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Finally, after weeks of preparing his boat for a solo voyage down the Red Sea and into the Indian Ocean at a difficult time of the year, Sam recruited a new crew member! Poppy, of s/y ‘Free’, agreed to join Sam for the majority of the journey. Poppy writes beautifully and contributes to the progress log, as well as helping Sam through a difficult journey. As I write this they have passed through the Suez Canal and already sent a number of updates and pictures
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Sam, bless him, had only expected five or ten people to turn up and really hadn’t prepared himself to explain why he was doing what he was doing in front of so many people. He moved the audience with his story and had to field some difficult questions. Some were uncertain of the whole point of Sam’s quest, which, in simple terms, was to bring about awareness of the Chagossian’s plight and eventually help get some Chagossian’s back to their islands.
Under the 30-year rule documents from the FCO show us all the facts, and oh dear me, how those documents reveal Britain’s jaded and cynical viewpoint of the world. Those 1960s Sir Humphreys** describe the islanders as “mere Tarzans and Men Fridays” with “little aptitude for anything except growing coconuts”. They wrote that “there will be no indigenous population except seagulls”. The deportations would be “ordered and timed to attract the least attention”. They connived with the Americans to label the islanders as “migrant contract labourers” with no right of abode – even though their families had lived there for generations.
I lowered myself down the companion-way and eased myself into what could only be described as a log cabin. Every bit of the boat was covered in reclaimed wood and other materials. The shelves came from his home in Devon and the stove had been chucked out as trash. The centre-piece, however, was the compression post (the post that follows the mast down into the boat). It was a piece of English oak that was to be used for a wooden boat reconstruction project that had fallen on hard times.