Thursday, September 29, 2011

Moving onto Andando tomorrow.

It is time! I have been so excited just like a little girl holding her daddys` hand on her way to the Zoo. But tonight I am up, and can`t sleep, because when I look at the big entrance of the Zoo with the posters of animals all over, my tummy is turning and ending in a knot! But I am a big girl now, and I am still holding my Daddys` hand and I know that I am going to love the Zoo.

We borrowed jerry cans to fill up diesel, and we hired a car, and we drove to the fuel station to buy the diesel for so cheap. We sniffed diesel all the way there and back, doing three trips already. Don`t think I am complaining, although I prefer the smell of petrol to diesel...
Marco and Joe are sleeping on Andando again tonight, rolling around last night on the plastic covers on the matresses. So tonight I covered the matresses with a nice protective cover for a soundless sleep. Martin, the last remaining previous crew member is moving off tomorrow morning, so Andando will be fully occupied tomorrow by our family!

Catlyn is still a handfull, making sure we will not forget her in the next couple of months. I washed her top deck yesterday and gave her a good layer of polish. The rest of her still has to be done before Monday. It will be easier for me to clean and store her in a good way as soon as we moved onto Andando. I`ve already took out the dehumidifier to keep her dry, and I can just recall the stuffy boat we had in Langebaan (SA) during winter.

Yacht Island Khaya, from SA, and now laying in the beautiful Store Bay, asked us about our sick engine.. We are still waiting for Yanmar Holland for a reply, after Yanmar Trinidad took so many photos and eventually they took the whole sail drive with as well. I am sure they can replace everything without us being aboard, but we will be staying for a week or so to do our antifouling as soon as we are back in Trinidad. My Skipper promised to write a complete report on the whole sail drive issue and the outcome as soon as we have news.

Now that I shared my excited nervousness with you, I feel a bit better, and will try to get some sleep ...

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Caring for two yachts!

Busy, busy! It is much nicer living like water people, than it is to live like land people. I am way too close to everything that just occupy my mind and keep my body busy. In the early mornings we spend some time getting Catlyn empty and organised to lock her up for three months or so, and the rest of the day we fill and organise Andando. Inbetween is a walk of about 1,5km with a load as heavy as your arms can hold. I got the solution for catching a ride though. All the time we`ve been walking, but all the cars just drove past. Yesterday with our arms stretching under the load, a man stopped and saved us the walk. I still wonder? Was it my new sexy straw cowboy hat, or was it Johans` very sore gout wobbly knee?

We are planning to sail away on Monday. We catch the taxi to the town, for 5TT$ (R5.00) per person, and real African style, just holding your breath for a while, they drop you somewhere. At first we went to the lovely Waterpark Mall, but we enjoy the town much more with the buzz and flavor of the local people. I bought a new camera, pocket size Kodak Easyshare Sport for 900TT$ because I dropped our very expensive Canon something in Suriname, and I was totally lost without one.


Today we are filling the gas bottles for the long trip. We ordered some big cans for extra diesel and fresh water. The diesel is so cheap over here, we want to fill up and take whatever we can.



Thursday, September 22, 2011

Dejavu!

A lot of things happened in a very short time since my last blog!

Catlyn is safe on the hard, high up in the air and we are rubbing and scrubbing and cleaning off all the rust with my vinegar bottle. Marco is the happiest crew member with a total of nine friends from all the boats, running around and having fun.

Yacht Andando! This is the new Maverick laying in Coral Cove, Trinidad, and I would like to introduce you to her, because for the next two months you are going to hear a lot about her. She is the second most beautiful boat in the world, and her owner is awaiting her in New Zealand. We found her abandoned, and my mother instinct took control of my body, seeing this lovely boat in the water. Before we really knew what happened, what started of as a joke among our family changed into serious discussions. Three days later we are proud and excited to say that our family will sail Andando to New Zealand within the next couple of days!

This is double trouble! We are rubbing and scrubbing two boats now! The two previous crew members, Martin and Jaco are lending a hand.  Johan fixed some problems and are still running around trying to keep a jealous Catlyn happy on the one side, and a neglegted Andando on the other side. Patiently I am awaiting my turn...

Andandos' launch a few months ago :

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Peakes Yachts Services

We were up and ready to take Catlyn to Peakes. Everything went so smooth with all the help on land, and soon Catlyn was strapped with yellow bands across her belly, safely attached and checked by the diver.  I remember hauling her out in South-Africa, and holding your breath, because they don`t use a diver to check underneath your boat, they just hope for the best! The spiderlike trolley lift lifted her gently out of the water, and the men with the pressure water were ready!


She wasn`t very dirty. I am sure all the rubbing and scrubbing every time we beached her, helped a lot! While they were cleaning her, life still goes on, and Marco finished his maths paper. Trust me, it was not because he is such a dedicated student! On land he had 4 friends waiting for him, and who is going to let an exam paper interfere with the poor social life of a yacht kid?

Very slowly we were moved with another trolley to our location, up an isle with many boats.


 Catlyn was squeezed into a corner, and after a cup of coffee, we started cleaning off the red river stains.  Oxilic Acid works like a dream, and with a gin and tonic break every now and then, Catlyn didn`t seem so huge anymore.

But it was wierd to be up in the air on dry land after so many months being waterborne! I kept on feeling Catlyn swaying..or was it the tonic? When I woke up during the dark night, and came into the saloon, I got such a fright to see another boats` bow in Catlyns window! Did we drag? What is this boat doing so close? A thousand scary thoughts entered my mind in seconds, before I remembered, we were on dry land, high up in the air!

The boys and I went for a shower to Peakes facilities, and just stood under the hot water running down our bodies. I couldn`t get my brain to lift my hand to turn the water down....I just couldn`t. For weeks we couldn`t use our sick engine anymore to heat up the water in Catlyn, and never do you open a tap full blast anyway, and never do you stand and close your eyes to enjoy the feeling of water running down your body.

It is me and the mozzies again! With lots of rain, high humidity, standing water....the females are smiling when they see me walking by, and I can feel their eyes following me.Their biological clocks are ticking, smelling the warm blue blood in my veins...tonight!

Peakes website : http://www.peakeyachts.com/

video

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Trinidad and the area.

We are in Trinidad already for a couple of days now,did the usual Customs and Immigration, the first day, conveniently close by all the Ship Yards and buoys, and it only took a couple of minutes. We found a HI-LO Supermarket for all our basic needs and a sweet bit more.  I still can`t get used to the big ships laying in the same bay as us, and moving around us. Sometimes their growling engines are quite intimidating, and sometimes when one of those big ones is heading for us, I pathetically hang on to a fender!

We contacted two ship yards, Peakes and Power Boats, the only ones equipped to haul out Catlyn`s voluptious`derierre`. Power Boats are full, and Peakes promised to squeeze us in asap. Johan contacted the Yanmar Dealer, a very professional guy, to handle the inspection and repair of our sick engine. There is a couple of well equipped marine shops, and if they do not have the stock, they offer to order immediately. No import duties and taxes are payable on any imported spare parts and shipp stuff! Clever country! They boost their own marine economy!
Aboard all is good! Marco started with his exams yesterday and wrote Economics this morning. I came to the conclusion that he might not be that clever, but because he is always in such an extreme hurry to get to play, he studies very quickly and knows to do well to please his teacher.

Johan, Joe and myself, we are trying to get to the `to do list`, but new `to do` things keep popping up! Yacht Grainedo is out on the hard, and my dear girlfriend, Veronique, is very `femininely` busy scrubbing down the anti-fouling.  Soon I will do the same, and I really hope there will be some cosmetic value in all the grime!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Trinidad

We had a great sail with the wind averaging between 10 and 15 knots all the way to Trinidad.During our sail a huge Guard ship came up behind us, out of the blue in the blue, and if you are sailing a little boat like ours, it is quite intimidating and a slight shock when one of those big ships just close up on you. They asked us to stay clear of 4 nm to the West because of Seismic cabling. They warned us of seismic activity.  We could see some more ships in that direction.

My night shift was between 00h00 and 04h00 and we were circled by big Guard ships three times during my shift.  Was it because of the work on the Seismic cable, or because of the State of Emergency in Trinidad? Either way I felt so safe with these big ships all around me…

We arrived at Trinidad around 07hoo, an hour too early, and the tide was against us. We slowly moved forward, but it was so beautiful sailing in peace and calm between these green hills popping out of the sea, after a couple of dolphins played around Catlyn. 




 The tide turned and we sped forward, and soon reached Chaguaramas.  It is really a monstrous hospital for a lot of sick boats! I`ve never seen something like this before.  Poor Elliot Basin in SA,  is smaller than one ship yard. We radioed our friends, Grainedo already somewhere, and picked up a mooring.  We were just one of many boats, small, big, monstrous cargo ships, old and new waiting on the doctors` list.

 Chaguaramas sunset from Catlyns deck

Store Bay, Tobago

Boats we met along our travels were awaiting us in StoreBay. Apparently it is the safest bay around, especially when the hurricanes are blowing.  We anchored safely and after lunch went over to say hallo to Yacht Iza. We counted a total of seven South-African yachts in this bay, all catamarans! Hey, what is happening in my country back there?  Marco went children shopping, and found a boat with two boys, the American yacht, Eclipse!  Joe is still hoping to meet beautiful bikini girls soon…  it is Sunday, so the town is sleeping, and we will explore it tomorrow!

It is Joes` born day, and we woke him with tea and chocolate chip cookies, one of his many favorites, and Marco enticed him to the balloon filled saloon!  He enjoyed a letter from his grandmother, skype with his brother and sister and sexy aunts and feeling special the whole day. We went out for lunch at Capaninas, for mouthwatering huge pizzas and a full tummy was just the best present we could give Joe!

Wednesday morning, 7th September we took a taxi to Scarborough.  All the cars with the registration plate starting with a `P` is private cars, but will stop and give you a lift for a fee.  The taxi`s registration plates start with a `H`. Luckily John from the Internet CafĂ© told us to only pay 12$TT, that is about R14, and nothing more!  We did but because we definitely look like tourist in a dark environment, we were asked 12US$.  Quite a difference, don`t you think?  We went to Immigrations and Customs to get stamped out to Trinidad. We almost had a problem, because we left the boys at home, and now they were asking for them. Thank goodness the friendly guy let us go with a smile.


As usual on our departure day, Catlyn was starting to drag this morning, and we knew it was time to go. We lifted anchor and we were on our way to Trinidad!




Suriname to Tobago

The wind was a steady 9-13 knots all the time, and we had a good sail for the first two days.  The swells were on the beam and we were slightly uncomfortable for the first day, and then we turned westward and the swells came from the back, much better!  As always the screecher was out, and billowing in the light wind!
I have to share with you the curry crab that we enjoyed during the sail!
 Day and night we had a steady sail. For the first night we had some fishing boats and big cargo ships along the way, but then only the odd big one passed us in the distance. The moon was dark, but since we left South-African waters in December 2010, this was the most beautiful starlit sky I ever saw!  It lit up the darkness of the night and reflected in the dark waters below, where the fluorescent spots were playing along.  I could even count the 7 stars of the Little Sisters, individually…remind me to tell you the Indian tale of these 7 stars, and how they were hanged up in the dark sky…  

The last evening the wind died down completely and stayed away for the whole night and the next day, and of course by now we were pressured for time.  We have to be in Tobago on Friday, today, before at least 14h00, because the Immigration and Custom offices close at 16h00! They will assist you after hours, but then we have to spend our money for the KFC, on a fine of R300. What a total waste that will be!  So we motored, and then our water pump packed up and we had to swop our sick engines` pump to the starboard engine!  The time was running out, but slowly we neared Scarborough. 

The usual flag hosting seremony for a new country
Tobago in background

The huge monstrous ferries between Tobago and Trinidad passed us with an amazing speed, and we slowly entered the harbour area.


Where to go now? With no other masts of yachts in sight, we motored to the Port area, but after radio-ing them, they told us to go back a little and anchor close to the Coast Guard.


 Easier said than done, Catlyn struggled to move her big butt with only one engine and our Skipper turned her around very slowly trying to use the wind and current to swing her.  At last we dropped anchor close to the Coast Guard, with them watching us. But just as soon as we were sure the anchor is good and settled, they waved us to lift up anchor again and move a little bit backwards.  Oh my word… and we have all the time in the world, still have to drop the dinghy, search for safe docking, then start searching in a total strange town for the right buildings for Immigration and Customs! But we took a deep breath, very deep indeed, lifted anchor, dropped again, secure it, got into the dinghy and definitely  don`t look in the Coast Guards direction….and then took a steady jog up the street, while asking people on the street corners for directions.  Just before 15h00 we started the process at the one building for Customs, only to find out we have to do Immigration first, but any way to make a long hot jog and prayer short..we made it! Exactly 15h59 the guy handed us our receipt for the U$9, we had to pay and we were stamped into a new country! And we walked over to the KFC for a well deserved reward…this family can move if there is a take away on the other end!



Tuesday, September 6, 2011

To our Followers ....

Thank you for giving me the inspiration to write this blog… I thought it to be a memoir for my old age, but your participation and your face on the right hand side of the blog, , and your comments gave it a whole new reason. I thank you…

Mike asked a question: “How do you know where to go, and what to do?”

Mike, as soon as you get onto your yacht and start sailing the Big Blue, a lot of things fall into place  in the Universe,  to give the people living so close together, and so close to Nature the best time of their lives!

The wind , the sun, the moon and stars accompany you all the way, and with the man-made charts on the Raymarine E80 we know where it is safe to go, and setting the auto pilot makes our lives so much easier. Just to double check, we also rely on our handheld, Garmin.

Before we sail into a direction, we download info about the area, the anchorages, the Customs and Immigration formalities.  A lot is available from a website Noonsite and cruising guides. We also visit and read other cruisers blogs similar to ours. We often visit wiki files for sailors example : xxxxxxxxxxxxx (Click here).

As soon as we hit a town, we enjoy going to the local shops and talking to the local people. Usually they are so eager to introduce us to their town and country. The tour operators and tourist info centers are loaded with brochures and free advise.

But maybe the biggest supply of info is the closest bar where all the yachties get together for a beer. Being a bunch of people who have to help and rely on each other, they can’t wait to share their stories and adventures. Everyone copies info about the next port or country, charts, pilotage, movies, music, whatever….  We help each other make our lives easier! When someone has a problem with an impeller or a pump or whatever, you will find all the men gathering trying to solve the problem, bringing spanners or wire to help. If an engine puffs white smoke they’ll see to a solution or if it puffs black smoke they’ll start looking worried together…

And of course it is the “gypsy blood’ flowing blue and salty in our veins! We will get onto a bus and just enjoy the unexpected given by the trip. Or we will rent a car, and just hit a road and wait for the day to unfold. Or we will start walking for miles, allowing ourselves to live only that moment, as if nothing else exists!

PS. To all our followers…I share our lives with you in so many detail. Please let us know who you are and share a little bit of your life. 

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Good Bye Suriname and Friends

The current pushed us out  of the Suriname river. We passed one of many barges filled with sand, probably for all the road works going on. ( I hope a bit will land on the Brownsberg area)


We sat down at dawn at our table to enjoy the remaining tub of delicious ice cream from last night (Peter brought) . While the cool sweetness filled our bellies we thought about a beautiful evening we had last night. We invited our rescue angels from the Brownsberg saga, Peter, Eline, Aude and Cyril to say thank you. Yacht Tika and Out of Africa showed them their yachts and then they all came to Catlyn for dinner.  Peter surprised us with the lovely tubs of ice cream, and we enjoyed it with the traditional family recipe of lemon meringue I baked. Luckily after Joe`s potent punch and all the snacks and two of the three tubs of ice cream, one of them were left untouched in our freezer!

We said good bye, knowing that we will meet again some day...just living our lives!
From Left Front : Joe, John, Eline, Peter, Claud, Marlene, Jo-Anne
From Left Back : Aude, Cyril, Marco, Rolf, Johan

Suriname

Domburg anchorage

We lifted anchor this morning, and it was time to go! Suriname was good to us, and we could stay for longer, but our port engine really needs a doctor now!

Domburg was a lovely safe anchorage with great holding, and a very moderate current. The couple of eating houses serve great  and inexpensive food, and the small market and little shops are good enough to buy the things you need. Wi-fi is available from the internet shop for 10 Euros per week. I used the water from the river for my dishes and my washing machine. I only kept the whites separate for the water in the tank. The boys spoiled me every other night with a bath tub filled with brownish river water.  I enjoyed it with my glass of wine, but the bubble bath didn’t bubble! I heard that fresh water is available from a fish factory close by. If you need to fill up fuel, the gas station is at Domburg, where you can fill up your jerry cans. Our 9,5kg gas bottle was empty, and we gave it to Rita`s who organized the fill up, and we paid, 18Euros. (much better than the 32Euros in Brazil)

It is an easy country to travel, with the bi-lingual assistants at the Tourist Info, the signage all along the roads and the helpful people.  The roads aren`t too good at certain places as you`ve read, but I saw a lot of road works happening.

If you are in the area, and you have the time, you can spend a little at Suriname!

Experiencing the Suriname River

 Our group were packed and prepared for a day somewhere in the jungle! But to our surprise we found our bus, where we parked it ashore without both `flicker lampen` To the `Politie` we went! We reported the incident, and found out that we also have to be very sure of locking our dinghies as well, because the engines are very popular! We phoned the Car Rental company, only to find out that the insurance we paid for, of course doesn`t cover `lampen`.  We were in for  100 Euro. Thank goodness, it was a little less than the 300Euro for our little window in French Guyana. This didn`t break our speed, and soon we were on our way.  The road (200km) was not too bad, and we reached Atjoni, a very small village, where we met again, the blonde mom and daughter from Holland with their guide, Wilson.  We met them at Stone Island, next to a lake at a beautiful setting.  A little brown capuchin and a little bush pig stole our hearts at Stone Island. 
Stone Island



We even considered staying there for the night at 5 Euros per person. But we drove off, and we found ourselves in a long dug out boat with a lot of people with all their stuff.  Wilson persuaded us to come to the jungle with him, up the river to his family!  He will provide us with a the boat trip, a place to sleep, dinner and breakfast and the time of our lives!

Wilson on the left in the store buying our rations

We negotiated a price of 600 SRD, 120 Euros for our group of eight, everything included!  And off we went!

When inside the boat, we sat back and enjoyed the breath taking journey deep into the forest with this long wooden boat, (about 14m).

For two and a half hours we went down this huge river.  At some stages we had to slow down to pass the shallow black rocks, and sometimes we had to pick up speed for the rapids.  After many stops at villages, dropping some people, delivering verbal messages along the way, we eventually reached Bota Pasi.

Wilson took us to a wooden building with some rooms and a couple of beds and place to hang your hammocks.  The kitchen was filled with all the necessities, and a shower with a bucket for water and a toilet also with a bucket. There is no running water and the water we used came from the big black tank filled with water from the river. Electricity is switched on for a couple of hours during the evening. We settled and with my new mozzie nets, we changed our room in the honeymoon suite and the boys set up their hammocks for the night.


We went down to the river, watching the children cleaning the catch of the day, and some still hoping for something for dinner.  The only monkey I saw was the squirrel monkey with the round bullet hole in his chest, hanging from the hand of a man coming out of the forest. The only Toucan I saw was the one nervously jumping around in a small cage. This made me wonder….what will be for dinner?
We walked around the village with the people looking at us, and we looking at them. An old grey man showed me the `calabash` tree  and called his wife to show me the `kalbassie` after they ate the inside and cleaned and decorated it.  Now it was ready to sip your beer from it! 

 A young girl told me about the rice they grow deep in the forest, and showed me how she dry them in the sun on the bamboo mat.  The old women with the brightly colored cloth around her hips, bend low to show me the `maroeba` beans she will grind tomorrow to make oil for her cooking.

Starving, but a little bit apprehended about the menu, we went to the hut near the big tree with the wooden benches, the bar!  We sat around the tree, with the boys catching fire flies in our plastic cups. Eventually Wilson stopped talking for a moment, and dinner was served!  Steamed rice and a very bitter vegetable ( mozzies hate that), so you can imagine me having a second helping. The `chicken` cut into small pieces was prepared with a sweet sauce.  Was it chicken cut into small pieces?  Later we also had barbequed chicken grilled by the bar man.  My family devoured all, and even enjoyed my portion of meat too.  I just kept seeing a dangling monkey…
Joe was invited by the young men to join them for the night visiting a nearby village.  He wasn`t sure about the rules of the road…drinking and driving while steering this long dug out, so he decided to rather stay and enjoy the evening on solid ground. Tummies full we slept well among the village people, and woke up the next morning by the people getting ready for a days` work.

After scrambled eggs and peanut butter on fresh bread and black coffee we were good to go.  We waved good bye to the school teacher, the captain and the bar man and all the little children already busy washing the dishes and dirty clothes in the river, and we left with the long dug out. Thanks to all for an unforgettable experience!
Ps. Joe put his camera down for a while, and is working on something for his pages.  I had a sneaky peak, and you can't miss out on that!

Neotropical Butterfly Park

It is a worthwhile visit! Driving through Lelydorp we followed the sign post to the butterfly park. Our guide took us through all the stages from a little egg to a beautiful butterfly flying around us. The insect museum was also good with beetles and spiders and many more in glass boxes.
  They export the pupas all over the world and also supply snakes and red spotted turtles to zoos and pet shops.  Marco stretched his muscles in the playground, while we sipped on a beer.