February 7, 2012

Atlantic crossing to St. Helena

2012-01-03_climbing_riaan-louis_table-montain_jacobs-ledder (12).JPGDario climbing Table Mountain (Bombay Duck and Jacob's ladder) together with Riaan and Louis

2012-02-05_simons-to-helena (81).JPGSailing from Africa to St. Helena Island

2012-02-05_simons-to-helena (15).JPGJacqui in the rigging

Simon's Town became our last stop in South Africa. We had a great time here hiking and climbing. Before we left there was always the last minutes preparations: We improved thanks to Baden Reed (badenreed@hotmail.co.za) our anchoring system and Jacqui was busy taping the sailings 20 m over ground.

South Africa was a highlight on our expedition. We really had to change our opinion. We met again so many wonderful people. On that occasion we like to mention a few to say thank you, knowing that we can not mention all:

2012-02-05_simons-to-helena (24).JPGAmbassador Christian Meuwly writing into the "Golden Expedition Book" on Pachamama

- Ambassador Christian Meuwly and Honorary Consul Hanspeter Graber who managed that we had Bundesraetin Doris Leuthard on board as well as General Consul Irene Flueckiger, who visited us in Simon's Town
- Christine Figueres + Conrad v. Ritter and Luca de Giovanetti making our participation at the COP17 in Durban a success
- from SGS specially Family Alison + Quentin Hurt, Esme Mc Donald, Morne Beylefeld, Kirsten Burgess
- Family Ernst + Martie Marais helping with the big shopping before we left;
- René + Desiree Buetzer hosting us in their Swiss hut in the mountains;
- Climber Riaan Bosman and Louis du Plessis going climbing with us
- Clyde Kinloch and Adrian Batista for repairing our sail and canvas
- Grinrod Ltd. for servicing our safety raft
- Zululand - and Point Yacht Club for hosting us
- Family Markus Baenziger for the wonderful dinner
- Colleen Dardagan and Dave Savides for the great articles and the "fish"
- Family Kristina Wallengren and family John Volsteedt for a day out
- Jan Wouters from Indigo Yacht Management helping to organize parts for Pachamama
- Paul Teanby from the Peri Peri Ham Net

...and finally all the sail yachts becoming friends: SY Second Wind, SY Tutatis, SY Panacea, SY Byamee and SY Caroll

... and last but not least our members who joined us: Bianca, Michael, Dominique, Dario E., Jacqui and Annemarie.

Passage to St. Helena:

We left Simon's Town on the 24th of January and arrived in St. Helena on the 6th of February 2012 after approx. 1750 nm.

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On the 2nd of February 2012 at position S19.17.42 W000.00.00 we came again into the Western hemisphere after 4 1/2 years in the Eastern hemisphere (We entered the Eastern hemisphere sailing from Wallis to Savusavu, Fiji in August 2007). On this historical day in the middle of the South Atlantic Ocean between Africa and St. Helena Island our daughter Alegra Tea Elena Schwoerer stood up the first time in her early live. The 8th month old decided that the cockpit is the best place on board to make this major step.
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Here some toughts of the crew during the passage from South Africa to St. Helena:

"We said "Goodbye!" to AFRICA! "Goodbye" to all the SEALS!
& we had our last warm showers! And our last real "land-food" meals!

We started sailing smoothly, under the stars (at first, no moon!)
as the 'watches' through the night began, & through the day we started too...

By day 5 we felt the rhythm of the waves and of the wind...
& we knew by Day 11 the "Era of Cabbage" would soon begin...!!

The days are soon forgotten, & then all TIME is lost...
with the ~ waves ~ as our hours, & the SUN as our clock..

There's no difference of DAY dreams or NIGHT dreams or not...
As our whole soul is dreaming; onboard TOPtoTOP!


So, guided by "JUPITER" ~ burning bright in the sky...
& luminescence of plankton (like diamonds) with each wave floating by...
... to describe such connection to nature is tough ...
not to need our "possessions" ~ and feel we truly "have enough".


The island approaching... we can all barely rest!
Too excited to sleep!! (But we all try our best!)

So tossing and turning, we all dream of the LAND...
of swimming the coast or building castles of sand!

Then Salina, bright eyed, on the deck; sings: "LAND a'HO!"
Andri squeals, SO excited, "TO LAND WE MUST GO!!"


Yes. I forget in no time, when I'm comfortably warm,
that when lighting the fire, we must first face the storm.
So I step out of my cave, or my shell, & my known,
to try find an adventure - that I'd love to call home.

Oh yes. We're SO PROUD; of what we've EXPLORED!
& that now our ship is so safely moored -
we can share our stories, with the schools and with all!!

For blessing this journey, which has only just begun..."

Sabine (in German):
"Jeweils am Abend kann ich meine 15 Minuten ganz vorne beim Anker geniessen. Dort berühren die Wellen meine Füsse, wenn Pachamama ins Wellental gleitet. Ich bin erfüllt mit den wunderbaren Leuten, die wir in Südafrika kennen lernen durften. Wir wurden von allen Seiten unterstützt: Leute halfen beim Einkaufen, Schiff reparieren und Kinder hüten usw.. Auch auf dieser Fahrt haben wir ein grosses Glück, dass Annemarie und Jacqui uns begleiten und die Kinder so nehmen wie sie sind und sie gerne haben.
Obwohl die Dankbarkeit und schönen Erinnerungen weitaus überragen, kann ich den einen Gedanken nicht los werden: Warum sind wir Menschen nur so egoistisch? Es gehört zum überleben, ich weiss. Aber ich denke an die weissen Nashörner, die am Aussterben sind, weil sie gejagt werden. Die Jäger schneiden Ihnen das Horn ab und lassen sie tot liegen. Das Horn können sie für Millionen verkaufen als Sex erregendes Mittel. Einen anderen Herrn treffe ich beim Joggen, der mit seinen 3 Hunden frei umhergeht in einem geschützten Park, der für die seltenen Brillen-Pinguine bestimmt sind. Die Pinguine sind zu Tode erschrocken und flüchten. Irgendwo muss der Egoismus doch seine Grenzen haben?
Wenn wir doch nur etwas mehr teilen könnten und etwas weniger nehmen. Wir würden sicher dafür belohnt. Und noch in Englisch:

If only we could share a little bit more and take a little bit less. Life would even be more joyful."


"Some of the thoughts I had during the watches at night or by day from Cape Town to St. Helena when I was looking on the endless Southern Atlantic:
Waves: They come and go back to fill up with new power from the wind - eternity, sometimes with a white comb, looking like the dress of a ghost in the moonless night, wish I could open the surface of this endless blue with a zip to see all the hidden treasure, like light bulbs the shiny plankton using the oxygen of the gliding ship through the ocean.
Stars: My friends in the night: Orion, the Southern Cross and all the constellations, which I would love to know their names. Oh how I wish to have an astronomer by my side, who could explain to me all the secrets of this universe.
Ocean: The 3rd big ocean which I cross to finish my circumnavigation. Days and days without seeing a ship, a dolphin, a whale only some flying fish and some yellow finned tunas. Where are all these animals in this 4000m deep water are they afraid of the deep blue and only near the coast or already fished out.."

2012-02-05_simons-to-helena (67).JPGSalina, Andri, Noe, Alegra

People always ask us the question: "What do your children do on a long passage?"; - here the answer:

2012-02-05_simons-to-helena (8).JPGNoe building a house in the cockpit

2012-02-05_simons-to-helena (66).JPGSalina having reading lessons with Annemarie

2012-02-05_simons-to-helena (74).JPGAndri is interested to learn all about stars and planets. The planetarium out of ballons was the idea of Sabine!

2012-02-05_simons-to-helena (58).JPGJacqui giving film lessens to capture the creators in "our back yard", - so you there is always something to do.

On the 5th of February we had one of the warmest welcome on the expedition, arriving on St. Helena Island. We arrived just befor midnight escorted by dolphins in the moonlight. We anchored in the bay just infront the main village, Jamestown.

The next morning we met Lauren Conroy from SGS. On the first day she organized a meeting with the principal of one of the 3 primary schools on the island, a meeting with the executive of the tourism board, Mike Deen, and a radio interview.

The children were already invited to a birthday party at the first day and today on the second day, Andri and Salina are already able to join the primary school in Jamestown.

Lauren is just great with her great organizing skills and we are proud to have such a good person with a big heart as our TOPtoTOP coordinator for St. helena Island!

Posted by dario at 11:13 AM

February 13, 2012

Saint Schools and Adventure!...News from Mauritius!

After arriving in Saint Helena Island - we have all been on a whirlwind of experiences - this is certainly one of the most extraordinary places on earth!! The contrast of landscapes is mind-blowing, with green lush forest and red earth and rock around the coastline:




This place is absolute HEAVEN for zoologists ~ entomologists, ornithologists, astronomoners, geologists, arachnologists and for sure any kind of botanist...!!!

We really look forward to meeting the experts in every field & visiting the observatory to see the incredible clear night sky, watching the wire-birds, and checking out the spiders eyes by night! We also hear there is a group of whale sharks which visited a group of fisherman near-by ~ we hope they comes to visit the yacht...!!!

Yes, we are certainly overwhelmed with the abundance of life here!


Sadly though, while here, we said our goodbye to beloved expedition volunteer Annemarie!! She departed PACHAMAMA here in Saint Helena to make it in time back to Switzerland for her family. Her participation and dedication to the TOPtoTOP expedition is beyond words - we certainly couldn't have got this far without her.

Thank you so much for your wholehearted support Annemarie! Especially for your enthusiasm and joy, your laughter, and of-course your incredible and endless knowledge about the sea-life and animals, the stars, mountains and landscapes we encounterd! We cherished every moment and conversation you shared with us - thank-you!


Since our arrival - our diaries have been constantly filled with events and activities around the island, with many thanks to the Tourism Office. With such a small community - it hasn't taken us long to really feel like we are "apart of the family" and get to know some of the incredible people doing their best for sustainability. There are many dedicated people here trying to protect this isolated ecosystem - which is wonderful to see.

Jodie and Rebecca from the National Trust have been specifically inspiring - and have helped us to organise some activities including a tree planting excursion with the local school in the "Millennium Forest". This was an area completely decimated environmentally, however now is in speedy recovery.


Another inspiring person we have met has been Hazel from "the Consulate Hotel" who is really doing her part to make Saint Helina Island and it's nature a beautiful place for generations to come. Thank you so much Hazel for your kind hospitality, and connecting us with others on the island doing their bit for conservation.

Our logistics host Lauren, from SGS, continues to be a life-saver in co-ordinating all our events, and gave us a fantastic tour of the island! Including a visit to another local here on the island; a tortoise which is over 100 years old!


With great gratitude we must also mention; "Pilling Primary School" which has warmly welcomed Salina and Andri into the classroom!!! There used to be 6 primary schools on the island, but with receding numbers, there is now only 3, with Pilling Primary having only 112 students.

As you can see in the video above, TOPtoTOP ran an extremely successful event at the school - with Sabine performing the childrens puppet show, (which was skilfully hand-crafted & written by Annemarie!) & Dario also did his presentation and the entire school performed a local clean-up. The kids were all very engaged, and are excited to join us for future events on the island!!

We really are enjoying our stay here, keep posted for our next expedition report as we continue to explore with the community....!!


Please also note the website "join us" section has been updated!

TOPtoTOP Mauritius News:
Clean Up at Riche Terre on Sunday 5th February 2012:

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"When we gathered at our meeting point in Sainte Croix, and started putting on our gloves, sharing chocolates and getting ready for the clean up, we were blessed by a beautiful sun and good spirits. This was the first time we were cleaning up a residential area as our two previous clean ups were Le Pouce and Signal Mountain, and we were looking forward to this new experience of collecting litter alongside busy roads. Our desire to go for a residential area stems from our vision to gradually make people realise they can help in keeping their environment clean and beautiful, and that their involvement is crucial.
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We started gathering all plastic litter which we came across and half way through the main road we had embarked on, we had already 7 bags. We ended up with 20 bags!!!!!
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The Main road we were cleaning up for 3 hours is cleaned up daily. Even on Sundays. And we met the Municipal Cleaning Unit on the way. Even whilst cleaning up after them, we came up with 20 bags of plastic litter! And that is only one road. We could not help but wonder about the state of other roads and the region itself.
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During the first hour, we could feel people observing our team at work. However it did not take long for us to connect with local inhabitants, and start sharing our vision and activities with them. Fiona, a young girl and her sister are keen to join ToptoTop Mauritius and we discussed with their parents and neighbours for a few minutes to enlist their support to our cause.
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And as we walked on and met more people, we took time to explain our activity and make them aware of the importance of small daily acts which can prevent pollution. For we saw that the most commonly thrown plastic litter are the plastic from cigarette boxes, chocolate wraps, sweet wraps, plastic cups and plastic bottles for soft drinks. And most of them were lying in front of the shops where the items were bought. If each person aims at a bin instead of the ground, it will make a huge difference!
As we saw that at least 5 persons were keen on caring for their environment, we interconnected them and are actually encouraging them to form a group of 10 persons to oversee the cleanliness of their road. Chatting with the elderly persons gathered under shops or discussing with the young adults was a very rewarding moment, for we shared our passion and commitment with them.
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We were gratified by this new experience, for fuelled by our vision to inspire through constructive action, we went out to meet people and it is encouraging to see how persons are willing to stand up and act for the planet, should they be given the slightest help or advice.
Now our team has steadily grown to 13 and it was such a nice moment to clean up together. We are happy to count Cindy and Melissa, who joined us for our clean up and were outstanding at it!, as members of our growing family.
Our young ones, David, Jude, Ruwin, Karine and Amirah were unflinching in their efforts and it brings joy to our hearts, for in them lie our hopes. They are the ones who can help bring about change in their peers, through their thoughts, actions and ways of living. They are already inspiring other youngsters to join ToptoTop and we look forward to touching the hearts and lives of more and more persons as we move on with our agenda this year."
TOPtoTOP International is proud of the TOPtoTOP Mauritius members! Congratulation and a big applause for your efforts to make this planet a better world!!!

Posted by dario at 10:16 AM