Chasamba – Travels Across The Seas

Sources of Inspiration

The thing is, we don’t want to just gunkhole Turkey for ever. We don’t even want to do an ordinary circumnavigation, although that does sound better, and with hindsight will probably seem to have been a more sensible step. No. We want to do things that people don’t do, and go to places they don’t go. We want to sail into a bay where there is no little restaurant, in fact where the nearest little restaurant is several hundred miles away. We want to tie up next to a decaying fishing trawler in a port unknown to any pilot book, negociate in Pidgin English for an unidentified lump of meat for dinner, and sit nervously watching icebergs grind closer. Probably not all in the same place, since Eskimoes don’t speak Pidgin, but you get the idea. We want to explore, and we want to do it cheap. Well, actually, we have to do it cheap. So Tristan Jones is more or less our mascot, and here’s a quick resume for those who don’t know about him.
Tristan Jones was born on a working boat, I guess around 1910 or a bit later. His whole family were sailors in the pre-engine period, and he learned sailing naturally. After leaving school at the age of 14 he started to sail, and carried on all his life,part of it in the Royal Navy, and later on single handed. His books are all about various completely crazy voyages he made under usually atrocious conditions, and are probably enough to put any sane person off sailing for life. Which is why we love him, of course. There aren’t many people who have survived by eating raw Piranha fish on the Amazon, or actually pushed and pulled their boat across several miles to get to water. Most of his voyages are on sailing boats without engines, and since they were written in the 70’s and 80’s this was before GPS too. Tristan was never well off, in fact he was always broke, but his life was incredibly rich, and he used every minute, even when diabetes caused him to lose his legs.
The Incredible Voyage particularly interested us because this book describes a voyage to Israel, sailing on the Dead Sea, and then leaving via the Red Sea for Peru and Lake Titicaca. He managed to persuade the Israeli Army to load his boat on a trailer and cart it off to the Dead Sea from Ashdod in 1972, an amazing feat in itself!

When we were in Cyprus a few years ago we happened to meet someone who had known Tristan Jones. This ultra smart snob sneered “Well, you wouldn’t have liked him, you know. He had a thick Welsh accent and he was always drunk. You couldn’t understand a word he said.” I thought about this for a long time, and I have a feeling that this was someone who had been hit on the head by a chance to enrichen his life, and threw it away. But thats just me…..

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