Bite me...
1. The west wind personified. Soft, mild, gentle wind or breeze.
2. Fine, very thin woolen material.
3. The name of my sail boat.

I N D E X   P A G E

Updated: 18th May 2013
Just for fun... Type upside-down.

The story of Sailing Vessel Zephyr
and her skipper, Errol Lishman.

Although I completed my circumnavigation in 2010, the "Story" pages are not complete. I am working on them and will upload updates from time to time. The "Pictures" pages are up to date.

Some snippets so long......

We left Niue on the 29th June and arrived in Tonga (Vavau, Neiafu) 2 days later on the 3rd July after a mostly wet sail. (We lost a whole day when we crossed the date line!!)

After hanging around for two weeks waiting for the new tiller pilot to arrive from Australia, we left for Suva in Fiji on the 16th July at 5pm and arrived on the 20th July at 10am after a fast and wet sail.

Suva authorities made us wait for 26 hours before we were granted practique and during the night we bumped a raft of 3 fishing boats. In the morning it was stormy and we dragged our anchor forcing us to re-anchor 3 times!!! Eventually we put two anchors out which is holding now. What drama...

And then... Tavish left for home (Canada). He was offered a job he could not refuse so he flew out from Fiji on Monday 28th. He will be missed as he was easily the best all-round crew I have had on Zephyr so far.   Good luck Tavish!!!

Zephyr has a new crew member. A 23 year old American by the name of Mark Strother who joined me on Tuesday 4th August after signing off the boat he sailed on from New Zealand. He spent a night aboard and seems like a really nice guy.

We left Fiji 6th August at 4:30pm and arrived in Port Vila, Vanuatu 12th August 12:30pm. This 140 hour leg had everything... Rain and some sunshine, 40+ knots and zero winds, 5+ meter swells and flat seas. Winds from the south, then east, then north east, then south west, and back to south east again. Instead of sailing 590 miles like normal, we ended up doing 757 miles due to the weather. The worst was when a big rogue wave overwhelmed Zephyr one night, breaking right over the boat from the port side, almost knocking us over. There was sea water everywhere inside the boat which was a big mess !!!

It is time to get to Australia. All the regional weather reports indicate that the hurricane season is approximately 3 weeks early this year due to the prevailing unsettled weather patterns. This is a difficult passage with many reefs and obstacles en-route. We also have to cross the great barrier reef to get to our planned port of entry, Cairns, Queensland. At 1,290 miles, this leg should take us 11 or 12 days. Wish us luck.......

We have booked out of Vanuatu and will be leaving in a few hours. "See" you in Australia around the 29th August!!!

No... there has been a delay at Customs, so we will leave tomorrow and should arrive in Australia on the 30th August.

Yes... Zephyr is in Australia. We had a wonderful sail from Vanuatu totaling 1,444 miles (2,600 km) which took us 12 days. We caught some nice fish as well. The Australian officials in Cairns, where we cleared in, were also very friendly and courteous - contrary to what I have read and heard. Now it's time to relax for a while and then Zephyr will be put on the hard for routine bottom maintenance (anti-fouling paint etc.). The Cairns yacht club is super modern with every amenity one can think of at very reasonable rates too - a pleasant surprise.

For those that understand Afrikaans - "Ek is nou so lui - tot my gat hang oop…"

Well, not all plans go according to plan... The boat yards are all full until the end of October, so Zephyr never came out of the water. Instead we cleaned her bottom as best we could, welcomed Jim as an extra crew member, and set sail for Darwin via Torres Strait on the 10th September. The leg along the Great Barrier Reef and through Torres Strait proved to be a mixed bag... We had some wonderful sailing with 40 knot winds in flat seas, some rough stuff, and a few calm areas. BUT... this leg was the most challenging technically. The route I plotted had 127 way-points and one could not go off route - not even by 50 meters in places. PLUS... there were many, many other boats in the channels - from big tankers to fishing boats and ski-boats - all adding to the challenge of sailing the Great Barrier reef.

We arrived at the first half of Torres Strait spot on time to catch the slack high tide. The only regret, it was at 2am and pitch dark. One has to go on slack high tides otherwise the 5 to 7 knot current is against you, which would make it almost impossible for Zephyr to go through and big standing waves are also common. We completed this first section 1½ hours too quickly for the final section so we anchored in the lee of a small island and had a rest. At midday on the 15th September 2009 we hit the second, and most dangerous half, of Torres with a vengeance. One has 6 hours to cover 45 miles. The winds were good at 25 knots from south of south east so I had all the sails out and the engine going full blast - all this and a falling tide gave us a ground speed of 9 to 10 knots which was very exciting stuff!!! We blasted through with plenty of time to spare, I scarcely had time to reflect that I was officially leaving the Pacific Ocean and entering the Indian Ocean - the last ocean to cross before home...

The long stretch from Torres Strait to Darwin took us 7 days to complete and we dropped anchor in Fanny Bay at 8am on the 22nd September. By mutual consent, Jim left the boat - he did not enjoy sailing and we did not enjoy him. He showed NO interest in anything at all, he just slept, ate, and did a few 3 hour watches calling me on deck many times to look at something non-existent in the distance. We spent an uncomfortable, rolly 3 days in Fanny Bay before moving to a place called Tipperary Waters Marina (12 26'54.87"S 130 51'01.90"E) which is much better. Darwin is not nearly as nice as Cairns - very hot at +35°C with high humidity. My engine mountings were making a noise so I serviced and reset them but there is still a vibration present - perhaps the shaft... The fridge has also stopped working and I need new house batteries... This is going to be an expensive stop !!!

UPDATE: The engine is fine now. The prop shaft was touching a bulkhead - took a bit of the bulkhead away and all seems fine again. Now it is just the fridge (re-gassing I think) and new house batteries. We also have a 3rd crew member joining us on Wednesday - Geoff, an Australian, is 59 and has quite a lot of sailing experience - somebody of my age group should be great to have on board.

We left Darwin on 3rd October 2009 and arrived safely at Direction Island, Cocos Keeling (12 05.45" South 096 53.00" East) at 10:30pm on the 18th October 2009.

This was a mixed bag of sailing that started very quietly when we left Darwin as we motored for the first 3 days, then when the winds started just after Ashmore reef we motor-sailed for the next 2 days. On days 6 and 7 we sailed during the day but had to motor again from midnight until dawn until the winds picked up again. Then from day 8 (11th October) the winds set in from the South East but with a southerly swell which made sailing quite uncomfortable. As the days progressed the winds got stronger (up to 38 knots) and the swell slowly turned into the east which made things a little more comfortable. We had 3 consecutive days of 150 miles per day which is not bad going. All in all we did 2,042 miles (3,675 km) in 15 days and 15 hours.

As per usual, we arrived at night... A very dark, stormy, moon-less night which made coming into the atoll very difficult and challenging. After dropping anchor in 6 meters of water we had supper (Mark made us a delicious sea food paella) and then we hit our beds with a vengeance. In the morning I was amazed to find that there was only one other boat in the bay. After the usual clearing in procedures we re-anchored in a better location and went ashore for a swim and walk.

So now we need to get water, diesel, cooking gas and some provisions before tackling the next (2nd last) long leg of my circumnavigation which is 2,000 miles (3,600 km) to Rodrigues Island. We were going to go around the top of Madagascar and then down the Mozambique Channel - BUT... things change, Madagascar had a political coup, and three yachts were robbed at Nosy Be (getting cleaned out completely) so I decided this is not for me - I like to think I am fairly adventurous, but not THAT adventurous. This leg should take about 17 days to complete and we should be on our way by Thursday 22nd October.

We left Cocos Keeling as planned on the 22nd of October at 5:30pm on the high tide and had a really fast ride to Rodriguez, putting in quite a few 150+ mile days. 2,095 miles (3,800 km) in 14½ days is not too bad. The journey was a bit rolly for the first 8 or so days as the Southern swell was still evident. But things settled down nicely as the swells moved more easterly. The winds were very constant and rarely went below 20 knots with gusts of up to 40 knots, but they were usually 25 – 30 knots day and night.

We did get some squalls and rain – sometimes 4 a day, some days none – but nothing too bad. We will stay on Rodrigues for 4 or 5 days and then move to Mauritius which is only 340 miles away. From Mauritius we plan to sail straight into Durban, a leg of 1,600 miles (2,900 km). I am trying to make landfall in Durban for the first week in December 2009.

I must say that the Indian Ocean has been quite boring as far as wildlife is concerned. There are very few birds, one fish caught, and no dolphins at all, just mile upon mile of blue sea.

We left Rodrigues Island at 4pm on the 10th November and had a lovely sail in tandem with Andy and Daneen aboard "Rose". Coming into Port Louis, Mauritius 65 hours later, we were greeted with 5 strongish squalls - must have had something to do with it being Friday 13th...

The clearing-in procedure was long and complicated but all the officials were very friendly and welcomed us to Mauritius. Once done we moved into the small mooring area and tied up onto the wall near the entrance. This proved too "bouncy" from wakes caused by passing craft, so as soon as a spot became available deeper in the mooring area we moved Zephyr. Now we are moored right outside a 5 star hotel (Le Sufferen Hotel) and now Zephyr looks too fancy for words!!!

Mauritius is very pretty and most of the locals, Indian and Creole, are friendly but on a day trip around the island I noticed that all the good spots have been taken by big resorts which spoils it a little. Port Louis is quite modern but with a large group of poor people.

Our departure date has been moved further and further back due to bad weather in the area. First Cyclone Anja started up on the 16th November 2009 and died out by the 19th November. Then just as soon as things were looking good again, Cyclone Bongani appeared on the 22nd November and seems to be dying out now. So our 3rd departure date is set for Saturday 28th November 2009. Wish us luck...

We left Mauritius on time and had mostly good sailing (1,600 miles in 10 days) until we got within 77 miles off the South African coast between Richards Bay and Durban. Then all of a sudden the weather deteriorated. The winds switched from nice North Easter's which were taking us into Durban perfectly, to shitty strong South Westers which caused bad seas so we had to make a dash for Richards Bay. We arrived at 11:11pm during a thunderstorm which was quite spectacular. We are in Tuzi Gazi small craft harbour just waiting for the weather to turn so I can start heading for home (Mossel Bay).

After spending a few days in Richards Bay and also taking leave of Mark Strother who proved to be a good sailor in the end, Geoff and I set sail for Durban. We left on the 19th December at 4:30am and had a good 16,5 hour ride into a very busy Durban. Friends of mine, Pat and Barbara Kammerman from the catamaran "At Play" (who I met in Panama) arranged for us to moor up at the Bluff Yacht Club. Also waiting to greet us on the little quay was Carole Potter whom I have known for 30 years and who I have not seen for about 8 years. It was so nice to see familiar faces again. After tying up and grabbing a hot shower, we sat down to a braai (barbecue) at the Bluff Yacht Club.

While in Durban, we took Zephyr out of the water and did a few minor repairs and painted her bottom with anti-fouling paint. Geoff hired a car and he drove us to Port Shepstone where I spent a wonderful few days including Xmas with Carole. In the mean time Geoff went inland and explored parts of Natal. A good weather window was developing so Carole drove me back to Durban, fetching Tertius at the airport on the way, and on the last day of 2009 we set sail heading south west along the coast.

The first days sailing was fast (10+ knots at times) and we were abreast of East London after only 34 hours of sailing. As the wind was still from the east, we carried on to Port Elizabeth expecting to stay there a few days waiting for a south wester to pass through but the weather reports looked good enough for us to carry on to Mossel Bay which we did. The 3rd days sailing was also very good and we arrived in Mossel Bay at 10pm on the second day of 2010. We were very fortunate with the weather as we sailed all the way from Durban to Mossel Bay in one hop. It is possible to get "stuck" in East London or Port Elizabeth for days even weeks waiting for a suitable weather window. After tying Zephyr up, we had some champagne that the "welcome home" party had organised - it is really great to be back home, a bitter sweet feeling....

Useless trip facts:
Total distance covered: 25,629 nautical miles (47,463 kilometers)
Sailing time taken: 4,744 hours = 198 days = 6½ months
Number of countries visited: 29
Number of islands visited: 47 (some countries have multiple islands)
Engine usage: 1,007 hours using 1,220 liters diesel
Cheapest place: Panama City (340ml Coke = US$ 0.33c)
Most expensive place = Nuku Hiva Island (340ml Coke = US$ 4.56)
My favourite place: Palmerston Island
My least favourite place: Puerto Rico (which just happened to be the 13th stop)

My trip...

Palmerston Island - I'll be back....
Palmerston Island - very, very close to paradise...

A friendly cat on Niue Island
A friendly Niue Island cat

Our Ragaine II friends
Our "Ragaine II" friends

Biggish seas on the way to Vanuatu
Biggish seas on the way to Vanuatu

Calm waters - Port Vila, Vanuatu
Calm waters - Port Vila, Vanuatu

Dolphins playing around Zephyr
Dolphins playing around Zephyr near Ashmoor reef

Direction Island, Cocos (Keeling)
Direction Island - Cocos (Keeling)

Aahhhhh... bliss...
Aahhhh - bliss............

After 743 days away, Zephyr arrives home
After 743 days away, Zephyr arrives home -
Mossel Bay, 2nd January 2010

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