Tyson´s Travels

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The Banana Islands

Sierra Leone

December 2019 

The beaches of the Freetown Peninsula are stunning, yet few foreign tourists come.  The water is warm and clear and very good for surfing. With that in mind I strangely decided to take a day trip to historical Banana Island.  Two meter surf crashed on the beach as we were led to a calmer spot to board our hand-built traditional boat shaped a bit like a banana itself. 

IMG_8502The boat was waiting for us at a spot where the sizeable waves were only marginally smaller. The bow was anchored out at sea with its stern closer to shore. The waves would crest at the bow and be fully broken at the stern, before they rumbled up the beach. One boat crew managed the anchor line while the other held the boat steady at the stern. The third picked up and carried the women in our group awkwardly on-board between waves. The boats banana shape kept most of the foaming waves out but the odd splash was still enough to soak the bags already in the boat. The stern alternated between being waist height to far beyond arms reach at the height of a breaking wave. All the women loved being carried aboard by the shirtless built African crew while I was content to board without assistance.

Boarding was very wet but surprisingly uneventful. That is except for the Japanese

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A smaller wave on out return

fellow who grabbed hold of the edge of the boat to board at a poor moment and suddenly found his toes six feet off the ground a moment later. He looked like superman taking off such was the force of the boats upward motion. Still hanging onto the boat on its downward journey the foam and water forced his legs under the boat leaving minor gashes and a lot of blood. 

When loaded and clear of the surf we set off for the seven kilometre journey to Dublin the largest village on the island.  The tiny little short shaft outboard motor barely reached the water. The propellor would alternate from being submerged to being above waterline. The captain tried to maintain forward progress by accelerating only when the bow was climbing a wave and the stern deep in a tough. It meant progress was very slow. After an hour he had the 12 of us move to the stern in order to keep the propellor below the waterline all the time. This meant that some of us had to stand awkwardly on the slippery wet bottom of the boat. Any movement rocked the boat considerably. The journey was surprisingly long standing in the hot sun; the captain spent the time fishing with a hand line as he reclined by the motor, the fishing line wrapped around his foot.  If he caught anything big he probably would have been dragged into the water. 

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Landing in Dublin

Landing in the sheltered harbour of Dublin was easy. A log canoe with a sail made of

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The restaurant enroute

sewn together plastic bags landed beside us. Finding the restaurant we had preordered lunch and activities from was much harder. The captain did his best to avoid the chosen restaurant preferring instead to give us an impromptu tour to another restaurant and offer random tour options. We stopped at the old slaving fort and visited the pit dead slaves were thrown in. Throughout the village, we saw many a cannon scattered around. The captains unwillingness to get us to our destination was either incompetence on a grand scale or pure malevolence. Regardless

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Where we were supposed to be

we arrived too late to do the activities as planned. The expat who ran this slice of heaven changed between giving me free beer and berating our organizer for allowing the captain to be so incompetent. (It was only through her dogged determination that we actually made it in the first place).

The boat trip back was relatively uneventful except for when I slipped while leaning against the side of the boat. My weight shift towards the other side of the craft to avoid falling over brought us very close to capsizing. The boat was so tippy the crew would move in order to counteract our slight changes in position. My unfortunate slip caught them off balance. 

Unloading everyone in the surf was easy enough. The hard part was getting to shore without being pulled under. One woman lost her sunglasses when she was sucked under by a breaking wave after successfully exiting the boat. 

************

On our return we learnt a local boy had been found dead in the water killed by the surf and undertow. No one knows when he died. In addition the day before one of our own had been sucked out while swimming in the surf. He managed to make it safely back to shore eventually. 

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Many of the village huts looked like this

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A one piece canoe

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This entry was posted on December 26, 2019 by in Uncategorized.

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join me as I travel around the world.

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