Met 'n Seiljag - Ambassadeur Joernaal

Our new job, setting up a new boat, means that we are bound to the marina here in Fort Lauderdale, while the works are being completed and until hurricane season is over...

As a result, the only thing I have to document is a construction site of a boat so instead I have been going through my archives and catching up on events that haven't yet been included on the blog.

This particular one is special because it involves some of our closest friends back home, in South Africa:

Carla is one of our dearest friends and you might remember her from previous posts. Carla's friend Derick Muller is the creator and editor of a new Afrikaans journal called Ambassadeur and he wanted to include a story of adventure, which is a big part of what the journal is about: 

"Ambassadeur is an Afrikaans literary lifestyle journal with a penchant for adventure. We celebrate the creators, the thinkers, risk takers and artists, the craftsmanship and business acumen, the extraordinary, the creative, the filmmaker, musician and author. Hoist the anchor, raise the sails and come with us on this new journey."

Through Carla, Derick heard of our story, Wilhelm, Vivian, Rufus and I refitting Melody and crossing the Atlantic in 2012. He asked Vivian to write an article which detailes the journey with all four of us and then her and Wilhelm's year aboard Melody while Rufus and I returned to work in Zambia in 2013.

She wrote a brilliant piece, which was expertly translated into Afrikaans, and included some of her beautiful photos as well as one of Rufus'. Ambassadeur was launched last year November and since we weren't in the country, the first time we actually got our hands on a hard copy was this past June when we visited home for a few weeks. 

It is something truly special to see friend's work in print, especially in such a well executed piece of literature. To make it extra special Carla did the cover interview with talented photographer, Daniel Naudé, who also happens to be a friend since school days!

Derick funded the entire project himself, with no advertising in the first edition. This is no small feat, especially in South Africa, and an impressive undertaking in the current world of digital magazines. I have included an interview he did with Flits on Kyknet, explaining more about Ambassadeur and plans for another publication to be launched this year, especially for the ladies!

Thank you, Viv, for our copy and for so beautifully illustrating our and your story so well. What a special way to remember such a key part of our lives together!

Our very own copy, with Daniel on the cover!

Team Melody on our last together in Tobago, before Rufus and I left to Zambia and Viv & Wil continued sailing.

Viv at the helm

Derick, Thys and Carl at the launch party. Photo credit: Abassadeur

Carla, Vivian and Wilhelm at the launch party. Photo credit: Ambassadeur

Ambassadeur launch party. Photo credit: Ambassadeur

Rufus' photo of Wilhem repairing boards as we crossed the Atlantic, ready to surf in Brazil!

Interview with Derick on Kyknet

Behind the Scenes with Kia Motors

In my last post I briefly mentioned how we got the opportunity to travel to South Korea for 10 days with Kia Motors last year. In this post I have included another one of the marketing videos (the more adventurous of the 3, with surfing and zip-lining etc) and some behind the scenes photos showing what it was like in front of camera and our experience of the amazing country. 

For the long version you can read my account of the trip below, after the video. For the short version scroll down to the pics and just skim through the captions ;)

We arrived in Korea after 5 days travelling from Belize via Guatemala and the US on water taxis, tiny 6 seater planes, chicken busses, international flights, high speed trains and more! We were exhausted but so flippen excited to be in Seoul!

We were beyond starving and so hopped up on natural "yay-were-in-a-new-country!" adrenaline, caffeine and whatever kicks in to combat sleep deprivation that after meeting up with Timmy and Faan, the creative and technical brains of the operation, we had TWO dinners that night! Let me use this opportunity to mention that Korean food is phenomenal. It blew our minds. But more on that later.

The next morning the four of us flew to Jeju Island where we met up with Hyejin, from Kia Motors and Sunny, our local guide and driver for the duration of our trip. The first thing we did was get lunch, of course, and again we were blown away by the array of local seafood dishes served.

The whole trip lasted a total of 10 days and we packed every day full of adventurous activities and, of course, a lot of driving around the island's most beautiful spots. We landed just in time to avoid a typhoon which had grounded all domestic flights right up till our arrival. We were to discover the next day that the typhoon had also taken most of the warm turquoise water with it and replaced it with freezing murky liquid ice. Why is this worth mentioning, you ask? Well, Rufus and I were scheduled to do a lot of swimming, snorkelling and waterfall jumping over the next 9 days and when the water feels as if it is of a hypothermia-inducing temperature and you have to keep re-shooting scenes because your chattering teeth and inappropriate nipple stands are ruining the shots it becomes rather important (let me also mention that after so much time living in tropical climates, any water temp below 26'C is "freezing" to us... ). Also, a lot of the aerial shots depended on the clear weather and even clearer water but Timmy did a great job of making everything work despite Mother Nature's curve ball.

Our guide, Sunny, took care of us like a caring mother hen and she fed us till we felt like we were going to burst! I asked her one day, "What are the three things that Korean's like to do most in their spare time?" Her reply was "Eat, drink and then eat some more." An so we did! More eating than drinking though, we were there for work after all...

Sun and Hyejin, from Kia Motors, were incredible hosts. We spent time with them at the start of the trip and at the end, after we finished and returned to Seoul, the day before we flew out. They are both so passionate about their country, their culture, their heritage, their traditions and of course their food! Both were extremely warm and friendly, welcoming and generous with their time, answering all of our questions and going the extra mile to make us feel at home.

Rufus and I have visited countries that are classified as "first world" before but never have we encountered a country like this. It is so clean you can eat off the streets. Everything is efficient and everyone is always genuinely keen to help. Rufus and I were welcomed at 5 star hotels as if we were VIP guests, and not in fake way, in a warm and genuine "we don't judge a book by it's cover" kind of way. Because believe me, after 5 days of travelling, no showers, little sleep, part of which we had our luggage strapped to the roof of a chicken bus across Guatemala and Belize during a tropical downpour, we did not look or smell like 5 star VIP guests...

The very first thing we observed upon arrival was the selfie culture. I am not exaggerating when I say that easily 85% of all the people we saw carried selfie sticks with them. Permanently. I thought I had seen it all when Rufus and I witnessed locals photographing themselves with lettuce and spinach in the veggie section of Zambian supermarkets, but Korea tops that. Every moment, any location is an excuse to take a selfie and no one is shy about it. It is amazing to watch.

It also helps their selfie culture that the Koreans sense of style and design is impressive to say the least. I wish I had had more time to capture the street fashion. Couples coordinating their outfits and managing to execute it in a way that made you wished they would dress you too. Korea is also known for its groundbreaking skincare and cosmetics industry and when you are there you can see why - the Korean woman know what they are doing when it comes to beauty, their skin is so luminescent I kept having the urge to touch their faces to see if it was real. Hashtag "skingoals".

Timmy, Faan, Rufus and I stuck out like sore thumbs everywhere we went. I think I only saw 2 other westerners in the 10 days we were there. Never once did we get ogled or made to feel "out" though, as so often happens when Rufus and I travel in Africa, Central and South America (I'm pasty white & blonde and he has striking eyes which strangers regularly stare at and like comment on).

The other interesting thing I noticed is how happy the Koreans are, especially the families. We saw a lot of young families, in the airports, in the streets, malls and restaurants. We never once saw kids throwing tantrums or disgruntled parents having to dish out discipline. The parents (and grandparents) were always smiling, happily and actively engaging with the children, not grumpy and scowling like we so often see in the US or SA.

And then theres the food. This my friends was our favourite part. There are rarely occasions when we are consistently, day after day, so stuffed full that we are in pain but we still want more! The food in South Korea is irresistible and the team at Kia gave Sunny strict instructions to feed us well, and so she did! The variety and the festivity and the traditions and history and joy that surrounds meal times pulls you in till you almost can't anymore. It is such a fundamental part of their culture that if you don't engage (not that you wouldn't want to) you are in danger of seriously offending your host(s). The Koreans, in our experience, love to share and this is most evident during their meal times.

Overall Korea was a 10 out of 10 for us. Thank you Hyejin, Sun and Kia Motors for hosting us and thank you to Timmy and Faan for including us in your project. South Korea, we will be back!

Faan, Rufus, Kate, Timmy and Sun (Kia Motors International) - our first night in South Korea, Seoul. Photo credit: Sun Hur

we were so hungry that we had two dinners on our first night, this was our first and then the second with Sun, from Kia (above) - Seoul

after 5 days of travelling across 4 countries and 2 oceans, with 6 different types of transport, we were beyond excited to see our hotel bed! Lotte City Hotel, Gimpo Airport, Seoul.

On the second day we flew from the capital city, Seoul, to Jeju Island

above & below: our first meal on Jeju  - L-R: Hyejin from Kia Motors, Timmy, Faan. front L-R: Kate, Rufus, Sunny our driver and guide

the aftermath...

our nifty new Kia Rio in my favourite colour, blue :)

Rufus at the wheel

Timmy's drone, ready to capture the aerial shots

first day shooting at Jeongbang Waterfall

Rufus discussing the waves with local surfers - the board he used was rented from the guy on the right, who we met in the parking lot!

amped to get in the water!

Korean's are very conscious of taking care of their skin and protecting it from the sun - this guy was filming Rufus in the water

watching Rufus and the charter boats

intricate murals along the water's edge at Jungmun Beach

interesting seafood for sale along the promenade

Faan operating the drone camera behind us

Faan & Timmy setting the camera up on our bonnet

sunrise shoot at the beach - Gujwa-eup

morning walks - Gujwa-eup

Gujwa-eup

Gujwa-eup

the food was one of our favourite parts of the trip - the Korean cuisine is phenomenal!

enough food for the five of us...??!!

we snacked on the delicious mandarins found everywhere on the island

how many Faans can you fit in a Kia Rio boot?

how many Faans can you fit in a Kia Rio boot?

Rufus' close-up

the things you have to do for the perfect shot...

the boys taking a roadside coffee break at Beach Boys

faithful to Kia

overlooking the crater of Seongsan Ilchulbong (Sunrise Peak) - UNESCO World Heritage Site

Seongsan Ilchulbong - Sunrise Peak

baby cheeks wasn't keen on a selfie...

view from Seongsan Ilchulbong - Sunrise Peak

its a wrap! Sunny, Faan, Timmy, Rufus, Kate & Sun celebrating the last day of shooting on the charter yacht. Photo: Timmy Henny

Hamdeok Beach

Hamdeok Beach

Hamdeok Beach

Italian pizza and pasta in Korea

lunch at Hamdeok Beach - everything on the table was raw

raw crab

mosaics along the Hamdeok Beach promenade

a young fisherman at Hamdeok Beach

Hamdeok Beach

boys playing games... they all won fireworks which we set off on the beach later that night

Hamdeok Beach

even the pets wear make-up in Korea and this cutie took a shine to Faan!

watching the rugby on Faan's iPhone. Photo Credit: Faan Rabie

our last evening on the island. Photo Credit: Faan Rabie

South Korea with Kia Rio

Facebook has been popping "memories" into my feed from a year ago. All the memories have been from our trip to South Korea last year, courtesy of Kia Motors!

We were on charter in Belize last June and we got a message from one of Rufus' friends, Faan, asking if we would be interested in being part of a series of online ads for the "all new 2016 Kia Rio". Of course we said YES (!!!) and soon we were being whisked off to Jeju Island for 10 days of exciting activities.

I will include some behind the scenes photos and more info on our amazing experience in my next post, but for now here's one of the ads produced from the trip. Let us know what you think??!

Another Detour

For the better part of this year so far the plan has been to complete our circumnavigation in 2016, by crossing both the Pacific and Indian Oceans.

The Pacific crossing was a peaceful time of reflection with little distraction - 5 weeks of thinking, dreaming and talking at length about what we want out of life, both together and individually, as well as our immediate and long term plans.

One afternoon in the cockpit, during one of these discussions, I asked Rufus “What would you do if, when we arrive in Marquises, we get an email with our dream job offer? Would you take it?” His immediate response was “No. We are committed to completing this circumnavigation this year. Absolutely not.” I then replied “Good, because that was a test and you passed with flying colours!”

To give you a bit of background, it was more my idea to complete the circumnavigation this year and it took months of convincing to get Rufus on board (excuse the pun). As a sailor and master of your own small, older, basic vessel with limited funds it is a daunting task facing a long crossing like the one we just did and then the trans-Indian which is known as the worst, most uncomfortable, leg for 99% of circumnavigators. During the Pacific crossing this changed and Rufus finally came round and started getting really excited about my plan.

Rufus and I had made sure that we had enough in our kitty to complete the trip this year and also time each leg it so that we would be in the right places in the right seasons for the right winds to get us where we need to be.

If you know us at all you will know that there seems to always be a big difference between what we plan and what we end up doing. In the big scheme of things though, we keep going in the same general direction even though there are quite a few detours and, to be honest, we enjoy the surprise turns in the road because it keeps things interesting and we enjoy change.

So to cut a long story short, when we arrived in Marquises we opened our mail boxes to find the email we never thought we would receive at this stage of our journey: our dream job offer. And to our surprise and delight we accepted! We learned a lot from our last working experience on a super yacht and so we would not go lightly into a decision like this. Thankfully this literally ticked pretty much all our boxes for the perfect job:

-       Great owner(s) who we know, have mutual respect and get on well with. Working for and with good people is probably the biggest factor for us.

-       A boat that we can run just the two of us, no other crew dynamics to deal with.

-       An active international itinerary. 

-     A brand new build sailboat, and a design we know and love.

-       And the list goes on!

So with great excitement we accepted the new positions and within a week we had put Melody on the hard in Hiva-Oa, winterised her and booked our tickets back to SA (we wanted to see family and had to get new passports as we had run out of space for visas and literally could not travel anymore!). After a month, mostly with family and doing admin for our next adventure, we flew to Ft Lauderdale and joined our new boat at the start of July, a 2016 58ft Leopard catamaran!

kayaking on our last sailing weekend with Melody

view from the deserted little beach we anchored off

Rufus putting his gymnastic training to good use

coconut water goodness!

our FAVOURITE fruit - pamplemousse (grapefruit) which grows everywhere on the islands

driving to the farm on a winter's weekend, one of our first destinations during our SA trip

the family farm on the West Coast

view from our stoep

packing up all our personal belognings stored in our tiny farm cottage, where we fell in love and where Rufus proposed more than 8yrs ago

family dinner with Rufus' dad, Boris, and Cherie at Myoga Restaurant

our unfaltering ever supportive dream team: Shawn and Karien

coffee break in Woodstock at Tribe

reunited with our old Melody crew :) Photo credit Vivian Botha

Betty's Bay with our dear friends Sonet & Arnold

one of the views from the beautiful new home of our talented friends Evi & Jochem

Evi's outdoor artwork

Rufus and Jochem relaxing in front of the fire, overlooking Yzerfontein beach

our gorgeous room in the guest wing of the house

reunited with  our baby boy Jack for the first time since Zambia!!

delicious traditional Peruvian dishes at Charango Grill and Bar in Cape Town

my best friend Diana's BEAUTIFUL healthy baby boy, Axel

Vivian's article on our team's journey with Melody in the first edition of  Ambassadeur Joernaal (more info in a future post)

family farewell at the airport with Cherie

brand new MAXI passport for all the many countries we will continue to travel to!

Hamad Int Airport in Qatar

flying over the ice lakes of Southern Greenland

testing the massive new sails

finally at our destination: Ft Lauderdale, Florida and our shiny new catamaran!

Rufus and the owner enjoying the view from the flybridge on our first sea trial

Hiking Hiva-Oa

A few days after we arrived in Marquises, our friends Natali and João joined us after making the same passage from Panama on their boat Babilé. They chose a route more north of ours, above Galapagos, and unfortunately had an entirely different experience from us – multiple squalls, auto pilot broke, main sail ripped and the list goes on.

We were so excited to see them in our anchorage and they were obviously extremely relieved to have arrived safely and finally get a chance to properly rest at anchor after thousands of miles hand helming in bad weather.

Once they had caught their breath and rested up, the four of us rented a car and spent a day driving around the island and hiking the hills and beaches. The rental was $100 p/day and a must do to properly see the island!

welcome to the island of Hiva-Oa! (Melody in the background)

overlooking the entrance to the anchorage

dinner on Melody the first night João and Natali arrived

freshly caught fish grilled on the braai!

one of the first bay views on our day trip

goat lookout

these two were quite taken with Rufus

goat central

this guy took a shine to Natali

Tiki ruins

the locals let you pick the fruits from their gardens - no fruit is sold in the shops because of the natural abundance

Rufus scouting a trail

the only white sand beach on the island and quite a mission to get to but well worth it

finally made it to the white beach

the best part of the day - Rufus taking the first dip on the deserted beach

Natali & João