A chronical of an epic four-year circumnavigation aboard ‘ADINA’.
Tom Partridge and Susie Plume met back in 2007 when Tom was organising a racing boat for their old sailing club in that year’s Hamble Winter Series. The pair were soon spending more time sailing together both in the UK and further afield. Time went on and soon they were discussing the idea of owning their own yacht and ‘living at sea’, as they coined it. Given they both enjoyed travelling one thing led to another and after a thorough search they fell in love with the 2008 Hylas 46 ‘ADINA’ and bought her with the intention of sailing her around the world – in their eyes, the best way to travel as they would see the world from their own home!
Tom & Susie aboard their Hylas 46 ‘ADINA’ in Las Palmas ahead of the ARC 2013 crossing to St.Lucia.
Leaving Falmouth, UK, in the spring of 2013, Tom, Susie and ADINA have now completed a circumnavigation. Having undertaken a shake-out in the Med, the couple crossed the Atlantic as part of the ARC 2013 before sailing solo on through the Panama Canal into the Pacific. Some of the countries they have visited include:-
Portugal – Spain and the Balearics – Sardinia – Tunisia – Algeria – Canary Islands – Grenada – Panama – Galápagos – Marqeusas Islands – Niue – Tonga – Fiji – Vanuata – Solomon Islands – Papua New Guinea – Indonesia – Singapore – Malyasia – Thailand – Sri Lanka – Maldives – Seychelles – Chagos – Madagascar – South Africa – St. Helena – Ascension – Martinique – Dominica
Tom and Susie created a detailed account of their travels for friends and family which they have posted on their website www.yachtadina.co.uk along with writing and being featured in numerous articles for magazines such as Yachting Monthly and Yachting World. Through their blog writing and stunning photography they have also picked up numerous accolades including a nomination for Sailing Today’s ‘Sailor of the Year Award’. Susie & Tom were presented with the prestigious Award of Merit from the Ocean Cruising Club for their aid distribution work in Vanuatu and outlying islands in the immediate aftermath of the highly destructive Category 5 Cyclone Pam in March 2015.
The following are some extracts from Tom and Susie’s fascinating blog covering some of the highlights of their four-year adventure.
Bienvenue à Algérie!
Thursday 8 August 2013
“It was a hazy day when we headed out of Tabarka, Tunisia, with the Tunisian Navy wishing us well on the radio. Destination Algeria, hard-won visa to hand. A destination not well travelled, a destination with a sad history of terrorism, a destination few have sailed to. The wind was up and the waters bumpy. We had our AIS on (Automatic Identification System that shows up vessels at sea to anyone with a receiver) and were intent on calling Algeria Coastguard as soon as we were in their waters. They beat us to it.
Fishing boats in Dellys, Algeria, where Adina was welcomed amongst them.
Politely we answered their questions. Ten minutes later, out of the haze appeared two black RIBs speeding towards us with 3 men in each, carrying guns. We hadn’t even had time to hoist the Algerian courtesy flag; they promptly told us to drop the Tunisian flag and get the Algerian one up. No questions asked, we did it. We explained we were tourists with a visa and where we were going. No problem – off they went. Quite an introduction, this was going to be interesting…
Susie buying honey amongst the locals in Constantine, Algeria.
… To sum Algeria up, it’s certainly a place for the adventurous; it does have some stunning sights and we would have liked to have seen more of the interior. Tourism is yet to be encouraged. So many of the cities have a lot of beautiful old buildings that could be restored; it has so much potential. But without doubt it’s the people of Algeria that made this country for us. Some say Algerians are stern. We say that’s not true at all – a simple greeting and the ice is broken, and they will talk away. Their naturally calm nature comes through and you can see the compassion they have for each other. We were treated so well, the kindness really touched us, people just could not do enough for us, so many invites to return to this country and visit families. We have to single out Abderrahmane, Salim and Hakim for all their time and kindness. Merci beaucoup, notre chers, pour touts que vous avez faire pour nous. Algeria will live long in our memories.”
“After completing the arduous formalities for yachts visiting the Galápagos Islands and having passed all of the inspections, it was time for the tourists on board Adina to begin to enjoy themselves on these remote islands located in the Pacific Ocean.
Yachts are allowed to stay in only a limited number of permitted harbours and having secured a pricey 5-island permit (called an “Autographo”) we started our explorations on the island of San Cristóbal. Each island has its own speciality and in San Cristóbal it’s the sea lions. And they are literally everywhere. Getting to shore from your boat is done by water taxi. Getting off the water taxi you may need to ask a sea lion to kindly move so you can disembark. A bit of a grunt from the disapproving sea lion and you are on land…
A late night visitor aboard Adina at anchor in the Galápagos Islands.
… Having enjoyed San Cristóbal we headed on to Santa Cruz, the main island with the largest town and population. En route we were treated to rays leaping out of the sea into the sky. Spectacular displays, they leap out of the water to return with a smack with the aim of removing parasites. A large group of bottle-nose dolphins playing on the bow similarly kept us entertained. That and the ever-present sea lions popping up their heads to say hello or a turtle diving down as soon as it saw us. It was non-stop entertainment all of the way across. Anchored in Santa Cruz you more often than not see a lot simply from sitting on the boat. The pelicans constantly entertained us and we even saw a shark leap out of the water…
…The highlight on Santa Cruz was a great big deserted beach called Tortuga Bay with an adjoining lagoon. Snorkelling was excellent and little baby black tip sharks could be seen. But no time for resting and we sailed onto the next island Isabela…
Wildlife abounds in the anchorage at Isabela Island, Galápagos.
…Isabela is a yachties’ favourite as the anchorage is good and the town is the smallest and most relaxed in the Galápagos. The highlight here has to be the famous blue footed boobies and tiny Galápagos penguins. The penguins can be seen in the anchorage. One will come swimming alongside the boat poking its head in-and-out of the water looking for fish. Quite often they will chase pelicans that swoop down fill their enormous gullets and drain them of water to eat the fish. Penguins dash after them nipping away at their beaks hoping for some leftovers! As for the blue footed boobies, they are a delight to watch. With their blue webbed feet and dark blue faces they are certainly distinctive. You can quite easily get up close to them. Their fishing tactics are great – five or so will be together and then bomb out of the sky, one leads and the rest follow immediately spiralling down into the water…”
Blue-footed boobies entertain with their mating dance in the Galapagos Islands.
“After nearly two weeks in the company of fellow sailors in the northern islands of Vava’u, Tonga, it was time for Adina to head off and explore the middle group of Tongan islands known as the Ha’aipa islands. We’d added these to our itinerary a long time back when another boat we know had written to us waxing lyrical about them. We’d also read ‘Ken’s Comprehensive Cruising Guide for The Kingdom of Tonga’ in which he scratches his head at why people skip them and vows they should not be missed. Yes, they come with a health warning of lots of reefs for which you need good eyeball navigation to avoid, they are low lying islands and so you need to pick your anchorage carefully in strong winds, and yes, you even need to watch out for whales. But Adina has done some miles now, we’re all too aware of keeping a good look out and by gum we love a bit of off the beaten track!
Once in a lifetime, swimming with humpback whales in Tonga – this is the calf!
… The Ha’aipa islands are certainly remote but that’s a good thing as for now they remain unspoilt. The islands were the South Pacific paradise we had so desired but had feared in our modern world was now vanished. The truth is, we’ll probably never see such beautiful islands again but our memories are treasured memories, imprinted forever, days we will think back on. If you’re fond of footprints on soft silky white beaches, swimming in crystal clear blue waters, and soaking up the warmth of the midday sun while the seas break in the background, the Ha’aipa islands are our idea of living the dream.”
Beautiful Tofanga Island in Tonga – leave nothing but footprints.
The Great Ninigo Islands Canoe Race – The Time of our Lives
Sunday 3rd October 2015
“At 2am on a moonlit morning we left the Hermit Islands of Papua New Guinea, our sailing timed so we would have the sun overhead to safely see our way into the lagoon of the remote Ninigo Islands located sixty nautical miles to the north-east. More importantly we’d planned our arrival to coincide with ‘The Great Ninigo Islands Canoe Race’ which we had heard and read about and which promised much excitement.
Competitors can’t help showing off for the camera in the Ninigo Islands.
The Ninigo Islands consist of thirty-one small islands spread over a distance of around forty nautical miles. For as long as anyone can remember commuting between the islands has been undertaken in traditional outrigger canoes rigged with sails. The know-how for the building of these canoes has been passed down from generation to generation and much to our amazement we discovered they are built from driftwood. Literally driftwood – wood that washes up on the beaches, the canoe builders always looking out for the best quality wood coming ashore. The wood is claimed by the first person to see it, carving their name on the treasured log to mark ownership. Sails were traditionally made from woven pandanus leaves but are now made from more sturdy plastic tarpaulin.
Traditional dancing at the closing ceremony of the The Great Ninigo Islands Canoe Race.
The Ninigo Islands receive no supply boats but the government has provided a few of the islands with so-called banana boats and outboard motors. These are low-sided seven metre long boats made of glass fibre. The locals brave open seas in these boats to travel to either the mainland or the large island of Manus, trips of 200 nautical miles and over a day each way to secure supplies. We’ve now met two sets of people who have experienced these boats capsizing and were lucky enough to survive to tell the tale; we’ve also been told stories of other boats and people lost at sea. Knowing the seas they travel on, these tales harrow us no end and we have vowed we must do something to help. Watch this space!”
“Daylight on 2nd March 2017 dawned pretty much the same as the previous grey day: big towering clouds marching across the sky, the sea large and frothing away, Adina powering on across the Atlantic Ocean. There was one difference, there were birds in the sky, quite a lot of them – land was near.
Our course was taking us well clear of the Tobago coast to counteract strong current that flows west between Tobago and Grenada. The last thing we wanted after thirty-five days of sailing across the Atlantic was to miss our destination. The wind continued to blow between 25 to 30 knots. It was too strong for our finely tuned genoa with two reefs, so we’d got our staysail out but that is more of a storm sail so too little wind for that and we didn’t have enough power to drive through the big seas. We’d worked out if we had our staysail out and a small amount of genoa just to power up the front of the boat it worked a treat. When you have big seas like we had you have to drive the boat forward with some power. Surrender and have little sail and you will be at the mercy of the sea, your boat sailing along like a rocking horse…
Susie checking out the trim on Adina’s sails in light winds.
… Adina raced along like a pedigree horse that knows it’s nearly home. She had sniffed the end, we were going for it. Night descended and we knew we were in for a night time arrival. No moon so it was pitch black, the clouds eliminating the stars. We’d joke it was a blessing that there was no moon so we didn’t have to watch the seas crashing away, a blind roller-coaster ride. Midnight passed and lights appeared – land, beautiful land. You think of people sitting ashore merrily going along life’s path, no worries of the turbulent seas that lay beyond terra firma…
… We will take time to sit in the Adina stadium of memories and smile and talk about our experiences. Remember that time sitting with Willy in the beautiful Ninigo Islands in Papua New Guinea? Big large black man, who we called my little brother. Remember him? “Oh Tom, my brother, you must tell Susie – you lover blong me” and peels off in deep happy laughter. Look, here’s the treasured whale tooth he gave us as a present to remember him by.
So that’s it, Adina and her merry crew of two have sailed around the world. At times we wondered about the actual day of completing our circumnavigation; we dreamt of daylight, meeting friends, hugs, laughter and thanks all round, perhaps a party. In the end we came in quietly in the deep of the night, helped by friends and had a small toast on-board, perfect. It was a bit like some of the virtues we’ve learnt on our journey that have become important to our being. Go quietly, listen to others, offer help and be a little humble…”
Read ADINA’s full blog and enjoy the fabulous photographs which will give you a sense of what a once in a lifetime sailing around the world experience is all about. The variety of landscapes, different cultures, the welcoming of people and a vast array of wildlife all add up to an intoxicating experience of sailing and exploration.
ADINA is now offered for sale exclusively through Grabau International and John Rodriguez Yachts. Full details of this stunning and full-equipped blue water cruising yacht can be found here.
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