Posted by: adventuressetravels | August 8, 2013

A Culinary Circumnavigation

Hey there!

This year I have started out on a new adventure.  I have decided to really sail around the world.   With that new adventure, I am starting a new website.  One about cooking, sailing, and enjoying life.  I will still post on Adventuresse Travels about less-nautical adventures but please check out my new website at:  Sally in the Galley

I would love to hear what you think!

Posted by: adventuressetravels | May 28, 2013

The Africa that isn’t Africa

DSCN4481Cape Town isn’t Africa.  The stunning metropolitan city is well-organized, clean, and modern.  There are opulent mansions, sure but the wealth isn’t what really separates it from the rest of Africa.  The posh V&A marina, pastoral vineyards, the hipster neighborhoods, and developed tourism industry on the other hand… it feels positively Western.

This European city set at the tip of Africa is probably the most pleasantly situated city I have ever seen.  With the imposing figure of Table Mountain towering over it, and the Atlantic lapping at its doors, the only way not to get a beautiful view is to shut your eyes.   The reputed heat of Africa is kept at bay by cool ocean breezes, not to mention proximity to Antarctica.

Yes, I made the mistake of trying to swim in the Atlantic on Christmas day.


With the frigid ocean currents sweeping up from the frozen south at their chilliest I didn’t last terribly long.  Sure I’ve got a story to tell but I’m pretty sure I came dangerously close to losing a toe in the process of trying to prove that I was tough.

I always called Morocco and Northern Africa “Africa light” but I would say Cape Town fits that description just as well if not better.  It is a wonderful city, a metropolitan city, but far more a city of the world than belonging to any one country or even continent.

Posted by: adventuressetravels | May 24, 2013

A Scourge of Sea Lions

DSCN4456I looked up from my laptop and started as I saw a pair of jet-black beady eyes peering in the bedroom window.

Cape fur seals are not cute, they are not cuddly.  They aren’t even seals.   No, the “cape fur seals” in CapeTown’s V&A Marina are in fact sea lions.

Sea lions are dreadful creatures.  Oh they are very cute in theory.  Playful, graceful swimmers, balancing balls on their nose or doing tricks for fish.  Sleek, with nice lines and darling whiskered faces.  That’s a sea lion, right?


DSCN4506Anyone who knows one personally or has had the misfortune of living next to the vile beasts knows the truth.  I first had the dubious pleasure of living next to these delightful neighbors.

When I first got to the V&A Marina, the over-glorified mall that is South Africa’s top tourist attraction, I, like the many tourists taking pictures, was overjoyed to see the numerous sea lions basking by the boats.   When Daniel met me he just shook his head at my naiveté.  I would soon learn.

Getting onto Anastasia one whiff of the pungent aroma of putrefying fish that wafted off of the animals was enough to convince me that I wanted to keep my distance from the creatures.  Unfortunately the sea lions had squatters’ rights on the marina.  They took up residence directly alongside the yachts, perfuming the air.  But the scent was only the beginning.

DSCN4510The animals fought with one another on a regular basis, making horrid guttural barks and growls.  The forms smooth sleek fur I had once admired only kept its beauty when seen from afar.  The longer the animals were out of the water the hair became coarse and cracked.  To make the creatures more appealing they rolled in their own vomit and feces.

Fascinated by the yachts, or just enjoying the sunning themselves on the docks, the sea lions set up camp.  The final straw was that they decided to block the way out of the marina snapping at the passing yachties.

Many things seem lovely from a distance.  Up close reality kicks in.

Posted by: adventuressetravels | May 21, 2013

Penguins at Boulder Beach

I was too early for penguins in Argentina, I only saw Peruvian penguins from a boat, but South Africa’s penguins at Bolder Beach gave me my penguin fix and then some.

Sure, these weren’t the nicest penguins.  There were warning signs everywhere DSCN4547about them biting, and in case you got too close they actually glared at you.  Still, seeing the tuxedoed animals in formal wear was enough to make anyone smile.





Posted by: adventuressetravels | May 21, 2013

When it was good it was very very good

00001095The waiting could stretch the patience of a saint.  The worst part is that you are tied to the boat.  Taking a road-trip or going exploring is out of the question.  After all, if the wind suddenly changes then you have to leave.  But when you finally do leave, when at last you head out onto the open water the wind whipping past your face feels like freedom.


We had a window.  We finally had a window and the last two WARC boats left in Durban, Matilda and Southern Cross were taking it.  It was a big enough window we might not even have to stop in East London, a town that every WARC boat had advised that we give a miss if possible.


For weeks we had heard stories about the horrors of Cape Horn.  Treacherous rocks, capricious winds, the “Wild Coast” where boats couldn’t find a port in the storm for hundreds of miles and worst of all the Agulhas  current .  But we had also been hearing another tale entirely from other WARC boats.


We set sail on a clear morning.  Taking the other yachts advice we sailed out, and out further, and further looking for the elusive Agulhas current.  Now the current can be disastrous for boats if it is going against the wind and it is all-but impossible for small yachts to sail against it.  However, when the current is in your favor then watch out.  We had heard tales of 4-7 knots of favorable current, the ocean giving the yachts after-burners and whipping them down the coast.


We didn’t find the famed 7-knot favorable current, but we did make excellent time down the infamous “Wild Coast” shooting past East London and Port Elizabeth.  Would we really make it to Cape Town in one shot!?


We were balanced on the edge for a day, maybe even two, but the answer was no.  If the current had been a smidge more favorable we might have made it but no dice.


We sailed through the razor-sharp cliffs guarding the entrance to Knysna’s marina 4 days after leaving Durban.  Clean, orderly, Knysna  (nice-na), a charming cross between a tourist haven and retirement community, was vastly different from the jumble of cultures, communities and ways of life thrown into a bag and shaken that made up  the vibrant city of Durban.


As much as I wanted to leave that city, I did miss Victoria Market, the bunny chow, not to mention our new friends at Bluff Yacht Club.  But that is travel.  You always miss something of the places you leave and hopefully love something of the new places you discover.   Whether you’re traveling in space or mentally, the important thing is not to stagnate, right?

Posted by: adventuressetravels | May 17, 2013

What to buy Provisioning for a long Passage?

What to buy when provisioning for a long passage?

Every captain and crew has his or her preferences so provisioning always varies but  a few staples are:

–          Spices: variety is the spice of life and nothing like herbs and spices to add a little diversity to your cooking

–          Canned goods: vegetables, soups, fruits, coconut milk… etc.

–          Dried foods:  rice, beans, I love dried mushrooms, some swear by dried peas and other vegetables

–          Starches: pasta, cous cous, instant noodles, tortillas

–          Snacks:  It’s important to keep something in your stomach to avoid seasickness.  Chocolate can be a great morale booster on long passages

–          Cereal bars: an easy meal at sea

–          Tortillas:  last for ages and can be used in a diverse array of wraps from savory to sweet

–          Eggs, egg replacer is also great if you’re doing baking or anything like that.

–          Boxed long-life milk (some prefer powdered milk but I am a traditionalist in that respect)

–          Potatoes, squash, sweet potatoes, and other long-lasting root vegetables.

–          Meat (though I don’t eat it but I’ve seen sailors go a little crazy when deprived of meat on long passages.  I figure why buy a lot of meat when you can get the freshest seafood in the world from the water around you!?

Just before setting off is the time to buy the fresh fruits and vegetables.   You want to make them last as long as possible.  But how do you make them last as long as humanly possible?

I found this excellent article online: Cool Ways to Keep Food Without Refrigeration by Beth A. Leonard, a woman who had sailed on a refrigerator-less boat.  In it she outlines tips and tricks to keep fruits and vegetables fresh for longer at sea.

I would add that in addition to buying unrefrigerated eggs and turning them every several days coating eggs with Vaseline adds to their shelf-life.   That said, keep a close eye on the eggs.  I have seen too many incidents of eggs going bad or buggy and no one wants a boat smelling sulfurous.

One fun trick is that if you’re sailing in the tropics then you can grow yourself sprouts at sea using just a glass jar and a little water.  They probably do work better if you have a water purifier because rinsing them can take quite a bit of water.

Keep lettuce and spinach fresh longer if you can buy them with roots and put them in water.  This is a lot easier if you’re on a catamaran.  Truth be told, I wouldn’t even attempt it on a monohull.

When you’re on a long passage good meals and variety in them is one of the main things to look forward to.  Mix it up and have fun with your cooking.  You and your crewmates will be happier for it.

Fair winds and happy sailing!

Posted by: adventuressetravels | May 14, 2013

the Cape of Doom

I love catamarans.  They are comfortable, spacious, as many cat owners say; you don’t have to “live on the walls (referring to monohulls nearly constant listing to one side or the other)

Unfortunately catamarans are not built for the Cape of Good Hope.  They are made for the champagne sailing of the Atlantic Ocean.  Big waves and choppy seas

The hop from Richards Bay to Durban wasn’t even a 24 hour slow sail.  But after that was the Wild Coast.  Long stretches without any marinas for boats to duck in and take cover.  The stretch from Durban to East London is the longest and most treacherous.

The Cape of Good Hope is one of the two most dangerous passages in the world.  It isn’t always nasty like Cape Horn, what makes it more dangerous is its capricious nature.  With the right wind and the Agulhas current buoying them along boats can speed down around the cape without incident.  The problem is that (depending on the season) the weather rarely holds for more than a few days at a time and if the wind is against the strong current then watch out.  Even the largest tanker can be flipped into the air by enormous waves and a private yacht fighting the clash of the wind and current titans.

Southern Cross moored in the Bluff Yacht club, a little outside of Durban and we quickly made friends with many of the members.  The ebullient Zelda, with as much energy and drive as 20 regular people, Graham, a sailor’s sailor, and many more, almost every one of them told us tales of sails they had made it within 20 nautical miles of East London when the wind changed and they had needed to turn their boat around and head back hundreds of miles to the safety of Durban.   You couldn’t fight the weather.  If the wind wasn’t perfect you shouldn’t bother setting sail.

The bottom line was you needed at least a 5-day window.

The weather reports kept promising fair winds and tantalizing us with large windows, but as they each one came up the windows would slam shut.  WARC boat after boat left throwing caution to the wind, but Steve was adamant.  A conservative sailor, he was not going to leave until there was  a real window long enough for us to get down to East London, or maybe even as far as Port Elizabeth. After all, the WARC boats had all told us that East London was even sketchier than its disreputable namesake.

One night 40 knots of wind howled around the boat.  Even moored safe in a marina the weather was intimidating.  The day had been a little grey but calm and just as suddenly the deceitful South African weather had changed.  This weather was not normal for December.

Week after week passed and as every new group of WARC boats left I grew more stir crazy.  Peter, a retired physicist and involved member who always had a kind word, gave my crewmate Tom and I rides into town and let us use his apartment for internet.  The legendary Zelda showed us some amazing coffee shops, the bustling Victoria Market, and some delicious Indian restaurants.  The warm welcoming people were lovely but staying at the isolated Bluff Yacht Club for weeks on end without a car was frustrating at best.

Once again, stuck waiting for the right winds.  Still, waiting was better than getting caught out on the ocean in a catamaran with 50 knots of wind against the current

Zelda, Tom, and I at a fantastic Indian restaurant by Victoria Market

Zelda, Tom, and I at a fantastic Indian restaurant near Victoria Market


Patience is a virtue from what I understand.





Posted by: adventuressetravels | May 10, 2013

WARC vs the Indian Ocean

“Keep your eyes peeled!”

That was the last thing Steve told me before leaving me to go on watch.  A wooden skeleton of a ship had been sighted near where our course was taking us.

The ship bucked and pitched over the swells the slate-grey sky vomiting a steady drizzle down on the little catamaran.  It was a day straight off the pages of a Melville novel.

I said a silent thanks to the Lagoon designers who had had the foresight to put the helm under a waterproof biminy and Steve’s ingenuity of putting plastic “windows” around to protect from errant waves.  The blue canvas bench may still have squished when you sat on it, but at least the worst of the elements were kept at bay.

2,300 miles.  My longest passage to date.  In today’s world 2,300 miles still seems like quite a ways.  Too long to drive by car, it’s even  a fair distance by plane, but  when thinking nautically it takes on whole new meaning.  Sailing is taking it old school, back to the days where you could actually feel the distance rather than whisking to the other side of the world in a matter of hours, or on the outside a day, by plane.

But I wasn’t worried, I had been on long passages before and they weren’t terrible.  The days kind of blurred together doing shifts, cooking, catching fish.  It wasn’t anything I couldn’t handle.  Besides, we had all sorts of fishing gear with us.  We might have a little excitement on the passage.

Not half a day after leaving the sun-drenched shores of Cocos (Keeling), a curtain of grey had draped its heavy folds over the world with a dreadful finality.  First a drizzle, then a heavier rain fell, damping our spirits and permeating every cranny and crevice of the boat.   The first day was uncomfortable, but we still clung to some shred of hope that it would end.  Until we looked at the GRIB files to see what the weather forecast looked like.

The GRIB files didn’t offer even the smallest sliver of hope.  For days the rain fell.  Slate-grey sky stretched on endlessly.  ARC boats far ahead of us, and to either sides reported rain, rain and more rain.  Everything was damp, clammy, and cold.  And it only got worse from there.

A week into the passage one ARC boat, J’Sea’s, autopilot broke  The autopilot is often referred to as the silent member of the crew.  It plays an integral and often underappreciated part of a boat on any long passage.  Hand steering through rough seas is all but unheard of.

To make things worse, J’Sea only had 2 people on board.  For over a week the captain John and Linda, his crewmate had to hand steer in 2-hour shifts.  By the time they made it to Mauritius they were on the verge of collapse, their hands covered in blisters.

That was a passage of grave Many serious sailors will have elective appendectomies before long passages.  What are you going to do if you’re in the middle of the ocean and your appendix bursts?

Brigit, one of the German boat Juba’s owners, had severe stomach pains and they were all-but certain it was appendicitis.  Another good reason for sailing with the ARC is the support.  Thankfully Juba had heavy duty antibiotics on board and another ARC boat had two doctors on board to talk them through the crisis.  Brigit made it to Mauritius where they immediately took her to the hospital.

The Indian Ocean showed its true colors on passage from Cocos to Mauritius.

Posted by: adventuressetravels | May 7, 2013

A Back-up Plan

00000990In the Western world we take unlimited electricity for granted, but on a boat it is a very different thing.  Unless you are moored on “shore power” getting enough power to run the boat can be a delicate issue.

Some captains are traditionalists and want to use as little power as possible.  Nemo, Mareva’s captain had prided himself on sailing solely on solar power for years.  Until three years ago when he got a laptop.  After that it was all downhill from there and at last he broke down and bought a generator.

Generators are not always reliable though.  Several of the boats I’ve been on have had generator issues.  Something goes wrong, it won’t work, and power becomes a commodity on the boat.  Sure, solar panels generate enough to keep the autopilot, refrigeration, GPS, radio, and the basics going, but you really have to run the engine to watch TV, or charge a laptop, ipod, or anything like that.

Now when I joined Southern Cross I knew the generator was in pieces.  Even with the power and technology-addict that I, as a Westerner, am, it wasn’t too much of an issue.  We did run the engine a good deal of the time.

The trouble started in the desert paradise of Cocos (Keeling).  We had a minor Southern Cross_01hiccup anchoring.  Southern Cross was a bit of a push-button boat and the anchor could be dropped via remote control.  Most of the time.  When Steve pressed the remote button nothing happened.  We jiggled the wires and tried to trouble shoot to no avail.  In the end Steve had to manually drop the anchor.  Not with a winch handle.  Hand over hand; he had to let the chain out.

Push-button sailing is fine, as long as there is a backup.  Unfortunately there wasn’t a winch handle on Southern Cross to manually drop the anchor so when the remote didn’t work; the crew had to drop the anchor by hand.

Now running the windlass to drop the anchor does take quite a bit of power, but we were pretty convinced that it was something wrong with the windlass.  Cocos was beautiful, but it was also remote, so remote there wasn’t anyone to work on the yacht.  Steve worked on it himself and thought he’d fixed it.  Until nothing happened when we went to pick up anchor for Mauritius.

Even running the engine the starboard battery wasn’t charging.  This was worse than the generator being dead.  This was serious.  If one battery was dead it could drag the other one down.  And they were both almost new batteries.  No one knew what could be the matter.

We hauled the anchor up by hand and set sail with trepidation.  We would have to go back to basics on this leg.  It was going to be a leg relying chiefly on solar.

A good idea, provided the sun makes an appearance.  Unfortunately solar power is contingent on sunny days and naturally that leg was the rainiest one yet.

Problems with generators

Problems with batteries

No sun to charge the solar panels

At least we still had our motor, which is more than all the yachts on the WARC could say.

The more high-tech and fancy a boat is the more things that can go wrong.  I am all for the comforts of push-button sailing, but experience shows that it’s always good to have redundancies  a few back-up plans, and be able to do things the old-fashioned way.

After all, the more you know about boats the more things you know that can go wrong…

Posted by: adventuressetravels | May 3, 2013

Mast Off

What is a boat?

A hole in the water that you throw money into.

Watching a yacht have its mast removed is like seeing a butterfly’s wings


plucked off.  The majestic , powerful,  emblem of freedom  is immediately

transformed into an impotent floating box.  Unfortunately yachts are a work-in-progress.  Even yachts that go out for day sails need repairs, and a lot of wear and tear is put on boats sailing around the world.
According to other  Lagoon 38 owners, this problem wasn’t unique to Southern Cross.  According to Lagoon, it couldn’t be a design flaw.  They didn’t know anything about it.  So once again, the skipper had to suck it up and pay.Southern Cross, a 38’ Lagoon had been having serious problems with the mast track, the lynch pin in the main sail’s rigging.   Steve, the skipper had replaced it 3 times but it kept warping.  When we reached South Africa we couldn’t put the main sail all the way up and it was just getting worse.

00001089Southern Cross moored in Bluff Yacht Club, a little outside of Durban, to have the work done.  Bluff Yacht Club was a charming place with a 50s feels, in fact it probably hadn’t been remodeled since the 50s, but there were big plans for renovation.  All of the members were welcoming and beyond friendly offering camaraderie, rides into town, helpful suggestions, and advice about South Africa.

I knew we were having the mast off in South Africa and was more than a little nervous.  That had to be a huge deal, right?  After all, the mast, the sails… that was the very heart and soul of the boat – the mast put the sail in sailboat.  Fixing the mast?  That was huge.

We motored Southern Cross over to a wall opposite the Marina and the riggers helped us tie her up.  I watched incredulous as two men adeptly unbolted rigging and hooked it onto the crane.  In 15 minutes we had the rigging unbolted and one man guided the mast off of the boat onto land.

With the mast off it was as if I were standing on a different boat.   A hollow shell of the proud sailboat she had once been.  How long would she be like this?

To my surprise and delight the South African riggers worked miracles.  What would have taken at least a week in the States or Europe was done in just a few hours.  A fraction of the time, but still an obscene amount of money.  I don’t even want to know how much.  I love sailing, crewing is great, but owning a boat?  Well like they say, boat stands for “Break Out Another Thousand.”

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