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PART 4: ALBANIA TO MONTENEGRO | BELLA ROSE, OYSTER 545, UP FOR SAIL | SUMMER of 2019
BELLA ROSE, OYSTER 545, UP FOR SAIL, AN INDELIBLY SENSATIONAL SAILING ADVENTURE FROM MALTA TO SICILY TO THE GREEK ISLANDS TO ALBANIA TO MONTENEGRO TO CROATIA TO VENICE. SUMMER OF 2019. Part 4: SAILING FROM ALBANIA TO MONTENEGRO Batten down the hatches! A stunning night engulfed my being upon departing Albania for Montenegro; a band of fiery orange exploded along the horizon, beneath a sparkling indigo sky. What a farewell to an enthralling adventure in Albania. Further excitement ensued the moment we dropped anchor at a bay just outside The Bay of Kotor. The police by RIB descended upon us like a honey badger on a swarming beehive. I’d prefer not to refer to the word ‘arrested’… So… with great theatrics, the police escorted us to the nearest customs office.   The responsibility fell completely on us, of course. We attempted to push the boundaries but got caught. The consequences dealt by draconian hand!  Indeed, I shall share further in the article to be published by the sailing magazine. Please Note: For copyright purposes I have considerably reduced the resolution of each image below.
PART 3: The Greek Islands to Albania | BELLA ROSE, OYSTER 545, UP FOR SAIL | SUMMER of 2019
BELLA ROSE, OYSTER 545, UP FOR SAIL, AN INDELIBLY SENSATIONAL SAILING ADVENTURE FROM MALTA TO SICILY TO THE GREEK ISLANDS TO ALBANIA TO MONTENEGRO TO CROATIA TO VENICE. SUMMER 2019.  Splice the mainsail! Part 3: SAILING FROM THE GREEK ISLANDS TO ALBANIA Albania… Yes, Albania! A surprise indeed. Let’s sail to Albania, Captain! Albania? You heard correctly! Okay! Really? Yes, you too heard correctly…   I know what! Let’s do the other thing we do best… Remind me, Captain said nudging gently. Trail… Of course, Sail & Trail.  We attempted to hire a 4×4; however, ended up with a Fiat Panda. We can’t take this off-road, or can we? Of course we can, but we’ll keep it to ourselves. Well, let’s just say the Panda made it. We almost didn’t and turned back a few times, for dongas the size of the Fish River Canyon and sheer drops along single tracks as high at the Rockies caused a few near-death experiences. Fffff… Formidable! For at least 100 kilometres, we took on rugged terrain. Brave or plain… irresponsible? I really prefer not to judge!
PART 2: SICILY TO THE GREEK ISLANDS|BELLA ROSE, OYSTER 545, UP FOR SAIL | SUMMER 2019
Bella Rose, Oyster 545, Up For Sail, an indelibly sensational sailing adventure from Malta to Sicily to the Greek Islands to Albania to Montenegro to Croatia to Venice. Summer 2019. Shiver me timbers! PART 2: SAILING FROM SICILY TO THE GREEK ISLANDS  First stop, Zakynthos. A Greek Island in the Ionian Sea. Navagio beach, aka Shipwreck beach, brings in more tourists, accessed by boat only, than any other tourist attraction in Greece, including Athens.  Second, third, etc., stops included: Kefalonia, Poros, Sami, Kisaka, Kioni, Lefkados, Antipaxos, Paxos, Corfu and Erikoussa. However, they are going to have to wait until magazine publication… I know! A killer! The rest of the words in images… Feel the sounds, smells, throbbing heat and rejuvenating tranquillity…
Jul 08
PART 1: MALTA TO SICILY | BELLA ROSE, OYSTER 545, UP FOR SAIL | SUMMER 2019
Bella Rose, Oyster 545, Up For Sail, an indelibly sensational sailing adventure from Malta to Sicily to the Greek Islands to Albania to Montenegro to Croatia to Venice. Summer 2019. All aboard! Part 1: Malta to Sicily Whilst relishing writing the magazine articles reflecting my latest sailing adventures, resistance suddenly turned futile… How do I wait for them to be published…? “…Sail away with me honeyI put my heart in your handsSail away with me honey now, now, now…” Again, the futility of resistance when it came to the decadent gelato brioche sandwich smothered in fluffy cream. A very delicious reason for the overnight sail from Malta to Siracusa, Sicily. The evidence will be revealed in the published article… Watch this space… The images below portray the journey from Malta to Siracusa. Words? Are they really necessary?
Jun 11
SAILING SAFARI TO AFRICA PUBLISHED BY SAILING TODAY MAGAZINE
SAILING SAFARI TO AFRICA West and east are the usual directions sailors turn in the Mediterranean but Nicola Beykirch bucked the trend and headed south instead, to Tunisia Words & Photography By NICOLA BEYKIRCH Published  By SAILING TODAY Following on from our trip across the Mediterranean in Bella Rose, an Oyster 545, Captain Barry and myself had left her in Malta (see ST 264). The next leg of the trip was to head to Africa. We couldn’t wait to get the shopping done and the yacht prepared to start our next exploration. For a few hours after leaving Malta, the sea appeared a dirty green, more green than blue. the further we sailed away from the island, the more the sea turned a radiant cobalt blue. The next day was a full day at sea, and with 1m choppy swells, I couldn’t shake the seasickness. despite using a patch, wristbands and taking tablets, I still felt constant nausea…
Tower Bridge opens up for the new “Pocket Superyacht” Oyster 565
A thrilling experience to behold, from the top of Tower Bridge on Thursday evening when Oyster launched their new “pocket superyacht”, the evolutionary Oyster 565.   Through the dramatic glass floor across the high-level walkways, 42 metres above the River Thames, the bridge below the glass opened and the new Oyster 565 smoothly sailed beneath our feet, after tacking up the river into the wind. Everyone oohing and ahhing with delight; champagne glasses clinking.  Chief Executive and Owner Richard Hadida passionately added: “Words cannot describe the excitement I feel to see Oyster enter such an exhilarating phase in its evolution. The 565, fondly known as our “pocket superyacht” is everything an adventurous couple or young family could want.” The Boat International Article here.  
Purification Ritual Durban Beach
My eyes and ears were attracted by the glee two hundred church worshippers clearly experienced on the beach, involved in prayer and baptising ritual.  Adorned in white uniforms, blue and green sashes, people were dunked into the waves, held under for a few seconds and came up gasping and chanting in an unrecognisable African language.  Some women were veiled, in the background, singing and dancing. Holy staffs with flags dug into the sand around groups of people.  In the middle of the action, yellow and white plastic containers were being topped up with sea water and sand, waiting to be taken home after the baptismal and healing ritual. I kept my distance, mesmerised by the simpleness of it all. The joy and rapture each person in the group experienced, from young children enjoying the shoreline and the elderly, the ‘ikhehlas‘ and ‘ugogos‘ relishing the purification ritual. 
London’s Free-for-All Brick Canvas at Leake Street Graffiti Tunnel
Overhearing a couple animatedly talking about the best graffiti they’d ever seen near Waterloo, I had to find Leake Street Graffiti Tunnel for myself. Rough and ready, the tunnel sparkled with colour. Artists bending over their cans and preparing themselves for their next masterpiece. A queue of boldly dressed people patiently waited to enter The Vaults, a place that offers everything to those that dare. Once I’d immersed myself in the vibrancy of the art, people and atmosphere I headed the way I came in and noticed two teenage girls playing with hula hoops. Approaching them, I asked if they were practising for a show. “We’re going to be putting on a show, firing up our hoops. Have a butchers,” the one encouraged. With my camera perfectly poised, I eagerly awaited their fire dance… I had no idea Banksy launched Leake Street Graffiti Tunnel to fame in May 2008 with an exhibition called The Cans Festival. With a comical play on The Cannes Film Festival, Banksy invited international street artists to adorn the blanks along Leake Street tunnel with their signature art, as explained further by Leake Street Arches here.
Sailing Today Magazine Hot Off The Press
A Med-Time Story Majorca To Malta: Island Hopping On A Grand Scale By Nicola Beykirch Published  By Sailing Today Almost a year had passed before stepping back on the deck of Bella Rose, our year old Oyster 545. Berthed at Palma, Majorca for the winter, we couldn’t wait to throw off the bowlines, once again crisscrossing the Mediterranean…
Amakhosi Safari Lodge KwaZulu-Natal South Africa
This time, our adventure through Swaziland, as much off-road as on-road, prevented us from making the evening game drive at Amakhosi Safari Lodge, northern KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.   With hunger at bay, three trips to the waffle station at The Royal Swazi Spa Hotel near Mbabane, Swaziland later, we thought we’d given ourselves enough time to explore off-road and make the game drive.   Speaking of Swaziland, or now known as The Royal Kingdom of Eswatini, I ponder whether they’ll change their flag, as South Africa did…   After checking Google Maps (yes, as mentioned before, not always a good idea), we decided to head for the 4×4 only dirt tracks from Nhlangano through to Mhlosheni in Swaziland, straight through the Swaziland / South African border post as shown on Google and then onto the N2 freeway towards Pongola. Around thirty kilometres later we’d then arrive at the private game reserve, Amakhosi Safari Lodge, just in time for the sundowners in the heart of the African bushveld.   U-Turn Well, Google maps indicated a border post that did not exist, which was supposed to lead straight onto the N2 freeway about twenty kilometres outside of Pongola. A camouflage army tent […]
The Kruger National Park to Saddleback and Bulembu Passes
From Kirkman’s Kamp in the Sabi Sands Reserve we entered The Kruger National Park through the Kruger Gate and drove at 50km/hr for two hours through the park, spotting a massive herd of elephant spread out as far as the eye could see.   Through the gate at Malelane, we exited The Kruger National Park and drove to Barberton for padkos and refuelling.   South-east of Barberton, we chugged along the ever steep and winding tarred Saddleback Pass with sweeping views of the surrounding mountains and Sappi’s forestry. Over 10.5 kilometres, we climbed 609 meters in altitude.   Beyond the summit and Lomati Dam, the Saddleback Pass becomes the Bulembu Pass, which connects South Africa to Swaziland.   Warning Bulembo Border post closes at 4:00pm. We arrived with two minutes to spare and fortunately, made it to the Swaziland side. It would have been a very time-consuming mistake otherwise…   From here onwards, through the derelict mining town previously known as Havelock Mine, now owned by Bulembu Ministries, a Canadian evangelical Christian charity, a 4×4 is a must. The road was incredibly exciting and in the heavy downpour that cloaked over us proved a challenge I never wanted to end. […]
Kirkman’s Kamp Sabi Sands Private Game Reserve
From the meandering mountain passes of Swaziland, we drove almost six hours through Nelspruit to Kirkman’s Kamp in the heart of the emblematic Sabi Sands Private Game Reserve.  This time we stuck more on-road than off-road so as not to miss the afternoon game drive at the lodge. Due to my car’s dead battery and having to replace it soon after reaching White River, we came extremely close to missing out. Of course, they would have waited for us, or taken us in another vehicle to join the safari. No doubt about it! Fortunately, with thirty minutes to spare we had time for high tea spread out on the patio before the show began…   The Cats Known for its prolific leopard sightings, Sabi Sands had always been on the top of my list for wanderlust. Finally, I made it! After the fearless honey badgers, which are more elusive than leopards, the leopard is my next favourite animal to observe in the wild. The three leopard sightings with the game ranger, Jonty, unsurpassed any other sighting I’ve before experienced. We got to behold a female tearing a fresh impala kill to shreds; another smaller female strolling along the main track […]
Offroad Adventure from Mozambique to Swaziland (Eswatini)
Resistance was futile when it came to surfing at sunrise on our last day in Ponta. Soon, we were to swap surf for turf, heading from Mozambique to Swaziland (Eswatini) and for the rest of the trip the surfboards had to sadly stay tied to the roof racks.   Hundreds of people started waking up on the beach and many others arrived to set up camp, all eager to celebrate New Year’s Eve in Ponta D’ Ouro. So sorry we missed it, but there’s always a new year to enjoy with the locals and ‘Mapushkins’, who would all definitely teach us a thing or two when it came to partying…   With topped up provisions from the hubbub market, we reluctantly bade farewell to an incredibly laid back charm that oozed vigour and spirit. It took us thirty minutes to exit the market parking area because of a man in a bakkie unloading his stock of water bottles. Keep calm and…relax even more… was definitely the motto of Ponta life.   In the direction of Maputo, the capital of Mozambique, we drove over a hundred kilometres. Moments after passing through the outskirts of Maputo Special Reserve, a haven for elephants […]
Offroad adventure of a Lifetime around South Africa, Mozambique and Swaziland
A total of two thousand and five hundred kilometres turned into an off-road adventure of a lifetime around South Africa, Mozambique and Swaziland. Completed in a speedy nineteen days.   From 20th December 2018 to 7th January 2019 we spent three-quarters of the time off road than on road in my 4×4, deliberately seeking off the beaten tracks, tracks invisible on Garmin GPS. Forget Google Maps and Waze! Unless you have endless time to get back on track. If only…   Naturally, I expected to be excited by the trip. New places to explore, different cultures to experience; so much of the unknown to delve into. My expectations were dull in comparison to the constant stream of stimulation engulfed at every turn, wishing every moment would last so much longer.   Three countries: two out of the three I hadn’t set foot in | Two provinces, almost opposite ends of South Africa | Exploration of surf and turf | Beaches | Surfing | Luxury | Rustic | Gourmet | Basic | Braaied fish | R&Rs | Peri-peri | Unforgiving heat | Dripping humidity | Rural | City | Welcoming natives | Friendly foreigners | Electric thunderstorms | Blinding rain | […]