Coconuts – by Karin Jnr.

Coconuts rock.

I opened coconuts. There is this niche where three coconut trees grow. They are out of the way, sort of on the edge of the jungle, so their coconuts weren’t harvested early to keep the population safe.( Falling Coconuts have caused more deaths than sharks).


The first time I found a coconut I decided to try and open it on my own.

I did so with the help of a screw driver and a really big mean pocket knife I was once given by a friend for my birthday. It’s not easy opening a coconut. I have found the best way to do it –after doing this a couple of times now- is to peel the husk off of the middle brown bit. To do this I stick the knife in until it hits the hard bit in the middle. I then cut a line, from the top to the bottom. I then stick in the screwdriver and lever the husk off piece by piece. This takes ten to fifteen minutes.


The coconut – to those of you who have never been privileged to see an actual real one – husk and all, has three little sensitive bits. These are sort of positioned like a bowling ball’s three finger holes. They are thinner and weaker bits of… shell. I cut these away with my knife. But before I can actually drink the coconut juice or whatever you want to call it, there is a layer of coconut between me and the juice. I scoop this out with my knife and eat it. There are these little white things just inside the holes, I assume they’re the seeds. I always eat them. So if you see a coconut coming out of my ear, you’ll know where that came from.


I know there are better and more efficient ways of opening coconuts, but I find my way fun.



Just a few tips if you’re ever going to use my way. Don’t use just any knife. as I said, I have a really mean pocket knife. (But I happened to have lost it some time so I had to buy myself a new one, but that’s an entirely different random story that won’t be told now. )

I tried using a normal knife once, but it bent like butter. This was because I sort of also sometimes use the knife to cut the husk pieces closer to the brown centre part of the coconut, as a kind of lever … So now we have a designated knife called the coconut knife, due to its rather bendy form. My fault entirely, but hey, it’s an interesting story. Sort of.

Oh, and another thing. Don’t try eating a rotten coconut. I found this coconut, but I wasn’t sure if it was still good. The husk was still mostly green on the outside, but some of it had gone brown. I decided to open it and check for myself. It looked fine and all. Some parts of the husk didn’t smell that nice any more and were a little damp, but I figured the milk is in the inside of the nut right? I scooped out the piece of coconut and put it in my mouth, sniffing it first like a monkey. I don’t have a monkey’s sense of smell and I thought the slight rotten smell might just be my hand from dealing with the husk. It was probably part of it, but not all. Believe me, Rotten coconuts do not taste nice, at all.


Oh, but I never mentioned the eating of the Coconut. The white stuff, not the whole thing.

After you’ve drained the juice/milk or whatever out of the… shell. You throw the brown cup-ish thing on the cement ground very hard. Till you create a crack in it. Then you lever it open with your pocket knife and break off pieces to share with all your siblings. But this is a hard part, for there is only one pocket knife, and now it is in high demand because everyone wants to use it to help them separate the bit you eat from the bit you don’t.

There, this blog post is complete.

Rust Warriors – by Marike

Shelter Bay Marina

I will now tell you about our rust warriors. =)

One thing that the boat did extremely well in Panamá, was RUST! Apparently, Panamá has just the right combination of salty breeze, humidity, and temperature to make your most well-behaved metal object turn orange. We had SO MANY places break out in rust. My hair pins, the bilge-pump, (which had never given any sign of trouble before!) and any number of new little orange scars and lines on Shang Dus’ exterior.

After we first arrived in Panamá, we were delighted to find an abundance of boat kids in Shelter Bay marina. Boat kids are rare, teenagers the ultimate rare. After the initial excitement, we noticed something about these boat kids – they worked at odd jobs for cash.

For us as South Africans, it is a strange concept. (I think I’ve mentioned this before.) It’s not that there aren’t kids in SA who do a great job of being entrepreneurs, but there isn’t this mind-set, this ‘goes-without-saying’ tradition that kids do actual work to get paid. It’s the whole ‘summer-job’ thing.

As the Shang Du girls, we aren’t always on the lookout for ways to make some cash. It’s not built in at all. But seeing the other kids so hard at work, gave us a spark – if they can do it, why can’t we?

There were problems though. Yeah sure, we could go work on other people’s boats, but our own dearest really needed work done. It would be extremely silly to go get odd-jobs on other sailor’s boats and then have other people work on Shang Du. We kind of talked about it a little, then my dad came up with the perfect solution – he would pay us to work on the boat.

Boy, did that motivate us! Just write up your hours and it turns into cash! Awesome.

It was also super strange, because since we started sailing, we didn’t really need our own cash. Our parents were always around, so if we really need to buy anything, it is discussed with them and either added to the cart or left on the rack. Personally, I didn’t really know what to do with this new-found resource, but it was interesting to see that Karin and Sophia did. Karin had a whole list of stuff she wanted to order over Amazon, such as a new pocket knife, books etc. and Sophia bought ice-cream whenever it suited her. How better to spend your money? 😉

But I’m wandering off the subject, which is the rust.

So the one MAJOR project that I decided to tackle on the boat, was our forward-main runner.

We had the two runners added to the boat before leaving Cape Town, but they started rusting very quickly. When we reached Fort de France, Martinique, Franci and I took it upon ourselves to try and chip’n’paint the forward runner. In retrospect I don’t think we knew what we were doing and I’m pretty sure we just made it worse. By the time we reached Panamá, it was all orange, puffed up and desperately in need of attention. But if you never try, you won’t learn, right?

So my special position in the new ‘everybody-works-on-the-boat’ routine, was manager. It was my responsibility to make sure everybody was productive after signing in. The delightful job of whacking rust off of the runner was one of the jobs I assigned.

As with all chip’n’paint jobs, the easiest part is at the start, when you know exactly where the rotten rust is sitting and it just jumps off the steel every time you hit it with the chipping hammer. It’s hard work though and creates a LOT of dust.

You need a good shower after chipping a big area. Karin and Sophia, being who they are, decided to turn themselves into ‘rust warriors’. 😉

From Bahamas to Panamá – by Franci

It was by far the worst trip so far on our circumnavigation. We knew that we were actually leaving our departure from the Bahamas a little too late and that most of the favourable weather windows would be closed by the time we left. That is why we took the weather window we did, even though it included about one and a half days of 28 knot winds (the wind strength at which we have only one sail up and my Dad starts sleeping in the cockpit).

Well, it turned out that we had that strong wind not for one and half days, but for more than three. And the wind almost never touched 28 knots, because it never sunk below 30. It mostly stayed in the high thirties, low forties. Once it even gusted up to 50 knots!

To try help you to understand a little better: 1 knot of wind is more or less 1.8 km/h. We sail the best with 15knots of wind – all four our sails up. At 20-21 knots we usually pull down the mizzen sail (the sail of the aft mast) and roll in the stay sail. Between 21-28 knots the main sail (from the forward mast) gets reefed more and more (‘reef’ is the sailing term for pulling the sail down a bit so that it’s smaller). By the time the wind reaches 28 knots, the main sail is down completely and my Dad has become a permanent fixture in the cockpit. 35-44 knots is something we haven’t had before, and it was a bit stressful. We only had about a blanket sized piece of our jib out, but we were still doing a good 5 knots.


The waves started getting really big and it was so rolly that there wasn’t really much any of us could do except sit in the cockpit or sleep. Because the wind was from behind most of the waves came from behind and went underneath us, but some came from the side splashing or even washing over the foredeck. The waves make a very loud ‘THUMP!’ if they hit directly against the side of the boat – and since my bed is almost right against the side of the boat I hear those thumps very clearly through my sleep. Once I woke up from a particularly large whack, just in time to watch some water pour through my hatch on top of me. See, our hatches are made in such a way so as to keep spray and rain out, but still let some air in – a very nice feature unless the hatch is submerged, then it lets water in as well. Anyway . . .that was not the nicest way to wake up : l.


We are ten times over grateful for the sail-flaps which we can close down to protect the cockpit, because it meant that none of the waves could splash directly onto us, even though the cockpit still got very damp after a while. Everything in the cockpit and the boat got sticky with wet salt. To top the situation off, the auto-pilot refused to steer with all the big waves. I don’t blame it. So we had to hand steer the boat the whole time and with all the big waves pushing us off course it was really hard. My Dad did a lot of the steering and got almost no sleep.


There were two particular waves that I remember well. The first wave I remember because we surfed it. My Dad was down below for once in a long time, Marike was steering, I was reading ‘The Lord of the Rings’ aloud and Karin and Sophia were just lying down in the cockpit. Then suddenly Shang Du’s nose dipped and for a few seconds we were actually staring at the bow of the boat down a very steep slope and were literally surfing down the wave. I don’t know how big that wave was, maybe even ten meters. . .(Our speedometer clocked 17.5 knots).

The second big wave was at night. I was steering and Sophia was reading to me. I think the tenseness of the ‘Lord of the Rings’ books actually fit in very well with the atmosphere on Shang Du X P. My Dad was in the cockpit trying to sleep. I heard a wave coming up behind us and made ready to counter it when it pushed us off course. In the end the wave actually pushed us directly along the course, but it broke on our aft deck, right on top of our parents’ hatch. It made a huge crash as it landed and some of the water flowed right over the cockpit roof. I’m actually glad it was dark and I couldn’t see how big that wave actually was, but from the fact that it was able to crash onto our aft deck I’m guessing it was pretty huge. For a few moments I had a lot of adrenaline without having anything to spend it on, cos the wave wasn’t fighting the steering.

My poor Mom got woken up by all the water streaming in on her, and their whole bed got soaked. And it stayed soaked till we got to Panama. They spread their olies (wet-weather jackets) over the bed so that they could at least sort of stay dry while sleeping.

That same night I was just so ready to go to bed. To try and sleep through the thumps and pretend they weren’t there. But I wasn’t to have it that easy. I had quite a few things in my room, like a grab bag (a big yellow container with a red lid which we are suppose to grab if the boat sinks), that just kept on and on thumping to and fro, no matter how I wedged it. I felt too seasick to really sort out the problem completely and just tried to ignore the thumping while I tried to sleep. That plan backfired, however, because amongst the things in my room was a plastic bottle of honey. A bottle that was suppose to come under my bed, but I had procrastinated and forgotten about it. Bottom line: I came down from my watch very ready for bed and found sticky honey all over my floor. I felt like pressing an ‘off’ button somewhere and just for a while not have a room that rolled, not have waves crashing against my wall, not have things thumping about in my room, and not have honey on my floor.

My mom was still awake from having water dumped on her, and she came in and helped me clean up and sort out most of the honey mess. I’m really grateful to God for giving me such a kind and loving mom. She also helped me to tie down the grab bag once and for all so that it would stop thumping. I was so grateful for that.

As we were mopping up the honey I remembered something I had read before leaving Bahamas, about giving thanks: we find it easy to rejoice in and give thanks to God for His goodness when all is going well with us, but then tend to stop giving thanks when things are hard. Does that mean we’re saying God is any less good? We need to be able to rejoice in God the same amount when we’re in a nice quite anchorage and all’s well, as when we’re being tossed about, feeling seasick, and have honey all over the floor. . .



Finally, after two days of being bashed, we ‘heaved-to’. It’s what every sailing book tells you to do and will definitely from now on be standard procedure for us if we ever have such high winds again. ‘Heaving-to’ is when you take down all the sails except a wedge of the main and turn your bow into the wind. Without the sails your boat doesn’t have enough power to push through the wind, but you wedge the wheel to keep on turning into the wind anyway. So basically the boat comes to a standstill. The wind is still pushing you, but you’re not going very fast and nobody needs to steer, nobody needs to worry about the sails. By this time my Dad was paste and he could finally get some sleep. We were still rolling, but a lot of the tension was gone and we could all rest properly. After about ten hours of recuperation my Dad had finally caught up on some badly needed sleep and we all had more courage to face the rest of the way to Panama. We rolled the jib out again and continued on for about another day.


We were very happy when we finally came to Panama. It was a bit stressful maneuvrering through all the big tankers and cargo ships anchored in the bay, because the wind was still pretty strong and we weren’t sure exactly which ships were moving. Our AIS on the GPS kept warning us that we were on a collision course with some other boat just behind us, but we couldn’t even see a fishing boat there, so we continued and just kept a sharp lookout. Our AIS system picks up other vessels and displays them as green triangles on our screen, or red triangles if we are on a collision course. It turned out that our AIS had for some reason counted our own AIS signal as a separate vessel, so that according to the system, we were on a collision course with a GPS manufactured Shang Du Ghost. Hmm.

We needed a few things fixed on Shang Du, but because we arrived on a Friday we didn’t want to spend the weekend in a marina while nothing happened. However, the only designated anchorage was devoid of any other sailboats and not even a sign anywhere that this was actually an anchorage. So we changed our minds and went to the Marina directly, of which we are very thankful. Further blogs will be written about the marina and everything and everyone there, but my immediate concern was the fact that they had showers. Showers with hot water. With a boat full women I don’t think it’s too hard to guess what one of the first things we did was ; ).

And thus ended our first trip through a storm. Well, technically its only really classified as a storm if the winds are higher than 50 knots, but we did see 50 knots on the GPS once. . . So now if people ask us if we’ve been in any storms we will actually be able to say yes ; P.

Long Island – by Marike

Long Island – Bahamas

Long island is exactly that – a long island.

After Christmas at San Salvador we moved on to Long Island, because we had heard of a ‘blue hole’ on the island which my dad really wanted to dive in. “Dean’s blue hole” had until recently held the status of ‘deepest blue hole’, but now I think they found a deeper one somewhere.

In the end, the dive itself wasn’t all that exciting, since the visibility wasn’t what we had hoped, but I think the expedition was worth it, because to do it, we had to rent a car. ^_^

When we arrived at Long Island with Shang Du, we had to do some careful steering. The anchorage is located between a little island and Long Island and there are some pretty shallow spots. When we were safely anchored and had, had time to rest, we launched Andy and went to investigate ashore.

We found a little bay that had a Cat moored in it, but it was waaaay too shallow for us to get in there with Shang Du. We tied Andy up to a wooden jetty which had only one or two power-boats tied to it. Didn’t look like there was a lot going on.

A sign told us that we were now at the ‘Flying Fish Marina’, but everything looked really deserted. We walked around the bright yellow buildings, looking for someone to tell us a little about the island.

Everything had a really ‘the builders just left yesterday’ feeling. The building was so new, you could still see construction dust lying around. One of the functions of a new building, of course, it that it still has all those little kinks to work out – like making sure the signs you put up actually directs people to the office instead of causing confusion.

The office, (once found), proved to be a combination office and shop. Everything had a really un-inhabited feel. Nothing was moved in properly yet, not enough clutter to fill in the corners.

Long island is in the hurricane belt

We got the information we needed; Nearest grocery store was a bit too far away to walk, Dean’s blue hole was not really accessible from the sea and yes, my Dad could recharge his sim card right there.

We arranged to hire a car for a day, starting 1 o’clock on the following day. The plan was to check out Dean’s blue hole with our snorkelling gear, to see if it was worth hauling out all the diving equipment. If we decided it was, then we could go diving the following morning.

We had a lot of fun swimming in the blue hole and picnicking next to it. After lunch we decided that yes, we would come back the following day to do some diving. Because we were planning to come back anyway, we decided to leave Dean’s hole and use the rest of the day exploring more of the island.

Great place to jump off from

We did some googling on the go and found out that there are caves on the island. Since they weren’t too far, (it’s an island), we headed over to find out if it was possible to still get a tour that day.

I’m not sure what I was expecting, but the little house next to the road definitely wasn’t it. I mean, what do you normally get when going to see caves? A ticket-window and a time-table at least. Usually, there is a whole business built around the fact that you want to see the caves. But there in Long Island, the little building didn’t seem to have any connection to caves whatsoever, no matter what the sign said.

After closer inspection it was obvious that the little building housed a little shop. There was definitely a sign outside advertising the Hamilton Caves. It was all closed up and we were just about to give up, when a little round man came and unlocked the door. My Dad and some sisters went in after him to ask about the cave tours. He said yes, he gave the tours, but since his wife still had the truck he couldn’t do a tour for us right then. After some more discussion it was discovered that he needed the truck to transport us all down the road to where the caves were. Since it was really not far, we did the trip in two go’s with our little hired car. Problem solved. =)

It was a very interesting tour. Nothing like the usual ‘these formations’ and ‘so many years’. The land on which the caves are, used to belong to the man’s grandparents, now it’s split up between the children. He can’t really remember a time when he didn’t know the caves. All the cousins played hide-and-seek in those caves. (The seeker without a torch and those hiding cramming themselves as deep as they could in little niches and crannies. The smaller you were, the more hiding places. 😉 ) They are just the family caves.

He could tell us a lot of stories about growing up, playing in the caves on a Sunday afternoon. No one ever got lost. The caves aren’t dark caves exactly. They are very extensive but shallow, close to the surface.

There are many holes into the world outside, letting in natural light and air. There isn’t light everywhere, but you get the feeling that you walk through a maze of dark tunnels to emerge in another green-tinged room. It looks like a dead-end until you explore the dark patch at the other end of the cavern and you realise the maze just continues!

Again, no one ever got lost, but I think that was mostly due to conscientious older siblings. When you were old enough, you were taken under someone’s wing and allowed to join the group. In due time it was your turn to make sure all your little charges came back.

They are very friendly caves, full of life. Cockroaches and bats mostly, but there was also a crab and some spiders. ^_^ It was one of the most interesting caves I have ever had the chance of visiting!

Franci, Dad and I were the only ones diving in Dean’s Blue hole, the rest all gave it a skip. It was nice, not specifically spectacular. My Dad said it’s a lot like Wondergat. Except that’s freshwater.

We didn’t stay at Long Island very long. Nowhere convenient for diving, you see. 😉 We quickly moved on to Greater Inagua, where we did some more great diving. Not, perhaps, quite as spectacular as in San Salvador, but very good, nonetheless.


We really enjoyed our Bahama stay! To think, we almost gave that whole chain a skip. I’m glad we didn’t. Up to date, San Salvador is the best place I’ve dived so far. I haven’t seen the South Sea islands yet, so I’ll update my views then. ^_^

After Greater Inagua and New Year we left the Bahamas behind and set sail for Panamá.

San Salvador – by Marike

It wasn’t easy to get to the Bahamas. There was a strong wind and only afterwards did we find out the rough journey had cost us our windvane-rudder and wind-generator. -_-

That wasn’t so great, but not a shattering loss either. Our poor wind-generator wasn’t the best out there and we haven’t used our windvane since the trip from St. Helena. (That’s a loooooong time ago.)


How to describe the Bahamas?

The islands are not much to look at. We’ve visited many islands now that look like tropical havens, especially those in the Caribbean. In the Caribbean the islands are all volcanic mountain peaks, their tips sticking out of the ocean and draped in green.

The Bahamas seem to be barren wasteland in comparison. The greens and browns are all faded, as if they’ve spent too much time in the sun. Standing on the boat looking toward land, it’s rather dull. The best view is when you’re standing on the beach, looking out to sea . . . WOW!

Karin Jr. as the model. 😉

The thing I love the most about living on the boat, is that you’re supplied with unlimited, unimpeded view of the sky. You get the same effect on a hill or mountain, or when you’re standing next to the sea. When the air is sharp and clear – and the sky filled with clouds.

Sophia always comes up with the perfect pose

Standing on the beach in the Bahamas was awesome. I’ve heard it said that we as humans were made to stand in awe. We love the feeling of looking at something amazing, awe-inspiring. To gaze into the beauty of the picture and feel small.

It is wonderful to have so many chances to stand in awe of our Creator. Even though I know this world is broken, it is still so beautiful and I can clearly see His sovereignty. There are no ‘accidents’ – there is design.

In San Salvador we weren’t anchored too far off the beach. It was really easy to snorkel to the beach, walk around on it for a while collecting shells, then snorkel back to Shang Du. The shallow white sandy bottom coupled with the crystal clear water reflects the sky’s blue colour. This is the totally idyllic water you always see on travel brochures. 😉 On my way to and from the beach I dive down every so often to pick up another sand-dollar. There were many many many of them lying around, since nobody ever comes there. During our stay at San Salvador, we were the only yacht to anchor there.

The shell Franci found while snorkelling! (I saw like 3 or 4 of those same shells, but all the ones I found still had snails in them. XD )


We might have been the only yacht anchored at the island, but we were not the only ones to enjoy the diving. On San Salvador, (the place where Cristopher Columbus first set foot in the ‘new world’, by the way), there is a little corner for French tourists. A complete and secluded holiday resort that has a little runway all its own! Every week an airplane flies in from France. It drops off a bunch of people ready for a holiday and takes the previous lot back home.

(That is an extremely summed up version of what actually happens).

These people have also stationed buoys for themselves at dive-spots. It was very convenient to just dingy out with all our gear and tie up to a buoy.

You can’t actually see the buoy here, but this is the four of us girls just come up from a dive. (From left to right: Karin Jr.; Franci; Marike and Sophia)

The drop-off dives we did in San Salvador were amazing!

The drop-off.

San Salvador is not on the list of islands people would normally visit on a trip to the Bahamas, (talking of cruisers specifically), but it really should be! Apparently you don’t get such good drop-off dives anywhere else except for the great barrier reef in Australia.

The photos all look blue, but while you’re under the water your brain interprets what you see differently or something, because it doesn’t feel blue. 😉

I get to dive with our little dive buoy – we call it “Subby”, since it has the word “SUB” printed on it’s side.

The marine life was really interesting. (Mom with a feeding turtle. It’s eating the sponge.)

This grouper would follow us around on our dives! (Dad doing the interaction.)

San Salvador was by far my favourite Bahamian island! We enjoyed the diving so much, we decided not to continue on to another island until after Franci’s birthday and Christmas. =)

Our very last peppermint-crisp chocolate (treasured since Grandma visited us in Trinidad) was used to make Franci’s peppermint-crisp tart. 17 candles!

Our newly established tradition of decorating the baobab tree with chocolate begins . .

Doesn’t it look pretty? ^_^ (You can see our surplus of sand-dollars right there!)

That basically sums up San Salvador for me =)


The Bahamas Experience – by Karin Jr. & Sophia


   Our Bahamas experience was awesome



   Awesome? I would say it was more than awesome. It was Awesomearistic! We did some seriously awesome dives there. We got rich with Sand dollars and we saw an Eagle ray. Marike and Dad swam briefly with dolphins next to our boat and you wouldn’t believe how blue the water was!

Sand dollar riches


Yeah! the water looked exactly like all those magazine advertisements for some tropical island resort. I always thought they were fake, I mean water that blue? Get serious. But it exists! True as daylight.

Swimming in the sky

We explored the island, and saw the humming birds. That’s basically everything majorly awesome, so this blog is just about over.


   No it isn’t! We forgot to mention that the Bahamians knew we were tourists because we swam, in the middle of winter! But to us it felt like perfect weather to swim, because it was HOT!


     We went to church on the island and met an awesome guy Jay. He gave us awesome T-shirts, and showed us the humming birds and the leaves you could eat and all.

Our awesome guide Jay, who showed us the Bahama Woodstar hummingbird!

Just eating nature – that’s why Sophia’s face is all weird. (Tamarind leaves)

   Oh yeah. J gave us a tour of the island and introduced us to that wonderful soda we won’t get anywhere else on our journey. That’s what he said anyway, and so far it’s been true. It’s my favourite soft drink.


   Really? I’ve got loads of favourite drinks. Guarana from Brazil, The drink you just mentioned, Orange juice and Milkshake. And more….


   I was talking specifically about soft drinks, but I guess Guarana is also my favourite soft drink…


   Anyway, how did we get to drinks while talking about the Bahamas?

   We saw the Iguanas that are indigenous to San Salvador in the Bahamas.


Emmit the Iguana. (That’s not his official name, but that’s what I decided to call him.) He eats nature too! (Yellow flowers.)

We are proud to be affiliated with Emmit.

We didn’t see the sea star though. Unless it counts that I saw it on their one cent coin. I think it’s the one cent. It might be the five cent, wait. I’ll go check.


   While Karin is momentarily gone, I will mention that the sea star is especially indigenous to San Salvador, and not just the Bahamas in general. And maybe also the Iguana, I’m not sure. Definitely the humming bird.


   I’m Back, and I confirm that it was indeed their One cent coin. At least I think it’s that sea star. if not, then I cannot claim to have seen this indigenous creature.

   We didn’t see the swimming pigs, because we didn’t go to that island. And we never saw the-


   Octopus with sixteen legs, sharp teeth and glowing eyes that is indigenous to the sun.


   I’m pretty sure an octopus like that doesn’t exist Sophia. And if it did it would be called a… sixteenopus, Secteenopus? No, no! a SectotenOpus!


   You’ve got no proof that I’m wrong, and I won’t believe you that it doesn’t exist until you can show me proof.


   Sophia. It just wouldn’t work to have a bunch of SectotenOpuses on the sun. What would they eat?


   YOU! The energy of the sun, anything. Tun Tun TUUN


   I think Sophia is getting bored of this because that sentence didn’t make much sense.


   No, I’m just warming up. But back to reality – it’s a pity they can google stuff to make sure our word is sound. Otherwise we could have told them anything we want!


   We didn’t just stop at San Salvador, we went to Great Inagua and Long island as well. Dean’s blue hole is in Long Island, it wasn’t much more than a hole. With water in it.


Admittedly, it’s more than just a hole. It’s actually awesome.

Just chilling at the ‘ole hole.

Wait, before I leave the shores of San Salvador, let me mention the reef sharks that we saw on every dive we did. It was cliff dives, and the visibility was so good you could be diving at twenty meters, look up and see the clouds, and look down at least as far as forty meters. Pure awesomeness.



In the name of the hundred acre wood, I capture you!

That weird shape is the dingy. Look at how amazing the visibility is! (We’re like 20 metres down!)

Sophia relaxing under water. (‘Cause it’s the best place to chill in the Bahamas.)


Norfolk per Photo – by The Mom & Sophia

We managed to see a little of Norfolk during our stay at Rebel Marina. One extremely cold Saturday morning we visited the Nauticus Museum in town. We had the opening times wrong, so we had a good look at the outside scenery.

 This is the USS Wisconsin Battleship stationed at the Nauticus Museum in Norfolk. The ship looks a little puckered from this angle. We think that it was to go faster. 🙂


Sophia is doing her Battleship imitation.


Mermaids are everywhere in Norfolk. We are still not quite sure why. We added some of our own to this scene.


These metal plates are made to look like papers being blown by the wind.

They are symbolic of the people whose lifes were destroyed by war.(This photo was actually taken on another, warmer day).

On each ‘paper’ there is a letter written by a real person in a war situation. At the end of each letter, it gives the date on which the author died.


It was freeeezing cold and we found a Starbucks to hide in until the museum opened. Notice the red ribbons on the streetlamp for the Christmas season. We have no photo of the inside of the Starbucks, but we had to mention this event as the warm, cosy interior is a big part of what we all remember about the day.


In the Nauticus museum there are many hands-on activities. This makes it a very good museum (Sophia). All the girls enjoyed trying to pick up objects with these claws working with the remote hand-controls. This is Sophia taking her turn. It is much more difficult than it looks.


Horseshoe crabs are really interesting – especially if you get to touch them!


We had so much fun with this activity. The idea is to change the little ‘walls’ so that the water is channelled in the optimum way and the little boats can float safely. Too much damming causes water to overflow the channel. Our greatest challenge was to keep other family members from interfering with individual member’s plans.


Just a neat way to show that the mortars weigh the same as a Volkswagen Beetle.


They have a model of the Wisconsin in the Nauticus museum that we could look at before going to see the real one outside.


The Wisconsin is HUGE!! It would not have been possible for Sophia and Marike to be right where they are if the guns were really fired, due to the deafening sound, shockwave and intense heat.

Here, it is possible to see the flexible material around each turret that helps to absorb the shock. They are known as elephant ears. The material does look a bit like elephant hide.


Karin Joan is a compulsive coin collector. This means that she is always trying to spot any loose change that is laying around. Places like these, freak her out. This is a “donation point” on the deck of the Wisconsin. It is one of the hatchways that allow sailors to reach all the decks of the ship. The challenge is to throw your coin into the receptacle right at the bottom on the lowest deck. The visible coins in the photo bear testimony to how difficult it is to succeed. We didn’t either. And no, we didn’t allow Karin J to help herself.


We have always thought of Shang Du as a heavy boat with a heavy anchor chain. Not anymore!


This is one of the winches on the Wisconsin. The winch-handle will have to be the size of Marike and Sophia combined. Not a one-man (or rather a one-woman) winching job.


Frans is getting ready to duck into the entrance of one of the Firing Turrets.


They are serious about keeping the men out of the Ladies’ restrooms.


Living on a boat, we can appreciate the seating arrangements in the big Mess Hall. The chairs cannot fall over and neither the table nor the chairs can slide around.



These posters amused Karin J very much. They were used to remind the sailors what their attitude towards their food should be.


Sophia is trying to lift one of the insides of the “bullets” that the Battleship fires.


Yes, we are exactly as blue as we look. It was still freezing cold, but no reason not to take a family pic. And so we say goodbye to the Nauticus and the Wisconsin.


On another day, the Norfolk Aquarium and its surrounding walkways turned up some amazing sights.

We caught two Ospreys on their nest…

And a Moose nearly attacked us!


We found out where marshmallows come from…


And Franci and Sophia used their super powers to create a force field to protect them from the dangerous Comodo dragon.


Karin J and Marike definitely differ in their attitudes toward Great White Sharks.


Norfolk revolves around the Navy. This was our sunset view when we were anchored out. Who knew that aircraft carriers could be so scenic?


This photo is just to show what happens when the stove goes in for repairs. One has to bend over much further and it doesn’t gimble at all when the boat rocks. fortunately we were in the Marina with no swells.


The Marina is just like one big family with a huge heart for outsiders. Pam, on the left, brought an “activity” for us to do after the Thanksgiving meal. It came in a box that contained Jersey shaped cookies and do-dads to decorate them with. It was called the “Ugly Christmas Sweater” set. Jamie and her Mom Joan joined in too, but otherwise it really was the Van Zyl girls who had the most fun.

All the Ugly Christmas Sweaters.


Rob and Jaimy Van Pelt are part of the family at Rebel Marina. Jaimy and her Mom Jane did all the Thanksgiving cooking. Rob was the one to show us all the awesome discount shopping places around. He knows exactly where cruisers can stock up for very reasonable prices. Rob, we just loooong for those cheap Norfolk stores.

We do not have a nice pic of the Marina owner David Briggs, but he sure knows how to win a cruiser’s heart with all the Marina has to offer. We still miss the ‘courtesy car’ especially.

Howdy Bailey is the man who did some welding for us. We went to visit his workshop and found out that he worked as a boat builder for most of his life. His workshop is covered with the most amazing collection of ‘things’. Anything and everything he was able to collect, he did. We were thrilled to find out that he did some boat repairs for Jacques Cousteau, when he visited America. We are posing here in front of his Cousteau memorabilia.

The Crouse family from Canada. They were a real encouragement to us. It is always a blessing to meet other sailors that share our Christian faith.


And finally,

Only in America!!!!

The Christmas tree that GROWS! The kids loved that the remote control was handy and that they were allowed to try it out.

This is the height that the tree started at. (What a pity, Franci, that we can’t make you grow some more by remote control).







Rebel Marina – by Marike

Close your eyes.


Now open them.

We’re hurrying down the dock in the light of the late-rising sun and you can really feel the cold in the air. I’m carrying a bag stuffed with shower things and Franci has her towel over her shoulder. I’m wearing the white hoody we got in Cape Breton. It has now become one of my most basic clothing items.

As we reach the ramp connecting the floating dock with the fixed dock, we start racing each other, running with our bare feet over the metal. At the top of the ramp the material underfoot changes back to wooden boards. I curl my toes to get more grip, trying to stay ahead of Franci.

As we come closer to the building we slack down, out of breath from the sprint and laughing. After coming to a complete stop we continue at a more sedate pace. We turn to our right, walking past the big freezer where the ice is kept. On top there is a little metal box with a paper arrow stuck on the side, pointing to a slit. It reads ‘Ice Money’, reminding us that Rebel Marina uses the Honour System for lot of things. (Leave money when you use the service.)

My nose is still tingling from the cold air but as I’m pushing open the door, warm air from the room wash over me in welcome. I keep on being surprised by the big temperature change. In South Africa, houses aren’t as well insulated as in the countries where good insulation is a ‘do-or-die’ factor.

The room we are entering is rather large. I think it used to be a patio, but it is now closed in and fitted out with a complete kitchen on one side. There are three other doors leading out of the room – two go to bathrooms and the third is the door connected to the office.

There are stories hanging on all the walls, waiting to be told. Pictures of the tugboat/schooner, a sign telling you ‘It’s in the barge’, maps of the Chesapeake Bay and environs. There is a big cupboard standing in one corner with a nook in it for games. A few keys hang on the key-rack on the wall next to it. The gas heater, with its little black legs and imitation logs, is keeping everything warm and comfortable. The morning light is slanting through the windows as I’m closing the door behind us.

Franci opts to take the first shower, so I head over to the wooden table dominating the left side of the room. Today’s newspaper is lying on the table, just as I was expecting. I put my bag on the table and start flipping through the pages, looking for the comics.

Close your eyes.


*     *      *      *      *      *


Rebel Marina was awesome. B)

We stayed longer than we intended, (what’s new?), and enjoyed it a lot!

One of the reasons for going to the Marina at all, was to get some repairs done. (Again, what’s new?). If that hadn’t been the case, we probably would have just bought Andy and been on our way again. As it was, salt water had invaded the “winch in” button. (This is what went wrong in NY, although we didn’t know it at the time.) It was corroded from the inside! My dad didn’t trust himself to replace the button and he was looking for someone to check our Garmin autopilot controller anyway, so we visited the Marina in search of help.

At first we anchored out. People wouldn’t work on the boat while we were anchored out, but it was cheaper and we could still use the shower and laundry facilities of the marina for a “dinghy in” fee. This fee even covered the use of a car! When my Dad and Sophia first brought back report about the whole car thing, I was sure I’d heard wrong. But no, we were really allowed to drive around in the Marina’s cars. That was SO COOL. B)

The main thing that made it so easy to stay longer, was the super friendly people! The marina is basically a family business, with everyone involved somehow. Every Monday night they have a potluck to which everybody is invited and most nights they have a theme. (For example “Italian”, or “Anything that starts with an E”.)

When I think back on Norfolk, many images come to mind. We did quite a lot of chip’n’painting, we went on walks, we visited two museums. Most of the time it was really cold! 😉 For the first time, I needed warm paint clothes! It was way too cold for my normal dirty T-shirt and ski-pants. XD But I think the cold only accentuated how warm and friendly our welcome at Rebel Marina was.

The climax of our stay in Rebel Marina was Thanksgiving. I personally don’t know of anyone in South Africa who celebrates Thanksgiving, so the whole idea was kind of story-bookish.

Me, helping to set the tables for the Thanksgiving meal while the two cooks in the background are hard at work finishing up preperations.

For our hosts at Rebel Marina, Thanksgiving is a ‘feast of food’. I don’t know why turkey gets to be the centre of attention, because there is plenty of other food that was just as traditional and tastes better. ^_^

One of my favourites was the corn . . . something (right) and the stuffing balls. =) (The stuffing usually goes into the turkey, but I think this way is better!)

Sophia with her turkey-drumstick. 😉

(Last photo). Just the awesomeness of walk-on moorings! Whoo-hoo!

That pretty much sums up Rebel Marina – cold weather and warm welcome. =)

The sideways feeling – by Karin Jr.

Have you ever had the feeling that the whole world was tipping to one side? It’s called the sideways feeling, for those of you who have never heard of it.

Having recently arrived in Norfolk, Virginia, all of us on Shang Du had been graced with the opportunity to experience the thrill of this feeling.

We anchored at a place which was deep enough for us… or so we thought.

Shang Du had begun slightly bumping the bottom, but we didn’t think much of it. Yeah, it was a little too shallow for Shang Du, but it was getting late and my Dad was off in the dingy (new and improved) to go and check stuff out at the Marina. By the time he came back in the dark it was already too late. Shang Du’s waterline was a good 5 cm lower than usual. We were standing in the mud. So we decided to wait for the next morning when the tide was back in and we could see the world around us.

But the tide only kept on leaving.

We had finished supper and most of us were done with our mugs of Chumba Chai. (A treat that is a little like hot chocolate, but very different.) My mom was reading a story to us. We always read in the evenings as a family, before going to bed. I think it was the ‘Sword and the Staff’ series.

Shang Du’s keel had rested on the sand which wasn’t even, so we were tilting slightly to port. Sophia and I were nervous about this, but Marike and my Dad assured us that the boat wouldn’t fall over.

At the happy scene where we were all sitting with our empty mugs, feeling content and beginning to feel the effects of sleepiness… the boat tipped.

You should have seen Sophia’s face as she practically lunged over the room to get on the opposite side of the boat.

It was quite a shock. I couldn’t get my heart to stop beating. I was filled with adrenaline. We all got out into the cockpit and sat as far as possible on the up side.

The port-side of Shang Du wasn’t in the water, but close. We launched Andy to see what we could do…

Getting rope ready . . .

It was scary. Not only had the tide gone down so much that we were now almost lying on our side in the mud, but it was still going down.

The photos are all fuzzy, but you can see the anti-fouling!

It felt like ages for it to start coming back in. My Dad and Marike were in the dingy trying to drag the anchor into deeper water.


It was cold. Very cold. Autumn was working hard. And we were tired.

At last the tide began to trickle in. I think it was around midnight that this happened. We watched the tilting meter inside the boat as we slowly began to lean less to the side. We kept yelling encouragement to my Dad and Marike on the dingy, while they kept going.

Just chilling sideways

At about one o’clock, I think, the boat was almost level again. My mom boiled the kettle, so we could all have a hot drink before bed.

It was a relief when the boat was upright again, but I couldn’t help feeling sideways for about a week afterward that.

Ladies and gentlemen…. (eerie music) the sideways feeling. (Whooooo) for your part, I hope you never get it.

After the initial shock wore off, we were able to smile a little.

The second great dingy adventure – by Karin Jr.

I was instructed to write about something heroic. I can make up a couple of wonderful stories, but the truth would be better. And to be completely truthful, I wasn’t really instructed to write about something heroic, but I’m going to anyhow.

Norfolk, Chesapeake bay.

While we were still in New York, the great Dingy episode happened. Some of you may or may not know this story and I’m not going to tell it. But, the result was that JJ, our dingy, deflated rather easily. Someone had to sit in the bow of the dingy and keep pumping every time we used it.

My Dad decided we should buy a new dingy, since all our dinghies before were second hand. Shampoo came with the boat (We sold him to our friends who needed him.) Conditioner, kind of went to pieces. And JJ, had a terrible problem with winds. (Franci was horrified when I said this, and it would probably be more politically correct if I said deflating problem, since the continuous letting of winds of JJ, didn’t stink in any literal way.)

But now…. We were going to buy a NEW dingy! One that came from Norfolk Virginia! That’s why we went there in the first place. The people we bought it from, put it in the water for us and everything. My dad organized it all over email.

So just before the lady launched the dingy (or rather, reversed the dingy trailer into the water) Sophia did the honours of hitting the new dingy with the pretend champagne bottle. The bottle might not have been glass, but there were bubbles inside it, so I think we did a realistic imitation. (The now famous bottle, was found in JJ. It was full of soap water, probably left in the dingy after Marike and my dad tried to find all the holes in it.) We christened our new dingy “Shampoo Andy Conditioner too.” And we call him Andy… Handy Andy. And needless to say we all love Andy. He has cup holders and everything.

Now…. Ladies, Gentlemen and the odd fruit on the dinner table. As I said this was going to be a heroic blog, some of you might be sitting there, or standing there, or even be doing a random handstand there. Thinking: “But where was the heroics in all that?” I will therefore point them all out to you.

My dad making the heroic decision to buy Andy. To save his poor crew from sinking into the dark and cold waters of the bay.

The lady who brought the dingy all the way from wherever the shop is. Traveling all those miles, risking her life on the road. She could have been attacked by bandits! But luckily she made it through without a scratch. (I think)

Sophia, for doing the honourable and extremely dangerous act of christening Andy.

The pretend champagne bottle, for happening to be in JJ. And not breaking, which would have put Sophia in even more danger.

And last of all Andy. For having cup holders.

Thus…. Ladies, Gentlemen and the odd fruit that might now be in your stomach, the heroics of this blog is overwhelming. And that is why, the blog is so short. If I included everything we did in Norfolk, there would be a lot more heroics, which would have broken your computer with the overwhelmingness of it all. So you see, even if it is a rather short blog, I’m doing you a favour by not breaking your computer/phone/anything which has access to this blog.