6 on board and a fascinating cruise down the coast of Tanzania with a retired
British couple, Maurice and Sue, good friends from our Malaysia days, after
a short diversion to Zanzibar, the Spice Island paradise and former slave
trade centre with all its associated history.
It was fascinating
to discover how all the spices we used daily, Vickie is an accomplished
chef and exotic food is often on the menu, is grown and processed.
Much to Lauren’s fascination we also saw natural lipstick and soap berries.
Maurice had been in the Colonial Police Force in the then Tanganyika, and
his insights into former colonial life and the dramatic changes within
the country added greatly to our enjoyment.
border to Mozambique, one of Vickie’s favorite countries, and continuing
southward. Mozambique had been war torn for over 20 years which was
readily visible when visiting its former great vacation centers, now mainly
in ruins with only traces of their former glory. The coast, off lying islands
and beautiful beaches, coupled with the friendliest, and most organized,
of the African people’s we met (you can hitch a ride anywhere, and we frequently
did with the whole family piling in the back of an old pick up) added to
the charm of this wonderful country, were the locals are striving hard
to rebuild there former lives and return Mozambique to the holiday playground
of Africa. Time to change crew again. This time anchored in the stunning
Bazaruto Archipelago and onwards to South Africa leaving Mozambique, with
our many happy memories, behind. Carlos, a young Argentinean and
Sue from England had joined us and first stop Richards Bay. Here 2 months
of exploring, relaxing and making friends, with a little essential maintenance
thrown in for good measure.
It never ceases
to amaze me how many other like minded soles are around, either joining
us for legs of our cruise or doing it themselves aboard all manor of craft,
but these meetings invariably result in many happy hours sharing tales
of previous or forthcoming adventures. I’m sure we meet more of the
great ‘Escape Artists’ afloat than anywhere else!
with its abundance of natural resources, wonderful wildlife and scenery,
made for a great cruising ground and a continuous stream of people joined
us for one leg or another all the way to Cape Town. We rounded the
Cape of Good Hope with a party of 4 English lads, whales, dolphins, seals
and penguins and one of the most spectacular phosphorescent displays I’ve
ever scene, water pyrotechniques at its best! Cape Town and Hout
Bay in particular was among our favorite destinations.
A very beautiful city, surrounded by hills, mountains and National Parks.
Lots of exploring, and even better, lots and lots of crayfish courtesy
of our 9 year old son and couple of lobster pots! In Hout Bay
we became involved in the booming film industry, as ‘Onfe’ is an extremely
pretty yacht, and was soon spotted and commandeered by the local film scout
responsible for finding suitable boats for the industry. Yet another
diverse and extremely interesting diversion for us before moving onwards
to escape the approaching southern winter.
from Cape Town, we cruised the barren coast of Namibia as far as Walvis
Bay. This mainly desert country, one of the worlds great diamond
areas had beaches where gems (unfortunately no diamonds) were there for
the collecting and the strange floating vacuum cleaners used to recover
the diamonds from the sea bed plied the inshore waters. We have since met
more than one cruiser who has funded there trip with Namibian diamonds.
Now came our next major ocean crossing. With the notorious Indian
Ocean under our belt and ‘Onfe’ having already proved herself as a most
capable, safe and comfortable ocean cruiser, we were looking forward to
the South Atlantic crossing to Brazil.
We set off
from Walvis Bay, with 2 South Africans, keen to learn as much as I could
teach them about sailing and crossing oceans. The sailing was superb,
with gentle trade winds interspersed with lively squalls to keep us on
our toes, and plenty of opportunity for the crew to practice there new
found skills, from sail changes to weather forecasting. 9 days out we sighted
the forbidding rocky cliffs of St Helena, a British owned island in the
middle of the South Atlantic. Famous as the last home and resting place
of the exiled Napoleon. To our delight the island turned out to be
an absolutely beautiful respite. Wonderful walks through verdant countryside,
locals with great tales to tell and no tourists as St Helena has no airfield
and is serviced only by a supply ship every 2 weeks. Napoleon’s house
was fascinating, accentuated by the most enthusiastic French guide who
kept us all spell bound for 2 hours with his anecdotes of life in the house
whilst Napoleon lived there. Its only fair to say at this stage,
that each of our destinations definitely deserves its own article at least.
open ocean leg followed our departure from St Helena, 15 days to Salvador,
Brazil and our first foray into Latin America. What a country of
colour, friendliness and festivals! The Brazilians always have an
excuse to party and Salvadorians were no exception. We spent a remarkable
4 months cruising this diverse area, exploring everything from the cities,
small remote islands and villages to the varied river anchorages and market
towns still served by heavily laden donkey’s. We were inundated with
people wanting to join us and those that did, like us, were totally fascinated
while getting a real feel for the Brazilian culture and lifestyle.
We left the Salvador area with numerous happy memories and 3 Israeli girls
and headed north to explore Brazils North Eastern coast. In Natal
we climbed and played on the giant sand dunes and found a great new use
for the body boards with the steep sandy slopes. While in Forteleza we
were anchored off Brazils largest open air rock concert which soon became
a case of ‘If you can’t beat them, join them’ so we spent 3 nights entertained
by Brazil's best Rock, Jazz and Folk stars, little sleep but a great time!
tired but happy with 2 Swedish girls aboard we headed North for the Caribbean,
the famous sailors playground. Stopping on route in French Guyana
at Isle Du Salut, readers of Papillion will be familiar with the notorious
French prison of ‘Devils Island’. In fact all 3 islands in the group
possessed prisons and wandering among the half overgrown ruins was both
sinister and captivating. Having prisons on such beautiful islands
was in stark contrast to the surroundings. For us the break in
our northward journey was similar to St Helena, a very pleasant surprise,
as we enjoyed walks amongst the lush tropical vegetation, exploring the
ruins and generally relaxing in the beautiful surroundings.
in Tobago late October 2003 heralded the beginning of the next stage of
our ocean wanderings, Venezuela and the Caribbean. The strong West
Indian flavour was savoured by us all and many happy hours were spent exploring
Trinidad and Tobago with there heavily forested hills, quaint towns and
villages and golden beaches. With the lead up to carnival just
beginning we were treated to plenty of calypso and steel pan band music
and even previews of this years costumes, magnificent to say the least.
The trip to
Venezuela gave us a taste of another Latin American society, with its desperate
economic climate working heavily in our favour we stocked up with everything
we could carry on board and ‘Onfe’ sank another couple of inches in the
water with all the weight. The stark contrast to the heavy foliage,
of Brazil, The Guyana’s and Trinidad, proved an invigorating change.
Little rain and low humidity, typical desert foliage with an abudance of
cacti, clear waters and no shortage of giant Iguana’s and small tree Boa’s
made our forays to the hill tops for those breathtaking panoramic views
delightful. Although we didn’t venture too far into Venezuela,
we have to keep something for the next trip! We thoroughly enjoyed the
cruising we did there and the people we met.
We have spent
the last few months slowly working our way through the chain of Caribbean
islands which surprisingly are very diverse both in topography, sophistication
and culture, leading us to always wait in happy anticipation for the next.
Over the past 2 years we have shared our adventure with so many different
people of all ages and nationalities, both children and adults, and thoroughly
enjoyed, as they have, the whole experience, and are looking forward to
what lies ahead and all the people who will join us for the future legs
of our journey. More of the Caribbean, Dominican Republic,
Cuba then Florida. Across the Atlantic to the Mediterranean stopping
at Bermuda and the acclaimed cruising of the Azores. The summer to be spent
in my old stamping ground, the Med. and all the changes that have undoubtedly
We have been
asked so many times ‘What are the highlights of your trip?’ to which there
is no defined answer, virtually every day leads to new adventures and experiences.
But comments from our various crews have given me a new insight into what
I have taken for granted for so many years. The simple pleasures
of sailing at night with a canopy of bright stars, Dolphins playing in
the bow wave, leaving magical phosphorescent trails at night, steering
30 tons of yacht in a brisk 20 knot breeze, the feeling of being at one
with the elements and harnessing their power to drive you onwards, swimming
mid ocean in the richest blue water over 5000 metres deep, catching
the large ocean fish and eating them fresh and the excitement of arriving
at the next new place.
One of my personal
delights is having been able to share, with others, the joys of sailing,
often made prohibitive by the usual high cost, by offering on board vacations
or adventure sailing legs to those keen to join us at a much lower
cost. I know we have converted many ‘Land Lubbers’ to bona fide
‘Yachties’, so If you are interested in following our adventures or joining
us aboard, take a look at our web site http://groups.msn.com/bluewatersailing
would love to hear from you.
John ? Vickie
Billingham, Antigua, March 2004
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