November 4, 2011

Arrived in South Africa

Video: Sailing to South Africa

See the video part 1 (Dario) and video part 2 (Sabine, Dominique) and the video part 3 (Michael, Ghadi) just before we left Mauritius! Many thanks to TOPtoTOP member Rene Soobaroyen in Mauritius to edit it.

Check out the Press Release!

2011-11-04_reunion-sa_calm-before-blow.jpgcalm minutes before the blow

2011-10-25_indian-ocean_S22-16E053-46_birthday-andri.jpgAndri's 5th birthday at S 22.16 E053.46 at the 25th of October on the way from La Reunion to South Africa

On the 24th of October we tried the last time to calibrate the Raymarine Fluxgate compass of our autopilot in the coastal waters of La Reunion without success. After several trials we set sail and decided to hand steer to South Africa knowing that it will be a tuff task. Damage in our main sail was another disappointment and we couldn't reef it out totally.

We were blessed with light winds down to the Southern tip of Madagascar, so that our crew got some exercise to steer the boat. On this leg we also celebrated Andri's 5th birthday on the 25th of October in the middle of the Indian Ocean.

2011-11-04_reunion-sa_salina-andri-noe.jpgthere was a big cargo ship with the same name like "Salina"

The next step for the crew was to handle the waves in the choppy sea around Madagascar. Afterwards we were pushed North towards Mozambique, because of Southerly winds picking in. Crossing the Mozambique channel we passed a Cargo ship with the name "Helvetia"(=Switzerland) and soon after another cargo ship with the name "Salina" (call sign C6V2064), - same name like our first child. Our second daughter Alegra did very well with 4 months and grow a lot during the voyage thanks to Sabine's milk. Noe was busy with dad to help with small repairs. Salina and Andri had every day school with our volunteer and teacher Bianca, while Dominique and Michael are helming.

2011-11-04_reunion-sa_noe-supports-dario.jpgNoe helps Dario to repair the compass

Approaching the African coast we had only a 24 h weather window for the 200nm to Richards Bay. There is now shelter in between, but the Agulhas current and a strong northerly blow pushed us down South. There were times we averaged 9 to 10 knots! On the way down we heard from the weather radio net "Peri Peri" (8101 KHz at 15 h UTC), that the yacht Wizard sunk at S 26.45.38 E039.45.29, where we have been some days before. The EPIRB worked and all 5 crew were rescued by a big cargo ship from their life raft. - On this stage I like to send many thanks to the "Peri Peri" Net for its excellent service.

We made landfall at 24 hours UTC on the 3th of November in Richards Bay, South Africa (S28.47E032.04). The entrance was not easy at night with 30kn of wind, a current setting South and the many lights from this big port .

On the passage, our course was mainly defined to find the best course to hand steer around the low and high pressure systems coming in a steady stream from the west. It worked out as an excellent strategy to avoid bad sea - and weather conditions. In higher latitudes where you experience more sever and variable weather, it is THE way to go ... instead to set a defined route and go blind for it.

The biggest danger on this passage is when you approach the coast of South Africa and you get a SW gale against the Agulhas current. Abnormal waves of up to 20 meters in height are encountered in the past! Some boats we met had a terrible time either South of Madagascar dealing with a confusing sea, because of the continental shelf sticking out far South or/and crossing the Agulhas current in a southwesterly blow (Southern bastard). The only way to avoid these hazards are to have at least 100 nm distance to the Southern tip of Madagascar and not to enter the Agulhas current when the wind swings to the SW...and always "reef early and not too late"...

Now we are ready and keen to start our project in this wonderful country South Africa...

We just got the message that another boat with 5 people on board sunk yesterday while sailing S against the SW winds and another boat lost its steering. 5 minutes ago we heared a distress call on channel 16 and the Richards Bay rescue team went out to support them.

Many thanks to Dominique & Michael who are now leaving us and have been with us from Singapore and the past 5,283 nautical miles! They did an excellent job and became close friends. We hope they join the expedition again very soon! In Singapore they are board members of TOPtoTOP Asia and go to follow up the TOPtoTOP activities in Asia.

2011-11-04_reunion-sa_dominique-michael.jpgTOPtoTOP Expedition crew Dominique and Michael

Posted by dario at 4:23 PM

November 8, 2011

Great video and event

Latest Press Release, click here!

Please note our mobile number in South Africa: +27 (0) 07 388 18 760

Please click on this link and watch the great video of our crew member Bianca crossing the Southern Indian Ocean with Pachamama
More info about sinking yacht "Wizard" during our crossing in "The Observer" and on "Sail-World".

2011-11-06_ttt-maurtius_clean-up_pouce (10).jpgTOPtoTOP Mauritius did a great clean up on the 6th of November 2011

Read more about the great event of TOPtoTOP Mauritius:

Members of ToptoTop Mauritius did a cleanup of the Mountain Le Pouce, Mauritius, today 6tth November 2011.
In line with our objective of bringing youngsters together in a sport activity whilst doing a concrete effort to protect our planet, we were 8 committed persons climbing the Pouce today, armed with bags to collect the plastic from the Mountain.
We met at 7h30 at Champ de Mars, Port Louis, and started walking at 8h30 through the Dauguet trail. It was a delightful walk for we discovered abandoned plantations of palm trees and mango trees, as well as luxuriant vegetation. The sunlight streaming through the tall trees and the carpet of dry leaves crunching under our feet lent an almost magical touch to the moment. We had a very nice lunch in this beautiful setting.
We also made new friends, as we came across Jeremie and Michael and their dogs, strolling in the forest and who helped us stay on the right trail. We shared a few biscuits together before attacking the Main Course, i.e. Le Pouce itself. We had already walked for some 3 hours by then. It took us 2 more hours to do the steep ascent of the mountain, but it was worth every step we took upwards. The view is magnificent and we were all struck by the beauty of Mauritius, most of us seeing our country from this viewpoint for the first time. The air was pure and we even drank cool water from a nearby spring.
However it is very sad to note that plastic and paper litter was a constant reminder of the human touch along the way and on the top of the mountain. We were shocked by such an amazing quantity of litter left over by visitors. How could one visit such an enchanting site and be so regardless about it?
We collected plastic and non plastic waste from the top of the mountain and on our way down to Port Louis. It seems that when we embark on a ToptoTop initiative, friends pop up everywhere - we even met friends at the top: Wolfgang and Sabine, a couple of tourists offered to help and collected two bags of litter for us on their way down.
We came down with at total of 9 bags filled with plastic litter, and we were trying to take as much as we could. There is still so much more left there. If anybody who is reading this article plans to visit the mountain, please try clean up when you come down. Or even from any other site you are visiting. Such remote places are not cleaned up regularly and the waste deposited there increases with every visitor. Every small action counts and you can help by removing plastic from our environment. Help us keep our country clean.
On our way down, we met a Mauritian family with whom we discussed and they offered to collect another bag of litter during their walk on the Dauguet trail. Again, unexpected help!
It was an amazing, empowering moment for all of us. We challenged ourselves physically and gave our best for our first activity. We shall soon be indulging in other cleanup activities and look forward to the support of friends! Wherever you are, you can help keep the planet clean, by not throwing litter around, or just get together with some friends and do a small clean up. It's fun and makes a difference.
Gadi, Karine, Tessa, Tatiana, Axel, Michael, Steve and Rene.

Important message of Gadi to reduce plastic!
Please download the list of tips for reducing plastic in daily life.
"Hi dear members
Please find attached a list of suggestions for practical ways of reducing use of plastic in your daily life.
I personally commit myself to not use any plastic bag when I go shopping. What will be your personal commitment? It can be any small action, but I think we cannot ask others to do something if we don't do it ourselves. What do you think? It can be something not on the list. But we all need to be committed to our cause and it starts with changing our own habits.
Please send me your Commitment to gadi(at) I will start building a list of our commitments. If you can ask your parents and friends to commit also, then GREAT! send it to me as an attachment. This will be a continuous action on our part.
You are the citizens of tomorrow, and your degree of commitment today will determine the future state of our environment and the degree of change to be brought.
Looking forward to your positive response, Gadi Chetty, president of TOPtoTOP Mauritius"

Latest news from Gadi...may there will be soon TOPtoTOP Cameroun!
I have a friend who has created a university in cameroun since 4 years and is very impressed when I talked to him about the Toptotop organisation. He is very keen to start a toptotop with his students, and since mannengouba, their region is surrounded by mountains, feels that they can climb a few mountains too.

Posted by dario at 7:36 PM

November 18, 2011

Richards Bay, South Africa

2011-11-04_sa_richards-bay (93).JPGRhinoceros in the Hluhluwe NP

Our first stop in South Africa was a success:

2011-11-04_sa_richards-bay (143).JPGVisit of the SGS office in Richards Bay

Yesterday we had the joy to give a presentation to our "SGS family members" here in Richards Bay and learn more about their services. Esme was of big help during our stay and organizing the event. Congratulation!

2011-11-04_sa_richards-bay (147).JPGEsme = 3rd from left

Thanks to Marius, from KWA Natal Adventures. we had a great time to see the wildlife in the neighborhood of Richards Bay.
2011-11-04_sa_richards-bay (64).JPGSnake City

2011-11-04_sa_richards-bay (71).JPGZebras on the road

2011-11-04_sa_richards-bay (70).JPGImpala

Climate Awareness March

Last Wednesday we were invited by the department of agriculture and environmental affairs for a meeting to organize a "Climate Awareness March". It took place today and was a great success. Dario E. will report soon. Below the first impressions:

2011-11-04_sa_richards-bay (2).JPGSouth Africans express their feelings for the climate singing and dancing

Posted by dario at 7:19 PM

November 21, 2011

Arrived in Durban

See our first article in South Africa!

Watch the latest action of TOPtoTOP Mauritius!

Download our latest press release, here!

Latest article in Switzerland:page-1;page-5

Note for german speaking sailors: Check this side.

You can contact us at the COP17 in Durban on our Sat phone 00870 76 25 68 933 or Mobile phone 1: +27 (0)71 3484 971 or Mobile phone 2: +27 (0)73 8818 760.

20111120_richards-bay_march (2).JPG

Pre COP 17 awareness walk Richards Bay (by Dario Eberhard)
Together with the office of KZE Agriculture, Environmental Affairs and Rural Development, The EKZN Wildlife, the Wild lands trust and Utungulu, TOPtoTOP organized an awareness walk on the 18th November 2011 to start the 10 days count down towards the COP 17 climate conference in Durban.
At 10 o'clock AM on the 18th November 2011 around 200 people showed up with t-shirts, posters, flyers, vuvuzzelas and whistles for this walk. The African people expressed themselves with a lot of noise and nice African songs about protecting the environment. After half an hour walking we reached the uMhlathuze Civic Center were the mayors of Richards Bay and the uThungulu district plant two trees. After this symbolic act the mayor and Dario gave a speech about how important protecting the environment is. At the end everyone was very happy having a nice free meal and some water somewhere in the shadow.

20111120_richards-bay_march (3).JPG

P1060020.JPGHonorary Consul Hanspeter Graber (left) dining on Pachamama

Warm welcome in Durban

On the 19th we used a short good weather window and left Richards Bay and our lovely neighbor Dean behind and set sails down to Durban. If you like surfing and adventures holidays go and check Dean's website. We arrived safely in Durban on the morning of the 20th November.
We managed to bring down our mainsail just some hours before the weather changed to 45 knots SW. This weather conditions are here well known and can produce up to 20 meter high freak waves. Thanks to Clyde (phone 08 257 234 08) we are looking forward to a fully repaired mainsail to continue towards Cape Town after the COP17.
In the evening Alison, our TOPtoTOP coordinator in Durban with her 2 kids joined us and later also Swiss Honorary Consul Hanspeter Graber. The next day Sharvin delivered us a new navigation laptop from Morne from SGS in Johannesburg. - Even the weather is bad, we had a very warm welcome!

Posted by dario at 8:15 PM

November 23, 2011

Great media success in Durban

20111123_sa_durban_mercury_sail-on-nature-steam.JPGClick on this link to read the article in "The Mercury"!

What a start for TOPtoTOP in Durban: Just after our arrival we are on the front of the biggest newspaper with more than 250'000 readers. - Schools are calling in....tomorrow we see 300 students of the Thomas Moor School and after tomorrow we are in Virginia Collage. 4 days left before the World Climate Conference (COP17) starts!

Another article was in the "EYETHU Bay Watch" about the Climate Awareness March last Friday where also TOPtoTOP was participating. Click here to read it!

Posted by dario at 2:33 PM