Day 248: Blister In The Sun

05.09.09: That night we made tremendous progress back to Gabon. I really liked Sao Tome, but there was no sense in hanging about – I’ve still got another 92 countries to visit this year AND IT’S BLOOMING SEPTEMBER!! Now the Reol, bless her, is a simple craft – a manual rudder, no engine (just a little outboard) and sails that are a little past their sell-by date. That being said, we covered over 60 nautical miles before noon, which was awesome going. We were a little off tack, though – managing to plunge down into the dreaded Southern Hemisphere (oh NO!) but managed to fend off the krakens, the hydras and the giant squid that populate the lower uncharted regions of the Earth. I for my part spent the day getting ridiculously sunburnt, the equatorial sun devouring my lashings of factor 30 like some kind of…

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Day 247: The Hidden Gem

04.09.09: Sao Tome. Wow. What a place. We pulled in at around 5pm, without proper charts we had no idea where. It turned out to be a place called Agua-Tzi about halfway down the island. We didn’t want to pull into the capital (also called Sao Tome) as there would have been visas and stamps and paperwork we could have done without – so we sailed into a little bay and anchored down. The dingy trip to land resulted in me getting my shoes utterly drenched, but AT LAST I was on dry land. It’s taken me three weeks to get here. Three weeks of the paltry 20 I had left of the year. Best not dwell on that, I had given up thinking I would do this thing in a year back in that other ex-Portuguese island, Cape Verde. Talking of Cape Verde, Sao Tome…

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Day 245: Do You Know The Way To Sao Tome?

02.09.09: We had a couple of things to do – first up, get some damn maps (sorry, Hugh – charts) of Sao Tome downloaded so we knew where the bally thing is. This was not a success. The GPS that I had purchased had a serial, not a USB link. Marc and I had to search high and low for a reasonably-priced converter (I was quoted €75 in one place!) and in the end the damn thing didn’t work anyway. So I downloaded maps (sorry, charts) from Wikipedia, Google Maps (sorry, charts) and the Lonely Planet site, but they were all about as much use as a sexy nun. Hell with it – we had the co-ordinates, that’s all we needed. A final trip to the Mbolo supermarket for supplies (loads of water, fish, biscuits and bread) and we were good to go go go. We…

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Day 241: Going Nowhere, Fast!

29.08.09: It was a extremely short sleep before I was up and at ’em. First up I rang Jean, the contact I have for the ‘Andrea, the cargo boat for Sao Tome that was supposed to leave last Monday but is currently still residing dockside at Port Mole here in Libreville. Jean said Monday or Tuesday. Ha! Is he on crack? There’s a small matter of the first election without Omar Bongo (he croaked it last June) for 42 years which is being held tomorrow. He thinks the borders will be open? He thinks there will be no civil unrest, no riots, no general African-style post-election insanity? I beg to differ my good chap. That boat ain’t going NOWHERE. Desperate for a Plan B, I managed to persuade Alex the Yank to come to town with me and hang out at Marc the Belgian Yacht Guy’s…

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