Letter from Captain Fatty Goodlander
29 April 2017 | Cape Town
To Whom it May Concern:
My wife Carolyn (NP2MU, aka Miss Universe) and I (W2FAT)—after 47 years and 200,000 miles of
cruising offshore together—looked forward to rounding the Cape of Good Hope with sadness. Both of our
‘South African weather radio buddies’ had passed away since our first circumnavigation. Alistair Campbell
and Fred Meyers both helped us greatly in 2004 during our first rounding of the Cape of Storms, and they
left big, big shoes to fill.
Alistair, in particular, was a hoot. A highly-skilled, totally straight-laced amateur radio operator by day—he
crept off to his beloved copper-and- brass rum still at night. His annual ‘cruisers’ party was attended by
most of the hams in South Africa—and all the Indian Ocean yachties who’d been hearing about it for years.
One sip of his “Zumzumbe Dew: the Spirit of the Sugar Belt” would have you howling at the moon.
Alistair was a legend.
Fred was more low-key but just as helpful. We spend Christmas with him and his lovely wife in Durban.
His house was the only residence I have ever been in where the danger of being killed in a ‘radio
avalanche’ was a real possibility. Fred had hundreds of HF rigs stacked like logs throughout the place.
He was tireless, driving each and every international yachties to and from Customs, Immigration, and Port
Control in Durban—then to the grocery store, RNYC, Durban YC, etc.
Both Alistair and Fred rarely missed a day of weather reporting and forecasting—and offshore sailors
listened to them religiously from Cocos Keeling to Chagos and beyond as they headed westward.
In 2016, during our third circumnavigation and while in Rodrigues, we learned that the South African ham
radio public service baton had been picked up by ZS1SAM, Sam Maree of SamNet.
He transmits twice day marine weather reports to amateur radio sailors on 14316 USB at 6:30 and 11:30
We audio-bonded immediately and chatted daily for the next six months or so. Not only did Sam provided
us with a general WX report and a synoptic chart discussion of our area—but he also gave a tailored
weather forecast just for us, taking into account our compass course and boat speed.
Plus, he even tossed in some coastal navigation advice as well.
His WX reports were always timely and highly accurate. Within weeks, we trusted him and his forecasts
He always made time for us despite handling dozen of other vessels at the height of season. He helped us in
numerous other ways as well.
Of course, the transiting of the Agulhas Current is the most stressful part of approaching SA, and, with
Sam’s help, we were able to have a smooth passage by heaving-to and allowing a SWerly gale to pass just
By the time we first caught a glimpse of the coast—we were beginning to think of Sam as the Voice of
Once in Simon’s Town, we had Sam aboard GANESH, our 43 foot ketch, for drinks. It was great to put a
face to the voice. Afterwards, so many yachties were mad at us for not introducing them to Sam during his
visit aboard—that we had a major jump-up at the False Bay Yacht Club for him (and Winlink Colin Porter
ZS1RS) a week or so later.
Dozens of yachties showed up to pay their respects.
By February, we were moving northward along the Skeleton Coast to Namibia—with Sam’s help.
My big hope was that we could stay in SSB touch on 20 meters nearly to St. Helena. No problem! He spoke
everyday to St. Helena, and far beyond. I could not believe it but we were still chatting at the equator, and
finally lost contact only 4,280 nautical miles away from his shack!!!
Best of all, he helped us daily to plot the dreaded ITCZ (intertropical convergence zone) so that we
minimized our times in the severe squalls and absolute calm.
Because of Sam we had smooth sailing in light airs, rather than being hove-to in violent winds one minute
and becalmed the next.
He didn’t just think of our welfare during our twice a day SSB talks—but kept gathering data for our
voyage 24/7. That’s true dedication, and that’s also totally amazing in this day-and- age!
We set a new SamNet distance record, to put it mildly.
Our 38 day non-stop passage to the Caribbean would not have been nearly as much fun (nor comfortable,
nor safe) if not for Sam and all his numerous radio helpers.
One thing is absolutely clear to Carolyn and I—no nation treats its international transiting vessels with as
much courtesy and assistance as South Africa, thanks to men like Sam Maree of SamNet.
Cap’n Fatty Goodlander
Editor as Large of Cruising World magazine
Skipper of the 43 foot ketch GANESH
57 year liveaboard and ocean sailor
Three time circumnavigator
Author of numerous marine-related books, including the best-selling Chasing the Horizon.