Sunday, January 12, 2014

Arrival at Walvis Bay, Namibia

After a 17 Day Crossing of the Atlantic during which we watched every movie on the media server, we arrived at Walvis Bay, Namibia.

Lonely Planet Says...

 "Wedged between the Kalahari and the South Atlantic, Namibia enjoys vast potential as one of the youngest countries in Africa. In addition to having a striking diversity of cultures and national origins, Namibia is a photographer’s dream – it boasts wild seascapes, rugged mountains, lonely deserts, stunning wildlife, colonial cities and nearly unlimited elbow room.

A predominantly arid country, Namibia can be divided into four main topographical regions: the Namib Desert and coastal plains in the west, the eastward-sloping Central Plateau, the Kalahari along the borders with South Africa and Botswana and the densely wooded bushveld of the Kavango and Caprivi regions. Despite its harsh climate, Namibia has some of the world’s grandest national parks, ranging from the wildlife-rich Etosha National Park in Northwestern Namibia, to the dune fields and desert plains of the Namib-Naukluft Park in Western Namibia. Windhoek, in the Central Highlands, is the country's geographical heart and commercial nerve centre, with an ethnic mix of people, while surfers and beach-lovers won't want to miss Swakopmund.

Namibia is one of those dreamlike places that make you question whether something so visually orgasmic could actually exist. Time and space are less defined here. Landscapes collide. Experiences pile up. Watch a lion stalking its prey on a never-ending plain in Etosha. Fly down a giant dune on a sandboard. Spend a night alone in the desert under a sky so thick with stars you can’t differentiate between constellations."

You should go online and read what they have to say... I find then an invaluable resource when travelling... anywhere..!

History of Namibia

The Portuguese navigator Diogo Cão reached Cape Cross, north of the bay, in 1485. There followed Bartolomeu Dias, who anchored his flagship São Cristóvão in what is now Walvis Bay on 8 December 1487, on his expedition to discover a sea route to the East via the Cape of Good Hope. He named the bay "O Golfo de Santa Maria da Conceição." However, the Portuguese did not formally stake a claim to Walvis Bay.

The Herero called the place Ezorongondo. Little commercial development occurred on the site until the late 19th century. During the scramble for Africa, the United Kingdom occupied Walvis Bay and a small area surrounding the territory, and permitted the Cape Colony to annex it in 1878, both to forestall German ambitions in the region and to ensure safe passage of British ships around the Cape (Walvis Bay was the only known natural harbour on the Namibian coast). The Cape government, correctly predicting a German invasion of the region and desiring protection for its Griqualand diamond fields, originally requested permission to incorporate the whole of South West Africa, but this was blocked by Britain. Consequently when the Germans later colonised the region, only Walvis Bay remained as an enclave out of its control. In 1910, Walvis Bay, as well as the Cape Colony, became part of the newly formed Union of South Africa. Subsequently, a dispute arose with Germany over the enclave's boundaries. This was eventually settled in 1911 and Walvis Bay was allocated an area of 434 square miles (1,124 km2).

The enclave was overrun by the Germans during the South-West Africa Campaign early in World War I. But South African Forces eventually ousted the Germans in 1915 and Walvis Bay was quickly integrated into the new martial law regime established in South-West Africa. South Africa was later awarded control (a "C" class mandate) over South-West Africa by the League of Nations to administer SWA as an integral part of South Africa. Civilian rule was restored in South-West Africa in 1921 and administration of Walvis Bay was transferred to SWA by Act of the South African parliament in 1922. 

In 1971, anticipating an imminent ceding of its control over South-West Africa, South Africa transferred control of Walvis Bay back to its Cape Province, thus making it an exclave. In 1977, in an attempt to avoid losing control of Walvis Bay to a possibly hostile SWAPO-led government, the South African government reimposed direct rule and reasserted its claim of sovereignty based on the original annexation. In 1978, the United Nations Security Council provided for bilateral negotiations between South Africa and a future Namibia to resolve the political status of Walvis Bay.

In 1990 South-West Africa gained independence as Namibia, but Walvis Bay remained under South African sovereignty. At midnight on 28 February 1994 South Africa formally transferred sovereignty over Walvis Bay and the Penguin Islands to Namibia

When we finally saw land it was impressive... The desert as far as you could see, with no trees... Stopping at the sea.
Namibian Harbor Pilot
Gangway watch as usual... I work days and am off nights... Hard to see the country in the dark after midnight!
But we did find "THE RAFT" an AWESOME restaurant who looked after us v ery well for both nights!
The Raft was managed by Wally, who took great care of us and showed us a great time in Walvis Bay!

Mid Atlantic Christmas on the ASIMA

Christmas at sea is always depressing... Sure you'd rather be home but in reality we're an international company and most of em don't much care... hehe Pirates the lot of 'em! We do however have trees and presents. Everyone brings a couple gifts onboard at crew change and we swap em out "secret santa style" on Christmas morning.

As is typical for our company, They feed us very well!  Whats the old Marine Saying...
"Every Meal a Feast... Every Pay Check a Fortune"

Our Galley Staff is Awesome and some of them have worked cruise ships before so it gets entertaining
Roast Suckling Pig... Yeah Baby!
Carrot Head Chicken Plays the Cucumber Guitar
Plenty of Gifts... Santa even made a stop on the helipad!
ASIMA Crew 2013

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Trinidad to Namibia... A Transit for Christmas

For Christmas this year I got a 17 Day Transatlantic Crossing from Trinidad to Namibia, in Southwest Africa...followed by a few nights in Namibia before the work actually started.

Also at the top of South America in the Caribbean... Its a nice little place also!
Trinidad (Spanish: "Trinity") is the largest and most populous of the two major islands and numerous landforms which make up the island nation of Trinidad and Tobago. It is the southernmost island in the Caribbean and lies just 11 km (6.8 mi) off the northeastern coast of Venezuela. With an area of 4,768 km2 (1,841 sq mi) it is also the fifth largest in the West Indies.
Many believe the original name for the island in the Arawaks' language was "Iëre" which meant "Land of the Humming Bird". Some believe that "Iere" was actually a mispronunciation/corruption by early colonists of the Arawak word "Kairi" which simply means "Island". Christopher Columbus renamed it "La Isla de la Trinidad" ("The Island of the Trinity"), fulfilling a vow he had made before setting out on his third voyage of exploration.
Caribs and Arawaks lived in Trinidad long before Columbus encountered the islands on his third voyage in 1498. Tobago changed hands between the British, French, Dutch and Courlanders, but eventually ended up in British hands. Trinidad remained Spanish until 1797, but it was largely settled by French colonists from Martinique. In 1889 the two islands became a single crown colony. Trinidad and Tobago obtained self-governance in 1958 and independence from the British Empire in 1962.
We crew changed in to Trinidad where we met the Asima... its a beautiful country. While we waited to clear out of imigrations we found the harbor side hotel restaurant was a nice place for a breakfast of shark and fried plantains.

From here we boarded and set out for our transit...
Its always a bit sad to leave such a pretty place without getting to explore it properly.
Harbor Pilot Vessel

We crossed the Atlantic, and eventually the equator off of the coast of West Africa... the Equator means a number of things... BBQ, and Line Crossing Ceremonies for the Polywogs... 

Captain Robert FitzRoy of HMS Beagle suggested the practice had developed from earlier ceremonies in Spanish, Portuguese, and Italian vessels passing notable headlands. He thought it was beneficial to morale: "The disagreeable practice alluded to has been permitted in most ships, because sanctioned by time; and though many condemn it as an absurd and dangerous piece of folly, it has also many advocates. Perhaps it is one of those amusements, of which the omission might be regretted. Its effects on the minds of those engaged in preparing for its mummeries, who enjoy it at the time, and talk of it long afterwards, cannot easily be judged of without being an eye-witness."

"Deep was the bath, to wash away all ill;
Notched was the razor
of bitter taste the pill.
Most ruffianly the barber looked
his comb was trebly nailed
And water, dashed from every side, the neophyte assailed."

- FitzRoy quoted Otto von Kotzebue's description
Put a hosepipe on the filth!
Some of the finest BBQ out there...
...on a beautiful Equatorial day