Sailing Adventures – Circumnavigating the World in the 21st Century

Sailing Adventures – Round the world sailing is nothing new to the world’s adventurers. In fact, it was way back in the 15th century when Magellan and his crew completed the journey via the Capes.

Sailing ships have since ventured to all parts of the globe, commanded by sea captains flying the flag of their respective countries.

They sailed in search of wealth, find new lands for settlement and, at the same time, spread the word of Christianity.

It wasn’t until many centuries later that the first solo circumnavigator took to the helm. The American Joshua Slocum, in his 12 metre engineless yacht “Spray”, achieved this feat in the 1880’s.

A book followed documenting his adventures including how he warded off pirates in the Straits of Magellan by placing copper tacks upside down on his deck.

Chartless and engineless he tacked through the Straits for days before being swept around Cape Horn backwards by a great storm and forced to transit the strait again in Magellan’s footsteps.

Today, it almost seems that everyone either has or wants to sail around the world. Girls in their teens such as Australian Jessica Watson in her 34 foot yacht “Pink Lady” go out to try and break a record.

She had spent much of her life living aboard her parents’ yacht before succeeding in circling the tempestuous Southern Ocean.

In reality, the ports, harbours and anchorages are brimming with yachts of all shapes and sizes as they and their crews slowly make their way around the world.

This fraternity has changed dramatically over the last twenty five years. Small yachts, barely larger than 10 metres, plied the trade wind routes in the 1970’s and 1980’s, unknown to the world, but happy on a small budget to achieve a dream.

There were no fancy electronics on board and navigation with a sextant and the sun and stars was the norm.

There were few lavish marinas to leave a yacht for inland sojourns and many of the yachts people who were in their late twenties or early thirties had no pressing family commitments to detract them from their challenge.

A postcard or a quick telephone call from a port was enough to console parents and friends that all was well.
Circumnavigating in the 21st Century is completely different. Novels, magazine articles and TV presentations about world sailing adventures have attracted a huge following.

Every year couples in their 50’s and 60’s swallow their savings into buying yachts with all home comforts and with the intention of turning it into a long term lifestyle and not simply a challenge.

A great impetus for this has been the proliferation of rallies that have been staged to cover part of the route.

The annual ARC rally is composed of up to 200 yachts that depart the Canaries in November each year to cross the sometimes boisterous North Atlantic.

Every conceivable comfort is piled onto the yachts. Electronic navigation aids such as GPS chart plotters, radar, AIS transponders, state of the art EPIRBS, electronic autopilots, desalinators and satellite telephones make navigation and communication somewhat less challenging than in Slocum’s era.

All this enables minute by minute weather information; second by second telephone contact with family and a watchful eye by the organizers as the yachts make the 18 day trip.

For some this is the start of their circumnavigation and for others simply a trip to the Caribbean and back.
The Blue Water Rally is another organized event that keeps a group of yachts together for two years as they do the run.

This sort of rally is more for those taking a short career break whereas most circumnavigators have a five to ten year lifestyle plan and join rallies for shorter legs like the well renowned Sail Indonesia rally which, with a hundred yachts in tow, over three months, visits ports and villages in the Indonesian Archipelago engaging in social events along the way, culminating in Singapore.

Marinas in New Zealand, Australia, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, The Caribbean and The Mediterranean as well as South American countries provide refuge for yachts and their crews in storm and cyclone seasons.

This is the time when the intrepid grandparents go back to their home countries to visit their families, deal with financial and health matters while leaving their lifestyle homes under watchful eyes in these refuges.

For those that remain with their boats social events are set up often mimicking events back home such as quiz nights, Pilates, darts tournaments and, for the more physical, hiking trips into inland areas.

Fitness centres and swimming pools are often on hand as well.
Sailing around the world has become a lifestyle choice rather than an adventure. You can choose your own yacht, your own itinerary, even your own beach!

As a retirement option, it will never match Magellan or Slocum’s experiences and it’s hard to find new lands to settle in, but as one old timer, on his third trip from New Zealand up to Tonga once said “It sure beats the rocking chair.”

Panama’s Prisoner Island

Have you ever dreamt of lounging on the beach of a tropical island for an afternoon? No noisy crowds, no phones and no hassles. Something to eat and a nice nap in the warm sun would make a wonderful interlude for any day dreamer.

Sailing north bound from Panama Bay, our Alden schooner approached a small picture-postcard tropical island off the starboard bow which beckoned us to stop there for lunch and maybe to explore a bit.

The little island, looking lonely all by itself, showed us alluring beaches, palm trees and multitudes of greenery.

We dropped anchor in a small cove with a white sandy beach and a backdrop of thick jungle flora.

There were six of us aboard the sail boat and all but one jumped in the inflatable dingy for an enthusiastic row to shore.

We carried with us all the makings of a gourmet lunch and enough wine to assure a glass or two for all.

Landing the dingy and making sure we beached it far enough to avoid the impending high tide, we turned to face about 40 yards of dry sand and a group of red crabs about the size of a compact disc. They were lined up together near the jungle.

We had a laugh at their self arranged formation making them look like some kind of crab drill team. About 4 dozen of them, 2 to 3 deep, arranged in a wide group, but absolutely determined to remain parallel to the beach.

As they were approached from any direction, they would move away together, always in formation and always parallel to the water. It was fun to watch as they moved as one unit, curious behavior we thought for a bunch of crabs.

A little exploring took us a few steps into the jungle which was like stepping into a giant oven. Protected from the sea breeze, the plants, trees and vines apparently trapped very humid air causing highly uncomfortable temperatures and the feeling that you had just entered a steam bath.

After some tentative wandering about, we happily retreated to the beach, unpacking our midday snack with grand plans to relax in the warm sun and light breeze.

As soon as we had unpacked the sandwiches and other goodies for lunch, one of the crew spotted three people approaching near the waters edge.

They were still some distance away, but our binoculars found a man walking briskly up the beach towards us with 2 others following close behind.

The leader was dressed in shorts, a T-shirt and a gun belt with pistols on each hip.

A tasty lunch on this seemingly tranquil beach was now immediately put on hold.

A Spanish speaking crew member and another brave soul walked toward our impending visitors to intercept them before they reached the rest of our group.

After a lengthy chat in Spanish and Spanglish we learned that we had landed on Panama’s prisoner island where 3000 hardened criminals were kept. Some were allowed to roam about without much supervision.

The pistol packing beach comber was actually one of the armed guards who strongly suggested we return to our sail boat and put to sea as quickly as possible.

He could only offer us protection if we left immediately and promised never to return. As the crabs watched (still in formation of course) we made a very quick retreat in the inflatable, rowing with adrenalin-induced determination back to the boat.

Hauling anchor, we set sail and made way as fast as we could. Lunch on board seemed a wonderful idea at this point and we were pleased to watch the island slowly disappear as we now headed toward our next landfall, Acapulco.

The visit to Isla Coiba took place 12 years ago. Since that time the Panamanian government has made some big changes, releasing the island to tourism.

While once home to Panama’s most dangerous criminals for many years, in 2004 the island was transformed into Coiba National Park. Now the beauty and tranquility of this unique tropical destination can be enjoyed in safety.

It would be fun to now return to the beaches of Isla Coiba and finish the peaceful lunch we had attempted some years ago.

PLANNING WHITSUNDAYS

The Blue Mountains Gateaway

The Blue Mountains Gateaway

I choose to go to the Blue Mountains for my holiday getaway. The majesty of the hills and the picturesque scenery, where awe-inspiring.

The Blue Mountains actually have a blue haze, which comes off of them. I had a lot of exploring to do, in a short amount of time.

There are seven national parks in this area, as well as a conservation reserve. It’s hard to imagine that these beautiful mountains were once named the Carmarthen Hills, but I can clearly see why the name was changed.

I am totally impressed with the entire history here.

A criminal named John Wilson, was actually the first person to cross the Blue Mountains. During my stay here, there was a rainy mist that seemed to hover over the mountains.

While some might have found that to be detouring, I found it mystifying. The temperatures on the mountains are rather chilly, so anyone else traveling should remember to bring their jackets. In the summertime, the mountains usually stay between the 20-30 degrees Celsius and 60-70’s Fahrenheit.

My favorite part of the whole area was the Edge Cinema.

This allowed me to see all of the mountains in a panoramic view, it was stunning. I also enjoyed the Jenolan Caves. These caves gave me an insight to life during a different period.

They are stunning limestone caves just outside of Katoomba. The Katoomba Scenic Railway, was also fascinating.

This railway actually made the Guinness Book of World Records, pretty impressive if you ask me.
The best thing about my entire trip was seeing the sites; the second best thing was coming back to my nice hotel to rest.

After all the site seeing and climbing and walking, I was pooped! While there are many accommodations in the Blue Mountains, I stayed at the most wonderful one.

My room as very spacious, although, I should have went for the suite. After all the walking, my legs needed the rest and the heated undercover swimming pool, was perfect, what a way to relax aching muscles. I got in on a special package they have, called the stay and play.

This package offers a full buffet breakfast each morning and passes to the golf course.

There are many styles of lodging in this area, which are perfect for all sizes of family. The locals are welcoming and open with tourists.

This is the perfect place for ones family to have a holiday getaway. When looking for accommodation in the Blue Mountains, make sure you look for a place with special deals.

Many of the hotels in this area actually offer full meals and passes to attractions. The next vacation your family takes should be to the Blue Mountains.

Why Canyoning at the Blue Mountains Is the Best Adventure Ever

The Blue Mountains is the perfect mixture of cliffs, streams and trails, so bring your harness, ropes, wet gear and swimming trunks.

And then when you finally get bored of just climbing or just hiking, combine both and make an adventure that the Blue Mountains are best suited for, canyoning.

Here is why canyoning at the Blue Mountains is the greatest adventure.
You have 11400 square kilometres of spectacular ranges to explore which is virtually impossible to do in a weekend or two.

With the vast area of the Blue Mountains, the climate differs depending on your altitude. There are snowy and cold areas, warm and dry locations and parts that are wet due to mists and occasional rain.

You’ll always find the perfect climate setting for your canyoning adventure.

With so many canyoning sites in the Blue Mountains there is an adventure that will suit all levels of skill.

The Empress Falls and the Grand Canyon provide canyoning beginners a taste of what real adventure is.

Abseiling from 3 to 30 metres will help you improve on your skills, slowly progressing from easy to more challenging locations.

After a series of scrambling, walking, wading and jumping, a grand finale of a 30 metre abseil from a waterfall into a pool awaits. For those with more experience, Butterbox Canyon is for you.

There are a variety of canyoning adventures available in this location and with this, there is a vast availability of qualified providers that will teach you the skills you need and help you develop.

The Blue Mountains is a spectacular place with a diversity of picturesque scenery and vistas that will surely make your canyoning adventure more memorable.

Several lookout points in the mountain ranges provide awe inspiring views of the surrounding areas. Some of these include Echo Point, Govett’s Leap, Clidd Drive, Kanangra Walls and Wentworth Falls.

The Blue Mountains also provide more than just canyoning, which makes it a perfect location for a large group or the whole family.

Canyoning is a great activity that can be enjoyed by family and friends, but for those who do not fancy this, they are sure to find something to do in these majestic mountains.

Scenic train rides, river cruises, wildlife sanctuaries, scenic tours and caving tours are available to anyone.

Discover why the Blue Mountains are a world heritage listed area. As you trek, swim, scramble and abseil on your canyoning activity, you are most likely to come across areas that are rich in natural and cultural heritage.

Canyoning in the Blue Mountains is more than just a great exhilarating adventure but also an activity brimming with wonderful discoveries.

There are only very few places in the world that offer canyoning in different levels and with the vastness of the Blue Mountains, you are sure to find a location that will meet your skill and level of canyoning expertise.

The Jenolan Caves are by far the most popular tourist attraction in the Australian state of New South Wales. Around 250,000 visitors come to see the 11 spectacular caves every year.

When the Aboriginals inhabited the region thousands of years ago, they called the caves ‘Binoomea’, meaning ‘dark places’.

The magical formations in beautiful colors are spellbinding. Except for the occasional dripping sound of water, silence fills the air as visitors take in these wondrous sights.

In addition to several viewing caves, Jenolan also offers adventure caving which has become a popular pastime.

The caves are located in the Blue Mountains of New South Wales, and they are definitely a must-see for any visitor.

It is the most outstanding cave system in Australia, and one of the oldest and most impressive systems in the world.

Unbelievable! Awesome! Incredible! Amazing!

These are just some of the comments you will hear from people exiting the caves.
When you visit this ‘secret gem’, you can join a variety of activities and guided tours.

These are geared to suit all age-groups and fitness levels. There are plenty of accommodation options in the area that cater for all budgets and tastes.

Jenolan is a very popular venue for school field trips, weddings, honeymoons, business conventions and concerts.
To really enjoy this awe-inspiring experience, you should spend a few days here. Because it is a national park, you are not allowed to bring pets.

The road in the valley can be a bit tricky for caravans, but there are other suitable caravan parks nearby.
If you book a guided tour of the caves, you will be given a pass ticket. This entitles you to discounts on other cave tours and admission to the recently established Devil’s Coach House/Nettle Cave which you can explore on your own with a user-friendly audio handset.

If you are planning a business or corporate event, this is the perfect venue. Your exhibition, conference, product launch, seminar or team building activity will give your customers or colleagues a really unique experience.

There are a number of hotels that have function rooms for this purpose. They will also organize cave tours, special dinners and other activities for you.
The Caves also make the ideal venue for a wedding with a difference.

The historic Jenolan Caves House specializes in organizing memorable weddings for bridal couples, their families and their guests. You can even choose to get married underground if you wish.

Caves House offers its beautiful spa suite for the couple and other budget accommodation packages for their guests.

If you are looking for an adventure that’s got all the thrills but no spills, caving is for you. Climb, crawl and squeeze your way through ancient winding passages with only a head lamp to provide light.

You will follow a skilled guide into the depths of the earth. Whether you are a skilled adventurer or a first-timer, you will find a caving adventure to suit you.

It might sound scary but, in fact, it’s a fascinating challenge from beginning to end.

All guides at Jenolan Caves are highly experienced so you will be in expert hands.

Blue Mountains From Sydney – A Trip to Remember

The journey to the Blue Mountains from Sydney is a beautiful slice of Australia and is a must do for any Australian or visitor to Australia.

Take a scenic road trip and enjoy the natural wonders along the way, as this is a spectacular part of Australia.
Before embarking of your road trip to the Blue Mountains from Sydney make sure you are prepared. Pack a picnic and enjoy one of the many stops along the way.

There are plenty of little towns and parks if you are traveling to the Blue Mountains from Sydney. Make sure you are prepared for your trip- set the GPS, take some warm clothes, get the camera and don’t forget the thermos.

The main road to the Blue Mountains from Sydney is the Great Western Highway. When heading out of Sydney make sure you follow the signs to Parramatta.

This winding, ascending road will take you through 26 mountain townships that are scattered throughout the Blue Mountains National Park.

If you are driving from Sydney make sure you stop and visit some of the shops and local cafes. You will be sure to notice the outstanding hospitality on offer in this part of the country.

During your trip make sure do one of the following activities that are on offer:

  • Visit Mount Annan Botanic Gardens and discover the abundance of native plants and birds

 

  • Visit Thirlmere where you can go to the rail museum and take a ride on the Zig Zag Railway

 

  • Explore the Jenolan Caves and be amazed by the natural intricacies of the limestone chasms carved by the underground rivers

 

  • Enjoy some of the local fresh produce from the roadside stalls at Kurrajong

 

  • Explore the historic buildings of St Albans in the Hawkesbury Valley, Wollombi and Broke.

One major thing you will notice on your trip to the Blue Mountains from Sydney is the difference in temperature so make sure you have a stockpile of warm clothes.

The temperature during your journey will on average drop approximately 2°C for every 300 metres altitude you travel.

Remember that the average temperature in the Blue Mountains during winter is around 5°C whilst it summer its 18°C.

Once you arrive here from Sydney you will realize what a special area it is.

This was declared a World Heritage park in 2000. It received its World Heritage listing due to the unique plants and animals that occupy the area and their relevance to Australia’s story of evolution. It is an area of magnificent views, sheer cliffs, inaccessibly valleys & swamps and rugged tablelands.

A visit to the Blue Mountains is a truly unique experience and a “must do” for every one. Coast Warriors is the best company providing this service. Contact them to experience the best Blue Mountains tour ever.

So whether you drive, take the train, take a bus or enjoy a private tour make sure you don’t miss experiencing the Blue Mountains and all it has to offer.

PLANNING