Tag Archives: Ocean Gypsies

Ocean Gypsies: Finding a boat #1

 
 

Dreaming into the sea in Lüderitz in Namibia indulging in old seafaring memories, we met the former diamond diver Heiko who sailed around the world for eleven years together with his family. Our old dreams of sailing and circumnavigating the world resurfaced and we yarned, informed ourselves and sketched sailing boats which we thought might be ideal for worldwide voyages for a traveling family ... traditional boats, spacious, convenient and ocean-going ... just like a "Colin Archer" maybe. But it would also have to be suitable for more or less single-handed sailing! A new dream, a new project called "Ocean Gypsies" came into existence!

 
 

The next similar touching view of the ocean we indulge in is at "Cape Agulhas", the southernmost tip of Africa (here is the blog entry on this wonderful place).

... And promptly but by chance we meet Malan Conradie, a local boat builder, at "Cape Agulhas Backpackers". He and his wife Erin own the "Backpackers".

 

Malan was very convincing!

 

Malan is a great inspiration for our "romantic-sailing thought-cloud-castle" which during a long and gregarious evening he converts into a "sporty-sailing dream-beachhouse". He invites us to visit him in the manufacture of "Scapeyachts", a boat-builder's yard who build catamarans near Cape Town. According to him these guys have exactly what we need!

After two and a half wonderful weeks in Cape Town we again "set sails" for "Cape Agulhas" and stopover in Somerset West, where "Scapeyachts" construct and produce their catamarans.

Because Malan is rather an expert for highspeed "Hydrofoil" speedboats, his colleague and friend Kevin Knight, more specialized on sailing boats, shows us the catamarans in the factory hall and in the nearby harbour.

 

The catamaran looks quite big when out of the water!

 
 
 

We actually arrived having many reservations, because we feel that catamarans in comparison to more traditional boats are rather ugly, far too modern and somehow unproportional (too wide and short). Simply "floating caravans". A seafaring romanticism which we know from the time we spent on traditional sailing boats and tallships, we rather can't imagine experiencing on such a "yoghurt pot".

But by and by, safety, convenience and sailing qualities indeed change our minds.

For our purposes Kevin recommends the "Scape 40' Adventurer Racer Cruiser" (draft 0,8m, l.o.a 11.90m, beam 6.42m).

Because of its two hulls the catamaran is distinctly more stabile in the water, which makes everyday life on board considerably less demanding. Seasickness for example is not really a problem any more. The plastics of the hulls (vinylester resin and multi axial stitched E-glass fabrics, PVC/Nidacore sandwich vacuum bonded construction) has a multitude of tiny air pockets and because of that the hulls rise high above the waterline and thus bring about far less resistance movement than a monohull would, because that would most commonly float through the water on one complete side of the boat. Because of this difference, the cat can easily sail at speeds up to 27 knots (!). This is more than double the speed traditional sailing boats can reach.

 
 

"Quite dangerous!" one now could think! But the cat is more stabile, more rarely capsizes (if at all) and if by any chance one of the hulls should become leaky, due to the air pockets in the plastic material the boat is constructed of, everything will still continue to float even though the hull is full of water. Quite fascinating: just in case the boat hits a floating container, both bows break and take in the impact energy without the boat itself becoming disabled and adrift or in danger of sinking. Because both hulls have an engine, it would even be possible to self-salvage the boat into the next harbour. - Absolutely amazing!

The double "normal" speed thus allows worry-free fun and at the same time doubles the travel-radius, which bearing in mind the many dream-destinations we have in the backs of our heads leads to absolute excitement in us.

Another asset is the gregariousness that can be lived in everyday life on this boat. With two double cabins and two smaller "1,5" person-cabins in each hull and another two to four beds in the salon, we could invite many friends and family members to come sailing with us.

 
 

What also perfectly fits to us is the fact that one part of the salon, the centre of life on this boat with a mindblowing 360° panoramic view, consists of a perfectly equipped galley ... Absolutely great: sailing, chatting and cooking - everything side by side and together.

A proper kitchen!

Can you imagine a boat being built in South Africa without a braai!?

And just in case anybody needs some time on their own, they can just retract to one of the four cabins in the two hulls.

Our two daughters of course like the two "trampolins" on the foreship the most ... and of course the diving platform and the two transom steps at the end of both hulls. Very family friendly and just made for long term travel!

 
 
 
 

How impressively active and relaxing at the same time voyages on this boat could be, no matter if they are short or longer trips!

Due to the fact that the boat has a large fresh water tank of 400l, a water maker (reverse osmosis) plus the equipment to collect rain water, in addition to highly effective solar panels on the deckhouse, this boat is more or less self sufficient. Only Diesel for the two 29hp motors and gas for the braai, stove and oven has to be bunkered every now and then.

 
 

With this boat, we could reach remote places we would not even be able to reach with our beloved Land Rover "Nyati".

 
 

Sure, to be able to really feel comfortable on such a modern plastic-sailing boat, quite a few things would have to be designed differently, but real-wood veneer, metallic varnish and brass bits and pieces can easily add a "personal and comfy touch" to this boat.

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So, only the price, which at the moment is rather inaffordable for us, is an obstacle in making our next dream come true.

But this also challenges us to make it possible, plan, work and save, because the quality of life one would get back with this boat would be worth all the exertions!

Dreams are there to become true … The birth of a new project

Our 13-months overland journey through Africa will soon be over! We have to return back to our daily routines back home ... Dream over!

...

Many people rather not go out and travel extendedly because they fear this very situation and many overland travellers don't go back home because of this and go on traveling for an indefinite period of time.

Certainly, we are also in the middle of this discussion and, of course, all have our mixed feelings when talking about coming home. Apart from the fact that long term "homeschooling" is not legal in Germany (not even for the children of teachers!), our two daughters simply want to go back to "their" island, even though they really enjoyed and still enjoy traveling, and we certainly don't want to stand in their way! The tiny German North Sea island called Spiekeroog is the home of our family!

So, how do we plan to deal with the situation of "coming back home"?

...

Our unexpectedly long stay in Lüderitz surprises us with pivotal points which then surprise us with their depth and spontaneous impact.

 

Lüderitz might be far away from the normal tourist routes, but we think this place is really great!

 
 

Scotland? The Faeroe Islands? ...

 

Dreaming into the Lüderitzbucht, the harbour-town atmosphere and surrounding landscape reminds both of us on Scottish harbour towns and how we met and fell in love back in 2003 sailing around the British Isles as crew of the sail training ship "Thor Heyerdahl".

 

The sail training ship "Thor Heyerdahl", the place where Juliane and Mischa met back in 2003 ...

 

Independently of one another we observe that our two kids really enjoy the boat trip to "Halifax Island", the surrounding nature and also the swell.

 

The sea is challenging, but also a "place" where you can dream ... if you have been touched by the sea, it will never ever let you go!

 

But we also realise that both of us have really deeply missed "going out to sea" during the last ten (!) years.

Heiko, the captain on our penguin and dolphin boat trip from Lüderitz and former diamond diver, tells us about his experiences sailing with his family on the oceans for eleven years circumnavigating the world. And there it is! BANG! ... a new dream is born!!! Or maybe it is better to say "reborn"!

Back at "Lüderitz Backpackers" we again begin to collect our ideas, plan and sketch - just like we did it when began to plan our sabbatical overland trip through Africa sometime between 2008 and 2011. A sailing boat which can sail in our native wadden sea and be moored in the small harbour of our home island of Spiekeroog but also is suitable for global crossing finally is the solution for our inner conflict between wanderlust and itchy feet on the one side and homesickness on the other. Sitting over a glass of wine and cider, idea after idea is discussed, we discuss what such a boat should look like, which features it should have for our plans ... and are enormously happy and excited about our new travel project. The project "Ocean Gypsy" is born! Even Anouk begins to plan and draw her dream boat ... both daughters are "as keen as mustard"!

Family history, family plans ... a new project is born!

We know that especially sailing can provide a very substantial learning field and source of great experiences and can only further strengthen our Transafrica-family-team (we will come back to this topic in a later post), not least because of our own experiences with the project "High Seas High School" of our school. For us the oceans have always been rather "bridges" or "transport routes" than insuperable barriers separating people from each other! Sailing is going to provide more freedom to travel for us and we plan to use this extensively for our family in the future!

 

 

Of course, we will continue overlanding with our "Nyati" as well! Maybe with a new offroad trailer!

 

In spite of this new project, us 4-wheel-nomads will go on overlanding in our Land Rover, of course! For summer 2017 we plan to go to Scotland, then at some point in time South America, Asia, West Africa will follow ... we have a long imaginary list of places we want to see during our lifetime! This "list" actually is even extended by the possibility to also travel by water.

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Suddenly, "going home" is not the "end" of a dream but also the necessity for the beginning of a new one. ... "Home Port Spiekeroog!" ... If we have learned one thing about ourselves during the last few months and years, it is the fact that indeed we are really successfull in realising our dreams!

And suddenly everything "could be worse" and we can fully enjoy the last quarter of our Transafrican adventure without any melancholy.

Lüderitz … a harbour town with a bit of a homecoming feeling

 

Lüderitz as seen from the sea.

 

We really like Lüderitz! Lüderitz, bought in 1883 by the German merchant of the same name and from 1884 on under the protection of the German emperor, is completely different compared to the rather "overdone" German and somehow "artificial" seeming Swakopmund.

The days of the fishing with smaller boats seems to be gone here as well ...

Here in Lüderitz, the atmosphere simply "fits". Guidebooks state that this town could easily be situated somewhere in Germany; we rather feel reminded on different harbour towns in Scotland, Hanstholm in Denmark or other somewhere else in Scandinavia.

Another "Woehrmann house"

Definitely an old German train!

The old turntable for train engines

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

"Krabbenhöft & Lampe" ... good accommodation and great seafood in the "Dias Cafe and Oyster Bar"

 

We enjoy long walks through the town, tasty and fresh seafood (oysters galore, calamari, fresh fish ... and all that at really reasonable prices compared to European prices), and relax in the reasonable but very clean "Lüderitz Backpackers".

Halifax Island with its penguin colonies

With captain Heiko, a real "original", old school German-Namibian through and through, ex-diamond diver, ex-circumnavigator "en famille" and simply an interesting person, we go on a short cruise to "Halifax Island" just a few miles out at sea where there are several penguin colonies.

 

Here they are ... in their favorite element!

 
 

Ruined whalers' buildings

 
 

My three girls just love the sea!

 

Guano production!

The lonely grave of the lighthouse keeper ... stalwart even in death!

Apart from penguins, we also see pelicans, seals and even dolphins who play in front of the catamaran's bow. Really Great!

 

Diaz Point with the old German lighthouse in the background

 

Shark Island ... long time ago a place of sorrow for the Herero, now a wild and romantic campsite ... strange connection!

Old lifeboat shack

Back ashore, we go on an excursion to Diaz Point. The Portuguese navigator went ashore here and set up a stone cross around Christmas 1487 to symbolize that this coast was in the Portuguese king's sphere of influence.

The old wooden stairs to Diaz Point ...

The Diaz Cross

 

Dreaming into the oceans

 

This natural bight near what today is called Lüderitz was first called "Angra das Voltas", reading "bay of the difficult manneuvres", later it was re-named "Angra Pequena" ("Small Cove"). The original Diaz' Cross is now in a museum but a replica version of the cross including a commemorative plaque was set up in reminiscense of the Portuguese explorer.

 
 

We stay in Lüderitz longer that actually planned, also because this town really inspires us.