Expedition Africa opening eyes

Expedition Africa opening eyes to the beauty and history of our area.

Following Expedition Africa has not only been a rather interesting exercise in managing one’s social media activity but also renewed this scribe’s interest in the beauty and history of an area where I have roots dating back to the 1800’s. Although aware of these roots I really never paid much attention to the history of the Gamtoos valley, wonders of the Baviaans or indeed the entire surrounding area. That was until Expedition Africa that has made me so much more aware of just what an amazing area we have on our doorstep.

The short article on Expedition Africa ‘s website yesterday on the natural phenomena of the Bergvenster natural arch created by natural weathering of the Enon conglomerate and the manmade Philips Tunnel, the first tunnel scheme in South Africa certainly piqued my interest to start exploring a little more. https://fireflyafrica.blogspot.co.za/2013/11/phillips-tunnel-in-hankey.html

Although Natal born & bred I have ties back to the Gamtoos area where my great grandparents must have farmed (I wonder if I can make a land claim) and where my grandfather CJE ‘Charlie’ Smith’ was born. Schooled in Cradock,  Charlie went on to play cricket for the then Transvaal earning his Springbok colours at Wanderers against Australia in October 1902.

But I digress so back to the race.

The ‘dark zone’ in the Baviaans was always of major concern to the organisers and it seems for good reason for one of the leading teams. Skylotech. The Swedish team, one of the favourites for top honours had an encounter of an African kind when they came face to face with some buffalo. There was no danger as a patrolling buffalo watch team were there to intervene and the Swedes were able to continue unscathed but with a story to tell their childern and grandchildren in years to come about their encounter in the African bushveld.

Several teams managed to get through the dark zone before it was shut down to ensure team safety so those who beat the clock certainly have a huge advantage. Thunderbolt (Australia) seems to have grabbed the lead from Skylotech (Sweden) with East Wind (Japan), Nantes (France) and the leading South African team Nevarest Jabberwock in hot pursuit.  The leading teams will have started Leg 8 by the time you read this post. Leg 8 sees the teams having to do some rope work before getting back onto their kayaks for a paddle down the Gamtoos. No doubt we will see the leading teams jockeying for position over the next few hours. My money is on the Swedes starting the run ahead of the Aussies on the run into Jeffreys Bay.

To see the route that Expedition is following there is a very informative video on YouTube


that will give you a better idea of where they have come from and where they are going when read with the live tracking http://www.kineticgear.org/gps-tracking/


Teams Bridge Tournament

Annual Teams Bridge Tournament

Compliments were the order of the day at the Annual St Francis Bay Teams Bridge Tournament which was run from Friday 12 May to Sunday 14 May 17.

This tournament has built up a reputation for excellence and this year was no exception. From the perfect venue at the St Francis Links to the slick organisation of the committee it could not be faulted.

Such is the reputation and popularity of this tournament, twenty-six teams of four competed this year, packing the venue to capacity. Joy Faulkner of from Port Alfred commented that they fight to be included in the team to St Francis Bay as the tournament at the Links is such an excellent one. Seven teams came from Port Elizabeth alone, and others travelled from Port Alfred, Kenton-on-Sea, Cradock, Bedford, Plettenberg Bay, Knysna, George, Jeffreys Bay and even one team from Johannesburg, to compete against the local participants.

Hanne Kroyer, a competitor from George who is a “swallow” from Denmark and who plays regularly at the club there said: “You could not find a tournament of this quality in Denmark, at this price, and another thing that impressed me most was the kindness I experienced.”

Prue Gillespie from Port Elizabeth said that the tournament was amazing and the organisation excellent as was the food.

In his closing address Geoff Ellis, President of the St Francis Bridge Club, thanked Jeff Clause for outstanding food and service provided by the St Francis Links. There was loud applause from the entire room at this. The staff had pulled out all the stops to provide assistance wherever needed and the venue itself is conducive to the quiet concentration required by the game. He also expressed thanks to the ladies of the Committee who had presented the venue so perfectly, to Roger Lea who ran the computer scoring with help from Judy Beck, and to John Boonziaer for liaison with the Links on the food and beverage side.

A tournament director plays a major role at any bridge session and to run one of this size is no easy task but Eileen Ellis, performing this role for the first time, succeeded admirably. John Boonzaier, Deputy President, complimented on her patience and for coping with the hectic demands made on her services in such an excellent manner.

The winners were Vernon Rice and his team from Knysna: George Raymer, Mike Wright and Viv Lloyd. Runners   up were Arie Ridderhof (Port Alfred) and his team from Kenton-on-Sea Bridgit Pote, Yvonne Malherbe and Lorraine Knowles.

Winners of the St Francis Bay Bridge Teams Competition: (l to r) George Raymer, Mike Wright, Viv Lloyd, with Geoff Ellis (SFB Bridge Club President) and Vernon Rice.

Tournament Director Eileen Ellis, in typical pose organising and making sure things go well, with John Boonzaier Vice-President of the club who thanked her for her excellent handling of the competition.

Article & photographs – Yvonne Bosman