24 January 2012 | Namibia
My name is Jack Magruder, and I’m 20 years old from Augusta, Georgia. This is the first major amount of time that I’ve spent outside of the United States and I miss my wonderful girlfriend Jordan a ton. I’ve come to Bubbles by airplane across the Atlantic Ocean and hope to cross it back by sailboat, but first I had to rendezvous with Bubbles in Walvis Bay, Namibia.
Walvis Bay is the largest port in Namibia, bordered by the Atlantic on one side, and the desert on the other. I landed at a tiny desert airport just outside the city. At the customs desk in the two room airport the woman asked why I had come to Namibia and I explained my situation. She then promptly asked for my “seaman book,” which, of course, I didn’t have. I had spoken with Alex on their way to Luderitz (in southern Namibia) and we had decided that if they weren’t at the airport to pick me up, I was to make my way to the Walvis Bay Yacht Club. The woman at the desk told me she was going to hold my passport and to go into the lobby and find my captain so he could explain. The Bubbles crew was nowhere to be seen. Amongst the cab drivers and few other passengers on the plane I found a man that would be my temporary captain. After a long discussion in Africaans (the local language) between my ‘captain’ and the woman at the desk, I was free to go. My temporary captain then offered me a lift to the yacht club, so I grabbed my bags and we were off.
After a few anxious hours of waiting around at the yacht club, everyone could see that I was worried. This was my first day in Africa, and it already seemed like my plans were coming apart. Later in the evening, the bar’s owner Linda, bought me dinner and a beer on the house. A little while after nightfall, I saw an unmistakable bearded man walk into the yacht club, followed by Tree and Diego. After transmission trouble and light winds the Bubbles crew had made it!
During our week in Walvis Bay, we had our ups and our downs.While riding around in the dinghy Alex and I spotted some seals climbing up on the tour boats in the bay. Alex wanted to get one on Bubbles, so we got some fish and tried to entice the seal onboard. It took a few tries and on our very last fish, the seal got up. He was down to take some pictures with the other crew members before slipping under the rail and back into the sea.
Later in the week, we decided to rent a car and head inland to see what Namibia had to offer. We drove to the sand dunes just outside of Walvis Bay and hiked up one of the largest ones. It was a tough hike, but the lovebirds Diego and Tree ran straight up it, while Alex and I climbed at our own pace. After running down the dunes, we jumped back in our tiny Toyota and headed for Etosha.
Etosha is filled with wildlife that can only be found in Africa. We followed the map and made our turn onto a road marked for Outjo. It was raining and dark, but this was a major road.according to the map. It was a dirt road filled with puddles and potholes and on we went for an hour or so, until a dark spot in the road appeared. It looked just like another little puddle that the tiny Toyota had triumphed many times before on that road. It wasn’t. We hit the water and before we knew it the car had stalled and water was coming in the doors. We climbed out the windows and pushed the car ashore. We tried push starting it a few times, but to no avail. We were now stranded in the African bush, some 30km from the nearest town. Alex and Tree planned to hike into town and Diego and I stayed and pushed the car along. Alex told us to grab sticks to defend ourselves from lions who like to feed at night.
We eventually got ahold of Michael, The Go to Guy of Walvis Bay, and he sent Frikkie the mechanic to tow us in. Frikkie arrived in a 1975 Ford 4×4, and even his truck had trouble on the washed out road. We made it into town and after about thirty minutes of attempting to fix the car, the tiny motor threw a rod and that was that. The car was finished and we had some explaining to do. We slept in the car that night in the small town of Outjo. The next morning, the four of us hitch hiked the 9 hours back to Walvis Bay. Occasionally, we broke into teams and raced, seeing that it was easier for two people to get a ride than four. We made it back that evening and had a cold beer and hot showers at the yacht club.
We left Walvis Bay after sunset and Michael, the past yacht club commodore, lit our way with his headlights as we readied Bubbles for departure. Alex shot a flare skyward as our final goodbye to Michael and Walvis Bay. He waited until we were on the move and out of sight before averting the headlight’s gaze and heading home. On our way out of the harbor, the bioluminescence lit up the seals that swam alongside Bubbles.
On a side note, due to a beneficial business agreement, ALL Americans must add Mola Mola Walvis Bay on Facebook. They were very helpful and skilled business people and agree that more Americans need to visit Walvis Bay.
Anyway, we headed out to sea under a light breeze for the island of St. Helena.