Archive for the ‘South Africa’ Category
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.
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‘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.
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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.)
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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.
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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 firstname.lastname@example.org
Guidelines can be found on the Facebook page.
The following link should take you to the Authonomy blog.
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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.
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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
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
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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.
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The children giggle as they stalk through the tall grass of the African
bush. Five Masai boys and a European girl. At ten years of age, she
is a year older than her playmates. She has plastered her face and
arms with mud from the river so as not to attract attention from the
Out of sight of their parents, the boys painted their faces like Masai
warriors. They wear the red shuka of their tribe. The girl is cloaked
in red cotton too. She blends with her African playmates.
Each child wields a five foot spear. A mahogany shaft tipped with a honed, leaf-shaped steel blade. Strapped to their left arms, they bear
water-buffalo-hide shields. They are playing at an imaginary hunt.
The mark of a Masai warrior is to kill an African lion with nothing more than spear and shield. Then he may choose the girl of his dreams and wear the lion’s mane on his head.
Ceremonial headgear for children are stuffed birds they have downed in flight. This gang of adventurers sport tail feathers in their hair. They wander along a game path far from the village.
Padding down the trail toward them is a young male lion. The carnivore comes across the playmates barring his path and bristles.
The children drop to their knees as they have seen adult warriors do.
They slant their spears at the lion, planting the shafts in the earth
so if the lion pounces he might impale himself. They kneel shoulder
to shoulder, angling their spears forward, clutching their shields to
The lion snarls a warning. He grunts and paces forward. Then to break their courage and scatter them, he feints. He could claw their
throats in seconds. Growling and swishing his tail, he advances on
the little warriors.
But the children don’t scatter. One stands to face the king of beasts. It
is the ten year old girl. She confronts the big cat with her eyes.
‘Lo murrani, Supa. We greet you. We children are the bright moon. Do not make our mothers cry.’
The lion fixes his eyes on her and twitches his tail. He is about to
‘You may be fierce, Mr Lion, but we can be fierce too if you make us.
Beware our spears, we have polished the blades with pig fat. Do you
want pig fat in your chest? We are warriors, protectors of our
The lion bares his fangs. A rumble erupts through his throat.
‘Enkai our god is watching you, oh lion. Beware for Enkai has two faces, a black one and a red one. Do not enrage the red face.’
The lion’s claws are out and he paws the air at her.
‘Stop complaining, Mr Lion. An elephant does not tire of his tusks. Go home to your wife. Na kitok Takuenya to missus lion. She awaits you.
‘Tell her you have spared Angelina Freyer, daughter of Tom and Daisy Freyer. Spare these Masai friends of mine too, oh great one.’
The lion grumbles.
‘Sere mister lion, sere to you … ashe naleng … goodbye. You must go
now. We mean you no harm.’
The five boys kneeling with their spears and shields alongside her, gape as the animal switches his tail and grunts before turning aside and padding away through the grass.
One of them has voided his bowels.
The story about the lion is true. Although Daisy and I didn’t hear it in
the first instance from our daughter Angelina. Apparently she and the other youngsters returned along the game trail, constantly in
rearguard readiness in case the lion followed them.
In sight of the Masai village and the farm where I was employed,
Angelina returned her spear, shield and red shuka cloak to her
playmates although she kept the birds’ tail feathers in her hair. She
rinsed the mud from her face and arms and donned her dungarees. Then, without a word to us, she crept into the farmhouse and went to read a book in her room.
‘Angelina’s acting funny, don’t you think?’ Daisy queried that night after our daughter had gone to sleep. ‘She’s so quiet, as if she’s in shock.’
I chuckled. ‘Probably fell out of a tree into the pigsty. Too
embarrassed to tell us about it.’
‘Perhaps you’re right, Tom. I washed her back in the bath tonight and she did have grime engrained in the nape of her neck. Had to scrub it out amid her protests.’
The story came out two days later, related by the Swahili woman who ran the farm kitchen. When questioned by his mother, one of the nine year old Masai boys broke down in tears and confessed everything. Apparently he had been so traumatised by the incident, his nightmares kept his father awake and his mother was instructed to find out what the problem was.
Daisy gazed at me and I glanced at her. I believed the story. She couldn’t conceive of a ten year old facing down a lion.
‘Tom, do you think it’s possible?’
‘Let’s find out, dear. With that lass, everything is possible.’
I led her into Angelina’s room where our daughter had her head stuck in another book.
‘Gogga?’ This is her nickname. It is Khoisan or Bushman for bug, or as I tease our daughter, Little Nuisance.
‘That’s me, Dad.’
‘What’s this we hear about a stand-off between you and a lion?’
‘Where d’you hear that?’
‘C’mon Angie, the whole of Kenya is talking about it.’
‘Well, I sorta had to outfox him before he lost his marbles. There were five little Masai kids with me. Okay? I couldn’t let Mr Lion have his way with them, could I?’
‘No, but Gogga you are only ten.’
‘Yeah, but Dad this lion was young, he was only two.’
‘My God, Angie, two is just about full grown. He could have broken your neck with a swipe of his paw.’
‘Gotcha, Dad. But it was sort of mind over matter. Right? I stood to face him and glared at him without blinking. That sure bamboozled him.’
‘And the Masai children?’
‘Oh, they were good, Dad. They crouched around me, spear shafts planted in the ground, blades pointed at him, shields protecting us.’
‘Oh Angie, darling,’ Daisy murmured. ‘You could have been killed, my angel.’
Angelina rolled her eyes.
‘We were mucho ready for him, Momma. But I told him a story, that he should leave us alone. If he started something, he’d have pig fat in
‘So he went away as simple as that?’ I queried.
‘Not exactly. He sort of came at us four or five times swishing his tail,
but I wouldn’t take my eyes off him. That’s the best way to outfox
him, Dad, other than use my spear. See? But it was my talking that
made him uneasy and he eventually took a powder.’
I couldn’t help myself from chuckling at her audacity. ‘Gogga, we love you and I reckon you tweaked his tail, but please don’t do it again.’
Ha, ha. Angelina is the girl who tweaked two lions’ tails. Many Good
Reads, Smashwords and Amazon comments on this 380 page novel.
Especially from women readers.
‘… I loved this book … 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 … a wonderful African story … I was
thoroughly hooked … a delight that will be loved by all … I
hurried anxiously from one page to the next … an enjoyable read
with lots of charm and surprises … an absolute page-turner … a
magical story … 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 I published The Girl Who Tweaked Two Lions’ Tails on Smashwords, readers awarded it 119 Likes, ranking it among the top eight most liked novels on Smashwords. But Amazon made me take it off Smashwords when I applied for Kindle Select, and those Likes were lost. Boo-hoo.)
Back on Smashwords at 99 cents.
Smashwords offer nine alternative types of download, including PDF straight to computer.
Amazon charges 99 cents in the developed world, but they add $2,00 for ‘far-off’ places like Africa, I suppose because downloading costs
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Anchored here in the Malacca Straits, working through a modum connected to my note-book, and a shore-based cellphone tower, I came across this snazzy article.
Good words about Lauren and her on-going work … and bad words about the intolerable violence against women.
Written by Ashraf Jamal, it appears in the Arts & Culture pages of the Mail & Guardian dated March 1.
Nice work, all.
I don’t have an appropriate pic, but here’s a Rafflesia flower for everybody. It blooms only for a day or two, measures one metre across, and the pic was taken in the mountains of Borneo. Have fun.
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