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Tour du monde en autostop - Jeremy Marie

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 Travel Diary : Through the Atlantic Wall (Part 1)

Arrived in Cape Town, i had to change my direction as i couldn´t go any further towards the south like i was doing that the whole previous year.
My aim is, as you know, to cross the Atlantic Ocean to reach the south american continent. My challenge is to not pay for the mean of transport, so i had definitely to avoid to take the plane (even if one of my secret challenge is to succeed to hitch-hike a plane one day). I decided to orientate my research to the boat-hitch-hiking.

Little experience of sailing ?
No, little is still too much, NONE is the good word. I have never put my feet on a sailing boat in my life and this is in this direction that i am going to look for. However nothing impossible, i would still be at home.
On top of that, this is not the first time that i have to deal with a problem of water.
Remember the egyptian-sudanese border where i had to convince the ferries company to give me a free lift on their boat (even if i am not sure if they had more than 1 ferry) to cross the Nasser lake.

This time, i will not choose to waste my time to try to convince any shipping company as i learn from many travellers that i had to direct my research towards the sailing boats.

To find a boat, i will have to act on different fields in the same time because i have to diffuse the information that i am looking for to cross the ocean... to diffuse it to the maximum.

My first step led me in the Waterfront in Cape Town, where i noticed the presence of some sailing boat on the deck.

The Waterfront in Cape Town and the Table Mountain with his clouds carpet on the backfield

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Quickly, the skippers let me know that this is not really in the Waterfront that the action is to find a boat, but in the Royal Cape Yacht Club, which is a little bit further.
After having made a tour of the boats in the Waterfront (hey yes, i didn´t go for nothing !), i went on my way to the Yacht Club of the Cape.

Indeed, the number of sailing boats were much more important there, around 300 to give you an idea.

The Royal Cape Yacht Club (picture taken from the roof, i don´t tell you how i got there)

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In the same way i did in the Waterfront, i started to ask to everybody for a possible place aboard by offering my skills of cook, nightwatcher or even cleaner...

The only problem is, from the second day, i realized that i had no idea to which person i had already asked because i asked two times to two different people on two following days... nothing better for a good impression !

I decided to make a map of the marina, to put on the name of every boat (remember, there were more than 300) and to write the answer of the skippers when i was asking. Nothing more simple !
Some of the people i met adviced me that i should put an announcement on the board on the entrance of the Yacht Club. I decided to make a nice one, at least that will catch the eyes, we never know.

My announcement about my mission to find a boat on the board of the Yacht Club

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Moreover, i have to say that i am lucky, the next 3rd of January is the beginning of the race Cape to Bahia in Brazil. That will surely bring more boat to the port.
Good timing and also good season, which is very important. This is between November and March that most of the boats are crossing the Atlantic by following the East-West winds and also because the se ais quieter.

Nowadays, the new generation and the new technologies are supposed to bring the people closer. We say that we are on the century of the communication. The world of the sail entered the web. By this way, there is an impressive number of website with the aim to connect the people looking for a boat and the one looking for a crew.
Even if i definitely prefer the straight meeting, simple and easy, i opened myself to this mean of research.
Here is a list of the main website offering this original exchange.
www.findacrew.net appears to be the best one
www.crewfinders.com
www.7knots.com
www.crewseekers.net
www.noonsite.com
www.crew4crew.net
and many others...

To be original, i decided to mediatize my project in the area of Cape Town. The idea is that the maximum of people must be aware of my mission, which could lead me to find what i am looking for.
Two newspapers articles and threes shows on the radio will only bring me a lot of fun because this is not from there that the light came... but a least attracted the interest of a big french radio : France Inter, which will call me three times for the show « Allo la Planete ».

Interviewed by the radio Voice of the Cape... in Cape Town

Slowly, going everyday to the Waterfront and then in the Yacht Club, without finding anything, the time was getting long. The problem also was that i had to find meanwhile a place to sleep (a current problem for the traveller). Still thanks to the wonderful website couchsurfing.com, my mission, if not very sucessful in the beginning, led me to meet and live with many wonderful local families.

Always in the idea to find a solution on every possible side, the idea came to me to go to the Alliance francaise. There are many french cultural center around the world and i had already visited some of them like in Khartoum in Sudan or more recently in Port Elisabeth in South Africa. Often, that was a very good source of information. This time, the center of Cape Town helped me to publish my story in a local newspaper and will even help me to get a place to sleep a day where i needed it.
In the french cultural center of Cape Town with Mai and Ludmilla Odmunsen

Nevertheless, the end was close. Indeed, thanks to the advices of some sailors in the Yacht Club, i headed to the next marina that i didn´t know, located just next to the Yacht Club in a place called « Eliot Basin ».
Here, as i learned, was an agency of boat delivering, supposed to send boat in touristic areas situated in many corner of the world.
So i went to the office and i explained my project... they decide to help me by accepting my request. Unfortunately a problem arrived ; when i will arrive in the country where the boat is delivered, i will have to leave the country straight away. That i leave the country by plane...
This is against the rules of my world tour but i try harder... and i come back everyday to know if a boat would be interested... because i learn that the final decision will be taken by the skipper of the boat, not the agency.

Finally, the agency accept to give me the list of all the skippers and i contact everyone of them one by one, by phone, or by email if i can´t. One more time... no answer.

In the same time, i decide to increase my sailing skills by participating to a little local race, on a monohull. We will finish last but at least, i know that i am not seasick !

And at one moment.... i find !

That has not been by the websites, that wasn´t from the annoucement in the Yacht Club, that wasn´t by the papers or the radio. The solution came from the agency of boat delivering and a mail that i sent to one of the skippers.
I have no experience but this is not important, i just have to be nice and motivated.
Extrem bonus, everything will be paid, i will not even to be charged for the food because in a way, i will work for the agency.

I will cross the Atlantic Ocean on a catamaran, not up to Brazil like i was thinking but to Panama. Estimation of the crossing : 6 weeks. We will be three : the skipper from Macedonia , that i crossed in the beginning of my trip, and the first mate from South Africa.

The catamaran on which the passage will happen

I have to take care of the last preparation of the trip : i go on a book shop to buy exactly 15 books (for the equivalent of 15 dollars the total). This is also necessary to prepare the boat because it is very important to not scratch it while the crossing.

Occupied to « soft » the cockpit of the catamaran to help it to not be scratched

In conclusion, i don´t think that there are any « miracle strategy » except a lot of willing. It took me two weeks to fin dit but it could have taken eight because i would never have give up. Obstination payed.

In the second part of this article, you will discover what happened during the passage of the Atlantic Ocean, which finally took me eight weeks and no six as it was supposed to.

Here we go for this crossing !

See you soon

Jeremy



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