Once again, we’re still alive

Words by: Hugh

Well hello faithful Oceangybe Blog readers! I see that our last blog entry is from August 13th, a while ago for sure. An explanation is in order I suppose. After almost 2 months cruising the islands of eastern Indonesia, we found ourselves in Bali, the hub of tourism in Indo. It was a bit of a shocker for sure. On the 2nd night I found myself deep in an air-conditioned mall and had to make a run for it. Anyhow, the main reason for visiting Bali was to find a secure place to moor Khulula while we all traveled back to Canada for a very special event for one of the crew (ahem, Ryan). Without giving anything away, I’ll leave a proper recounting of the details of the event to the groom.

So yes, we were all back in Canada for 4 weeks to attend said special event, catch up with family and friends back in BC, recharge and refuel for the next big leg of the trip… The Indian Ocean. If one is to sail around the world, there are numerous routes that can be taken. The most common of which is often referred to as the coconut run; sailing in the mid-latitudes where the weather is the most benign, the trade-winds blow consistently in their respective season, and palm trees sway gently above white-sand beaches. Ah, it’s all quite idyllic. This is our chosen route. The biggest choice one has to make is to sail above the equator in the northern hemisphere winter, or below the equator in the southern hemisphere winter.

When you enter the Indian Ocean and decide to sail across it, all goes well for about 4000 miles until you run into the rather large continent of Africa. Put yourself in the northern hemisphere and when you bump into Africa the easiest thing to do is hang a right and head for the Mediterranean via the Red Sea. Put yourself below the equator, in the southern hemisphere, and your best bet is to head further south and around the Cape of Good Hope (the lesser of the two capes). This is the route we’ve chosen to take.

Next week, weather permitting, we’ll be casting off from the safe, but very polluted, shores of Bali and sailing straight west into the Indian Ocean, destination South Africa! And yes, it’s a long way; about 5500 miles (that’s nautical miles) to the Cape. Yikes! Despite all that distance, on this next leg we still won’t break our record for longest open ocean passage, which was 2900 miles from Mexico to the Marqueasas. We scoured the charts looking for any sort of land mass (or reef… remember Minerva Reef!) to stop along the way. Well, we were happy to see that there are a few land masses that fall between Indonesia and Africa. Our plan has us first stopping at the small, isolated Atoll of Cocos Keeling, 1000 miles west of Bali. Our fantastic and fashionable surfboard and clothing sponsor, Sitka, has kitted us all out with a new quiver of boards and fresh clothing. So we’ll be donating our old boards and almost-new threads to some lucky kids on Cocos. Thanks to everyone who answered our call for old fins for the boards; every board has a matching set of fins now.

There we will be joined by our good friend Dave Abercrombie, a novice sailor but accomplished pilot. P.S. Dave, the passage you signed up for is 2500 miles, from Cocos Keeling to Mauritius! Once in Mauritius there will be much rejoicing. From there our route will take us south of Madagascar. Hopefully we’ll have time to stop there and witness the lemurs, giant boa trees, and take in the local culture. Wow, what a once-in-a-life-time opportunity!

A friend of mine from high school, Davin Carter, has generously offered to contribute a few hundred dollars to our expedition. We’ll be using this money to purchase basic medical and school supplies here in Bali and deliver them to local people in Madagascar.

Once clear of Madagascar, we’ll be sprinting for the coast of South Africa, not exactly sure where at this point. This stretch of water is probably the most dangerous we’ll encounter in the entire trip (don’t worry Mum, we’ll be fine.) Two strong, opposing currents run between Madagascar and South Africa, and storms quickly spin up from the ‘roaring forties’ latitudes. Needless to say we’ll be carefully picking weather windows and tapping local knowledge to navigate these waters.

As you may know, Ryan and Bryson grew up on the beaches of South Africa, near the town of East London. So this next passage is a bit of a home coming for them. Wow, its sure going to be amazing.

That is a small glimpse at what we’ve been up to since August, and what is going to occupy our time for the next few months. In a word: Sailing! But once we’ve got our sea-legs back, typing is a great way to pass the days, so look forward to lots of blog entries for those of you stuck in the office.

Now, back to scraping off a months worth of barnacles and filling Khulula with food for three.


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