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times they are a-changing…

11 Feb


We’ve become very sophisticated ’round here and have re-launched our site with new hosting at! It’s rather fancy and marvellous.

If you have subscribed through wordpress, please can you click over to and fill out the e-mail subscription button there as we will no longer be posting through the wordpress hosting. Full details of our adventures will follow on the new-look site.


Sara and Stof


i’ve got that funny feeling

30 Nov

I’m moving out of my office: today is my last official day as an advocate. I thought I would be feeling excited, relieved and maybe a little exhilarated. Those feelings are there… in theory.

In practice, I’m feeling slightly terrified. It’s the fear of change. In the midst of what may well be one of the most spectacular adventures of my life, I still have a small hankering for things to stay the same. A segment of my heart wants to carry on living my happy life in our gorgeous home (too late!) and taking our strange little pup for walks on our beautiful Table Mountain. I quite like sitting at my big lovely desk, bantering with colleagues and turning client’s complaints into legal writing. I’m sad for the wedding and baby parties we will miss and nostalgic for the dinners, braais and weekends away which we won’t share with our friends and family over the next few years.

It’s not so say that the trade-off doesn’t trump the unease hands-down every day. But I am a little surprised at the sadness too. When I think about its dispassionately, I am relieved to be a little melancholy: it must be a good thing to mourn a lifestyle that is blessed and blissful.

This will be my last post perched on my chair in chambers… farewell, this life. The Pacific passage draws a whole lot nearer.

[I will return with more Antarctica porn when things have settled. In addition to moving, I have some outstanding work to nail AND my skipper’s theory exam to pass this evening… tra-la-laaaa!]

what are you afraid of?

16 Nov

I’m generally quite a scaredy-cat and I don’t like to dwell on the frightening, so let’s keep this short and to the point, ok?

  • Big crazy hurricane seas. Even though Stof tells me we don’t need to be afraid, that the boat has excellent “righting” tendencies and that if we keep calm we will be able to ride it out. I still get a really tight knot in my stomach when I think about being knocked down in a storm. Something to do with liking to be in control, I think…
  • Stof getting really badly injured and me having to be the “above deck” skipper and guide us to safety. I like to be in control, but not that much!
  • Getting chomped/stung/poked by some rare and deathly ocean creature and not being able to figure out how to handle it (this applies for anyone who visits us as well).
  • Not working as a team. This would be bad on a multitude of levels I can’t even begin to contemplate.
  • Missing weddings and births and other important things at home.


I am not afraid of getting sea-sick. Although, perhaps, I should put this down to ignorance. I have never become sea-sick before so I don’t know from first hand experience how ghastly it can be. I’ve been assured (ha!) by plenty of sailors more experienced than I that one (usually) cannot cross an ocean without having at least one period of sea-sickness. For the moment, though, that’s something that can stay off the list.

so, can you sail?

9 Nov

Erm… I’m learning.

Funny thing is, I’ve always loved the idea of sailing. As far back as I can remember, I have been enamoured with the idea of being on the water and harvesting the power of the wind to fly over the waves. I even joined the University of Cape Town Sailing Club for all but one year that I studied. The only year I did not join was when I went to Brazil for a two month trip in the summer holidays and I missed registration week and thus the opportunity to join the club at a reduced rate. While I was fairly delusional as to my commitment to the ideal of learning to sail, I was not so delusional as to join up at full price. Sadly, I did not do too much sailing at university. It probably had something to do with the fact that we had to be up at a fairly ungodly hour on Saturday mornings to actually learn to sail and I was usually too *tired* from whatever party I had attended the night before. (Usually the Mountain and Ski club party. Which club I also joined every year, but less for the hikes than free entry at the awesome Friday night parties.)

While I have a not very convincing  no sailing pedigree, Stoffel has been sailing since he was a wee lad. He’s crossed multiple oceans and competed in multiple offshore races. His father owns a small racing yacht which he sails on often and he has more than earned his stripes as a sailor in the notorious Cape waters.

When we met and things looked like we might actually spend whole weekends and holidays together, I became very excited because I knew that “this would be my opportunity to finally learn to sail.” (I also probably thought it would be romantic.) So I very excitedly headed off for my first twilight sail on Ballyhoo with Stof and the rest of the bally crew. At the time, I had not considered that there might be a difference between racing and cruising boats and I was somewhat disappointed to note the lack of cockpit table and seats to rest our drinks and backs (respectively). I was somewhat appalled surprised when we made our first tack and I was instructed to swing my legs over the side of the boat, stick my head under the wire and lean out with nothing but one wire holding about 6 of us from flying off into the drink while the boat heeled over precariously. My vision of sailing was radically altered.

I’ve come a  very long way. For about the first two three four five years of seeing Stof, the whole extent of my involvement in sailing was throwing myself from one side of the boat to the other as we tacked and gybed (taking care to stay out of the Proper Sailors’ way) and making sure the ‘team’ had cool T-shirts to wear (I’m good at team spirit like that). Now, I can contribute slightly more. I’m still not sure I’m ready for an ocean crossing, though…

Earlier this year, I completed a competent crew course and I am busy doing my ‘day skippers’ course. There is so much to learn and it is really, really challenging. The classroom theory is great: I have never been one to shy away from a classroom and the navigation is loads of fun in an oh!-I-haven’t-done-this-kind-of-thing-since-school* kind of way. Being on the boat and getting it to work properly, especially without Stof around to run all of my decisions by, is particularly tough. I am not confident with new physical challenges and sailing presents a mass of new physical challenges all the time. Being capable of controlling a boat requires flexibility and balance and more strength than I feel like I have in my puny arms. So I have to simultaneously learn how to actually sail and learn how to quieten the beasties inside who whisper that I may not be very good at it.

The good thing is that practise, she makes it perfect. And I’m going to get a whole lot of practise. One thing is for sure, I’ll be able to answer any question regarding my sailing abilities with a resounding “yes!” by this time next year.

*Navigation involves a lot of mathematical skills. I am a lawyer – we’re not known to be highly numerate.

what will happen to cowboy?

2 Nov

[This picture is from when he was a smidgen more than a pup… but it’s fun to pull out cute puppy pics of Mr Cow-B-Loo, ok?]

Cowboy will go and live with his sister Maggie at his Granny B and Madala (Saartjie’s parents). He loves them. They love him. Cowboy and Maggie are especially enamoured with each other. They like to sleep like this:

Similar and related questions:

“Why can’t Cowboy be a Boat Dog and go with you?”

  1. He does not like boats very much.
  2. We would have to pay a whole lot of money to fly him to Mexico.
  3. We would have to dedicate an enormous amount of effort teaching him how to perform his ablutions neatly in specific places on the deck of the boat.
  4. We don’t like the idea of hound piss’npoo on our deck.
  5. He will not be allowed off the boat in about 95% of the places we will visit on the boat. This will mean that he will never get to run amok like he loves to. Never leaving a boat would be considered cruel and unusual punishment to Cowboy. We’re not into that kind of punishment.
  6. We might lose him overboard in a storm and then we will fall into a deep depression.
  7. We would not be allowed to dock in Australia without sending him into quarantine for an interminable amount of time.

“Can Cowboy come and stay with me?”

  1. No.
  2. We love our dog and if he stays with family we might get him back when we get back to Cape Town. If he stays with not-so-family, then it is likely that he will become your dog and not ours and that would break our hearts.
  3. Also, the house of Granny B and Madala is already his second home, so we think (hope) it will be less stressful for him. He’s a bit high maintenance like that, our Cow…”

“Can I take him for walks while you are gone?”

  1. Yes! Please! (If you live in CT. Obv.)
  2. Send us a mail on stof n sara @ g mail . com and we’ll send you Granny B and Madala’s number.
  3. Hopefully you’ll have a camera and will take pictures and then e-mail them to us!

have you always wanted to do this?

26 Oct

[I’ve decided to commence a weekly feature of “frequently asked questions”. When there is more than one of them, I will give them their own page (but hopefully with a title that is somewhat snappier than “FAQ”). I’m still not sure which day of the week this will appear on. This first one is on a Tuesday.]

This Question (or variations thereon) is Asked very Frequently.

One of the major things that attracted Stoffel to me (and, I am reliably informed, vice versa) was his sense of adventure. As our relationship progressed, it became clear that we would plan a life full of escapades together. We have planned and enjoyed mini-journeys all around Southern Africa for weekends and holidays. We’ve travelled overseas a couple of times too.

But we were unanimously convinced that we wanted to embark on a longer voyage before we settled down and started breeding. This is largely philosophical. We want to adventure with sproglets. Evidence suggests that parents actually do this less than they plan to before childbirth. BUT, if we travel while we’re Two, then we might be inclined to travel more when we’re Three or Four*…

So we purposely took a short honeymoon in Southern Africa because we wanted to embark on a trip that was at least six months long at some time in the future (i.e. after the World Cup). Six months quickly stretched into a year.

Originally we wanted to spend three four-month chunks in different countries: travelling via different means or living in an exciting place.

At the same time as we started having these discussions (which was only very seriously after our wedding, really), we had some friends doing pretty amazing excursions themselves. Amongst others, DavenRejane took themselves around India on a motorbike. SarahnDoug lived in a tiny town in Argentina long enough to become part of the community and emerge fluent in Spanish. RijknJen are currently sailing around the world.

All of a sudden, because our friends had done it, we felt like we could do something really outrageous too. So we decided to travel around the Pacific Rim.

Initially, we had planned to do a little sailing in any event. We’d hoped to island-hop up from Australia to China and explore PNG, Indonesia, Borneo, Malaysia and other such wonderful places. From China, we’d continue our trip via more traditional transport (trains, cars, planes). Then we purchased Jimmy Cornell’s sailing tome: World Cruising Routes. He described the route we’d hoped to follow as being beset by “violent typhoons, all through the year”. It didn’t sound like a very positive sailing experience.

Emboldened by our circumnavigating friends on uMoya**, we realised that the Pacific was something that we would be able to conquer if we set our minds to it.*** So we did. And so began our search for the perfect boat…

* Or SEVEN. Two people told me this weekend that they could see us having five children. Ha!

** Rijk and Stof essentially grew up sailing together. Jen, similarly to me, has not grown up sailing anything.

*** Also: Jimmy didn’t use the combination of “violent”, “typhoons” and “all through the year” in the same sentence when describing a Pacific crossing.