Galapagos to Marquesas Day 15-16
28/07/2009, 8 40.64'S:136 32.17'W, Pacific Ocean
28 July 2009 Position: 8 40.64S 136 32.17W Time: noon (UTC -6) N miles to go: 212
There is nothing more beautiful than feeling and watching the sails pull Valiam along over the waves as the sun is rising. Whilst the captain slept I made a treat for breakfast using a fellow cruisers recipe (thanks Priscilla - Chautauqua): It's not a cold foggy day but we enjoyed it with canned peaches and tropical fruits with yoghurt.
"Here's one more Chautauqua favorite. Supposedly its heritage is from the sailing ships of old. No matter what, it's an easy, tasty treat for those days when you want something special, or one I make on cold, wet foggy days, too."
2 cans of fruit with the juice (peaches, apples, mango, berries or a combo) OR 2-3 cups fresh berries or fruit, cooked a few minutes with sugar to taste, to soften and form juice. You may need to add 1/4 to 1/2 cup of water to get enough juice.
For the topping:
1 to 1 1/4 cups flour, sifted if you can (whole wheat may be used)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons melted butter or vegetable oil
3/4 to 1 cup milk, buttermilk or yoghurt
Put the fruit and plenty of juice in a small sauce pan with a tight fitting lid. Bring to simmer.
Mix together the dry ingredients. Stir in oil and milk, using enough milk to form very soft dough.
Drop the dough on top of the fruit mixture, covering almost all the fruit.
Optional: dot dough with 1 tablespoon butter, cut into pieces and sprinkle 1 tablespoon cinnamon sugar or vanilla sugar on top of dough.
Place the lid on the pot and simmer on very low heat for 12-15 minutes, until the dough is cooked. The liquid should bubble around the dough.
Serve hot in individual bowls "as is" or with milk cream or yoghurt. ice cream would be tasty, too but not always possible aboard! (Priscilla, Chautauqua)
It looks like we'll make landfall tomorrow! Hooray! After 17 days at sea which is wonderful. The usual time for cruising boats is 21-24 days. We've had consistent strong trade winds with the jib poled out so we have averaged more than 180 miles a day. The champagne (last Aussie bottle) is in the fridge. Stay tuned for photos to be added when we can get access to the internet. Au revoir!
Galapagos to Marquesas Day 13 - 14
26/07/2009, 8 2.48'S:130 13.9'W, Pacific Ocean
(Some of our longlife cuisine)
26 July 2009
Position : 8 2.48S 130 13.90W
Time: 11am Galapagos
N miles to go: 589
The rainsqualls seem to have almost gone and we've had consistent SE trade winds for the past 2 days at 18-22 knots. We have been covering around 180 miles a day. We are hoping to make landfall Wednesday afternoon/early evening. This has been our longest passage and we are grateful to the designer of our yacht (Gary Lidgard) for designing such a fast yet comfortable boat. The expected time for this passage of more than 3000 nm is usually 3 weeks. Smaller boats can take up to 40 days depending of course on wind conditions. We are lucky in that so far we have had consistently strong trades and it looks like it will stay that way till we arrive.
We are both tired and yesterday everything seemed such a chore especially when things fly around the galley. Nevertheless we made pizzas together using long life bases. We are down to our last little bit of cheese but we've heard that French Polynesia has great French cheese! We have also been using more canned food to make things easier. We did catch a huge mahi mahi 2 days ago but it jumped off the hook just as Bill had him pulled up to the boat. Never mind - there's more fish in the sea!
Chautauqua has been keeping us informed of the 'fleet' that left Galapagos around the same time. Today we will be close to Tara 3 a NZ boat which left a few days before us. I will try them on the vhf to see where they are. After 2 weeks at sea the AIS went BLAARP! for the first time letting us know a ship was nearby. It was traveling at 19 knots 10 miles parallel to us but we couldn't see it. Other than the mahi mahi and the ship the only other forms of life out here are many flying fish that seem to fly in squads over the waves as Valiam comes near. The occasional sea bird also visits usually inspecting our lure.
Not far now.......
Galapagos to Marquesas Day 11 - 12
24/07/2009, 7 45.50'S:124 3.97'W, Pacific Ocean
24 July 2009 Position: 7 45.50S 124 3.97W Time: 9.45 (UTC -6hours) N miles to go: 956
Hooray! Less than 1000 miles to go! We're on the homeward run now. It's hard for us to realize where we are as the ocean looks similar everywhere. We can see where we are on the charts and the numbers on the GPS tell us how far to go etc. But really we could be anywhere. Landfall always makes things real and then we say to ourselves "Did we really sail all the way here?" Each evening we seem to be greeted with rain squalls. The wind sometimes changes direction (as well as increases) whilst Valiam goes like a charging bull sometimes at 10 knots! When the mainsail jibes it's not much fun as everything bangs, rattles and shakes, and again when captain Bill gets her back on course. We have a lot of power in our sails! We've had the jib poled out for a few days now as we seem to do mostly on long passages with the wind from behind. Mona Lisa has been working well keeping us on course. Fred the wind vane cant do such a good job with this wind strength and direction. We have only used the motor to charge up the batteries which now seems to be twice a day. We've had mostly 20 - 25 knots SE winds the last 2 days with average daily tallies of 180 nm a day. The swell has been moderate with white capped wind waves. The ocean seems to have died down a bit now.
As I write this I watched the sun rise and tick off another day on the calendar. Our Galapagos time is completely out now as it is after 9am. When we get to French Polynesia we will have to put our watches back another 4 hours.
We finally caught a fish yesterday. It was a small wahoo which is enough when filleted for 3 meals. Wahoos don't seem to thrash around after being caught and don't have as much blood and guts. It's an unpleasant job cutting up a barely breathing fish which I am happy the captain does. We enjoyed 2 fillets last night lightly fried accompanied by tartare sauce with capers, chips and steamed cabbage. The chips were made from tinned potatoes which tasted as good as fresh. We have created some nice meals from mixing tins with condiments. The other day I made a curry using tinned roast beef (from Brazil), korma sauce (South Africa), fresh onion and capsicum (Galapagos), tinned cauliflower (Oz) and tinned beans (Panama). International fusion cuisine!
Galapagos to Marquesas Day 7 - 10
22/07/2009, 7 42.28'S:117 49.92'W, Pacific Ocean
22 July 2009-07-23 Position : 7 42.28S 117 49.92W Time: 10am (UTC -6hrs) N miles to go: 1326
The days have started to blend in with one another as we crawl along this vast ocean. Looking at the world map we are the furthest from any land we've ever been. We are amazed to still see a few birds gliding effortlessly around the boat looking for fish. They are sensible enough not to go for the lure we have trolling out the back. No fish yet despite ladies spit! One large fish did get hooked but got away!
Today marks another milestone - we have passed the ľ way around the world mark! (117 degrees West with Mooloolaba as our starting point. As I type this wedged in between the table and the saloon cushions the rain is pounding on the deck outside. Bill has opened the fresh water plug to catch some into our water bladder. I might get permission to wash my hair again!! We have been very careful with fresh water using salt water wherever possible - washing dishes, hands, boiling eggs etc.
We are still making good progress and the boat has been mostly steady and comfortable. Occasionally the sails and motion of the boat change whenever there are rain squalls about. From 190 a day when we had favourable current we are now averaging 170 a day. If we can keep this up we will reach Nuku Hiva in well under 3 weeks. Our fellow yachts Chautauqua, Nakia and Seren are all doing well but are several days behind us. La Barca is still enjoying Galapagos. Priscilla from Chautauqua has been emailing us bread recipes which we have been trying with great success. Yesterday we made English muffins cooking them dry in a fry pan. Delicious!
Steve, Australian skipper of Seren informed us his letter to noonsite concerning the corruption of certain agents in San Christobal has been posted on the website. You may remember the day after our friends Nick and Kathy of Impala came into San Christobal dismasted they were taken advantage of by unscrupulous agent Fernando and his brother Challos. When confronted by them as well as Steve for the return of the money overcharged Challos made serious threats. To see this posting go: www.noonsite.com Click on 'countries, Ecuador, Galapagos. "Death Threats and Corruption in San Christobal" Steve informed us Challos tourism operator's license has been revoked. He feels justice has been served.
I was absolutely delighted to hear that the little parcel we sent for our granddaughter's birthday from Galapagos arrived in time! We were told 2 months but she received it in 2 weeks. Wonders will never cease! We were especially pleased as we had made a DVD of ourselves singing Happy Birthday to her as well as footage of the animals on Galapagos. Thank you to the absent senorita at the San Christobal Post Office!
We are now more than halfway to Nuku Hiva and look forward to seeing those tall green peaks emerge when we make landfall. Still a long way to go - so keep those emails coming in, especially of any news out there in the world beyond the ocean
HAPPY 7TH BIRTHDAY CAYLAN!
21/07/2009, Townsville Australia
We are in the middle of the ocean when you are celebrating your birthday. We wish you were there! We know you will have lots of fun as you enjoy parties as much as Nanny does! Love you heaps and heaps precious princess xxxxxxxxxx See you in a few months
Nanny and Pa
Galapagos to Marquesas Day 5-6
18/07/2009, 5 49.30'S:106 41.23'W, Pacific Ocean
18th July 2009
Time: (Galapagos) 10.00am
Position: 5 49.30S 106 41.23W
N miles to go: 2000 (1/3 of the way there!)
ENCOUNTER WITH FISHING BOAT FROM ECUADOR
The days and nights are getting easier, the seas smoother and we can now sleep in the forward main cabin. At night the stars are so brilliant and humbling to look at. We are just a little spec crawling along the earth's watery surface. I could make out the Southern Cross again in a different position but somehow I do feel closer and connected to home on this Pacific Ocean. (Even though we still have 6000 miles to go!)
Whilst taking my afternoon nap yesterday I heard the radio loud and clear: "This is fishing boat, fishing boat from Manta. Hello hello!!" Then something again in Spanish. I jumped out of bed. 'Who's that?' Bill got his binoculars out and in the distance he spotted a large fishing vessel. He said I could answer the radio. "Fishing boat. Fishing boat . This is sailing yacht Valiam. Over" A heavily accented male voice replied in English "Hello. What is your name? How many persons on board? We are a fishing boat from Ecuador." I looked at Bill and said "I won't tell him there are only 2 of us." The captain kept looking at the fishing vessel as it got closer with a worried expression. I decided to respond in a friendly fashion assuming they were just bored and interested in us. We were 1000 miles from Galapagos and 2000 miles from the Marquesas. A long way from any land. "Hello -we are an Australian family. Our yacht's name is Valiam. Victor Alpha Lima India Alpha Mike. What is yo ur name? Over" He replied that their vessel's name was Maria Jose and they had 24 people on board, mostly Ecuador people and some Portuguese. They would return to Ecuador in 2 weeks. He wanted to know where we were going, if we were ok etc. By this time we had relaxed and realized they were just being curious and friendly. We talked about catching fish. I said we had caught a wahoo recently. He said "We have plenty wahoo, tuna, dorado. You want some? We can launch our speed boat." Before I replied, Captain Bill said "No - that's not a good idea.." I replied that we were fine and had plenty of food and liked catching our own fish. I complimented him on his English. He said he worked with Americans for 3 years. We then wished each other well and said 'Bye and good journey'. By this time they were very close passing us from the opposite direction. I hastily put on lots of clothes and took lots of photos whilst Bill watched them with the binoculars. He said there were a bunch o f them sitting in the top viewing tower of the vessel. I couldn't see anyone but waved to them anyway. Although we were fairly sure they were friendly we were also relieved when they disappeared into the distance. The captain reminded me of Challos in Galapagos who was initially friendly but later threatened our friends. He said "They think they can do what they like out here." It's a shame we have to be on guard all the time due to the bad behaviour of some. Our Ecuadorian fishing boat friend was I am sure just being friendly. I am sure it's very boring for a bunch of men to be out at sea for weeks/months on end. Our little sailing boat provided a diversion for them. I don't think they see sailing boats very often. It's a big wide sea out here and even though we know of several yachts sailing in this direction we know we'll never see them.
We will crack the 2000 miles to go this morning! Party time! The chocolate biscuits are gone so I will bake some muffins or a cake. A nice bottle of South African white wine is chilling in the fridge. I made a delicious cottage pie using Galapagos fresh mince and potatoes which lasted 2 meals. We also had the steak last night. It was tasty but a bit tough. Although we have a few pork chops left half frozen, we'll have the fishing line out. We had it out yesterday but lost our sparkly pink lure and trace after a fish took off with it! We now have a sparkly orange and lime green one. We have heard that WD40 or ladies spit on the lure attracts fish. We will let you know the results!
Galapagos to Marquesas Day 3-4
16/07/2009, 3 35.9'S:100 58.2'W, Pacific Ocean
16th July 2009
Position: 3 35.99S 100 58.22W (at 117 deg W we'll be 3/4 way around the world)
N miles to go: 2358
After 4 nights at sea we are starting to get into the routine of a long passage. Our days are punctuated by recording our position every 6 hours, meals, and of course scanning the horizon every 20 minutes. I am getting used to sleeping in 'the cave' and now that we are using Fred the wind vane to steer Mona Lisa's groaning is absent. Our speed remains high - rarely under 7 knots and mostly 8 knots+. Sometimes at night when the wind picks up a bit Valiam feels like an express train rushing through the darkness leaving phosphorescence in her wake. I saw the GPS read 11 knots going down a wave! We appear to have a bit of current with us which is great. We've been covering 190 miles in the last 24 hours! Fred steers us a bit to the south so the captain says he will correct this in a day or so when the wind is even more from behind by poling out the jib.
As conditions have improved as far as the motion of the boat and my sea sickness has abated I decided to do some baking yesterday. Using packet mixes of chocolate fudge and chocolate biscuits we now have some thing nice to eat with our afternoon tea and midnight snacks. The day before yesterday I cooked a chicken casserole using a fresh chicken from the market in Puerto Baquerizo Moreno. Inside it was a small plastic bag with its feet (including claws), head (without a beak), liver and heart. We have eaten soup based on these ingredients before but I couldn't do it so the 'extra bits' went overboard. The casserole was delicious and has lasted 2 meals and there is still a bit left over for lunch today.
We are not sure how far behind the other yachts are except for Seren who sent us their position yesterday. They left 2 days after us and Bill estimates they will get to Nuku Hiva a week after us. It's interesting gathering all the information about Nuku Hiva from our pilot books, noon site and other cruisers circumnavigations. Apart from the anchorage being a bit rolly we know the sand will be black; there are amazing peaks and waterfalls as well as archaeological sites with tikis. We are prepared for expensive prices although I do believe the baguettes and French cheese is cheap. Still a long way to go before we can savour these delicacies. I have some local cheese (quesa) on board made in Galapagos which we haven't tried yet. It looks soft like goats cheese.
We have received emails from our friends in Galapagos. La Barca will be leaving there in a few days but as they are a smaller boat will not reach the Marquesas for a while after us and we may have left by then. Impala the yacht that was dismasted had a visit from their insurance company's surveyor. It seems they may have to motor all the way back to mainland Ecuador for repairs and the rig won't arrive until November. How difficult and stressful for Nick and Kathy. Our thoughts are with them. So far so good with Valiam. She is ploughing through the waves in her usual robust, speedy fashion. The wind has been mostly around 20 knots from the S-SE with the occasional rain squall that makes her go even faster!
Galapagos to Marquesas Day 1-2
14/07/2009, 1 37.9'S:94 58.0'W, Pacific Ocean
14th July 2009
Time: (Galapagos) 9.30am
Position: 1 37.9S 94 58.0W
Total miles: 3054 N
miles to go: 2734
Another long passage and the longest yet! As we settle into the routine night watches and trying to get comfortable to sleep we can't complain too much as Valiam is rocketing along already having done 300 miles in the first day and a half. The motion is better than the last passage but still a bit bouncy in the fore cabin. I got a bit cranky last night when I decided to sleep in the 'cave' (starboard quarter berth) and found our precious pawpaw only bought 2 days ago already going mouldy and leaking all over the sheets. Nothing for it but to toss the sheets, cut off the mould and rescue the rest of the pawpaw and remake the bed with fresh sheets. Whilst crawling in there I had to make room as we had more junk in there than we should have. So at around 1am I finally snuggled down to the sound of Mona Lisa (electric autopilot) moaning and groaning right next to me. (Fred the wind vane doesn't steer us very well at this angle) I guess lying down not sleeping for a couple of hour s is still better than having to check outside every 20 minutes.
Galapagos was a great place to visit and after 2 weeks there we were ready to tackle this long passage. We left on Sunday 12th July at 1.30 pm about 1.5 hours after Nakia and Chautauqua and Taisho close behind us. The crew of the yachts in the anchorage gave us all a great send off with tooting horns etc. It felt like a Sunday afternoon yacht race!! We passed Nakia a couple of hours later (taking lovely photos of each other sailing along) and remained in vhf radio contact with the others until about 1am the first night. As we are now too far ahead we will be contacting each other by email along the way. Seren is due to leave soon if they haven't already. La Barca will be about another week. We are aiming for Nuku Hiva as it has a better anchorage in Taiohae Bay than Oa Hiva. The anchorages in the Marquesas are known to be very rolly.
We have lots of books to read and new DVDs swapped so we have plenty of entertainment on board. I watched a movie called 'Holiday' last night with 'English' subtitles I couldn't remove. The text was quite hilarious and unlike the story with most words very different to what was said. A classic example was instead of 'block buster' it read 'black bastard'. I am still fighting a bit of sea sickness but with the help of Sturgeron (and high carbohydrate food!) I am coping ok. We have about a week's worth of meat on board so wont try any fishing yet.
(Photo of Nakia above)
11/07/2009, Puerto Baquerizo Moreno
Sea lions keep jumping in our dinghy! (more photos in photo gallery)
Puerto Baquerizo Moreno
11th July 2009
The two weeks we have spent here has been one of the highlights of our voyage. The harbour here is small and friendly, the temperature perfect and the wildlife even just within walking distance has been amazing. Although initially I thought we would have iguanas and turtles swimming amongst the sea lions next to the boat , we haven't been disappointed. The marine iguanas live a precarious life only eating algae from volcanic rocks at low tide in particular places. The bird life is prolific and we have enjoyed watching them from the boat as well as on our walks in the National park.
La Barca arrived 2 days ago just after dawn. We gave them a rousing welcome and were soon rowing over to them with a bottle of champagne. After a champagne breakfast and dealing with the authorities, we have spent all our time together. The kids are having a great time wandering amongst the sea lions, watching the red crabs and marine iguanas. At Leboria beach Adam and the kids swam with the sea lions with big grins on their faces. Yesterday we walked on one of the hiking trails with La Barca crew, Kathy (Impala), and Priscilla (Chautauqua) to picnic in a volcanic rock cave amongst the sea lions and snorkel in the small protected lagoon. Even though the water was cold we saw so many fish as well as the sea lions swimming past and boobie birds dive under water. This little bay is where it is thought Charles Darwin anchored on the ship Beagle. There is a statue of him overlooking the bay. The bird lookout was thoroughly enjoyed by all. We could see the large bright parrot fish swimming around amongst the rocks as well as the sea lions basking, fighting and swimming. The pelicans here are large and have russet feathers on the back of their neck and dark grey wings. The blue footed boobies entertained us again bomb diving for fish as the frigate birds circled overhead.
In the last few days we have discovered small local restaurants where we eat a 2 course meal for $2.50 to $4.50. The food is tasty and usually includes a bowl of soup (sometimes with chicken feet!), rice, salad and a meat dish depending on what is on the menu. I am going to the market this morning to stock up for our passage to the Marquesas. We have found the food here very cheap and quite good quality which is surprising for somewhere a long way form anywhere.
The day after Impala arrived they realized along with Steve (Seren) that their agent had overcharged them by several hundred dollars. When they confronted Fernando and his brother Challos they were verbally abused by Challos who said "This is my country. I can do what I like and get a gun shoot you and throw you off the back of the boat". As Nick and Kathy are still upset after being dismasted and will be spending some months here in Galapagos it was not a good introduction for them. Shocked and upset Steve (who speaks some Spanish) took them up to see the Port Captain. He was not amused. To cut a long story short they have received back the money and Fernando is no longer employed as an agent. Steve has since posted a letter on www.noonsite.com called 'Death Threats and Corruption in San Christobal'. We have been quite happy with our agent Bolivar who charged us $80 for his services. Our total bill including immigration, port fees, zarpe and agents fee was $230. We have just heard from another yacht who went to Santa Cruz and has had to pay in excess of $300 and was charged $60 for fumigation. Although we were one of the few yachts which was visited by quarantine we didn't have to pay a fumigation fee. Apart from the unpleasantness experienced by Impala and Seren by Fernando and his brother we have found everyone here to be helpful and friendly. At this point I would also like to mention Manola and Tina who run Sharksky tours. They are a fantastic support to the yachties and as they speak English are very helpful and cant do enough for us.
Today we are comparing notes with La Barca with information for the upcoming voyage across the Pacific. As we farewell Galapagos we look forward to seeing beautiful places in the Pacific and meeting up with friends along the way. Seren and Chautauqua are also leaving tomorrow and we'll be keeping in contact along the way by email. Steve (Seren) also has an iridium phone se we have devised a system of sending messages on that also. It will be nice to be at sea again. We believe there's a good chance it will be a good downhill run all the way to the Marquesas. All 3055 miles of it!! I will send messages to the website via the satellite phone along the way so you can see how we are going. Ciao for now!
Sketching Galapagos Marine Iguanas
07/07/2009, Leboria beach San Christobal
Linda balanced on wet volcanic rock quickly sketching the iguana before he got away!
last days in Galapagos
07/07/2009, Puerto Baquerizo Moreno
Puerto Baquerizo Moreno
7th July 2009
As the tour boats zip by making Valiam rock around and the nearby ship's generators continually hum we are actually looking forward to being out at sea again. Our friends have had a more difficult time getting to Galapagos than we have. La Barca have repaired their rigging themselves anchored off a quiet headland on the coast of Ecuador and are now a couple of days away so we have decided to wait for them. They have sent us daily reports and positions so we know how they are doing. I imagine the children will be itching to get off the boat when they finally get here! On Sunday night we woke about midnight and noticed a yacht without a mast anchored next to us. As we were expecting our friends Nick and Kathy to arrive on Impala Bill thought it might be them as the yacht was the same size and make (Bavaria 46). I woke early yesterday and saw it was them and as fellow yachties we were devastated for them. We rowed our dinghy over and heard the full story. About 100 miles away, the forestay came away from the deck fitting and the mast, boom, rigging and sails landed on the deck and in the water in a big mess. Luckily both Nick and Kathy were down below and didn't get hurt. Nick then proceeded to cut all the rigging wires (with a hacksaw as bolt cutters didn't work) to release the whole rig and sails into the ocean. Kathy took photos, recorded everything in the log whilst Nick worked. After Âľ hour they had to watch their beautiful new sails less than a year old and the mast etc disappear into the sea. The dodger over the cabin crushed but saved the chart plotter. Luckily some of the antennas for the radio etc weren't damaged. They were still shell shocked by the experience of course and are now in the process of dealing with their insurance company. They will be here for several months most likely. At this stage they are thinking that perhaps the yacht may be taken back to Ecuador for the new rig to be sent from England with experts to install it. Impala is only 4 years old and it seems the fault may have been in the furler fitting. This could happen to anyone and they were lucky to be close enough to motor to land. Also the passage to here is hard on the rigging due to sailing to windward.
Our next stop will be Niku Hiva in the Marquesas 3500 miles away. It should be trade wind sailing all the way. Needless to say Captain Bill has been checking our rig and has decided to keep the inner forestay up for the next passage as extra security for the mast. We can only carry enough fuel for 500 miles so we will be taking every precaution to arrive in one piece.
Now back to the Galapagos! We are enjoying the 'small coastal town' atmosphere here and feeling fairly relaxed and accepting of the unhurried pace of living. Inefficiency and lack of work ethic seems to be in most places we've been on this trip (including Singapore!) Just as an example I will describe to you our experience of trying to mail a small parcel and some postcards at the Post Office:
The first time we went to the Post Office it was shut (lunch time-siesta time). The 2nd time we went, there was only one beautifully made up young girl who communicated to us in Spanish with actions. She looked at the small parcel as if she didn't know what it was. Apparently the senorita that has the key to the draw that sells stamps wasn't there. We were to come back in 20 minutes. The 3rd time we went back a young man was at the counter. He saw our parcel and the beautiful girl out the back tottered out in high heels raising her arms with a questioning look then went out the door. After deliberating what to do and pointing at the empty 'senorita's' desk with a smile and shrug he went about looking up books for postal rates. He weighed it in an ancient weighing machine and took a long time to work out the cost. Now it's not as if there aren't any tourists here. There are busloads milling about every day. Eventually he wrote down US$22.80. We paid up and he put a sticker on the parcel. Then he placed it on top of a pile of untidy books near the 'senorita's desk'. When I presented the postcards he said no he couldn't do that and I had to go to a tourist shop that sold stamps. After looking worriedly at our little parcel we went to the shop down the road for stamps. We were told US$3 each for postcards to Oz! We have also since found out that it takes more than 2 months for mail to reach their destination from Galapagos. Maybe it sits on the 'senorita's desk' for a month! Anyway poor Caylan (our granddaughter) will have to wait for her birthday parcel. This kind of thing happens everywhere in South America. Just as well we're yachties with heaps of time!!
The other day we walked to the Interpretation centre. It's a modern eco-type building with an excellent display on the history of Galapagos. There were no staff there. No other tourists. No brochures or books. It was just us wandering around looking at the displays. It seems employed staff are often not at their place of employment! We then walked to a beach on the headland which was covered in sea lions. They are the funniest things continually belching, barking and snorting etc whilst rolling around in the sand often on top of other sea lions. They behave a bit like dogs actually. One flopped down next to us rolled on to its back looking at us with puppy eyes. Now these animals are wild creatures and they are not the sort you pat. They also have sharp teeth. The water was cool and a beautiful cool blue. Several sea lions were swimming and playing in the water. We had our snorkels and I tentatively went out in the water. It's supposed to be the done thing to swim with these creatures but I was scared! As we were the only ones on this deserted beach, and as I said before they ARE wild animals, I didn't swim/snorkel for long. The other thing is because there are so many sea lions here they leave their smelly poos everywhere so the place stinks! But it's still a gorgeous place. It's just that it's the sea lions hang out and WE are the visitors!
Wanting to see the marine iguanas again to sketch them we hired a taxi to take us to Leboria beach. It was difficult to find them. This time the surf was huge and pounding on the volcanic rocks making them wet. The iguanas only eat algae on the rocks at low tide. It was half way to low tide but we managed to find one small iguana who seemed a bit scared of us, wanting to run and hide. I managed a few quick sketches that you can see in the photo gallery (and one above).
Saturday will most likely be our departure day. So, before then we will do some fresh food shopping, arrange water and diesel and clear out using our agent Bolivar.
Exploring San Christobal
Galapagos Marine Iguana - isnt he handsome?
Puerto Baquerizo Moreno
1 July 2009
After being out at sea it is always nice to have a look around our landfall by car. Yesterday Jorge the taxi driver drove us around the southern part of San Christobal to see the sights. First we saw a fresh water crater lake after climbing up many steps in cool fresh misty air . We could just see the lake (Junco) through the mist. Jorge is also a naturalist and described many rare endemic plants as well as many we have in Queensland ,Australia that have been introduced. We drove to a couple of beaches and walked from each parking zone to see volcanic stones lining the beach and many Galapagos creatures. Darwin's famous finches were in abundance and quite tame. You could see their strong blunt bills evolved to open nuts and seeds. Jorge took us to the newly created Tortoise breeding centre. The bigger tortoises were released into several hectares of landscape the same as their natural environment. The babies were in cages of crushed volcanic rock and wire to keep predators out. These tortoises are the great great great grandchildren of Harriet the Galapagos tortoise that lived at Australia Zoo and recently passed away at around 200 years old. Harriet it is believed , came on Darwin's ship to Sydney.
I was keen to see the marine iguanas. So after a nice lunch at a 'The Ranch' which had amazing gardens including a tree that dropped so much pink blossoms it looked like pink grass - like fairy land! We walked to the beach near Loberia which is surrounded by many dark grey volcanic boulders. There laying and clasping the boulders were the most ugly prehistoric awesome creatures I have ever seen! They live on algae that they can reach at low tide covering the volcanic rocks. I felt I was witnessing the life of very special ancient creatures whose life depended on their environment not ever changing. After 100s of photos we hope to visit there again. Loberia is not far from town and we can take a $3 taxi ride there. At the same beach further along it is a good snorkeling place to see turtles, rays etc if one can brave the cold water!
Our friends on La Barca have broken some rigging sailing to windward and have had to turn back to the Ecuadorian coast to anchor and make repairs. We have been in daily contact and have been concerned about them but they seem fine and hopefully they will be on their way again. We are not sure if we will still be here in Galapagos when they finally arrive. This is the way of cruising friendships I guess.. But in my heart I know we will see them again.. Being the 1st of July we are conscious of time getting away and we need to get through the next long leg to Marquesas very soon. In the meantime we are taking it easy here and enjoying the wildlife of Galapagos!
(more pics in gallery - click on little camera)
Siesta time - San Chrisobal sea lion
They are very sleepy until you get close then up they grovel and bark at you!
Sea Lions - Galapagos
Puerto Baquerizo Moreno
29 June 2009
This is a lovely low key holiday town where the sea lions are everywhere! It is bigger than we thought with numerous cafes, tourist shops lining the waterfront street. We yachties almost blend in with the rest of the tourists who have flown half way around the world to get here. The main difference is we have tanned wrinkled skin whilst some of the people we've seen have baby white skin and look like they've come direct from their office in London! There is plenty to do with lots of places to visit on this island itself mainly concerned with the natural environment, animals and history of Galapagos.
The anchorage here is fine, a little rolly but nothing like the anchorage at Santa Cruz we believe which faces the south. We have met several yachties from USA, Germany and South Africa who are all sailing to the Marquesas soon. Some are going the same way across the Pacific as us some are going to Hawaii and one couple are staying in French Polynesia for a year. I think we'll have plenty of company as we go back to Oz! We still wait for La Barca and think they will still be a few more days yet. We feel lucky to have a boat that sails as well as Valiam does in less time it seems than most yachts. A French catamaran left Balboa the same day as us didn't stop in La Perlas and arrived here only 2 days before we did. We stayed 3 days in La Perlas so we managed to get to Galapagos in less time than they did. Go Valiam go!
The sea lions are everywhere here. They swim around the boat, are lying about the steps, rocks, footpaths and on beaches. They love to climb in small boats and dinghies. This is why the yachties keep their dinghies out of the water and use the water taxis. We walked to Playa de Oro (Golden Beach) where the sea lions were basking in the sun, and swimming with the bathers. They smell! Although they look endearing they bark, belch, groan, dribble and smell like rotten fish! The ones with golden fur haven't moulted yet. I have excellent footage of a large male sea lion squashing and lying on top of 4 other sea lions which may have been his family. They look so ungainly and sluggish on land but amazingly graceful swimming in the water. There are lots of photos of the sea lions in the photo gallery!
We also saw a tiny iguana perched on a rock. His skin was grey and wrinkly giving the impression he was ancient. The wildlife already has been fascinating and we haven't even begun really exploring yet. Apparently there are quite reasonably priced tours to various places around San Christobal. In the meantime as I type this we are waiting for our self appointed agent Bolivar to turn up to start the clearing in process. Other yachties say we will be at least $200 poorer. The locals certainly all get their bit from the tourists and yachties here. Apart from the navy and National Park tourism is the only industry.
By the way the 'Galapagos duck' who sat on our bow rail is definitely a Booby. There are T shirts, hats etc in the tourist shops that say "I love boobies"! Perhaps our grandson Joe may like one as he is not happy about being weaned!
Arrival in San Christobal, GALAPAGOS
28/06/2009, Galapagos Islands Ecuador
Puerto Baquerizo Moreno
28 June 2009
Position: 00 53.756S 89 36.78W
After 7.5 days leaving La Perlas, Panama we arrived windblown and exhausted in Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, San Christobal Island just before sunset. Just as we popped the cork on the champagne radio was calling 'Valiam this is Nikea...' The lady on Nikea kindly let us know that Bolivar the agent was on his way and that he was very nice and to basically trust him with our paperwork. Bolivar in Spanish-English said his fee was $80 and that he would bring the port captain in 10 minutes. Goodness - no time to comb the hair, a few more gulps of champagne while it was still cold then the young Port Captain arrived in his impeccable khaki uniform, mirror shiny shoes and agent Bolivar in tow. Everyone was very friendly as we got on with the paperwork. Soon a pretty Quarantine lady arrived to fill in more forms and asked about animals or whether we had swine flu. (This was done in charades ha-ha!) Whilst waiting for the water taxi to return the officials to the port we had a stilted conversation in broken English/Spanish about families. My little well traveled album of our family, grubbily thumbed by now, assisted our exchange.
The sun had well and truly set as we finished off the champagne. Puerto Baquerizo Moreno is busier and bigger than we thought. There are about 7 yachts here. Apparently when it's busy there are 30 in this small anchorage! There are 4 big triple decker tourist boats anchored next to us with generators going. We have also been visited by several seals swimming around the boat and a turtle. As we are the last boat in we have a view of the ocean as well as all the boats buzzing out to sea with tourists on board.
The lady on Nikea is also called Linda and she kindly gave us some maps and brochures this morning on their way into town by water taxi. Everyone shuts for siesta after lunch so if we want to see anything we'll have to get moving before lunch. There seem to be lots of tour operators, hotels, restaurants etc so I don't think we'll get bored. I hope to find an internet cafĂ© today to update our website.
We are very grateful our boat sails so well to windward in these conditions. Linda of Nikea said the quickest trips she had heard of were 8-10 days. They took several weeks with tops ups of fuel etc in Colombia to get here. 7.5 days is fantastic and we've only used 73 litres of fuel since Colon which included the Panama canal transit and charging the batteries. All things considered we've had a great trip here despite being a bit uncomfortable for a few days. La Barca is still over 600 miles away. Their boat is smaller and slower than Valiam. We are in daily contact and hope they get here soon. In the meantime we will enjoy a bit of local exploration. There seems to be lots of free information about Galapagos and its history about the place including The San Christobal Interpretation Centre.
I have put some photos in the new album marked 'Galapagos'. The internet is slow so do enjoy them!!!
Panama to Galapagos - Day 8
28/06/2009, Pacific Ocean
Our "Galapagos duck!?"
Panama to Galapagos -Day 8
27 June 2009 , 10.30am
Position :0 35.1S 89 3.9W
'Land Ho!' says the captain waking me from my daytime nap in the saloon. I immediately climbed outside to have a look. There very clearly seen against the bright blue sky were the brown and blue-grey peaks of San Christobal Island, Galapagos. What a moment to savour! Although around 35 miles away, we could see the island very clearly. This morning we were visited by a very friendly large grey bird with a sky blue beak and eyes to match. He balanced himself on our bow rail with his orange feet. He looked at us as if to say "I'm going to sit here whether you like it or not". We christened him our Galapagos duck for indeed he did have the proportions and feet like a duck. His head to me looked a little like some of the pictures I have seen of the Mauritius Dodo bird. He stayed long enough for 100 photos and a movie then flew off.
Valiam has sailed so well and maintained at least 7 knots sailing to windward for the last few days. We left Las Pearlas a week ago so we are very pleased to be here so soon. The water temperature is now 23degrees and 27 degrees in the cabin. It feels like winter at home. Sunny cool and crisp. The Ecuador flag is ready to go up. It's similar to the Colombian flag except it has an intricate design in the centre of a shield incorporating the highest mountain in Ecuador Mt Chimborazo, a steam ship, 4 important months of the zodiac and a condor bird on top. (Read that in our book 'Flags of the world') I bought this flag happily so I wouldn't have to make it as I have done with most other countries.
Another important milestone was crossing the equator at 1.45am this morning for the fourth time! Needless to say I didn't wake the captain for this but watched the numbers change to 00 00.00N then S on the AIS ship plotter screen and tried to photograph it. Back in the southern hemisphere and closer to home!
Panama to Galapagos : Days 6-7
26/06/2009, 0 28.2'N:86 18.3'W, Pacific Ocean
Panama to Galapagos Day 7 26 June 2009, 8.30am Position: 0 28.2 N 86 18.3W NM to go: 214
The dawn arrived earlier this morning because we are further west. Going across the Pacific will be interesting with the time changes. We have to tick each day on the calendar otherwise we wouldn't know what day it was! Valiam is going well with a current speed of 7 knots. Last night the wind dropped a couple of times and she slowed down to 3.3 at one stage. However she's picked up her skirts this morning dancing along anxious to have a rest in Galapagos as we are!
At this stage we are concerned that we may have a night time landfall ahead of us! (We always seem to do this!) It depends if the wind stays consistent and whether we can maintain our speed. We did lose a bit last night for a couple of hours when the wind dropped. The captain has put 2 reefs in the main to make it a little more comfortable on board but he may shake them out today to increase our speed.
When heeling to starboard working in the galley is extremely difficult. All food items and condiments want to fly out when the galley 'pigeon holes' don't have a barrier (such as plastic plate, chopping board etc.) One thing about cruising that can get wearing is the constant 'ferreting' for necessary items and putting other things back. Doing this, trying to balance and only have one hand free is extremely difficult at times. After an hour in the galley I feel I have done a yoga work out! Yesterdays efforts in the galley produced almost failures! Having a huge pawpaw to use I decided to make a loaf, doubling the recipe I usually use (there was also extra grated pawpaw). After 2 hours in the oven it was raw in the middle and burnt on the outside and sank quite a bit in the tin. We also made a fruit cake with dried raisins that were starting to turn into toffee. This time the cake was too dry and crumbly to hold. To improve things I decided to make some custard with custard p owder. It didn't thicken much and after being left it looked like milk. Cooking it again with more custard powder turned it into something inedible with burnt lumps - down the sink! A new batch of custard was then made using 3 times the amount of custard powder and after another hour in the galley it worked. Next it was time to make pawpaw and cucumber salad - another hour later of carefully balancing and chopping! Bill cooked the fish and by the time we had dinner it was 9pm. As we usually eat at 6pm when sailing our night time routine had to be rescheduled. This was fixed by putting the clock back and hour. One thing I must say about the pawpaw loaf, it is a good cure for constipation!
We received an email from La Barca and they are feeling disheartened as they are making slow progress and still have more than 700 miles to go. Hopefully we'll still overlap and see each other in Galapagos. I have finished reading the Life and Times of Charles Darwin so now I will have a much better idea of what he was about when we visit Galapagos. Interestingly it was the variations he found in a small finch that reinforced his theory of 'Natural Selection' not tortoises or iguanas as I previously thought. It was amazing how many books Darwin churned out in his lifetime. The skeleton of the archaeopteryx found during his lifetime reinforced his theory of evolution where animals then had both feathers and scales. Of course many discoveries of early man and other dinosaurs since Darwin's death have continued to support his theories.
There isn't much sign of life out here except for the occasional fish we catch and occasionally a curious bird will circle us for a while. However last night we did see a boat light traveling parallel to us for several hours. It wasn't a ship or yacht but some type of motor vessel - perhaps a fishing boat. Nice to know there are other humans out here. Keep those emails coming in!
Panama to Galapagos - Day 6 25 June 2009 Position: 1 30.59N 83 50.75W NM to go: 375
It's feeling cooler already even though we haven't reached the equator and aren't in the Southern hemisphere 'winter' yet. Although we are still heeling to starboard the motion of Valiam is a bit more tolerable (or are we getting used to it?) The wind is coming more from the south so we are now heading a bit south of the Galapagos to allow for easier sailing as we get closer.
Tender fresh fish fillets are on the menu now as yesterday we caught a 5kg wahoo. I endeavoured to make hors'douvres in the form of sushi. Unfortunately we have no sheets of seaweed so it didn't hold together as the rice wasn't sticky enough. After all the complicated preparation I was not a happy galley slave. We then used the rest of the ingredients to enjoy it as sashimi complete with wasabi and chopsticks - a bit tricky with the boat heeling and bouncing around! For those of you who are interested in the fishing techniques we used a pink glittery squid on a medium sized hook with metal trace. The worst part of catching a fish is the blood and guts everywhere. It's hard to disassociate the staring eyes and open mouth of the fish in its death throes with the tender fish on our dinner plates.
The most exciting news I have left until last! We are to be grandparents again for the 3rd time! Our daughter Vashti and husband Craig are expecting their 3rd child on 31st January. It does seem that we are meant to be back home in Oz this summer! Nanny Linda won't be knitting bootees but will be looking for unusual baby clothes in the Pacific islands!
Panama to Galapagos : Days 3-5
24/06/2009, 2 31.5'N:82 6.9'W, Pacific Ocean
Capn Bill WITHOUT pirate,errol flyn moustache. See Caylan Pa doesnt look weird any more!
Panama to Galapagos - Day 5 24 June 2009 11.30 am Position : 2 31.5N 82 6.9W
494 miles to go! As we punch into the waves beating to windward heeling to starboard still we count the miles and estimate 'When will we be there?' We are averaging 5.5 to 6 knots and it looks like we'll be uncomfortable for the rest of the trip.. We are both tired and trying to cook interesting meals in the galley is difficult due to the awkward angle. However we mustn't complain too much - at least we are making progress and this was always going to be a difficult passage.
La Barca is about 230 miles behind us and also now has a 15 knot SW wind. The wind increased to 15-20 knots SW for us last night but is now again at around 15.
Nothing much else to report - a couple of ships passed us 10 miles away last night but we couldn't see them. We also saw in the distance what we thought may have been killer whales or they were huge black dolphins! At least the sun is out now. The water temperature has dropped a few degrees and we can expect it to go down to 18-20 degrees in Galapagos due to the Humboldt current.
Panama to Galapagos - Day 4 23 June 2009 Position :
Bump! Slap! We're heeling over to starboard as we sail westwards into a southwesterly towards Galapagos with 580 miles to go. It's a bit uncomfortable so the main cabin won't be occupied tonight as the bed would act as a trampoline sloping towards the floor! I am balancing the computer on my lap with one foot supporting it on the table on the downward side.
A strange thing happened today. As we were sailing along both enjoying happy hour in the cockpit I glanced towards my left and there bobbing about not more than 30m away was a small open bright green fishing boat 100 miles from land. As we hadn't seen anything not even ships since we left Las Pearlas this came as a great surprise. I hurriedly covered myself with a sarong as we weren't wearing much. We noticed 2 outboards and the fishermen didn't return our waves. Perhaps they were just as surprised to see us sailing past so closely. It felt like quite a strange encounter. I have read about pirates around here but the captain says there's no truth in it.
If we are able to maintain our course and speed towards Galapagos it may mean we may arrive on the weekend. That means overtime fees for the officials! We often seem to make landfall near dark or out of business hours! Maybe we'll slow down and arrive on Monday...
Today we logged 20,000 nautical miles since leaving Mooloolaba, Australia on 5th November 2007. What a long way we've come! So raise your glasses for us! Hooray! We will also cross the equator for the FOURTH time on this trip in the next day or two! I better put some bubbly in the fridge for our arrival in Galapagos.
I am half way through reading 'Charles Darwin His Life and Times'. It was interesting to read that he didn't really spend much time in Galapagos but took away many specimens away with him back to London. There he spent time reflecting, reading, conversing with scientists and began to form his theories of evolution. I was surprised to learn that he was a keen hunter and shot many animals on his 5 year voyage around the world. He and his fellow shipmates on the Beagle also took tortoises with them for fresh food. He was a privileged person as family money financed his expeditions. It was also interesting to read that he suffered terribly from seasickness but still maintained his interest in the natural sciences in each landfall after being at sea for many weeks on end. No Sturgeron in those days!
Panama to Galapagos - Day 3 22 June 2009 Position: 4 16.80N 79 40.70W 6pm
We seem to have left the thunderstorms behind today. Valiam is sailing gently along as Bill adjusts the wind vane to keep her on course. As with previous sailors we've read about on this passage we have sailed in a big 'S' trying to stay with the best wind. I can feel the days starting to blur into one another as we find our rhythm out here. It is difficult to say when we will make landfall - it all depends on the wind! We are reading books, day dreaming, cooking meals and maintaining our watch for ships of which we haven't seen any. I have started sewing a couple of the beautiful hand stitched molas from the San Blas islands (Kuna Yala) on to cushion covers and watched a couple of movies on the new portable dvd player I bought in Panama. (The previous one packed it in)
It is early evening and we are listening to music and enjoying a glass of wine whilst a group of dolphins cavorted around Valiam. It is certainly very pleasant now it is not raining and we can sit in the cockpit without getting wet. We still have a few meals left with the fresh meat we bought but in a day or so it will be time to put the fishing lures out. After the busyness of Panama it is nice to have time to reflect and slow down out here at sea. We spend a bit of time talking about what we'll do when we get back to Australia. As we want to continue cruising we will try and make things work so we can. Bill wants to make a few adjustments to Valiam before we go again. It will be an achievement to complete our circumnavigation and we look forward to the thrill and excitement of sailing back into Mooloolaba. There are still many places we want to explore, see and perhaps even revisit. But in the meantime the Pacific beckons even if it is at a leisurely pace at the momen t.
Panama to Galapagos : Days 1 - 2
21/06/2009, 6 3.02'N:79 0.36'W, Pacific Ocean
Panama to Galapagos - Days 1-2 21 June 2009 Position: 1.15pm - 6 3.02N 79 0.36W
Within an hour of leaving La Perlas islands yesterday we discovered our 'good' computer we do all our emails on has a nasty virus. I stupidly inserted a USB memory stick that had been infected at an internet cafďż˝ and opened it without scanning it with AVG virus detector. Consequently our number 1 computer has become unusable. It is still running through a total scan 21 hours later and found 144 threats/infections. The virus is called Win32/Heur and it's horrible and got into every program/file. So with the Pacific to cross and email being important not only for contact with family and friends but for receiving weather grib files I got stuck into making our old computer work. I finally achieved this but it is a lot slower and cuts out a lot whilst receiving emails. I won't go into any more detail except to say the whole thing is a horrible nuisance. At least we have one working at the moment.
Last night wasn't much fun as we were surrounded by thunderstorms and lightning for most of the evening and early hours. The continual light show lit up the sea so we could look for ships! The winds have been inconsistent as we expected and we are currently on a more southerly course to prepare for the southeaster lies once we get past the equator and have to head for Galapagos. We are currently sailing at 6 knots which is good. When the wind stops or goes below 3 knots we use the iron sails.
It is overcast this morning with the sea a steely grey. Still a long way to go. I think a hot breakfast will boost the morale of the crew this morning.
After lunch: It's been raining steadily so Bill filled a 20 litre container and we both had a rainwater shower. The Dell computer has all its programs damaged by the virus so is packed away until we can get it fixed. I am so pleased we have back up computers. We finally got the main computer working with Xgate (our email at sea program) and so far so good.
We enjoyed our last piece of bread from the supermarket with tinned soup. After this we'll eat crackers unless the galley slave feels energetic enough to make bread. This won't happen at the moment due to lack of sleep and the rain. We have a lot of food on the boat and will have to eat the fresh stuff fairly quickly. We had nachos last night with home made chilli con carne and fresh avocado. Tonight we'll have sausages and potatoes.
I read Nelson Mandela's 'Long Road to Freedom' whilst in South Africa. I have Charles Darwin's Life and Times for this trip. (I am also reading trashy novels!) We hope to visit the Darwin Institute when we get to Galapagos.
Isla Viveros Las Perlas Panama Position: 8 26.794N 79 00.229W
As we prepare for our passage to Galapagos we reflect on our voyage so far thinking of all the countries/landfalls (21 so far) and oceans we have been in: 150 days at sea, 505 on Valiam approx 3/10 of our time at sea Now we face the Pacific Ocean - 1/3 of the world's surface with not much except sea between small islands. Galapagos is a place everyone knows about and wonders if a visit were possible to see these remote islands and the exotic species of animals that live there. I can't believe that tomorrow we will finally begin our long journey to get there. As the crow flies, it is 900 miles but due to possible head winds it is best to go due south before aiming for Galapagos. The winds can be fickle and non existent and I have heard of yachts and ships in the past not able to get there. Valiam is able to sail to windward and if the headwinds are light she should cope well. We will use the engine sparingly to assist the sails if necessary.
Today we are re-anchored close to a couple of tiny uninhabited islands and enjoyed the peace, beauty and solitude. The main beach was covered in rubbish (mainly plastic bottles) washed up and we could see a bulldozer in the far distance beginning a new resort development. Here at these tiny unpolluted islands we swam lazily in the warm water and looked for oysters. (No luck) The anchorage is a bit rolly here due to the swell coming in from the west. It's not too bad and at least we get to lie in bed all night long. We'll be back to our 3 hour watches tomorrow! La Barca leaves Panama City tomorrow so will be a few days behind us.
La Perlas - a rest before heading for Galapagos
19/06/2009, 8 27.546'N:78 59.905'W, Isla Viveros, Pacific Ocean
18 June 2009 Isla Viveros La Perlas Panama We are now anchored at Isla Viveros 8 27.546N 78 59.905W in the La Perlas group. (still part of Panama) We will rest here for another day and night before heading for Galapagos (about 1100 miles) It's lovely and peaceful here with deserted beaches. Our firends on the catamaran Infinity is the only other boat anchored here. We are hoping La Barca will join us here tomorrow before we leave. It will be a long trip to Galapagos due to not much wind, counter currents etc. We aim to go due south to the equator (our 4th corssing!) before heading towards Galapagos with hopefully some wind. As we can only carry enough fuel for 500 miles we will be looking for whatever wind is about. At this stage we will aim for the island of Christobal (Wreck bay) in Galapagos. We will stay a week to 10 days to do some tours before heading for the longest haul across the Pacific (3000 miles) to the Marquesas. Thats it for now. If it wasnt a bit rainy I would put my hammock up... 17 June 2009 We are anchored at Contadora island in the La Perlas group 3o miles from Panama city. We met up with the crew of Infinity the cat with which we crossed the Panama canal with and have just returned from a very pleasant dinner. Even though this is the most develped island in the group it is very quiet and we are the only 2 boats anchored here. It will be a good place to rest for a day or 2 after the hectic preparations of the Panama canal and provisioning for 6 months to cross the Pacific. I did some statistics today: Up to today we have: - spent 149 days at sea - 503 days on Valiam That means 3/10 of our time has been at sea this figure will increase over the next couple of months! We will leave for Galapagos in the next couple of days.
Position : 8 38.13N 79 2.09W
Adios Panama! Getting ready to leave for Galapagos
Mi Playita anchorage
16th June 2009
This is our last day in Panama city. Today we will complete the last of our boat jobs and shopping and hope to be off tomorrow for a short trip to La Perlas. (about 30 miles away). Infinity left this morning and we hope to catch up with them in a day or 2 at Contadora, La Perlas. We won't stay long but will have a short rest before the long trip to Galapagos. It will be nice to be at sea again after the hectic time here getting through the canal and all the socializing/networking that goes with it! Last night we received some great photos of Valiam from the crews of Infinity and La Barca. I have added a few more to the album section 'Panama'.
It is such a leap in geography to be on the other side of this great continent of South America (and North America) that its hard to come to grips with it after being on 'the other side' for so long. Bill managed to get some great pilot books of the Pacific and Polynesia - there is still so much to see before we reach Australia. We were looking at our photos of PNG with Bronwyn and Adam last night and reflecting on how unspoilt the countries and people are of this part of the world. (PNG, Vanuatu, Solomon's). No huge numbers of charter boats, no asking for money at every turn and the freedom to cruise to remote places and be the only yacht. Everything costs in this part of the world. Yesterday we were having lunch at a restaurant which had a pool. Thinking the kids (Jack and Amy) could have a swim whilst the adults could look on and have 'adult' time they were chased out saying the lady wanted money. She came with a calculator and punched in US$6.30 ($3 per child plus tax) Bronwyn refused to pay. As there was a small protected muddy beach next to the pool we encouraged the children to go there instead. Again they were chased away with more demands for money. Ridiculous! Especially since we spent about $74 with both families dining there. Ok no more gripes!
We are enjoying the wonderful views of Panama City from our protected anchorage and the camaraderie of the other yachties. But it is time to move on. La Barca is still waiting for some spare parts and haven't cleared immigration so we will be ahead of them now. It will be sad to say 'au revoir' but I am sure we'll meet again further 'along the track'.
So onward we go - Valiam and crew through the Pacific!
Panama City - anchored now
16/06/2009, Mi Playita Panama
Mi Playita anchorage
Position : 8 55.18N 79 31.79W
15th June 2009
Our friends on Infinity persuaded us to anchor on the other side of the causeway and we are glad we have. The anchorage is free except for a $5 per day dinghy charge and there are nice new shower facilities near the dock. It's a bit of a construction site as a new marina is being built. Then in the future it won't be free to stay here! It's less rolly than the yacht club moorings, has an amazing view of Panama City and is right next to lots of restaurants and cafes. Yesterday we took a taxi into a shopping mall to update our website and receive all the Panama Canal images. A big thank you once again to Jerry, Yolanda and Paul for managing to get such good images and sending them to us so quickly - all 3 boats appreciate it very much. Last night we enjoyed a steak ($8) and a wine or 2 ($3 a glass or $15 bottle) in a very nice restaurant literally 5 minutes walk from the dinghy dock with the crew of Infinity. This little area on the point is a place Panamanians go for leisure so it's reasonably priced and good fun.
Today we will look for a chandlery to get a planning chart of the Pacific, any available pilot books, a new log book (ours is now full!) and some essential fishing lures. (pink is supposed to be best.) We will also get together with La Barca crew as well as Infinity and perhaps some others today.
At this stage we plan to leave Panama on Wednesday for a brief stop in La Perlas (30m away) then the 900 m trip to Galapagos. It's nice to see the Pacific Ocean from our anchorage but we are still a long way from home! This will be our last huge city for a long time and the last opportunity for me to enjoy some retail therapy! It is SO cheap - I bought 6 pairs of nice quality shorts for Bill for $3 each. Until next time. All well on board.
Woooohoooo! We're back in the Pacific. Panama Canal Transit
14/06/2009, 8 56.3'N:79 33.5'W, Balboa Yacht Club, Panama Pacific Ocean
Webcam photo taken at Miraflores locks 13 June 2009. Valiam is the closest on the port side of Infinity (catamaran) with La Barca on the starboard side "nested" together. A big thank you to Jerry, Yolanda and Paul for sending us the images. (more in gallery! click on that little camera!)
Saturday 13 June 2009
We are now on a mooring at Balboa Yacht club. the transit was both exhilerating and exhausting. We hope you saw us on webcam at Miraflores as we had the lock to ourselves! I know it was early for you! We made good time. We are presently entertaining and feeding/watering our linehandlers who were fantastic - English yachtie couple Nick and Cathy and aussie James. I took enough photos to fill an ablbum as well as movies. It was a great experience. Now we are in the Pacifico - Pacific ocean - 8000 miles to get home!!
Balboa Yacht Club
14th June 2009
Position: 8 55.23N 79 31.88W
As ships and tugs chug past us making Valiam roll from side to side I am reflecting back on the last day and night of our Panama Canal transit. It was exciting, scary, sometimes stressful, exhilarating and amazing. To think that the canal and its locks have been operating successfully for 100 years to allow ships to pass through to the Pacific rather than the long way around past Cape Horn is a feat in engineering and human effort (especially the labour - people from Caribbean, India and Africa. Now they are using machines to widen the canal and create new bigger locks.
From Shelter Bay Marina the 3 skippers of Valiam, La Barca and Infinity (catamaran) arranged with the canal authorities to do the transit together. We asked fellow yachties at the marina to be line handlers and had a barbeque the night before to get to know one another. We all certainly worked as a team and everything went very well. It was certainly nice to have yachties we knew staying overnight in our boat rather than Panamanians we didn't know. Although if we had to employ Panamanians it may have been an interesting cultural experience living together in close quarters for 24 hours.
Well here is the detailed blow by blow account:
On Friday the 12th June at 3pm we left Shelter Bay Marina with our crew of 5 to motor across the shipping lane and anchor what is known in Colon as 'the Flats'. Our advisors for the 3 yachts arrived by launch at around 5.30pm. Our first advisor was Astro who gave us a talk about all the dos and don'ts of line handling and what we were to expect. The 3 yachts motored off in line towards the canal entrance where we had to tie ourselves together whilst still moving slowly along. We managed to do this with the expert advice of our skippers and advisor with many fenders between us and Infinity (catamaran). A big blue ship with yellow cranes was just ahead of us and we had to go in behind it as we were sharing the Gatun locks with it. By 7.30 we were all ready and started to go through. The whole place was lit up with big lights everywhere. Lind handlers walk along the side of the lock with lines with 'monkey fists' on the end. Four of these are thrown to the yachts. Infinity controlled the 2 bow lines and Valiam and La Barca had one stern line each. After the line with the 'monkey fists' are caught they are tied through the big loop of the main lines we hired. The shore line handlers then pull these ropes (all the while we are moving along trying not to get the ropes caught anywhere!) and when we are in the lock secure us to the big bollards. The line handlers on each yacht secure the line in such a way so it can easily be slackened or tightened when necessary. The advisor on each yacht gives instructions. The driver of the flotilla was Mark's partner Lee on the catamaran. She had their advisor with her the whole time assisting with controlling the flotilla. Lee did an amazing job. Mark the skipper of Infinity was fantastic on the bow controlling one of the bow lines and assisting the other line handlers. Our main line handlers Nick and James worked hard especially James in Gatun locks. Gatun lock was the scariest and controlling the yachts to stay in the middle during the turbulence of the incoming water was a bit difficult at times. We were all a bit nervous as it was our first one. With each set of locks it became easier. Kathy and I were between the cat and Valiam watching and adjusting fenders if necessary as we rubbed along together. We didn't want our chain plates damaging this beautiful boat! During the whole trip I was in charge of looking after the crew and advisor for all their needs - drinks, food, instructions on how to use the toilet etc. The 'left over crew' were the paparazzi taking 1000s of photos and movies of the whole trip.
At around 9pm we arrived at the large buoy in Gatun Lake where we managed to tie up the 3 boats. Our advisor Astro left us here when the launch came to pick him up. He managed to take the mobile phone away from his ear when he said goodbye to us. (It seemed to be glued there the whole trip) Infinity and La Barca rafted together and Valiam on the other side. The buoy in the lake is a big red round rubber thing of about 3-4 metres wide. We could step out on to this and visit each other. Of course the catamaran became the 'Party Boat'. We shared food and drinks. Adam had promised a 'Party on the Lake' when we coerced out line handlers. Of course Adam and Bill had already spent 3 days here when stuck on the broken down boat. Our line handlers were grateful for the experience as they will be doing it themselves soon.
I did hear some howler monkeys in the distance that evening and was determined to have a quick dip in the freshwater lake. I did this around midnight conscious of the crocodiles so it was a very quick dip! Just on light we heard 'Bill! Bill! They're on their way!' (The advisors on the launch.) Bill had time to put on some shorts and crawl out of our hatch in our cabin so as not to disturb our sleeping guests in the saloon. Soon everyone woke up with the commotion and we were on our way. Roy our 2nd advisor was very conscientious and stayed either on our bow watching or back with Bill. The trip across the lake took 6 hours as we passed ships and watched the scenery. I made coffee and tea for everyone then breakfast (scrambled eggs, toast and mushrooms). Jam and marmite was also available for the mountain of toast as well as juice. Everyone including the advisor enjoyed their breakfast and we were all in good spirits. It's good to have plenty of cold drinks on hand for this trip - bottled water, coke and juice. As we were running early - 11.30am we were lucky and had the last series of locks to ourselves.
This time when we rafted up we made sure Valiam was a little further back as on the previous bit the lines tended to get caught around the anchor and rigging at the front. Whilst we were rafted up in the lake waiting to go in the lock a tug boat came by very fast. We jumped towards the middle where the boats were tied and Mark grabbed an extra fender and pushed it down with his feet as we moved up and down. Roy was angry with the tug boat waving his arms and swearing in Spanish. The tugs seem to cause the biggest waves and are supposed to slow down when passing smaller boats.
The last series of locks were great. Going down was much easier than going up the night before. It was a strange sinking feeling as we went down. It became an echo chamber which we all of course had to try out! When we go to Miraflores we knew the web cam was on us. Roy radioed them as he knew I was sending messages to Australia to get images of us. (Unfortunately it was 2-3am there!) We waved and dance about for the cameras. There was a crowd of tourists in a building alongside near what appeared to be a restaurant. I guess watching ships (and yachts) must be great entertainment. We heard both English and Spanish from a loudspeaker describing the lock process and 'the small sailboats'.
As the last lock gates opened to the Pacific, Roy said 'Look - your home!' It was a great moment. Bill put the chart plotter on large scale with the chart of Australia and if went in a straight line it would be 7,762 miles to Brisbane! He said 'We probably wouldn't bump into much!'
As we had to drop off our hired lines and line handlers at Balboa Yacht Club we headed there calling them up on the radio. Eventually La Barca and Valiam were directed to a mooring each. It was now about 1pm. Soon it started raining heavily. During lunch we phone Tony's taxi service to pick up the line handlers from both Valiam and La Barca. We received a couple of calls form Tony as he was delayed due to the heavy rain. Whilst waiting for the rain to ease we napped, looked at photos, and drank a bottle of champagne. Eventually when it wasn't too wet for the launch, the line handlers were finally able to leave both yachts at about 5pm. We really had a great time with them and hope to see them again. Nick and Kathy are also sailing to the Marquesas soon so we will hopefully catch up again - maybe in Galapagos.
Today we will go into town to look for an internet cafĂ© and perhaps a bit of cheap shopping before getting together with the crews of La Barca and Infinity once more. (This is important to swap photos of each others boats!)
Hello Pacific !
13/06/2009, Miraflores locks Panama canal
Our first vision of the Pacific Ocean
Monkey fists - Panama Canal
Panama canal line handler throws the monkey fist
Transiting the Panama Canal
The large puddle of water is Gatun Lake where Bill and Adam were stuck for 3 days. After some pressure to return home to their families the owner arranged (at considerable cost) for a canal launch complete with immigration officials to transport them back to Colon. A warning to all yachts transiting the Panama canal if your engine breaks down and you are stationary on Gatun Lake you are charged $450 per day plus you lose your $900 buffer fee. There are probably other fees imposed by the Canal authority as well.
Well it's official ! We are transiting the canal on Friday 12th June leaving late in the afternoon. We will be 'nested' (ie tied to) La Barca and perhaps a catarmaran which is next to us at the marina at present. The first lock is transited at night then we stay the night at Gatun Lake. On Saturday another canal advisor will board assisting us through the rest of the canal. For all our Aussie family and friends - we are 15 hours behind you. If you can manage to make a still image of us from the webcam we would appreciate it! Go www.pancanal.com
For those of you who are interested this is what you have to do to transit the canal. You can employ an expensive agent for several hundred dollars to do it for you. We chose to do it ourselves:
(all on website : www.pancanal.com/common/maritime/forms)
(1.) Clear into Panama : visa not required if staying less than 1 month
(2.) Cruising permit is compulsory. You can get one for 1 month for $29 but we asked Shelter Marina to do it for us and they automatically got a 90 day permit for $70. (which we dont need....)
If you get Shelter Bay Marina to process anything (excluding transit) they charge you $20 per office visited.
(3.) Employ a known English speaking taxi driver. Bill met Rudi who has assisted yachts transiting the canal for 17 years whilst he was 'stuck' on the broken down vessel. Most people around here know Rudi. He charges $50 to drive around all the various offices and departments until all the paperwork is completed (usually 2-3 days) We split this cost with La Barca. Rudi hires out lines for $15 each and has linehandlers available for $55 per day.
(3.) Phone Admeasurer's Office then go and see them(with your taxi driver) to fill out the forms and make a time to measure your boat.
(4.) Admeasurer comes to measure boat. Checks if toilet has a seat etc. (Advisor has to be comfortable) and you have a horn, fresh water and meals available. You MUST say you do 8 knots otherwise you will be charged another $800 deposit. (As long as you can maintain 6 knots you will be ok) For some reason our admeasurer put 7.5knots on the form and when Bill went to pay the money at the bank they wanted $2400 instead of $1500. This involved going back to the admeasurers office for another form and back to the bank. This is where Rudi is wonderful to have.
(5.) Pay your fees at Citibank. ($600 plus $900 refundable fee) Pay in cash. No credit cards
(6.) After 6pm the same day phone the canal transit sheduler to find out your day. You can choose a day if it is available. We have chosen to go together with our friends on La Barca
(7) 24 hours before sheduled transit Phone canal sheduler to confirm
For the transit each yacht MUST have 4 linehandlers plus the skipper. We think we have managed to get all volunteer yachties. We just have to feed and water them and pay for a bus to get them back to Colon. This means there are extra bodies sleeping on the boats anchored at Gatun Lake. We are planning a party whilst listening to the howler monkeys and swimming in the fresh water lake (with the corocodiles!)
We have done most of our provisioning for the Pacific (4 trolley loads!) but will have to do one more shopping expedition for fresh food. We are doing lots of jobs : finalising insurance (now that's a story in iteslf which I will bore you with when I have more time), filling up with diesel and water, finding enough tyres for fenders for the transit, cleaning, tidying boat etc
Until next time!
All well on board
Valiam at Shelter Bay Marina, Colon
Its relaxing to be in a nice marina for a few days.
Getting ready to transit the Panama Canal
06/06/2009, Shelter Bay Marina, Colon
When the catamaran left on Friday with Bill and Adam as volunteer line handlers on board
Shelter Bay Marina
6th June 2009
As I write this on Saturday evening here at the marina keeping mosquitoes at bay Bill is literally stuck on another yacht in the middle of Gatun Lake. An Australian Peter who owns a big catamaran asked Bill and Adam to line handle for him going through the Panama Canal. As this was good experience before we go through they agreed. Unfortunately this beautiful big expensive electronically powered everything boat is broken down. Its electrics has failed and nothing works - no engine - nothing. Gatun Lake is after the first lock after leaving Colon. Bill and Adam are not allowed to leave the boat. The owner is trying desperately to get his agent to do something - either organize repairs or get towed back through the lock back to Shelter Bay Marina. Usually when all goes smoothly Bill would be back by now. So as we play the waiting game Bronwyn (Adams wife) and I thought we would gather as much information as possible and begin the paperwork for our canal transit. If our skippers aren't back by Monday we will take a taxi to the Admeasurers Office and get the ball rolling to get Valiam and La Barca measured for the transit.
Apart from the mozzies in the evening and early morning the marina is very pleasant. The pool is great for cooling off and the staff are very helpful. Russ the Dock Manager can never do enough and works hard keeping all the yachties happy. (No easy task with some of them!) It's not a cheap place to stay but is a comfortable respite. I have already taken the free bus to the closest shopping 'mall' to buy fresh food. The supermarket is fantastic with wonderfully cheap prices. (40c for a can of beer = yachtie currency when comparing countries) We will do our huge provisioning here whilst we have access to a bus and walk on moorings. The mall is very ugly (like most malls) with concrete car parks and footpaths everywhere to get to the different shops. There are no trees just security guards in military uniforms and guns. The female mannequins in the clothing shops have enormous breasts - the underwear shop has its mannequins placed in provocative poses! There seems to be no shyness about this sort of thing as whilst we were having breakfast in a cafĂ© at 8.30am the overhead television had lewd scenes from a strip club. The grandmotherly types who worked there watched on complacently as if they were watching Oprah!
Panamanian women do tend to wear tight clothing often with very short shorts. We noticed this in Colombia and Brazil also. Men always wear long trousers. Only yachties and tourists wear baggy shorts. Our Spanish hasn't improved at all so we are extremely grateful when a local speaks some English.
As the saga unfolds with the broken down catamaran we hope to get Valiam through the Panama Canal before Friday. When we have a day and time I will post it on the website so our keen fans can watch us go through on the web cam:
(Go to web cams)
7 June : latest news - the catamaran is fixed (loose fuse....@$#^*&!) and they are waiting for advisor (pilot) to guide them. Capn Bill will be back with Valiam (and me) soon!
Arriving in Colon
Valiam just behind La Barca with full sail up entering Colon harbour, Panama
Previous entries : San Blas islands (Kuna Yala)
LOTS of photos in the album. click on the little camera
Chichimi Cays - last stop San Blas
04/06/2009, Caribbean sea
Relaxed captain with another 'hairstyle'... we just snorkelled near this islet. A real paradise.
Farewell Kuna Yala (San Blas)
Jack with 2 island friends - Isla Maquina
Shelter Bay Marina
Position: 9 22.09N 79 57.016W
4 June 2009
It's been such a busy time the last few days I haven't had time to write up the ships log. I am now sitting in an air conditioned lounge room at Shelter Bay Marina catching up on all our internet stuff.
We left Kaymau a couple of days ago to visit a traditional Kuna village on the island of Maquina. La Barca led the way, and we arrived a couple of hours later after negotiating the reefs and passing picture postcard islands with white sand and coconut palms. Isla Maquina is covered in thatched houses with walls of bamboo. Our anchors were barely in the water when we were visited by villagers in canoes wanting to sell us molas. It was agreed by both boat crews that we would visit the island after lunch. As we wound our way through the narrow swept dirt paths and floors we were followed by many children. They were very excited to see Jack and Amy of course.
We met yet another master mola maker Venancio. He showed us his many pieces of work which were just beautiful but quite expensive. We wandered around the village where many more women young and old were keen to sell us there wares. At one stage a couple of women peeled off their clothes to sell me their molas! They didn't seem to mind standing about topless or in their bras! Bill thought he would make a hasty retreat! We bought molas of varying prices and quality from different people. I really enjoyed observing the traditional dress of the women. Unfortunately most ran away when I reached for my camera. As well as the beautifully sewn coloured molas around their midriffs, the women wore floral puffed sleeves and sarongs. Around their legs, arms and necks were many circlets of coloured beads. Most women had an unusual gold piercing inside their nostrils and a red scarf around their heads. I noticed several very young girls with babies. Some girls and a couple of babies had black lines painted down their noses. The men seemed to just wear western clothes. The island seemed very crowded with houses and not much open space. Most of the men go to the mainland in the mornings to attend to market gardens or go fishing by canoe.
Yesterday morning it was decided to go to one last island for a swim and snorkel before we left for Colon. We chose Chichimi Cays as it was easy to get out to open sea for our departure. At Chichimi we were again besieged by canoes selling lobster and molas. Unfortunately many of the people were begging for chocolate, nail polish, magazines and flippers and didn't seem interested in trading just wanting cash for their goods. As we had limited time we donned our snorkeling gear and enjoyed snorkeling over the shallow reef next to the small island nearby. The coral was remarkable - different colours and very alive looking like they were waving their 'fingers'.
Just before sunset we set off for Colon. La Barca left an hour or so before us but Valiam caught up later in the evening. As it was only 4am when we were only 9 miles away and there were many ships, we decided to hove to until light. It was after 7am by the time we were dodging ships and we saw La Barca arrive at the same time. By 7.45am we were tied up at the marina. Its very nice here - a bit expensive but it is really the only place yachties can come to safely in Colon. We are now working out how to transit the canal without paying too many agents exorbitant fees. We will let you know how we get on....After only a couple of hours sleep last night it's definitely time for an early night!
Isla Maquina - Kuna Yala (San Blas)
04/06/2009, Caribbean Sea
Isla Maquina - Mormake Tupu
Kuna Yala (San Blas)
Position : 9 27.08N 78 51.24W
3 June 2009
In a couple of hours we depart for Colon to ready ourselves for the Panama canal crossing. It is an 80 mile journey so we should be there tomorrow by lunch time. As I reflect back on the last few days I again feel terribly privileged to be experiencing and interacting with such fascinating beautiful people and their islands. We have been able to visit many unexploited non western cultures on our yacht - the best part of cruising.
We stayed a couple more days anchored at Kaymau spending many hours on the island. The chief and some of his entourage departed leaving Clemente and Enrique camped in the thatched hut. Using a few Kuna words mixed with Spanish English, drawings and charades we managed to communicate but unfortunately only on a basic level. Showing photos of our family is Oz assisted more discussion. Clemente is a very friendly Kuna with a small muscular body and a happy grin. He spent a lot of time with us and the children drawing pictures, explaining how to catch lobsters with a snare and how he carved his canoe. Fishing is officially banned from March until 31 May in Kuna Yala to preserve the marine population. On 1st June we saw Clemente and Enrique out early in their canoe on the reef. The canoe has a simple sail and 2 different types of paddles. One is a long stick to poke in shallow water to move the boat along and the other is a short paddle used in open sea and deeper water.
That evening we were invited to eat lobster and conch with them on the island. Adam brought along a big cooking pot for them and we all contributed whatever vegetables and condiments we had. We all went ashore relaxing near the hut, observing and chatting to Clemente and Enrique as they stoked the fire and prepared our meal. As the sun started getting lower in the sky many dingies with mostly American yachties turned up bringing plates of aperitifs , folding chairs and loud conversation. We had spent 3 days on the island and this is the first time we saw most of them. What do they do on their boats all day? We then realized that Sir Reginald mentioned on our first encounter that Monday night was 'Aperitif night'. We had forgotten what day it was. As the 20 or so people took over the picnic table, we realized we would have to eat on the ground in the thatched hut. I wasn't in the mood to start socializing with a whole heap of strangers and we were committed to our dinner with Clemente and Enrique. 3 or 4 yachties came over to chat who could converse well with the Kunas in Spanish. A Frenchman Pierre who is a doctor has been here in Kuna Yala with his wife for 2 years offering his services for free. (known as Doctor Pedro). Another American yachtie with a beautiful Columbian wife also came over to chat. Apart from these few the rest stayed in their own enclave and did not make the slightest effort to say hello to the Kunas (or us). It certainly felt a little strange eating with the Kunas whilst the rest of the 'gringos' were doing their own thing at the picnic table (built by the Kunas).
Whilst the lobsters were cooling Clemente put one of the big conch shells in the boiling pot. Not long afterwards he picked it up with sticks and took it over to the grass. He pulled the cooked animal out with a piece of wire and placed it in a piece of bamboo cut in half lengthways. He then cut off half the meat (the guts) and threw that in the water. The rest was cut up and eaten there and then. It was delicious - a bit like calamari. Soon the meals were ready. The lobsters are more like big prawns and we all had one each cut length ways with the vegetables and 'salsa' (tomatoes, pimiento, onions, garlic etc). We sat on a picnic rug and upturned buckets and logs half in the hut and the smokey fire. After a while the throng of gringos disappeared back to their boats so we were able to enjoy chatting at the picnic table in the moonlight.
Whilst anchored at Kaymau we were honoured to receive a special visitor. Master Mola maker Lisa came by in her canoe (with driver) all the way from Isla Sidra (12 miles away). We had heard about the famous transvestite Lisa from the Panama guide. She came on board Valiam and displayed her beautiful molas. For those of you who don't know what molas are they are exquisitely hand sewn and cut layers of material of coloured material to create patterns and representations using tiny tiny stitches. Molas are traditionally worn as a bodice for Kuna womens traditional dress. Yachts who visit San Blas all buy molas! They really are beautiful examples of fine craftsmanship.
Lisa - famous transvestite Mola maker visits Valiam
04/06/2009, Kaymau Kuna Yala (San Blas)
It was a great surprise to have Lisa visit us at Kaymau form her island of Sidra 2 hours away by canoe. Her molas are exquisite!
Art on Kaymau - Kuna Yala (San Blas)
04/06/2009, Caribbean sea Panama
Linda gets her stuff out finally and has a go - whimsical painting of Kaymau
Going Native - Kaymau Island - Sand Blas (Kuna Yala), Panama
01/06/2009, 9 35.42'N:78 40.44'W, Caribbean Sea, Atlantic Ocean
Bill with Clemente showing him his lobster snare. Note Aussie hat we gave him!
Kaymau Island (BBQ Is.)
Eastern Holland Cays
Kuna Yala (San Blas) Panama
31 May 2009-06-01
Position : 9 35.42N 78 40.44W
Ogoppiriadup is sand fly haven! After La Barca arrived we all went ashore to stretch our sea legs. The amount of flotsam and jetsam (rubbish) on the shore is astounding. Soon the adults and children were finding interesting toys - half a Barbie torso without a head, front of a plastic house, combs, toothbrush, small shoes, spoon and fork etc. Barbie was the 'Island Princess' and was well set up on her island! I didn't take a camera as it would have been a great photo to show children at home! Jack and Amy played very happily and imaginatively with 'Princess Barbie'. Jack thoughtfully created a head for her from a sauce bottle lid and seaweed. Our island adventure was cut short by the arrival of vicious tiny sandflies! Back on board Valiam we all enjoyed a chicken casserole cooked in the Chilean white wine that was 'a bit off' for drinking. In the casserole it was delicious!
The next morning we were woken by the nasty vicious sandflies again. The only way to avoid them was hiding under the sheets! None of our repellants worked. Later in the morning Adam, Bill and Jack cleaned under the hulls of Valiam and La Barca with Adam's hookah. This nifty gadget of compressed air attached to a long hose and breathing apparatus enables cleaning to be done in tropical island paradise where the water is so clear. Meanwhile Bronwyn Amy and I went to visit the neighbouring islands to look for a suitable picnic spot. The 2 islands opposite us looked like picture postcards with white sand beaches and coconut palms. Unfortunately as soon as we arrived even more sandflies found us! We had to get in the water to escape! So we thought we would go over to where all the other yachts were anchored at BBQ Island. No wonder they are all there as there are no sandflies! BBQ Island (on the charts) is really called Kaymau Island by the Kunas. It has beautiful soft green grass , white sand and lots of coconut palms. One has to be careful of falling coconuts. We are not allowed to pick up or take the coconuts as they belong to the Kunas and used to be their currency. A reef surrounds half the island and a picnic table made from driftwood and old drums looked very welcoming indeed. A small thatched lean-to completed the facilities. Bronwyn and I decided we would persuade the rest of the crews to anchor here. We dropped by a couple of the yachts anchored here to ask about the anchorage and we were directed to the 'Governor' on SV Runner. As we approached Runner a gentleman who introduced himself as 'Sir Reginald' gave us the run down. He was aghast when we said we wanted to cook on the island when we have perfectly good stoves on the boat. Sir Reg also said the rubbish had to be sorted before being burnt in the fire.
After persuading the boys we up anchored the 2 boats (now with beautiful clean shiny bottoms) and motored over to Kaymau Island. The water is quite shallow where the yachts are anchored (less than 3 metres) and it wasn't long before Valiam hit the bottom and got stuck! After a lot of manoevering and reversing in full throttle Captain Bill got her off. The water is so clear here it is no wonder the anchorage is called 'The Swimming Pool'. We are presently anchored in 2.8 metres. As our keel is 2.1m there isn't much water under us! That evening we enjoyed a few sundowners and nibblies on the island whilst the children swam and enjoyed running around. As a fire was already going on the beach the boys added our rubbish including beer cans. That night we enjoyed a peaceful night and morning not being pestered by sandflies.
Yesterday we all decided to move ashore and took all my art gear, hammocks, chairs, picnic rugs, food, drinks etc. Both dinghies were piled high. The La Barca crew arrived first and were confronted with a grumpy Sir Reginald gathering and stacking coconut fronds. He had lined up the burnt beer cans on the picnic table and gave them a lecture. He offered no greetings and made them feel unwelcome. Adam asked 'Do you own this island mate?' and apparently he said 'Yes I do'. We find this hard to believe! Bronwyn was still visibly upset by the confrontation when we arrived. Adam had already built a separate fire to cook breakfast. We set ourselves up under the non coconut bearing trees and began to relax. It wasn't long afterward when local Kuna people arrived in dugout canoes. Even though language was a barrier they were most welcoming and said we could enjoy the island, make fires and even go fishing if we wanted. The oldest largest fellow said the island belonged to him and hi s family and that's when we learned the true island name 'Kaymau'. They sold Adam 2 coconuts for 25c each and had also brought a box full of freshly baked bread rolls with them. Yum! We bought 10 for US$1 and they were very tasty. The children devoured most of them so Jack bought another batch of 10. Great value!
Between painting and drawing I went snorkeling in the shallow water over the reef. The coral was interesting and not bleached like a lot of places we've been to. I saw many colourful fish including one that looked like it had long blue eyelashes painted above its eyes. As I came closer to the beach I saw a ray swimming ahead of me so I kept my distance. After Steve Irwin's death from a sting by a ray tail I don't like to be close. Imagine how I felt when I turned to my left to see a full front on view of another ray a metre in diameter only an arm's length away! After looking at each other for a few moments it swam away..
Bronwyn and I got stuck into our art - drawing and painting what we saw. The Kunas (all men) were very curious and stood about watching me which was quite unnerving. Throughout the day we swam, snorkeled, painted and chatted to the Kunas. At one stage as I was chatting to them I pointed to one of the carved canoes that I had drawn. One of the men called Clementie said it was his canoe and that he had made it. He showed me a piece of light white wood, pointed to his canoe and said 'Linda'. The Kuna word for boat is 'Ulu'. Later on he showed me his carving but indicated he needed smaller knife to finish it. Adam kindly leant him his pocket knife. Clementie came over to observe my drawing and pointed to the paint. I understood he wanted to paint the little carved boat. I gave him my paint palette and continued to draw what I saw. The big 'chief' man was constantly his mobile phone and at one stage I managed to sketch him reclining under a coconut tree on his mobile phone. I la ter showed it to him and he laughed! I decided to give Clementie one of my drawings in exchange for the boat he made me. When the little boat was finished it even had a couple of paddles. On one side he wrote 'LINDA' and on the other he wrote the name of our 'barco' Valiam which became 'VALLAN'. As the group were all men I asked where the 'Senoras' were. They are all 'home' and will come 'Manana' (which can mean any time after today) The men planned to stay the night on the island sleeping in their hammocks. Hammocks are traditional beds for the Kunas in their thatched homes in their villages.
As the day drew to an end I sat with the Kunas whilst Adam and Bill heated the fish curry on the fire. I suggested to Adam we share the pot of curry with the Kunas so he brought the pot over. They were very happy and excited to share a meal with us (as well as the 'vino blanco' which one of them drank from his makeshift drinking vessel cut from the bottom half of a plastic coke bottle) A merry time was had by all. The Kunas don't speak English - only Spanish and their own Kuna language. Adam entertained us all with his charades! The 'chief' proclaimed loudly 'Manana - Langouste!' pointing to the table and all of us. This meant 'Tomorrow we eat here - lobster!' Stay tuned for the next installment of our adventures with the natives!
(When we get to Colon next week I will post all the photos)
Happy 6th Birthday Geordi!
30/05/2009, Brisbane Australia
Wish we could be there to help you celebrate. Have a wonderful day. Lots of love Nanny Linda and Uncle Bill xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Eastern Holland Cays, San Blas Islands, Panama
29/05/2009, 9 35.07'N:78 41.09'W, Caribbean Sea, Atlantic Ocean
Ogoppiriadup Island Position : 9 35.07N 78 41.09W Eastern Holland Cays San Blas (Kuna Yala) Panama 28 May 2009
The solitude here is welcome after the hustle and bustle of Cartagena and continuous motoring for 2 days to get here. We are indeed in an island paradise. We can see a cluster of yachts anchored on the far side of these Cays between Banadup and BBQ islands. (called BBQ islands due to yachties having bbqs there). If we feel like social activity we'll go over there but it is much nicer being anchored here with space around us. La Barca left 15 hours after us and are due in some time today.
East Holland Cays are mostly uninhabited so we may not have the opportunity to meet the local native Kuna Indian people here. They prefer to call the San Blas archipelago Kuna Yala as San Blas is the name give by the Spanish with whom they fought many bloody battles in the past to retain their land and independence. There are over 350 islands, 50 of which are inhabited. There are 50,000 Kuna Indians which is about 1/10 of what the population used to be. Although officially part of Panama they are self governing and have very strict laws to protect their islands and traditional lifestyles. The Kunas do not allow marriage with foreigners usually and also have strict rules to protect their environment e.g. no fishing until after 1st June, no anchoring in coral, no outboards in the rivers etc. The Kunas are one of the smallest races on earth akin to the pygmies. Their clothes are colourful with intricate stitching called Molas worn with beading and gold jewelry. They have a matri lineal society where the women control the money and choose husbands. Kunas don't have a problem with homosexuality and transvestites are often seen dressed as women and accompanied by children. The beautifully stitched Molas can be purchased if near villages. I think Valiam's interior would be enhanced by Mola cushion covers so a request has been made to the captain to find one of the inhabited islands to purchase these. Rio Sidra in the West Naguargandup Cays is supposed to be where the best molas are made. Lisa a native of Rio Sidra is a master mola maker and infamous transvestite. Rio Sidra isn't far from here and we may meet Lisa him/herself! Bill wants to go to Moron Island which is near there! (Kuna name is Narrasgandupdummat!) I just love these names.
Keeping the speed up to ensure landfall in the daylight required motoring as the wind was very slight - less than 5 knots. The one time we put the sails up they flapped uselessly most of the time so we just had to put up with the sound of the motor and pour a few jerry cans of fuel in the tank. As it was getting late in the day and visibility was already reduced due to haze we were continually consulting the chart in the pilot book (The Panama Cruising Guide by Eric Bauhaus) as well as our electronic charts. With the help of our depth sounder and peering at the water with Polaroid glasses we found our way into this group of atolls without hitting any reefs or sand bars. It was a relief to be anchored safely and enjoy a cold glass of wine as the sun went down. We also went for a dip in the clear water which was 29 degrees - lovely!
This morning we woke up to rain so this was an opportunity to wash the grime off the decks and have a shower ourselves. Today will be a lazy day.
Fruit Lady - Cartagena
Three ladies colourfully dressed sold us a fruit platter outside one of Cartagena's piazzas. This gorgeous lady has a most infectious smile!
Meeting Colombian families
25/05/2009, Villa Rosita, Cartagena
Our guide Andres kindly inroduced us to his family and home in Villa Rosita, Cartagena.
Left to Right:
Kelly, little Ronaldo, Andres, Linda, Ronald and Bronwyn in front
25 May 2009
Cartagena (g ='h') has continued to offer its bounty of culture, food and entertainment to us yachties. The photo album 'Colombia' is 'chokkers' (as we say in Oz) full of photos so have a look at an amazing city that not many Aussies visit.
We have visited the Old Town almost every day by taxi (very cheap 5000pesos =A$3) for however many people we squeeze into a Hyundai Atos (ie.very small). We often go into town with the crew of La Barca so that is 5 adults and 2 children squashed in one of these! The Old Town is beautifully preserved and kept clean for tourists. The city of Cartagena is reputedly 'kept safe' so that the families of the drug lords can come for holidays without any problems. This is probably hearsay but there is probably a grain of truth in it. There does seem to be a big police and military presence but its not threatening at all. In fact several police officers have offered their services as a tour guide!
Most restaurants in the Old Town are at 'tourist' prices but with recommendations from long time yachties here we have found some economical establishments. Bronwyn from La Barca and I enjoyed an afternoon of visiting the Museo de Moderno Art and doing a bit of sketching. We discovered little picturesque alcoves, doorways and courtyards during our wanderings. On several trips into town we rested in the shade of Plaza Bolivar where we were entertained by buskers performing live music and Colombian dancing. Bronwyn and I attempted a couple of sketches here but were continually interrupted by curious onlookers!
Yesterday we enjoyed a tour in a minibus with 3 other yachtie couples organized by Adam from La Barca. They were Roger and Bernadette - Guerelec (France), Trish and Morris - Cygnus 11 (NZ) and La Barca (Adam, Bronwyn, Amy and Jack - Oz) We hired a 12 seater air-conditioned minibus for the day with guide, driver (and 'security uncle') for 450 pesos (approx US$200). An expatriate American, Gerard (who works here and is married to a Colombian) organized the day for us. We had great fun getting to know the others bringing along an esky of cold beverages for the trip! Cartagena is a city of contrasts with a population of 3.4 million. The view from the old Monastery on the hill enabled us to see our yachts way down below amongst the high-rise. The Monastery (Claustro de San Francisco) is a beautiful old building with an ancient church, furniture and beautiful cool courtyard. Of course outside the Monastery there were tourist shops and a poor little sloth being carted around by a tout in the hot sun. He is an interesting 3 toed creature with a quiet lazy disposition and didn't mind being cuddled by strangers. The tour included Boca Grande where all the rich Colombians stay in apartments on holidays. Row upon row of permanent tents are set up for them to enjoy a crowded strip of beach.
A trip out into the country was next on the agenda to a place for lunch. On the way it was interesting observing the relatively dry landscape and normal towns where average Colombians live. It reminded us of Brazil. We were taken to a holiday lunch destination for Colombians called Los Lagos ('The Lagoons). It was quite touristy in a kitsch way with garishly painted furniture and playgrounds for kids. Colombian music was being played quite loudly creating a festive atmosphere. It is a refreshing change from Bob Marley - the popular music for Africa and the Caribbean! There were several swimming pools, lagoons with ducks as well as a small island with monkeys trapped on it. One could hire dinghies to row around the lake. Needless to say we didn't opt for that activity. The gardens are very beautiful and extensive. Our meal took a very long time to arrive but we enjoyed each others company and learning about Cartagena from Andres our young guide. He told us he learned to speak English via the internet during video chat rooms with other people in other parts of the world!
After our 3 hour lunch we asked to see how an average Colombian lives. Andres kindly offered to show us his home where he lives with his aunt and uncle. This was the best part of the trip seeing the small community of Villa Rosita. The houses are like small terrace houses in small streets around communal square. Andres' aunt Nacira didn't mind us coming into their home. It was very homely especially with Andres motorbike parked in the lounge room! We also met other family members who were happy to be photographed. The minibus full of 'gringos' in their small community caused quite a stir!
During our tour we noticed and were stopped by several groups of both military people and police. Usually we were waved through after a few minutes but at one checkpoint the driver and his 'security' uncle were detained for quite a long time. With worried looks and gathering of car documents they continued their conversation with police. Andres explained that a form was supposed to have been filled out and presented before we were allowed to leave the city precincts. Thinking of my days in Tanzania I remembered I had US$20 tucked away in my purse in case a 'fee' was required. After another long conversation the driver and his uncle jumped back in the car with relieved expressions and we headed off again. They only received a 'ticking off' for 'breaking a rule'.
Today we are getting ready to leave for the San Blas Islands. We will buy a few fresh provisions at the local air conditioned supermarket which also has an internet facility. It really is hot and steamy in this part of the world. We hope to get away by 4am tomorrow so we arrive in the East Hollandias before dark the following day. La Barca will meet us there. We are looking forward to swimming once again in clear pristine water and enjoying a natural landscape. Meeting the Cuna Indian people will also be fascinating. We will not be able to update the website with photos for another week or so until we arrive in Colon, Panama.
A special thank you to Gerard for assisting us in our 'customised' tour. (yachties can contact him via John at Clube Nautico, Cartagena. Another special thank you to Andres and his family for allowing us 'gringos' see his home.
The World HERITAGE listed buildings in Cartagena are just amazing. We love this old part of the city.
(more photos in photo album `"Colombia". A few more added to Bonaire in Caribbean album. Enjoy....)
Anchored outside Clube Nautico
19 May 2009
Position: 10 24.62N 75 32.57W
What a beautiful city Cartagena is! Imagine a beautiful old town in Italy or Spain but cleaner and more beautiful. From the moment we passed the big statue of Madonna and child in the harbour and saw the domes of the Old Town in the distance we were entranced. Of course there are many highrise in other parts of the city that look modern like any city in the world. However it is the Old Town ('Centro') that is like a magnet. We couldn't wait to explore.
Our sail here from Cabo de la Velo was without too many dramas. It was basically downwind all the way and for the last day or so we sailed slowly with just the jib so we wouldn't arrive in Cartagena before daylight. Our Aussie friends on La Barca were within 20 nm and in radio contact all the way. There was one drama at 1am the last evening when we were surrounded by 4 ships. One was coming directly for us and one behind! We contacted the one in front of us first (It came up as BW Stein on our AIS receiver) and the crew man on watch altered course for us. After BW Stein passed we altered course to keep some distance between us and the one coming up from behind. Here in Cartagena harbour our AIS ship plotter has gone mad with so many ships here including one US Navy ship and the rest the Colombian Navy and cargo ships.
Soon after anchoring La Barca arrived and came over to have a celebratory champagne. When we eventually went ashore to the yacht club (Club Nautico) the dockmaster John greeted us immediately and phoned the agent to clear us in. It seems the Australian owner of the establishment Norm has been gone for some time("under a cloud") but will be coming back . His Colombian wife is still here. The yacht club is very welcoming and casual. There are yachts here form all over the world many who seem to have lived here for years. It is also an excellent place to stay during the hurricane season in the Caribbean.
It is safe to walk around this neighbourhood and into Centro at any time of the day and night. There is an excellent modern well stocked supermarket around the corner. The homes, terrace houses and apartments are all well cared for. The roads and footpaths are clean and the cars are all modern. Of course there is a poorer side to the city on the other side of the harbour but around here it is one of the safest places we have been for a very long time. There are quite a few police about but after getting lost a few times the police offere 'tour guide' services! The locals are incredibly friendly and helpful. Unfortunately our Spanish is terrible.
Whilst walking into the Centro and wandering around getting lost for several hours we enjoyed the visual impact of the many beautiful old buildings, statues and piazzas. This city is cleaner and better maintained than any European city we've been to. There are quite a few tourists around from USA and Europe (as well as Columbians) and Cartagena is now a popular tourist destination. We don't hear of it at all in Australia! We did bump into an Australian couple and asked them to recommend a restaurant. They took us to this amazingly beautiful place in a courtyard next to an old building with a clock. Unfortunately the cuisine was International rather than Colombian and had prices to match. The helpings were too small for tired starving yachties. Abeuatiful evening all the same. we look forward tp more.
En route to Cartagena, Colombia
18/05/2009, 11 30.69'N:74 31.40'W, Caribbean Sea, Atlantic Ocean
17th May 2009 Time: 12.30pm Position: 11 30.69N 74 31.34W
Our 2 night stay anchored behind the headland at Cabo de la Velo was very pleasant. The scenery was a little wild and windswept but beautiful in its own way. We rested, welcomed La Barca the following morning with breakfast for them and planned our next stage of the passage. The local fishermen were friendly and one group stopped by to sell us 2 small lobsters. Pointing to themselves saying 'Amigo' we agreed on US$2, a shirt too small for Bill and 2 cans of meatballs I don't like as a trade. Everyone was happy. These people are so poor I would have given them ALL our cans of meatballs if they wanted them and all our cast off clothes! I managed a quick sketch whilst there and enjoyed watching the dark grey coloured pelicans which are a bit smaller than our big white Aussie ones.
Both boats left yesterday with La Barca a couple of hours ahead of us so we don't become too far apart. We had an excellent sail yesterday sometimes averaging 8-9 knots! That is because we had twin headsails up with one poled out. For the night we slowed down with one jib. At one stage the electric autopilot (Mona Lisa) played up again with the compass giving totally incorrect readings. Rather than trust it last night we got Fred going (wind vane) but ended up 25 miles offshore as that was the most comfortable direction. We are back on course now but still just ambling along at 5.5-6 knots with just the jib up. Last night about 1am I heard Bronwyn call up a 'ship position so and so' which did not respond after 3 calls. As we were ahead and had passed a ship called Bavaria Harmonia earlier I called Bronwyn to let her know its name. It was good to hear the ship then respond and agree on a course to avoid a collision. We have been in radio contact with La Barca most of the trip which has been great. As we only have vhf we can only talk to them if they are close by (20 miles or so). The Columbia Coast guard called them up this morning and followed them for 10 miles so they felt very protected in these waters.
We caught a small tuna yesterday which we will cook today for dinner. It's good just to deal with a small fish when there are only 2 of us! It was flapping about quite a bit so I poured cheap Brazilian rum into its mouth and gills which stopped it pretty quickly. (What a way to die - drunk!)
We hope to arrive in Cartagena tomorrow in the daylight and anchor outside the yacht club. It's supposed to be run by an Aussie called Norm who has been there since the 80s. He's reputably to be 'a cranky bastard' probably due to the fact his Columbian wife has everything in her name (the law) and he feels 'stuck'. Anyway this is all hearsay from what we have read. We will report back from our own experience in due course. The old buildings in the city are World Heritage listed so I am looking forward to soaking up a bit of 'culture'. The Museum of Modern art will be worth a visit too. Hopefully we will access wifi there and can upload photos on to the website.
Cabo de la Velo, Colombia
15/05/2009, 12 12.21'N:72 10.63'W, Caribbean Sea, Atlantic Ocean
14th May 2009
We've jut anchored at 7pm. Position 12 12.21N 72 10.63W in about 5m.
It's a windy barren sort of place but protected from the waves.Cabo de la Velo means 'Cape of Sail' . Fine for an overnight stop or rest. Black pelicans and a village in the distance. No trees. There are no waves so it isn't rolly. On the hill is a light with a statue next to it. We had a good run today as the wind was around 15 knots most of the day. (Valiam was racing again at 8-9knots a lot of the time!)As we got closer to the Cape the wind and waves picked up - up to 30 knots so we reduced sail. There are ships anchored close to shore at some sort of industrial port. Also a long line of big windmills. It must always be windy here!! (About 10 miles before the anchorage) Along the cape and rounding it was very windy. We chose to go around the little rock island. Although the wind is howling outside its nice and cosy and steady in here. Our friends on La Barca will be out at sea for another night arriving here about 9am in the morning. All well on board Just made spaghetti bolognaise which we will enjoy with a South African red wine!
Bonaire to Cartagena, Colombia
14/05/2009, 12 46.01'N:71 4.41'W, Caribbean Sea, Atlantic Ocean
Thursday 14th May 2009 8.45am Position: 12 46.01N 71 4.41W
We have traveled through 3 countries during the night! Dutch Antilles, Venezuela and now Colombia. The wind has been consistently from behind us and so far we have made good progress using mostly Fred the wind vane. The wind is dying off a bit now so it means we'll have to use Mona Lisa (electric autopilot) which unfortunately uses lots of power so we'll have to start the engine again. There have been a number of ships so far on this passage. I imagine there will be quite a lot when we get close to Panama
We are heading for an anchorage tonight recommended in Pizazz's Guide to Colombia. It's called Cabo de la Vela (means Bay of sails!) and should be a good sheltered spot for the night. (Punta Gallina's waypoint 12 28'80N 72 40'00W) An Australian family we met in Bonaire (yacht La Barca) is a few hours behind us and will also anchor at Cabo de la Vela. We hope to continue on together to Cartagena, Sand Blas and hopefully tie up together transiting the Panama Canal.
All well on board - it's been a bit rolly but we've managed to snatch a bit of sleep here and there.
Speedy tour of Bonaire
10/05/2009, Caribbean Sea
Here's the captain of Valiam enjoying something different! Yes it is a Harley Davidson..... To our firend Elaine - yes you could think we were in Mexico!!
(lots more pics in photo gallery - album 'Caribbean')
Flamingoes at Gotomeer - Bonaire
09/05/2009, Caribbean sea
Such graceful birds and the pink feathers are a real rose colour!
Bonaire - flamingoes, iguanas and a Harley Davidson ride!
09/05/2009, Dutch Antilles Caribbean
10th May 2009
Position : 12 9.13N 68 16.73W
Sailing towards Bonaire in a good 20 knot wind from straight behind, in quite big seas, we could see windmills on the shoreline. We're in Holland after all! Galloping along with just the jib we passed kite surfers leaping off the waves. The landscape looked flat, white and turquoise. In the distance we could see white triangular shapes not unlike pyramids which we later learned are piles of salt at Cargill salt mine ready for export.
We called up the harbour master and he said we could pick up any mooring in front of the town for free. Anchoring is not allowed at Bonaire due to the reefs and the whole island being a marine park. With the help of a fellow yachtie in a dinghy we tied up to a mooring right outside the Karel bar and the main restaurant strip. Within an hour we had cleared customs and immigration - a free painless procedure! We were ready to explore the town! Not having seen European style shops and restaurants since South Africa I was looking forward to a little retail therapy. All the signs, books and papers were written in Dutch and most people spoke Dutch and I was referred to as 'mevrouw' in one of the shops. There is also another local language called Papiamento which is a mixture of Spanish, French, Dutch and English. It sounded lovely to listen to! Most of the locals revert between Papiamento, Dutch and English depending on who they are talking to! Most start speaking to me in Dutch because of my looks! As I understand most of it I could reply (but mostly in English as I felt shy about my Dutch). All prices are quoted in guilders and $US and both currencies are used.
The first night we met an American couple Catherine and Enrique (originally from Mexico) on their yacht Pelican who had just arrived form Puerto Rico. We spent a pleasant evening wining and dining with them sharing stories of our lives. We also met an Australian family from Sydney on their yacht La Barca - Adam, Bronwyn and 2 young children. They are on a similar timetable to us so it will be nice to stay in touch. That night we slept to the sound of party music going at many decibels!
Yesterday we walked to the warehouse supermarket which is in the industrial section of town to do some grocery shopping before it shut at 1pm. On the way we passed a motorbike hire place so decided to enquire. There was a choice between scooters and Harley Davidsons. We decided on a Harley Davidson as Bill said he had never ridden one before. We could only afford 4 hours so Bill arranged to be back at 12.00 then he would pick me up and the shopping to take back to the boat. When Bill returned with the motorbike I was at the checkout with a full trolley. I saw (and heard) him roll up in it with no helmet looking the part with his long hair blowing in the wind. The motorbike had 2 saddle bags so with those full and a full back pack each as well as a box of 12 cartons of uht milk balanced on my leg we slowly took off (on the wrong side of the road) to deliver it all back to the boat. Bill did this quickly so we could get our money's worth on the bike.
We toured the whole island as well as a stop for lunch in town in the 3.5 hours we had left. (It's not very big - about 24km long) We were surprised at how desolate the landscape was and so dry. Cactus plants were every where and iguanas scuttled across the road in front of us. The tiny ones had bright blue tails. The road followed the coast which was a beautiful turquoise blue with white coral beaches. Yellow painted rocks with the names of the dive sites are all along the roadside at short intervals. We look forward to doing some snorkeling. We took the road to a lake called Gotomeer. The lake was a wonderful surprise as we saw many rose pink flamingoes in the distance. I was entranced. As we traveled inland it felt a little like the Wild West - dry with 'hacienda' style houses in the oldest town on the island - Rincon. There we saw our first donkey beside the road. Bill zoomed past in the motorbike so I couldn't get a picture. As we neared the coast on the eastern side we discovered many limestone outcrops near the barren beaches. Here we saw a sign 'Indian inscriptions' so we followed the path and there behind a steel barricade were rust red markings up in the limestone cave 1000s of years old. Around 300BC Simcan people made star markings here. (see photo gallery)
After a lunch of dorado fish and salad (we declined the iguana on the menu!) we took off again for the last part of our fast tour to the south of the island. There we saw the salt mine and the original slave huts on the beach no bigger than big dog kennels... We saw the coast where we sailed past the kite surfers and as we went further along it got windier and more desolate! All along the windy coral strewn beaches many people had built 'sculptures' from the coral, driftwood, flotsam and jetsam. We stopped briefly at Lac Bay where we noticed a building with a fence all around and a sign that read 'Naturist Resort'. There are barely any trees or shade in this area so I wonder how sunburnt the naturists would be here!
Although it was quick tour we enjoyed every moment of it and felt exhilarated by the many sensory experiences! We washed a huge amount of dust and salt from our hair when we returned! After a delicious barbeque dinner at Bobbiejans (recommended by a friend's contact in Oz - thank you Anja!) we made a quick stop at the internet cafĂ©. It's quite expensive 15 guilders for half and hour (about the same in A$) but I managed a Happy Mothers Day chat to Vashti and Caylan on Skype. We'll take our own computer ashore next time to try and pick up wifi somewhere that will be a lot cheaper! (Hopefully free...)
Bonaire is certainly an interesting island and we are very glad we have stopped here. The coast from here to Panama is notoriously windy with steep seas but with the wind behind we will get there quickly even if it is uncomfortable. We are thinking of stopping in Cartegena, Colombia for a dose of history and somewhere completely different. The coast is patrolled by the US coast guard so is reputed to be very safe for yachts. After Cartegena we would like to stop at the San Blas islands where the Cuna Indian people live. It's supposed to be spectacular and I am looking forward to seeing the hand stitched molas. When we get to Colon we hope to stay in Shelter Bay Marina to arrange our crossing of the Panama Canal. As we will be coming across lots of Spanish speaking people over the next few weeks we will look for a dictionary and cd here in Bonaire.
Grenada to Bonaire - westwards towards Panama!
08/05/2009, 12 26.85'N:64 52.40'W, Caribbean Sea
Carriacou, Grenada to Bonaire Thursday 7th May 2009 Position : 12 26.85N 64 52.40W Time: 9.15am 200 miles to go
Valiam is sailing along with the wind from almost directly behind which means we have to use Mona Lisa the electric autopilot. We seem to have to charge the batteries more often these days by running the motor. Hopefully the batteries will last across the Pacific - they are quite expensive to replace especially anywhere around here! Due to the rolling motion sleeping is difficult but we are managing catnaps and only have one more night before we can rest in harbour. There have been a few ships. One was coming straight for us but with our AIS receiver we could work out which way it was going so altered our course to avoid it. (They are bigger than us!!)
Now that we have made the decision to head for the Pacific instead of Europe we have 6 months to get back to Australia before the cyclone season. It will be good when the longest passage of our circumnavigation will be over - 3000 miles from Galapagos to French Polynesia! However we will enjoy each place we stop at along the way even if it is brief as we always do. Bonaire and Curacao are part of the Dutch Antilles and the eastern most islands of the Caribbean. Bonaire is one of the top 3 dive places in the world and the island is classified as a marine park. Yachts are not allowed to anchor but must tie up to moorings for a fee per day. It will be nice to do some snorkeling and learn something of another culture. We are also tempted to have a look at Willemstadt on Curacao as it is supposed be like a mini Amsterdam with traditional old Dutch buildings along a canal. We could pretend we are in Holland! Another city that would be interesting with loads of history would be Car tegena in Colombia. Lots of yachties stop there and say it is fascinating. We are also looking forward to stopping at the San Blas islands to experience the native Indian culture (last of the Carrib people). There are 350 San Blas islands and 50 of them are inhabited. It is part of Panama.
We have contacted a marina in Colon (Shelter Bay Marina) and hope to stay there to organise and wait for our transit through the Panama Canal. We hope to be there in the next 2 weeks.
So we are pushing along but enjoying being at sea again - no fish yet! Bill has attached a piece of silver wine bladder to the feather lure as this has worked for many other yachts! We should arrive in Bonaire on Friday (unless we change our mind and go straight to Curacao!)
Faulty Towers in the Caribbean
06/05/2009, 12 26.95'N:61 29.01'W, Carriacou, Grenada
5 May 2009 Sandy Island Hillsborough Bay Carriacou Grenada
Yesterday we took the dinghy ashore in Tyrrel Bay to dine at a restaurant recommended to us by another yachtie. The sign read 'Pizza,. Cafe. Internet, .. perfect! We could have lunch and access the internet as well. As we eagerly approached this establishment it looked rather empty. A rather large lady with a goatee (beard yes) emerged from her slumber from behind the bar scowled at us and grunted. "Can we eat here?" Linda asked timidly. She rolled her eyes and nodded. "Do you have pizza?" Another grunt. As we stood uncomfortably we asked 'Do you have a menu?" She nodded in the direction of some menus behind the bar post. "Can we sit over there?" gesturing to the verandah overlooking the view. She didn't answer but looked as if I had asked a stupid question. We set ourselves up at the table nearest a power point for the computer. After some time we were feeling rather thirsty and hungry. We looked over towards the lady's place behind the bar. "Can we order a drink?" She heav ed her body from behind the bar and walked over to us with a notepad. She looked as if she would disappear again so we asked for our drinks and ordered a pizza to share. Linda asked for a slice of lemon with her gin and tonic. "No lemon" she said aggressively. Bill asked for a beer that was on the menu. "Beer hot. Only Carib cold." "Carib will do then" said Bill. When Linda's drink arrived the tonic was warm. By this stage we were feeling rather intimidated and uncomfortable. Linda asked for ice. She said nothing and brought it later over to the table and plonked it down in a cup.
Meanwhile the internet connection was very bad and not successful. An English couple came in and we noticed they received the same treatment. The look on her face said "not more customers."
Finally the pizza arrived with one plate. Linda asked for another plate so we could share the EC$49 pizza. " no you can't have another plate,. One of you have to eat off the tray" scowled our charming host. .. Anyway the pizza was quite tasty so we scoffed it quickly and left. I suppose the lady was happy that she had no more pesky customers to deal with.
As we had the computer with us we decided to go immediately to the yacht club by dinghy to try the internet. We only had EC$5 left which is just enough for one beer. (NOTE: EC$1 A$0.50c) We wandered through the overgrown garden with chickens pecking at our feet up the stairs to the yacht club bar. A lovely young lady greeted us with smile and said we could sit anywhere we wanted to work on our computer. We said we only had $5 to spend on drinks. She said "No problem. Next time!" She brought Bill a beer and a big pitcher of icy cold water and 2 glasses. We relaxed! The internet worked beautifully and we did lots of research for the trip ahead to Panama. Galapagos and French Polynesia. Several hours later we realized it was early morning in Australia. We clicked on skype and saw that our daughter Vashti was on line at 6.45am. She answered immediately and we enjoyed seeing our grandchildren Caylan and Joe cavorting about on the computer screen.
Today we decided to motor around to Sandy Island a couple of miles away. It is very pretty - white sand and beautiful turquoise water the colour of Valiam's hull. Sandy Island is a cay with a couple of coconut palms that survived cyclone Ivan a few years ago. Sadly the reef is broken up due to Ivan but nevertheless we enjoyed snorkeling in the clear water watching many schools of little colourful fish. (Bill saw a ray)
We plan to head off by dawn in the morning so we hopefully arrive in Bonaire in the daylight on Friday 8th May. Bonaire is still part of the Caribbean so we are not saying goodbye to this delightful area yet.
Carriacou - Tyrrel Bay
4th May 2009
We arrived here in Tyrrel Bay, Carriacou (a small island north of Grenada and is still Grenada) last night just after dark. We motorsailed all the way from Hog Island. It was an easy trip with calm seas. The exciting bit was going past an underwater volcano. It is near Ile Ronde and a tall monolith rock Diamond Rock (Kick-em-Jenny). The volcano busts into life now and then but we didnt see anything. There is an exclusion zone of 3 miles just in case. I thought this would be of interest to the kids! Another snippet of information from our guide book says "Carriacou has retained cultural autonomy especially with regard to its religious practices. There are even thought to be voodoo rites of Haitian origin." There is also a tradition of smuggling here from which the islanders do quite nicely mainly from alcohol. Carriacou has the reputaion that its easier to find a rum dealer than a fuel dock!
It's 5.45am and I have just peeked outside. There are lots of boats here and we are a long way from shore. I think we will put the motor on the dinghy rather than rowing. The wind has picked up a bit and we heard the anchor chain growling during the night as it moved over coral. We'll spend our last $EC here before we set off for Bonaire (about 300 miles away,) We may stay another night or pop over to have a look at a little atoll called Sandy Island in the next bay which is good for snorkelling.
Bonaire is the eastern most of the ABC islands and is part of the Dutch Antilles. We should arrive there by the end of the week.This will be our first stop on our way to Panama. It is one of the top 3 dive sites in the world so diving/snorkelling should be good. I'll get to practise speaking my Dutch!
current position : 12 27.39N 61 29.38W
Underwater volcano? On the way to Carriacou
Cant see the underwater volcano but we gave it a wide berth anyway!
leaving Hog Island
Today we head for Carriacou (part of Grenada) and we'll anchor in Tyrrel Bay and perhaps visit nearby Sandy Island. Well the decision has been made and we will be heading west within the next week for Panama and the Pacific Ocean. It would have been another 9000 miles to Europe and back within a short amount of time so rather than stress the boat and crew we will go the most logical route and head for the Pacific. (We hope to visit Europe by plane when we get back to Oz!!)
We may go as far as Martinique to stock up on nice food before we aim for Bonaire - one of the Netherlands Antilles and the most southern part of the Caribbean.
PS Didnt leave yesterday - another little party on the beach last night for Bills birthday. We are going today!!!
Happy Birthday Captain Bill!
Here's Bill with his new pirate head band and birthday shorts talking to his sisier Janet for her birthday in Oz (also May1st) via skype. I just have to publish sister Yolanda's birthday poem to Bill:
Even though you're so far away,
we are thinking of you today.
We all hope you have a great day,
As 53 is not old we say.
Thinking of things that rhyme today,
is the aim so... hey!
Maybe you are going grey,
Linda says it's blonde & looks ok
We won't ask you how much you weigh.
One thing we know is that you're not gay,
Ooh, that's a bit risque
What will you do today?
maybe attend a ballet,
or even a soiree,
and listen to a little reggae.
Perhaps, go to a cafe
have a nice entree,
or a buffet
maybe even a flambe?
How about something gourmet,
and finish with a sundae, or parfait
But definitely not something from a sachet!
Well, we know it is Friday
And these rhymes are very cliche
So enough of this wordplay
Love from Yolanda, Anthony, Geordi & Annika
p.s. Just stay in your pj's
Social life at Hog Island - last days
30th April 2009
It's been great to just relax and get a few boat jobs done whilst here. Today we are clearing out of Grenada as tomorrow is a public holiday. On Saturday we will start heading north. How far we get will depend on the lateness of the festivities for Bill's birthday on Friday night! We may go straight to Bequia or stop at Carriacou or Tobago Cays (St Vincent Grenadines). After that we may day hop up to St Lucia, Martinique, Dominica and Guadeloupe eventually arriving in St Maarten within the next 2 weeks. (Refer to Caribbean map prior ships log)
On Monday nights the local boys come to Hog Island to cook up huge pots of soup and stew made from fish, turkey (rumour of turtle), vegetables and spices. The results were delicious! (See photos in gallery)
We caught the local minibus into St George again the other day to do some shopping. These little buses are locally owned and drive all over the island at regular times throughout the day. We haven't had to wait for more than 5 minutes either way. At EC$2.50 (A$1.25) per trip it's a cheap way to get around. Its fun too, being on the bus with the locals. It's a bit squashy as every spare centimetre is used. Once the normal bench seats are filled with at least 3 bottoms, fold down seats are put down between them and the sliding door. If the person in the back corner wants to get off nearly everyone including babies and shopping has to get out or move. This happens every time the bus stops when the person alighting raps their knuckles on the side of the bus. Then everyone piles on again in the same order! It's quite hilarious but also a good thing for tall people like us to get our circulation going again after having out knees touching our chins. Everyone is very polite whilst being squashed sweating together and its customary for every new person getting on the bus to say Good Morning/Afternoon to everyone. Grenadians are generally beautifully dressed with colourful pressed clothes, accessories and elaborate hairdos. We have found the Grenadians very friendly and polite and extremely tolerant towards us 'grotty yachties'.
Because water has to be carted here by dinghy from across the bay we have been washing in salt water. Someone gave us some liquid soap for salt water which we have finally got around to using! Its lovely made from Coconut oil. The only problem was Linda had trouble climbing up the ladder to get back on the boat as it seemed more slippery after the bath! So Captain Bill wound string around the top rung for her ladyship.
We must thank our yachtie friend Phil for arranging free wifi here at the Hog Island anchorage. It's just a small amount but enough to check emails and the weather etc.
As it is Bill's birthday tomorrow and he's gone out for the afternoon I better get to baking him a cake and wrapping his present.
I made a delicious Rum punch last night using local ingredients : (Thank you to Receta - Embarassment of Mangoes)
All ingredients should be cold preferable shaken with ice:
1 measure white rum
2 measures fresh coconut water (from green coconut)
tablespoon of sweetened condensed milk
sprinkle freshly grated nutmeg liberally on top. Delicious!!
Cheerio from the Caribbean!
Happy 3rd Birthday Annika!
We are sorry we cant come to your party and we hope you have a wonderful day. Lots of love and kisses from the other side of the world, Nanny Linda and Uncle Bill
Champagne around the world! Hog Island
Linda and Gro (with new puppy Didi) enjoying South African bubbles
27th April 2009
Internet is difficult to get to here but today we are going to Whisper Cove Marina (other side of Clarke Court Bay) to do our laundry and hopefully connect to their wifi. Lucky we now have a super doper waterproof backpack to take the computer across in the dinghy. Its blowing 20 knots today so I am expecting to get wet on the way over! Yesterday at the Sunday Barbeque on Hog Island we enjoyed local food cooked by Rogers friends - bbq chicken, fish and local veges for EC$20 (about A$10). Delicious! We are enjoying the company of the other yachties - Jorgen and Nonne(Denmark), Jason and Gro(Norwegian/Grenada) and Phil and his son Johannes (NZ). There are lots of German/Austrian boats here too as well as some US and Canadian boats.
We just received an email from Bills Dad telling us about 'Swine fever' in the Americas. Well luckily there aren't any pigs here on Hog island!
Hog Island Anchorage
Rogers Bar - Hog Island
26th April 2009
Danish couple Nonne and Jorgen (yacht Luna) just popped by to share information on anchorages/marinas in Portugal and Spain if we head out that way. This is the great thing about here in this busy little anchorage - we can pick up lots of information! We hope to have time to have a look inland on a local minibus to one of the waterfalls and swimming holes. We will possibly move on to the island of Carriacou (part of Grenada) then Tobago Cays(not to be confused with Tobago/Trinidad) in the Grenadines in the next week. Dominica is also on our list of places to visit.
We have sailed a long way to get here in a relatively short amount of time and seen many wonderful places. There aren't many Australians here and many of the cruisers here wonder why we are here as they say 'Australia is so beautiful and one of the best places in the world!' I guess we are lucky to have such a great country to return to. For us cruising to all these places is about learning and experiencing as much of the world as we can. We meet so many interesting people from diverse backgrounds. It helps us see everything in perspective and appreciate what we have. It is quite amazing that so many countries we've been in, in the past year have a majority population of people of African descent. Most were brought to various countries in the past 500 years as slaves by the European colonialists. In that time new cultures developed as slavery was abolished and intermarriage occurred between the different people who came to these places to work. There are a large percentage of Indian people also who originally came to these countries as cheap labour. We have enjoyed the different spicy 'Creole' type dishes in Rodrigues, Mauritius, Reunion, South Africa, St Helena, Brazil, French Guiana and the islands of the Caribbean. Each of these countries has developed their own culture in cuisine, language, dress etc. However today everywhere we've been since the Cocos Keeling islands in the Indian ocean, Bob Marley type music is being played and dreadlocks the main hair fashion amongst the younger people!
Finding Hog Island
Bill with his 'new comb' found in the flotsam - Hog Island
25th April 2009
It is nice to be in a much less rolly anchorage! It was an hour motoring into a 20 knot wind avoiding sandbars and reefs to reach Hog Island. At first we were anchored in the Clarke Court Bay side but we are now on the other side where most of the yachts are. It is quite a little community here with Rogers Bar open every day on the little beach. Every morning there is a 'Cruisers Net' on vhf 68 which we have never experience before. There are many yachties from USA, Canada and Europe here and most come here every year. Many haul out their boats in the boat yard for the hurricane season then return.
We are enjoying the company of other yachties and have met quite a few. We have enjoyed socializing with Jason and Gro and friends (a Bavaria yacht Innana). Jason is originally from Grenada but has a Swedish background and Gro is Norwegian. They will be heading for the Azores next month on their way back to Norway. Jason had done the trip a couple of times and Gro has sailed extensively so it's been good to talk to them. Jason's Grenadian friend Alex is crewing for them. As I type this I can hear drums playing on the beach. Apparently it is Rogers's birthday so there is a party. We will join them shortly. Tomorrow (Sunday) there will be the weekly yachties barbeque. This morning there was a boat garage sale at the little local marina called Whisper Cove. Bill pumped up the inflatable with the big outboard and presto it went first go after about a year. (Since Cocos). It's a bit choppy crossing Clarke Court Bay so the inflatable isn't as wet as the little wooden dinghy (and a lot faster!)
At the garage sale I met a lady Maryanne (yacht Mighty Sparrow) selling cards of her art work. We discussed painting and drawing and its pitfalls on a boat and will try to meet before we leave Grenada. We will stay for a few more days to rest before we head north again. Yesterday we caught the little local minibus into St George to do some food shopping. I enjoyed the market buying interesting fruits and vegetable and spices. I bought a 'spice necklace' which is hanging in the cabin. Bill says the boat smells like Christmas cake! I have whole nutmeg to grate and real cocoa balls to try. At the moment I am making Calaloo soup (a local vegetable). Apparently Ann Vanderhoof who wrote An Embarrassment of Mangoes was here with her husband Steve on Receta not long ago. I would have liked to say hello! Jason said Fergie (Duchess of York) was here the other day with friends at Rogers (shack) bar.
Map of Caribbean
Here's the map again so you can follow our progress through a few of these little countries!
Arrived Prickly Bay Grenada
21st April 2009
Position : 11 59.79N 61 45.782W
After a lovely overnight sail from Tobago we arrived here around 8am yesterday. We hoisted the Grenada flag along with the yellow Q flag before we entered another new country! The Caribbean has lots of little countries. Some are independent like Trinidad &Tobago as well as Grenada. Several are run by the French, English, Dutch and the USA. As we rounded the headland for Prickly Bay all we could see was yacht masts! Prickly Bay is 'chockers' as we say in Oz with almost every available anchoring space taken! However we managed to anchor between a French catamaran and a Canadian yacht. Not long after having some breakfast an inflatable came up to us. Eric from the Canadian yacht Lady Meg introduced himself to us. Whilst sharing some info about the local area I noticed an elderly naked man wandering around the deck of another nearby yacht. Eric says 'Yes the Austrians tend to do this. It's not a pretty sight when they bend over picking up something off the deck.' Welcome to the Caribbean!
Customs and Immigration isn't far and is conveniently located next to Spice Marine. The paper work was painless and it cost us US$25 in harbour dues. This anchorage is in the middle of the outskirts of town surrounded by new concrete mansions built since cyclone Ivan. The good thing is there are yacht repair places and a big chandlery a dinghy trip away. We decided to find an ATM to get some $EC. This involved a hot walk up the road past 'De Big Fish' boat yard in an industrial area (not my image of the Caribbean!!) until eventually we jumped on a private minibus-taxi the locals use. (The taxi drivers want exorbitant rates from yachties $30 each way). After talking to a helpful fellow on the bus we ended up in Georgetown. St George is very picturesque with old buildings and boats alongside the water. He directed us to a wonderful place to eat called 'the Creole Shack' where we had 2 huge delicious meals and drinks for the equivalent of A$15. It seemed to be a popular place for lunch with the locals. We wandered up and down the steep narrow streets with cute little shops hidden in small corners. Everyone seems very friendly and helpful and we had a pleasant time looking around. We caught minibus back and spent the rest of the day planning and doing not a lot.
After a good nights sleep we discovered we could get wireless internet on the boat by paying US$10 for 24 hours with a credit card. Great! Today we will catch up with all our internet stuff and do some more research for our trip. We are still thinking about crossing the north Atlantic to the Azores and Europe but the weather and timing has to be good. Mid May onwards is recommended. We will make our final decision in the next couple of weeks.
Bill has gone to get the wind vane welded up again. He is going to email Flemming photos as it should not have come apart. Tomorrow we will probably motor over to Hog Island where it will be a bit more pleasant than here to anchor. It is just as easy to catch buses into town from there as here. It won't have the isolated island beach feel as Tobago but should be pleasant enough. I look forward to seeing where Ann and Steve on Receta from the book 'An Embarrassment of mangoes' spent a lot of time and enjoyed it so much. Yesterday we saw and heard several fast noisy US army jets fly overhead in honour of Obama in Trinidad.
The Caribbean will be busy in a lot of places but I am sure we'll find some quiet spots over the next few weeks.
(more pics in photo gallery 'Caribbean')
Englishman's Bay, Tobago
20/04/2009, 11 17.57'N:60 40.33'W, Trinidad and Tobago, Caribbean
Englishman's Bay Tobago Republic of Trinidad and Tobago Sunday 19th April 2009
We are now anchored in Englishman's Bay just an hours sail from Charlotteville. It is so beautiful -like a paradise island beach one fantasizes about. I had read about it in another yachtie's book and I certainly wasn't disappointed. It's good to know there are still unspoilt uncrowded places in the Caribbean. (Although one could argue we are not quite in the Caribbean yet) One other yacht is anchored here. It's a small bay with a yellow sand beach fringed with coconut palm trees and bamboo. Yesterday we swam from the boat to the rocks to snorkel then to the beach. We discovered the little wooden restaurant-shack Eulas on the beach was still there and open. So we swam back to the boat to get dry clothes on and launched the dinghy. As it was weekend there were a few local day trippers enjoying the beach. Eulas has a top story overlooking the beach through the palm fronds. On a branch near our table sat a colourful bird with an unusual shaped long tail. It is possibly one of th e most superbly located restaurants I have ever seen. We enjoyed Indian roti with curried vegetables and fresh fish accompanied by Carib beer. There were a few souveniers, sarongs etc for sale as well as huge gorgeous conch shells bright pink inside. I had to have one! Eula's daughter said her friend dives for them on the other side of the island.
I am re-reading 'An Embarrassment of Mangoes' by Ann Vanderhoof who cruised the Caribbean with her husband Steve on their yacht Receta a few years ago. Ann has an interest in cooking particularly local cooking using local fresh ingredients. I have used some of her recipes and look forward to visiting Grenada and Hog Island where they spent a lot of time. Last night we decided to make caipairinhas (rum drinks) using Riu's recipe from Jacare, Brazil as well as consulting Ann and Steve's in their book. The result was delicious - too delicious as we had 3!!! Instead of sugar we used Canadou - sugar cane syrup. Our limes are almost depleted! With last nights fish (fresh from Charlotteville) I made a delicious salsa from fruit and veges locally grown:
1 mango chopped.
1 small cucumber peeled and chopped.
1 small red and green capsicum chopped.
1/2 an onion chopped (or small Spanish onion).
1 freshly squeezed lime mixed with tablespoon of olive oil.
Sprinkling of fennel seed (these give it a lovely fresh aniseed type taste - don't put too many). Salt and pepper.
(Ann's recipe had pawpaw and no fennel seeds) Today I am going to make pasta using a bunch of local spinach (escarole) with garlic and chopped salami. (Also a similar idea from Ann's book) We have also been re reading Gilbert Goors book who circumnavigated the world on Gipsy Girl from South Africa and cruised the southern part of the Caribbean. The places he visited have also given us some ideas of where to go over the next few weeks. Our pilot book on the Caribbean is full of photos and info. You could spend years here! There are so many places. Anyway it's good to be in a quiet place for a couple of days (no shouting lunatics with loudspeakers here!!). It is truly relaxing.
We sail to Grenada tonight. (Prickly Bay - there are yacht facilities there so hopefully we can get the wind vane welded together again) We want to get there during business hours tomorrow so we don't have to pay overtime fees. We heard some more stuff on the radio about the Americas Summit. It is interesting to hear what is being said about Cuba being excluded and Obama's attempt at an olive branch. Everything Obama says is repeated. The locals see him as a hero and think he will solve all the worlds' problems. Security is very tight in this area. The coast guard are constantly cruising around. I'm glad we aren't in Trinidad!
Jaba says hi from Charlotteville, Tobago
Jaba sells wonderful rotis (Indian pancakes filled with spicy vegetarian and meat toppings). He is a very friendly and helpful fellow especailly for the yachties. He says "Live Life Be Happy"
leaving Charlottelville Tobago
17/04/2009, North Atlantic
Bill paying for veges at the Market in Scarborough.
17th April 2009
Charlotteville is a small fishing village with a very relaxed ambience EXCEPT when its 7-9pm. Then everyone for miles around is subjected to a shouting raving sermon by a zealous evangelist Christian. This spoils the anchorage for me as it is the time to unwind and reflect calmly at the water whilst sitting in the cockpit. Putting a CD on and staying inside is one option. The other night I tried to go to sleep around 8pm and couldn't as it sounded like the man was shouting in my ear it was that loud. There is a large Rastafarian community here as well as a number of Indians and other people who I am sure do not share the views of this mob. Even when we were in Scarborough yesterday a car was driving around with loud speakers with a recorded sermon on fornication. This seems to be the favourite topic at the moment and is mainly geared towards women. We don't really want to hear about 'The soul never dies and that there's no water in hell.....' I guess we are guests here. I have noticed several yachts leave. The trouble is sound travels on water.
Apart from that we are having a nice time eating freshly caught local fish, snorkeling and chatting to the locals. We enjoy eating rotis from a stand run by a Rastafarian man called Jaba. He is very friendly and has offered us his tap for getting water. Catching a bus to Scarborough yesterday took all morning. After waiting for the internet/laundry shed to open. (It opened finally at 10.15) we bought our tickets for the 11am bus. During the morning we were 'liming' (Caribbean for sitting around watching the world). We watched the small town slowly come to life as more people ambled by. There are some very relaxed locals who enjoy a cold Carib beer at 9am after their shower at the communal tap! By 11am quite a group had gathered at the bus stop - the French couple as well as some locals. The bus finally went past at 12.00. It usually goes around the block to pick everyone up. At 12.30 the bus was still parked up the hill whilst the driver had his lunch. A couple of guys who had been waiting were getting a bit agitated (as we were!) saying he was 'arsing around' and were not impressed. This big bus is run by the government and the driver is on a public servant payroll. There are private little minibuses which are slightly more expensive but run all day. We decided to forego our bus tickets and hop on one of these. This was an experience in itself whilst the driver careened around steep bends on the hills of Tobago with one hand whilst talking or texting on his mobile phone constantly. We got to Scarborough in one piece about an hour or so later. The views on the eastern side of the island down toward the little bays were spectacular. Scarborough is a busy town with many street hawkers and small shops. A cruise ship was docked in the harbour. We found a bank machine that gave us TT dollars and then walked until we found a small cafĂ© run by a Rastafarian man. The food was delicious. Many of the stalls sell clothes, music etc devoted to Bob Marley and Rastafarian styles. I notice many older men with so much hair piled up in dreadlocks on their heads balanced by skinny necks and bodies they look almost like puppets. Bill said perhaps they are not that old but the same age as him. We did catch a whiff of 'wacky backy' now and then.
On our return to Charlotteville (it was 6pm) the lady whom I had been badgering for fresh bread called out to me from her little shack. (It's painted blue) The bread smelt fresh, warm and divine. The fresh bread isn't available in the evenings probably because no-one gets up early here (even the bakers). There are chickens everywhere here. They seem to be on the roads, beaches, wandering around the shops etc. There isn't much traffic and what there is, is slow. The older the chicks are accompanied by their mother hens the less there are of them. Survival of the fittest!
We must go and collect our laundry now. The lady was not impressed by the smell when she loaded into the 2 machines. There was washing there from a month ago!! We may head down to Englishman's Bay for a couple of nights. It may be more peaceful there in the evenings! After a few days we will be heading for Grenada - probably Prickly Bay first to get out wind vane welded then to Hog Island.
Pirate Bay Charlotteville
Anchored near Pirates Bay
Tobago (Republic of Trinidad and Tobago)
14th April 2009
A little while ago the French yachtie (Maxime) came past and offered us a fish he'd caught with his spear gun. We offered in exchange a glass of South African wine at sunset this evening. The same thing happened yesterday - Dutchman Henk came by offering us half a tuna as he couldn't eat it all so he came on board for a glass of wine. Do we look hungry or do we look like a floating bar? Perhaps the rumour has gone around that we've come from South Africa and everyone who sails there stocks up on good wine. At this rate it will be all gone soon!
Our first anchorage was a bit rolly as well as deep (20 m) so we moved over towards the other yachts just off Pirates Bay. The water is 12 m deep and possibly not quite as rolly. We are further from Charlottesville but close to Pirates Bay. Pirates Bay is a beautiful little beach with a fresh water stream. There are a couple of shacks amongst the bushes and a few piles of rubbish but the water is clean. Taking our most precious and loved pieces of clothing over by dinghy as well as our pink tie dyed sheets we washed them in the stream. They are now creating colourful flags over the boat. It was a little tricky landing and launching the dinghy at Pirates Bay as there is a surge but we managed without tipping everything back in the water. As we were washing, a group of local young men came down the path from the bushes singing in Bob Marley fashion carrying freshly caught fish, a silver tray and banana leaves. They were a cheerful lot and after a short conversation on the preparation of fish we returned to Valiam.
We cleared in yesterday, the immigration and customs officials being very friendly and helpful. The ATM wasn't working so we couldn't pay them their overtime fees but we will try again today. As it has been the Easter holidays the fruit and vege stalls haven't been open. Plenty of fish around though! We enjoyed lunch at Sharon's restaurant which gave us a nice view of Valiam bobbing about in the harbour and Bill's first taste of Carib beer. Sharon wasn't particularly friendly but the food was fine. When we went to the little internet place across the road the women weren't friendly either. For some reason the men are and seem more cheerful. Henk the Dutch yachtie said the same thing. It is a very religious town and we were blasted again last night by evangelist chanting and singing. Perhaps the yachties are looked upon as heathens by the womenfolk.
The sunset last night was superb. The temperature is perfect (not as hot as Brazil and French Guiana) and there is usually a nice breeze. We've certainly come to a nice place. Life couldn't be much better at the moment. (More photos in new album 'the Caribbean')
Valiam Man-O -War Bay
13/04/2009, Charlotteville Tobago
Valiam at anchor after sailing 6000 miles in 7 weeks. Time to rest.
More pics in Gallery album French Guiana to Caribbean click on the little camera
Laid back Charlotteville
13/04/2009, Tobago (and Trinidad)
A small town hugging a small beach with steep lush vegetation backdrop with fishermen cutting up their catch for the locals (and us if we choose too) is what Charlotteville is all about. No tourist shops. Just casual friendly people.
Hallelujah Charlotteville Tobago
13/04/2009, 11 19.52'N:60 33.14'W, Trinidad and Tobago, Caribbean
Charlotteville Man-O-War Bay Tobago 12th April 2009 (Easter Sunday) Position: 11 19.52N 60 33.14W
After a 3 day sail (600 miles) from Kourou French Guiana we arrived in Charlotteville, Tobago at 12.30 today. Tobago is part of Trinidad and Tobago as one country but sees itself as separate. We anchored in the beautiful bay surrounded by lush vegetation, a small town with high set houses and small beaches tucked into corners waiting to be explored. There are several small fishing boats about and 6 other yachts at anchor.
Celebrating our arrival with a cold glass of south African wine we were accompanied by a Christian sermon by loudspeaker :".. 'Praise the Lord...the love of God .. Hallelujah.etc" Well it is Easter Sunday! After lunch Bill went to find the Police station and immigration. After rowing ashore he found the police station and 5 minutes later a scruffy beat up car with stickers with an equally scruffy fellow unshaven with a ponytail stepped out of the vehicle. He is the immigration officer. He asked Bill a few questions but said to come back 'with the missus' at 10.00 in the morning. He then changed his mind and said 'You better make it 10.30. I'm going to get drunk today." So this is our casual introduction to the Caribbean!
We are very happy to be here. The town looks small and laid back - just what we like.
French Guiana to the Caribbean - Valiam does 227 miles in 24 hours!
11/04/2009, 9 17.61'N:57 31.53'W, North Atlantic
Saturday 11 April 2009 North Atlantic Ocean To Tobago, Caribbean Position: 9 17.61N 57 31.53W Miles to go: 213 Time: 8.30am
Wow! 227 miles in 24 hours! This was what we have covered on the GPS. The 2 prior readings at 6 hour intervals were 222 and 213 miles. Valiam has well and truly broken her record! The mainsail still has 2 reefs too. We have favourable current and wind with us as our friend Jean Pierre on Balthazar found also on this passage. He also did 220 mile days and reached Union island in 3 days from French Guiana. We should arrive in Tobago tomorrow if conditions stay the same. We are aiming for Charlotteville as our information tells us we can clear in there and it looks nicer than Scarborough.
The Galley slave felt terrible yesterday - very tired and seasick despite medication due to the movement - like sailing to windward. The captain had to cook dinner - spaghetti with home made bacon and tomato sauce. It was delicious! Today is a much better day. We are much better rested and the seas are smoother. The wind is coming more from the east making things more comfortable. One other problem however will need to be fixed as soon as possible: our Fleming windvane broke yesterday. It ('Fred') has done about 10,000 miles and the weld holding the paddle on has cracked so it is twisted and cant steer the boat. We will have to find a welder in Tobago. Lucky Mona Lisa is still going strong. (electric autopilot) but she does chew up a bit of power necessitating us to run the engine every day for a few hours to charge the batteries.
Whilst in the internet café in Kourou, French Guiana we found a free hurricane email information service. This will be great info for us if any hurricanes decide to come early to the Caribbean we can avoid them hopefully. For any yachties reading our ships log: National Hurricane Center Web: www.hurricanes.gov Mobile web: www.hurricanes.gov/mobile Email: email@example.com
One more night then hopefully we'll be swimming and snorkeling in clear blue water and enjoying a relaxed anchorage - our first in the Caribbean.
French Guiana to the Caribbean
10/04/2009, 7 2.59'N:54 35.41'W, North Atlantic
Good Friday 10 April 2009 French Guiana to Tobago Position: 7 2.59N 54 35.41W Miles to go: 434 Time: 8am
Happy Easter everyone! We must have got some of Arianespace energy as we are flying along! After leaving Kourou and passing Ile du Salut, then negotiating through lots of shallow water we were sailing at 10 knots! Even after Bill reefed the main and half furled the jib we were still going at 9 knots. I even saw it reach 11.4 knots! The wind has been blowing consistently at 20 knots from the northeast making conditions on board rather uncomfortable. It may be a fast ride but it is bumpy and also wet outside as waves sometimes splash across the decks. We have 2 knots of current with us hence the fast trip.
It's difficult to move around the cabin as well as sleep but luckily this is a short trip and we should reach Tobago on Sunday. We have decided to aim for Charlotteville (Man-o-war Bay) as it looks nicer than Scarborough, the other place where we can clear in. The Trinidad/Tobago officials like to extract overtime fees if you arrive outside Mon-Fri 8-12, 2-4pm or public holidays. As it would be difficult to arrive exactly between those times we are resigned to paying the fees anyway. French Guiana was very relaxed and we never did officially clear in. The gendarmes waved to us as they sped by on their motor boat and I was next to one in the chemist buying sea sick pills speaking bad French. They aren't interested in the yachts and obviously don't want to do the paperwork. Suits us! The fishermen at the wharf all seemed to be of different nationalities and one who befriended us spoke excellent English said he was from the Falkland Islands. He also said he had a Scottish wife a nd that his passport had been stolen. He was keen to talk to Bill about Australian cricket players saying his favourites were Shane Warne and David Boon. This fisherman had Indian features and was extremely talkative and friendly. One wonders whether many of the fishermen are illegal immigrants and perhaps the gendarmes aren't worried. With generous French government handouts to the French Guianians, someone has to work and catch the fish!
I am typing this with the computer balanced on my lap sitting in the portside of the saloon - this seems to be the way we are heeling lately. I was feeling sea sick earlier in the trip and had to resort to Stematyl again. We are both tired as it is too bumpy to sleep properly. I managed to make chocolate muffins using a packet saying 'just add water'. These had to do instead of hot cross buns. There was nothing 'Eastery' in the shops in Kourou - no chocolate eggs, no hot cross buns. In fact we forgot it was Easter until we received emails from family and friends talking about camping holidays etc.
This may be our fastest trip ever. We already covered 60 miles in the first 6 hours! (m ore than 200 in 24 hours!!)
Map of Caribbean
We head off for Togago tomorrow the first island in the Caribbean chain. Trinidad and Tobago are below the hurricane belt but we hope to sail further north beofre June 1st. We are looking forward to clear water and white sand beaches! This map will help you work out where we are as we travel through the Caribbean.
Ariane Space Centre
08/04/2009, Kourou French Guiana
8 April 2009
Our taxi driver was no-where to be seen at 7.30am which was the time we had arranged.... Fortunately a French woman was nearby checking in tourists for the boat trips and she kindly phone Franki the taxi driver. He said 'toute suite' and turned up shortly then drove like a rally car driver to the Ariane Space centre. We arrived at a very modern looking building which housed the Musee amongst other offices to do with educating visitors. There was only one other English speaking tourist (American) who also spoke Portuguese. The guide's own language was Portuguese but the whole tour was explained in French. We hardly understood a word but enjoyed the bus tour and wandering around the launch pad sites and looked at the control rooms etc. It was very exciting to be there to see where the rockets launch satellites into space. We realized it was a unique experience as there are only 2 other Space centres - USA and Russia. The American said that Arianespace gave a far superior tour to the Kennedy space centre. At the conclusion of the tour we watched a film of the rockets taking off and part of this was in English. (We were given special translated headphones) The whole place was huge and impressive. There were observation/conference rooms set behind glass of the control rooms. It must have been an amazing career for our yachtie friend (Balthazar) Jean Pierre as the boss of the whole space centre. We just received a message from them and they are now in Martinique. I don't think we'll catch up unless it is in France!!!
07/04/2009, French Guiana
Le Kourou River
7 April 2009
Kourou is a small town that feels like a bit of an out post. There are old board and tin buildings amongst new and 70s - 80s modern architecture in the form of apartments. The town has a relaxed feel to it but with the obvious presence of the French government in the form of the gendarmes, fire officers, legionnaires in fancy cars and boats. The people (mostly of African descent) are well looked after with evidence of all sorts of municipal buildings and organizations promoting cultural understandings. There is a sprinkling of small simple restaurants in basic concrete and tin buildings. We had lunch in one recommended by a local. We had a delicious meal including beef and vegetables. Bill had one beer and I had water and the bill came to the equivalent of A$60. We can't afford to go out very often at Euro prices!
I was keen to see the Amerindian village (Native South Americans) so we followed the map kindly given to us by the Marie (Town Hall). After walking in the heat for an hour or so we found a small number of simple dwellings on the beachfront with swept dirt paths and the occasional decoration painted or hanging from the verandah. The handicraft centres looked dilapidated and very closed. The people we did see were very friendly with very attractive features.
Walking back into town we were wondering how we were to find transport to the Ariane Space centre in the morning. We eventually found a travel agent type office and after waiting half an hour to be served we decided time was getting away and we would work it out somehow. After not seeing any taxis about we suddenly spotted one. It turned into a nearby Petrol station so we ran after it. We managed to communicate in halting English/French to 'Frankie' that we needed to be picked up from 'le port' at 7.30am. We asked if he would take us back to the boat then as we thought it would be a good idea for him to know where to get us in the morning in case our fumbling French was giving him the wrong message.
On the pontoon where we left our dinghy the fishermen were busy unloading, sorting and cutting up fish. It was a spectacular sight with huge fish piled up all over the place. We decided to buy a piece at the fish market next door for dinner. It was only 3 Euros - perfect with salad and a cold glass of South African wine.
The current is very strong here in the river and combined with the wind Valiam starts turning in all sorts of directions. Our anchor chain sometimes pulls across the front of the boat but she is well dug in. Captain Bill tied off the tiller so she stays in a more stable direction. It seems to rain every afternoon with a huge downpour. As we couldn't find the laundry we thought next time the dinghy fills up with water we will do our washing in it!!
The Space Centre should be interesting tomorrow.
06/04/2009, French Guiana
Le Kourou River
6 April 2009
Position: 5 8.85N 52 38.71 W
After a very pleasant 2 days relaxing at the hotel on Ile Royale, we motored for 2 hours through shallow muddy water thorough the marked channel to Kourou. We are now anchored not far from the fishing pontoon within walking distance to town.
Our 2 days at Ile Royale (part of the group of 3 islands Iles du Salut) was made particularly special due to the special treatment we received at l'Auberge des Iles the hotel managed by Madeleine. (See http://www.ilesdusalut.com) We are extremely grateful to Jean Pierre (ex boss of Ariane Space Centre) and Michele for their wonderful introduction to Madeleine. We enjoyed our high ceilings in the room with private bathroom and views across to Devils Island. The meals were superb and we would like to thank Madeleine, Carlo, Angele, Dominique (for her translations!) and all the staff. We were fascinated by the ruins and old buildings on the island that used to be the jail and accompanying structures such as the church etc. One of the ex sleeping quarters for inmates is now available for budget 'hammock' accommodation to truly experience what the prisoners felt. We were happy with our big room with a big bed and view in the main building! The old pond is home to several types of iguanas as well as a crocodile. Beautiful large tropical birds are at home here and came to finish our left -overs after lunch! Our French still has not improved despite being immersed in it once again!
We are about to wander into town after ensuring our anchor is holding in this tidal river. We will report our findings in the next ships log!
(See all the photos I have just placed in a new album : French Guiana to Caribbean) click on the little camera!
Map of French Guiana
For those who are wondering where we are!
06/04/2009, 5 17.11'N:52 35.34'W, French Guiana
Ile Royale Iles du Salut French Guiana 5 April 2009 Position : 5 17.114N 52 35.334W
Valiam is now happy at anchor rolling slightly in the small protected harbour of Ile Royale. It is good to be here and rest. We are being well looked after by Madeleine, Dominique, Carlo and other staff members at the hotel here. The surrounds are beautiful with tropical flowers, lush vegetation and great views across to Devils island and out to seas from whence we came! After a delicious 'menu du jour' (meal of the day - fish soup, fish, desert and wine) we were given a beautiful room overlooking the other island and the sea. It was strange being somewhere with such high ceilings after the boat, spacious timber floors and a bed we could climb in and out of from either side! After a couple of lovely warm showers and a good rest we enjoyed cafďż˝ au lait with toasted French bread and jam for petite dejeuner. There appeared to be a large group of young African people her on some kind of tour. The passenger liner Pacific Princess from Bermuda has gone. It is a bit difficult for u s to communicate as our French is still terrible. Not many people speak English. We will endeavour to improve our French!
Ile Royale is very tranquil and we will have a good rest here. There are funny little large guinea pig type animals running around with longer back legs and a rich tan fur. We haven't seen any monkeys yet. We look forward to exploring the old jail and ruins on the island. As we are still using the sat phone to update the website lots of pictures are not possible. You could try the hotel website : http://www.ilesdusalut.com
Merci beaucoup l’Auberge des Iles !
05/04/2009, Ile Royale - Iles du Salut
Thank you Madelein, Carlo, Angele and staff for your warm hospitality and wonderful meals! Also thanks to Domanique for translating for us!
05/04/2009, 5 17.11'N:52 35.34'W, French Guiana
We're here! Position 5 17.11N 52 35.33W (arrived 5pm) It looks very tropical and peaceful from the boat with a few buildings scattered about. A cruise ship form Bermuda is here 'Pacific Princess' and fortunately all 6 boatloads of passengers are now back on the ship. We've had a glass of champagne and will endeavour to make ourselves look respectable before going ashore and introducing ourselves to the hotel staff. Can here parrots squawking and waves lapping the beach around the corner. There's lots of coconut trees - yes trees - haven't seen them for a while.
Brazil to French Guiana: Day 9
05/04/2009, 5 25.6'N:51 36.6'W, Atlantic Ocean
Saturday 4th April 2009 Time: 9.05am Position: 5 25.6N 51 36.04W Miles to go (to Ile Royale, French Guiana): 59
Last night, just before sunset we were treated to a spectacular display of at least 20 dolphins jumping and playing in the waves created by Valiam. As the swell was small we went up to the front hanging on to the bow rail watching them. They were quite small with a grey/greenish tinge to their skin. Dolphins playing out at sea always makes one feel very happy to see them being so joyful. We had an all night hitchhiker in the form of a small brown bird the size of a pigeon sitting on our upturned dinghy on the foredeck. He did a good job of painting the bottom. The captain is pleased he didn't choose the solar panels.
The wind and current have been mostly favourable but it will be touch and go if we make Ile Royal by dark. It's been raining on and off which means we have to keep the hatches closed making it stuffy inside the cabin. When busy in the galley (as I was this morning baking scones) I direct the little fan on to myself to stop sweat dripping everywhere.
We look forward to seeing the Rocket range (European Space Agency launch site) and have dug out our Space Watching book I had bought years ago when visiting the Australian Observatory in Parkes, NSW. When sailing the oceans one seems even more aware of our place - a tiny dot crawling along - and the relationship between Earth and the Universe.
The next Ship's log will be written after we have arrived in French Guiana! Au revoir!
Brazil to French Guiana: Day 8
03/04/2009, 4 14.57'N:48 47.3'W, Atlantic Ocean
Friday 3rd April 2009 Time: 7.20am Position: 4 14.57N 48 47.3 W Miles to go (to Ile Royale French Guiana): 236
A white bird with a very long thin tail flew around in circles behind and above Valiam looking at us perhaps wondering if it could land. We are still at least 100 miles offshore and the bird didn't look like a sea bird. We have observed similar birds before in Africa and Palau. It takes a week to get into cruising mode and slow down ones thoughts to a more reflective meditative mode. Before the bird visited us I watched the sun rise over a silky pearly sea as I sipped my espresso coffee. Valiam is sailing more sedately now but still close to 7 knots. We should be anchored at Isle Royale by Saturday evening. Life is good and I feel very lucky to share this dream and adventure with my man.
A close encounter with a ship yesterday forced me to call them up on the radio for the first time. Usually we can work out which way the ship is going and alter course slightly if necessary. At 5.15pm at position 3 25.9N 47 17.3W cargo ship Dimitrios S 225m long and 32 m wide with a draft of 11.5 m (registered Liberia headed for Liverpool UK ETA 16 Apr 1800) traveling at 12 knots was on a near collision course with Sailing Vessel Valiam 13.7m long, 4.2m wide and draft 2.1m! So Communications Officer Linda called them up on Channel 16 on the radio. Instantly we heard a response "This Dimitrios. How can I help you?" I asked "Can you see us?" Dimitrios' Communications Officer replied in broken English "Yes I alter course for you going starboard. Is that alright for you Ma'am?" "Roger. Thank you!" says Linda. We watched the huge ship go behind us with 3 miles to spare. Now I will feel more confident calling up ships! Next time there may be time for chit chat as I am sure some of these ship's crew are bored out here.
As we have said many times satellites are our best friends allowing us instant communication by phone anywhere in the world and to email at sea. We will have the opportunity to see the Ariane Space range at Kourou next week where the French launch satellites by rocket. We received an email from Frederic Jean Pierre d'Allest skipper of 58 ft aluminium Garcia yacht Balthazar whom we met in Jacare, Brazil sharing caipairinhas with him and his crew on board. Balthazar is just ahead of us by about a week and has just left Kourou. Jean Pierre used to be the boss of the French Space Agency .He said "..Go first to anchor at "Ile Royale". The anchorage is good and well protected, though it may be a bit uncomfortable due to some swell. The lady, Madeleine, managing the hotel on this island is a very good friend. To visit the range (it is well worth) ask them to give you the days and hours of the organised visits. You might have problems to anchor in the Kourou river where the currents are strong and reverse with the tides. The pontoons are limited and fully occupied. The best way for you would be to leave your boat at île Royale (it is safe but close it) and take the Madeleine large catamaran Shuttle." Thank you Jean Pierre!!! Our visit to French Guiana will indeed be very special. As well as the Space range we look forward to seeing the real Amazonian type jungle with iguanas, vultures, parrots, monkeys etc
We continue to have so many encounters with people (and other creatures) on this journey we would never have met otherwise. We are lucky to have such rich and varied experiences.
Brazil to French Guiana: Day 7
02/04/2009, 2 49.72'N:46 24.64'W, Atlantic Ocean
Thursday 2nd April 2009 Time: 8.30 am (Brazil time) Position: 2 49.72 N 46 24.64 W Miles to go: 398 (averaging 170 miles per day)
It was a bit rough last night with the wind blowing consistently at 20 knots from the northeast. We are sailing fairly close to the wind to maintain our course. Sleeping was very difficult and moving around the boat seemed to need Hercules strength (for me) to hang on. The odd wave hit us sideways slapping Valiam's hull and washing over the fore cabin. It's calmed down a bit now. We will try and fit in some naps today as we are very tired.
The fish curry was delicious last night and the fish steaks for lunch were so tender and tasty. I used the spices and recipes from the 'Fish in a dish' kit by Herbie's (www.herbies.com.au) given by Ruth. Here are the recipes:
SEARED OCEAN WAHOO WITH AUSTRALIAN SPICES: (Aussie fish seasoning consists of ground coriander seed, sea salt, lemon powder, lemon myrtle leaf, wattle seed, freeze dried native pepper berry.)
Coat each side of the fish with the spice mix and allow to stand at room temperature for 10 minutes. (I left for more than 1 hour) Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil and cook fish. Use high heat then reduce heat to turn fish steaks over. Cooking time will depend on thickness of fillets. Ours were thick so I put the lid on for a few minutes to make sure the inside was cooked. Serve with Paw Paw and Cucumber Salad PAW PAW AND CUCUMBER SALAD: (Original recipe had pears, fennel bulb and celery which we didn't have. My adaptation was delicious!) Half a red paw paw cut in bite size pieces. Half a cucumber sliced. I small onion sliced. 2 table spoons olive oil. 2 freshly squeezed limes. Handful of fennel seeds.
AROMATIC FISH CURRY: I medium onion, finely diced. 1 tablespoon chopped parsley (I used dried). 1.5 tablespoons Herbie's Vegetable curry spices (ground coriander, paprika, tumeric,cumin,mustard,fennel,cassia,ginger,ajowan,cardomon,asafetida (compounded wheat flour). 1 tablespoon vegetable oil. 200ml coconut cream. 2 cloves of garlic crushed. 2 tomatoes finely chopped. 1 tablespoon lemon or lime juice. 4 fish fillets. Fry onions until soft. Add garlic and cook for 30 seconds - do not brown. Add tomatoes, parsley and curry mix. Cook gently until the tomatoes have given out their juices then add lemon juice. Stir in coconut cream then place fish fillets in sauce and cook uncovered for 3-4 minutes. (We cooked for longer as we had thick fillets cut into chunks!) Serve with fragrant rice.
We still have lots of fish curry left (I doubled the recipe) and more fillets to eat! There are still chicken fillets in the fridge hopefully still frozen. We'll have to eat those after the fish! Anyone want to come and join us? We have too much food.
We will most likely arrive at Isle du Salut on Saturday and quite possibly evening which we would rather avoid! Hopefully C map will be accurate and our depth sounder will help us anchor safely.
Brazil to French Guiana: Day 6
01/04/2009, 1 24.81'N:43 37.39'W, Atlantic Ocean
Wednesday 1st April 2009 Time: 6.50am Position: 1 24.81 N 43 37.39 W Miles to go: 585
"A dolphin!" shouted Linda excitedly towards the dozing Captain after glancing out to see a fin rushing along behind the boat. Looking again she says "It's a fish! It's not a dolphin. We've caught a fish!" The captain goes to have a look and starts slowly pulling it in. 'It's a big one.' Not looking forward to all the blood and guts all over the boat he pulled it on to the back deck. The 10kg Wahoo was not happy. It slithered and gasped in the cockpit leaving a trail of slime. Yes fishing is a messy business and a big one like this means lots of cutting and dismembering. Well we now have a few days worth of fish! After making room in the little fridge a huge plastic container of fresh fish just fitted in. Last night we had 2 huge steak of it each for dinner. It was delicious! Now the galley slave will research suitable recipes from the fish cookbooks and spices kindly given by friends Robyn and Ruth before we left. Unfortunately the cockpit has a 'fishy odour' that didn't go with the buckets of sea water doused over it yesterday. We hope it rains.
Last night was a more comfortable night but we are still heeling portside considerably. It's a yoga workout moving around the boat. It will be nice to be level again. The Captain says we should be anchored off Isles du Salut by Saturday. We've had a consistent NE trade wind blowing around 15 knots going up to 20+ knots during rain squalls. 590 miles to go!
Brazil to French Guiana: Day 5
01/04/2009, 0 39.37'N:41 19.29'W, Atlantic Ocean
Tuesday 31st March 2009 Time: 9.20am Position: 0 39.37 N 41 19.29W (back in the northern Hemisphere!) Miles since Oz: 16,550 Miles to go: 730
What a bumpy rolly lopsided ride last night! After being almost being tipped out of the bed and hanging on to the mattress with clenched fingers I realized that sleeping like this would be impossible. The captain who was on watch at the time kindly allowed me an hour of shut-eye in the saloon on a stable bed on the port side. (The heeling down side). One good thing about our trip last night is we have covered some miles. The NE trade winds are now with us. In fact according to the log we did do 200 miles in 24 hours! The GPS said 174. Is there a current against us or is the log not reading correctly? Anyway we did well - Thanks King Neptune and Valiam! We crossed the equator late last night so celebrations were postponed until breakfast this morning. The galley slave wasn't in the mood for chopping or heating anything so we had a cold tin of rice pudding with a glass of champagne. Perfect!
It's hot and sticky in the cabin (33 degrees) as we have to have the hatches closed due to the odd wave that splashes over. I was allowed to put the little fan on whilst I type this important ships log. I can't disappoint our readers!
We had a look at some photos of Isle du Salut, Kourou and Tobago on the computer that had been saved from various websites before we left Brazil. The islands look lovely and so does Tobago. Nice to have something to look forward to! White sand beaches, coconut palms waving in the breeze and a full night's sleep!
More fruit salad is planned for lunch with another glass of cold South African champagne. We'll have to put another bottle in the fridge for when we arrive in French Guiana. (hopefully on the weekend)
Brazil to French Guiana: Day 4
30/03/2009, 0 49.5'S:38 34.8'W, Atlantic Ocean
Monday 30th March 2009 Time : 7.30am (Brazil time) Position: 0 49.5S 38 34.8 W Miles to go: 916
Everything is going ripe at once! (Three huge avocados, 6 mangoes. 4 large passion fruit, one pawpaw and last banana) I guess we will be fruitarians today. Fred the windvane is steering us now as we are being pushed along by a 10-15 knot NE wind. We have been heeling over on our portside for some time now and are in danger of having one leg longer than the other! Moving around and sleeping is a bit uncomfortable but tolerable as the seas are slight. We will also cross the equator sometime today and have a celebration. It will be the 3rd crossing this journey!
To create some interest in today's ship's log I thought I would include an email sent to us from our 6 year old granddaughter Caylan recently. She had several questions which we replied to straight away. She was excited to get our response so quickly. Oh the beauty of email being able to write to loved ones from anywhere in the world!
17th March 2009
"Dear Nanny and Pa Have you seen any dolphins? And turtles? What do you eat all day in the boat? How do you have a shower? How do you wash your clothes? Is the toilet working properly now? Do you catch fish? Nanny and Pa, I fell over at school yesterday and got a big sore on my knee. I'm okay but it is a big sore. I got extra maths from school for homework. Mummy helped me. It was hard at first but then it was easy-peasy-Japanesy. On Saturday we had a girl's night and watched Narnia Part one and two. It was the greatest movie I ever watched. And then on Sunday we watched Narnia Prince Caspian which is the second book of the Narnia series. I've finished reading "The Lion The Witch and the Wardrobe" and I'm up to chapter four in "Prince Caspian". It's the greatest book I've ever read. Love from Caylan XXXXXXXXXOOOOOOOOOOO"
"Dear Caylan Thank you for your email! It is nice to hear from our favourite granddaughter. Yes we've seen dolphins a few times but not many on this trip. Once or twice we've seen a turtle but usually close to land. We have seen lots of whales though - mainly the water coming out of their spout from a long way away.
We eat lots of good food on the boat just like in a house but maybe a bit more tinned food and packet food mixed with fresh food. Nanny has been baking bread. Its smells so nice when it comes out of the oven and is really yummy. This is what we had today (day 12 at sea St Helena to Brazil): Breakfast: Home made bread toasted under griller with vegemite and butter. Milky coffee Lunch: Left over chilli con carne made with fresh mince topped with cheese on toast Snacks: Potato chips, sliced apple, orange, cheese gherkins Dinner: Curry from long life packet made in India with rice - delicious! Drinks: Pa has beer and I have white wine. Showers: There are 5 ways to have a shower on the boat but we can't use much water as we have to carry it all with us and I don't like sea water showers. (1.) Solar shower camping shower that gets warm in the sun then we hang it in the cockpit. (2.) Cup shower - use a metal cup in a bucket and pour it over ourselves in the cockpit (3.) Face washer shower - we can do this inside as it doesn't drip water everywhere. Just use a face washer and a bucket (4.) We also have another contraption I haven't tried yet but Pa has. It's really a pump garden sprayer but we use it with just water in it. It gives a very fine spray. Use this in the cockpit (5) French shower - if busy or boat rolly or not enough water use deodorant. Nanny also has nice smelling wipes.
Washing clothes: When we are at sea we don't wash clothes unless it's been raining or we need something urgently to wear like undies. When we get to a town we take a big load of washing to a laundry. Usually the laundry people do it and we pick it up the next day all clean dry and folded nicely. Occasionally we hand wash clothes ourselves if there is a tap near the boat.
Yes the toilet is good. Pa is a good plumber
Sometimes we catch fish. If you look on our website you will see in the photos ones we caught a couple of weeks ago. We caught a tuna and 2 mahi mahi. It's nice to cook them in interesting ways. With the tuna we also eat it raw like the Japanese people do - sliced thinly with soy sauce, wasabi and ginger.
I am sorry you hurt yourself falling over at school. Nanny used to fall over all the time when I was little and I still have scars on my knees.
It's so good that you are clever at maths and reading. I also loved Tales of Narnia when I was young actually I was 10 or something when I read them. Your mummy used to read them over and over again. You r girl's night sounds nice. Wish I was there!!
Did you know we are more than half way around the world now? We are on the other side of the earth. When it's dark your side its light here and when its light your side its dark here. (Like now)
Maybe in your next email you could tell me the funny things Joe says and does!
Love you heaps precious princess
Nanny and Pa xxxx
PS. There is a 6th type of shower on our boat. It's where we stand in the rain and wash ourselves. No-one can see when we are out at sea."
Today is definitely shower day: It will be shower type (2) and (3) combined.
Brazil to French Guiana: Day 3
29/03/2009, 2 13.5'S:36 29.4'W, Atlantic Ocean
Sunday 29th March 2009 Time : 8am (Brazil) Position: 2 13.5 S 36 29.4 W
'There's cold coffee on the stove' greeted the captain as I emerged from our lopsided sleeping chamber. Feeling like my body has been pummeled and stretched but at the same time aching all over I headed straight for my morning fix. Heating up the milk made it quite drinkable. It's overcast and all night we were sailing windward in a northerly direction to use the wind which was blowing from the wrong direction. (According to our weather grib files) We've just turned west again so the last 80 miles or so look like we haven't gone any where and is a bit discouraging. We still have 1067 miles to go!! We have sailed through a couple of rain squalls with maximum winds of 15 knots so far. (Even though the huge dark clouds look more menacing) No lightning which is good.
Ships keep popping up with regularity and have all missed us by miles. Nevertheless the AIS receiver gives us peace of mind. Especially letting us know which direction the ship is bound as this is nearly impossible with the naked eye.
I baked a huge loaf of bread yesterday and used a small portion of the dough to make pizza for lunch. The pizza tasted delicious out here in the middle of the ocean. It had true Italian toppings too - salami, anchovies, olives, capers, tomato, chillie, cheese. Mmmmm..!! Last night we had Brazilian sausages (which tasted kind of continental) with some of the fresh bread. As things tend to go mouldy quickly out here we'll have to eat the bread quickly. Toast and vegemite for brekky should be good. (Except the big jar of vegemite we bought in Cocos has started going mouldy around the top inside of the jar too..How can mould live in vegemite??)
We will cross the equator sometime soon which will make it the 3rd time on this trip! We will have to have some form of 'traditional' ceremony of course with Neptune and Aphrodite as guests. Valiam has clocked up more than 16,000 miles now since leaving Oz - so another reason to celebrate!
It's a bit boring out here. I have watched the movie 'Rachel's Getting Married' and started reading a trashy novel. I can't seem to get into anything too deep at the moment! (haha) Anyway family and friends we would love to hear from you and any news from home!
All well on board.
Brazil to French Guiana: Day 2
28/03/2009, 4 7.27'S:36 19.88'W, Atlantic Ocean
Brazil to French Guiana: Day 2 Saturday 28 March 2009 Time: 5.45am Position: 4 7.27S 36 19.88W
It's pouring with rain as I write this and there isn't much wind. It's nice and dry in here! It's just climbing out into the cockpit every 20 minutes that it's a bit damp to do the check. There have been a regular number of ships but all have been a good distance away. We've 'rounded the bulge' of south America and we're heading west towards the Amazon basin. We will pass this offshore until we get to Isle de Salut (Salvation Islands) a few miles from Kourou, French Guiana. We still have more than 1000 miles to go so we'll be out here for a while.
We're doing ok - it's just very hot during the main part of the day. Thank you fridge for cold drinks! I made Nasi Goreng last night for dinner. (Indonesian fried rice). I made too much but we ate it all! Oh dear the wind is only 4 knots now and we're drifting at 3 knots. When this rain squall is gone the wind should come up again and hopefully we'll get moving at a more reasonable speed...
Our last 24hour run was 151 miles. The boat isn't heeling anymore so living is more comfortable.
Freshly baked bread - yum!
Brazil to French Guiana: Day 1
27/03/2009, 5 16.90'S:34 44.36'W, Atlantic Ocean
Brazil to French Guiana: Day 1 Fricay 27 March 2009 Time: (Brazil 13 hours behind Oz) 7am Position: 5 16.90S 34 44.36W
Back at sea again! We didn't leave Jacare until 3.30pm as we had lots of jobs to do. The day before we were exposed to Brazilian administration non communication. Our friendly Marina manager Philippe phoned the Ship immigration man (also Federal Police) and said he would be at the port office in Cabedelo at 2pm to clear us out of the country. In the midday heat we walked to the train station in Jacare, got off the train and walked to a nearby park in Cabedelo to cool off as we were half an hour early. At the appointed time we walked to the port security office. The security man said that the immigration man would not be there then. We explained (in broken English a little Portuguese) that our marina manager had contacted him and we kept repeating 2 pm deux holding up 2 fingers etc. The woman at the desk also shook her head vehemently and said 'no he wouldn't be there now'. She phoned his office - no answer then phoned the main office in Jao Pessoa. She said we should go there . By this time we were feeling rather annoyed and time was getting away. We thought we were a victim of bad administration on all counts. After walking through the heat again and eventually getting back to Jacare by train we saw Philippe at the marina pontoon. He was surprised at what had happened. He phoned the immigration man and he was there waiting for us! Apparently he was just ˝ hour late. Bill had 15 minutes to run sweating back to the train. We were not impressed with the woman and security officer at the security office. Bill eventually got back to the boat just before dark as he had to wait an hour for train (in the heat). So a whole afternoon wasted going up and down to do paperwork!
We got up early and walked to the supermarket at 7.30 with fellow yachtie Marijka. It was already hot. That morning we were woken at 4.30am by mosquitoes and midges from the river so by the time the shopping was done, the fuel topped up we were exhausted! Linda wasn't keen on leaving on a Friday(unlucky day to leave according to sailors folklore) so we decided to sail off into the sunset instead.. As we left 2 more French boats turned up. Jacare yacht village is really a little French village!
The wind has been blowing consistently at 15 knots and we have been sailing at 7-8 knots with Fred the windvane steering us. We are about 25 miles offshore and about to round the bulge of South America! There were many ships last night which our AIS receiver picked up which was great. There are also fishing boats which are dimly lit. We stayed up late keeping an eye out. Valiam is heeling to port so it's a little more difficult to move around the boat, prepare meals etc. We opted for South African instant mashed potato with French tinned Cassoulet (white beans and tasty sausages) which was very nice. Although we are parallel to the coast I cant see it now during daylight. At night we can see the glow of cities and the stars are magnificent. The Southern Cross is there every night.
We should get back into our routine again of being back at sea today and try and rest as much as possible. I watched one of my pirated movies last night from Brazil "The Changeling". It was quite disturbing and apparently based on truth. The movie thankfully was in its original English but the cover was totally in Portuguese. I managed to get rid of the subtitles this time!
Time for coffee!
All well on board
Jacare Yacht Village
26 March 2009
We are ready to farewell this part of the world and hope to be on our way to French Guiana tomorrow. We will go into Cabedelo by train this afternoon to clear out of the country at customs and immigration (as well as the Port authority). We will then do a top up supermarket shop of fresh food before we head off. It will be about 1000 miles so we predict a 9 day passage in light winds.
Sailing will be a rest from the constant social whirl here. We have gone out every night! We even got into a bit of local dancing with a local band. The Brazilians are relaxed and uninhibited in their dancing, clothing etc. It's been a refreshing change after some of the conservative countries we've visited. It's been great fun partying with the yachties (mostly French) and we've met some amazing people. Christaine from Montreal is crewing on a French boat Fairy Tale and has had a lot of experience as a single hander on her own boat. She is happy to crew now and sold her boat a few years ago. A couple of Aussies were here for one night on 'Tainui'. We haven't met many Aussies so it was good to hear the old accent!! The 2 guys on Tainui are adventurous types and sailed from Wellington New Zealand across the southern ocean to Chile. They spent 2 summers in Patagonia and loved it. Bill spent some time chatting to them. They have also visited the northern Antarctic islands. Most of the French boats here have sailed down here via the Canaries and Cape Verde. A few are heading back via the Azores. We also met up with a Dutch couple Frank and Marijka on their yacht Sepia whom we'd met in South Africa. They are on their way back to Holland via the Caribbean and the Azores.
This brings us to our plans. Although not set in concrete at this stage we will aim for the Caribbean after French Guiana with Tobago as our first stop. If we decide to continue north we will hop up a few of the islands to St Martin and probably make our way to the Azores (2000 mile passage). We were considering the USA but the weather is unpredictable in the northeast part with depressions coming across with regularity and a high likelihood of a gale. The only time you can cross the northern Atlantic from New York is July which doesn't give a lot of time. So it is likely that we will aim for Gibraltar, Portugal and/or France after the Azores.
In the meantime we are looking forward to the Caribbean with clear water for swimming and slightly less hot and muggy weather than here. Kourou and the Isles du Salut should be interesting too - our next stop. We will miss the luxury of 'in-house' internet but will be able to email as usual with our iridium phone until we happen to find and internet cafĂ©. We hope to meet up with some of yachtie friends in Kourou that we have met here.
We have a 5 year visa for Brazil and do hope to return!
Au revoir Jacare!
(click camera - photo album St Helena to Brazil - bikini girls on cover!)
Sunset at Jacare
22/03/2009, Rio Pairaba, Brazil
These monohull sailing fishing boats drift past our boat in the evenings. Can you hear Bolero playing on the saxaphone?
22/03/2009, Jacare, Brazil
Camilla serving caiparinhas at Sax Cafe
Jacare Yacht Village
22 March 2009
Caiparinha - traditional Brazilian rum drink:
Thank you to Riu manager of the Sax CafĂ©, Jacare for sharing your recipe:
For 2 drinks:
5 teaspoons sugar
5 measures Pitu rum (white rum)
10 ice cubes
A little cold water
Cut limes into slices. Discard ends
Crush in shaker with sugar (wooden stick)
Add ice cubes, rum and cold water
Pour into 2 tall glasses with straw
Serve with pretty girl, stagger home...
(Bill wrote the recipe, Linda took the photos)
Each night we enjoy one of these with our French friends pretending we understand what they are talking about. Occasionally we receive English translations if we look puzzled. Everyone is very friendly in this small marina. We have enjoyed socializing with Chantelle and Andre(Gypsy) and Catherine and Marc, French doctors on 'Jason'
Yesterday Bill put together our bicycles, which was great. We went for a ride in the heat creating a little breeze for ourselves making a bee line for the beach. After cycling alongside the beach on the footpaths and road for a couple of kilometers, we stopped at a very inviting beach cafĂ© shaded by coconut palms. Once ensconced in chairs on the beach in the shade with the sea breeze blowing over us we enjoyed the passing scenery. Bodies of all shapes and sizes paraded in front of us in brief swimming costumes. After being in somewhat conservative countries since leaving Oz this was a refreshing change. The sea was a clear azure colour and the atmosphere happy and relaxed. We were offered all sorts of wares from pirated DVDs to chocolates, prawns, lotions, nuts and coconut juice from individual sellers. The restaurant people didn't mind. In fact the one English speaking waiter translated for the lotion selling lady for us to try and help her make a sale. We know how to order drinks in Portuguese but food is another matter. With the menu and my dictionary out I was painstakingly translating each word. A pretty girl in a brief bikini who happened to be next to us offered to translate. When she asked "Can I help you?", Bill's eyes said 'Yes'! Ana and her friend Maria were up for the weekend from Sao Paulo and were on tour with a dune buggy driver. We got chatting to the girls and they were amazed we'd sailed form Australia. Photos and email addresses were exchanged with the possibility of a visit by them to our boat to see the sunset. Ana speaks 4 languages and is a secretary for a TV company. Alas the girls didn't turn up for sunset drinks....
The fruit is delicious and cheap here. Every morning we make fruit salad with mango, bananas, passion fruit, red pawpaw and lime. With a dollop of yoghurt it's a perfect breakfast for this hot tropical climate.
We of course we hear 'Bolero' on the saxophone every day at sunset. The saxophonist is or has broken the Guinness Book of records for playing the same tune every day 3,000 times! The Brazilian tourists all line up to get his autograph and have photos taken with him! It is a relaxed place here and we are enjoying it very much. Traditional sailing canoes skim quietly by in the evenings making a picturesque subject in front of the sunset.
A friend made the observation that many of our photos are of eating and drinking! There are several reasons for this:
- On the boat at sea there is nothing much else to do!
- In the countries we have been in recently security is an issue. It's not safe to flash an expensive camera around in the street (it could get stolen as well as money etc if we look too much like tourists) - We miss many photo opportunities! So as well as food and beverages being part of the cultural experience a restaurant is a safe place to take photos!
In a few days we will be heading off for French Guiana.
To Liam : Glad you are with us in spirit! You can use whatever white rum is available but Cachassa is the best I think.
22/03/2009, Jacare beach
We met Ana and Maria at a beach cafe. Ana helped us translate the menu! They are up for the weekend from Sao Paulo.
Brazilian culture in Jacare
19/03/2009, Jacare village, Brazil
19 March 2009
Ola! It seems quite strange to be somewhere hot and tropical after a few weeks at sea from the southern tip of Africa. The world is not such a big place really! We have our little fans going in the boat during the day and enjoy our cool showers at the amenities block. Things are rather quiet during the day and liven up at around 4.30pm when the music starts playing from the restaurants along the river. We know when it is sunset because we hear 'Bolero' on the saxophone. Our neighbour Daniel has been living here for 3 years and has heard Bolero every day! He still whistles to it!
We were ready this morning at about 9am with suitable clothing to visit Immigration - conservative dress for Linda, long pants, shoes and socks and button up shirt for Bill. By the time we got to the end of the pontoon we were sweating even more profusely! We popped into Manager Philippe's air-conditioned (nice!) office to see where we were meant to go. Unfortunately the police/immigration weren't in Cabedelo today so we'll try again tomorrow. Off with the hot clothes!
Last night we were invited to drinks on our other neighbours boat Balthazar. Balthazar is skippered and crewed by a team of 5 French people who used to all be rocket scientists/engineers. Balthazar is a beautiful 58' aluminium 'Garcia' type sailing boat. Jean Pierre the skipper was aiming to go through Patagonia, Chile then Antarctica but has had problems with the keel. They are now sailing back to France for repairs and will come back down to Brazil in September to try again. It was interesting chatting to these lovely people. Jean Pierre used to be in charge of the Ariane Space station in French Guiana. They have urged us to take a tour when we go there in a week's time. They will make a special introduction for us! This will be great! We love satellites as we rely on them whilst sailing. It will be interesting to see how they are projected into space! Maurice, Jean Pierre's engineer, used to work for him at the space station. Now he is in charge of maintenance of Balthazar and even has his own little work shed on board. It's a beautiful boat. We admired the 3 cabins with individual bathrooms, air-conditioning, full size fridge, freezer etc etc. Jean Pierre made us 'his creation' of a caparhinia using rum from Martinique. We were feeling all rather jolly after that! As well as invitations to the space centre in Guiana we have addresses throughout France (there are 5 of them - Jean Pierre, JP, Maurice, Michelle and Andre) to visit them! We gave them some information on Patagonia and Argentina from our friends Charmain and Mike who cruised Patagonia in 2006 on their yacht Vire Nord. Balthazar left this morning. We do hope to meet them again.
After our little party on board Balthazar we met another French couple Chantelle and her husband at a little cafĂ© for dinner. Again we were urged to have the 'best caparhinia' in Jacare. The specialty of this cafĂ© were little pizza type rounds covered in different toppings of vegetables, spices and meat. Delicious! After dinner Linda spied a night market so spent a fun half hour looking and buying little hand made trinkets using charades and giggles to communicate with the lovely Brazilian girl Suellen (see photos). Next we were urged to go into the restaurant to watch a live show of traditional dancing. The costumes were a little like what I imagined was Spanish but the music (which was live) was more folksy. Four couples twirled stamped and clapped in their frilly hot pink and black attire. It was fun to watch and be part of what obviously appeared to be a crowd of Brazilian tourists. We got back to the boat in one piece without falling in the river climbing on! (Bill has put an extra stepping rope for Linda to get up on to Valiam's bow.) Enjoy the photos! Adieus!
PS While I have free internet here I have fine tuned the photo gallery. Valiam construction historical photos are now at the beginning. I have added a sketch map of the whole journey so far in the main album. I have added more photos to the ships logs on the last passage. Well I am the Communications Officer aren't I?
Jacare yacht Village
Jacare Yacht Village
18 March 2009
So far our impressions of this part of Brazil remind us of the Philippines. There are many poor people living in shacks along the water or in small concrete terrace type houses. Unfortunately no-one speaks English and our Portuguese lessons on the boat have been no help. We are the ignorant foreigners here but everyone is very friendly. Our charades are getting really good! By the time we get back to Oz we will be waving our arms madly about using sign language!
Most of the yachties at this little marina are French who also speak English thank goodness. We wandered along the local streets today in the heat thinking the bikes would be a good idea. It's all flat so Linda will be happy! We found the beach which was next to some apartment buildings and not much else. The water looked beautiful but there was rubbish scattered on the grass and sand around the place. There were only 2 people on the beach but there seemed to be more high rise like the Gold Coast in Oz further down. (Bill was chatting to a yachtie earlier who was held at gunpoint at this beach for money. He said it was raining and there were no people about.) The beach apart from the water isn't that nice so we won't go there again anyway! We found a nice big air-conditioned supermarket so we stocked up on fruit, veges, bread, yoghurt and beer. Planning to take a taxi back to the marina we spotted a couple of French yachties to share. As it turned out the taxi was virtually free due to our combined expenditure at the supermarket. (over 70 Reaies - about A$46). The captain is impressed with the price of beer. For a dozen 475ml cans it costs 15 R = $10! The wine is Argentinean. We haven't tried it yet. Anyway we organized to share the taxi back with the 3 French people and Bill was going to walk but instead the taxi driver said it was ok so one of the French ladies got to sit on the men's laps!
Last night we went out to one of the touristy restaurants along the river. Just before sunset they all play 'Bolero' then within each restaurant there is live music. The problem is they all play different songs. So it is rather cacophonic and not possible to have a conversation. Just as well so we had an excuse to use charades with the waiter. At one stage an apparently famous saxophonist walked majestically from restaurant to restaurant playing his sax. There is a special elevated platform for him to perform at each restaurant with the river as the backdrop. Most of the customers seemed to be locals who were elbowing each other to photograph him and after each song gave a respectful applause. We are not sure of the significance of this fellow but there is video footage of him as well as huge posters everywhere. He is short, plump with long hair wearing all white and an orange scarf. I will get his name next time and look him up on the internet. Bill thinks he may be a soap opera star. A bottle of Cervasa (beer) is served in esky type surrounds the size of a 'tallie' -600ml to non Aussies. Again Captain Bill was impressed. Linda tried a 'capanhia' a local rum cocktail with lemon. (Very nice)
A large aluminium French yacht (58') 'Garcia' turned up last night next to us and have invited us for drinks later. It looks very swish so it will be interesting to see the interior.
So far we are enjoying Brazil very much and promise not to go wandering along deserted beaches.
Motoring up a Brazilian river - yes we're in Brazil!
17/03/2009, Rio Paraiba
Our trip up the Rio Paraiba to Jacare was vry scenic. Lush vegetation, crocodiles?, and small wooden fishing boats some with simple sails.
Arrived in Jacare BRAZIL
17/03/2009, Rio Paraiba behind Cabedelo
We're here! After a scenic tour for 5 miles up the river we found a small cluster of yachts which is Jacare Yacht Village. It is unbelievably hot! A very nice local fellow called Daniel who could fortunately speak English assisted us to our berth. Its a simple pontoon where we are tied one end and tied to a buoy at the other. Getting on and off is interesting as Valiam is so high at her bow which is currently facing the pontoon. After one precarious swing on the rope Linda said 'no more' The captain has tied the dinghy in such a fashion that she can be walked along with ropes. Alas due to misjudgement of distance hauling a 20 litre drum of water captain Bill slipped scrapng the skin off his shoulder and back. Ouch! Coconut soap was offered by Daniel as a natural antiseptic under the showers. Another cold beer was a good anaesthetic.
Above is the obligatory photo of our champagne toasting of our arrival in a new country. Well done Valiam (and crew!) More stories and photos to follow.
St Helena to Brazil - Day 12
16/03/2009, 7 25.79'S:32 15.56'W, Atlantic Ocean
Atlantic Ocean - St Helena to Brazil Day 12 Position: 7 25.79 S 32 15.56 W Time: 8.45am Miles to go : 154
We've had another good day of sailing still with the twin jibs and the mainsail averaging 6.5 to 7 knots. We should make landfall tomorrow!
We are really tired now even though its been a relatively easy trip. We've tried to take in Portuguese from our CD but not a lot has sunk into our brains! The fellow who owns the marina is French and can speak English so we will be ok for the first day!
A ship called Cape America bound for Singapore passed us going south on our port side at midnight last night. The AIS 'blaaarped' us out of our sleepy dispositions!
I baked some nice bread yesterday so we can have toast this morning. The coffee is brewing so hopefully the captain will smell it wake up and let the crew have a rest!
St Helena to Brazil - Day 11
15/03/2009, 8 18.15'S:29 54.36'W, Atlantic Ocean
Sunday 15th March 2009 Position: 8 18.15 S 29 54.36 W Time : 10 am Miles to go: 303
We're going beautifully again now back to a nice smooth 6.5-7 knots. The twin jib rig (one poled out) plus the mainsail helps us move along quite well considering the wind is only blowing 10 knots. The boys on Khulula just behind us emailed saying: "I am not sure if flying three sails all at once is allowed on sailboats. I am sure the "Rules" say you are only allowed two sails up at any one time. Please remove one of your sails, as it is making you go too fast in no wind. Slow day on Khulula, we ripped our spinnaker yesterday so are forced to just roll around wing on wing... ." Bryson, SV Khulala Still they are catching more fish than us. You can't have everything!
Brazil will be our 15th country visited in 16 months on Valiam (if you count Cocos even though its part of Oz and Borneo separate from Johor). Rodrigues is really part of Mauritius but they regard themselves as separate!
Valiam's journey so far: PNG (Nov - Dec 2007), Palau ( Jan - Feb 2008), Philippines(March 2008), Borneo(April 2008), Johor Malaysia( May 2008), Singapore(May - June 2008), Indonesian waters(June 2008), Cocos Keeling Islands (July 2008), Rodrigues(July- August 2008), Mauritius(August - September 2008), Reunion (Sept - Oct 2008), South Africa(Oct 2008 - February 2009), St Helena (March 2009), Brazil (March 2009)
If this wind keeps up we hope to make landfall on Tuesday. The sunsets out here have been sensational as we have observed the 'green flash' phenomenon a couple of times. We have been discussing our plans after Brazil and at this stage we think we will make brief stops in French Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago. Once in Trinidad we will decide how far north we will go and apply for the necessary visas if . If we want to go to USA and/or Europe we will have to move quickly out of the Caribbean to avoid the hurricane season. This would mean getting to Bermuda by June. We'll see how well we go and if we can cope with LOTS of sailing!
Two more broken sleeps (hopefully!) By the way there's been nothing much out here except a couple of birds and flying fish. No fish on the line. No ships. The captain has just reported 2 birds were squabbling over the best sitting positions on Valiam last night. One was doing acrobatics on the spinnaker pole. (The other one had claimed the more stable solar panels.)
15/03/2009, 8 19.98'S:28 1.77'W, Atlantic Ocean
I took this photo a couple of mornings ago as the sun rose and the moon was still up. The sails look a beautiful pink dont you think?
Atlantic Ocean - St Helena to Brazil Day 10
14/03/2009, 8 22.27'S:27 23.77'W, Atlantic Ocean
Atlantic Ocean - St Helena to Brazil Day 10 Saturday 14th March 2009 Position : 8 22.27S 27 23.77W Time: 8.45am Miles to go: 449
We actually crossed the half way around the world mark at 2.30 am this morning. (26 52' W 8 28' S) So instead of popping the champagne cork then we will enjoy it sometime this morning accompanied by a self saucing chocolate pudding made from a packet yesterday. (See photo above) There has been very little wind for the past day or so and we only covered 107 miles in the last 24 hours again. Last night we motored all night and as there is a bit more wind this morning we'll put the sails up soon. It is very warm - 30 degrees day and night now with the water at 27 degrees.
By the way our 2nd batch of bread turned out beautifully. I added more yeast and water to the recipe give to us by yacht Khulula. I made big bread rolls and a loaf with 1kg flour. We enjoyed real mince hamburgers on fresh rolls with fresh tomato, gurken, onion, chillie and Mrs Balls chutney(from South Africa). Delicious especially out at sea after 9 days! The captain said 'Where are the chips?'. I could have made some from sliced tinned potato I guess... next time when I make tuna burgers! (hopefully we'll catch something soon)
Also Happy Birthday to Michele who turns 40 today! We will toast to your health and happiness when we open the champagne!
All well on board
Atlantic Ocean - St Helena to Brazil Day 9 - HALF WAY AROUND THE WORLD!
13/03/2009, 8 40.82'S:25 30.11'W, Atlantic Ocean
Friday 13th March 2009 Position: 8 40.82 S 25 30.11 W Time: 7.30am Miles to go: 563 miles Total distance sailed since leaving Mooloolaba 5 Nov 2007: 15,151 n miles
It's been fabulous hearing from everyone on this momentous occasion! The winds have been very light so we are going quite slowly and only clocked up 109 miles in the last 24 hours - not Valiam's style at all. Landfall in Brazil will be later than we thought now. The bubbly is ready to pop the cork for our party today. The galley slave will whip up a chocolate cake which should please the captain. Pity we have no cream. Perhaps one of our guests could bring some?
Here are some more RSVPs:
dear Bill & Linda, Sorry we won't be able to make the party as our water wings have sprung a leak. Just the same we will (as always) be thinking of you. In case we don't get to you before you cross your half way DO HAVE A HAPPY HALF WAY DAY ! Love from all here Dad/Mum/Gwen XXXXXXXX
Congratulations on reaching another important milestone. We will share a red with you this evening if we can transport ourselves down the internet to you. Happy Sailing Love Lyn and Dave (Caloundra, QLD Australia)
Hello Bill and Linda. Great to always be able to log on to your website and find out how you are going. You have set yourself an enviable challenge and it all is going so well for you both. An illustration of taking big risks and having to compromise with family life which is dear to you, but, with good planning and preparation, getting the big rewards in return. According to your last log, you should be halfway around the world today. Congratulations to you both. Keep up that great writing style Linda. You provide enjoyment to many. May you continue to have many memorable experiences, meeting new friends and magical places. Regards Fred and Kathy. (Brisbane Australia)
Love to come, can you arrange a taxi home, as we might like to indulge in some of those SA wines. take care Rick (Melbourne Australia)
We would really love to join you on this momentous occasion, but without a mast on Freo Doctor the yacht is still not sailing; I did consider taking the kayak and paddling half way around the world, and even though it's a long way I can paddle real fast, but I'd have to tow Ally on a surf board which would slow me down (not because of Ally but because of all the junk she carries out to sea) so I guess we'll have to pass this time; Maybe after the next half. Congratulations on the first half of the trip, Regards, Steve and Ally (SV Freo Doctor Fremantle, WA, Australia)
Thanks everyone for your words and thoughts. It certainly makes it a lot less lonely out here!
On a sadder note we just heard about a big oil spill form a tanker off the Sunshine Coast (our home). Cyclone Hamish washed away our beaches and caused a ship to drop containers of fertilizer and spill oil. The turtle eggs are hatching prematurely causing them to die and the beach behind our house is a mess.
The winds are supposed to pick up a bit so hopefully we'll go a bit faster than we have been the last day or so. We have 3 sails up at the moment - our old jib attached to the furler on the opposite side of the main jib as ell as full mainsail up. Valiam is doing 5 knots in 7 knots of wind! She looks and sounds beautiful gliding through the calm water.
All well on board!
St Helena to Brazil - Day 8
12/03/2009, 9 9.97'S:23 38.13'W, Atlantic Ocean
Atlantic Ocean - St Helena to Brazil Day 8 Thursday 12th March 2009 Position: 9 9.97S 23 38.13 W Time: 6.45am Miles to go: 677 Total miles since leaving Mooloolaba 5 Nov 2007 : 15,040
I saw the sun rise while the full moon was still up this morning - double vision! The wind is very light so we have slowed down to 4.5-5knots. Captain Bill was tired of the mainsail banging and flapping so took it down and hoisted our old jib next to our usual jib on the furler. Valiam looks like a butterly drifting along the water. I just love these replies to our "Half Way Around the World" party invitation:
Lucky me, I'll be there! ;-) Nancy (New York, USA)
Congrats on getting halfway round, champagne is definately on order. Will think of you... Mike has been playing sea shanties and rum drinking songs.(on his recorder) Hugh has been playing his giant bongo drum he bought in Africa and I have been hiding from them. cheers, Bryson, Hugh and Mike (yacht) Khulula at 1800Z March 10, 10 deg 53 S 018 deg 20 W. Atlantic Ocean
Cool. Can I swim? Jerry (Lismore, NSW Australia)
G'Day Guys, You're not starting to lose it out there are you ? I know what too much time at sea can do to a sailor. Anyway, I will steal one of the lifeboats here and head your way for the party. (a tempting thought now I mention it)Anything you need ? We had a nice chicken cordon bleu for dinner, plus they have fresh salad at the moment. How far to go to the land of Samba and caipirinhas ? Take care. Mike Might not be there by Friday. You are currently 1989.51 NM from me (assuming the Earth is a perfect sphere, of radius 3443.9 nautical miles). As these lifeboats only do 5 knots, I will be there sometime on March 27th. Would you mind heaving to for 16 days please ? See you soon. Mike (Yes I have nothing to do at work today) (Oil rig off Angola coast,Africa, Atlantic Ocean) (also skipper of yacht Vire Nord when not at 'w' word)
Would love to come. I will check my diary. What should I wear? Will write more soon Xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Yolanda (Brisbane Australia)
Coming by imagination to celebrate and enjoy filleted flying fish grand marnier and sparkling apple juice love Helen and Shirley (Perth Australia)
hi not much to report, other than that because of the cyclone, a container ship has got into trouble and lost 31 full containers off mudjimba, and the entire kawana beach is black with oil. fun times! Liam x (Buddina Beach near Mooloolaba, QLD Australia) I take it you wont make it then? Mum X
Where? Am at bbay atm Roy (Batemans Bay, NSW Australia)
Thanks everyone for your RSVPs - I better get working in the galley!
All well on board The crew on SV Valiam
St Helena to Brazil - Day 7
11/03/2009, 9 29.24'S:21 46.82'W, Atlantic Ocean
Wednesday 11th March 2009 Position: 9 29.24S 21 46.82 W Time: 9.25am Miles to go: 789
The full moon shining on the sea at night is almost surreal - like daylight. Valiam looks and feels magical as she glides along. Warm balmy breezes and little a brown bird sitting on the solar panels complete the picture. I saw a little bird circling around us before I went back to bed at 5am wondering how far he must be from home. Bill said he was having a rest on his shift.
The day before yesterday captain Bill was woken from his catnap during the night by 'Blaaarp!' from the AIS monitor. After almost of a week of no ships it was good to know our newly acquired piece of 2nd hand technology was still working. It was a tanker called Polaris Star registered in Liberia heading for Japan with an ETA of 4th April.
Evidence of another live creature out here (apart from us) was in the form of a large fish. We didn't see it - it just chomped off our lure. It was a lucky pink squid too.
For those of you who are sitting on the edge of your desk chairs wondering if the bread turned out - well it didn't really. The mixture was a bit dry and we aren't sure about our yeast (it was bought in Oz 18 months ago) as it didn't really rise. We used a small part of the dough to create a pizza for dinner - it was delicious even with its 'thin and crispy' crust. I made 'baguettes' and 'rolls' with the rest. They are quite heavy and of a very solid consistency. One piece toasted with vegemite is very filling. We will adjust the recipe and let you know the results.
Captain Bill is repairing by pulling apart a 'rope clutch' at the dining table as I write. It is a bit more fancy than required and self destructed under load a while back possibly when we jibed. It's a 'Spinlock' and he wants to put it back as we need it to change the side of the jib. (The wind is now more from the south) The diagnosis is a bent pin inside which he has now banged with a hammer. 'Bob's yer uncle!' he says.
On Friday 13th you are all invited to: our 'Half Way round the World' Party. We will give you the exact co-ordinates as you come closer by hot air balloon, submarine, windsurfer, seaplane or yacht. No need to bring anything just yourselves. We have plenty of different wines and champagne on board. Vegetarians will be catered for. RSVP by Friday morning.
We won't be offended if you can't make it as we realize it is short notice. We will let you know in plenty of time when we have almost completed our circumnavigation for the big party in Mooloolaba. (Actually Valiam and her crew will have circumnavigated when we reach Isle des Pins, New Caledonia) We will have sailed 15,000 nautical miles by the end of today since we left Mooloolaba on 5th November 2007.
Hope you are all having fun at the 'w' word.
All well on board (We're not quite insane yet)
St Helena to Brazil - Day 6
10/03/2009, 10 6.82'S:19 20.10'W, Atlantic Ocean
Tuesday 10th March 2009 Position: 10 6.82S 19 20.10W Time: 10 am (10 hours behind Oz we think) Miles to go: 938
Hope you like the sunset photo - even though it's tiny it is quite a big download for the sat phone. Each time we watch the sunset out here we look for the 'green flash' but not sure if we see it or not. The moon has been full shining on the water at night making it seem like day out there. The boat is nice and steady so we slept quite well in between shifts.
Our friends on Khululah are about 100 miles behind us. They caught a 7kg mahi mahi so we are hoping we will do the same. It's great to communicate with Bryson, Hugh and Mike out here and know we are not alone in this big ocean. They use sailmail via their SSB radio whilst we use our sat phone and laptop using GMNs Xgate program. Bryson gave us their fabulous bread recipe which we will try today. This is it:
Recipe is dead easy: one sachet of yeast, mixed with half a cup of blood temp fresh water on one side. One cup of salt water, 1/2 cup of fresh water, 1/2 cup of sugar mixed together and stirred till sugar dissolved in another container. Wait till yeast if bubbling and mix two containers together. Finally, add it all to approx 1.25 kg of flour (white, brown, etc), mix thoroughly and kneed on a floured surface for 15 mins. Light rub with oil, and put in a bowl (covered with a big plastic bag) in a warm place until the bread rises significantly (could take a couple hours). Punch the bread down, put it into bread tins, allow to rise again and bake at 350'C for about 40 mins or till the bread sounds hollow when tapped. Fresh bread, perfect...
We'll let you know if it turns out.
St Helena to Brazil - Day 5
09/03/2009, 10 41.72'S:16 49.43'W, Atlantic Ocean
Atlantic Ocean - St Helena to Brazil Day 5 Monday 9th March 2009 Position: 10 41.72 S 16 49.43W Time: (South African) 9.15am
Have we only been at sea for 5 days? It seems so much longer! Every 6 hours we record :
Date: 9/3/09 Time : 06.00, Position: 10 deg 46.01'S 16 deg 25.6'W , Course: 298, Wind Speed/direction: 16SE, Barometer:1009, Log (since Mooloolaba):14,868 nm, 24hr distance log: 176nm, Water temp : 26.5deg, Distance to Brazil: 1112nm, 24 hour distance GPS: 168nm
Now that I have dazzled you with figures I will interpret : Its Monday morning, we are a long way away from anywhere, steering West/NWest, pleasant breeze, we've come a bloody long way, we're going reasonably fast, the water is warm, Still a long way to go to Brazil, we've done 8 more miles than needed because Valiam cant go in an exact straight line cos of the waves.
What else may be interesting to you? What we eat? Yesterday : BREAKFAST : Freshly baked lemon and poppy seed muffins, cafďż˝ latte LUNCH : Crostini - thinly sliced rounds of baguette grilled with garlic oil with various toppings : (1.)smoked salmon, French camembert and capers (2.) Pesto, anchovies & tomato (3.) Pesto, pepperoni salami, tomato and olive. Glass of cold Blanc de Noir (South African white wine made from red grapes) DINNER : St Helena made pork sausage with lemon and thyme, mashed pumpkin with ginger and butter. Cold glass of South African 'Bouquet'
As you can see I am more than qualified to be employed as a highly paid chef on a fancy yacht in the future. Hopefully it will have a wall oven so I don't have to grovel on the floor of a moving boat to produce these gastronomic delicacies for a billionaire boat owner.
ENTERTAINMENT: BOOKS : Linda: 'Backpack' by Emily Barr (Bill now reading), Behind the Scenes at the Museum by Kate Atkinson, Cruising the Coast of Brasil by Marcal Ceccon, Bill: Yachting magazine Both: Collins Portuguese phrasebook DVD: Beyond Borders (Angelina Jolie,) EMAILS: thanks everyone - each one is read about 3 times! If you think you have nothing to write about you could always tell us jokes or stories..
We also engage in the usual drudgery of washing dishes, keeping the boat sort of tidy and occasionally have a solar shower in the cockpit. Today we're going to wash our hair - hooray! The captain says we have enough water. We are still using Mona Lisa as Fred just wont work in these conditions with a light wind straight from behind. This means running the engine for a few hours each day to charge the battery.
If we keep up the current speed we may even reach Brazil by Monday 16th - one week to go!
I f you would like to fly over to meet us at Jacare Yacht Village there is an airport not far away at Joao Pessoa.
All well on board
St Helena to Brazil - Day 4
09/03/2009, 11 8.99'S:14 39.19'W, Breakfast time!
As you can see we are really starving on this trip!! Galley slave's fresh muffins - lemon and poppy seed
St Helena to Brazil - Day 4
08/03/2009, 11 21.90'S:13 48.86'W, Atlantic Ocean
Sunday 8th March 2009 Position: 11 21.90 S 13 48.86 W Time: 7.30 am
Just over 1200 miles to go...Valiam crawls along the watery surface of the earth. It's hard to believe sometimes that gravity is holding us all on this big ball called the world and we are hanging sideways if the North Pole were the top. It's a bit grey outside but it could get sunny again as it did yesterday. The wind is blowing 10-15 knots and Valiam is causing the water to make whooshing sounds against her hull. She is rocking a little but gentle enough for us to be able to lie relatively flat when resting. I still feel like my body gets a constant pummeling and have to use muscles we don't normally use on land to grip and hold on - a bit like yoga.
The rubber shock cord broke yesterday on the fishing line and we could see a fish flapping on the end of the line. Unfortunately it got away. Sometimes the fish hook themselves not in the mouth but through an eye ball or gill so there are probably quite a few maimed fish swimming around! So not having fresh fish for dinner I cooked a tasty pasta dish instead with anchovies, olives capers and chillie in sun dried tomato sauce. 'Deliciosa!' as you would say in Portuguese. We struggled through the Cd yesterday and even though some words sound familiar others aren't and quite difficult to pronounce. Here's a few we have learned: Por favor ...Please Thank you .Obrigado ('a' if male) Um copo vinho branco..one glass of white wine Uma cerveja....a lager Um galao....a milky coffee I think these will be useful: Nao compreendo...I don't understand Fala ingles?..............Do you speak English? Some letters are swallowed as in French and some words have masculine/feminine gender. 'm' is pronounced 'n'. 'g' is pronounced 'zhuh' etc. We think our brains are too old to absorb all this. Maybe when we are there it might sink in. We have been told not many people in Brazil speak English.
We received an email back from Frenchman Philippe Fessard letting us know the costs etc of Jacare yacht marina: "Tnak you for your Email, Yes we have a place for ours boats, with this size our price on a week basis is 79 Euros (11,26 p/day) and 304 for one month (10,12 per day) on prepayed packages. For 6 monthes stage we offer more 10% discount... This prices included the pontoon, water, electricity, Internet Wifi coinection, sanitary installations, gym room and pool. Best regards, and good winds Philippe"
Sounds good to me! 8 days to go. If you are wondering where Jacare is , it is up a river past Cabedelo in the north of Brazil . (www.marina-jacare-village.com) 'Jacare' means crocodile but we have been told there are no crocodiles there any more. Perhaps they have been turned into handbags and shoes. You can also take a look at www.noonsite.com for any places we are going to. I usually save all the noonsite stuff for each country/harbour before we go for useful information such as immigration and navigation. I then print it out and put in a folder - I am such a good secretary for the captain aren't I?
All well on board.
St Helena to Brazil - Day 3
07/03/2009, 11 53.79'S:11 20.40'W, Atlantic Ocean
Saturday 7th March 2009 Position: 11 53.79S 11 20.40W Time: 10 am
With another 1400 miles to go it's a long way to Brazil. We are still sailing along quite well 'wing on wing' with the wind mainly from behind. The wind picked up a little so we are going a little faster - 7 to 8 knots. Looking at the weather grib files it looks like 15 knots SE for a day or 2 then it will lessen again. Captain Bill is changing the sails around including the pole on the jib to make things more comfortable as we were swaying around a bit. We have been using Mona Lisa (electric autopilot) the whole time due to the wind being straight behind and not strong enough for Fred the wind vane. We may be able to use Fred today if the conditions are right as Mona Lisa does chew up a bit of power.
We are eating well so will have to exercise when we get to land! It is nice to sit around in shorts or sarong after months of coolish weather in South Africa. We heard teenager Zac on Intrepid finally made it to St Helena. We heard St Helena radio calling him every hour the day after we left. He finally arrived a day later after hand steering in light winds after his 6th tiller pilot burnt out. It may be difficult for him to get this replaced at St Helena as there are no planes - everything is shipped. Our friends on Khulula left St Helena on the same day as us and they are not far behind us. We are in touch by email and it's nice to know we have friends out here on this huge ocean. (apart from the flying fish suiciding on the deck)
Our last run for 24 hours was 161 miles . The Atlantic is so much nicer than the Indian Ocean and I have heard this from many yachties that this is the case. The Pacific should be similar. We are nearly half way around the world! We'll have to work out the exact longitude so we can celebrate when we cross it! Another event to look forward to!
All well on board.
St Helena to Brazil - Day 2
06/03/2009, 13 40.86'S:9 5.53'W, Atlantic Ocean
Atlantic Ocean - St Helena to Brazil Day 2 Friday 6th March 2009 Position: 13 40.86S 9 5.53W Time: 8.30 am
Valiam is skimming along now at 6.5 to 7 knots. The sea is fairly smooth so everything is steady inside making it easier to sleep, prepare meals etc. We have been enjoying the stars and the moonlight at night but not the 20 minute lookouts! The Southern Cross was nice and clear which makes me feel closer to home although we're not! We still have more than 1500 miles to go.. I think I will have watched every movie we have 2-3 times by then! We are getting through the books too. I will start putting the Portuguese language CD on every day now so we may have a slight chance of communicating when we get to Brazil. The weather is warm - already 29 degrees and the water temperature is 25.2 degrees. In Simons Town, South Africa the water temperature was 16 degrees. It's definitely not suitable for penguins here!
Bill has trimmed his beard and I am contemplating painting my toe nails. As long as the wind remains steady we don't have to touch the sails. We are wing to wing again i.e. jib poled out and mainsail on the opposite side. Many cruisers we have talked to say they spend 90% of their passages sailing like this.
All well on board. Do send us the latest news. We're in a different world out here.
St Helena to Brazil - Day 1
05/03/2009, 15 14.57'S:6 56.24'W, Atlantic Ocean
Thursday 5th March 2009 Position: 15 14.57S 6 56.24W Time: 6am
The sun is rising as I write this - burnt orange sky against dark grey clouds. Mona Lisa (autopilot) grunts occasionally as she doesn't have to work hard to steer the boat. There has been very little wind since we left St Helena yesterday at 10.30am. Valiam has been drifting and coasting along at 3 to 4 knots. Occasionally she gets up to 5-6 knots if the winds strengthen a little. It's been very peaceful with no swell. Cups, glasses etc stay where they are put and the bed is level.
Yacht Khulula left just before us but we have lost sight of them now. We also saw another boat light last night which we think was the power cat that was anchored at St Helena. The radio has been calling yacht Intrepid every hour since we left. Intrepid is the yacht sailed by 17 year old Zac Sunderland and he is overdue at St Helena. His last position was given to his mum via satellite phone a week ago but the sat phone is no longer working. Hopefully he is delayed due to light winds.
This will be a long trip - 1785 miles from St Helena to the northern part of Brazil where we are aiming for. (We've done 80 miles.)The wind predictions look light for the next week so we most likely won't be doing the miles and speed of the last passage. It is nice and warm so the winter clothes are put away. The gas has just run out so now we have one gas bottle full of gas. We'll have to conserve everything - water, gas, fuel as we may be out here for a couple of weeks.
St Helena was a relaxing break and we were overwhelmed with hospitality during our stay. We had lunch every day at Anne's Place - the traditional yachtie hangout. I met the lovely Anne briefly on our last day. She was busy working out the back even though she is supposed to be retired. Her son and daughter in law manage the place now. We received an invitation on the website on the afternoon we were leaving from Guy to have a cuppa at Cleopatra House. Sorry Guy we ran out of time - maybe be next time?
I am rewatching movies on the little DVD player and we have plenty of books to read. We will also try and learn Portuguese from a CD and Book. Receiving emails of course will be the highlight of our day! (We won't see any website comments until we arrive in Brazil). Hope you enjoyed the photos of St Helena. (album South Africa to St Helena).
All well and relaxed on board.
Au revoir to Friendly St Helena island
03/03/2009, Atlantic Ocean
Can you spot Valiam ? at the back furthest right
St Helena Island
3rd March 2009
St Helena is an amazing little island and we have really enjoyed exploring it. In some ways it reminds us of Rodrigues - size, the people, isolation etc. It took us most of the morning to organize our laundry, banking and clearing in officially to the island. Everyone is very friendly and welcoming and seem to know who we are - there's only 6 yachts in the harbour. Everything is in the main street and easy to find. At the tourist office we organized a tour for the afternoon. For 4 hours Larry drove us around for 30 pounds. Larry is a mine of information as his family has lived here for generations. Hi father was on a whaling ship and met his mum a 'Saint' (St Helena resident) on St Helena. Basically the island is governed and financially supported by the British government. The Saints get priority over anyone else for jobs here.
Larry drove us all over the place so we could admire the wonderful views including one overlooking the town from Jacobs Ladder where we could see Valiam happy at anchor. We also visited the house where Napoleon was exiled. It was closed but the 2 gardeners who were working in the overgrown garden said we could walk around the grounds. Napoleon had it very comfortable with a large house, garden, servant's quarters and a beautiful view. The French government still maintain his house, tomb etc. We were lucky to see all of the attractions without any other tourists. It all has a relaxed country feel of bygone days. We visited ST Paul's Church with it's historical graveyard. No-one was there but the door to the church was wide open. We enjoyed the beautiful workmanship of the church and read some of the names on the gravestones. I recognized the same name as the ferry driver. We wonder how many people are related to each other here? I was keen to see Jonathon the 175 year old giant tortoise who lives with 3 other tortoises in the Governors garden. Again when we walked around the Governors residence garden there was no-one there. We found Jonathon and his friends hidden in the long grass towards the side. It's hard to believe such gentle slow moving creatures so trusting were eaten by sailors in the 17th century. After giving Jonathon lots of strokes under his neck - (it feels like thin crinkly leather) we headed back along the winding one way roads back to town. We found a supermarket that had just unpacked fresh fruit from the ship so we bought a good supply for our next passage.
Tomorrow we leave again for another long trip to Brazil. We expect it to take longer than the last passage due to the proximity to the equator and lighter winds.
Thank you to all the 'Saints' on St Helena island - we have really enjoyed your relaxed hospitality and it has been a lovely break during our voyage.
(See photos in album South Africa to St Helena - click on camera icon to the right)
Arrived St Helena Island
28/02/2009, 15 55.04'S:5 43.06'W, South Atlantic Ocean
Saturday 28 February 1300pm
Arrived safely just under 11 days after leaving Simons Town. all good. ferry coming now to take us ashore. Details to follow soon.
Position 15 55.046S 5 43.069 W
St Helena Island
1st March 2009
Nautical miles sailed since leaving Oz = 13,824nm
It's always thrilling to sight land after being at sea for a while. St Helena looked mystical with its jagged peaks not unlike La Reunion. A small island measuring 10km by 17km it's a small dot in the Atlantic Ocean. The only way one can get here is by boat so it feels very remote. Shortly after anchoring at midday - 10 days 22 hours after leaving Simons Town, South Africa we were given permission over the radio by Port Control to go ashore. A young man with Creole features took us ashore in his wooden boat ('ferry'). The exciting part was disembarking as the boat rose in the swell as we had to grab hold of the hanging ropes to jump ashore on to wet concrete steps. This was not easy when we hadn't got our 'land legs' yet! After wandering past shipping containers, 2 cranes and people with honey coloured skin wearing hardhats we found the Customs office. We were lucky it was open on a Saturday as the ship RMS St Helena had also just arrived. There was a flurry of activity with lots of people working in the area unloading luggage and sniffer dogs busy hoping for a reward! The lady that gave us our port clearance was so friendly and helpful giving us maps and brochures of St Helena. I was surprised to see so many Polynesian/Creole looking people here in this English colony. Looking briefly at the 500 year old history of St Helena the current islanders are descended from Portuguese, Dutch, Negro slaves, French Huguenot refugees, some victims of the Fire of London and others. I was intrigued by the way the "Saints" (name for locals) speak. It is a type of English dialect with a sing song twist. Sometimes it is difficult for us to understand.
Wandering around the main street of Jamestown we could see so many relics and old buildings. St Helena has a 500 year history. We found 'Anne's Place' the yachtie hangout. After explaining to the barman we had no local money until Monday he said 'We'll make up a tab'. It was nice to not have to cook as we tucked into a high cholesterol lunch at 3 times the price of South Africa. We'll have to just get used to more normal prices! One of the yachts who has just been here said we could get hot showers at the Consulate Hotel for a donation. The Consulate Hotel is a beautiful old white painted building with corridors, lots of wood and chandeliers. It's small and after looking for Hazel in the upstairs office we found Ethel a gorgeous lady who gave us the use of two of the hotel's communal bathrooms and even offered us towels. We are struck with the trust and friendliness of all whom we meet as after all we are strangers just arrived on a small yacht. We were basically given food, drinks, hot showers, money until we can pay everyone back on Monday. There are about 6 visiting yachts here as well as passengers from RMS St Helena which isn't very big. The RMS Helena goes to and from Cape Town every few weeks with 2 trips to United Kingdom a year. This is the only way you can get here unless you have a private vessel.
There are no tourist shops and it is very quiet. 4000 people live here with 800 in Jamestown itself. The locals drive cars around with 4 digit number plates. They often park in the middle of the road talking to each other through the windows. We look forward to having a look at the rest of the island. It has some beautiful green gorges and vegetation. Robert the local tour guide has already offered us a tour on Wednesday. As we may go before then we are hoping we can get some transport to look around before then.
It's a rolly anchorage as warned and we woke a few times throughout the night. However it was good not to have to be on watch. It was an excellent passage faster than most due to the ideal conditions for Valiam to sail at her best. We are pleased to have made it here in just under 11 days from Simons Town considering the first day or so it was slow with calms. There is a race to here from Cape Town where the winning boat took 12 days. Simons Town is further too. Go Valiam!
The internet facility here is at Anne's Place and it's quite expensive - 1 pound per 10 minutes. I am downloading some photos for you so please look at them!!! (click camera icon. Go to 'South Africa to St Helena album') I have also added photos to the ships logs days 1 to 11 . Enjoy!
South Atlantic Ocean. South Africa to St Helena: Day 11
28/02/2009, 16 21.2'S:5 11.54'W, South Atlantic Ocean
South Atlantic Ocean - South Africa to St Helena: Day 11 Saturday 28th February 2009 7.45am Position : 16 21.2 S 5 11.54W
Just after I was woken by my loving husband at 4.45am he tells me there is a ship. As I try and waken from yet another weird dream (short sleeps seem to do this) he says like a true sailor "I could smell it before I could see it - a diesel smell and then I saw a faint glow in the dark. It hadn't come on the ship plotter yet." At the chart table in the dark the captain looking at the computer screen says "RMS St Helena." This must mean we are on the right track! The captain surmised that RMS may mean Royal Mail Service(??)
Just now I heard St Helena Radio talking to 'sailing Vessel Kahlua' then a moment later to RMS St Helena. An Englishman answered saying that RMS would arrive at 8.45. I wonder if the ship arriving at St Helena Island provokes the same excitement as the ship did at Rodrigues Island. St Helena has no air strip so everything comes and goes by ship. (including us!) I wonder if the shops will be stocked up on Monday? We read that a letter takes 6 weeks as there is no airmail. The grandchildren will receive their St Helena postcards after the ones I send from Brazil!
It's exciting coming to a new place. We are only 40 miles away now. We need to add another hour to our clock which means we will arrive around 1pm. I hope Anne's pub is open! We'll have to clear with the authorities first of course. Hopefully the local policeman (I wonder if they wear police hats like London bobbies?) will clear us on a Saturday. We received an email from friends on yacht Rainbow Chaser giving us the latest information. They are leaving St Helena today so we will probably miss seeing them. They said there are 5 yachts there now. (then there will be Kahlua and us 7)
The next log entry will hopefully have a photo of St Helena.
All well on board!
South Atlantic Ocean. South Africa to St Helena: Day 10
27/02/2009, 18 11.7'S:3 19.9'W, South Atlantic Ocean
Friday 27th February 2009 Time: 8.20 am (S Africa + 1 hour) Position: 18 11.7 S 3 19.9 W
This has been such a good trip and we are making excellent time. The captain says we should get to St Helena on Saturday easily. It is always wonderful to see land emerge after seeing nothing but sea for days and days. We can't complain as we have had a much shorter trip than most yachts. Thanks Valiam! She just loves to race through the water!
One little disaster this morning - the shelf holding all my art books broke so all my lovely books are lying in a heap on the floor in the quarter berth with the pumpkins and a cask of wine. We will have to find a box in the 'back shed' when we stop to store them until the shelf is fixed.
We had a rest from fishing yesterday. It's actually very messy once the fish is on board flapping leaking blood etc. One of the mahi mahi we caught I poured a bit of our Philippino gin into its gills which is supposed to be the most humane way to kill them. It stopped flapping very quickly. If you are wondering what fishing tackle we are using it's a bright pink rubber squid with a hook attached to a nylon trace which is attached to green string. The string is attached to a 2 metre length of spear gun rubber as a shock absorber. This lure cost 28 Rand (A$4.50) in Simons Town. This cheap lure seems to be working much better than the 'professional' lures made up by a fisherman in Palau at a considerably higher price.
Excerpt of email from Bill to his Dad re question about our 'jibes' etc: 'Re jibes, we are actually sailing on a shallow reach as you suggest, keeping the wind about 20deg off astern with the jib poled out to windward. We haven't really been jibing because the boom is held down with a preventer, just occasionally the wind has changed enough or waves have slewed us around so that the wind gets to the wrong side of the sail, then we quickly manually steer back on course or if not quick enough ease the boom across using the preventer on a winch then jibe back doing the same. We had a few occurrences yesterday because the wind was a bit more fickle with direction changes caused by 'rain squalls' which are a typical trade wind phenomenon. A ship just passed us, heading north looks like an empty log carrier, according to our gadget it's the 'Great Mary' registered in the Marshall Islands bound for Camden eta 14 March traveling at 14.2 kts. We haven't had anything come up on the AIS for a week and were wondering if it was still working, I suppose there's just not much out here.'
Oh yes yesterday afternoon it was finally warm enough to put on my bikini to paint my toenails! They are now all different colours as I couldn't decide which colour to use. (Actually the captain's idea). Now that you can see how exciting our life is out here at the moment I will say 'bye' from the Atlantic Ocean. The next log will be announcing our arrival at St Helena. I will download a tiny photo by sat phone if the internet there is difficult.
South Atlantic Ocean. South Africa to St Helena: Day 9
26/02/2009, 20 26.13'S:0 54.52'W, South Atlantic Ocean
South Atlantic Ocean - South Africa to St Helena: Day 9 Thursday 26th February 2009 Time: 6am Position: 20 26.13 S 0 54.52 W
There's been no ships for several days now. Just us, the ocean and fish! The Fish God is suddenly smiling at us because yesterday we caught TWO fish! They were both small Mahi mahi (dorado). (We haven't caught a fish since 2007 apart from one inedible one near Mauritius) The first one Bill cut into fillets which we fried for lunch accompanied by left over fried rice. The last one we cooked whole (minus head, tail, guts and scales). The galley slave prepared this one baked in white wine and butter. Mashed pumpkin and a white mushroom sauce went well with it. Cleaning fish is a messy bloody slimey business which the captain seems to know how to do. I have no experience in these 'manly' matters..hmmmm. We're actually getting a bit tired for fish as the tuna lasted 3 meals before the mahi mahi.
You will have noticed the change in position West instead of East. Last night we crossed the Greenwich Meridian line and celebrated with a glass of champagne when our position changed to 00 00.0 W. We are not quite half way around the world but soon will be somewhere between St Helena and Brazil. Then if you were to dig a hole through the earth in a straight line from Mooloolaba, Oz we would be there sailing along proving the world really is round!
Valiam is racing at the moment through another rain squall. I just saw the instrument read 10.4 knots! We are going well - 24 hour averages 168 to 191 nm. Captain Bill just reefed the main. We are now doing 8 to 9 knots. Because Mona Lisa is moaning a lot and working hard (electric autopilot) we have to run the engine 3 hours a day to charge the batteries. It's still mostly overcast during the day so the solar panels aren't charging much.
The photo above shows what we look like at the moment - scruffy! Bill says he will tame and trim his beard before he has to talk to any officials. Yachties have a bad enough name in the grooming department already. We have been informed that visiting officials in Brazil as the ship's captain he has to wear long trousers and socks. It didn't stipulate what type of footwear ( sandals?!!)
All well on board
South Atlantic Ocean. South Africa to St Helena: Day 8
25/02/2009, 22 14.46'S:1 12.14'E, South Atlantic Ocean
Wednesday 25th February 2009 Time: (S Africa plus 1 hour) 7am Position: 22 14 .46 S 1 12.14 E
It's early morning and it's grey and cloudy outside again. Yesterday afternoon it was perfect - blue skies, gentle seas with Valiam sliding along smoothly. Now we are going a bit faster again and I can see the wind gauge saying we are doing 8.6 knots as I type this.. The last 24 hours we covered 175 miles with 551 to go to St Helena. I f we keep up this speed we could make landfall late Saturday.
Sleep seems to come easier either because we are tired and /or we are getting used to the motion and short sleeps whenever we can get it. The bed is a bit slopey so I use pillows around my body in strategic positions so I am not constantly rolling around. Sometimes the only way to sleep is spread-eagled on one's back. Lucky there is only one of us in the bed at a time!
I have just pulled out a packet of buttermilk pancake mix ('Just add water!') to surprise the captain for breakfast. OOOOOps! Flap flap flap bang! We've jibed again. The captain emerges and wrestles with the tiller (I get to push the button on 'standby' on the autopilot) He says the wind direction has changed more east which may mean having to change the whole rig over.
All well on board
South Atlantic Ocean. South Africa to St Helena: Day 7
24/02/2009, 23 43.44'S:3 39.08'E, South Atlantic Ocean
Tuesday 24th February 2009 Time : 8.45 am (SA time) Position: 23 43.44S 3 39.08E (just over 700 miles to go)
The most exciting thing that happened in the last 24 hours is that we caught a FISH! Yes and it was a tuna. After the captain dealt with the beheading, gutting and bleeding (it went all over the deck.) he cut it up into fillets and steaks. Our Happy Hour turned into dinner as we enjoyed sashimi with wasabi and soy sauce accompanied by cold white wine. Today we will have tuna steaks. We are not lacking protein on this trip as we still have 3 steaks left purchased in vacuum packs in the fridge. Sadly the fresh fruit and vegetables are getting low. We have one pear, a couple of apples, 3 onions, 5 potatoes, 3 pumpkins and half a cucumber left in fresh produce. The galley slave will stretch it accompanied by a wide variety of tinned/packet food and the occasional fresh fish.
It's still grey and overcast outside but the temperature is much warmer. Goodbye winter clothes! Hooray! It would be nice to see the sun though. It's not quite bikini toenail painting weather yet.
It feels strange to be out here in the middle of the South Atlantic Ocean between Africa and South Africa. It's only when I look outside and see ocean all around and look at the chart plotter that reality sinks in. Because we live on the boat all the time down below seems quite normal with every day tasks - cooking, computer, dishes etc. We just cant get off to go to the shops! We have now sailed more than 13000 nautical miles since leaving Mooloolaba, Queensland Australia. It's a long way in 15 months. We've already had so many adventures and experiences and there's more to come. I know we are lucky to be able to do this - cut our ties and sail the world or perhaps foolhardy some would say to quit secure jobs for an uncertain future. But that's what makes life exciting - not knowing what is ahead. I am reading a book at them moment by a South African man who quit his corporate job at age 30 to spend one year traveling from Cape Town to Cairo. ('Dark Continent My Black Arse' by Sihle Khumalo) He echoes my feelings when he says he was leaving the corporate world and normal life because he was sick and tired of : Routine Being stuck in the comfort zone Being stuck in a rut Being stuck in traffic every morning and every afternoon Driving on the same road to the same office every week day to do pretty much the same thing Dealing with the same things daily, weekly, monthly, yearly Sweating the small stuff Trying to solve imaginary problems Being a manager Dealing with systems, guidelines, policies and procedures Attending meetings, workshops and conferences Sending reports to head office Worrying about how to make more money Looking at life from a strictly financial perspective Worrying about tomorrow and the day after and the day after Being a statistic Being in limbo Wasting golden opportunities Wasting God's precious time and my own Voting in all the general elections but somehow still feeling oppressed Drinking beer and watching soccer on TV every weekend Being bored with life and doing nothing about it Not living the life I suspected I was meant ot live Feeling life was passing me by Feeling like I was missing out on something In short: enduring the pain of a dying soul crying out to be free
Instead he wanted to:
Take the bull by the horns Give life my all Give life my best shot Live in the present Find myself Find peace of mind Be who I wanted to be Do the things I genuinely wanted to do Do challenging and out -of -this- world things Create my own beautiful, yet simple, life Live my own life, in my own way, on my terms Leave a difficult act to follow when I die In short : be me - just me, nobody else but me
Sihle Khumalo (2007)
Food for thought......
All well on board SV Valiam
South Atlantic Ocean. South Africa to St Helena: Day 6
23/02/2009, 25 10.88'S:5 59.59'E, South Atlantic Ocean
Monday 23rd February 2009 Time : 9.30am (SA) Position: 25 10.88S 5 59.59E Distance to St Helena : 860 nm - HALF WAY!!!
We are half way today! We have also broken a record for our fastest 24 hour period. Wait for it - 191 nautical miles!!!! Yay!! Go Valiam! Captain Bill wants to crack the 200. We were practically surfing down the waves last night even with 2 reefs in the main. Every time I looked at our speed it was 8.5 - 10 knots. We jibed a couple of times when a bigger wave caught the back of the boat. The captain had to jump out of bed and get her back on track. We are still using the Mona Lisa (electric autopilot) and its cloudy again today so we'll have to run the engine again to power the batteries.
Another exciting event occurred yesterday. We caught a FISH! BUT it GOT AWAY ?. Out in the greyness of the sea I saw a flash of colour - blue and yellow behind the boat. It was a small tuna fish jumping around in the waves. "Fish!" I yelled trying to pull it in. By the time the captain appeared it was gone... Now we keep hoping. The wasabi and soy sauce is ready for sashimi..
All well on board.
South Atlantic Ocean. South Africa to St Helena: Day 5
22/02/2009, 26 43.47'S:8 53.72'E, South Atlantic Ocean
Sunday 22nd February 2009 Time: 10 am (South Africa) Position: 26 43.47S 8 53.72E
Bill ticked the calendar this morning so now we know it is Sunday. Sleeping in? Bacon and eggs? Unfortunately no. The wind picked up again last night so Bill put 2 reefs in the main but Valiam is till swaying around a bit in the waves. Making espresso coffee is a challenge so the galley slave has said no bacon and eggs this morning. Mueslie with warm uht milk it will be. We haven't been able to buy decent mueslie since leaving Oz and the stuff we've got is odd as it has cornflakes and other non mueslie items in it. The cereal section in most of the supermarkets we've been to in the past year have contained mostly packets with sweet stuff in them and a lot of chocolate - even porridge! (must be the French influence)
The last 24 hour run was 170 miles with Valiam's average speed at 7 to 8 knots. It's overcast with no blue sky again which is a problem for the solar panels. We have to run the engine for a few hours a day to keep the batteries up. Captain Bill has tried several times to get Fred the wind vane to work but to no avail. The wind is too much behind and not quite strong enough for the speed we are going. Mona Lisa the autopilot chews up a lot of power. We also have one computer running 24 hours for the ship plotter. The electric pump on the toilet also chews up a bit of power. The fridge and the little DVD player don't use much but it all adds up especially when the sun isn't shining.
The radio(vhf) rarely comes up with anything sensible out here as we are a bit far from anything. Occasionally we hear snippets of foreign conversation that sound like fishermen. But yesterday we were entertained by a yachtsman we had heard of about but hadn't met. We heard him calling up a ship (also to remain nameless) several times over a half hour period. Then we heard him speaking to someone on the ship in a very irate voice. "I called you on the radio 6 times and you did not respond. I had to alter course 30 degrees to avoid you running me over when I have right of way. If I didn't alter course you would have run me over..I will be contacting your company to lodge a report.." He repeated this a couple of times. We can understand why he was upset. Clearly whoever was on watch on that ship obviously was not doing his duty. We have heard this before that ships don't always keep a good lookout and don't always listen to channel 16. With AIS ships have MMSI identification numbers where they can contact each other direct so they probably don't always listen to channel 16. The new vhf radios have DSC which would make it easier to contact ships. If we bought one of those we may also have to have a MMSI number. However in the above case the ship's crew was neglectful in not responding to the yacht calling it by name. (This yacht must have AIS) We have also heard of other ships responding to yachts on channel 16 even without the yacht knowing their name and just calling their own position. We have heard from other yachties that the ship's radio crew were happy to engage in conversation out at sea and also alter course if necessary. Perhaps it depends on the ship's crew's ability to communicate in English. An English speaking yachtsperson may not pronounce the ship's name the same way so this may be another reason the ship's crew did not respond. Our general tactic when we see ships is to keep out of their way. With our new AIS ship plotter we know which direction the ship is going from 10 miles away and can alter our course accordingly.
That's enough for today. We are going well. We're a bit tired and sometimes a bit bored. Time to put the Portuguese language lesson on the CD player!!
Keep those emails coming in. All well on board.
South Atlantic Ocean. South Africa to St Helena: Day 4
21/02/2009, 28 43.82'S:11 9.44'E, South Atlantic Ocean
South Atlantic Ocean - South Africa to St Helena : Day 4 Saturday 21st February 2009 Time:10.45am Position: 28 43.82 S 11 9.44 E
Valiam rolled around a lot less last night so sleeping has been easier. Our daily runs have been quite good. The last 24 hours we sailed 167 nautical miles. At 7am we had 1232 nm to go to St Helena - another week or so. The southeasterly varies from 8 to 25 knots.
What do we do all day? Night watches and meals regulate the day as follows (with some variations to times). We look around outside every 20 minutes as we seem to spend most of our time inside reading, napping, watching movies etc. When on watch we check the AIS Ship plotter - usually it sounds a computer foghorn if ship within 20 miles. We watch a ship closely but the anxiety is alleviated by the AIS as it tells us how far away it is , in what direction it is traveling, its speed and when/where it will be at it's closest point to us. Usually the ships pass us a few miles away. If it looks like it's getting close (less than 1 mile) we alter course. We also record our position every 6 hours.
11pm - 2am - 1st Night watch 2 - 4.30am - 2nd Night Watch 4.30 - 7am - Early morning shift 7am - 9am - Coffee time followed by breakfast. 9am - write daily log, emails, grib files on computer 10.30 - Another cuppa. Early bird person naps 11.30 - Prepare lunch 12.00 - Lunch 1.00- 4pm - Read, nap, watch movies, boat jobs. Afternoon tea.. Occasionally wash, comb hair etc. 4.00pm - start planning/preparing Dinner 4.30 - 5.30Pm - Happy Hour usually in the cockpit. Play music, reflect etc 6 - 7 pm - Dinner 8 - 11pm - Captain usually sleeps first.
This all sounds idyllic but lots of things have been left out. ie. Captain adjusting/changing sails, checking batteries and running motor. Lately the poor Captain has been a PLUMBER! He says it's his next career. Without going into too much detail the toilet hasn't been working properly and sometimes refuses to pump out. He has unblocked pipes, pulled things apart, tipped things out etc... "Bucket and chuck it" he says is much more reliable. However the female on this boat does appreciate the comforts of a proper toilet. She doesn't cope so well when it doesn't work. We bought a new replacement pump in Singapore and now this has been installed.
Apart from the plumbing all else is going well. We are doing good average daily runs and according to the weather grib files the SE wind should stay with us the whole way. We've got the fishing line out so you never know. Fresh tuna would be nice...
South Atlantic Ocean. South Africa to St Helena: Day 3
20/02/2009, 30 17.55'S:13 59.85'E, South Atlantic Ocean
South Atlantic Ocean - South Africa to St Helena : Day 3 Friday 20th February 2009 Time : 8.20 am (SA) Position:30 17.55 S 13 59.85E
The wind picked up to 25 knots from the southeast yesterday so Valiam started swaying and galloping at 8.5 - 9 knots! I asked the captain nicely to slow her down so after 3 reefs in the main and the jib half furled she steadied down to 6.5 - 7 knots. Because the wind is behind we are rolling and swaying a bit. There's a bit of a swell coming towards our port side.
Not a lot to report - we are eating well, watched 2 movies and each have cat naps and short sleeps day and night. We are back in our sea passage routine. A long way to go!
All well on board.
South Atlantic Ocean. South Africa to St Helena: Day 2
19/02/2009, 32 4.21'S:16 22.49'E, South Atlantic Ocean
Thursday 19th February 2009 Time: (South Africa): 9am Position : 32 4.26S 16 22.59E
It's grey and overcast outside and we've had very little wind the last 12 hours. We ran the engine for a couple of hours but want to conserve our fuel. It's a long way to St Helena! Lucky we have plenty of books to read. All our fruit is becoming ripe at once so it looks like lots of fresh fruit now and none for most of the trip. The pumpkins, onions, potatoes and a couple of apples will keep for quite a while. We have oodles of tins of everything! In the fridge we have lots of cheese, salami, bacon, cucumber, yoghurt, 5 more vacuum packed pieces of beef as well as condiments and cold beverages.
It was very cold the first night - 12 to 14 degrees. Last night it was a bit warmer and our current temperature is 20 degrees. I look forward to those warm tropical days - about a week away! It will be good to throw off long sleeved sweat shirts and jackets. I look forward to carefree sailing where I can wear my bikini and paint my toenails!! If we get really bored we have Portuguese language lessons on CD as well as the guitar and beginners CD.
The water temperature was 15.8 degrees when we left and now it has crept up to 17.6 degrees. The wind has picked up a little and we are now sailing again at 5. knots. It's very comfortable. I haven't felt sea sick at all and have been able to read. I am currently reading 'Brick Lane' by Monica Ali. It's about an Indian woman living in London enmeshed in Bengali culture. She lives a subservient existence tending after her husband's needs including trimming his nostril hairs and cutting the skin around his corns! Yuck - I'm glad the captain doesn't expect me to perform those duties!
Anyway not much else to report - we continue to do our 3 hour shifts getting up every 20 minutes to check outside. The AIS ship plotter is great. An electric sounding foghorn toots on the computer when there is a ship. Most of the time they are 5- 17 nautical miles away and pass us several miles away. The closest one that passed us yesterday was 2 miles away. The ship plotter certainly takes away the anxiety of which direction the ship is headed ( not directly towards us!). It's interesting reading the details of the ship - currently there is one 17 miles away from Liberia. Yesterday there was one from Denmark bound for Durban. It was called Lars something. It makes it a little less lonely out here reading about the ships near us.
That's it for now. All well on board Valiam.
South Atlantic Ocean. South Africa to St Helena: Day 1
18/02/2009, 33 25.84'S:17 13.30'E, South Atlantic Ocean
South Atlantic Ocean - South Africa to St Helena : Day 1
Wednesday 18th February 2009 Time : (South Africa)11.30am Position: 33 25.84S 17 13.30E
It hasn't even been 24 hours yet since we left Simons Town but it feels like longer! There hasn't been much wind so we have motored most of the time until now. Keeping the fuel consumption at a minimum we only averaged 4.5 knots. The wind is blowing from the NW at 8 knots so we are moving quite slowly at around 4 knots. This is not the usual speed of Valiam! The winds should swing around tomorrow to the SE and be stronger so we hope to move along at a faster speed. I don't mind the slowness and gentle seas at the moment as it gets us used to being on passage and acquiring our 'sea legs'. There are many different kinds of birds sitting on the water having group meetings. Last night the sunset was magnificent with burnt fluorescent orange clouds dominating the sky. As we sailed out of False Bay a seal dipped and danced in the waves behind us not unlike a dolphin. A nice 'bon voyage' gesture.
The four months we spent in South Africa were busy with many rich and varied experiences. Not only is the South African landscape magnificent, the animals left to roam free were truly wonderful to observe. I could have watched them every day. The cheetah stole my heart particularly the female as she has to guard and protect her cubs as a single mother. Being the bottom of the wild cat chain the cubs have many predators. The cheetah is an elegant creature, constantly watching around her to see if anything will harm her cubs. The elephants have always been my favourite. We were lucky to have had many opportunities to observe (and interact with) them. Such amazing large animals still roaming this earth. Seeing a large herd of them at Pinda reserve was a great experience.
The people of South Africa are warm, generous and kind on the whole. Everywhere we went we were greeted with warm hospitality , many people going out of their way to assist us and show us their country as well as their homes, families and friends. The infrastructure is excellent. The roads are good, banks and offices all operate fairly efficiently and we were pleased on the whole of how we were treated by immigration and customs officials. Whilst in South Africa I read 2 books which helped me understand the history of this country and admire how far it has come. Nelson Mandela's 'Long Road to Freedom' has made a huge impact on me. This man lived for his beliefs most of his life and was finally able to achieve democracy in this country after more than 50 years of struggle in 1994. Even with international pressure for 30 years prior to that it took a long time for the black South Africans (and coloured South Africans) to gain freedom. Many young people are looking to the future to continue to improve and make South Africa a fine place for everyone to live. The scars of Apartheid still remain however. The other book I read was Charles Cilliers 'For Whites Only'. He also gave me an insight on the relationships between the different races in this country. Sometimes it was strange to be in yacht clubs where it was definitely a 'white enclave'. I guess yachting tends to be a (rich) white man's sport. There are many beautiful houses, buildings and streets in the towns and cities with great historical charm. Johannesburg and Durban seemed to have more security around the middle/upper (?) class houses than Cape Town and other cities. Security consisted of high solid walls, electric fencing and sometimes armed guards. Crime is a problem here but from discussions with several people who have visited in years previously they say the situation is improving. Sadly I didn't have many opportunities to socialize with black South Africans apart from security guar ds, shop assistants, restaurant staff and occasionally on trains. I was dismayed to see the poverty throughout South Africa but could see many new housing developments to replace the shacks. Seeing women and children sleeping on the streets in Durban was very upsetting. Giving money just didn't seem enough..Unemployment is high and of course there is no social security as such as we have in Australia. Although it was traumatic for me to be robbed of personal cherished items from around my neck in Cape Town, I could still empathize with the poor teenage boy who did it. I was very lucky to have most of my gold jewelry retrieved. At a tourist shop in Simons Town I had several discussions with a young man with dreadlocks and a big smile. He sees Obama as a younger version of Mandela. We shared our admiration for both men.
Whilst in South Africa global events and some tragic events occurred. The economic recession, the election of Barack Obama, the floods and terrible fires in Australia. Sailing around the world at this time still seems the right thing for us to do at this stage in our lives. The internet and satellite communication certainly makes things easier for us to remain in contact with loved ones and know what is going on in the world.
Sailing to South Africa and down the east coast was quite challenging at times. We have been told this passage is usually a good trip with nice breezes and warmer weather. It is very quiet out here at the moment especially after the high winds in Simons Town. This will be quite a long trip especially if the winds are light. (The captain won't be happy so I will have to keep up his morale and cook tempting dishes!) There were many ships last night. We purchased a second hand AIS receiver from a fellow yachtie in Simons Town. It is connected to our lap top computer as well the GPS. It shows all ships within a 20 mile radius. A foghorn (electronic) sounds as they come closer. The AIS receiver gives all the details of the ship - size, name, direction, speed, course,when it will be close to us, its hailing port and destination, type etc, etc. It certainly helps us determine which way to steer Valiam if we need to avoid them. We can also call them up on the radio if we need to. A fantastic aid for cruising yachts.
Our boat is already full of mementoes and keepsakes of our trip so far. I have 1000s of photos and movies already (as well as millions of my words!!!) which I have saved on an external hard drive. GMN (Global Marine networks) have asked us to feature a photo of Valiam on their website. We said of course! (www.globalmarinenet,com)
I apologise for the long ramble - but as you can imagine there is more time to reflect and think out here at sea. The next entries will be shorter plotting our positions daily. (click on the map)
All well on board Valiam (we are now sailing at 6 knots. The wind is blowing from NNW 10 -15 knots)
Off we go! Leaving South Africa
17th February 2009
We are just about to head off. Conditions are good. We have plenty of food, fuel and water. We also now have a 2nd hand Ship Plotter so we can know where ships are, which direction they are heading and what their name is so we can cll them up on the radio. Thanks to Randy from Westwind!
Love to everyone - It should be a good trip. (but a llong one!) We estimate 12 days to St Helena. I will update the website from out at sea which will also plot our positions. It is a day late by the time it bounces to the satellite and to GMN USA then to the website. I will put up some random photos ahead of time so the text will be broken up a bit!
We had a lovely farewell dinner with Franck and Meng on Constante. Thanks guys - we really appreciate your friendship!
Keep those emails coming in everyone - it's going to be a long trip.
THIS IS AFRICA!
15/02/2009, Simons Town South Africa
The above image is a grib file from passage weather which shows good weather for our departure on Tuesday 17th. The colours are in knots of wind and the lines are wind direction.We have a few more jobs to do such as filling up with fuel and water etc. A fellow yachtie has sold us an AIS (Automatic Identification System) receiver which Bill is busy installing. It means we will be able to identify ships and know how far and in which direction they are heading. This will assist in alleviating some uncertainity when ships are near us. We look forward to a good run to St Helena in favourable south easterly winds. We will send position updates along the way to the website. Two sleeps to go!
On Friday 13th February we went into Cape Town by train to go and have a skin cancer check and clear out of immigration and customs etc. An unlucky/lucky day!
Our Appointment with the dermatologist was for 10.15 in Claremont a suburb of Cape Town. We rushed to catch the 9am train and didn't have time for breakfast. I was going to take off my gold chain with charms but in the rush didn't have time. It's a half an hour hike to he train station and we missed the train by 2 minutes! The next one left in half an hour. Despite being annoyed at having to wait we enjoyed the train trip as it is quite spectacular the track literally follows the beach and rocky headlands by 1-2 metres. We were told by the Doctors receptionist to get off at Claremont and catch a cab from there. We got to Claremont at just after 10.15. When we got out of the station where the mini buses (called taxis here) and cabs are normally parked it was empty and deserted. A helpful lady at a fruit stall said the all the taxis and most cab drivers were on strike. 'This is Africa'! We were stranded in this not so pretty part of Cape Town with only $5 credit on my phone. I phoned the doctors and said we cant get transport and wouldn't make the appointment. She gave me a number to ring and said as long as we turned up by 12.00 it would be ok. 'This is Africa'! As we were lost - looking white tourists many people wanted to help. The fruit seller told me to hide my phone
as it was dangerous here. ('This is Africa!") The station manager tried to help but couldn't get a cab for us. I phoned the number I was given and yes a private cab could come for us but it would cost 140 Rand. (A lot for South Africa - about $23 for us) The cab company told us not to wait near the train station because of the strike. He said he didn't want his driver to have bricks thrown at him!('This is Africa!' ) We were told to wait up at the main road. A nice Muslim lady walked with us. It was after 11am by this time and as we were starving while we were waiting for the cab we bought 2 packets of chips! The little shop had a big sign on the footpath outside saying it sold Vodacom airtime. The fellow was talking on his cell phone, glanced at me so I asked for airtime. He shook his head and continued his conversation.( 'This is Africa'!)
Not long after a shiny black 7 seater turned up with a fancy logo on the side. He managed to drive us to the Dermatologist's with the help of Bill reading the map as it was in a small leafy suburban culdesac. After finding it we asked him for his number to come back and get us!! At the dermatologists we had to walk thorough a carport then down the side of a house to a small office and waiting room full of people. ('This is Africa!') We wailted for about an hour when Dr Dagmar Whitaker quietly ushered us in. She knew what
she was looking for and was very thorough. I was pronounced clear but warned to wear sunscreen on my face (which I always do) as well as my throat etc. She found several several solar keratosis on Bill which she then proceeded to treat with liquid nitrogen. Poor thing - on his face including nose, hands and arms. He said it hurt and today he has blisters which will then turn into scabs... Long sleeved shirts and big hats form now on!
We finally got into town about 12.30 and met Natalie and Rob(yacht Wilhelm) for lunch. After lunch Natalie and I went to the pharmacy to get the special sunscreen for Bill the dermatologist recommended. It was closed for another 20 minutes as the staff were at the Mosque praying.( 'This is Africa!") Around 2pm we all caught another private cab to immigration and did the necessary paperwork and our passports stamped to clear out of the country. It's a dull dreary old building with poor lighting and no signs anywhere to tell you where to go.('This is Africa!') (The yacht club prints instructions for yachties!!) We noticed a chart place down the road so went there to get some charts to back up our electronic ones. Most were out of stock! Rob asked about a pilot book he had ordered but was told they cancelled the order because it was too hard to get..('This is Africa!')
The next place we had to get to was Customs. Following the directions on our yacht club handout we told the cab driver where to drop us off. He said here it is "SARS building - South African Revenue... It looked right. We went in at 3.45pm worried it closed at 4pm. It was the wrong building.( 'This is Africa!') Running 2 blocks further we found the right one. A bored looking fellow in a cuble looked at our paperwork as if we had handed him rubbish. It took a while to explain we were on a yacht ('ship') and he really didnt
seem interested in doing the work. (It was Friday afternoon) He was even more unhappy when I handed him the VAT receipts for a refund. He tried to tell us to go to the waterfront but we had been informed by the yacht club that we are to be treated as a ship with ships stores not a regular tourist. He was most unhappy but stapled it altogether. It will be a miracle if we get our refund..( 'This is Africa')...
My next job was to buy $US cash. Natalie came with me whilst we tramped all over the city but all the banks were closed or demolished or didn't sell $US.( 'This is Africa'). It was now just after 4pm. I found an exchange bureau - a small fully glassed office on a street corner. Yes they could help me. The joking young man (it seemed party time in that little office as the 3 employees laughed and joked amongst themselves loudly in their language)- ('This is Africa') He told me how much the $US dollars would cost and I thought the exchange rate was ok but not brilliant. The transaction took some time as it was still party time in there. I was uncomfotable with the figures being shouted out on top of the joking for all and sundry to hear. He made a great show of flashing the $US around and slid it under thecounter. I signed after Natalie and I counted it. She stood behind me with her big hat so the people in the street couldn't see! When I checked
the docket I noticed a hefty commission . I asked about this and he said because it was after 3pm I was charged 3% instead of the usual 2%. I asked him why I wasn't told about this. All he said was 'I'm sorry'. Feeling 'done' I hid the money in my bag and left. ('This is Africa'.)
After having a 'goodbye coffee' with Natalie and Rob, Bill and I walked towards the train station. It was around 5pm and it was still broad daylight with people everywhere in the street. I was walking slightly behind Bill as he had the $US in the bottom of his knapsack and I wanted to keep an eye on it. Two teenage boys approached us with their hands outstretched begging. I turned to talk to one of them saying I didnt have any spare coins. Next thing his face came closer and he lunged forward and yanked at my gold chain with gold charms around my neck. I screamed and he ran off at full speed. People in the street were yelling 'Catch him Catch him!' We saw a
couple of guys running after them. Bill thought he'd grabbed my handbag with my passport in it. Then he looked at my neck. He said the elephant is still there (he gave me that). Lucky the chain didn't break but the other 3 gold charms had gone. I was in shock and was visibly upset. We walked quickly in the direction of where the thieves and people running went. Around the block we saw the boy being
held by the scruff of his neck by a man. I couldn't believe he caught him! The boy kept saying 'Im sorry..I'm sorry' The man had 2 of my gold charms in his hand. He said "is this all?" I said there was one more but it was small. We couldn't find it anywhere.... The two men who caught the boy were wearing shirts with a security logo and happened to be around. I thanked them profusely and asked them not to punish the boy too much. I took off my gold chain and gold earrings and put them in my purse. We walked to the train station to catch the last train to Simons Town. Several people in the street recognised us and asked if we were ok and
warned us to be careful. I knew I shouldn't have been wearing gold jewellry in town and I usually didn't. I either hid it under clothes or
wore cheap beads. We were also more complacent in Cape Town than we were in Durban. I was lucky to get most of it back. 'This is Africa!' (We felt fortunate we still had our passports and money)
What a Friday13th!Lucky and unlucky!! Bill said a lot of locals say TIA
instead of 'This is Africa'. I see it as an acceptance of whatever happens as one cant expect all countries to do things the same way.
Last night we were invited to a party at the yacht club for Valentines Day. A local couple were married that morning and wanted everyone in the yacht club to come and celebrate with them. It was a great night with live music and delicious food. Congratulations Ingrid and Alistair! We shared a table with two 25 year old Norwegian men Lars and Martin who have their last leg to go to complete their circumnavigation in their red 30ft yacht. It's good to see young people cruising the world also.
We leave South Africa with many fond and colourful memories of the people we met who have been so generous and kind. We loved seeing the animals in the wild and the stunning landscapes. Thank you South Africa!
Count down to departure from South Africa
Godfrey assisting us load our groceries on to Valiam in 40 knot winds!
False Bay Yacht Club
12 February 2009
The biggest grocery shop ever took up all of yesterday! After loading up Rikki's minivan at the shopping mall, Godfrey was waiting at the Yacht club with the runabout to load it up on to the boat via the water - impossible to carry it all walking on all the ramps to our pontoon. It took us in to the night to pack it all away!
In preparation for our trip Linda cleaned out the galley and all the food storage lockers finding all sorts of 'interesting' jars, bottles and packets with unidentifiable growths and live matter in them. We found a few items were past their use by date so there were several trips to the rubbish bin! We are all loaded up now with food that should last a few months!
The weather looks good for a Tuesday departure so we are clearing customs and immigration in Cape Town tomorrow. It will be sad to say good bye to the friends we've made here but some yachts I am sure we will see again on our travels.
Sailing the South Atlantic
Valiam sailing into the sunset
Lunch at False Bay Yacht Club
11/02/2009, Simons Town South Africa
Having a grey beard must be a prerequisite for a yacht captain!
Here's some of the yacht crews from USA (Wilhelm, West Wind), France(Julie) and Australia (Valiam)
Fires in Oz
09/02/2009, Valiam is still in Simons Town South Africa
9th February 2009
The news of devastating fires in Victoria and Australia reached us yesterday. Bill phoned his mother as several members of his family live in country Victoria. All is well with them but one fire did come very close to his brother's house. The temperatures have been a record at days of over 40 degrees up to 47. Gale force winds made fires even more devastating with over 100 people dead, many more injured and homeless. Several small towns have been wiped out. The news reached the South African newspapers this morning. To all those Australians reading our website who have families affected by these fires our thoughts are with you.
More devastation has occurred in north Queensland where huge floods have cut off towns including Townsville where our daughter lives. Our thoughts are with those in QLD also affected by the floods. It was reported recently that 60% of the state was flooded. We hope that things will return to normal as soon as possible.
So here we are in Simons Town at the bottom of Africa hearing all this sad news from home. Many South Africans live in Australia now so some families here are also affected.
Our plans for departure continue with the sail maker arriving today with repaired mainsail and jib as well as a new mainsail cover. A few more little jobs to do and then the big provisioning excursion and we will be ready to go.
South African friends Hazel and Richard kindly invited us for lunch to meet friends John and Di who have sailed the Brazilian coast and the Caribbean extensively recently. It was fantastic to gather up to date information and share sailing experiences. It was extremely generous and kind of Hazel and Richard to invite their friends to talk to us. A big thank you to you and also John and Di. The information you gave us will be extremely valuable when we cross the Atlantic. We will remember the beautiful delicious lunch in your gorgeous garden for a long time.
At yesterday's lunch we also met Paul and his friend who have just moved to Mauritius to start a business. It was great to talk about our fond memories of Mauritius and in particular my art experience with sculptor Lewis Dick. So Lewis- if you are reading this you may have a couple of visitors!
Another little activity that has been keeping me busy is tie-dyeing! Our white bed sheets were no longer white so now they are lovely colours including bright pink with hippy sunbursts on them!! A big improvement I think.
See photos in photo gallery Knysna to Simons Town
This time next week we will be out at sea!
Last week in South Africa
07/02/2009, Simons Town
Bill busy researching in our cockpit. (Linda will be at the computer inside!)
We said 'Au revoir' to friends James and Pam (Rainbow Chaser) the night before they left for the Atlantic. Crew from Valiam, Constante, Westwind and Julie said bon voyage in yacht club style! (see photos)
PS I thought I would put a bit of history on the website ie. Valiam being constructed but the photos have ended up on the main page.....You can see how we have all changed! (Valiam and crew!!)
Train trip to Cape Town
07/02/2009, South Africa
Ginger, Natalie, Linda, Bill, Pete and Rob -yachts Wilhelm, Marcy and Valiam out for lunch
7 February 2009
False Bay Yacht Club
This past week has involved 2 trips to Cape Town by train to mainly apply for and pick up our Brazilian visas. The train takes about an hour past several beach towns and mountains. It's quite interesting watching the local people board and disembark the train also. Lucky we get on the first stop and get off on the last so there is no mistakes! We caught up with 2 other yachtie couples at an Indian restaurant. I must admit after 3 weeks living in the tiny town of Simons Town we feel like country bumpkins visiting the big smoke!
We have also been busy researching and collecting information on Brazil and the Caribbean. The sail repairs should be ready by Friday 13th so we will leave soon after that for the Atlantic! A big provisioning shopping trip is planned as we have been warned everything will be expensive once we leave South Africa.
Last 2 weeks in Simons Town
01/02/2009, South Africa
Hazel and Richard on board Valiam
(more photos under Knysna to simons Town) photo gallery
1st February 2009
The African penguins are lovely to look at and amusing to watch when they walk down to the water for a dip. We visited the colony again yesterday surprised no babies had hatched yet. They seem to sit on the eggs for a long time! Whilst watching the scenery on the way back we spotted a seal frolicking in the water near the penguins. Next thing he jumped up threw something that looked suspiciously like a penguin in the air and ate it! Oh dear... Not nice to watch but I guess we aren't vegetarian either. We hadn't seen 'Nigel' our loner penguin near the boat for a couple of days either. When I saw Gorgeous the big fat resident seal sleeping near our pontoon I wondered.... But no Nigel reappeared today! He is still sitting amongst the squabbling sea birds again today.
This morning we were treated to breakfast by Richard and Hazel whom we met in a restaurant in Rodrigues! Richard and Hazel have lived in Cape Town for many years and run a painting/decorating business. They are quite adventurous and have traveled in their Land Rover camping along the way in many African countries. We had a very enjoyable morning sharing our adventures both at a restaurant nearby and on board Valiam. They also have friends who have recently sailed the Caribbean. There may be an opportunity to meet with them to share information before we go there. Thanks Hazel and Richard - look forward to seeing you again and do stay in touch!!
Tomorrow we go to Cape Town by train to begin our list of errands including applying for a Brazilian visa. We shall catch up with Natalie and Rob (Wilhelm) who are berthed in town. The count down is now on until our departure..... Our sails are being repaired and a new sail cover made and should be ready before we leave...
Penguins at Boulder Beach
01/02/2009, Simons Town South Africa
Hard to believe he could be a seal's dinner!
'Gorgeous' the seal, Simons Town
29/01/2009, South Africa
This is apparently 'Gorgeous'. He is a big seal that hangs around the marina. He is much bigger than he looks in the photo. I dont think he's that gorgeous as he has bitten at least 4 people lately! There's a photo in the gallery (Knysna to Simons Town) that has Bill standing some distance away from him.
Valiam welcomes visitors to Simons Town
27/01/2009, South Africa
Herman, Willy, Linda and Bill - lunch at Hout Bay
more photos in album 'Knysna to Simons Town' photo gallery
27th January 2009
False Bay Yacht Club
It's always nice to welcome visitors to our boat and today my father's friend Herman and his wife Willy came to visit. Herman used to sail extensively but is now retired so he has been following our journey. As a treat Herman took us to lunch at a delightful fish restaurant in Hout Bay. With the stunning backdrop of the mountains and boats we enjoyed a delicious lunch of fresh fish accompanied by good South African wine. It is always good to chat to locals to get their impressions and thoughts about life in South Africa. Herman immigrated to what was formerly known as Rhodesia from the Netherlands after the war. He was born and brought up in Indonesia so wasn't keen on the Dutch cold climate! Herman worked for a bank and was transferred around the place including Namibia and South Africa. Their children, grandchildren and great children are all here in South Africa and Cape Town has been Herman and Willy's home since the 70s. Although conscious of the political and social changes Herman feels confident that South Africa has a positive future.
From what I have observed I also feel South Africa is a wonderfully diverse country culturally and landscape-wise. The infrastructure seems sound particularly in regards to roads, services etc. Crime is a problem and with the huge number of poor people in this country as in many other countries around the world it will continue to be a problem unless there are some drastic changes which seem to be extremely difficult to implement. We have been impressed with the attitude of many young people we have met who are enthusiastic about this beautiful country's future.
We celebrated Australia Day by hanging Australian flags all over the boat. We received lots of nice messages by email and sms from other yachties around the country. We are the only Aussie yachties in Simons Town and we were pleased that our French friend Franck came to dinner. He even ate a vegemite sandwich for the first time declaring it delicious!
Every day we have observed one lonely penguin in amongst all the sea birds. He sits there dejectedly a little distance away from the other squabbling birds. We have nicknamed him 'Nigel' as that is a name in Oz for someone with no friends!
False Bay Yacht Club Marina
26/01/2009, Simons Town
Herman and Willy on board Valiam
Australia Day in Simons Town
25/01/2009, South Africa
Well at least Valiam looked the part!
Een Boom Game Farm - Linda's sketch
24/01/2009, 64 km from Montagu, Western Cape South Africa
One of Linda's sketches - complete with emus and gum trees!!Is it really Africa?!!
Rock Climbing, Wine tasting and Art
24/01/2009, Montagu , Small Kloof Western Cape South Africa
Bill rock climbing near Montagu
24th January 2009
False Bay Yacht Club
On Tuesday the wind was blowing a gale gusting over 50 knots! The noise blowing in the rigging of over 200 yachts was almost ear splitting! Captain Bill secured Valiam ensuring the ropes wouldn't chafe whilst we were gone on our planned 'country jaunt'. It was blowing so hard the sea seemed to be whipped up in a frenzy! As soon as we drove inland we left the wind and noise behind.
South Africa is such a vast magnificent country. The landscape is reminiscent of Australia but everything seems larger and brighter. We spent the last 4 days touring through some of the Western Cape region to meet our friends Charmain and Mike in Montagu. The idea of our "long weekend" was to enjoy rock climbing, walking, taste wine in the local wineries, sketching and browse through local galleries and craft shops.
The climbers were satisfied with their climbing in various climbing locations and we were all more than satisfied with the various wines we tasted! The first 2 nights we stayed in a unit in Montagu itself. Everything in the unit (and the town) was very quaint, historic and countrified with lavender, flowers and fruit everywhere. Charmain said there were even frangipanis floating in the toilet bowl! The 3rd night was unplanned but we were having such a nice relaxed time we didn't want it to end. This time we booked into a cottage on a farm 60km out of town. The views of the mountains and countryside didn't disappoint. The Karoo is quite dry and almost desert like. It was quite amusing to see eucalypts everywhere flourishing into huge trees. In fact the farm was called 'Een Boom' meaning 'One Tree'. The one or two trees on the property next to the main house were gum trees. Checking in we noticed some birds which the others said were baby ostriches. "They look like emus!" I said. I was laughed at but later I had the last laugh as the owner said they were indeed emus! He was planning to farm emus for emu oil. (For therapeutic use etc) It was quite funny for us Aussies to stay on an African farm with gum trees and emus. There were native African animals and birds too - ostriches, bucks, tiny tortoises etc.
We enjoyed our stay in the cottage very much. It was beautiful and quiet soaking up the sounds of nature. It was also very cold in the evening and early morning requiring long sleeves and socks. (Even in January!)
I have taken lots of photos and have done a few sketches so do look in the photo gallery (under 'Montagu - rock climbing)
Bill and Mike managed quite a few difficult climbs and were pleased with their efforts. Hiking around to the various rock climbing venues we were treated to so much beautiful scenery. It was a treat to be there.
Montagu and the surrounding towns have cafes which are so relaxing to be in, usually with a garden and interesting craft and produce for sale. The wine farms in South Africa are many and cover a huge area. Some have been producing wine for over 300 years! The architecture of these older wine farms are in the Dutch Cape style with curved fascias. We sampled the wine in two wine farms and purchased enough boxes of wine (about 8!) to get us through the next few months of cruising. Carrying all these precious boxes to our boat was an effort however. Valiam is of course on the last pontoon. Each pontoon is connected by a narrow ramp. Unfortunately the yacht club trolley wheels didn't fit on the ramps without the outer wheels balanced precariously on the edge. Not wanting to lose our precious cargo we had to carry the boxes 1 or 2 at a time about 100m across all the ramps to our pontoon. They are still stacked up waiting to be packed away.
After such a wonderful "weekend" (Tues-Fri) we had to say 'au revoir' to our friends. Mike and Charmain will be sailing Vire Nord down from Richards Bay. We hope they have good winds so we can see them again before we leave South Africa.
This morning we drove our hire car to Cape Point and Cape of Good Hope before we had to give it back at 1pm. The weather has calmed right down and we could see right across False Bay. We could see French yachties Neurone heading off for St Helena. Soon it will be us.....
PS When we got back the wind instrument read the strongest gust whilst we were away from Simons Town was 69 knots! Bill must have tied good knots on the ropes holding Valiam!
Look at our grandkids!
23/01/2009, wearing Cheetah t-shirts
I bought these shirts and a dvd for Caylan and Joe at Tanikwa Wildlife Centre where we saw the cheetahs. Our own little wildlife warriors! (Caylan loves Bindi Irwin)
Wine Tasting near Ashton
23/01/2009, Western Cape South Africa
Mike Charmain Linda and Bill with wine farm assistant at Bon Courage wine farm
Quick visit to Cape Town
19/01/2009, South Africa
20th January 2009
The train station in Simons Town is right next to the beach with sand blowing on to the train tracks! The trip to Cape Town by train was very scenic as it went along the beach for several stations within metres of the sea! We arrived in the busy city of Cape Town just before 12 noon and made our way to Immigration by foot. Immigration is in an old grey building that has seen better times. There are no signs outside to tell you where it is but we found it on the 5th floor after written directions from the yacht club and the verbal directions of a passerby. The process of filling in about 6 forms (including the recording of stowaways and deceased passengers) didn't take very long. It was difficult to see in the dark corridor as none of the lights worked! We were impressed that we got the paperwork done even though at least 6 people left the office obviously on their lunch break. No fees either. (Not like the Philippines!!)
As the area towards the waterfront didn't look that nice for walking we took a cab. Again we were confronted with a mass of touristy shops and restaurants all obviously very new and upmarket as part of Cape Town waterfront development. We enjoyed a nice lunch overlooking the busy harbour and noise. We are glad we are staying in Simons Town! After lunch we took another cab to pick up a hire car. Bill drove the hire car (VW Golf) to a suburb called Claremont where it was recommended to buy climbing boots for Bill. We surprisingly found the place without a proper map and made a dent in the credit card buying climbing boots, harness and a waterproof knapsack.
Today we join our friends Charmain and Mike for a mountaineering/wine and brai couple of days in Montagu. We are renting a cottage for 2 nights which should be fun. In the meantime we've had gale force winds in Simons Town (gusts of 45+ knots). The howling in the rigging reminds me of our trip across the Indian Ocean!
17/01/2009, Boulder beach Simons Town
We loved watching these cute birds! (more pics of penguins in photo gallery)
We visited the colony again the next day with friends Natalie and Rob. Another beautiful day!
Arrived in beautiful Simon's Town
16/01/2009, South Africa
17th January 2009
False Bay Yacht Club
Position: 34 11.3S 18 26.0E
The view from our boat as I write this is very picturesque. The harbour is surrounded by rocky mountains. The birds are everywhere - even a lone penguin sitting amongst the others make this place feel like nature's haven. There is supposed to be a seal that is sometimes nasty biting people when he hops up on the pontoon. We haven't seen him yet. We saw many seals on our passage from Knysna that didn't look nasty at all. In fact they appeared to grin and wave their flipper at us as we sailed past. (Valiam was too fast to get photos of them)
We arrived in Simons Town last night at 6pm after a 35 hour passage from Knysna. (240 miles) We had a good trip with the wind not getting too strong until just into False Bay. Then as we were warned it blew 30 knots. Our friend Franck whom we met in Port Elizabeth was there to catch the lines and had arranged a berth for us. A big thank you to Franck! Franck is on Constante and sailed from Singapore with his wife Meng and two little daughters. Meng and the children are currently in Singapore visiting family whilst Franck goes on the hard next week to antifoul. We met several other yachties we'd met previously including a French couple in Reunion, a Dutch couple (yacht Sepia) in Knysna, and several others. It will be quite social here I think!
We will stay here a few weeks preparing for the Atlantic. There is a train to Cape Town which we will use to fulfill paperwork and other errands. We also have friends who want to show us around. We are meeting up with Charmain and Mike next week so the boys can go rock climbing. I will bring my sketchbook to try and capture some of the beauty of this area of South Africa.
One thing we are keen to do soon is visit the penguin colony not far from here.
Cape Agulhas - the most southern tip of Africa!
16 January 2009
At 6am this morning we were directly off Cape Agulhas the southern most point of Africa. (Not Cape of Good Hope as some believe) Our position was 34 55.09 South 19 58.82East. It was cool and overcast. We took a few photos and celebrated with a bar of chocolate deciding it was a bit early for champagne. (Keep that for Simonstown)
It feels strange to be down here and wonderful at the same time. We are now officially in the South Atlantic Ocean! Seeing some splashes close to land in the distance I was hoping they were penguins but no they were whales! We could see the water spurts making a misty cloud for a few moments. There are lots of sea birds either bomb diving into the water to catch fish or just sitting in groups having a meeting. The wind is light (less than 10 knots) so we are motor sailing to maintain our speed of 6.5 to 7 knots to get to Simonstown tonight.
We left Knysna 6am on the 15th January and got through the heads without any dramas. Thoses rocks are still too close for my liking!
Our South African phone works here so I sent and received lots of sms messages to/from friends and family in Australia:
My message: Just rounding cape Agulhas now! Nearly 35 degrees south - southern most point of Africa. Goodbye Indian Ocean! Bit too early 4 champers. Grey overcast & cold. L & B
Yolanda: Woohoo! Yes a bit early 4 bubbles. Well done crew xxx y
Liam: Are you near Jeffrey's Bay? Can u see the waves? I'm having lunch at the bowls club with work
Paul: Woo hoo - go Valiam :-)
Su and Steve: Fantastic VERY EXCITING! Take care we will have a drink 4 u tonight. Su Steve
Ruth: Gday Aussi wanderers safe passage happy 2009 will be in touch. Mac sorting out computer u may hear from me yet. luv Ruth Phil
Its so nice to stay in touch with family and friends getting immediate
replies to share the experience!
Thank you all for your never ending support
love from Linda and Bill
PS Decided to have one glass of champagne at lunchtime to celebrate!
(see photo gallery)
Mossel Bay by car
14/01/2009, South Africa
Charmain and Bill - view from game park restaurant including giraffes in distance
Mossel Bay by car (see photos in photo gallery)
14th January 2009
Our friend Charmain (whom we met with hubbie Mike on Virenord) invited us to stay at her place in Dana Bay just outside Mossel Bay. It was nice to be off the boat for a couple of days exploring the region with a 'local'. Dana Bay is a beautiful beachside area with well kept homes and most have a view of the ocean. Charmain and Mike are currently living in a flat underneath Charmain's parents' house. South African hospitality was shown to us once again in abundance by Charmain, Gaart and Anneke. We enjoyed staying in a beautiful home with ocean views, delicious meals including a traditional 'brai',wonderful hot showers and the use of a washing machine! Charmain was our tour guide for 2 days showing us the local area. Most people in this region speak Afrikaans and even the road signs and shop names are in Afrikaans. Even though I understand and can speak a little Dutch I find it hard to understand. Comparing pronunciations of Dutch/Afrikaans words with Anneke and Gaart was fun. Most shopkeepers think we are Afrikaans and apologise when we reply in English!
We drove inland where it was very dry to a local game park. As the game drive was too expensive we enjoyed a leisurely lunch in their 5 star restaurant instead. Two giraffes entertained us the whole time in the distance of this magnificent view. It is a beautiful place but unfortunately we experienced a few culinary upsets! (We should have known as the restaurant was empty but we were so taken by the view) Towards the end of Charmain's meal she discovered a wriggling black grub or worm on her plate under some lettuce. Her face changed colour and she informed the manager. She kept thinking she may have eaten more without realizing it! After leaving the game lodge we drove to the Museum in town. (Unfortunately a short time afterwards Linda became ill! It was definitely a case of food poisoning! ) Bill enjoyed the Museum as there was a replica of Bartolemeu Dias' boat (Caravel) that he was able to climb on board. This replica actually repeated Dias' voyage from Portugal in 1988. The original voyage was in 1487. They completed the voyage in much less time. The copies of maps and illustrations were very interesting. The old charts had strange shapes for some of the countries and Australia didn't 'exist'.
Whilst in Mossel Bay we noticed our French friends Archibald, Maloya and Malamock tied up to a fishing boat in the harbour. We were so pleased to have come in to Knysna. These calm waters are such a treat for us in South Africa. We hope to see our French friends in Simonstown. Most of the cruisers seem to be going there.
We plan to meet up with Charmain and Mike next week (he'll be back from the mine) for a day or two at a mountaineering place so Bill and Mike can go rockclimbing.
Driving back to Knysna we took the scenic route to Oudtshoorn through the mountains. The change in temperature and geography in such a short time was amazing. The mountains were quite barren covered in mostly rock. Oudtshoorn was so hot! On the road in we saw ostriches with their beaks open and wings drooping. It was 39degrees! Linda had to buy some ostrich feathers (some dyed). I think Captain Bill is going to limit the souveniers on board Valiam soon!
The wind had picked up from the south west when we drove the dinghy back to Valiam so it was wet and choppy. Unfortunately Linda still didn't feel well and was soon in bed. Today things are looking brighter and we are starting to plan the next stage of our voyage. We copied 2 of Charmain's cruising books on Brazil mostly looking at the northern part where we will most likely land after St Helena. We will be busy in Cape Town provisioning and getting visas. We will leave Knysna in the next day or so when the weather is suitable and when the tide is almost high going out through the heads.
South African hospitality
13/01/2009, Dana Bay
Thankyou to Charmain Gaart and Anneke for a wonderful stay! (Sorry if I spelt your names incorrectly!)
Exploring around Knysna
10/01/2009, Garden route, South Africa
Linda patting a cheetah cub Tenikwa Wildlife Centre
Exploring around Knysna
10th January 2009
Its fun being tourists especially when surrounded by stunning scenery and gorgeous animals! Yesterday we drove to Storms River Mouth via Tsitsikamma National Park. It was interesting to see the same mountains from the land as we saw from the sea. When we got to Storms River Mouth there was an arduous walk via 1000s of steps created around the rocks and on the forest edge to a suspension bridge across the gorge. This was the reward - what fun to bounce across it! There were buildings such as a cafĂ©, change rooms and showers built right on top of the rocks which wouldn't happen in Australia in such a natural environment. We really enjoyed the scenery (see photo gallery)
Today we played with the animals! After seeing African animals in the wild I felt a bit guilty being able to get so close to them in captivity . However the animals we saw today are endangered and are being either being rehabilitated or part of breeding programs. These animals are kept in 5 star accommodation and appeared very happy and most have known no other life other than being raised by humans. The cheetah is still endangered. Although the breeding programs have been quite successful, some weak characteristics have emerged due to inbreeding. The largest number of cheetah at the moment in the wild, are in Namibia. Attempts have been made to introduce some of these to other game parks in Africa. Today we had the opportunity to pat cheetah cubs. Their fur although it looks soft is actually a bit wiry. They purr really loudly too! ! One playfully bit Bill on the knee! (see photo gallery) We observed other wild cats at this Wildlife Awareness Centre - Tenikwa. (www.tenikwa.co.za)
Down the road there was an Elephant Sanctuary so Linda just had to go. It seemed strange once again to see a mere 6 elephants cared for in 5 star accommodation when we have seen so many in herds and groups in the wild. We got the opportunity to touch them, walk with them holding their trunk and feed them. "My" elephant Tamela originally came form Kruger Park because she was naughty pushing down fences to eat the farmers' crops. One of the guides here said there are 17,000 elephants at Kruger and although it is a huge park it is still too many elephants for the area. We were also given little mini lectures at both these animal sanctuaries. Did you know an elephant gives birth in 30 seconds?
Anchored in Knysna
07/01/2009, South Africa
34 02.67S:23 02.36E
7th January 2009
We arrived in Knysna (pronounced 'nice-na') at 11.40 am on 7th Jan. It was an interesting entrance into the small harbour avoiding rocks etc as a catarmaran came out at the same time. A tight squeeze!! Even after several phone calls to Knysna Quays over the past week assuring us of a space we had to anchor. So we had to get the dinghy out! It seems it is crowded in every harbour in South Africa at this time of the year!! We may get a berth or tie up to the wall later. Oh yes there was a very helpful local showing us where to anchor in between sandbanks and of course reverse decided not to work at the crucial moment!!! Anyway it's working again and we are safely anchored and enjoyed a well earned cool drink - bubbles for me and beer for Bill.
We made our way to the yacht club to avail ourselves of their facilities - showers, restaurant etc. We were warmly welcomed by Roger with the first drink 'on the house'.
The waterfront is so like the Wharf at Mooloolaba or Noosaville it doesn't feel like Africa. Everything is expensive touristy and mostly white people on holidays. We were quite tired after a couple of hours so brought back a takeaway pizza for dinner. It's strange to be anchored again after so long. (The last time was in Rodrigues)
Its great that 3G works here to do internet from our anchorage.
For the yachties: c map is accurate. Just keep close to the western side rocks at the entrance. We came in 2 hours before high tide with no problem. Just phone NSRI 044 3840211 before you leave Port Elizabeth and just outside the entrance to assess conditions. When we came in it was blowing 20 knots from the east and no swell. There was 2 knots of current at the most when we came in.
Also we saw 2 seals a few miles from Knysna. Their cheeky little heads popped out of the water with their whiskers twitching and their bodies glistening as they then rolled over and swam into the waves. It was very cold this morning - beanies, jackets etc.
In South African lingo it looks a bit 'larny' from here. (like Noosa Heads). The Lonely planet says there is a 'gay friendly vibe' and 'a large Rastafarian community'! We'll let you know if it's true!!! At present we can only see well fed sunburnt shirtless whitefellas racing around in expensive runabouts!( as well as 2 kids being towed at high speed in an inflatable lounge suite) Apart from that the anchorage is peaceful however.
We look forward to exploring the area beyond the waterfront.
Sunset on the way to Knysna
06/01/2009, South Africa
We had a lovely passage to Knysna as this picture shows
Wet and windy Port Elizabeth
02/01/2009, South Africa
photo: Valiam's turquoise hull stands out!
Algoa Bay Yacht Club
3rd January 2009
A wet windy southwesterly came in this morning. We are now tied up to a marina berth (see photo gallery) but one of our new mooring lines chafed on the cleat. So at 5am in the rain we readjusted the lines. The captain says we are not leaving the boat today to keep an eye on things. It's certainly windy down this end of South Africa. We'll sit tight until there is a nice weather window to move on.
Yesterday we explored the local area by foot and taxi. The Spa supermarket nearby has everything we need including big thick cuts of steak which the captain was eyeing off. There is a large tourist development called 'The Boardwalk'. Its open air shopping mall around a man made lagoon and casino. The shops are very up market catering for local as well as foreign tourists. The beach was very windy but the locals were enjoying it nonetheless. We felt quite safe here - everyone is in a happy holiday mood. The kite surfers were having a good time! There are a few restaurants and bars along the beachfront so we enjoyed a glass of wine upstairs whilst 'people watching'. A nice way to spend the afternoon even if we were a bit wind blown.
There aren't many foreign cruisers here. Near us are Franck and Meng on Constante from Singapore. They have 2 gorgeous little girls Carmen and Julie. We spent a nice couple of hours on their boat chatting. Meng is a musician - a double bass player but cant have her instrument on the boat! She is very busy looking after the 2 active little girls. Franck is French and has done some considerable sailing and is currently following his parents' path when they sailed around the world. Franck is also waiting for a break in the weather to head closer to Cape Town.