Planning and route.
The uniqueness of this adventure is the use of a surfing-kite to power the deep-sea kayak (as far as we know this has never been done before) as well as the fact that nobody has travelled in a kayak to Bassas da India, unassisted or assisted, and back before. The kayak aptly named after BM Bukkit (our Amazon boat) as “Bukkitoo” will be equipped with a shark repelling device called a “Sharkshield” as well as a permanent satellite tracking device enabling all my friends to follow my progress, live, on this website. For navigational purposes I will have a waterproof GPS on board kindly sponsored by Garmin. My not so waterproof second Satelite phone (we lost the first one due to water damage on the Amazon) will be stored in a nice waterproof container for use in emergencies or just to have a chat to a loved one, weather permitting.
Bassas da India (also called Basse de Judie) is part of the French Southern and Antarctic Lands. It is an uninhabited, roughly circular atoll about 10 km (6 mi) in diameter, which corresponds to a total size (including lagoon) of 80 km2 (31 sq mi). It is located in the southernMozambique Channel, about half-way between Madagascar (which is 385 km (239 mi) to the east) and Mozambique, and 110 km (68 mi) northwest of Europa Island. It rises steeply from theseabed 3000 m below. The reef rim averages around 100 m across and completely encloses a shallow lagoon that has a maximum depth of 15 m Its Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of 123,700 km2 (47,761 sq mi) is contiguous with that of Europa Island.
The atoll consists of ten barren rocky islets, with no vegetation, totalling 0.2 km² (.077 sq mi) in area. Those on the north and east sides are 2.1 to 3 m high, and those on the west and south sides 1.2 m The reef is completely covered by the sea from 3 hours before to 3 hours after high tide. The coastline of the reef measures 35.2 km (22 mi). The region is subject to cyclones. The atoll has long been a maritime hazard and is the site of numerous shipwrecks
Bassas da India was first recorded by Portuguese explorers in the early sixteenth century. It was first named Baixo da Judia, "Shoal of Judia". "Judia" was the name of a Portuguese ship that ran aground on this reef. This ship was named "Judia" (Jewess in Portuguese), because its owner was a Jewish trader from Portugal. The name became Bassas da India due to transcription errors by cartographers.
It was also discovered by the Europa in 1774, hence the name "the Europa Rocks".
"The Malay was lost July 27, 1842, on Europa Rocks in Mozambique Channel" 
The Stealth Supalite X 2010
The Stealth Supalite X 2010 was designed and built from what our customers were telling us they needed. With the slightly bigger angler in mind, the supaliteX 2010 was designed for someone 110 kgs and under in weight. Taking the ever popular supalite kayak we made the kayak a little longer, slightly wider and fine tuned the kayaks volume. We then gave the kayak a sleeker look. Rounded off and cleaned up all the edges and brought in some practical thinking.
Dimensions of the Supalite 2010 X.
My sat phone number: 00870776405429
My company logo on the bows
of Bukkitoo, thanks guys for
allowing me the freedom to
live my dreams.
Bukkitoo named after our
Amazon boat Bukkit, I
hope this one keeps
more water out than
its older sister!
The “Stealth” ultra light
The small watertight container,
to guard my passport, cellphone,
camera and batteries as well as
my not so waterproof Satelite
The new, satellite phone with
which I will give some of my
friends a call in calm weather,
or request a bit of help should
My GoPro waterproof- camera,
mounted on an improvised swivel
pod, with which I will record my
doings on the ocean, 60Gigs worth
of video and or photos.(note the
drinks holder for my Cokes,
water or warm beer.
My Lazy boy in which I hope to
not spend more than 10 days!
The “watertight compartment that
will house the batteries and GPS
My only attachment to the boat
should I go “overboard”
The “magic” Sharkshield, that’s
supposed to keep those big
ones away from the boat!
The expedition vehicle!
Battery pack has arrived,
42 Ah for my shark machine!
Kite runners in place!
04/12/2011 A BIT OF MY MIND
04/18/2011 POSSIBLE TRIP CHANGE.
As with all the elements, we as humans are left out of the equation, when it comes to controlling it. I have been watching the wind patterns on a website called Windguru. It seems very likely that I will experience mostly headwinds for the first few days, making flying the kite almost impossible. Predicting the wind patterns has over the years become more exact and I believe this website to be very authoritative on the subject. I am going to need all your prayers and positive thinking so that the wind at least pick up speed and change direction a bit. Westerly’s and South Westerly’s at 10 to 15 knots would be ideal for the outbound trip, whilst Easterlies and North Easterlies would be perfect for the trip back.
Some would say, I should paddle, but 1000km of paddling in 10 days is virtually impossible. Bear in mind it took Riaan Manser (the guy that circumnavigated Madagascar) 12 months to kayak 5000km, or about 75 days per 1000km’s. Now I am just a smalltime adventurer compared to guys of his ilk.
Wind or no wind, as I have said before, I will not be irresponsible in my decision, and this trip may turn into a route all the way down the coast to Maputo (about 700km’s). People have done this before, I am sure, and therefore the excitement for this, in my mind, is much less!
Let us watch and pray for fair winds!!
Some very exciting news is that the tracking unit is “live”. If you click on the tracking button above, you should see its position in Johannesburg. This unit will transmit my position every 2 hours, via satellite, to the website.
04/19/2011 WIND PREDICTIONS
The wind prediction has suddenly turned for the better, with favourable winds late Friday all Saturday and Sunday, WHOOPEYYYYYY, wont have to change plans if it continues like this.
After a a very long non-stop drive from Pretoria to my launching spot on the Mozambique coast, I managed, at last, to reach my first stop in Vilanculo. The very first thing I did was visit "Na Sombra", my very good friend Oliver’s restaurant. Needless to say I had to have my very first 2M beer there. In town I met up, by accident, with my old friend Len Sanderson in front of the bank. Our very first "mlungu" pub, Smugglers, was my end destination on the mainland, here Kim Landrey and his mates from Zimbabwe waited for us. We were going across to Benguerra Island to Kim’s house which he built in a very secluded spot on the beach. For those that are not familiar with Benguerra Lodge, Kim and his brother, Trevor, are the pioneers, builders and owners of this lodge. More interesting to me was the crossing from Vilanculo to the island on board Sarah, a 45ft Leopard catamaran. I once had a small share in this magnificent yacht and sailed it in the archipelago on diving and fishing charters. Good to be back on board this beautiful lady of the sea. We arrived at Benguerra lodge much later the evening and settled down at Kim's house getting familiar with each other and the local beers.
Due to the wind being Easterly I may have to head down to Maputo first thing tomorrow early morning, however I will only be able to make that call tomorrow.
My wish is obviously that the wind may change in my favour, and that I can get the kite up and head towards Bassas da India.
Keep checking my position on Google Earth!
More news follows tomorrow..
News is disappointing in terms of the weather as the winds are from the wrong direction and or simply dying away.
I started thinking that whilst on Benguera Island, a trip around the archipelago will have to substitute my adventure. Thereafter I will leave the kayak on Benguera Island and return when the
winds become more favorable.
I spent the morning rigging the kite to the kayak and playing around with it in front of Kim’s house. Strange to do something that nobody has ever done before and yet it is such a simple configuration.
Being very despondent I returned to Kim’s beach-house where he was having a very sociable braai with friends from Zimbabwe. I couldn’t fit in because of being so down in the dumps, Kim however made sure that I knew I was bad company and made me even more unsociable! (Sorry Kimbo!) Later that evening, after some strange chocolate cake we shared stories and jokes, I must say my short term memory went for the proverbial if the story was longer than one sentence. Lots of fun was had by all!
Happy Easter to all those back home!
Early morning was spent with coffee and watching the squirrels play in Kim’s garden, and deciding what was to be done with this beautiful day in paradise. Having given up on my adventure it was easy to see myself chill on yacht Sarah for the day, which is exactly what transpired. Lots of 2m’s and fun later, we arrived in the dark back at Kim’s house, some exhausted, some inebriated beyond repair, some in love and others just super relaxed. Needless to say an early night was what was needed and indeed had and enjoyed by all.
Whilst having my early morning “board-meeting” with the squirrels, I decided that I will not “waste” any more time lounging around in contemplating whether to go round the islands or not but I will set course down the coast to see how far I could get before I had to return to the office in Gauteng. This sounded like a watered down version but at least an adventure in itself, as I was very sure that few people have done this if any at all (to me this was the criteria).
Having said my “good-byes” to old and new friends I started paddling towards marlin lodge. This course took me right over the “sea-grave”and resting place of “footloose” my very first yacht and “wife” on my solo-sail adventures of many years ago. Today she is a beautiful wreck dive-site for Island tourists. (The full story of this can be found in my solo-sail diaries).
Having passed Marlin Lodge whilst thinking of all the good times we had there, I set course for Margarugue island crossing the notorious entrance channel. Many years ago, I sailed through this channel, twelve o’clock on a moonless night, with virtually no visibility, only using my GPS as guidance. My memories were jolted away from reminiscing that adventure when I realized I had to negotiate the breakers up ahead, popularly known as the “washing machine”. Some luck and hard paddling got me around the breaking waves and into the three meter swell, I was now in the open sea. I knew that it was about another ten kilometers before I had to enter the lagoon at Cabo Sao Sebastian, again through the “washing machine”, but this time with the waves. Two hours later I started entering through the waves and was unceremoniously dumped and rolled by the huge waves onto the northern point of the sand-spit. My arrogance in not stowing everything before entering, had me scramble around to fetch all the equipment lost in this, I found it all, except the all weather diary, which to today is lying somewhere on that deserted point. Negotiating down the calm lagoon I soon found a nice spot to overnight, directly across from Lineni Lodge which we helped build, many years ago and which belonged to a mate of mine, Eddie Leason. Dinner on my sleeping bag saw me collapse only to wake-up very early the next morning with the moon shining brightly in my eyes.
The thought of having to negotiate the “washing machine” before I could get to the ocean and continue my adventure was slowing me down in preparing for the launch. Me and Bukitoo were through this obstacle at around 6 in the morning with the sun rising majestically from Madagascar. My thoughts were with my mate Alan who drowned around here whilst diving when, suddenly, a humongous turtle surfaced right next to me, it looked me in the eyes and disappeared into the turquoise waters. The sea was relatively calm as I passed Nyati lodge belonging to a Danish friend of ours, Soren Neilson. The wind started picking up as I saw the remnants of Pescada lodge amongst the Simbiri trees, a stark reminder of the powers of a cyclone. These very solid, copper cladded structures were wrapped up like paper when the last cyclone hit the area. Today it remains a dream on which millions of Rands, untold hardship and tears were spend, without ever having the honor of entertaining even one guest. Having passed the derelict lighthouse a few kilometers on I entered an area of which I know very little, yes I have sailed pass here on many occasions, but I was always out to sea, at least fifteen kilometers. I made very sure my “Sharkshield” was activated as this area was renowned for big sharks, although I never saw one. Apart from seeing a ski-boat trawling for Marlin the rest of the day was uneventful.
The sun started its accelerated descend for the horizon when I knew I had to find a spot soon to beach Bukitoo, the problem here is that you are not sure what the coast looks like until you are halfway through the surf with no turning back. I decided to take the risk and once again the surf rolled me around a few times before spitting me out on the sandy beach. Luckily, this time around, I stowed what needed to be and had no mishaps. The North Easter was blowing hard by now and I had to use Bukkitoo as a wind shelter on the beach. Through the night I was awakened on numerous occasions by Ghost crabs crawling over my face or neck, I would get up, kill all crabs I could see and go back to sleep, only to have one over me again a bit later.
With all the crab “attacks” I was awake and up at three in the morning and decided to launch the kayak as I was not going to get much sleep in any event. I had to swim the kayak out to sea at precisely the right moment to avoid being washed up again, on my second attempt I managed to get on board and paddle over the last big swell threatening to break. This must have been the most enjoyable part of the whole journey, with the full moon, dark sea, Bukitoo, me and my thoughts.
I had rigged a jury sail on the back of the kayak and with the current and pumping North Easter I was “flying down the coastline. The sea was getting more upset and angry as I was paddling with the wind up my back, listening to music from my mp4 player and watching the sun rise over the horizon. Not even the rough sea could intrude in my little happy world. Around eleven the morning I saw some people on the beach, I waved at a little Mozambique girl when she started jumping up and down with excitement, waving back at this stranger on this funny little boat in the rough sea. The girl started running on the beach to keep up with me whilst waving excitedly, she eventually slowed down and slumped onto the sand when she realized I was going out of reach and or not coming ashore. On a few occasions I had to do some smart paddling to avoid being rolled-over and washed ashore by breaking waves in the ocean. The sea was angry but luckily the swells were with my direction of travel, otherwise I would not have been able to cope with it. I paddled past some fisherman in a square little dug-out franctically trying to get back to shore and out of the storm. It started to rain as only here in the tropics, when I realized I had to start getting ashore for the night. Again the decision where to beach is one taken on gut-feel, I decided to head for some tall trees on the beach, incidentally, this is the first time you can see anything beyond the breakers but the sand cliffs of the past few days. The beaching was textbook stuff this time around through the huge surf and I found myself still sitting in the kayak, high and dry on the beach.
Getting out the kayak was where my knees just couldn’t hold me and I collapsed on the beach, strangely I could get up and have no after effects ten minutes later, why, I still am trying to figure.
I have done about a hundred kilometers in three days. For the first time I could string my Hennesey hammock to some trees and have shelter from the rain, no crabs or wind or mosquitoes or moonlight could get to me. The days adrenalin started to wear off and I fell into a comatosed sleep.
I awoke very early the next morning and collapsed outside my hammock with a blinding headache, I knew it was a mild heatstroke sort of thing and overdosed on Re-hydrate water and energy bars. About four hours later I attempted to to paddle when the South Westerly wind caught me about two kilometers into the day, I could not make any headway and beached again about a kilometer south of my last overnight stop. I decided to rest for the day and attempt the ocean again tomorrow.
Firstly I had to find the owner of the land on which I planned to pitch my hammock to obtain his permission and blessing. My many years in Mozambique has taught me that this sort of respect given to the local people are always met with an abundance of goodwill from their side. The whole area was covered in Majega(a local freshwater reed) in various stages. These reeds are woven together next to each other and sold as roof-covering, almost like we use grass to thatch buildings, here they use Majega. These woven reeds are then rolled up and sold in rolls to whom-ever may be building a casa (house in Portuguese). I eventually found Pedro hard at work next to the little lake a few hundred meters from the beach. I think he got a bit of a fright, as it is not often that a white man (mlungu) sets foot in his “factory”. After offering him some of my excess food and sweets he agreed to me staying on his land for the night even offering that I join him at his casa for the night, which I declined. In order not to offend him, I showed him how my hammock works and how comfortable my environment would be. The whole neighborhood came to visit me during the day expressing their amazement at my little kayak after learning where I started from. Having not prepared for this trip down the coast, I had no maps and unaware that Pomene lodge lies just 10km’s to the south of my current position, I was informed of this by one of my many visitors that day. In the meantime the wind was howling as only a South-Westerly wind can in this part of the world, making kayaking a virtual impossibility.
I settled down for a quiet night in my hammock with not a care in the world, bliss.
I was still in my campsite when I heard this huge 4x4 vehicle speeding past on the beach in a Northerly direction, I ran up the dune, but was too late to flag it down, well at least I was somewhere near civilization. Sitting in my “brandwag” position on the dune I saw this blonde girl jogging on the shoreline towards me, she informed me that they have a house about three kilometers south on the beach and that the owner was the guy driving past earlier in the morning.
I waited for the vehicle to return and flagged it down, Dicky Maritz was the driver and promptly loaded my kayak onto the back and took me to his beach house for a nice hot shower and a huge breakfast. I couldn’t eat a lot as I had my rations a while before, never expecting the neighbors to invite me for breakfast. We started chatting and it eventually transpired that Dicky owns a company called Aerospace Composite technologies. This company just started building the Gator kayak from these hi-tech composites. The deal was done, ACT will manufacture a kayak for me in which to cross the Mozambique channel. Having chatted for a few hours Dicky dropped me off in the lagoon about 10km’s from Pomene Lodge. We exchanged contact details and said our goodbyes.
I beached Bukkitoo outside the lodge at around 16h30 and walked to reception in my surf-suit, booked in and proceeded to buy dry clothes to wear. The room was beautiful and I proceeded to lounge in the hot shower and thereafter took a very nice nap for a few hours.
The rumor of this stranger arriving from Bazaruto in a kayak has in the meantime spread through the lodge and much to my embarrassment I received a hero’s welcome when I arrived at the pub that night. The manager (Tony) and his wife (Lize) invited me for dinner which was of course a huge steak and many beers.