hold on with both hands - It was the exhilaration.

This appealed to me. It was as thrilling as a Harley on a mountain pass.

By then I was laughing along with a couple not long out of their teens. They were hugging one another, not just for support, but because they seemed in love - Not the stuff Celine Dion sings about, the real stuff. We steered out of the wind and found calmer waters to watch the sunset. It was finally quiet. The boat was steady yet the youngsters still held onto one another.

They watched the sky change colour. Then they looked at one another, and kissed.

(Anton Crone)

We were chatting afterwards. They were a sweet couple, Daniel and Marjoli, and they handed me their camera and asked me to take a photo of them. I sheepishly admitted I had already taken one for I could not resist capturing that kiss. To my surprise, they were overjoyed and it emboldened me to ask: “Can I publish it in this article?” And they loved the idea. “The truth is,” said Daniel, “that was our first kiss.”

And to think I used to hate boat rides.

Fire and Ice Cape Town’s, Young at Heart package includes a Champagne Sunset Cruise and a choice between touring the city and surrounds on a Harley Davidson or in a Cobra for the day, at your leisure. Valid Friday-Sunday. Now till 2014/01/31. Minumum 2 night stay. R978 pp sharing per night.

Anton Crone, is a freelance writer and photographer based in Cape Town, South Africa. Check out his blog Bright Continent or follow him on twitter @antoncrone.

Read more on:    adventure  |  travel south africa  |  lifestyle

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