Tribute to our Captain
Jacolette and Joop
09/06/2013, Richards Bay, South Africa
This is our last blog at sea. We left Richards Bay harbour on 4 December 2008, and now we have 10nm left before we will be sailing back in there again. Throughout the past 5 years Joop has taken ultimate responsibility for our safety whilst out at sea. We encountered challenges which ranged from fishing lines in various places, "thought to be" pirates in Venezuela, rowing for hours on end after we had overturned the dingy in St Lucia, hitting coral in Venezuela, rough seas at sea from Panama to Galapagos, wild anchorages in Tahiti during a "red zone", narrow passages with surfing waves breaking next to us in atolls in French Polynesia, exit passages with only one working engine in Cook Islands, Southern Ocean waves on the Indian Ocean, getting up on the mast to fix stuff - any time and in any seas, and then of course, collecting the spinnaker sail from the water during day and night right around the world!
He has been a reliable seaman, but also a great father and helping hand in the galley, especially during the times we had newborns on board when the challenges increased. He has taught his boys fishing, sailing, steering the dingy, snorkelling, cycling, skateboarding, boogie boarding, to name but a few. He created places on board for them to jump, swing, slide, kick, catch, hit balls, and every other possible wish any boy could have.
To me, he made a dream possible.
One of my pre-marriage requirements was that he had to be able to live a dream with me, and he sure did! He took me to places which I had not even dreamt of, and he gave me experiences within nature which I will always treasure in my memories. He always gave me the diving opportunities while he stood back and looked after the kids, as he knew it was my passion. He never once complained about looking after the kids, to him it was a pleasure. He always had patience with me, wanting to go somewhere else also, something which I had read about and now we HAD to make a detour to there...
Even though we have come so far and have grown so much, it feels like we are at the beginning again, we will have to get to know each other again, back in this world. This world where the challenges are different and maybe not so much focussed on survival and safety, as our mind set has been.
Joop, thank you for spending the last 5 years with me, and for enabling me to life my dream for so many days and nights. Thank you for being you.
What can I say after reading such wonderful words from such a wonderful wife? Well at least I can try to share with others the beauty that I experience every day from inside Jacolette. A wife that enjoys life with me to the fullest. I can start my tribute to Jacolette at way before we even left Richards Bay, she never wanted the new curtains or leather couch but rather agreed with me to contribute towards the sailing fund, she can handle the sails and boat as well as me, she stands with me in rough weather, she has much more patience than me with our kids and calms me down if I get angry, she had 2 babies during our trip, she raised our kids on board and probably the hardest of all, she learned Johannes to read and he is ready to jump into last quarter of Grade one. Best of all she has a light from within that always shines!! Thanks Jacolette and praise to God, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit for bringing us safely home.
Final ETA Saturday
09/05/2013, Portugese Islands, Inhaca, Mozambique
We have just lifted anchor for the last time of this adventure. We had a wonderful beach morning, kids kayaking to go fish with the local fishermen, etc. Great way to end this trip.
Now we have lifted anchor and ETA for Richards Bay is Saturday morning! I hope you ready for us Zululand Yacht Club!
Yes, only 300nm from our home port, and we were yet again amazed by one of the true wonders of nature, the humpback whales! Since we arrived at Inhambane, we have seen approximately 80 humpack whales. We were entertained by the blows, the breaching, flipper-slapping, fluking-up and lob tailing! These are truly big animals, apparently between 13 and 16m on average, and our yacht is a mere 10m in length!
Once the activities were so close to us, we heard them "ough" before we saw them behind the boat. They were literally within jumping-in-the-water distance. Other times they dived underneath us just as we reached them and we got a big fluke-up before they disappeared under Goody. This made us all jump around on deck from excitement to experience these wonderful creatures so up-close. The boys even developed a "whale-swing" with the sheets, which they do after up-close whale activities. Johannes shouts "whales", and him and Dirk do their wildest and biggest possible swings on the foredeck with the foresail sheets.
Research indicates that the breaching actions are related to dominance behaviour by the males as a threatening gesture, especially during rough seas. It is thought that the loud sounds of these actions are a means of communication when the noise from the wind and waves threatens to drown out any other signals. This was actually very noticeable, as soon as the wind picked up, the breaching and flipper-slapping increased. Quite impressive activities from such gentle giants!
Lelei - 30 August 2013
Vandag sewe maande gelede het die dokter haar vir my aangegee. n Klein pienk bondeltjie. n Engeltjie.
Die vashou was van korte duur want sy moes gekoppel word op die monitors. Hart monitors. Soos ek voor die tyd gewaarsku was. Na n paar minute sê Joop vir my die hartjie klop normaal. Vir die oomblik in elk geval. Teen daai tyd was die operasie tafel se linne reeds nat van my trane.
Later die dag het die seuntjies hul splinternuwe baba sussie kom bewonder. Hul mag egter nie te naby gekom het aan my of haar nie, want die nag voor haar geboorte het beide loopneuse ontwikkel (van waar ????). Dit was n nagmerrie, vir hul en ook vir my. Vele male het Johannes met trane in sy oë uitgeloop as sy pa gesê het dis tyd om te gaan. Net die trane, geen woorde. En daar was ook geen woorde wat dit kon beter maak nie.
Sy was gemonitor in Pediatriese ICU, en ons Dr. Mary was ook geleerd as n pediatriese kardioloog. Sy moes alles omtrent Lelei se hartjie monitor, en het getrou elke oggend eerste ding en elke aand laaste ding vir haar kom kuier. 'n Besonderse vrou, en 'n voorreg om haar te kon leer ken gedurende ons tyd in Penang.
Na drie dae is ek offisieël ontslaan en kon huis toe gaan. Alleen. Lelei moes bly. Vir monitering. Soos ek voor die tyd gewaarsku was.
Dit het beteken dat ek elke drie tot vier ure die klokkie buite die deure van pediatriese ICU gelui het. Partykeer het sy vroeër wakker geword, en die susters moes vir haar uitgepompde borsmelk uit die yskas ontdooi. Dan het ek maar weer uitgepomp en eensaam my pad weer teruggevind boot toe. Partykeer het ek sommer besluit om die ure af te wag in die hospitaal, om sodoende nie die volgende voeding weer te mis nie. So het ek die ander opgewonde pappas sien inkom met hul leë karstoeltjies, om n paar minute later weer uit te loop met sy arm om sy vrou, en n beskermende kyk na die inhoud van die gevulde karstoeltjie in sy ander hand. Nooit het ek die waarde van daai eenvoud genoeg waardeer nie.
Die pediatriese kardioloog het in die komende paar dae n vriendin geword. Sy het verstaan. Die risikos, asook die harde feite. Vier-uur die sondagmiddag het sy in my kamer ingekom. Dit was nie haar gewone roetine nie, en ek het onmiddelik regop gesit. Sy het vroeër die dag met die ander kardioloeë op die eiland vergader, en haar advies via hul, aan my is dat hul moet opereer. Hoe gouer, hoe beter. Maar dit bly ons besluit. Sy sal na die aandrondte weer langskom om ons besluit te hoor.
Maandagoggend agt-uur sit ons vier buite die deure van Dr. Hafiz Law, pediatriese kardiotorakale chirurg van die eiland. Hy verduidelik die prosedure, en weereens die risiko's. Alles is beplan vir Donderdagoggend. Woensdag sal hul haar skuif met die ambulans na Gleneagles hospitaal, twee km van waar sy was want dis die hospitaal vanwaar hy opereer. Hy sal bygestaan word deur Dr. Mary.
Dinsdagoggend agt-uur loop ek agter die trollie aan met n slapende Lelei, haar ICU suster, en Dr. Mary aan. Lelei is vroeër die oggend gesedeer want vir die CAT scan moet sy doodstil lê, anders sal die fotos buite fokus wees en Dr. Law sal nie sy operasie beplanning kan doen nie. Na 45 minute se gerammel, wag, herhaal, gerammel en wag, stap ek weer agter die trollie aan. Terug na ICU.
Dinsdagmiddag vier-uur kom sê Dr. Mary vir my dat die CAT scan onsuksesvol was. Die hartjie is te klein, en as hul inzoom is die resolusies nie goed genoeg nie. Haar oplossing is nog n echo sonar wat Dr Law sal moet gebruik vir die operasiebeplanning. Dis die beste wat hul kan doen aangesien sy gedurende haar ontwikkeling in my baarmoeder slegs een nier ontwikkel het, en toe ook so gebore is, en dus nie sekere kleurstowwe kan inneem nie. Net toe stap Joop en die seuns in, om my te kom haal vir die drie ure tussentyd. Ek sê toe vir hom dat ek tyd saam met die seuns wil he en dat hy saam met Dr Mary moet ingaan as sy die echo sonar doen.
Dertig minute later kom hy uit ICU. Sy oë gevul met emosie. Hy sê vir my "Dr. Mary sê daar is geen operasie meer nodig nie". Kort en kragtig, soos hy mos is. Ek sê toe vir hom dat ek nie verstaan wat hy gesê het nie. Hy moet dit herhaal. "Daar het n wonderwerk gebeur, en daar is geen operasie meer nodig nie. Die bloedvloei in Lelei se hart het verander en is nou normaal. Die vernouing is ook nie meer daar nie. Daar is geen operasie meer nodig nie!"
Dr. Mary kon dit nie verklaar nie, en so ook nie die ICU susters nie. Hulle het almal die vorige echo sonars ook gesien. Dr. Mary versoek toe n tweede opinie van nog n pediatriese kardioloog van n ander hospitaal op die eiland. Later die aand na vele vrae van my aan die suster, het sy dit mooi opgesom, "don't expect to understand it, it is a miracle!"
Woesndagoggend het my drie mans in my lewe vir my en my klein engeltjie kom oplaai, en ons terug gevat boot toe.
Prys die Here!
Bassas da India
08/29/2013, Bassas da India
It was 11 years and 3 days when we last dove into the waters of Bassas. We have been looking forward to making this our last atoll of the circumnavigation since we started our trip, and as we were going round the globe, told everyone of this amazing place. Luckily the weather played with us, and we could spend two days at this remote place.
What makes this atoll different to other atolls across the globe (which we have experienced) is the scale of the experience. The atoll diameter is longer, the fish are more enormous, the waves can get more gigantic, the anchorage is wilder, the closest distance to any humans is further, and you have it all to yourself! The good and the bad of this last statement, of course...
We had an amazing time, and again we were brought closer as a family by all the challenges we faced.
We had two anchors out, and as we were lifting the aft anchor, myself and Joop were on the dingy and the kids onboard. The waves were big enough as the wind was already blowing 18kts and we had the influence of the tidal stream leaving the atoll against the waves, so the sea was choppy and busy. As I looked back to Goody, I saw the two boys standing on the deck. The yacht was jumping everywhere, but they had their balance, after the years of practise, and Johannes was standing close to Dirk. But they were out there, looking at us.
Later on he said to me, he was afraid of our safety while they were on board alone. But they were there. The whole anchor exercise only lasted approximately 10 minutes (as we had done it before a few times during the last 5 years), but I was proud to see my two boys handle the challenge, and I realised I think they are ready to face the challenges of living on land.
We were very fortunate to have been given the opportunity to experience this amazing place again, and as Bassas was disappearing behind us, I said to Joop, now he may take me home, I am ready.
It was the birds....
As I come towards the outside of the yacht to start my night shift, I hear the birds chirping and I see the moonlight falling on the calm sea. The birds are flying all around the yacht, chirping loudly and frantically, as if to issue a warning of the close proximity of a reef. My experience is that the sounds or sights of birds out on the open seas always bear a message. It indicates land, absence thereof and also sometimes the weather, depending on the species.
Tonight's message was definitely a warning of the reef coming closer. This specific reef is only visible during low tide. The only warning during high tide is the waves breaking over the reef and of course...the wreck. At 2nm away from the reef, the depth is still 1000m, and then it falls.
We only have 13.8nm to go, and we have been flying along at 6kts with the spinnaker. Even now, after the spinnaker has been dropped, we are being pulled towards this magical reef with no sails and no engines with a speed of 2.4kts!
The excitement is in the air, but we have to drift another 5 hours before the first rays of sunlight will fall on us and on Bassas da India, for the start of the next adventure!