Day 243: Pining For The Moon

31.08.09: Monday began like most days here in Libreville – although now I have Jean-from-the-Andrea’s phone number I don’t need to pack up all my things and head down to the port to be told what I suspected from the start. Yeah, now he’s saying Thursday. The boat will be leaving Thursday. What could I do? Highlight of today was setting Justin on fire. As part of the cleansing ritual he must undergo before his big initiation on Friday, he had to dig a hole, light a fire, throw a load of nice smelling leaves on it, sit over the damn thing wearing a large black cape and, well, roast for half an hour. With smoke emanating from his black cloak, it was seriously the best impression of Satan I’ve ever seen. If I could have just affixed little plastic horns to his head, it would…

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Day 244: My Kingdom For A GPS

01.09.09: I had a mission. Mission GPS. The results of the election still hadn’t been announced so half of Libreville was closed and it wasn’t going to be easy to find specialist sailing kit in the half that was open. I headed to the Mbolo Supermarket as soon as it opened, but all they had were GPS Loggers (much like the one I have strapped to my arm right now). I rang Marc to see if he was having any joy – no. The Gabon Meca (where the guys at Mbolo had told me to go) was a damp squib and Michele Marina was closed until next Monday. I headed to Port Mole. The Nigerian guys who work at the port are awesome – amazingly friendly, they fall over themselves to help out a fellow Anglophone in need. Two guys deserve special mention – Richard, a…

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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 246: The Blue Desert

03.09.09: So then your humble narrator found himself back on the high seas. The Reol was tiny – the smallest vessel I’ve been on so far, just about 7 meters in length. She performed admirably, although I could have done with some shade – my pasty white complexion does not stand up too well against the glare of the midday equatorial sun. Did I mention we were skirting that great imaginary line that divides the civilised nations of the north (Brits, Americans) from the uncouth savages from the south (Aussies, Kiwis)? It being September, the Sun is almost (but not quite) halfway on its journey from the Tropic of Cancer (June) to the Tropic of Capricorn (December), so it was no surprise that I shrivelled up like a shrimp on the barbie. But isn’t there supposed to be no wind at the equator? That’s what I…

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Day 249: Sail of the Century

06.09.09: After yesterday’s epic sail we only had about 70 nautical miles to go today. I woke to find myself staring transfixed over the silver - and by silver I mean seriously, it looked like we were floating on mercury – sea, a line of gold trailing towards the rising sun which beckoned us back to Africa. However, the wind gods were not as kind to us and by 3pm we had gone a paltry twenty miles and once again had dipped below the Equator. Something must be done! I persuaded Marc to let me fire up the outboard for a bit, which we did and covered a respectable seven miles in just one hour. But conscious of fuel consumption etc, he chose to throw out the spinnaker again. And my word – with the other sails down and the outboard off, we cut through the…

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Day 250: Clinging On For Dear Life

07.09.09: We motored in to Port Mole at 7am, gathered our things and got taken by the ferryman back to dry land. THE ANDREA WAS STILL IN PORT!! Oh yes, it STILL hadn’t left. It was still filled to the brim with the Cargo that had been loaded two weeks ago. Marc you legend, you might have just saved The Odyssey from collapse! We said our goodbyes and I headed over to Tatayo’s gaff to say goodbye (and take a much-needed hot shower!). Justin had gone through his initiation and was nursing a cracking hangover (as well as more insect bites than could possibly be good for him). Alex had wussed out of doing it, so The Doctor was standing in his stead. Other than that, life we pretty similar down at the Bwiti Ranch. Oh yeah, election results – Bongo-Son-Of-Bongo (predictably) won, there were some…

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Day 251: The Overlander

08.09.09: In a trend that will no doubt continue for the rest of the month, I got up at 5am only to find that there was no transport to the Congo border until much later. At about 7am, I hopped into a shared taxi, which was apparently heading to the frontier, but spent an hour driving errands around town and then kicked me out – he wasn’t going to the border after all. I waited by the side of the road for an age before a bush taxi finally turned up. Squished in (as always), it would be 10am before we actually headed towards Congo, only 50km away. Three separate border stamps to get out in three separate offices. A combination of bureaucracy and a bad (well, non-existent) road conspired for it to take HOURS to get to the border. At the final checkpoint before I…

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THE ODYSSEY WORLD VISA GUIDE

One of the things that holds back many people from travelling is the prospect of wasting time and effort attempting to get into countries that would quite prefer it if you didn't bother.  However, it is a false presumption.  In more than 150 countries worldwide you can turn up without shelling out $$$ for an invitation first. So here’s a comprehensive list of the visa requirements for British Passport Holders for every country in the world, although it may come in useful for other nationalities as well. I’ve split the world into four main categories: No Visa Required, Visa On Arrival, Prior Visa Required and Letter of Invitation (LOI) Required. No Visa Required: You beauties!! Note the (very) high prevalence of prosperous, confident and democratic countries in this list. Visa on Arrival: Not quite as good as no visa at all, but much, much less hassle than: Prior…

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