Time Bandit

Whiling away Covid lockdowns cruising slowly towards South Africa for November ‘21.

09 August 2017
04 August 2017
04 August 2017
03 August 2017
01 August 2017 | Maybe not a whole century
30 July 2017
25 July 2017
20 July 2017
20 July 2017
13 July 2017
08 July 2017
07 July 2017
02 July 2017
25 June 2017
22 June 2017
17 June 2017
05 June 2017

Bleaching Event

09 September 2021 | Peely Wally Pins Oot For A Walk.
Stuart Letton
All the way through the Indian Ocean islands we snorkled over lifeless and monochrome coral, the vibrant colour and life bleached out of it by abnormally high sea water temperatures.

Way up here at 56 degrees north, equally distressing is the fact our bronzed, sun god and goddess bodies are going the same way, fading from tropical tans to Glaswegian “peely wally”white. We’ll not only be needing a PCR test before we return, more a couple of hours in the sun bed rooms of the local massage parlour…….. but then, that’s another high risk sport I’m not sure I want to try again.

We had three objectives in coming home. First, to let our kids see their inheritance was still walking , talking and being blown on lavish living. Secondly, let the grand children know we were more than a Saturday morning TV show, and worse, one that interrupted their favourite cartoons. And lastly, we finally decided to sell our house and it needed a complete clear out. That alone took weeks and a lifetime’s subscription to Gumtree. However, we’re now officially homeless for the first time in forty odd years ……. although as our Lucie said, “that’s other than Time Bandit, your three bed, two bath, lounge, patio apartment ….. AND swimming pool”.

All in all, a successful trip home. We’ve ticked off our objectives. and as a by-product, as you will hopefully see in the video, got to see Scotland at its finest. As we say up here, “Ye cannae whack it”. It will soon be time to head back - which is just as well because after these last few weeks of life at fifty degrees, savouring the best of Scottish fare, …… bacon, egg, sausage, black pudding, haggis, tattie scone, mushrooms, beans and tomato - all on one plate, have mysteriously had the consequence of making our trousers shrink.


Fast cats

24 August 2021
Stuart Letton
Great boats these catamarans. They go just as fast backwards as they do forwards.




This item just to keep you on hold while I think up some blog content that might be vaguely of interest until we get back to the boat. Not that they’re any more interesting there.

Fifteen to One Chance

14 August 2021
Stuart Letton
The search was on. The daily full body self-frisk.

Combine an ageing brain with a jacket and trousers that between them have fifteen different pockets and there goes another twenty minutes of your life trying to find your earplugs, keys, wallet, whatever.

Ginger’s Bright Idea of dodging UK quarantine, on the whole whole worked out. We got to see the glaciers, waterfalls, the mountains and a little bit of rain. Rain doing 70mph right enough but that’s motorcycling for you. A bit like going to windward in twenty five knots; it keeps you in touch with nature. Mind you, so does a couple of hours of Blue Planet while sat in a comfy armchair at home. Which is what we are doing now.

Meanwhile, here’s that thing you used to dread as a child - the showing of the family holiday snaps.


Ginger’s Bright Idea

02 August 2021
Stuart Letton
Well dear readers, we made it through all the checks, passport, PCR, customs, immigration, background history, inside leg measurement, the lot, landing in Reykjavik, Iceland (for those who are geographically challenged) at nearly midnight, just getting under the wire by twenty minutes before the Icelandic government imposed their new and latest Covid travel regulations.

We'd blown the budget and booked a taxi to take us to the hotel, I just couldn't face hanging about waiting for the Harry Potter night bus, then wandering the streets in the cold and wet Icelandic gloaming - that's Scottish talk for it not actually being properly dark, given we're a gnat's hair from the Arctic circle. That also explains why it was a bracing nine degrees and our luggage was stuffed full of fleece, thermals and waterproofs.

The video tells the story. Hope you like it.

Ginger’s Bright Idea - Stage 2

26 July 2021 | Covid safe, full body condom by Gucci
Stuart Letton
Well, we’ve made it to Paris. This is my first 2-part blog so I’m sorry if this is going on. I’ve been warned to keep posts short and pithy but there’s bugger all else to do, so, you’ll do well to get to the end.

Regular readers will know that my tolerance waters finally broke after eighteen months hanging around aimlessly at anchor. (Which reminds me of the time the heavily pregnant woman who went into labour at home and called the emergency services when her waters broke.

“Stay calm Mrs Jones. The ambulance will leave immediately. Where are you ringing from?”

“I’m wringing from the knickers down”.

Sorry about that bit of off-piste. Anyway, as you may recall, the “route through Iceland” strategy popped up on our radar a few weeks ago. Avoid UK quarantine in those shitty hotels, have a mini-break and get home to see the winkies. And, sssshhh. do a motorbike tour of Iceland.

One of the cruisers in Seychelles is a pilot with Emirates, spitting image of Endorphin Colin - just a bit younger. He flew somewhere recently - a long haul flight, and his only passenger was a cat! We were inspired and motivated. And indescribably bored. “There’s nobody flying. It’ll be great”. However, two flights down and on both you couldn’t swing a cat.

If only I’d thought it through fully. You see, for the last three years , every time we’ve flown back to see the family it’s been at least a twenty four hour trip give or take a few lifetimes hanging around the glorified shopping malls that are modern airports. Fourteen hours from Sydney to somewhere in China followed by another epic to Canada or Scotland. Twenty four to thirty hours of travelling and the same number drop in Celsius and we, the prodigal grand parents, returned to bless our offspring with our presence.

And so, when I saw Seychelles - Doha (wherever that is) - Paris - Iceland in twenty four short hours, I thought, “that’s not too bad”. What I didn’t fully appreciate was that in Seychelles, we were already half way home and for half of that twenty four hours we would be sat in the aforementioned airport shopping malls, trying to lay out in those chairs some miserable engineering git has spent hours designing so you can’t lay out.

We hauled the boat on Friday, 7.45 metres into a 7.8 metre hole in twenty knot cross wind, great start....., propped it, cleaned it, packed it away and made a dent in the “must do at haul” jobs list. And forgot to lock the hatches. “Michael............ fancy a ride to the yard?”

We had our ludicrously expensive PCR lobotomies, and, clutching our negative result, set off yesterday evening. Which already seems like twenty four hours ago.

I started this masterpiece in Doha airport after a slow and socially distanced disembarkation from a busy four hour flight and tried to kill time ‘till the Paris leg. I won’t tell you how long the layover is here. Suffice to say, I may download War and Peace. All of this travel while masked up, socially distanced, thats a joke, compression socks feeling like you’ve a boa constrictor on each leg, and sanitised at every move.

Some of the Asian travellers, who, let’s face it, have been wearing masks for years before this nonsense, have had to up their game and are wandering around masked and clad in full, top-to-toe Tyvek Hazmat suits, including hood.

Now, if I’d been wearing one of these yesterday when I was giving the antifoul a bit of a sanding, maybe my arms and legs wouldn’t be on fire right now.

All of which is to say this whole thing may well be another of “Ginger’s Bright Ideas”. But as Anne just said, “first time in months we haven’t been sweating.” And I’m all caught up on Al Jazeera.

Finally. Top tip for travellers - if the zips on your rucksack or luggage are corroded and jammed, WD40 will free them in a jiffy. You on the other hand will get your collar felt when your bag goes through that sniff test in security.

How To Make A Small Fortune

26 July 2021
Stuart Letton
The usual answer to this is, “start with a large fortune.”

However, in today’s madness, from what I’ve been observing and now experienced first hand given we’re out the big, wide Covid world, the potential to truly make a small fortune in record time hasn’t been as good since 1939. It’s almost enough to tempt me out of retirement.

Get yersell down the government offices, or better, and as is the norm, certainly in the UK, call up one of your buddies working in government, probably one of the chaps you went to school with, and offer your services as a Covid response supplier / practitioner. Any old shit will do. Dodgy masks from China that cost a penny to make and sell for a quid. Hand sanitiser from any old gloop you can get your hands on, just add a dash of meths or acetone to make it smell “right”. Fill your shitty hotel that used to sell bargain rooms for £29.99 with quarantine guests. Serve them any old muck you can get from the nearest industrial kitchen and charge £150 a night. Brilliant. Then, fastest buck of all, the PCR Medical Centre.

Find some cheap, empty office space. Hang up some colourful posters made from Getty library pictures of serious looking doctors and nurses, stethoscope round the neck of course. A few old Dell computers and some ex-nurses happy to perform frontal lobotomies shoving giant Q-tips up yer hooter. Pay them just enough to feed the kids then, pocket what’s left from the exorbitant €110 test that takes twenty seconds. €190 if you want results real fast.

The profiteers of two world wars would be proud of their fine example and your success.

Next stop; Paris. Tune in for the next exciting instalment.

Enough....

17 July 2021
Stuart Letton
Shortly after we arrived in Seychelles, someone told us it was the Dry Season. Well, if it was then, it certainly isn't now. It's been chucking it down for over a week. Which isn't all bad. We can collect water and have a shower every three days ..... whether we need it or not.

"Ahh, never seen weather like this before" say the locals, as locals are saying all over the world as climate change rolls on and the politicians do hee-haw while the ice caps melt.

Meanwhile, it was probably the customs thing that tipped me over the edge. Having spent six weeks trying to check in, and still not completed, we're checking out ..... in the fly home and see the kids sense. Whether they want seen or not.

Enough was enough. Our boat is very comfy at anchor. And quite spacious, but after a year and a half of sitting on our butts waiting for Covid to pass, while watching weed and barnacles create a micro bio-system on our unused and currently pointless wave piercing, high performance hulls, I've cracked.

Regular readers will remember we heard that routing through Iceland could give us not only a change of scenery but the necessary ten days in a Green zone thus avoiding quarantine in the UK. In exchange for mild hypothermia and trench foot.

The flights were surprisingly reasonable, especially if you didn't take the exhorbitant Covid insurance. I mean, why would we need it? Like John Prescott*, the ex union leader turned politician (and all time hypocrite) we're known as "Two Jags". Us because we're doubly immunised, him because he had both his own Jaguar and, a second government Jag to roll around in, no doubt while visiting his working class and unemployed constituents.

So, flights booked, we were all set to go. Right up until one of our crowd tested positive. Seychelles ranks #3 worldwide in cases per head of population, so, with this sharp reminder it's still out there, and close to home. Now, because I saved a few quid on flight insurance and unable to cancel the whole great-idea-at-the-time, instead of quarantine in Heathrow, we're effectively quarantined here, which isn't so much different from normality I suppose.

Nine days until our Icelandic mini-break. Nine centigrade in Reykjavik yesterday. And raining.

Great plan Stuart. A motorbike tour of Iceland!

We’re What?????

09 July 2021 | Celebrating our permission to stay
Stuart Letton
"Please be informed that your application for temporary importation has not been approved. Yacht Time Bandit is to depart from Seychelles within seven days from the date hereof."

What the #%€$. Thrown out a country with four working days notice. And at our age! Russian assassins get longer than that. (Or maybe they were really interested in the cathedral).

We were forewarned that Seychelles bureaucracy was a bit of a minefield, and obviously one we had singularly failed to negotiate despite Steel Sapphire* and others having laid the white tapes; so to speak.

To get through the first phase, we needed to appoint an agent, absolutely none of whom came recommended and supply....

- Bill of sale
- Insurance documents
- Visa
- Certificate of registration
- Builders certificate
- Import permit
- Picture of vessel
- Copy of agreements for any work
- Approved temporary import permit.

We sent all this to both an agent, who, to this day has yet to respond to an email and the customs as a belt-and-braces. We even walked the four mile round trip and hand delivered hard copies to the customs office to add adult Pampers to the as belt and braces.

We're too depressed and discretion is probably the better part of good venting so I won't share more details here. Suffice to say that Anne is not someone to mess with when it comes to boat admin. And we had the evidence. We fought our corner and after a lot of stress, traipsing miles from office to office and escalations through the ranks of Seychellois customs officials, the notice of eviction was rescinded.

It took a lot of strain off, however, for thirty six hours we were frantically trying to sort things out. We had to prepare for imminent departure; food, fuel, charts, weather for 1,000 miles to Africa, recover antifoul pre-ordered and stored at the boatyard, all while building our "case". Didn't even have time for beer and skittles.

Anne set about provisioning for four months in Tanzania, as its well known there's no food there. I ploughed through six weeks of unanswered emails and exhausted some very expensive and rare-as-hens-teeth ink cartridges to build our case. We even went to the British consulate to solicit help. (Iain, a fellow Scot from Skye funnily enough).

Us Brits have left a number of legacies in the wake of our colonial past. All around the globe you'll find evidence of this; beautiful buildings, roads, trains, measles, small pox and the like. And of course administration and bureaucracy.

Some countries have taken the great British administrative model to astonishing heights, levels that Jim Hacker and his Department of Administrative Affairs would be proud of. (YouTube; Yes Minister).

Of the thirty or so jurisdictions we've passed through in the last ten years, including Panama, Galapagos and the USA, which does take some beating, Seychelles is a clear winner in the admin stakes.

To sail inter-island here, you have to apply for a special permit, walking another couple of miles. We'd started this prior to the bombshell. Thirty....THIRTY people are on the government copy list.

In the end, after being summoned to another meeting, at another level, peace was restored, the letter of eviction rescinded and....... as we've now gone past the one month customs allow to get the documentation, which was their fault, we have to apply again. Aaaargh. We trust a formality but, if they read this, you never know.

The daft thing is we keep getting tempted to go to Tanzania anyway. The problem is, it surely must be a Covid hotspot as prayer and a herbal infusion seems to have failed. That and I really don't much fancy the wind angle clashing with the cyclones come November. There's already been one rescue at sea and one cat limping back on one rudder. Getting to South Africa isn't looking easy.

Hopefully we can get all this straightened out, and then it's Plan C ........ if folk in Iceland would answer their flaming emails.

-----//-----

*Steel Sapphire - Scottish readers of a certain age might remember the electrical store chain, "Bernard Electrical". The company that brought colour television to the Scottish masses. I grew up right next door to the Bernards, and now, a couple of generations and continents later, we're anchored right next door to Peter Bernard, the grandson. Largs SC members might know his father who has a Fisher 34 in the marina.
Vessel Name: Time Bandit
Vessel Make/Model: Outremer 51
Hailing Port: Largs, Scotland
Crew: Anne and Stuart Letton
About: ex dinghy and keelboat racers now tooled up with a super sleek cat and still cruising around aimlessly, destination Nirvana...
Extra: May’21. Now in Seychelles, either ‘till October when we head for South Africa or maybe we do an early side trip to Tanzania. Who knows.
Home Page: http://www.sailblogs.com/member/timebandit/profile
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Time Bandit's Photos - Main
6 Photos
Created 2 April 2021
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Created 1 April 2021
A few pics of Maldives so far.....
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Created 29 March 2021
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Created 22 September 2020
Our escape the the wild mountain thyme
21 Photos
Created 23 June 2020
21 Photos
Created 2 October 2019
Selayar
18 Photos
Created 6 September 2019
16 Photos
Created 1 September 2019
Some pics from Debut and the Kei Islands
24 Photos
Created 30 July 2019
From the north of Australia to Debut Indonesia
8 Photos
Created 23 July 2019
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Created 19 October 2018
1 Photo
Created 20 October 2017
7 Photos
Created 23 June 2017
An interesting perspective on evolution in the Galapagos.
23 Photos
Created 7 March 2016
18 Photos
Created 30 September 2014
Mediterranean Spain to the Arctic Circle
67 Photos
Created 12 August 2013
Scraping and sanding hull back to gel coat for epoxy and Coppercoat treatments.
6 Photos
Created 3 February 2013