Around the world

Off the beaten track & other interesting places

Vessel Name: Schooner Windjammer
Vessel Make/Model: Pete Culler - Integrity Schooner
Hailing Port: Airlie Beach, Queensland, Australia
Crew: Ashley & Cathie Kerr
About: We set off in December 2010 to continue our cruising adventures around the world after 25 years owning and operating a yacht charter company in the Whitsunday Islands - Australia
Extra:
Our voyage to date has taken across the Pacific to New Zealand, French Polynesia, the Hawaiian Islands and on to the San Juan Islands where we spent the winter of 2011/2012. We then headed north through British Columbia to South East Alaska and down the west coast of the US to Mexico and central [...]
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25 September 2021

Maldives to Thailand

By the time we arrived in the southern Maldivian atoll of Addu we still had not decided whether we were going to stay in the Maldives or continue on to Thailand. Covid rules were in a constant flux around the world and South East Asia was no different. Our main focus was to get a flight to Australia [...]

21 July 2021

Seychelles- Chagos - Maldives

After another pleasant stay in the Seychelles, our visa was up and it was time to move on again. The Seychelles Health Department had been very generous in afforded us two doses of Astra Zeneca each at no cost. That had been one of our primary purposes for revisiting the Seychelles. We hoped this would [...]

21 March 2021

Zanzibar to Seychelles

The prospect of sitting around for months on end waiting for the Covid to dissipate had little appeal for us, so what to do.....Flights to South Africa were still operating and their borders were open so hey why not go and visit brother Mark and help out in the Restaurant. So off we went.

15 December 2020

Off to Mafia island in search of the whale sharks with Maggie and Anna.

Our daughter Maggie had been locked down in England for 5 months after her job as mate was suddenly brought to an end by " Covid". She and Anna, the skipper, were running a science expedition yacht collecting plastic samples around the oceans of the world in association with Plymouth University, but [...]

29 November 2020

Tanga meaning "Sail": the old colonial centre of German East Africa

From Zanzibar we sailed to Pemba and then onto to the town of Tanga in the north of Tanzania. Tanga is reputed to be one of the best anchorages on the East African coast, so a place we could safely leave Windjammer and do some inland exploring

30 September 2020

The Exotic Island of Zanzibar

Zanzibar had always been on our bucket list of places to visit and now here we were, anchored off the ancient trading port of Stone Town. It's such an exotic town dating back to the earliest Arab, Persian and Indian traders during the 9th century. The main trade was spices, ivory and slaves....lots of [...]

15 September 2020

DAR ES SALAAM AND A ROAD TRIP TO THE SERENGETI

After leaving Koma Island we headed straight for Dar Es Salaam looking for a bit of city social life and good restaurants. We anchored off the Dar es Salaam yacht club in Msasani about 15kms north of the city. The area houses all the embassies and a lot of NGO's, so the shopping and restaurant scene [...]

20 August 2020

Koma Island - Tanzania - An opportunity to return some goodwill

Before we left the Seychelles our friends Yves and Barbara from "S/Y Medio Vas" had recommended we visit Koma Island and look up Mohammad. We had only intended to stay overnight and then sail on to Dar Es Salaam the next day after a quick look at the village. As we beached our dinghy we were approached [...]

13 August 2020

Seychelles to Tanzania

26th July 2020 - Goodbye to the Seychelles

01 May 2020

THE LAST OCEAN - LOCKED DOWN IN THE INDIAN OCEAN

It's taken us almost ten years and 75,000miles to get here and for the first time ever we are at a loss as to where to next. Decisions are no longer ours for the making with every country's borders now closed down due to the Corona virus. Due more to fortunate timing rather than any forward planning [...]

20 March 2020

SEYCHELLES ARCHIPELAGOS

After our "white squall" experience just two hours out from Port Victoria, and the following squally night at the quarantine anchorage, we were looking forward to our stay in Seychelles with some trepidation. First appearances were totally misleading, however. Every day since then has been sunny, rainless, [...]

05 March 2020

Socotra to Seychelles

After a five-day transit of the Gulf of Aden, we dropped anchor on the northern coast of the large (82 miles long), high (1500m) island of Socotra, off what passes for a port there - a substantial couple of wharves suitable for large coasters; but no harbour. Heavy haze had meant that we'd not been able [...]

24 February 2020

DJIBOUTI and the Gulf of Aden

Having anchored in the port of Djibouti on the evening of 11th February, we remained for seven and a half days. Not because of the city's charming attractions (more on these later), but we faced a 600-mile leg from here to Socotra through the Gulf of Aden - prevailing winds are from ENE, which was dead [...]

11 February 2020

MASSAWA TO DJIBOUTI

After eight days anchored at Massawa we headed out on a Sunday morning before a light westerly; occasional drizzle with it. How can a westerly (blowing from the interior of Africa) have moisture in it? There were three of us aboard.

27 January 2020

Asmara

Eritrea's capital, Asmara (pop. half a million) was established by the Italians in the 1890's, so lacks the deep history and old ruins of Massawa. What it does have, however, is the finest collection of grand early 20th-century architecture in Africa. You want art deco? They have art deco. I saw stylistic [...]

26 January 2020

Towards Asmara

During our eight days anchored at Massawa, we decided to split into two pairs for a couple of nights in the capital Asmara - a four-hour bus ride inland. This to make sure that someone was sleeping aboard WJ (there wasn't any serious risk there but you never know) and also to feed Cat.

25 January 2020

MASSAWA

Our five-day passage from Suakin (Sudan) was concluded at 1430 (we thought) on 25th January when we anchored in Massawa harbour. Massawa is the only major port in Eritrea (the former main port of Assab has been passed by, by time and war). During our eight-day stay we saw several large ships come and [...]

23 January 2020 | Massawa

Suakin to Massawa

We departed Sudan's historic port of Suakin on 20th January with a moderate to fresh NW winds for all of this leg - pretty much right astern. This is an inconvenience for a schooner without square topsails, but not too much. We made good progress in long gybes, usually with four sails set, with the breeze [...]

20 January 2020 | Suakin

Suakin

I flew into Port Sudan International Airport (yes, there is one) on the weekly flight from Dubai on 17th January. Windjammer's very competent agent, Mohamed (about fifty, tall, very dark, deep voice in very good English, immaculate long white robes and white cap), met me there with his driver Hashim, [...]

18 January 2020

AQABA TO SUAKIN

Finally on the 21st December with our new Aussie crew member, Amsa, we left Aqaba and headed south. A nice tail wind made for a fast sail back to Ras Abu Galum then onto Sharm El Sheikh. Nice to have some familiarity. From there we had another cracking sail across the Gulf Of Suez to Ras Abu Soma where [...]

21 December 2019

Gulf of Suez to Ras Mohammad and the Gulf of Aqaba

Back on board and Vendela’s husband, Damien had flown in from Saudi to join us for the passage to Aqaba. The weather forecast was in our favour with NE winds predicted for the next 7 days. We decided to favour the Sinai coast and set off for Ras Sedr. We arrived the following day and anchored just [...]

01 November 2019

Transiting the Suez

After our summers cruising which was mainly Italy, Greece and Montenegro, we headed for the island of Crete. This was to be our last stop before leaving the Mediterranean. Our new Swedish crew member Vendela joined us in Agios Nikolaos. Her mission was to get from Sweden to Saudi Arabia with the smallest [...]

25 April 2019

The summer of 2018/2019. Greece and Turkey

After sitting out a few stormy days in Syracusa on the Island of Sicily, we set sail for Kefalonia, in the Ionian Islands just ahead of our friends, an Aussie family from Brisbane with their three boys on their catamaran "All Together". It was a good crossing with a nice brisk breeze and we did the journey [...]

05 May 2018

Sicily West Coast to Kelibia Tunisia to Malta and back to Sicily

We spent the morning preparing for our departure to Sicily and then went for lunch to the delightful L'Osteria Di Castello, a small cafe come delicatessen next to the bastion. The slow cooked dishes were to die for. Definitely one of the highlights as far as food goes in Sardinia. Simple but delicious. 5th [...]

04 April 2018

Almerimar Spain to Sardinia

After three and a half months at Almerimar, we are finally leaving and starting off on our Mediterranean Odyssey . It was a very productive 3 months though. We hauled out for three weeks and did some much needed paint work on the hull and combings. We had originally organised for the yard to do a lot [...]

15 June 2017

Scottish Isles

We anchored off Islenorsay and after a quick scout ashore continued north to Broadford via Kyle Rhia narrows. Motoring at first in light winds we set sails as it increased and even the balloon jib, whoops wind increased to over 25 knots, big trouble getting it back down again with just the two of us. [...]

23 May 2017

London to Caledonian Canal and Isle of Skye

We spent 5 days in London at Limehouse Basin near Canary Wharf, originally built for the canal barges transporting lime and other products via inland canals to the Thames. We had to lock into the basin and only just managed the tide before they closed the gate. Not much under the keel in the lock! This [...]

24 April 2017 | London

Brugge and the channel crossing to London

Prior to crossing the channel to London we had planned a short visit to Brugge. It was a town that we had wanted to visit by car whilst in Amsterdam but didn't get the chance. It was noted in the information that we were given by the Belgian Waterways that it was a 1 1/2 hr journey to Brugge, which [...]

15 April 2017 | Oostershelde

Heading south along the “Staande mast” canal route

It was time to leave the north of Holland and we had arranged to buddy boat with our German friends Ralph and Sabine on their yacht "Beluga" through the "stand up mast route" to Zeeland and Brugge. They had done this journey many times and Sabine being the tour guide knew all the places to go to when [...]

04 April 2017 | Sixhaven Marina

Our Winter in Amsterdam - April 2017

The long gloomy winter is finally over and we are on our way south, in search of warmer weather, for the short term at least, before heading north again to Scotland.

08 September 2016 | Copenhagen

Norway to Copenhagen

31August

29 August 2016 | Norway

Hagesund to Kristiansand - Norway

23 August

23 August 2016

Bergen to Haugesund -Norway

13 - 14th August

08 August 2016 | Faroe Islands

Westmann Island, Iceland to Torshaven, Faroe Islands

2nd August

01 August 2016

Reykjavik to Vestmannaeyjar Islands - Iceland

31st July 2016 This morning we waved goodbye to Maggie who heads back to University in Melbourne. Departing Reykjavik at midday we sailed with a light Nor wester around the end of the Reykjanes Peninsular and tied up in the fishing port of Sandgerdi. A very excited young chap who had had a good day fishing [...]

31 July 2016

Patreksfjordur to Reykjavic - Iceland

30th July A relaxed start to the day before motoring 30nm from Patreksfjordur past the bird breeding cliffs at Latrabjarg and anchoring near the "red" sand beach (Raudasandur). Roast lamb dinner. 24th July Light rain and low cloud lifted midday as we motored across the wide Breidafjordur to the Snaefellsnes [...]

22 July 2016

Isafjordur to Patreksfjordur - Iceland

20th July This morning Ashley and Cathie filled the gas bottles and we cleaned the boat. Leaving Isafjordur under a brilliant blue cloudless sky we motored across the still fjord waters to the island of Vigur. This island private island used to be a sheep farm, but is now a sanctuary for nesting birds, particularly Eider ducks. The female Eiders plucks down from her breast to cover her eggs and keep them warm. Part of this down is collected 2 to 3 times during incubation which encourages her to produce more. The very light, fine down is cleaned by machine and hand after heating to disinfect it. On Vigur they produce 60kgs of eiderdown each year and it the whole of Iceland around 3,000kgs are produced each year. It takes about 60-80 nests to produce one kilogram of down. Also nesting on the island are thousands of Arctic Terns which dive bombed us as we walked past their nests. Hundreds of Puffins were fishing for Capelin off the beach and had their nests in the grassy banks behind. Black Guillemots were nestling in nooks and crannies all over the property. We sat in front of the old farm buildings and enjoyed a cup of tea and some homemade cakes, soaked up the sun and watched the antics of the birds and a whale blowing out in the bay. Under way Ashley trawled for salmon, but they didn't take the lure so he changed the rig and stopped the boat for bottom fishing. Almost immediately 7 cod were on the deck. In the evening we stopped in the small fishing village of Bolungarvik to fuel up. After dinner we wandered the town and were asked in for a drink with the owner of the Einarshusid guesthouse. This old building was prefabricated in Norway and housed the large family of a fishing fleet owner. Unfortunately, all the 12 children and his wife died of T.B. but the house survives. It is a wonderfully comfortable relic with a marine theme and the salvaged wheel from the French wreck of the "Pourqui Pas" which foundered in 1936 on the south coast of Iceland. It also serves as the local's pub and restaurant. Apparently it is illegal to fish for Halibut in Iceland, but many people do including the owner who recently pulled in one weighing 98kg, so it is served here on the menu as "Big Flat Fish" rather Halibut. 21st July Departed Bolungarvik at 10.30am and had a good sail down the coast with a fresh breeze to Patreksfjordur. We moored in the harbour with a German Dufour called "Ruby Tuesday' moored outside of us. 22nd July A still overcast day beckoned and Cathie organised a hire car and we drove around to Raudasandur to visit the "red" sand beach. The long strip of sand enclosing the lagoon is better described as golden rather than red. The highlight of the day were the cliffs at Latrabjarg. Up to 400m high and 14km long, the cliffs provide a breeding roost for seabirds. In early summer it is estimated there are 1 million birds nesting along its length. The main species are Guillemot, Brunnich's Guillemot, Razorbilled Auk, Puffin, Fulmar and Kittiwake. Our favourites are the Puffins with their colourful beaks, squat bodies and large webbed feet. Between us we probably have enough Puffin photos to fill an album. We had a picnic lunch at the lighthouse here and then drove across to the Amsfjordur for a soak in a very hot thermal spring. On our way home we had a beer in Bildudalur before driving back to Patreksfjordaur. We dinner at the Stukuhusid Café and enjoyed a very good meal of fish soup, lamb fillets and meringue dessert.

19 July 2016

Isafjordur

18th July Our Iceland entry port is Isafjordur and we rafted up beside the yacht Aurora Arktika at 0600hrs local time. We advance our watches 2 hours forward to match GMT time. Isafjordur is a small tidy town and the gateway to the Northwest with an airport and ferry service. Situated near the entrance to the Isafjardardjup (fjord) which penetrates 40nm inland it is also a day stop for cruise ships. We had a relaxed day in town, a welcome hot shower and a sauna at the local pool. In the evening we ate out and tasted the delicious Icelandic lamb at the restaurant Husid. 19th July We were all up this morning to wave off Matt Po who is heading back to Germany and work. We will miss him as he has been good company and a good crewman. Murray organised a hire car for the day and we drove off along the coastal road. At Sudavik we visited the Arctic Fox Centre where we watched a couple of foxes being fed and listened to a short talk about them. Because of their threat to sheep flocks they are often shot except in the northwest national park. Until fairly recently, if a farmer had more than 6 sheep he was required to shoot 2 foxes a year or pay a tax. Today fox numbers are controlled by government shooters. The Arctic fox is much smaller than his red fox cousin and for a long time their pelt was sort after as a fashion item being draped around the necks of the "beautiful" people. Following the road to the head of the AlftaFjordur we stopped for an hours walk up the Valagil valley to a waterfall and gorge. The valley walls rise steeply up to 1,000m and the tops are remarkably even. Our lunch stop was at an old turf roofed farm house. The dry stone wall work on the old house and the stone fences is fantastic and grows a mottled rusty colour lichen. Perhaps the highlight of the day was a soak in a hot spring pool. Iceland has a lot of geothermal activity with numerous hot springs dotted about the countryside. This one, although on private farm land, was a simple small concrete pool by the side of the road with a small change shed. The water temperature was 44° C so it took a little time to ease into the water, but it was fantastic sitting there with the steep fjord sides rising above us and the sea lapping just below. We continued driving on for views of the Drangajokull icecap and a cold beer at a funny old hotel, which used to be a school, at Reykanes. The day had started with fog hiding the hill tops, but improved during the day and we had a lovely drive back along the coast with the soft evening light reflecting on the fjords and hilltop snow patches.

17 July 2016

Passage from Greenland to Iceland

15th July We departed Sermiligap at 0700hrs and motored north through the fjords to 66° 02'N before turning east and sailing from Greenland towards Iceland. There was a big swell and the wind was 15-20kts from the NE. We hoisted Main, Foresail and Staysail. The wind increased we had a very bouncy ride with bigger seas. We continued to see the high jagged snow-capped coast of Greenland for many hours and to pass the occasional iceberg far out to sea. Late in the evening with gusts over 30kts and the fog descending we put a reef in the Foresail and while we were putting a second reef in the Main the Foresail tore above the reefing point. We dropped the Foresail and Ashley decided to heave-to and ride out the weather for a few hours. 16th July After heaving-to for 4 hours we started motor sailing around 0330hrs with the wind25-30kts NE and a very uncomfortable sea on the nose. As the day progressed the wind gradually eased and we shook the reefs out of the main and rolled out the Balloon jib. 17th July The wind eventually died and we dropped the sails at 0330hrs. The stretch of water between Greenland and Iceland is known as the Denmark Strait and it has shown us several moods. From rough seas to calm and gale force winds to practically nothing. Now with 90nm to Iceland we are motoring over a smooth oily swell. Except for a few ripples on the surface it is hard to discern between the sea and the fog that envelopes us. During the afternoon the wind came in from the south and we sailed for a while, but it died and we were back on the motor. Removed Foresail from boom. Everyone on deck to help with the sail and for the first time in a while not needing full wet weather gear. Ashley restarted the heater and then later turned it off as unbelievably we were getting too hot! The water temperature today has gone from the 3-6° C we have had since Newfoundland to rise sharply to 12° C as we entered the warm Irminger Current that runs north along the west Icelandic coast. Consequently the air temperature off the water has improved noticeably and with it the interior temperature of the boat. First sighted Iceland on Murray's watch at 2200hrs. The sun stayed behind some cloud, but there was a glorious 3 hour red sky as the sun travelled across the northern horizon. We entered the Isafjardardjup Fjord at 0100hrs.

14 July 2016

Qutdleq - Sermiligac - East Coast of Greenland

11th July We left Qutdleq at 0500hrs with clear skies, but by mid-morning the fog had closed in and we didn't see the coast again until late in the day. Ashley and Cathie have decided to press on through the night to Tasiilaq. There is no wind to speak of and we continue to motor across the oily, gleaming, unruffled water surface. The Northern Fulmars fly in tandem with a mirrored image reflected in the glassy surface as they play around the boat. Several whales were spotted. Pilot, Humpback and during the night Murray spotted some Orcas. There hasn't been much ice during the day, but around midnight we passed through a large field of small bergy bits which are easily seen in the bright dusk, turning straight into dawn, twilight. At midnight the sun's glow on the horizon lit a golden path on the sea to follow north and illuminated the mountains to port. 12th July Another windless day of motoring north. A thin silvery cloud layer shielded the sun and the icy coastline emitted a luminous glow. A number of whales were sighted during the day including Long-finned pilot whales, Sperm whales and Fin whales feeding on Capelin (small fish). In the evening a pod of White-sided dolphins played around the bow. While we have been cruising around Greenland Cathie has called in to Aasiaat Radio twice a day with our position, destination and ETA. On one occasion, in the Fjords behind Nuuk, when Cathie was unable to contact Aasiaat they contacted Australia who in turn contacted Windjammer by email. Another time Cathie waited to call in until we had anchored later in the day and they said they had been searching for us, so they are very efficient. 13th July We pulled into Tasiilaq at 0215hrs and rafted up to a small coastal trader, the "Johanna Kristina". Spent the day in Tasiilaq. The laundry had hot showers, so luxuriated while the laundry was done. There is an interesting book shop with a very eclectic range of products and a helpful proprietor. He/she serves lunch, coffee, ice-creams and sells books, baby clothes and very slow internet. While in town the Johanna Kristina we were rafted alongside moved to the other side of the harbour and took Windjammer still moored alongside with her. Carl-Peter, a young local working as a sailor on the Johanna Kristina told us how lucky he was to have a job. Apparently most young people are unemployed. The locals fish and hunt whales and seals for their own consumption, but there is no fish processing plant here to earn cash, so welfare dependency is high. We anchored off in the afternoon as the Johanna Kristina and dredge were on the jetty and went ashore for a pizza and a beer. The pizzas were quite good, but because of the liquor licencing laws we had to go to the down stairs bar for the beer. 14th July Fuelling up was tricky as Ashley had to manoeuvre Windjammer stern to the jetty, with both boats still tied alongside, while Murray played tug with the tender. Mid-way through the re-fuelling the Johanna Kristina decided to slip her mooring and slide out from inside the dredge causing a few missed heartbeats on board Windjammer as we wondered what was going on. Departing Tasiilaq at 1100hrs we motored through some spectacular fjords before stopping at Ikatek to look around a WWII air base. This was a large American air force base, "Blue East Two", mostly used for search and rescue and now marked with thousands of empty rusting 44 gallon drums, the remains of a hanger and many trucks, some still with air in their tyres. The gravel airstrip, although unused, is still in good condition. We motored past a few very blue frozen water icebergs which are quite different to the common compressed snow icebergs. In the evening we anchored off Sermiligaq with 2 stern lines to the small jetty. Lots of children were sitting at the end of the wharf and when playing with the stern lines managed to let one go. Around 0100am Ashley heard some noise on board and was surprised to find 2 women in the saloon. They had been drinking and were after some more beers and a chat! All the children were still up and playing about at this early hour.

10 July 2016

Prins Christian Sund - South Coast Greenland

6th July - Continuing on the inside passage with low lying islands and a mountain range backdrop we made for Uunartoq. This island has the only hot spring in Greenland which has been popular from Norse times and mentioned in the Sagas. We anchored on the south side of the island and walked over the [...]

04 July 2016

Nuuk Fjords and heading south - West Greenland

1st July A crystal clear morning encouraged Ashley, Cathie, Matt and Maggie to walk over the hill to view the Kangersuneq Isfjord packed solid with ice. On their return we gathered mussels from the beach and as we up anchored and motored along Cathie created a delicious mussel and fish soup. Not a cloud in the sky as we cruised through impressive fjords to Qooqqut. Fashion ON the floe: Mid-afternoon, with a towering granite backdrop and sparkling seas we enjoyed another fashion treat. Matt (ice tester), Ashley (model) and Maggie (photographer) boarded a submarine shaped iceberg. With professional panache our model soon appeared in his trendy briefs (jocks) with straw hat, umbrella and crampon equipped Ugg boots. Paris eat your heart out! Matt, not to be outdone, stripped down too and rolled on the ice - proving that old ice is hard ice by skinning his elbows. In the evening we dined ashore at Qooqqut Nuan. We enjoyed a meal that included Musk Ox, lamb chops (NZ), scallops, prawns, shrimp, red fish and cod. Our excellent young waiter, Joorut, mixed us a Greenlandic coffee to finish the night! Irish whiskey - representing the man, Kalua - representing the woman, coffee - representing the arctic night, cream - the arctic snow and flaming Grand Marnier - the northern lights. Joorut also told us that anyone can apply for a permit to build a cabin along the fjords and that if the regional office approves the permit there is no cost or ongoing fees to use the land. #11 2nd July A 0600hrs start from Qooqqut motoring through the fjords saw us back in Nuuk by 0930hrs. We spent the day catching up on news, shopping and enjoying a free concert in the town square. There were a couple of pigs on the spit served with salad and potatoes and the local draught beer went down a treat. The old fellow who was tapping along to the music next to me was 88 years old. Almost everyone who passed him said "Hey" and touched him on the shoulder. It was a real family get together. We didn't manage to find any water to top up the tanks, but we fuelled up before leaving Nuuk and motored south for an hour to a sheltered anchorage, recommended by a local, for the night. Mussels from Kapisillit with pasta and a tomato sauce for dinner. 3rd July Weighed anchor at a leisurely 0900hrs and motored out of the fjords heading south. 1100hrs with a freshening cold N wind we raised sails including the Fisherman and sailed SE. The fog receded in front of us leaving a sunny corridor between the mountainous coast and fog shrouded ocean. 4th July The wind died in the early hours and we doused sails and continued on through the fog down the coast under motor. The sun fought a losing battle with the fog and despite thinning considerably we remained cocooned all day. In the evening the fog thickened and because of impending icebergs we began two man, two hour watches. 5th July Ashley plotted a course down the Inner Lead, threading down narrow passages through the coastal islands. We entered the first passage around midnight still in dense fog following the plotted course and monitoring the radar. Only the still water confirmed we had entered the channel until we saw peaks towering above the fog behind us, first to port and then close to starboard. As we passed deeper down the narrow tickle the fog cleared showing the bright sky with the midnight sun looming just below the horizon. Ashley timed the run through the narrowest part of the passage, where strong currents run, for slack water and we were glad we had good visibility as we slid between the rocks barely a boat length away on either side. It was good to have the sun and good visibility as this is a very scenic area. We arrived at Qaqortoq (Julienehab - most towns in Greenland have, confusingly, two names - the local and the Danish names) mid-morning. This is the biggest town in SW Greenland with a population of 3,000 with a Norse history, some lovely old colonial buildings and a growing tourist industry. We wandered the town and enjoyed a beer outside a central café where we could watch the locals go by in the sun. Mid-afternoon we fuelled up and took on water. Continuing on we motored around to Sadnoq. This is a small isolated settlement. Largely abandoned, with optimistically around 40 people remaining. We wandered around and came across some old graves made of slabs of rock and were probably packed around with earth and peat originally. That has weathered away and you can see the skulls and bones through the rock. We kicked a ball around with the local children and their dog. The Greenlanders we have met are very friendly and relaxed. The younger generation speak some English, but the men on the island didn't.

02 July 2016

Nuuk Isfiords - Greenland

#11 30th June 2016

02 July 2016

Nuuk - Greenland

#10 27th & 28th June Two days in Nuuk, capitol of Greenland. Nuuk means "the headland" and the city sits on the end of a peninsular at the mouth of the vast fjord system "Nuup Kangerlua". We wandered into the town centre which is easily done as everything is close. There is an excellent museum which describes the different eras of inhabitants going back to 2,500 BC and up to colonisation by Denmark. There is a definite Greenland "look" influenced by their i=Inuit ancestry and the locals are cheerful and helpful and most have some English language. The city itself is not very inspiring with a lot of high rise apartments built in rectangular blocks, although a few traditional houses in the old town are quite picturesque. We definitely felt that we had left North America and entered Scandinavia as the modern shops were well stocked with everything you would find in Denmark. Unfortunately most of the cafes and restaurants seemed to be a bit un-inspirational and served fast food type menus. We saw a local street vendor selling dried whale meat, but no seal meat. The climate dictates the fashion and most wore jeans or slacks with warm jackets and boots. Wi-Fi is quite expensive, but we managed to get a free fix at the library. 29th June Having spoken to the locals, Ashley and Cathie have decided that rather than sail 300nm north to Disko Bay we will explore the extensive fjords of this area. What a good call! Today started off wet, cold and windy as we motored the two hours to Ikkuttut bay. Here we were out of the wind and Ashley and Maggie caught some lovely cod. They were hardly landed before being cleaned, filleted and pan fried by Cathie - delicious. After lunch we motored through increasing numbers of icebergs to Qoornup, a small community set up to survey the West Greenland in 1927. This small island has a fete every year on the first weekend of July, but we won't be staying around to join in. As the day progressed the weather improved and when the cloud lifted we could better appreciate the magnificent setting of chiselled granite mountains rising sheer from the iceberg cluttered waters. Glacial action has scoured out the sides of the deep valleys which carry tiny patches of tough native vegetation. Erik the Red, the Viking who landed here hundreds of years ago, who was accused of false marketing when he named the country Greenland to attracts settlers. 80% of the country is icecap and there are lots of bare rock, but there are green areas and apparently the Vikings ran sheep and cattle as the climate was milder back then. Leaving Qoornup after a good walk around we piloted Windjammer through numerous icebergs, bergy bits and growlers. It was difficult to find a safe anchorage clear of ice, but we found a good corner of Tasinsap Bay and reminiscent of Patagonia days we anchored with a line ashore by 2030hrs. Cathie bought fish in Nuuk which she was told was trout and she cooked it in the pan with a delicious orange sauce. A fine white flaked fish with a delicate flavour served with snow peas and wild rice. A wonderful way to finish an awesome day.

26 June 2016 | Nuuk, Greenland

"Eskimos and the Igloos" - Maggie reflecting on the present day Inuit communities we have been privileged to experience.

The sun was setting over the snowy mountain peaks as they took to the form of devils teeth, ascending from a dense mysterious fog lingering low on the ocean surface. As midnight approached, the tedious four day passage across the Davis Straight, had come to an end. We had sailed to the edge of the earth [...]

26 June 2016 | Nuuk, Greenland

Great new adventures and great new seas

Great new adventures and great new seas awaited as we prepared to cross the first section of the North Atlantic Ocean.The sun rose over Mary's Harbour, Labrador as we set sail for the the Davis Straight destined for Greenland. As much as I thrive in the excitement of wandering on new land, crossing oceans [...]

26 June 2016

Marys Harbour, Labrador to Nuuk Greenland

#9 25th June The wind died in the early hours and we dropped sails. It is a rainy grey morning. Around 0900hrs the wind built and we raised sails. The rain cleared and at lunchtime we had a short glimpse of the sun. The wind picked up in the afternoon and swung more to the west and we barrelled along at 7+ knots. The heater is going well after Ashley's work yesterday although there were hiccups this morning until he realised the engine vent cover was on which starved the heater of oxygen. Finished reading "Cod", an excellent book on the history of cod fishing and its impact on the culture and economics of many countries on both sides of the Atlantic. Maggie saw an iceberg on her afternoon watch, the first ice we have seen for a couple of days. 26th June The wind died in the very bright early hours of this morning and we dropped sails. The swell persisted which caused much rolling without the steadying of the sails. Grey skies and no wind and we are now over 62° north. There is no real darkness up here and you could happily read a book on deck in the middle of the night. Cathie spotted a lone iceberg this morning. Sea water temperature has dropped to 4.9° C. We spotted a couple more distant icebergs as we motored through the day with the ground swell only reluctantly abating. Maggie created a tasty vegetable curry for lunch. We sighted land at 2015hrs and as we approached Nuuk we were welcomed with a fireworks display ashore. A very cold breeze blew off the tall snow-capped mountains that tower over Nuuk. We rafted up in the inner harbour at 2300hrs having travelled 720nm from Mary's Harbour. Nuuk is at 64° N.

24 June 2016

Davis Strait

23rd June We haven't seen any ice since midday yesterday, but for safety sake we stand watches with 2 on during the darkest part of the night. One on the foredeck on ice watch and the other at the helm monitoring the radar. It never got completely dark as we had a clear night sky with an almost full [...]

Koma Island - Tanzania - An opportunity to return some goodwill

20 August 2020
Cathie Kerr
Before we left the Seychelles our friends Yves and Barbara from "S/Y Medio Vas" had recommended we visit Koma Island and look up Mohammad. We had only intended to stay overnight and then sail on to Dar Es Salaam the next day after a quick look at the village. As we beached our dinghy we were approached by this tall, lean, smiling fellow. Oh hello!
My name is Mohammed, and so started our adventure on Koma.


The fishing village of Koma Island

He immediately offered to take us on a walk around the village. I commented as we meandered past the mud and coral houses on how clean and tidy the island was. He related the story of a Frenchman who came to the island a few years ago and convinced the villagers of the benefits of keeping the island clean. Removing the rubbish, looking after the mangroves and depositing their human waste not on the beach but in appropriate areas. They had taken this on board and adopted a set of rules.

Baobabs, the tree that symbolises Africa

At the end of our walk Mohammed offered to take us snorkelling the next day to see how he fishes for lobster and octopus with the possibility of seeing some seahorses. Everyone was keen, so next morning the Erias family who were "buddy sailing" with us, jumped on on Windjammer and we headed off to an island about 3 miles away. Unfortunately there were no seahorse to be seen and Mohammed lost his spear, which we spent ages searching for, eventually finding it. On the way back we stopped at a little cove on one of the small islets. A couple of fisherman were camped out on the beach and they pointed out some giant clams. They were at least 1 metre wide and fossilised into the coral rock face about 3 metres above the current high water level. Probably hundreds of years old. Quite an amazing site.

The Erias crew and Mohammed

During lunch we were talking about life on the island and the availability of good water. Mohammed mentioned that two years ago a desalinator had been gifted and installed by an NGO but that it had stopped working 6 months later. Ashley and Eric offered to take a look at it. Permission was sort and granted by the island chief. So the next day was spent cleaning up the genset and water maker and figuring out how it was all supposed to work. There were no operational manuals and the Island Chief only had a rudimentary idea how it operated. There is no electricity on the island, the Mosque and some houses have small solar panels on their roof, charging a battery which in turn provides lighting, runs the odd T.V. and more importantly, charges the smartphones!
The following morning, loaded with tools, multi metres, spare diesel and Windjammers radio battery we descended on the island. The boys headed off to the pump house whilst we played hopscotch and football with the local children.

Hooking up the water tanks

While visiting Mohammad's house we noticed a small chalk board in the corner and he explained that he was teaching English and arithmetic to a group of children between the ages of 5-7 in his house. He had no formal training but had a good grasp of English and the only one on the island that did.

Enjoying a meal of cassava, salad and ugali with ginger tea.

The island is home to approximately 800 people of which 20% appear to be children. During our conversations he explained that there was minimal education on the island, a government sponsored teacher from the mainland spends two days a week teaching the children from the ages of 8-15 years.

Getting introduced to the kids

So, a little bit about Mohammed, he has worked throughout East Africa as an explosives man for Chinese seismic companies. Then for a tourist operator in Mtwara. He was fortunate enough to have had some education which got him started. Recently returned to the island, he was keen to take on the role of teaching the younger children in a voluntary capacity. He asked if it was possible to give him some books and materials for his project.


Mohammed

Fortunately Nathalie is a teacher, so she jumped at the opportunity with unbridled enthusiasm. They have tons of learning tools on board as their three children are home schooled. With the help of her wonderful children Manon, Eva and Samuel, they spent most of the night collecting books, magazines and making all sorts of learning tools. Such a lovely and generous family.

Cutting out pictures for teaching aids.

Another subject raised by Mohammed was that of female genital mutalation that had until a few years ago been routinely practiced on young girls. The Island now actively discourages this practice. He is part of a group that door knocks to educate and discourage woman against this.


The next morning we were summoned to a meeting by the chief and his councillors (men and women). First a prayer by the Imam then a welcome to the Island. Mohammad explained that not only were we fixing the desalination plant but were also providing him with books and teaching aids for his school project. A good time for him to pitch for a proper classroom....

The Imams

After the meeting it was off to inspect the small hospital with its maternity ward that was under construction. The chief explained that they were trying to raise funds to finish the hospital and
adjoining doctors house. The main structure was complete but needed doors and windows as well as the interior fit out. They explained that the government would not provide a doctor for the island until the building was completed. They were now looking for contributions from an NGO to complete the project

Serious discussions about a school room

There is no running water on the island so during the wet season water is drawn from wells and rain water collected into concrete cisterns. During the dry season the water from these wells is too salty to drink. The desalination plant was installed to help them through the dry season.

Water drawn from a well.

Things in the pump house were starting to take shape, the genset fired up after a rats nest was located and cleaned out and the main circuit breaker replaced. The water maker was flushed out and filters cleaned. The two large polythene water tanks had been removed so had to be located and reinstalled................Tomorrow's job.

End of another day.

The following day, a celebratory gathering had been arranged to thank us for all the work we had done. It was quite an occasion with food being prepared for the entire island community and us as their special guests. Men and women were separated into two different groups. Nathalie, the two girls and myself were taken aside and dressed by the local women in traditional Muslim coverings. It was a quite a colourful affair. The women then proceeded to sing and say a prayer for us. The men were doing the same on the other side.

All dressed up for the occasion.


A spray of colour

Time for eating.

Men grouped separately from the women.

Ashley in discussion with the Island administrator

After the meal we were taken a short distance to the second village on the island. It was extremely organised, clean and well laid out. We were shown through the two Madrases where the children are taught the Quran each day. An adjacent small school has a government provided teacher that comes in twice a week to teach the children aged 8-15 years, and that's the extent of the education on the island.

Classroom session - subject English.

We set up a short classroom session to demonstrate the teaching aids and familiarise Mohammad with some teaching techniques - like keeping the class quiet! He is so keen and focused on having the children better educated and with our support was espousing the value to the Imam, Chief, councillors and parents. Ashley made a speech highlighting the importance of education next to that of the Quran and thanking and wishing them all well for the future - all very official.
After many speeches and translations, it was decided that Mohammed would be given one of the spare rooms in the school, which had a door, to use as a classroom. The room however does not have a concrete floor or blackboard so we donated the funds to have this done. Luckily we also had some blackboard paint on board to complete the job. Mohammad declared that the school was to be named the Windjammer/ Erias school in our honour.

Everyone wants to be in the picture

Just as we thought it was time to leave, the generator overheated!! Nice timing. So it was back to work the next day for the boys and Nathalie continued her instructions to Mohammed on teaching techniques. The equipment was finally running well, logbook and instructions written up and with the islands appointed "engineer" (when he is not out fishing) trained up, it was time to say goodbye and head north.


We left early the next morning, so much the richer for the experience.



We told Mohammed about our "Clean up Australia Day" and maybe it could be adopted to "Clean up Koma Day". Our friends Anne and Herve from S/Y Olicicante visited a couple of weeks after us and following is a video they made;
Link to video...
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