Richmond report: Thursday July 7
We are back in Lakeshore Lodge (this is Thursday at 2.47pm) heading south to the vehicle at Mpulungu and home. Can’t wait!
We sailed as far north as Mahale National Park to see the chimps, which was interesting as expected. Not quite gorilla watching, but close.
Two days heavy sailing to get up. Good southerly winds and broiling seas. Twelve and 18-hour days.
Had two nights in the park and we left 3am yesterday to motor back against wind and seas. What a mission.
We anchored at Sibwesa in the lee to wait for the midday wind to subside. An arrogant young official came down to the beach and demanded we come ashore to explain our presence.
We ignored him, but when his army mate with an AK47 said, “Come here!” I rowed over.
For the first time I was subjected to open hostility so I reacted by giving them a dressing down about being rude to tourists flying Mr Mandela’s flag. It was toe to toe for a while with the beach filling with onlookers. They didn’t back off exactly but we made friends, sort of.
While they were thumbing through our passports I found out the army chap”s name was Frank, which I disbelieved, though he said his mother calls him that – and he likes wearing a blue Chelsea Football Club beanie but doesn’t know much about the British football league and his weapon is over 30 years old and looks it.
I said they should pull up my dinghy which one did with surliness while I grinned. A couple of bits of rubbish.
We weighed anchor at 3pm as the wind slackened and motored around the point into the lake proper with a gentle breeze and manageable waves.
As darkness came the wind piled up on the nose and the water became a washing machine with short steep and high chop. FD was pounded and hammered all night with us trapped inside. We rotated the helm every two hours because it was so tiring holding her on course and navigating by the stars while being tossed around. We were the only vessel on the water, that we know of.
Wherever we go, people gawk at us, never having seen such a boat before. The locals are experienced boatmen, either paddling their mokoros, motoring their long narrow fishing boats or sailing their funny dhow type skiffs with the lateen sail of stitched-together plastic sacks. All very rustic and colourful and they can be found 20km off shore.
We anchored finally at Lakeshore at 9am this morning. Thirty one hours on the go with no sleep, a few Provitas and bladders that could not be emptied because the rolling means one can’t brace oneself sufficiently to open the sphincter – a painful situation.
But now all is well and fine. Chris and Louise gave us a rousing welcome. I’ve had a large breakfast, a shower and am working on a beer.
We are working on our return logistics: the balance of the upwind crawl back to Mpulungu, the long drive to Hermanus and Ian’s flight details.
Mathew and I should be home by 19 or 20 July if nothing breaks.