Eish! Nostalgia! Hentie’s Botel & water skiing

henties botel, water skiing knysna

Hentie’s Botel – one of Knsyna’s old landmarks, but sadly no longer in existence. But you can still enjoy the Knysna Estuary with us!


You know what we don’t see much of in Knysna these days? Water skiing. (Although perhaps it’s been replaced by SUPping?)


Here’s a clip from a sweet old movie from 1960 called – simply – ‘The Garden Route;’



It shows one of the annual regattas that Oom Hentie van Rooyen organised at his famous botel – which was once one of Knysna’s best-known landmarks.


These regattas often featured skiing exhibitions by the famous heart surgeon, Chris Barnard, and his daughter, Deirdre Barnard. But in fact Hentie himself was a skier of note, and “one of the country’s first official water ski instructors… he built a kind-of-a winch thing with a seat that went onto the side of his boat. ‘Teach You To Ski In 10 Minutes,’ he advertised. And he did; there’s many people who learned the sport that way.” (Quote from ‘Hentie’s Botel: My Avalon’ – a two-minute read about the 22-room hotel that stood on the property known today as Laguna Grove.)


But back to waterskiing. Do you remember the days when EVERYONE did that thing? Those crazy pyramids they built – one skier on top of two others, whole rafts of skiers behind a single speed boat – how on earth did they all survive? And they skied everywhere – inland as well as down here at the coast. Our head skipper, Stef, remembers doing it as a kid at the dam outside Bloemfontein of all places – and his parents did it, too.



The movie ‘The Garden Route’ is 50 minutes of wonderful nostalgia, and it covers a lot more than waterskiing, of course.


It follows the holiday of a fictional couple who visit George, Herold’s Bay, The Wilderness, Knysna, the Knysna forest, Plettenberg Bay, and the Storms River Bridge and its Tea Hut (although the hut’s long gone!).


We think it’s great that the producer, William Smith, digitised the film and re-recorded the voice-over 50 years after its first – and only – screening (after having discovered that the original – and only – print had deteriorated badly). And we were amazed to learn that the leading lady, Carol Malan, only saw the movie for the first time at its re-release in 2010! (There’s an interview about that with Carol and her co-star, Pieter Snyman, here).


Well done that man, for preserving a part of the Garden Route’s past, and for sharing it with the world!


Do *you* have pictures of the old Knysna stored away in an old album somewhere in your attic? We’d love it if you’d scan them and share the links with us: Knysna Sailing or Ocean Odyssey Whale Watching and Eco trips on Facebook, and @KnysnaWhales on Twitter.


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21 Waterfront Drive Knysna

21 Waterfront Drive

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