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Pierre van Rooyen

@ Sunday Times Books LIVE

We’re outward bound for Vallipo bay.

Now we are ready to head for the Horn,

Wey, hey, roll and go.

Our boots and our clothes they are all in the pawn,

Timme rollicking randy dandy o.

Heave a pawl oh heave away,

Wey, hey, roll and go,

The anchor’s on board and the cable’s all stored,

Timme rollicking randy dandy o.

Soon we’ll be warping her out through the locks,

Where the pretty young girls all come down in their flocks.

Come breast the bars, bullies, heave her away,

Soon we’ll be rolling her way down the bay.

Sing goodbye to Sally and goodbye to Sue,

For we are the boyos who can kick her through.

Oh man the stout capstan and heave with a will,

Soon we’ll be driving her way down the hill.

Heave away bullies, you parish rig bums,

Take yer hands from yer pockets and don’t suck yer thumbs.

Rust her up bullies, the wind’s drawing free,

Let’s get the glad rags on her and drive her to sea.

We’re outward bound for Valipo bay,

Get cracking me lads, it’s a helluva way.


Snazzy square-rigged sailing-ship capstan shanty heard mainly aboard  Cape Horners.

In Saturdays Are Gold, Old Joseph, 71 year old mariner from square rigger days, discusses philosophy with the children.


‘You’re finished, Ira. We’ll leave you for the crocodiles.’

‘Sh-h …’ Angelina warned. ‘Someone … or something coming up the bank.’ She unsheathed her hunting knife.

Pieter fingered his knife and the other men reached for staves.

Ira appeared, crawling on all fours. We stared at him. By the time he reached us, he was shaking. He shocked me with his weirdness, his drawn face, the black filth he disgorged, the contortions of his hands. None of us would go near him.  At the top of the bank, he attempted to stand, reeled forward and collapsed on hands and knees, heaving and retching.

He was in a terrible state, blackened from head to foot from falling into burnt vegetation. His clothes were in a dreadful mess  from vomiting. We backed away. Clutching his abdomen, he wailed, trying to stand but reeling on his feet. He clawed his stomach and heaved again.

Pieter watched in revulsion. ‘What’s wrong with old fancy pants? You been drinking the river water again, Ira? Should have boiled it first, you know.’

A black object slipped from one of Ira’s  pockets and plopped onto the earth. Pieter frowned and picked it up. My eyes were on the building contractor’s fingers. He examined the charred thing, turned it over in his fingers. I realised it was a piece of meat, the roast carcass of a tiny animal.

You been scoffing these, Ira?’ He managed to elicit a weak nod. ‘This
morning? All by yourself? What about us? This morning, we hadn’t
eaten for four days. Damn pig. Did you leave anything for us, Ira?
Couldn’t you bring a few morsels for your dear starving friends?
Damn you. Probably been gorging your face all day.’

Ira heaved again, just about choking as he did so.

That’s right, choke, you bastard. You’ve eaten our share too.’

Pieter examined the corpse closely, sniffed it, then held it up for a better assessment. The lower members of the limbs and the head were burnt off. The tail, I could see, was missing too. As he clasped the little body in his fingers, I imagined the terrified animal fleeing the smoke and flames, scurrying through the grass. It was a rat and
Pieter knew it.

A grin came across his face. ‘Look, Ira.’ The unhappy architect peered up in misery. Pieter dangled the carcass in his fingers so that it hung by what was left of its tail. With his other hand, he held his nose,
pegging his nostrils. Ira stared while Pieter danced a jig. We
watched in puzzlement.

Abruptly, Pieter ceased his antics. ‘D’you know what you been scoffing? Do you know, Ira? Rats. Of all the filth to have in your guts. Rat, Ira. You got rat down your throat.’ He flung the corpse into the grass. Nausea must have swept over Ira, for his stomach heaved, disgorging the intolerable flesh into the grass.

Pieter laughed at him. ‘Rats carry terrible diseases, hey.’

Ira lay alone in his misery. His spasms diminished and might have eased their intensity. He rested, his breathing coming in short gasps. His eyes appeared sunken and staring. I realised he was ogling Angelina helping Jason drink. Another spasm overwhelmed him and he rolled onto his stomach to be sick.

‘Lassa Fever. That’s why you’re so sick, boy. You’ve contracted Lassa Fever from the rats.’

Ira stared up at him from the ground.

‘You’re finished, Ira. It’s the scourge of Africa. Tomorrow, you’ll be a
stiff cadaver. We’ll leave you for the crocodiles.’

I was about to tell Pieter to shut up when he started again.

‘Don’t you remember reading about those American scientists?  Studying the disease, became infected themselves? Two of them women, flown back to the States, placed in isolation. Modern medicine could not help them, Ira. All over in five days. It’s worse than rabies.’


From the YA novel ‘The Girl Who Tweaked Two Lions’ Tails’.

Fab reviews on Good Reads.

On Promotion Sunday 2 June. Free downloads from Amazon. One day only.



900 page colour illustrated diary of a yachtswoman. Kindle Freebie.

Faith Van Rooyen has skippered the South African sloop ‘Senta’ to such exotic destinations as Borneo, Chagos, Kenya, Madagascar, Malaysia, Maldives, Philippines, Seychelles, Singapore, Tanzania, Thailand, Zanzibar.

She also handles most of the navigation and radio communications.

I handle the sails … setting, trimming, reefing and so on … and I make the tea.

Sailing With Senta – Omnibus is currently on promotion on Amazon and is thus free today. Lots of pics and charts.

Doggie-paddling with cobras.


What’s going on?’ my sister asked a girl clinging to the rail next to us.

A big dangerous snake,’ her mother intervened.

A cobra,’ the father explained. ‘It’ll bite someone if we don’t kill it, probably a child.’

The cobra swam out of range and the man with the stick pushed his way off the jetty and raced along the shore inside the railings. He came toward us.

There’s it,’ Maudie whispered, a finger pointing at a cluster of reeds. ‘Ooh Tadpole, hold me. I getting scareder and scareder.’

Then I saw the reptile. The head and eighteen inches of its body was raised clear of the water. From the diameter of its body there was probably another four feet on the surface, so the man with the stick had nearly six feet of cobra on his hands. It swam fast and rippled the surface as it came toward us leaving a wake trailing behind. The head was dirty yellow in the moonlight and it moved agitatedly from side to side. The eyes were black. The forked tongue darted in and out of its jaws.

Kill it!’ the woman next to me shrieked.

The cobra tried coming ashore causing a wail of yells from the crowd, some people making a break away from the fence with children scooped into their arms. Maudie and I were already as high as we could get without toppling over the uppermost railing.

That’s a dam’ big snake,’ my sister blurted.

The man with the stick pranced for another attack. He swiped the branch at the water and missed. The snake hesitated then tried coming ashore again. Again the man swung the branch and again he missed. The cobra didn’t falter. In near frenzy he repeatedly swiped at the water. One attempt touched the snake’s body. It shot away and swam along the perimeter of the lake, moving fast.

Set the dogs onto it,’ someone behind the fence shouted.

The man with the stick cursed and trailed the cobra along the shore.

Head the damned thing off,’ he yelled at another man who had cut himself a staff too. ‘Chase it back here. I’ll do the sodding thing in yet.’

I was engrossed in what was going on and didn’t notice a new development to the drama.

Hey! Who’s that idjit swimming out there in the dark?’

I peered at the lake and sure enough, there was someone in the water. The swimmer came our way.

Damn fool,’ the woman next to me commented. She was one of those who had fled earlier when the cobra swam for the shore.

Don’t come here, buffoon. Clear out, damn it,’ the man with the stick threatened, waving the swimmer away with his branch.

I got a angry snake on the loose here. You come any closer my friend and you’re dead meat, I tell ya. He’ll get you for sure.’

The head in the water edged toward the cobra.

Get out of it, damn it. Didn’t you hear? There’s a snake in the water just in front of you.’


From the novel Saturdays Are Gold. In UK being sold as YA, but really, this is an adult novel featuring child protagonists. Set in 1940s Johannesburg, conceived to challenge Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn, but compared by readers with To Kill a Mockingbird. Yah, well maybe. Closer to literary than commercial. Got a fab review from Panama of all places.

Angelina’s Story.

Angelina Freyer is the ten year old girl who tweaked two lions’ tails. Well, the first one when she was ten, and the second after she turned fourteen.

Two incidents are true in that they are based on real-life events. The outwitting of a lion by a child, and the massacre of aircrash survivors in the African bush.

And we’re talking Kindle Freebie on Wednesday 1 May. Amazon also gives away Kindle for Computer software for downloading Kindle books directly onto computers.

Some fab reviews for this page-turner on Goodreads, Smashwords and Amazon …

‘… I loved this book … a wonderful African story … I was thoroughly hooked … a delight that will be loved … Van Rooyen does it again (referring to Saturdays Are Gold) … I was hanging onto the edge of my seat … this is a riveting story that kept me awake late at night … could be made into a blockbuster movie … an enjoyable read with lots of charm and surprises … I hurried anxiously from one page to the next … an absolute page turner … Van Rooyen is a magical storyteller … this is a wonderful story … I could not put it down … it kept me on my feet the whole time … a tight enthralling story … would make an exciting movie …’

In the first four months on Smashwords, readers awarded this novel 119 Likes. This is phenomenal and ranked the story with the top eight most liked books on Smashwords.

Genre is female-oriented, safari-adventure, romantic thriller.

Most of my readers are American, British, Australian, Canadian, with a few in Europe and one I know of in Panama Canal. It was wonderful to hear that. Still working on Africa.

Caption to pic. Lousy cover isn’t it, but I self-pubbed this novel, am  7000 miles away from home, and didn’t have the cash to do better. That is supposed to be a vulture. (But is really an eagle. Nobody has complained so far.)


Langkawi, an archipelago of ninety islands.

Travelling by yacht may be likened to back-packing. It is always hard work and there certainly are no tourist comforts.

Caption to pic: Thai sea gypsy waters, Butang Islands, just 25 miles from Langkawi.

This was a difficult anchorage, deep, the bottom rising steeply toward a reef close to the boat. If the wind came up, we would have had to move.

When we were back in Langkawi, a murder took place here. A Burmese deck-hand had been shanghaied onto a Thai fishing boat and forced to work as a slave.

One night he slipped overboard and made his way through the water to an anchored yacht with just a husband and wife aboard. Because the husband resisted, he cut the husband’s throat, dumped his body
overboard and made the wife motor the boat toward the mainland.
There, he took the dinghy and outboard, and escaped ashore.

Faith and I have been in so many lonely places, so often, and seen so much poverty, we would always co-operate if threatened, give the desperado what he wanted, and try to make the encounter happy and unstressful for him.

Okay, back to no tourist comforts. If you do all your own maintenance, sailing is cheap. We can’t afford tourist prices, so if we eat out, we eat with the locals … Malay-, Chinese-, Indian-, Thai-food. Except for a couple of bicycles, the boat is all we own. No house, no car, and all that jazz. Ha, ha … and on our tiny pensions, we still gotta pay the Receiver of Revenue something every year. Although I suspect by now we are below the income tax threshold.

Here are some pics of the islands.

Faith’s diary of a round trip we made, Langkawi, Penang, Phuket, mentions a couple we met who have been together and doing a lot of sailing on the cheap for twenty five years. Her father is still upset that his son-in-law ‘kidnapped’ his daughter and didn’t buy a nice house with a white picket fence, in a good area. She says she wouldn’t change her existence for anything.

On our round trip we anchored off Chew jetty. This is what it looks

We sailed the boat up to Phuket in Thailand. Many beach shots here.
Curiously, as we live outdoors and have to watch out for skin-cancer,
we never go to the beach. It’s too hot and we can’t take the sunburn.
So we stay on board and watch everybody else from the cockpit.

The baby elephant on the beach is for real. We have seen him lying
upside-down under the water with his trunk and his feet in the air.
Also, on the beach snuffing up sand in his trunk and blowing it over
his keeper when he stops to talk to a friend. The baby elephant wants
to go, man, go.

This is the link to Faith’s diary.

Have fun.





Harper Collins accepting Romance submissions direct from authors.

I received an e-mail from Authonomy, the writing workshop run by Harper Collins.

HC have launched a new Romance imprint called Harper Impulse.

They’re looking for submissions from all sub-genres of the romance spectrum, from fun and fast Adult to New Adult genre fiction to more mainstream novels, particularly contemporary, historical, paranormal, and erotic fiction.

Synopsis, full manuscript, together with covering letter should be e-mailed to

Guidelines can be found on the Facebook page.

The following link should take you to the Authonomy blog.

Have fun.




Sailing to Thailand.

Okay, it wasn’t very far, about a hundred and thirty miles from Langkawi to Phuket. Poo-kett … that is, with emphasis on the second cylinder, er syllable. Sorry, my vocabulary isn’t very good.



Credit goes to Coni Nikaus of Cape Cod for this pic. She took it during a land trip last year. Thanks, Coni. Didn’t want to use one of our own pics which are all sailing oriented.

Faith and I decided not to do an ‘overnight’ because that’s when the
fishing boats go ape and there are nets everywhere.

So we decided to sail from island to island and stop at each for a few
days. Coastal sailing is exhausting as we don’t take watches. Also,
it’s a sunrise to sunset thing with both of us in the cockpit,
working the boat as hard as we can in the tropical heat.

Getting the muddied anchor and chain up in the morning ain’t a pleasant job. And by the time we’ve arrived at the next island, eight or ten hours away, found a safe anchorage and put the chain and anchor back in the water, all we want to do is sleep, but there’s still supper to be made.

But listen to this. At the first stop, the mountainous Butang Islands, we came across a big square-rigged sailing ship lying at anchor. What’s more, she was carrying passengers just like any cruise ship. Wow, wow, wow, to see a real sailing ship in the twenty first century is something else. We found out later, she sails out of Singapore and
does a round trip to Thailand.

Once before, we had seen a square rigger, probably a sail training ship anchored in Langkawi. Also a fleet of navy ships anchored there too, probably a navy exercise.

So we sailed little Senta up to the square rigger to have a look-see. Up
on deck, officers were looking down at us. But there was also a VIP
wearing a business suit with them. We assumed he was Malaysia’s
defence minister or something like that.

‘You wanna swap?’ We called, pointing to his ship and then our boat.

Ha, ha, big smile on his face, but he shook his head.

Not easy to sail in the Malacca Straits because the tides are pretty
strong. Sometimes, we can be sailing forwards in a zephyr, but going
backwards on the tide. Frustrating.

Enough of my gab. The link takes you to Faith’s diary.



Deepsea breakers between Sumatra and Nicobar Islands.

This was to be Faith’s and my longest voyage. Twenty two days at sea. Not because we didn’t work the boat day and night. But due to light winds.

The distance between Chagos Archipelago and Langkawi is only one thousand seven hundred miles, and in decent weather, we might have made it in sixteen days.

But we were crossing the equator, reluctantly and obliquely, and the
trade winds and the equator don’t get on too well. Something people
call the doldrums, but correctly known as the ITCZ, Inter Tropical
Convergence Zone.

Believe it or not, because the earth gets fatter toward the equator, but then smaller above the girth, the south easterly trades change their
direction, becoming the south west monsoon.

A yucky feature of the SW Monsoon are the rain squalls which come up every afternoon and last through the night. So we never sailed
through the night with full sail.

One morning, a ship passed but then broke down in front of us and lay ahull directly in our path. We were going like blazes with one of
those 35 knot squalls powering us, when the ship radioed and asked us please not to hit him. Ha ha, he would have felt nothing and we would have sunk. We sailed around him.

A day or so later, an enormous Taiwan trawler ‘cut off the head of the snake’ by making a U-turn around our bow (so close we could have collided), thus passing his bad luck onto us. Don’t frown. It’s true.

The northern tip of Sumatra and the Nicobar Islands are about a hundred miles apart. One noon, going flat-out in the SW Monsoon, we were approaching this gap about 45 miles off the Sumatra coast when we noticed breakers dead in our path. Ugh.

Shocked, we checked the chart. Well over a thousand metres of water underneath us, so no fear of running aground. And as we watched, the breakers became worse and spread horizon to horizon. Now we became more than worried.

Although we were going like crazy, seven knots through the water, we checked our GPS and were amazed to see our speed over the bottom was only three knots.

We discovered we were running before the wind, sailing into a four knot equinoctial spring ebbtide, flowing the other way, pouring out of the Malacca Straits like a river in flood.

Tide against wind can be dangerous. As soon as we entered the white water, two metre breakers started coming aboard over Senta’s transom, slewing us sideways and threatening to roll us over.

So we disengaged the wind-steerer from the tiller and hand-steered  for three or four hours, Faith and I changing over every sixty minutes, until the tide changed.

A couple of pics in Faith’s diary here. No, we didn’t have time to
shoot the tide rip north of Sumatra. But there one or two shots of



South African film industry on the up and up.

Always interested in what’s going on in the film enterprise. In addition to our own industry, Hollywood is taking greater interest in SA and a production is in progress in Cape Town. The best movies are always based on novels. Check link below. Mail & Guardian entertainments page. Have fun.