Capetonian comedian, Robin Boltman, proved that being from the “Republic of Hout Bay” has its perks as he used his Hout Bay “passport” to travel the world.
In the 1980s, Hout Bay got its very own passport as part of a tourism stunt to give the seaside town more personality. The initiative was started by the Lions and Rotary Club for charity drives and the passports can still be purchased today to keep as souvenirs.
Known as the “Hout Bay Magician”, Boltman had a daring idea to use his passport while traveling on cruise ships. He wondered if he could get away with using the Hout Bay passport and the stunt quickly became an international success.
“When I went cruising it came with my bag of tricks and when I saw the first line of passengers going through customs my naughty sense of humor took over. Although as an entertainer with a ships ID card we didn’t have to, but I couldn’t resist,” says Boltman.
According to Boltman he was able to stamp his passport and travel to a variety of places from Israel, New Zealand and Australia to Tazmania, Fiji and Tonga – all with his trusty Hout Bay Passport.
Eventually it become a game between Boltman and the ship staff, where they would bet on whether his passport would get stamped or not. Boltman says it was a highlight for him over the years watching the staff eagerly wait to see if he would be arrested or if his passport would simply be stamped.
“In Southampton they also stamped it with a six months visitors visa… finally leaving getting it stamped at Heathrow. After the first few stamps it was easy because A… It looked quite real and B customs open it and seeing all the stamps, they just look for the next blank area for theirs,” he adds.
Traveling the world with his Hout Bay passport was a breeze. The only time he ever came into trouble was when he didn’t use it.
“In Botswana I didn’t have a work visa. In those days Sun International shows in neighbouring countries, it was too much red tape. We just used to say holiday or pleasure, but arriving in Gaborone for a week to entertain I said the usual when I was questioned, holiday. She said, really and pointed behind me, there was a huge advertising banner / poster saying appearing live at the Gab. Sun Robin Boltman. Eventually all was sorted out… The customs lady and her family came to the show and said “I’m pleased they let you out… We booked about 3 weeks ago! That’s when I thought I should have used my Hout Bay Passport,” recounts Boltman.
In total Boltman says he was able to travel to 20 different countries with his Hout Bay passport in-hand.
“I have a few stamps from the same country but different cities.. Eg Southampton – London Heathrow, arrived Fremantle departure Sydney, Auckland, Christchurch, etc. – more than 20 stamps altogether,” he adds.
The life of the Hout Bay magician has proven to be anything but boring with Boltman surviving two sinking ships, first the Achille Lauro and the Oceanos.
Boltman even became well-known for his efforts in helping coordinate the rescue aboard the Oceanos when it sank.
In the end the Hout Bay passport that had helped Boltman travel the seas and the world was reclaimed by the ocean, as it sank along with Oceanos with over 20 stamps from different countries around the world and memories tied to it that would last a lifetime.
Pictures: Supplied/Robin Boltman