A Travellerspoint blog

Finishing off.....

South Africa and back home

Hi,

sorry for not updating this sooner, however, we`ve been really busy getting prepared for our next trip (which you can also find on the following link :

http://alandsteph.travellerspoint.com

Had to change the URL!

Anyway, in synopsis... the pictures from South Africa are all up and we`re off again around the world... this time for a bit longer though :)

Hope you`ve enjoyed the pictures and be sure to update your URL or favourites or shortcuts etc. to point to the New Web Site as we`ll be using this one from now on.

Hope you`re all well

Steph and Alan

XX

Posted by Taffski 15:13 Archived in South Africa Tagged tourist_sites Comments (0)

South Africa

Cape Town and Driving the Garden Route

sunny 20 °C
View The Three A´s on Taffski's travel map.

We're finally in Cape Town then....

after 52 days on a ship we're now in the Big Blue Hostel (which is great!) and after last nights celebrations for our first night on shore (i.e. we all got hammered!) we're a bit rough this morning.

We walked down to the Waterfront in Cape Town and bumped into a few people from the boat that were also just milling about the dock whilst they wait for their flights home.

We of course, don't have flights home for a month so it's time to prepare the last leg of our journey (well for now anyway).

Today we walked up Long Street (which is the main street with backpackers hostels etc. on) and to be honest... Stab / mug central was the words I would choose for the place. During the Day, the place had an unsafe ring about it and to be honest... my spidey sense was tingling the whole time we were there. We did however manage to find the offices of AroundAboutCars and the tourist information centre and also the Internet Cafe.

The days are all mixing into one as we wait to decide what to do for the remainder of the trip around South Africa. I'm finding myself totally on guard with regards to people around us and I can't help but feel like we're in perhaps one of the most dangerous countries in the world.

We Met Jackie from the Boat (who lived in Cape Town) and we were given a personal guided tour of the Cape Peninsula (which was nice) and headed back to her house that evening for a cup of tea and a bitch session :)

The Next day we went up table mountain in the cable car (we were feeling lazy so decided not to walk up it as was originally the idea and caught a rikki... which is like a three wheeled motorbike taxi with a few seats on the back) and while we were on the top we did a walk along to the beacon point. We spotted a dodgy looking guy walking along the path some distance behind us and since he was on his own and had a hoody top on... we decided to speed up just in case. As we arrived back at the top of the cable cars... whoosh.... a police helicopter flew over us in the direction of where we'd seen the dodgy guy. We don't know whether anything had happened, however, even up on the mountain, Tourists are quite regularly mugged of their cameras etc. (unfortunately!)

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It's the 30th of April!

Happy Birthday Steph!

And as her present.... we're going Shark Diving!

Now... we've heard all the arguments about Shark Diving in Cape Town and having seen the other tour operators that operate out of Hermanus (which is down the coast from Cape Town) and having spoken to a few of the guys off the boat who'd done this trip... There are about 4 boats.... all with backpackers and they Chum the water to death, until the fish arrive and then the backpackers are put into the cage (in the middle of all the guts and chum) and then they get to say they were in the water with these man killers and the operators get large ghunks of fish and draw the fish to the cages and the edge of the boats to get the "Tooth" shot!

Keith, Steph and I didn't want to do this!

Keith had done some research and as a result, we'd booked www.ultimate-animals.com
(African shark eco charters)

These guys don't chum (which was one of the most important factors we'd decided we didn't want to encourage as this is one of the more contentious issues with chumming being linked to the increase in Shark Attacks in South Africa in recent years!)

These guys are also the guys who take you to seal Island... which is where the Flying Sharks are............ ???

We arrived at the boat at 5:30 am! Ouch !

We arrived at Simonstown about and hour later, just as the sun was threatening to rise over the horizon, and then we shot off into the ever lightening ocean towards Seal Island.

We arrived by the island, which was covered with South African Fur Seals and smelt accordingly!

We were given a briefing, and we were told to watch lone seals porpoising on the surface of the sea as these were more likely to get "Hit" by the Great White Sharks.

No sooner had we started to wait and watch then .... BOOM ! A Shark went flying into the air some 100 yards away from the boat!

The Boat Started up and we shot towhere we thought the attack had taken place.... as we pulled up to the area... there was blood in the water and we saw the shark fin shoot off under the water in a quick splash. It was all over!

Apparently, Rob (our guide) informed us that when the sharks make a good hit, then it's pretty much over in two bites (as he put it!) As we could see from the blood in the water... it was all over!

We now moved over the the end of the island and waited, but unfortunately... no more Flying Sharks!

We then decided to get in the water.

Keith and I went in first as Steph was starting to have second thoughts :)

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We got in the water and got some great views of these massive killers... however... unlike the impression I had before... these guys were beautiful and really not interested in us at all. There seemed to be about 4 of them all posturing around the boat. However, the sharks were just in the area as opposed to being attracted there by a loads of blood and guts!

We did have a lure though...... a piece of carpet cut into the shape of a small seal :) It seemed to work though as the sharks did appear and we did get to dive with them.

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After a few minutes, Steph got into the Cage also to experience swimming in the water with these beautiful and surprisingly un-scary creatures.

Our respect for these massive fish has only changed again as we realised that they weren't the scary killers we'd been lead to believe and infact, were really not that bothered about us at all... Although I'm not sure I'd have got out of the cage though :)

We got home later that evening having also seen a Brydes Whale in the Bay and shoals of Large Fish and Gannets in the Bay.

We've hired a car and tomorrow we pick up our little VW Chico (like a Mark II Golf) and we've hired it for 6,600 Rand for 33 days (which works out at 200R a day... which is about £15 which was OK)

Posted by Taffski 25.06.2007 01:55 Archived in South Africa Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

Tristan to the Cape of Good Hope

The Final Leg

sunny 20 °C
View The Three A´s on Taffski's travel map.

So we're on the last leg of the trip....

Tristan to Cape Town (some 1600 Nm) and about 10 to 12 days to do it (as we plan to head south to make the most of the weather available)

It's day 41 of the trip and we've got 11 days to go on the ship..

Once again... sailing is not the most enlightening or most interesting of things to write about and to be honest not that much happened on this leg of the journey.

We did judge the bad beard competition (I didn't win)
The Photo Competition was concluded and Steph won the best Fantasy picture (I'll try and put all the photo's on here later on)
The Easter Egg Painting competition winners were announced and my Ninja Egg got a prize of some chocolate eggs (Steph was happy)
Friday the 13th came and went (luckily uneventfully)
The weather came and went and so did the wind and swells

However... once again... Neptune rewarded our patience....

On Day 49 (after 9 days at sea and just before we arrived in South Africa to complete the journey)

Pilot Whales... and not just any Pilot Whales

There was a large pod of them swimming behind us and they were racing to catch us up.... the rollers were about 4 to 5 meters and as a result the Whales were breaching out of the waves as they crested!

It was amazing... about 20 or so Pilot whales surrounded the ship as she danced in the waves and began to put on a show... and what a show!

Breaching.. crashing... spinning.... these were Whales though.... not Dolphins. One of the whales even took it upon himself to continually spin upside down as he breached the cresting waves on the side of the ship.... it was fantastic...

And then..... in the middle of the commotion.....

as if guided by all the noise going on.....

a Minke whale suddenly appears amongst the pilot whales !!

Wow.... What A Wildlife show.

It lasted for about a hour in all and is one of the most magical things I've seen for a long while.

We spotted Africa two days later and sailed up towards the Cape of good hope and up the Eastern side of the continent towards Cape Town.

The city is beautiful as we sailed into the docks and it felt brilliant and yet disappointing to be arriving after spending so long on the ship.

We were both sad that night in Cape town and as a result both Steph and I and many others on the ship got very, very drunk as a result of some serious boozing as it was our first day on shore..

We'd Arrived. We'd Made it. What a trip !

one I'm sure neither Steph nor I will ever forget and highly highly recommended for anyone out there should they wish to undertake the challenge.... it's well worth it.

Thanks Bark Europa

Posted by Taffski 17.05.2007 06:27 Archived in South Africa Tagged boating Comments (1)

Tristan Da Cunha

The Most remote Inhabited Island in the World

sunny 15 °C
View The Three A´s on Taffski's travel map.

We arrived in Tristan and sailed up to the island.

It's basically like a big volcano in the sea and juts up from the sea bed in literally the middle of the ocean.

We'd been scheduled to spend 3 days on the island, however, we'd arrived on the Easter weekend and (depending on who you spoke to) either the port was too rough to allow us to land, or (as most of us suspected) since it was the Easter Weekend... and the Tristonians are very religious people... they weren't too enamored with having to curtail some of the residents festivities during this festival by having to open shops etc. ready for our arrival.

We never did find out, however, having spent two days anchored on the North of the Island (where we spent the days fishing and we caught some massive fish!) we were finally given the all clear to land on the island on our third (and luckily) last day.

We all were excited as there were rumors of a pub/ shop / Internet / Phones and all other civilized things we'd not had access to for the previous 39 days!

We landed in the harbor on the Zodiac (which consisted of a single break water barrier and that was all) The Ship couldn't dock and the only way onto the island is by small boats (There's no airport or any other way of getting on apart from a Helicopter or a Boat)

Our first impressions were good. The guys in the Harbour seemed friendly and we made our way up the hillside towards our first stop.... the Pub !!! It was open too !!!! Whayhaeeeeee!!

We grabbed a quick drink each and then we decided best not to get pissed on shore and maybe explore a bit.

It had already been arranged that myself together with 3 of the crew and 2 guests would be playing golf in the afternoon anyway....hmm......

Yep... They Have a Golf course... well sort of ....

It's basically a field that they'd cleared of cows and had placed three golfing holes (well a colored stone and a stick) for which you had to aim.

one of the holes ran through the Grave yard... so when one of the crew hit their ball directly into the graveyard... we decided it might be best to leave the ball where it was :)

Steph was off exploring by this point anyway and visited the site of the last Eruption (This was in 1961 and they had had to evacuate all the inhabitants to the UK... since it's a UK colony) Anyway, they'd all hated the UK and had decided to come back to the island to live.

We were beginning to understand why....

we spent the rest of the day traveling around and meeting the locals. They were lovely friendly people and outside the pub I spent half an hour playing football with the local kids...

Apparently next time there's going to be a football competition as none of the locals really like golf or the golf course (I can understand that one!)

We bought some Baked Beans and Mars Bars in the Supermarket, sent postcards from the post office, made a quick phone call home to the UK (costing us 2 pence a minute...eh ????) and then unfortunately our days traveling had quickly come to and end, so after a final beer in the pub we said goodbye and left to catch the last Zodiac back to the boat....

Which we caught.. else we'd have been left there for roughly a year :)

Funnily enough we thought long and hard about the prospect of spending a year on the place and to be honest... we both loved the place and the people and would have loved to stay there for longer!

Although I wouldn't want to live there forever I don't think.

We set sail later in the evening and as the sun set the Full Volcanic prowess of the island jutting from the ocean was all to apparent and was a beautiful farewell from a beautiful and remote part of the world that once again, very few people had had the privilege to both visit and see.

Thank you Tristan.

PS I won the golf Tournament by the way ;)

Posted by Taffski 17.05.2007 06:05 Archived in Tristan da Cunha Tagged boating Comments (0)

Journey to Tristan Da Cunha

10 days sailing and a Force 9 Storm !!!

storm 5 °C
View The Three A´s on Taffski's travel map.

Overnight and sea and winds had calmed down and we set sail for Tristan following a Roughly Northerly direction to get away from any remaining Icebergs and then easterly towards the islands.

it's some 1400 Nautical miles and we hoped to make it in 10 days or so.... 140 Nm a day.... an average of 6ish knots an hour....

The watches were changed slightly and having been out for a cigarette I was unfortunately named Watch lead for our watch (Blue Watch) We'd been joined by a few new faces also so it would be nice to speak to some other people whilst on watch we thought.

The Next 10 days were eventful and yet boring... if you can have such a thing.

We sailed a lot.
We saw Whales and Dolphins.
Some of us saw a Moon Rainbow (This is like a Rainbow but generated by the Moons Beams of light rather than the suns... absolutely amazing!)
We saw many...many birds and notably Albatross so I couldn't fish from the ship!
We had to entertain ourselves... we decorated eggs for Easter, had some practical jokes played on us by the crew and vice versa for April Fools Day, watched DVD's, gave lectures and the beard growing competition was going strong!
It was rough....
It was windy...

On day 31....

4 days out from South Georgia...

the storm hit !!!

It was a force 9 storm and had been steadily building up the previous 12 hours or so.

We only had 2 lookouts as we were luckily out of iceberg territory (having headed North from South Georgia!) and these lookouts were at the back of the ship.... we were still steering though and had to go on deck through the wheel house at the back of the ship. Harnesses were permanently on and as the ship rolled in the 6 meter swell we were all briefed for what was ahead of us by the captain.

We started our evening watch that night at 8pm and in the next 4 hours the main bulk of the storm was to catch up with us and last for 4 hours after which it would hopefully die away as it passed over us... this was the theory anyway!

As the wind increased steadily... we began to furl sails and in a force 9 gale this wasn't the easiest thing in the world.... 60 feet high up in the air hanging onto the yards whilst being thrown about in 10 to 12 meter (30 to 40 feet!) rollers whilst 100 kph winds whip around your ears (which are still quite sold incidentally) with the thought of falling and being lost at sea firmly lodged in your head...... Fun isn't the word !!!

I helped furl a few of the sails and with waves breaking over the deck regularly... Steph and I finished our watch soaked and thoroughly exhausted... we didn't sleep though.. The watch was handed over at 12am and we lay in our beds and listened to the storm above decks....

We were woken up for our morning shift at 8 and the seas had begun to drop... the rollers were more regular and less violent and the wind had dropped! It was great sailing weather and the sails slowly came back up and the winds dropped!

We'd survived a force 9 storm in the middle of the Southern Atlantic (Perhaps the roughest sea in the world) and to be honest... it hadn't been that bad after all!

Tristan Da Cunha came into view on day 11 (the 7th of April)

We'd been at sea for the past 10 days and had experienced some rough seas... but we'd come through and with the help of the ship and the crew managed to sail to our destination with no injuries and some good stories!

Posted by Taffski 17.05.2007 05:38 Archived in Tristan da Cunha Tagged boating Comments (0)

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