Posted by: savayla | November 19, 2009

Blast from an Island Past

The brain works in mysterious ways.   I have inherited my dads habit of not remembering names.  A few funny episodes come to mind :  My folks spent 5 weeks sailing with a guy whose name was Simon, alias Dude.  When introduced, he suddenly became Christopher.  Huh ??  Forward track and we met an Australian couple who made  money out of us in a bad situation, they became Beryl and Des.  For the life of us, we cannot remember their names and we spent about 4 months together.   Add to that my particular bug in the brain system.  I will recognise a face, but have no idea where from.  Very annoying.

The week before I was married, a friend of mine took me out to a club in Johannesburg.  There was a guy there and we kept on staring at each other.  Yeah, not good a few days before your wedding.  But it wasn’t that.  We recognised each other.  Eventually, we got together and started going through all the places we could have met :  primary school, high school, university, etc etc.  We eventually worked it out.  When Kyle and I lived in KL in Malaysia, we had taken a break at Tioman island, on the East Coast.  It was a dry island at that time, and we had brought a bottle of wine.  We happened to meet this SA dude who was taking a break from Singapore, he had a wine opener (I know, we forgot ) and we chatted for about half an hour.  A few years later, in a Johannesburg club, there we were.  Such a small world.

It is Savannah’s birthday tomorrow and today after school we went to the shops to get the icing, some mozzarella cheese, fruit and other tiddly bits.  I was busy choosing my cucumbers and this gwylo (white man) walks up to me and says “Excuse me, do you know how to get to ….. ”  I didn’t actually hear the end of the question as I took one look at his face and recognized him.  “I know you ”  I said a bit too loudly, as I was blown away.  He stared down at me , not difficult to do since I am only 154 cm short .   “You are from Fleur de Singapore and we were in Chagos together in 1992 . ”  The stare again.  “Actually ” he said with a smile “it was 1993 “.  Yeah, I had got it right.  But how ????  How come I can’t put a name to a face that I have met a few months back, yet here was someone that I met in 1993, 16 years ago and I put his face to a yacht ????

Kyle and I flew to Thailand where my folks and my 6 year old brother were anchored on their yacht,  Kristina.  After a few months there, we headed off to Sri Lanka where we spent 2 months, and then to the Maldives which was a time of snorkelling, swimming with sharks, giant manta rays, eagle rays, and the most impressive coral I have ever seen.    Then off to Chagos.  This is an archipelago 500 nautical miles South of the Maldives , in the middle of the Indian Ocean , which consists of a few atolls, belonging to the British Indian Ocean Territory.  Only accessible by yacht, you live a Robinson Crusoe existence for as many months or years as you can last.  There are no shops, no fresh water, other than a single well to wash your clothes.   You have to bring all your food and spares .  An incredibly healthy lifestyle which consists of going fishing in the morning, snorkelling and reading all day, and having a fish BBQ with the other yachties and playing volleyball at night on the beach.

This is where I met Mr. Fleur de Singapore.  His yacht , Fleur de Singapore, was one of those mega-yachts.  Around 93 feet.  A big crew of asians, intercoms, electric winches, etc etc. But, what a gracious and wonderful man.  We were invited to a BBQ across the atoll, all we had to bring was our drinks.  We went across on our dinghy and had an amazing time.   Itt was the ride back that was the most memorable.  The weather had come up a bit, we were all slightly happy and we were getting cold.  The trip across, in the moonlit night, took about an hour.  The waves were choppy and sent the spray over us every few seconds.  We continually had to scoop the water out, and turned it into one of those  bar nights.  Singing, taking a slug from the salt water infested rum drink  and scooping , all in one motion, every few seconds.  Man, choir practice was good that night.    My poor brother had collected a load of shells and unfortunately they went overboard.  And so did we when we needed a wee.  By the time we arrived back at our boat, we were soaked and freezing cold, but still happy. Fresh water is scarce, so we had a cup shower, and then to warm up made rum toddies.  It was a night to remember.

And remember I did, 16 years later, when asked the directions to Telaga Harbour in Langkawi.    What a small world.  What a pleasant memory.




  1. Wonderful story Tanya…..

    Your memory for faces might not be so good but the memory for this time is spot on !

    Did you keep a diary of the trip ?

    • I did, it is in storage, like the rest of my life. LOL

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