WE HAVE COME A LONG WAY – SO WHERE ARE WE TODAY?
For the past 4 decades the club has been very active in promoting the sport of angling especially competition, development and in the conservation of our fish and the magnificent Protea Reef that we have off our shore about 8 km out to sea. We set certain standards out on Protea; the club has a gentleman’s agreement and unwritten law that no bottom fishing is allowed on the two highest pinnacles “North and South” and no anchoring is allowed. In recent years there has been a major influx of charter companies and unfortunately many of these are guilty of breaking the “unwritten law” and plundering our (endemic) reef fish.
The club at this point will apply to the Minister of Environmental Affairs to make the area a “reserve” for endemic fish, but to allow the capture of “Pelagic” fish (migrating). The club has always been pro-active with conservation and will endeavour to keep strict standards. For instance this year a commercial (charter) boat launched one night and caught five muscle crackers weighing from 20 kg to 35 kg. In terms of life that would constitute approximately 135 years of fish life killed, which is sold to buyers at R15.00 per kg = R2025. What a waste of life and at that size the fish are at their most productive time. We are afraid that unless steps are taken to conserve this type of fish, they will eventually become extinct.
Over the years and due to the support of our members we have built Shelly Beach ski Boat Club into a formidable club Nationally and Internationally and still brag that we have the best sports angling water in Association and Provincial body, the Natal Deep Sea Angling Association.
On the sports angling calendar we are very much sought after by anglers wanting to compete here. At our annual invitational Inter Club we usually host about thirty-two teams representing clubs from all over the country. Not only are our angling facilities good but our ladies in the kitchen have made us proud to have achieved the reputation for the best catering, so much so that the other clubs now use us as a yard stick. We continue to strive to improve our standards and give our members and guests the very best service.
Unfortunately, the control at the base is not always the best. This is not by any means due to lack of trying on the part of the council, but rather from the apathy of some of the users who continue to try to buck the system. The base has come a long way and there have been major improvements since the days when Noel Yeoll was in the control tower. We thank Gary Hossack who has given us twenty years of excellent service in the tower for the Council.
The safety record at Shelly beach has been outstanding and there has never been a fatality at Shelly Beach from the recreational angling fraternity; unfortunately this has not been the case in the diving fraternity with three lives lost, two in 2001 and one in 2002. The Charter fishing fraternity have also had their share of fatalities with four lives lost in 2006. Looking at statistics, the base launches approximately 500 boats a month and 800 boats in peak season, with the absolute minimum of mishaps. The base is the most highly utilised launch site on the South Coast and maintains its status as an A1 launch site.
The Club-house was designed and built by Billy Mountjoy in 1981. The building of the club-house was financed solely by the members of the club with no financial assistance from any Municipality except for the allocation of the land. We relied on fund raising drivers and sponsorships to erect the building. As the years progressed we applied for permission to extend the club-house forward and to obtain more ground to the north of the building where we erected and installed a lapa and a much needed swimming pool for the wives and families of the members to use while their husbands were out at sea. Instead of the husband begging the wife to come to the club it now became the children begging mum to go to the club so that they could swim and to have lunch and refreshments. “Fishing widows” were no longer stuck at home but were able to become part of the club, enjoy the facilities and get outdoors.
Over the years we have had many very loyal staff members most of whom are either still with us or they have passed away, in fact only a handful of barmen have worked for the club, which is open seven days a week and only closes on Christmas day. Throughout the years we have spent a lot of money in updating our office equipment, we must boast that we have one of the best modern accounting systems, the latest in software which we are continually upgrading, to ensure the efficient running of the bar, kitchen and tuck shop.
As far as the bar in concerned it has always been an income generator, and helps to subsidies our membership keeping increases to a minimum, but we rely on competitions to make our profit for the year. Our annual subs are probably the cheapest of any ski-boat club in South Africa, yet we have a beautiful club-house and facilities in our extraordinary setting. Our guests and visitors enjoy our facilities including many overseas tourists who always come back and visit every time they come to South Africa. We have made many international friends who go back home and boast about the “little fishing club in Africa” encouraging more overseas visitors to Shelly Beach.
We are also proud of the fact that although we run a bar on the premises for members and “signed in” guests, it is always peaceful and everyone can enjoy the security of pleasant people and surroundings. In fact several well respected Shelly Beach personalities who visit us regularly consider it to be the “best pub on the coast”. The kitchen is not a restaurant as such but a ski boat kitchen catering mainly for the likes of ski- boaters. We do however welcome visitors and when tourists arrive the first thing they want is fresh fish caught by the boats, therefore we do not offer an expensive cordon bleu meal which they can get in a local restaurant, but down to earth value for money meals which both the fishing club member and holiday maker can enjoy. The food is always good with excellent reports from our members and visitors. The amazing thing is that the club kitchen is smaller than most of our home kitchens yet produces 100 times more food in a day than any home kitchen.
One must realise and understand that first and foremost we are a club and we always ask our guests to be patient in high season times, the wait will be well worth it. During the busy season the club normally employs waiters to assist and help cope with the rush which of course helps to generate more funds for the club.
When we have functions the member’s wives put all they have into spoiling the guests who attend these functions, the prominent names of wives that assisted us from the start and please forgive us if we have left any one out it is not intentional are: Wendy Vinnicombe, Ruth Davies, Marina do Santos, Tilly Walter, Winnie Gets, Dawn du Plooy and Michelle Gets. These ladies have made us proud and we are lucky to have ladies of their calibre in our club. On behalf of all the members and committee we thank them for their unselfish time they gave to the club.
Tournaments at Shelly Beach have always been very successful and now with the re-introduction of the Bonanza which has been running for the past six years, we have really made our mark on the national tournaments calendar. The first Bonanza in 2001 proved such a success that the following year we had to move to St. Michaels recreational ground where we installed a huge marquees for the weigh-in and festivities While the fish are being weighed the tent is packed not only with anglers and their family but also many tourists who now plan their winter holiday around the event.
Our club is proud of the fact that our local business have given us a great deal of support by becoming involved in this Bonanza where they have the opportunity to capitalise on the event by not only supporting the Club and the community but also by displaying their wares thus giving their products exposure to a large cross section of the buying public . The inclusion of the “flea market” and arts and crafts stalls not only assists the local community but adds a wonderful atmosphere to the whole event.
The Club supports and works together with South Coast Tourism, we have positioned ourselves as a major player in eco-tourism in the area and have had excellent feedback and good reports for our role in promoting eco-tourism in Shelly Beach.