Skipper sails through time

Skipper and author Hans Kilian has lived in the Table View area since 1974 and has seen the areas growth first-hand.

Hans Kilian remembers a time when Blaauwberg Road was a single lane and “there was just bush” on the side where his wife, Margaret, would wait for the bus to town every day.

The Kilians moved into their Van der Graaff Street house in 1974 – they had bought it for R16 000. That was the year of the flood in Table View, when “a tremendous storm” hit the area. Houses closest to the vlei had water “up to window-height”.

“Residents were rowing in little rowing boats,” Mr Kilian recalls.

Van der Graaff Streets was not their first foray into the Table View property market, popular even all those years ago. The couple first bought a plot for R 5 000 in Watsonia Road, but sold it months later for
R7 500. This they used as a deposit on the Van der Graaff Street house.

Here they lived until 1979, when they sold and built a house lower down in Watsonia Road in an Aska/Rabie development. This set them back R25 000.

“It was beautiful,” Mr Kilian remembers, and they stayed for five years before a move to Erica Road, and Waves Edge, a two-year stint in Langebaan and now Parklands.

Mr Kilian grew up in Vredehoek, and while he made a career in computers, he always had a love for the water. He was a volunteer for the National Sea Rescue Institute and “had all the tickets”, which made him the ideal candidate to skipper a charter boat.

The tickets, he says, refers to the certificates for navigation, personal responsibility, fire safety and boat handling needed in this job.

In 1995 he saw “a little ad in the newspaper” looking for a skipper for a charter company at the V&A Waterfront.

He got the job and started there on September 16, 1995. “I have all the diaries since 1995 when I became a skipper,” he says.

The diaries have notes about his day on the water – the weather conditions and what he saw out there.

“This is what I love doing,” he says.

He’s still there, taking visitors and the charter boat’s owners along the Atlantic coast and as far as Langebaan. The diaries have become the basis of a book, Chronicles of a Dock Rat, self-published this year.

The cover says it deals with the “ebb and flow of my life in boats at the Cape of Storms”.

Mr Kilian got his Springbok colours for off-shore power boating in November 1988. But he very nearly didn’t make it to the competition.

He was involved in an accident in another competition off the coast in False Bay on May 22, 1988.

The boat he was on with a partner, nosedived, got half-submerged and left the two men stranded for hours.

“We sat on this half-submerged boat until 8pm that night.”

In the end he had two flares left and kept them until dusk when he knew people would return from work.

There were workers’ cottages at Buffels Bay, and their occupants, along with another resident, had seen Mr Kilian’s last desperate attempt to get rescuers’ attention.

“It was on the news, which said we were ‘feared lost and drowned’.”

In 1995 he took part in international competition on the Humber River, in Hull, in the UK, with his brother, Simon. The following year, the competition took place in the sea in Cape Town.

Mr Kilian remembers being very involved in badminton, which was played at the Leibrandt van Niekerk Hall, and being at the inaugural meeting of what would become Milnerton Aquatics Club (MAC) in the early 80s.

Margaret is artistic and designed the logo, with a flamingo, for the Milnerton Sports’ Club, which incorporated the badminton club.

In between Mr Kilian was a guitarist in a rock band, The Rodeans, and he still carries a plectrum in the case for his glasses.

The couple now live in Parklands – described by Mr Kilian as a rainbow suburb.

He remembers this was the area where Table View’s municipal dump used to be.

He likes the hustle and bustle of the city, and while the two-year break in Langebaan was needed, he couldn’t wait to get back to Table View.

“I’m a city guy. There’s people everywhere,” he says of his life in Parklands.

As a parting shot, I ask if there’s anything else he’d like to say about his 43-year association with the area. Without hesitation, he replies: “Any way we could get rid of the wind? Here it really blows.”