Thursday, 26 January 2017

Sharks of Cocos Keeling Movie

Just a little movie of the sharks that lived around the boat whilst we were in Cocos Keeling last year. I  tied my camera to a stick and held it under water. Wasn't sure if it was to become a shark snack, thankfully not, but they bumped it a few times!

Wednesday, 11 January 2017

African Safaris. How to DIY your own safari

For the first time ever, we left the boat and travelled inland. Can you believe they let you drive your own car into the game reserves? When we found out this fact, we hired a car, booked accommodation within the national parks and spent the best part of two weeks spotting wildlife on our own DIY safari.

We visited Kruger National Park, Hluhluwe-Imfolozi, St Lucia and Emdoneni Cheetah Project. Hope you like my photos.

Safaris really don't have to be all that expensive.

  • Car hire really is reasonably priced in South Africa and even better if you find friends to share the cost with. Strangely best value was found booking through Expedia rather than going direct to the rental company, as insurance and unlimited kms were included.  
  • We bought a Wildcard from South Africa National Parks; it gives us unlimited access for a year and ended up paying for itself after a few days. Plus we can use it when we get to Cape Town.
  • We booked simple accommodation within the national parks which was all excellent. The safari tents were our outright favorites. Don't think camping, imagine hardwood floors and four poster beds with mosquito net drapes.  
  • We bought all our own food and drinks from the supermarket and barbecued every night. Most camps did have small supermarkets/gift shops and prices were only marginally more. Useful if you don't have a camping fridge in the car. We even had a sneaky hyena try to steal the meat from our brai!
  • You can organise game drives in high open sided vehicles and bush brais directly at the camps and they tend to know exactly where to find the animals. We actually found so many animals on our own that we didn't take part in this activity.
  • Lastly take care, be sensible around the animals and follow all the park rules.  Elephants have been know to rolls cars over.

A massive sucess story, the white rhino was brought back from the verge of extinction

Tuesday, 10 January 2017

Lemurs of Madagascar

A few photos of the lemurs we encountered in Madagascar.  They are such skittish funny little creatures.  Pretty hard to photograph too as they don't seem to keep still for a millisecond and they like to climb all over you in the hope of getting a piece of banana which they absolutely love. But such a wonderful experience I won't forget.

Baby lemur sitting on Mum's back, sitting on Zack's shoulders

Can I take a photo too.  No, it's my go.

I think I can hear the Mission Impossible theme tune planying

Tuesday, 27 December 2016

Christmas in Zululand Yacht Club

We don't have windows on our boat in the conventional house sense, but as I gaze out of Chantey's companion way hatch in Zululand Yacht Club to the other berthed boats, the weather has finally reached a comfortable 25 degrees after weeks of soaring 30 degrees: a brief but welcome hiatus. The sky is diffused grey with clouds and odd speckles of blue peeping through. 

There are all sorts of boats berthed here, from tough grunty work boats to floating family cabins. We are just passing through along with a handful of other cruising yachts all poised for the inevitable sail south to Cape Town. 

We've really enjoyed our time here. It's quite a unique little place and spending Christmas here feels reminiscent of the camping trips we used to do in New Zealand and childhood summer holidays in Europe.  The yacht club and marina is a walled and gated area of beach and verdant parkland, excess green space is rented out to family campers. Quite an ingenious set up I've never come across before.  Picnic tables galore are surrounded by barbecues, or to use the correct local terminology, brai.  We even commandeered the pizza oven to cook our Christmas turkey.  

The Afrikaans people have got their Christmas celebrations down to a tee by keeping it low key and simple. Big family groups of several generations congregate, with the guys in charge of the brai, the women bring the salads, the kids are engaged in a giant game of rugby. Everyone is relaxed, simply enjoying each other's company; there doesn't feel the commercial pressures I've seen in Europe and America. The warm weather and outside space probably help a lot. But I really like the simple way the Afrikaans celebrate Christmas.

Watching the kids making new friends and running around freely, swimming in the pool for hours on end brings back fond memories I have of my family summer holidays in Europe growing up. Looking back and reminiscing, the kind of travel my family did when I was a child sowed the seeds of this insatiable desire I have now to keep on exploring the world.

We hope you all had a great Christmas wherever you are in the world. Wishing you all a happy new year.

Will and Karen 

Wednesday, 16 November 2016

On route to Inhacca

Calypso and Chantey are on route to Inhacca, Mozambique. We're going to wait out the strong wind forecast in Richards Bay. All well on board.

Monday, 14 November 2016

Waiting for weather in Mozambique

Calypso and Chantey are still anchored at Linga Linga, Inhambane, Mozambique. We're waiting for weather to sail directly to Richards Bay. All well on board.

Friday, 28 October 2016

Trading in Madagascar

I was lying blissfully on my bed enjoying that beautiful moment just between sleep and wakefulness on a typically scorching Madagascar morning. 

"Get up here now, get up on deck now Karen." Will's voice rudely boomed.

"But I'm not wearing much." I replied, ripped from my reverie.

"I don't care. Come now."

"Look, he's got a crocodile."

A local man who goes by the name Baby had paddled out to Chantey transporting a live crocodile in the hull of his dugout canoe.

"Vous voulez acheter un crocodile?" Came the jolly reply. 

Eek, Mrs Smith's GSCE French class didn't prepare me for this eventuality! A return train ticket to Lyon or directions to the local pharmacy, YES, but a travelling salesmen knocking on our nautical equivalent of a front door selling a live crocodile, sadly a big fat NO. 

We politely declined with a "non merci," but he did have limes and bananas which we were happy to receive. If it had been me paddling a canoe containing a grumpy crocodile, which I hasten to add will never ever happen, I would arrange my other merchandise behind my crocodile's tail.  But no, Baby was comfortable stepping over the crocodile's snarling snout to retrieve his fruit sack stored in the canoe's bow. Our business for the morning concluded and he paddled over to the next anchored boat. It reminded me of the double glazing salesmen and those people that used to knock on our front door at home to convince us to switch electricity companies, only a little more bizarre. 

Roasting locally harvested coffee beans on the beach

Over our time in Madagascar, we've dropped our anchor in a number of remote bays that appear to be uninhabited, then ten minutes later, dugout canoes show up to visit us. Often we've no idea where they've come from. But they've come to trade. With almost no access to the nearest town, let alone the outside world, many Malagasy have few possessions and it is said the average citizen survives on $1 a day. It's clear to see that this is one of the world's poorest countries. Our canoe visitors bring us small quantities of mangos, limes, tomatoes, eggs, lobsters, crabs, even a live chicken. They ask in return for t-shirts, shorts, hats, fishing gear, particularly the elastic for spearfishing guns, sometimes exercise books abs pencils for school. Most seem happy to trade, which makes us happy. It is quite tricky though to know what to do. When you meet someone who has so little, it's hard to take from their limited food supplies. But we don't want to encourage reliance on charity or welfare either. It is such a fine balance and makes us feel very humble.

We've now visited a few villages and standards of living appear quite varied. I am guessing factors such a a good leader, arable land and proximity to tourism all affect the quality of life. The village that made us the saddest reminded me of a dust bowl scene from a charity commercial. We'd even heard two children had recently contracted malaria. But we've also visited hives of industry too where men are carving beautiful wooden masks and ornaments and women are sewing intricate lace tablecloths. The inhabitants of these villages have sense of civic pride with villages well ordered and nicely presented; life has gone beyond just survival. But there is no doubt life in Madagascar is tough. 

We even had a father and sick son visit us for medical advice.  We are not doctors, so just did the best we could to diagnose and advice. We believed the young boy to be suffering from chicken pox by the look of his skin. Our school French has certainly come in handy these last few months. 

Russian Bay was our favourite spot in Madagascar, we ended up returning three times. Over this time it was a pleasure to meet Meena, become her very first customer and watch her blossom into an empowered local business woman. A French lady had met Meena in the beach settlement and encouraged her to sell hot home made bread rolls to the anchored boat crews at breakfast time. On the first day, she was extremely shy and could not even make eye contact, so had to be accompanied by the French lady for moral support. The next few days she brought her friend who did all the talking and by this time, they had increased their offering to include mangos, papaya and homemade jam. The final time we went to Russian Bay, Meena was out there alone paddling her canoe and that breadbasket was always empty by the time she got home on the beach.

My all time favourite trade was for some wild honey where the locals smoke out the bees from the hives in the forest. I've only ever bought honey from the supermarket before so this is quite a treat, all one and a half litres of it!