Today I had an encounter I will never forget. Meet Chella Duri, a goatherder from Tamil Nadu, working in the neighbouring state of Kerala. He earns as much in a month as we spend on an evening out, but I’m not asking for your pity, just a few moments to listen to what he had to say when he heard that I was a rich westerner living on a boat in Cochin…
A few weeks ago I received an invite to attend the Kerala Watersports Sailing Organisation Certificate Awards. I’d already met Captain Jolly Thomas who is the man responsible for teaching young children how to sail their little, second-hand Optimist dinghies. In a country that has no real sailing heritage and with next to no funds Jolly has achieved the near-impossible by creating a small but successful sailing club for children. Set up as a charitable organisation the least I could do was attend the ceremony and maybe invite a couple of other western sailors to join me. Terry of ‘Roam II’ and Brian and Maureen of ‘Suryana’ came along to give their support.
I’ve no idea who Romit and Rupashi are but I was at their Hindu wedding nonetheless. This was a fantastical event with much noise, colour and many people. Here is my pictorial account of the special occasion: more photos, less words.
Meet Big Brother, watching our every move since Egypt!
Suakin has to be seen to be believed. It is one reason why I took so many photographs of both people and buildings. Along the dusty road from the anchorage and old city lies the market, and behind the market, the residential area. The market is surrounded by wooden buildings that look more at home in The House of Fun, such is the angle at which they sit. It is the residential area, however, that really shocks. More buildings made of any scrap of cardboard, metal or wood have been cobbled together to provide some kind of shelter from the sun.
My first escapade into a Sudanese town was rather rewarding, at least from a photographic point of view. I’d been warned that the Sudanese do not like having their photograph taken and wandering around this battered old town with my massive Canon lens attached to my expensive camera certainly raised some eyebrows, not least from anyone in uniform. I’d already been ticked off by a local man for attempting to take pictures of the local fishing boats on this atmospherically cloudy afternoon.
Only this morning I was hopping about on the empty promenade of Ismalia marina, having been left behind by the rally. We’d been woken up at 5am only to be told that our pilot wouldn’t be turning up till ten. After our last experience of that ungrateful arse of a pilot Liz and I had said that whoever came on-board as our pilot for the second day would not get any more than $10 baksheesh. A kick in the bollocks would also be offered if any objection was raised over the sum of our present.
The rest of my commentary of this fine town will be done by picture. I have to say I was bowled over by the local people’s willingness to be photographed! Only three people declined their portrait being taken and a couple of people tapped me on the shoulder and told me off (one for photographing his cycle shop!), but the rest of Ismalia were queuing up! Young lads jumped in front of each other, young parents grabbed their children and market traders picked up fruit and offered it to the camera.
A very angry Arabic marina manager started shouting in a way that only an angry Arabic-speaking official person can do. The pilot boat had to catch us up in order to drop off our pilot, Moussa, which is Egyptian for Moses. Biblical this man was not…
This, our first official followtheboat podcast, is an interview with a young south African family half way through a sailing circumnavigation. They’ve visited a staggering 30 counties in 3 years but their trip has been put on hold as they attend to a dismasting hiccup! As if that’s not enough, Ronnelle has returned to their home in America for three months, leaving dad Neil to look after Emille, 7, and Pete, 5. There’ll be hell to pay if that mast isn’t up when she returns in the new year!
It’s perhaps not surprising that my best holiday so far was the result of a series of coincidences and good fortune. Even now, parts of it feel like a dream. How likely is it that your boss in South Africa tells you that you’re being sent to a conference in Istanbul and that – taking a chance because you know your friends are sort of crazy – when you email friends in London to say you’re going to be in Turkey for a few days, do they want to join you, they come back immediately to say that they’d love to.
Much later Jamie impressed not just our immediate party but everyone at poolside by performing a series of beautifully executed complex dives. I think this one was a reverse back somersault with triple pike from memory [which wasn’t too good by then].
The weather has broken, Marmaris is surrounded by storm clouds and its dreary foreboding is compounded by the fact I’m packing to return to the UK; so let’s step back in time to sunnier days when Matt and Candice came out to visit. We took in some of Turkey’s finest coast line and Greece’s jewel, Simi. This log is written by Matt, who’s comedy prose is accompanied by some fantastic photographs. It concludes with an entry by Siobhan, who came all the way from South Africa to visit us for a couple of days! We are honoured.
In this, the last of our photography features of our winter home town, we feature the ‘Old Boys Of Fethiye’. This little project happened by accident. I was just cycling around, minding my own business, when I came across this cafe full of old boys. When I asked the waiter if it was ok to take some snaps of the old men playing board games he said not only was this ok, but it was expected. Boy could these guys pull some poses! Possibly my fave photography project to date.
It is with great sadness that we announce the tragic death of Christer Klingwall, owner and skipper of ‘Lady Jessie’, who took his own life last Monday, 20th April.
We would like to pay our respects to our sailing buddy by posting up some pictures and thoughts on followtheboat, which featured Christer in our last video clip. Mayke, Christer’s ex-wife with whom he remained close, said ‘Christer would love the idea of a tribute’. This article, then, will be a continually updated and amended page dedicated to a great sailor. If you would like to add your own comment, thought or photograph then please either use the comments form at the end of the article or email us.
Once again, the sweet farmer’s daughter comes running down to us and apologises that dinner will not be ready for a while as she is milking the cow and off she runs. Though we don’t hear said cow, as we play our game of Rumicub, we are surrounded by bleating goats, hooting owls, braying donkeys, jumping fish and crowing cockerels – life on this island is actually quite noisy!
I only see him move once, and this was to pass us the bill. He limps his huge mass towards us and smiles through toad-like eyes. I imagine he is probably very good friend with James Bond, he seems to know everybody and things seemed to work around him to his satisfaction – whether this is down to wealth, culture or bloody hard work, I do not know, what I do know is it looks like a good life.
Short of trudging through somebody’s garden, we decide to descend, only to be stopped by two traditionally dressed women who insist on giving us directions. It turns out that a set of steps which were guarded by a charming black Labrador were in fact the correct route and we soon find ourselves onwards and upwards. Even the dogs here are friendly.
It’s an exciting time for the manager of Delta Marina, who has doubled its berths to 80 in the last few years. With the borders between northern and southern Cyprus now open, hope for relaxation of trade restrictions and loosening of prohibited areas, the cruising scene is set to expand very quickly. “The Minister of Trade [who, incidentally, spoke at the rally reception we attended] has stated that tourism is Northern Cyprus’s number one priority. Key to this is sailing, which is one reason why they are building a new marina up the coast from us”.
The first night of the rally was pirate-themed, hence the eye-shadow. Somewhere in my tiny brain I thought perhaps I bore a vague resemblance to Johnny Depp in ‘Pirates…’, but then I do have to keep reminding myself that he’s not a fat ****, so I just ended up looking like a gay English lout.