This blog is about the adventures and misadventures of the sailing vessel Spalax 2, its captain and crew, as they make their way from Fiji to Australia, across the Indian Ocean to Africa, up the Red Sea to the Mediterranean and back to Slovenia.
I hope you’ll join me on one of the legs of the journey or follow me on the net by subscribing to this blog. Also check out my site and view some interesting videos and photos or purchase one of my books.
I’m not a fan of the theory of sailing. You may know the names of all forty-six boating knots, but that’s not gonna do you any good when you try to tie a flailing genoa sheet to a cleat in a fifty-knot gale.
Rather, I’m a fan of the practice of sailing, because that’s the only way to learn how to sail. And that’s why I put together a week-long blue water sailing course, a hands-on learning experience of basic sailing skills and specific skills of blue water voyaging.
Throughout the learning process you will be guided by Captain Marjan who will teach you the ropes and help you expand your sailing comfort zone.
But the best part of the course is that it’s completely free. All you have to do is join the crew of Spalax 2 and show an interest in mastering the skills of blue water sailing.
I’ll be posting the syllabus of the course shortly, but in the meantime you can visit my website and check out my books.
If you have any questions, you can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Spalax 2 world circumnavigation adventure may have been relegated to the back burner (for obvious reasons), but the Captain isn’t twiddling his thumbs, sitting on his laurels.
He’s currently heavy-duty into real estate renovation, stripping the walls, knocking down the dropped ceilings, putting in a new kitchen and bathroom, and turning a tidy little profit when the rehabbed housing unit is sold.
In the meantime my good friend captain Thibaut sailed with his wife and two children, aged three months and three years, from New Caledonia to Tahiti. Beating against the prevailing trade winds, it took them forty days to reach their destination. They only stopped once at the remote Suwarrow Atoll to repair the mainsail.
As for the Captain of Spalax 2, he is currently working on his itinerary for 2021 which will take Spalax 2 to some fascinating places in Indonesia.
After all these years, the Save-the-Planet Movement is stronger than ever: Stop choking the oceans with plastic waste; stop poisoning the soil with chemicals; stop pumping toxic fumes into the atmosphere. We must save the planet. We are killing our planet!
Actually, it is the planet that’s killing us: devastating hurricanes, unsurvivable storm surges, murderous floods, treacherous tsunamis, vicious viruses, a scorching lava flow right across your brand new livingroom floor AND Melania Trump.
And we have the audacity to claim that we can save the planet by collecting plastic bottle caps, the arrogance to believe that our nifty solar battery charger will save the Amazon fortest, the conceit to presume that peeling paper lables off food cans will save the whale?
Meanwhile, the planet doesn’t care what we’re doing. It doesn’t give a flying fudgesicle about the pollution, the overpopulation and the plastic we generate. It is a self-healing organism that considers us, a bipedal bunch of egotistical maniacs, as a fleeting nuisance like any other species that graced the face of the Earth for just a little while …
For obvious reasons the Spalax 2 world circumnavigation project has ground to a halt, calling it quits, throwing in the towel. Only for a while, though. A temporary setback, nothing more. Spalax 2 is currently tied to a mooring bouy in Numbo, New Caledonia, while Captain Marjan joined the hordes of land lubbers on the European continent to spend some quality time with his family and friends.
When the cyclone season rolls around in December in the South Pacific, Spalax 2 will be hauled out, put on the hard and securely tethered down to withstand the destructive winds of the Pacific cyclone season.
Hopefully, by April 2021 the virus situation will have improved to a point where it’ll be possible to kickstart the sailing adventure that is The Spalax 2 World Circumnavigation, and sail to Australia.
Even better news, you can join the crew of Spalax 2 on one of the legs of the circumnavigation. Just contact Captain Marjan at marjangolobic(a)gmail.com to get all the information you need.
Please don’t get me started on democracy. What exactly is democracy? In a nutshell, it’s a way of organizing a society where everyone participates in making decisions for the benefit of one and all. Sure looks good on paper.
But let’s take a closer look at the European democratic situation. Who rules the EU? Who are the decision-makers? The Parliament? The Parliament is a joke. It may be a democratically elected body, but its political power has been reduced to the right of its own opinion. Perhaps the Council of the European Union? Representing the governments of EU member states, the Council is a toothless institution without any political clout.
So who wears the pants in the EU, you wonder? It is the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund that call all the shots. The so-called troïka. The Commissioners are appointed; the Board of directors of ECB are appointed; the governors of IMF are appointed, representing the interests of big business and big banks – the 1 %. The societies of this world are run by dictatorships, theocracies, monarchies, oligarchies, plutocracies and kleptocracies to mention just a few, and democracy is only used for window-dressing, propaganda and disinformation.
Now let’s take a gander at the situation on the ground, at street level, to find out how the poor bastards working the machines and doing the paperwork exercise their inalienable democratic rights at their place of work. After all, that’s where they spend most of their productive lives. I wonder what’s so democratic about showing up for work and doing what your boss tells you to do. Sure sounds like dictatorship to me.
Today’s post may be off topic as it doesn’t discuss adventure sailing and tropical locales, but it does concern a matter of general interest.
The EU is so very proud of being a supranational political entity that religiously respects the principle of inclusiveness. Included are the marginalized and the mainstreamers, the underachievers and over-performers, the downtrodden and the overprivileged, the criminally insane and the religiously zealous, the LGBT and the BCBG. Or so it seems.
But let’s take a closer look at inclusiveness on the ground.
Let’s take say a concrete example of a permanent official of the European Commission. Article 2(2)(b) of EU Staff Regulations specifically stipulates that a civil servant of the EU must fulfill the criterion of having – and I quote – “heritable interests constituted by immovable property in the form of buildings” in order to benefit from Staff Regulations when retiring.
This only excludes the nomadic peoples of Europe, the riverboat dwellers of Amsterdam, the squatters of Copenhagen, the troglodytes of Crete and the Canary Islands and one Captain Marjan Golobic, making his home on his luxury yacht in French Polynesia, all god-fearing citizens of the EU in good standing. Talk about inclusiveness!
Laticauda saintgironsi, sea krait in English and tricot rayé in French, occurs pretty much everywhere along the New Caledonian coast. Its semiaquatic lifestyle allows it to hunt at night in the water and digest and soak up the sun on dry land during the day.
The Caledonian sea krait feeds on small fish and squid but its favorite morsel is a plump moray eel which it kills with its lethal bite, distends its jaws to almost 180 degrees and swallows it whole like a snake worthy of its name.
Despite its deadly bite, the sea krait is a shy, evasive and reclusive denizen of the tropical seas that doesn’t bite anything that it can’t swallow. But let’s just say for the sake of argument that you did get a bite on the leg. What do you do? The question is how to prevent the venom from getting into the bloodstream and the answer is pressure immobilization. Immobilize the victim, apply firm pressure on the wound and tightly bandage the leg to prevent blood circulation … and call helicopter rescue service.
Marie and Alex are a Franco-Brazilian couple with three pre-adolescent children named Loulou, Gabriel and Gaspar. They make their home on a 36-foot sloop called Sargaço. I befriended them on the Island of Pines and one fine tropical day we decided to explore the nearby islet of Brosse and spend the night. A camp fire on the beach and a magenta sunset provided loads of ambience. The kids particularly enjoyed the fireworks they choreographed with burning sticks after it got dark.
Then it was time to take the dinghy back to the mothership for a delicious spaghetti supper. I turned on my head torch and got the dinghy ready. Suddenly I noticed a sea-snake in the water, twisting its way towards me.
“It’s attracted by the light,” observed Alex and the children started chanting “tricot rayé, tricot rayé.”
“Its bite is ten times worse that that of a cobra,” Marie informed me nonchalantly as she tucked Gaspar, her year-old son into her baby carrier wrap. “But no worries. These sea-snakes are totally unaggressive and local children even play with them. If you do get a bite, you only have 20 minutes to live,” she added to put my worries to rest.
That’s nice to know, I though, but the bloody snake just kept coming.
We eventually managed to get everybody in the dinghy minus the serpentine stowaway and motored back to the mothership for some pasta and tomato sauce.
Next morning we returned to the beach to clean up the remains of the camp fire and explore the island on foot. We encountered three tricot rayés basking in the sun after a long night hunting in the water. And every time we saw one, Loulou and Gabriel would start chanting enthusiastically “tricot rayé, tricot rayé”, while Gaspar napped in his mother’s carrier wrap, oblivious to the universe.
We made it safely back to the Island of Pines and I tried desperately to put this snake business out of my mind.
Three days passed and Marie invited me to a birthday party of her girlfriend also called Marie. Half a dozen French expats and several members of the local Kanak community showed up. I was introduced to Jérémy, a local fisherman, and hesitatingly asked him about the sea-snakes.
“They’re very shy and timid creatures. There’s only been one death from a sea-snake in New Caledonia so far,” he reassured me and added: “Sometimes when we go fishing, we spend the night on one of the motus on the outer reef and a tricot rayé would come and snuggle up to my sleeping bag to get warm.”
I choked, bulged my eyes and almost dropped my Heineken, but managed to keep my mouth shut.
Adventure sailing takes many shapes. As far as Spalax 2 is concerned, one of them is the challenge to decrease its carbon footprint, and today I’ve shrunk it to a minimum by installing a Rainman. (Eat your heart out, Dustin. Just google it.). Rainman is a reverse osmosis desalinator that runs on a 12 V power supply and uses sea water to churn out up to 30 liters of drinking water per hour.
The 12 V power supply is provided by a bank of gel batteries which in turn are charged by three solar panels and a wind generator. Also, Spalax 2, as described in one of the earliest posts, is heavy into the hunter-gatherer mindset, which further decreases its carbon footprint.
Minimizing your carbon footprint is just another challenging aspect of adventure sailing. So why don’t you give us a shout and join us on the adventure of your life on the high seas.
The southern region of New Caledonia offers recreational cycling at its best. Winding its way along surf-buffeted seashore and palm-fringed sandy beaches, a dedicated bicycle path takes you from Numea to Les Boucles de Tina, a recreational cycling facility.
The design of this bike park reminds me of an Austrian ski hill. There is a separate riding range for the kiddies to show off their skills to their parents, but the main part of the park features an easy, asphalted bicycle path for the less adventurous as well as a host of well-marked dirt tracks of varying levels of difficulty, ranging from green (easy) to black (expert).
Great recreational fun for the whole family, off the beaten grid and out of the cyberloop.