We found what appeared to be the perfect anchorage; the shore of steeply rising Ilha da Gipoia a few metres away, covered with every shade and texture of verdant forest. Trees soar upwards, supported on tall, narrow, grey trunks, their foliage finally bursting outwards, finding light, and every nook beneath crammed with prolific, lush growth. Typically the land, clothed in profusion of green dotted with mauve, drops abruptly to a round bouldered shore lapped by the sea.
To me St Helena was just a dot in the middle of the South Atlantic Ocean, a stop-over for westward bound sailors. However, since we spent ten glorious days there, it is engraved in my mind as a beautiful, diverse and interesting island, well worth a visit.
I will remember it for the warm and welcoming Saints, as the locals are called, the place where I swam with Whale sharks, set foot on the same soil as greats like James Cook, Charles Darwin, Napoleon Bonaparte, Edmund Halley, Captain Bligh as well as the Duke of Wellington… and hitch-hiked for the first time in my life. Sadly, it is also the place where I lost my precious drone with its GoPro camera before I could publish even a single drone video clip on this blog.
We had a very calm, peaceful and wonderful first day to our voyage, departing Cape Town on Monday, 29th January 2018. After the bustle of the past two years it was difficult to believe that we were actually on our way.
I’m sitting in Moondust’s cabin with the south easter blowing hard and rain pattering on the windows, which is very welcome in the current drought. Looking back on the past year of frantic activity it is hard to believe that we are now counting the days before our departure! We hope to set sail early January, but the nature of sailing is such that it is impossible to set a fixed date and time.
In the year since we took ownership of Moondust we have worked far harder than we have played. In fact, technical matters kept us off the water long enough for a mother rock pigeon to find her way into our mainsail stack pack, lay her eggs and hatch the chicks, only to have me haul them out by the handful whilst searching for the reefing lines when we finally went out again. On our return to the dock, both parents were clearly distraught at the loss of their chicks, which put us in a quandary – take them to World of Birds… or what? This was resolved the next day when Hendrik at the sanctuary informed me that they couldn’t accept birds due to bird flu. So, a carved-up wine box on our foredeck supplanted their home in the mainsail and their parents returned to feed them until they flew the nest a few weeks later. In the meanwhile we kept a low profile with the other yachties, as none of them would have welcomed two more pigeons messing on their boats!
Since the day we decided that Moondust was the lady with whom we wished to spend the next few years, we have had a busy time trying to get to grips with everything entailed in owning, repairing and preparing a blue water, ocean going cruising yacht. Most importantly, we’ve also had to become competent sailors…
For the delivery to Hout Bay, Pete and I flew up to Durban together with Colin, a family member who volunteered as extra crew. The moment that I laid eyes on Moondust I fell in love with her. Being a thirteen year old boat she shows the imperfections of a middle aged lady, but she also offers the comfort and intrigue of a mature woman.
With the responsibilities of direct parenthood nearing their end in Karin’s case and with me in the midst of my sixth decade, it was important for us both to continue to make the most of life before decrepitude finally arrived. I had had an eventful motorcycle trip up to Tanzania in 2014 which led to the acquisition and outfitting of a 4 wheel drive vehicle for a seven month overland journey to Ethiopia and back with Karin in 2015. After that great experience the question naturally arose – what next?