Module #2: Exploring the East Coast of Central America
In the Wake of the Pirates of the Caribbean from Panama to Cuba
- On our way from Panama to Cuba, we sail the historic Spanish Main, once patrolled by the famous pirates and buccaneers in search of the precious Inca gold. Come visit the unique islands of San Blas, realm of the Kuna Indians, where we purchase exquisitely hand crafted Molas in exchange for seeing a dead man in a hammock, whom we end up taking to his funeral, using Nor Siglar as a virtual hearse.
- We move on to Colombia’s isolated Isla Providencia and treacherous Cayo Media Luna, where we come within inches of disaster.
- Join us as we marvel at the hidden Eldorado of the Bay of Honduras with its beautiful islands of Guanaja, Roatan and Utila before seeking refuge from the hurricane season on Rio Dulce in the midst of the jungle, exploring the fascinating Highlands of Guatemala, the realm of the Maya Indians.
- Travel with us on packed chicken buses with live turkeys and young mothers nursing babies and admire spectacular lakes and bustling markets with impossible names like Chichicastenango, hear of rapes at gunpoint, robberies, street patrols and money in shoes, crime, pollution and such.
- See the archaeological wonders in the early morning jungle sunrise and learn about medicine doctors and nature’s remedies.
- Experience the dangerous and shallow reef-strewn waters of Belize, one of the most fantastic diving areas in the world and home to the famous Lighthouse Reef and Jacques Cousteau’s Blue Hole, snorkel with local free divers, trade and feast on lobster and friendship.
- Come visit the Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico’s undisputed tourist Mecca, then head on to Castro’s very own paradise, Cuba, where a whole different world awaits us complete with rules and regulations, inspections and massive bureaucracy. Witness unsurpassed friendliness in the midst of appalling poverty and tragedies, before heading across the Strait of Florida to the Land of the Free.
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Module #3: The Atlantic Crossing Challenge
On our own Keel from sunny Caribbean to wintering aboard in Norway
- Follow our preparations for the Big Atlantic Crossing.
- But first we do some leisurely cruising in the Bahamas, Turks & Caicos, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico and the British Virgin Islands before setting out on the first stretch from Antigua to Bermuda.
- After one week of great trade wind sailing, we find that Bermuda is, as quoted by Mark Twain, “a heavenly place to be but a hell of a place to get to”. Surrounded by treacherous reefs, we battle through rough seas for 12 hours to cover the last 20 miles before making heavenly landfall in beautiful and sheltered St. Georges Harbor.
- A tropical depression threatens to derail us so we postpone the start by a few days, spooked by sailboats ahead sinking, some crew drowning, some getting rescued at sea. Our own crossing proceeds without major problems apart from the usual seasickness, long and lonely night watches and close encounters with freighters on collision course in the black of the night.
- After two weeks of non-stop sailing, the lush and green island of Faial in the Azores provides us with much needed R&R before the last and longest stretch to Norway.
- But first, there are repairs and maintenance to be done and a painting from Nor Siglar’s crew on the docks of Horta, which is the custom of visiting sailors. We complete the relatively uneventful leg in three weeks, albeit with considerable struggle through the English Channel, the most stressful challenge of our voyage to date.
- Frustrated but happy, we make landfall in Halden, Anne’s home town, having reached the first goal of sailing to our “old country” on our own keel all the way from our new country, Canada. We settle down to wintering aboard during the coldest winter Norway has experienced in years!
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Module #4: South to warmer Climes
From the North Sea to the Mediterranean and back across the Atlantic to the Caribbean .
- Follow our search of endless summer, calling first on the barren islands of Shetland and the Orkneys, rich in our Viking heritage and where we meet unsurpassed friendliness. Then through the Caledonia Canal scouting in vein for the infamous Loch Ness monster and head into the Irish Sea to its port, Crosshaven, where we stay at the oldest yacht club in the world.
- The dreaded Bay of Biscay is a formidable test of sea legs, endurance and resolve. Whose idea was this, anyway?
- After seven uncomfortable days at sea, we make landfall in Portugal’s old port of Oporto, we continue south in strong Portuguese trade winds and head up the Guadalquivir River to spend the winter in Carmen’s beautiful Seville.
- The journey continues through the Strait of Gibraltar to the spectacular anchorages of the Balearics, mountainous Corsica, picturesque Sardinia and historic Sicily.
- The Mediterranean lives up to its “Feast or Famine” reputation, either too much or too little wind. Levanters and mistrals, meltemis and sciroccos produce stormy gusts and short, steep seas, creating havoc in anchorages causing many sleepless nights.
- We get a good sampling of the many ancient ruins of Greece, and Turkey too, where we have our first encounter with the mysteries of the Muslim world.
- We join the East Mediterranean Yacht Rally from Antalia to North Cyprus and Israel where we go sightseeing through the Bible and experience first-hand the realities of today.
- We sail to Malta, where Martin gets acupuncture treatments for his aching back and continue to Tunisia and a memorable safari in the desert, sail along off-limits Algeria, where we are almost robbed at gunpoint in the dark.
- In Gibraltar we prepare for our Atlantic crossing back to the Caribbean. But midway to the Canary Islands, misfortune strikes.
- The skipper suffers a herniated disc, necessitating an emergency stop in Morocco. After seven painful weeks on his back, he has a successful operation.
- What started as a depressing situation became a positive experience as we befriended many locals, and especially, the family of the night watchman in the Marina, who was extremely kind, bringing us home cooked dinners every night for three months free of charge.
- We learned a lot about their lifestyle and culture and once again, experience how nice and kind people are all over the world regardless of background, colour, culture and faith. We set out across the Atlantic late in the season and experience a rough crossing in nasty gales and scary seas, still reaching Trinidad safely in three weeks.
- We head towards the spectacular reef anchorages off Venezuela and the Lesser Antilles. In San Blas, we get a Hero’s Welcome from the Kunas who remember us from six years earlier when we helped them transport a dead man on Nor Siglar’s deck to his funeral.
- The unique reunion gains us carte blanche to sights and activities “ordinary tourists” would never get access to, a rare treat to treasure. We end this long part of our journey – 18,000 nautical miles over four years – by transiting the Panama Canal for a second time, pointing our bow into the South Pacific.
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Module #5: The South Pacific – the Sea of Dreams
Panama – Galapagos – French Polynesia – Tonga – Fiji – Vanuatu – Solomon Islands
- Gliding out of the last lock of the Panama Canal, we find ourselves at a crossroads. Seven years into our adventure, which was supposed to last 3-4, we should really be heading north and home. But the lure of the South Seas proves too strong, and we set sails in the opposite direction, committing ourselves to several more years at sea.Experienced and confident, we are ready to tackle the long ocean passages alone. Another milestone is reached crossing the Equator into the southern hemisphere.
- Come with us to Galapagos, to stand face to face with giant tortoises, learn to deal with corrupt officials, nasty infections and a sore back.
- Come with us to French Polynesia, with air laden with the heavy scent of tropical fruit and flowers, beautiful “vahines”, erotic hula-hula, tattooed men racing outrigger canoes, gourmet food and joie de vivre.
- Witness how we trade locally harvested black pearls and learn to avoid poisonous reef fish.
- Come cruise the magic islands of Tahiti, Moorea and Bora Bora with their stunning turquoise crystal clear lagoons sheltered in anchorages behind treacherous reefs and experience “Heiva”, an arts and cultural festival complete with traditional games, song and dance.
- Then on to the Kingdom of Tonga where traditions are strong, evident in unique pandanus basketry and crafts, tapa clothing and special “laka laka” song-play and dance. We feast on pigs roasted on the spit, food wrapped in banana leaves cooked in underground ovens and attend our first kava ceremony.
- One day Tonga’s 300 lb. 80-year old king comes swimming out to Nor Siglar and circles her several times as part of his daily exercise routine.
- Come visit friendly Fiji with other customs and traditions. Here we are Mr. and Mrs. Martin and here we lose our passports and credit cards – and the weather window to Australia.We put Nor Siglar on the hard and fly home to visit family and friends.
- We help out in a dramatic rescue operation, and spend three great weeks cruising the islands of Efate, Epi, Ambryn, Pentecost and Espiritu Santu, experiencing war dances in the buff and a close encounter with a shark, building outrigger canoes and helping an injured native.
- Learn about Black Magic, coming-of-age rituals and pig killings with clubs, the natives many taboos, arranged marriage and bride prices, and learn some of their pigeon English language, Bislama, where a helicopter is simply called “mixmaster blongs Jesus”.
- A rough seven-day crossing to the Solomon Islands tests our nerves and abilities and in a veritable “Mother of all Squalls”, thoughts of quitting the adventure start to form in our minds.
- We love the Solomon Islands, the best-kept secret in the Pacific.
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Module #6: Our South-East Asia Adventures
Highs and Lows of our Voyage from Australia to the Maldives.
- Follow us in the wake of Captain Bligh across the Coral Sea through the Torres Strait to Gove in Northern Australia, one of the toughest in our eight years of cruising.Avoiding pollution and debris in the water off the coasts of the Louisiades and Papa New Guinea is a new challenge.
- We do the 1,400 nautical miles non-stop in 14 days and savour a ten-day break, somewhat marred by threats of crocodiles, deadly jellyfish and electrolysis, before reprovisioning for two months in Indonesia.
- Nervous about piracy in this part of the world, we sail in convoy with six other boats. Our worst scare, however, is overcrowded fishing boats with men in black balaclavas skirting our bows at high speed attempting to get rid of evil spirits onboard.Their lack of navigation lights at night and petty thefts at anchor off remote villages.
- Come with us to the famed Spice Islands in the Moluccas, bypass unsafe Timor and cruise the southern chain of Nusa Tenggara with its spectacular volcanoes and quaint mountain villages known for their “ikat” weavers, colourful markets, arts and crafts and traditional dances.
- Stand face to face with bloodthirsty Komodo dragons, meet our closest cousin, the orang-utan in Kalimantan, visit fishing villages with golden domed mosques and rest up at a peaceful home stay in central Bali surrounded by lush and green terraced rice fields and quaint temples.
- Learn about rituals, rites and reality and attend a Hindu cremation in the free.
- Read when near disaster strikes when we go hard aground and almost lose Nor Siglar.
- More troubles lurks in the South China Sea; the ham radio cuts out and electrolysis is eating up our propeller.Follow us across the heavily trafficked and infamous pirate infested Strait of Malacca, spend a month in Langkawi, and leave Nor Siglar safely in Rebak Marina while touring Malaysia and Thailand by land.
- We spend Christmas in splendid isolation in Thailand’s picturesque Phang Nga Bay and tour a “hong” near James Bond’s Paradise Island by dinghy, while thieves break in onboard Nor Siglar.
- We move south to tiny and beautiful Phi Phi Don and ring in the New Year on Patong Beach near Phuket with thousands of other revellers.
- We are plagued with thunder and lightening squalls, fortunately escaping any strikes but the furling forestay suddenly snaps, resulting in frantic manoeuvres on the foredeck. We manage to get hold of it and the situation is saved but our endurance is running thin.
- When making landfall in tiny Uligamu in the northern Maldives, life is good again. The island is gorgeous, the people pleasant, the culture interesting and who can complain about swimming with manta rays? We feel we have landed in the last paradise on earth.
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Module #7: Closing the Round-the-World Circle
Pirate infested Indian Ocean, the Red Sea, Mediterranean and the Home Stretch.
- During the last six months of our 9-year bluewater adventure, we encounter some of the toughest and most dangerous challenges of our entire voyage, testing our endurance to its absolute limit, while at the same time experiencing exhilarating highs.
- Come with us as we are guided by the stars across the normally benign Indian Ocean.Feel our sheer terror getting caught in a gigantic fish net in a black and stormy night, the most dangerous and life-threatening episode of our entire voyage, and live through our frantic struggle trying to cut ourselves lose.
- Come with us through the pirate infested waters of the Gulf of Aden along the coasts of prosperous Oman, impoverished Yemen and war torn Somalia.Nerves are on edge when a catamaran sailing alone ahead of us is attacked and boarded. Spooked, feeling there is safety in numbers, we join a flotilla and sail non-stop through the “Gate of Tears” on the Horn of Africa, into the dreaded Red Sea to the poor and destitute countries of Eritrea and Sudan.
- Explore with us the mysteries of the Arab world with its golden mosques and pencil thin minarets, muezzins calling to prayer, macho men in long, bright white dishdasha robes, veiled women in flowing, black abayas huddled in groups, camel crossings, souks overflowing with exotic herbs and spices, fragrant perfumes and gold, frankincense and myrrh of Biblical times.
- We dress as the locals, tour the desert with armed guards, visit girl’s schools and drink sweet tea with qat-chewing locals.In Eritrea, we meet the descendents of King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba, a most beautiful, hospitable and friendly people.
- In Sudan, we explore the many beautiful and sheltered desert anchorages, witness poverty beyond belief, meet men who express “many wives, many problems” and visit the last slave trading post in the world.
- Then, it’s off to Egypt with its impressive pyramids, ancient sites in Valley of the Kings and Luxor and finally, to the northern part of the Red Sea, known for its strong, northerly winds that are considered a nightmare for sailors.
- We battle our way to the safety of the Suez Canal where infamous pilots nag us for baksheesh, bribes and such. So it is a great relief to reach Israel, where we cross our course from four years prior and can call ourselves Circumnavigators.
- We receive a hero’s welcome and even meet former President Shimon Peres.We take the fast track through the Mediterranean where we have been twice before.
- At the Strait of Gibraltar, we point our bow north to finish in Norway instead of Vancouver as it would require a third Atlantic crossing and take much longer.
- We luck out with excellent conditions and cover 2000 nautical miles in two months
- A big flotilla escorts us into the harbour, where Anne’s 95-year old mother heads a lively welcoming party complete with journalists and photographers.
- After having logged 56,000 nautical miles under our keel (twice around the world at equator), and visited 76 countries and island nations, we are ready to become landlubbers again.Nor Siglar, our trusted and loyal vessel, our beloved floating home for 15 years, is safely moored in Sagesund outside Martin’s childhood home on the south coast of Norway, while the Skipper and First Mate are back in Vancouver getting reacquainted with life on terra firma.
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| Editorial Reviews
| An inspiring record of a leisurely circumnavigation. A fascinating photographic travelogue of a leisurely 9-year circumnavigation in the 40-foot sloop, Nor Siglar. Author Anne Brevig and her husband, Martin Vennesland, have created a memorable record of an epic trip. If you’ve ever dreamed of bluewater sailing that goes off the tourist circuit, meeting local people and truly savouring the experience, this is a book to dream on.
No wonder it is the Recipient of Northwest Yachting Magazine’s Editor’s Choice Award.
West Marine, Watsonville, CA.
“Why rush through paradise? This became the motto for Anne Brevig and Martin Vennesland as they journeyed around the world on their 40-foot sailboat, Nor Siglar. With beautiful photography and informative writing, this book takes you on a cultural and intellectual journey.”
Bluewater Books and Charts Catalogue, Fort Lauderdale, FL.
“Anne and Martin are modern-day explorers who had the courage to visit out-of-the way places and interact positively with native people on their own terms. The beautiful photographs and frank, well written text make this book a “must” for armchair sailors and those who plan to cruise offshore”
Author and publisher of Charlie’s Charts, White Rock, B.C.
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|As I read each sentence,
I feel like I am sitting on the deck with the writer enjoying the excitement of new adventures. The descriptions are exquisite. What an exciting world adventure these intrepid travelers have allowed people to share in.
John M. Coles, Chilliwack, B.C.
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