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 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”.
Banu and Batu’s progress has not been without its problems, however. Despite running their family business now for over 20 years they have had some run-ins with the local marina next door, who have only been here for five years. When Banu told me of the bribes Ece Marina have been offering her in order to close her down, I was disgusted.
Gwen is a first generation Swedish American, though she does now claim to be Canadian: “Since Bush came to power I refuse to be acknowledged as an American. I worked in the foreign service on hardship programmes and trained in Washington before being posted to West Africa. A great experience marred only by the eleven obligatory injections. Despite majoring in a variety of subjects for 16 years I never actually got a degree so officially I wasn’t allowed to become an officer in the foreign service, but I’d built up so much experience they made me an officer anyway”.
When one meets a self-confessed moody old crook who was infamously known as ‘The Bitch of Smithfield’, who hung out with rogues like Drinking John down the meat market, was courting a bank robber and has set light to more cottages and cornfields than I care to count, one imagines getting the imposing Gina to drop her guard to be a bit of a challenge.
“I was a nun for many years and Pedro was a priest”, explains Isabel with that angelic smile. “We were
both on a trip to Rome to see the Pope, which is how we met. When we returned to Spain we cast off our robes and decided to go sailing instead”. Just like that? “Yes. We shocked both the church and our families by getting married. Within a month we bought ‘Issotta’, a Dufor 40, and invited our parents to see our future home. Fortunately they loved it and with their blessing we set sail the next day”.
This scoop was just too good to be true: I thought the singing nun was a sixties pop legend, not a bright young sailor from Spain.
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