Catapult!! Flight 208.

I’m now seated on flight 208, a Cessna Caravan, climbing en route to Zanzibar via Pemba. The aircraft landed at 1510. Everyone on it piled off and we piled on. Bags crossed paths, I saw mine heading in the right direction, reassuringly. The pilot jumped in, no co pilot, rattled off the safety instructions in about 5 seconds flat and taxied flat out to the apron. He swung her round without a pause and throttled up, taking off at 1520.
I was almost in hysterical laughter at this point. Zero safety checks, no refueling, no thought to weight distribution!! I feel like I’ve been catapulted off the deck of an aircraft carrier in a jet!!
The poor young Muslim woman next to me had a baby in her arms and couldn’t figure out the safety belt so I helped her. Then we climbed so fast her baby started crying. I suggested she feed him which is now in progress, with the accompanying blissful silence.
I took a minute to survey the seaward approach Josh and I navigated at night!!

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Not so bad after all!! It’s currently low tide so the sand bars are easy to see.
1544 and we’ve landed at Pemba. More internal giggling. Hit the deck so fast, no flaps until we are on the runway, then all the anchors dropped!! Almost did a handbrake turn off the runway. It’s hilarious, really. Bloody nice plane though, new with lovely cockpit gear. A certain amount of tech envy going on!!
My bag appears to have remained on board, happily. I can hear the baby screaming it’s lungs out in the terminal.
1555 – in the air again. Amazing!! No checks etc again. Lol. You gotta love Africa!!
There’s now a boy of about 8 in the co pilots seat. I preferred it empty. At least I could’ve climbed in if anything had hit the fan!! I’d love to have a go at the controls of this beauty. Though preferably not in extremis!! Still the way our trips been going…..
Arrived without drama, astonishingly. So did my bag. Grabbed a taxi to Stone Town and booked into a back packers for the night. It’s quite cool – poe!! An absolute rabbit warren though. Time for a shower and a wine, I believe!!

Flattery gets you every where!!

Boy, do the Swahili men love Mzungu women!!
Every where you go the lads, and disturbingly young ones, try to chat one up!!
I think I’ve mentioned before that age is meaningless here, and appearance and body shapes are equally unimportant. Western society could take a few lessons. People are just generally accepting.
However it does get tricky to try and be kind while turning down various sweet offers to show me round town etc etc!! So now when we’ve got through the pleasantries “mambo” “poe” “habari” “nzuri, asante” and some young chap with the massive smile looks at Josh, makes big shapes with his hands and says “boyfriend?”, I just nod and they give up!! Josh smirks and we move on!! When Lynsay arrives we’ll have to tell them we both belong to him, lol!!
We’re in Tanga today helping Frenchman Chris from the SY Taitoon buy a cell phone. At least Josh is. I’m sitting out side deflecting the attention of the locals!! It’s too cold in the shop which has the air con set at 18. brrrr!!
Yesterday we walked round trying to get supplies for the boat but couldn’t get epoxy or plywood anywhere. I did get my plane tickets to Zanzibar. I’ve also changed my Kenyan shillings to Tanzanian shillings on the black market. Plus a bottle of decent Scottish Whisky for $US9!!
It’s now 1030 and I’m sitting in the shade discussing rifles with the shop security guard while Josh helps Chris buy groceries!! Seriously, guys give girls gyp for taking a long time over things but omg, these two are a million times slower than I ever am. And keeping track of Chris is like keeping tabs on a two year old!! He ricochets off in all directions!!
I have far better things to do than wait for them all morning!!
1120: Finally back and just in time to help Cibyll fix her boat. Well, the others are. I need to go pack and get my pack over shore side.

Plan B!!

Maybe I should change my website name – less of the sailing!!

I’m sitting in the yacht club bar which is closed but a lovely spot anyway. We’ve been tossing around plan options.
Josh has a ton of work to do in Rangi, most of which I can’t help with. Michelle and Barnie kindly offered to have me sail with them to Zanzibar but they’re not going till Feb 1st. I don’t think I can afford to wait. So I think I’ll rock up to the airport on Wed and grab a flight to Zanzibar. Maybe have a couple of days there and then see if I can fly to Madagascar. Then return to Rangi, wherever Josh has her by then.
It’s easy to chill here but I’ve come a long way and it’d be silly to waste the opportunity.

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There’s so many beautiful things to see. Plenty to think about that’s less appealing too but I want to cover it all!!

Ruaha – day 5

Asante sana, Ruaha.
My last morning safari. We leave after lunch 😥

All the animals came out to see me off, I think. Even some I hadn’t seen before – Marabou stork, Fire finch, & a Sun bird.
As we drove, I pondered all I’d seen and everything Fan has told me. It has been a truly unique and life changing experience. I feel very emotional, in fact.
A bachelor group of elephants gave me my last hoorah!! They were fooling around in a muddy water hole, showing off and putting on a great display.
The drive out was extremely hot and bumpy. I read most of the way. We got to Iringa about 5pm and I checked in and showered before dinner. Kathy and Fan took me to a delightful Italian restaurant. Wonderful to have a change from rice and beans!! Swahili food is nice but not varied.

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Goodbye Ruaha. Kia Kaha!!

Ruaha – day 4

Under the Southern Cross-January 7th 2016.
I can see the southern cross from my window as I lie in bed. It makes me feel connected to everyone at home, reminds me the world is not so big we can’t see the same stars.
I can also hear the animals making night calls. I heard a lion roar and fairly close. They’re still grunting to each other as I write. It’s nearly 6am and time to get up. Dawn soon.

We head out and it seems the birds are up first so I guess there’s truth in that old adage!
Guinea fowl beside a pool, as well as geese, starlings and doves. Fan says the villagers catch the guinea fowl by putting a bucket of alcohol out. They get drunk on the fumes alone and can be caught!! So funny. Also
White bellied bustards, all male.

I was privileged to see a family of bat eared foxes. I spotted them which is great, especially since Kathy hadn’t seen them before either.

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Next up were some amazing weaver nests in a dead acacia, with two Asha Starlings perched above.

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Nearby we found some Tunneller dung beetles and under the shade of a tree, some gorgeous pink flowers, possibly from the Ipomoea family, according to my walking encyclopedia!!
Soon after a big troop of baboons crossed the road in front of us. I saw a baby feeding.
We stopped for breakfast at a gorgeous spot. Ground squirrels came out in the hope of food – sorry guys – and we spotted ostrich over the river.
Fan pointed out the enormous nest of a hammer corp above us. He said they even have chambers in them and share with other species. Even snakes!! Fascinating.
I’ve seen many abandoned anthills and finally a live one close to the trail. Even about these, Fan’s knowledge is extensive. I now know, among other things, that if the anthill is high, the burrow beneath is probably shallow. And vice versa. It’s to do with the water table.
We just saw some Kudu, like big deer with stripey sides. I couldn’t get a pic in the thick bush. They have adorably massive ears.
Then a dikdik , the smallest antelope, jumped across the road. They only grow up to 30cm maximum. Super cute.
And then, voila, a herd of impala and Kudu grazing together.
Today has been focused more on the plants and smaller animals so far. The entire ecosystem has displayed for my wonder. I love
the amazing Baobab trees, hollow inside and it’s wood largely water, inviting the elephants to eat it.
One of my favourites is the impala.
The rock formations here are inspiring and beautiful too.

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Fan told me the real name for this lizard, adding he also called it Superman, so if course that’s all I can remember!! The female isn’t this brightly coloured.
It’s siesta time again. When I get back to WiFi and post these, I hope you don’t find me too long winded!! I promise I’m trying to be concise. I swear the things I’ve experienced here would fill a book. It’s a life changing place.

The afternoon safari was meant to be a river drive but we’d been out barely an hour, having dawdled to watch a Grey Crowned Crane poised amid a troop of cheeky monkeys and a giraffe who gazed distainfully at us, when the skies opened.
As the area we were in was low lying, Kathy turned the truck round and we headed back towards Park headquarters. Earlier we’d winched out another truck in what should’ve been an easy enough area to get through, and that was before the rain.
And, boy, does it rain!! It was almost impossible to see our way. Fan spotted a Hippo in a Creek with his head tucked under the bushes!!

We slowly headed back and as we approached the settlement another driver stopped to tell us a lion had been seen near the airstrip. We drive down the side of the airstrip and there she was, right ahead atop a mound, resting peacefully.

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Fan saw a second and I found a third, hiding behind bushes to her left, young males, probably her cubs.
We watched quietly and were rewarded with hearing an adult male calling, a series of grunts that she was pretty interested in.
Suddenly they all got up and headed up the road. Off for the evening hunt, Fan said.
In awe, we followed at a respectful distance, cameras going flat out. Kathy commented the rain had turned is back for a very good reason!!
A jackal crossed the road, saw the lions and decided to keep out of the way!!
A truck came round a corner from the other direction, the lions paused, then moved left a bit and kept going! King of the jungle, huh.
What happened next was AMAZING to see!! All 3 lions moved into the savannah, kind of smooched each other, then fanned out to hunt. But from our right, a herd of elephants had seen them and was approaching fast. The very young ones had been left with some adults but all the rest, both massive adults and younger elephants came charging at the lions. It was an incredible sight. Ears out, trunks and tusks thrust forward, trumpeting their displeasure, they charged. It was awesome in the very real sense of the word.
I can still barely believe I was privileged enough to see that. The lions took off in different directions, having for the message loud and clear.
It was almost pitch dark by then and we headed in for dinner, buzzing with excitement. What a way to end my last full day in Ruaha. I’ve had so many truly wonderful moments and am eternally grateful to Kathy and Fan. I really landed on my feet with them!! They’re so passionate about this place and all in it.
The final salute – to the elephants!!

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Ruaha – day 3.

25.1.16: I’ve tried so many times to post the next three blogs but they won’t upload with pictures so I’m going to remove the pics and post. Sorry, guys.

Thought for the day – Love is moving shit uphill while standing on your head!!!
This, guys, is what the male dung beetles do!!
I’ve learned so much today and we’ve only done the morning safari!! So there’s 3 types of dung beetles and we watched the Roller dung beetles making balls out of elephant poop, then rolling them to the females at their den to lay the eggs in. They use the back legs to push so seem to end up walking on their front legs. It’s both hilarious and fascinating to see.

I actually truly can’t believe how amazing this country is. Why did I wait so long to come here? Today has, again, been mind blowing. I even felt a bit emotional at one point that I’m here alone. I want to be sharing it with loved ones so we can pour over the memories together later.

I’ll have to try and list things as we go or I’ll never remember! Such a wealth of wildlife.

So far today I’ve seen Great white egret, pigmy falcon,  various hornbills, goshawk, Egyptian goose, saddle billed stork, ostrich, white crowned and crowned lapwing, hammer corp, coucal , kingfishers, various rollers, grey capped social weaver and swallow.
Hippo, elephant, impala, zebra, lions, nile crocodile, giraffe, millipede, water monitor lizard, jackal, mongoose, roller dung beetles, terrapin, baboons, black faced monkeys.

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At one point we drove round a corner and I saw what looked like a muddy pool with a rock in it. The rock suddenly launched itself up and resolved into a huge male Hippo!! I cannot describe my excitement. Kathy told me is rare to see them out of the water in daylight.

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We visited a waterhole full of them later on.
Fan’s knowledge is astounding. I’ve soaked up all he’s had to tell me and I’ve yet to stymie him with a question. Not only about the big animals but the birds, bugs and plants.
I had a moment of glory spotting a lioness and her cub resting by bushes. It was too far away to photograph with this phone but I got some with my camera.
Both Fan and Kathy have expressed pleasure at taking someone on safari who loves the whole thing, the plants and animals. They said a lot of visitors are just ticking off their bucket list and don’t really seem to feel the sense of oneness with nature that I think you’d have to be dumb to miss!!
This is truly a special place.

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Siesta time now, and we’ll go out again later. It sure is hot!!

PM: Sand Grouse, ring necked dove, hyarox and an African Fish Eagle were the new species for the afternoon.
We whiled away a lot of time watching elephant, zebra and giraffe families with their young. Then got serious hysterics over the antics of roller dung beetles!!!

We finished the day eating local fare on the verandah, watching the light fade.
I was escorted back to my bungalow by two armed guards. It was pitch black and I could barely see them. They made me walk in the middle. It was pretty cool, lol. I wanted to know what their rifles were but got a very male look that said “why do you want to know? You’re a woman”  and a terse “semi” which didn’t tell me anything I didn’t know already!!
Guess these guys think most white women are generally inept!!
Another magic day in paradise closes.

Walk and Swim Tour

It’s 0600 and I can’t sleep. Backs giving me jip on this hard bed. It’s flat calm outside, the sea lapping gently against the hull.
We had an awesome afternoon yesterday. We were taken on a walk and swim tour of a mangrove swamp by a woman who has lived here for thirty years, having come out when she wasn’t much younger than me.
Josh’s friends, Michelle and Bernie, plus their daughters, Lola and Yana, arranged it with her. Another sailor, Jacques, came and two Norwegian girls who are here working with the peace corp. Also an expat kiwi, Kim and her South African husband, Mark.
So we walked through the mangroves with Mama Cibyll telling us all about the plants and animals scuttling round. She also showed us a local witch doctors hut and shrine where local people pay large sums for spells.
Than we came to the estuary river and just jumped in. We floated on the current for the next 2 or 3 hours, chatting as we drifted. It was marvelous. So relaxing. Such an interesting bunch of people. I’m very impressed with Lola and Yana. The family lives on the boat, sailing the world and they do correspondence from New Zealand. Such articulate and broad minded girls (aged 11 and 14).
We popped up on land again near Mama Cibyll’s house. She showed us a salt farm. Then we went back to her home, a beautiful setting looking out to sea. We had cold beer and cider, followed by delicious traditional swahili food made by a local girl she employs.
Came back to Rangi pleasantly exhausted and happily full!! Josh seemed to have relaxed a bit. The sailing community is very generous spirited. By days end we had volunteers to help fix Rangi and we’d offered to help Mama fix her catamaran. She still has her boat though seldom gets out now. So we’re taking her out after fixing her rigging next Wednesday.

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2pm. Josh and I have just been cooked waffles for breakfast by Lola and had a very enjoyable mornings conversation with the family. Some great philosophical discussion.
We’ve come ashore to use the yacht club WiFi and showers!! Josh took some teasing from the girls re personal hygiene! Not that he gives a toss.
Stefan came over to Rangi this morning nursing sore ribs after a drunken attempt to get on board his boat!! He didn’t get a lot of sympathy!! An offer of codeine is all!! Which he refused and thus initiated a fist thumpingly male display of approval from Josh!! Omg!!

Let’s have a Rest Day

Friday, 22nd January, I think!!
I’m losing track of the days and date!!
We slept like logs last night, knowing Chapsie and Ali were safe. The others went for breakfast with Abdul and his wife, while I readied the yacht for sea. I needed a bit of time out to myself so declined their kind invitation. It settled my head too. It’s been a pretty stressful few days. Certainly not what Josh and I planned in the preceding months, lol!!
Today’s plan was to go out to the marine reserve on Rangi, with Abdul on board as he’s a local wildlife officer, and go snorkeling. I love snorkeling so looked forward to it.
We motored out and picked up a buoy. Josh wanted to wait half an hour before going over the side to make sure the boat was secure but Abdul said we didn’t have long and should get going. The other girls went over first and took off. Josh and I had been in the water about 30 seconds when there was a crunch. Rangi was not held on the buoy but on the reef, listing hard over to port. Josh, Abdul and I were back on board in record time. I nearly dislocated my shoulder getting up the rope ladder which is on the starboard side and was way out of the water!!
We let go the anchor so we didn’t drag any further. The two wildlife officers on the small boat with us had no real seamanship skill and what could’ve been a relatively easy fix turned into one disastrous attempt to take a tow after another. They crashed their boat into Rangi a dozen times, damaged the expensive wind vane that the auto helm runs off, snapped the tow line by taking up the slack too fast (luckily I’d told Abdul to keep out of the way in case of exactly such an event), got the line round their prop by letting out too much slack.
I was so frustrated and Josh was furious.
The girls had carried on snorkeling, watching from the water and Josh told them to stay in the water figuring they were safer. The other boat picked them up in the end. We eventually got off the reef.
Poor Abdul was mortified but it’s not his fault the buoy didn’t hold. It’s just typical of the total lack of maintenance to anything in Africa!!
We decided to give up on a days R&R and head to Tanga but when presented with that plan Mary got really upset. She was understandably shook up and wanted off. So she and Bea got their gear and went back to Shimoni with Abdul on the other boat. They asked if I wanted to go too. I said of course not. At no time did I feel we’d been at risk and I wasn’t abandoning Josh to run the boat alone. Kiwi girls are made of stern stuff!!
So Josh and I steamed south, arriving in Tanga Port, Tanzania, about 9pm. We dropped the pick outside the yacht club, having got permission (we thought, transmission was crackly!!) and collapsed in relief. Rum and guava juice with a squeeze of lime juice. Perfect . I can finally charge my phone too.

ADLs

My fellow nurses will know these as Activities of Daily Living. It’s as good a description as any for the odds and ends I thought I could comment on!!
It’s about 0945 Sunday 24th January. Josh is still asleep so I figured I’d leave him be and quietly do this. I have put on nail varnish and actually brushed all the knots out of my hair! I think I look faintly more respectable!! The mirror is hazed so who knows.
Living on Rangi bears no resemblance to a Naval vessel. There’s no loo, no shower, no galley, no laundry and only one bed which I got. Josh and the others slept on deck. It’s less cramped now it’s just the two of us!
A bucket for the loo. You do not wish to know further details about that! Bathe in the sea and tip a bucket of fresh water over your head after that for a shower. We cook on a charcoal camp stove, one pot at a time. We do have a fridge so the drinking water and beers are cold. In Port we can use the yacht club facilities which is nice but even then the water doesn’t always work.
You guys back home – value your water! It’s a precious commodity here.
Those who know me well will be astonished to hear I’m not drinking wine. I’ve had some nice South African sauvignon blanc but in general it’s average and also goes straight to my head in this heat!! I’ve had to resort to beer or G&T, neither of which I particularly like! Still, they’re cold and wet. And bug free.
Laundry is done in a bucket too and infrequently. I live in a bikini, shorts and top. Bare feet all the time.
What people actually do here and what is legal are two very different things. You can buy almost anything on the black market and bribe your way out of most trouble. The cops and every other law enforcement agency are corrupt as hell but so lovely and smiley with it you just have to laugh.
Everyone one tries to diddle you but laughingly give in when you show you’re onto the tricks!!
Almost everyone smokes bufti – you can guess what that is – discreetly of course!! The local stuff smells nicer!!
There’s zero health and safety or red tape. Very refreshing. People take responsibility for their own actions, not always laying the blame else where. It makes me realise just how ridiculous we have become at home. So over the top.
I know I will struggle to settle in at home again. This trip has shifted my ideals and priorities. I wish I could get work here. It’s going to require some thinking about.

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Josh has just woken up and is playing the ukulele on deck. It’s lovely.
We had our first “words” last night with me telling him to give credit where it’s due and not paint himself as the only one of value on deck. As my boys know, I don’t stay pissed off for long, so we’re good!!
We’re going exploring ashore today with friends. Beautiful day.

Tanga, Tanzania.

It’s Saturday so we weren’t sure if we’d be able to clear customs and immigration today, but put the yellow flag up anyway.
Josh saw the yacht anchored to our starboard was friends of his and then a couple of guys from Kalifi turned up too, so we might end up having fun here!!
It’s a beautiful natural harbour and the yacht club is great. Our first sip of cold beer was divine!! And the food good too. I had my favourite piripiri again, though with tuna this time. Josh’s friends are a lovely family and Stefan and Chris joined us as well.
Immigration did turn up. The guy was super helpful and said he wasn’t going to worry us with customs since we were just travelling and didn’t carry cargo. I already have a Tanzanian visa so he didn’t need me for anything either. All done smoothly. We took a tuktuk into town and got money on the black market. Banks are closed today!!
I’m glad to be here where we can let our sore bodies heal for a few days. Not sure what the next plan will be since the sailing trip is over. I might try and get to Zanzibar and maybe Madagascar by myself. I’ll see how much it’ll be.

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Search and Rescue? 21st January

By this morning we all had fear in our hearts for the guys. No one had seen them. One group reported a small red yacht in Shimoni but Ibis is white with red anti fouling. We reckon that one would be a couple of French guys we met. The only phone still working is Mary’s!
We pulled the anchor and steamed round the corner to Shimoni, where Mary’s nephew lives. Once we’d anchored there, the local police arrived, three of them, one with the regulation AK47!
One thoroughly searched the boat with Josh and the others stayed talking to us. Mary is fluent in Swahili and Bea speaks pretty well, while I’m limited to greetings. So when they started laughing and looking at me, I demanded a translation. Turns out all the men wanted me for a wife and thought I’d be happy to choose one of them. Not withstanding I’m old enough to be their mothers and I have Igor at home, two of them were damned fine looking lads!! However amid much laughter and Mary translating my ribald responses to their suggestions, they left, without me or the bribe they wanted!! Also, thankfully, without finding Mary’s stash of bufti!
Mary’s nephew, Abdul, collected us and took us for a tour of the slave caves in their town, from centuries gone by. Beautiful caves with stalactites and stalagmites, but such a grim history. Human capacity for inhumanity to his fellow man is terrifying. We wandered the village and bought drinking water. Then Abdul took us to meet his new wife, who’d been preparing lunch for us.
She is adorable, and obviously expecting!! Lunch was Soooo good. We all ate far more than we needed!! We were invited for dinner too and accepted, having decided to return to Rangi and have baths in the sea, returning in a more respectable state later. We also wanted to find out if there’d been any news of Chapsie and Ali.
There’s wasn’t, so using Mary’s phone we started getting to find pilots willing to do an air search for us. There’s no real maritime SAR here. Plus with the search area so huge and bordering Kenya and Tanzania, it gets tricky. But they were more than a day overdue and we were desperately worried.
Then about 5pm Mary’s daughter called and she suddenly whooped in joy. They were safe. She and I burst into tears of relief. Mary picked up Bea and hugged her. Josh picked me up and swung me in a bear hug!!
What a great feeling. We bust out the champagne we’d been saving.
We went for dinner with lighter hearts and will have the first decent sleep this week, tonight!!
BTW, I’m writing this retrospectively, since I’ve only just charged my phone, and have no photos from those nightmarish days.

Standing By – 20th January

When we woke this morning, we found ourselves in a lovely anchorage, with Wasini Island to our south. It was calm and you’d have never guessed at the crazy squall we’d laboured through the day before!
Josh announced a rest day, to regroup from the stress of nearly capsizing. We are worried about Chapsie and Ali too. If all had gone to plan we’d have been in Zanzibar this morning sometime.
Josh and Mary spend a fair while ringing boating friends and the various fishing companies and marine authorities, soliciting help in looking out for little Ibis.
We all sat on the foredeck, lit the charcoal cooker and prepared a feast of goat meat and veggies in a stew. While we were tortured with the smell of it cooking, Bea made guacamole which we ate on bread. Not having eaten really yesterday, it was heaven!
And so we recovered, talking through what had done, a few tears for the boys’ safety, beers and rum (with guava juice and lime, super good!!) and songs accompanied by Josh on the ukulele. That lad is full of surprises.
I do feel sad for him, our sailing trip is over and we’ll be heading into Tanga for refit, no doubt. A year of planning out the window, due to unforcast rough weather and a rogue wave. But Rangi needs a new mast step, and that can’t be fixed at sea. We need a crane!!

Kalifi to Zanzibar – Day 1 PM

Who sings that song with the line in the chorus “I think I’ve had a shit day?”
You know I said last Wednesday was FUBAR? Uh huh, nyet, nada, nein, and any other no!! It’s officially been taken over by the pm of Monday 18th January!
We had reduced our fore sail to less than a pocket handkerchief and put our the sea anchor, slowing Rangi down to barely a crawl, to let Ibis catch up. They were struggling with the sea state, tacking away from us East, apparently nervous to jibe in this weather. At one point when they got close we waved them over but they only waved back. They didn’t equate all our frenzied gesticulating with a wish to talk to them. Josh wanted to take them in tow and get moving. We were wasting hours waiting for them. But they took off again.
So we all resigned ourselves to further slow bouncing until we got another chance to yell at them!! At about 1330 I looked up and said “I can’t see Ibis”. We hunted but she’d vanished. With the sea state we’d be unlikely to spot her if she was further than 2NM away.
Worried and cursing equally, we debated whether to go looking for them or head to the top of the next big Island and anchor. We were running out of day as that was still 4hrs sailing. Josh was worried about our own safety as well as about our friends. It was a nasty choice. In the end we decided to seek an anchorage. They’re good sailors but didn’t have many rations so we hoped they’d do the same albeit slowly.
We got under way, probably averaging around 7 knots. Josh had the helm as it was a bitch to drive. The waves were a good 2 metres and confused  ie:coming from different directions, mostly off the port quarter.
Eventually he decided the wind had dropped and put on the auto helm. I took first watch and the others tried to snooze. Around 3pm I suggested we should steer again as I felt the auto helm wasn’t coping. I got teased and told not to be a pussy!! At about 1530 I looked over my shoulder to see a massive wave almost on us. Unable to reach the wheel myself in time, I yelled “starboard the helm, turn the wheel” Mary was on it asap, with Josh almost as fast.
We nearly broached. Foxtrot, it was close. But the proverbial hit the fan. The yacht flicked back up and then the port floating stay and the main stay snapped. The helm whipped dangerously (Mary said later it must’ve arched nearly 2m) with the stays flailing in the wind.
The next half hour or so was a mad flurry of activity, trying to save the mast. I really didn’t think we’d do it. Josh was  amazing, he really was. What an incredible young man he is.
He put Mary on the helm while he and I got the sail in and jury rigged stays out of line to hold the mast. Bea was fetching where she could but as I know the boat better, as often as not it was me that sprinted down the hatch to grab what we needed.
It sounds sterile, describing it now, but if that mast had gone over we’d have been in deep guano. Josh gave clear instructions, calmly and with encouragement. He showed maturity and leadership well beyond his 24 years. I know little about sailing though obviously a decent about in general about boats, after 9 years in the navy! With his direction I could do what needed doing. Poor Bea had a baptism of fire on working under duress in rough conditions. Mary did an awesome job on the wheel. All of us worked like a team and got the job done. Miraculously, we saved the mast and got control of the boat, though Josh stayed on the helm!!
Josh decided to make for the nearest anchorage. He wasn’t going to get a mutiny out of that!! It was so lucky we hadn’t gone searching for Chapsie and Ali. We still had a long way to go but more like 2hrs, not four.
Poseidon was not done with us.
The port steering got tricky. After much teeth gnashing, Josh found the auto helm had partly re-engaged itself.
Then his cell phone, which he navigates off with cool soft ware, was low and the charger wouldn’t work. This just as we had a reef on the starboard side and were looking how to approach the anchorage!
So we had to navigate on the secondary chart with a lot less detail. A bit nerve wracking in the dark, with reefs, into an anchorage we don’t know. But Josh came through!
I had checked the cable was free to run, but when Josh said to let go, the anchor wouldn’t run out. The winch was stuck tight. We freed it and I put out more cable than I think we’ll need. We need a good night’s sleep!!
We squared away, said a prayer for the boys in little Ibis, cracked a beer and Mary lit a bufti!! I’ll tell you about those another time. We gave hugs of gratitude all round, especially for our skipper. Bed time.
The cheers for the captain and his crew!!
Maybe Rangi in the sky was watching us, pulling the bird at Poseidon, because it’s a miracle we have no more than cuts and bruises, and a jury rigged mast.
Please be watching Chapsie and Ali too.

Kalifi to Zanzibar – Day 1.

The first 24hrs – 2300 to about lunch time.

We were a bit late leaving as Bea and Mary didn’t turn up till way later than they were needed. Josh, Chapsie, Ali and I rushed to do final preparations and stowed the food.
As soon as they arrived we let go the mooring and left the harbour under power, as we were towing Ibis. It’s quite a tricky harbour to exit, with a low bridge and wires, never mind the reefs!!
It was a beautiful evening but once we hit the open sea we found big rollers that hit us on the port quarter. So the whole night was spend being thrown round the yacht!! We had to put up the jenniker boom to secure the foresail. That was a bit stressful, Josh trying to teach me how to do it all in the bloody dark. Mary helped, taking the wheel, as she’s done plenty of sailing, but Bea is a beginner.
Once we got things relatively settled on the auto helm , everyone tried to get their heads down. Mary and Bea slept but I don’t think Josh or I did!!
I actually took a while to feel relaxed. It’s very different to being in a big grey ship with two big diesels!! It feels totally foreign and the boat noises are totally different. I found I was quite edgy, not sure if what I was hearing and feeling was OK or not. Other boaties will understand what I’m getting at!! It doesn’t help that our first leg started at 11pm!!
I was pleased to see daylight.
We’re going slowly, so Ibis can keep up. Bea is learning to take the helm.

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We’ve been trying to give Josh a break. He did get a marlin on the line but it took off with the hook, so no sushi for lunch!!

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And, I’m having to learn to like reggae music, or go mad.
Sea state – bloody uncomfortable big rollers from two directions! Windy but manageable!!

Kalifi – Asante Sana!!

Well, customs and immigration are cleared. Only took all day with sterling displays of Africa rules!! A bit like getting a speeding ticket here, just pay the bribe to the cop!! Easy.
And the food is on board.

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There’s now six of us between the two yachts running in tandem to Zanzibar. 3 guys and 3 girls. We hope to leave at 11pm on the high tide.
Wish us luck!!

In Transit!!

Safari to Sailing. January 11th 2016.

Saturday morning saw us browsing the shops in Iringa for an hour or so. Fan was a wonderful help finding prices and bargaining for me!!

Then the drive back to Morogoro for a night. Kathy and Fan live here. We went out for dinner again and next morning they put me on the bus back to Dar. I was so very sad to bid them goodbye. They’re a great pair and have made my first week in Africa an absolute joy.

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Kathy booked my flight to Mombasa, bless her, and their friend who met my bus, took me not only to the hotel but to catch my plane this morning at 0330. Such generous hearted people.

It’s now 1030 and I’m sitting in a mini bus in Mombasa, hoping the trust I put in the chap next to me on the plane sees me right to Kalifi and Josh!!
1245 – My trip seems to be charmed. I ended up being seated next to a gorgeous local girl called Maureen and, guess what, she’s a nurse. So we yarned the whole way – her English is great and my swahili remains at greetings!!

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She organised a friend to take me on the back of his motor bike. It felt slightly precarious, with my backpack on, but heaps of fun!! And yes, he was a gorgeous local lad, so I minded not at all, lol!! Sorry, Igor, only window shopping!!
So here I am at Kalifi Boatyard, sitting in an adorable cafe with a cold lager and the sailing vessel Rangi in my sights, Josh presumably on board!! Made it!!

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God, I love this place. Anyone want to join me? Danny!??
PS: I’m having trouble uploading posts so they may appear out of order.

Hurry up and Wait!!

This is a navy saying that applies somewhat at present. Josh turned up yesterday, not off the yacht, but in a car from town with the guys who’ve been helping him refit Rangi.
Or should I say Jack Sparrow and his crew turned up!!! What a hard case bunch. They had a ton of gear which they ferried out to Rangi in the tender before settling in at the bar for a few beers.

So it was dusk before I got to see the yacht. It would be fair to say we are not ready for sea!! Every surface had gear on it and it’s taken Josh most of today to get it stowed away. He’s also done some maintenance jobs and put together the new water maker. We’ve made 15 litres of water 😀
As for me, I’ve made my cabin up tidily, helped Josh with odd things and sat on deck reading my book. It’s called On the trail of Genghis Khan. Matt and Leishy gave it to me, good read too.

I have to say, Josh is a very smart guy and knows a startling amount about engineering and electrical stuff. Very reassuring!! I suspect I will have a steep learning curve once we set sail! As it is, there’s not a lot I can do for him and it doesn’t sit well with me. At least once we get food in I can be the kitchen bitch!! Though he ought not think that will last forever, lol.
The general plan has evolved into a trip to Zanzibar with another yacht and the coastal exploration, including a possible trip up the Pangani River. But it’s a moving target!

FUBAR!!

Yesterday, 13th January, was a maintenance day and anything that could’ve gone wrong did!!
Poor Josh. He had a list of things he wanted to get through and one thing after another caused grief. He handled it all with such patience and good humour.
In the end he sent me off in the tender, to the boat yard, to get food. Our diet since Monday night has been a sweet bun each and beer!! With his assurance ringing in my ear that the outboard engine was super reliable, I headed round the point!!
Murphy chased me and I hit a damned submerged object which sheared the pin off the prop. So it would rev but no engagement. As soon as it happened I cut the motor, and since the wind was pushing me into the rocky shore, jumped over the side. As fate would have it, I landed on a sea urchin! It stung but I had more urgent concerns!! I’d also managed to rip half a nail off.
Luckily a canoe rounded the point and the guys towed me towards the Boatyard. The Kalifi tender saw us and motored out to take up the tow. God, how embarrassing.
They organised the Boatyard crew to fix the motor once they’d finished the job they were on.
I headed for the bar to order food and see what I needed to do for my foot. Local knowledge dictated wash it with vinegar, then wrap it in pawpaw. I’ve done part A.
I reckoned I may as well get food while I was waiting so ordered my periperi prawns and rice. I could only remember 2 of the 3 things Josh wanted, after the drama, so made a guess and ordered the rest as take away.
As I sat worrying about how long it would be before I got Josh’s food to him, a girl came up and said “hi, I’m Bea, you’re on Rangi with Josh, aren’t you?”
Turns out she’s part of the volunteer crew building a beautiful dhow anchored near us. I told her my predicament and asked if they’d take the food to Josh and tell him why I was away so long!!
That was fine with her so I had one less concern. The engine was fixed in due course and I made it back without further drama. Bea was still with Josh, unsurprising to me as she’s very attractive!! And he’s invited her to join us sailing.
This I have mixed feelings about, as we don’t really know her, though she seems lovely, and it’s a small boat if people don’t jell well. Josh is thinking with his small brain, I suspect. Still, not my boat.
The evening was spent on the dhow meeting the volunteers, which was fun. Great bunch, many nationalities and back grounds.
Today we hope to go sailing, get some practice in. We’ll see if Murphy still dogs us!!
Josh’s friend, David, came sailing with us. He’s experienced too so it was a great way for me to get familiar with the boat. We had a beautiful run up the coast and back at sunset.

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Magic end to the day.

Countdown to Sailing

Saturday 16th January.
We’re not too far off being ready to go, the only hold up being we can’t clear customs until Monday. Josh and Chapsie (a local sailor helping Josh with maintenance) have been into town to get stores, rope and tools. They’re sorting out odds and ends, with me helping as I can. We’ve been sleeping on deck as it’s cooler. No more major dramas, lol!
Had a couple of evenings out at the backpackers and yacht club for meals. I’m a bit short on cash as my card wouldn’t work. Will have to try the other one next time we’re in town. It’s so cheap to live here though.
Today Josh and Chapsie are getting the sailing yacht Ibis up and running. She’d heading south with us, being delivered to Zanzibar. She’s a wee thing, smaller than Turi was, Matt and Danny, so a brave effort. Sails sweetly though. I’m watching from Rangi.
BTW Rangi, in swahili, means colourful. My swahili is improving and my rusty French got a work out this morning too!!
Josh bought a charcoal cooker and a pressure cooker so I’ve made coffee and an hard boiling eggs. Diet pretty lean. No noticeable weight loss though, lol. 😬
My body is getting used to moving round a boat though. Can feel the fitness improving. It’s better on my back than OT which surprises me. New career?!!
I’m very struck by the difference between what I expected in Africa and the reality. Propaganda has much maligned it. It’s a marvelous place, well, Tanzania and Kenya. The people are friendly and generous natured, though, as Josh says, opportunistic!! The climate is awesome. Most things work and it’s not as technologically behind as you’d think, not on the coast anyway. I haven’t felt at risk at all. I mean, I don’t take silly risks, but I’ve been travelling alone and had no hassles.
It’s one of those best kept secrets, and I hope it stays this way!!

Mikumi to Ruaha – day 2.

After a beautiful breakfast of omelette and fresh fruit, we hit the road to Ruaha National Park.
It’s a fantastic and very scenic drive through a mountainous region!! The road follows the Ruaha River for much of the way.

The mountains have the same volcanic drama as ours, though the type of bush is very different. The red soils have tinted the river after overnight rain.
Masai herd their goats and cattle, and small villages line the road.

As the hours tick by, we climb ever higher into the southern Highlands. The geology changes from sedimentary to igneous (so Fan tells me!!) and the temperature cools to probably the high 20s.

We’ve had some great philosophical conversations. The differences between our cultures is so marked that you can’t help introspection, questioning our belief systems. The way of life seems so close to nature and the people so happy, always with a ready smile.
One sobering episode where people had stopped coz a bus had gone off the road down a near vertical drop of easily 500m. We stopped in case Kathy and I could be of assistance, both being nurses. Then a cop pulled up to say it’s happened yesterday and to move on.
We had lunch in the mountain town of Iringa, where Kathy and Fan used to live. Great meal.
Then began the trek into Ruaha on a red dirt road. Long, hot and very bumpy. Kathy calls it a massage, Tanzania style. Mmm. Optimistic.

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Safari drove our way into the National Park. Such a wonderfully abundant treasure trove

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of animals. A beautiful time of day to arrive. My bungalow looks right out over the Park.