With any luck and despite the lengthy delays here in Nauru and last week in Kiribati, the Scarlett Lucy should be back in Brisbane by Saturday March 24.
Behind the scenes, my girlfriend/PA Mandy has been squirreling away trying to get me on board the Cap Serrat, a Hamburg Sud operated cargo ship that leaves Brissy on March 25. If successful, that ship will get me to Taiwan for April 4, giving me a few days before (hopefully) one of the Mariana Express ships heads off to Micronesia and Palau on April 8. At this stage of the journey, to knock two countries of the list – 33% of what remains – in one boat trip will be immense.
There is then a PIL ship that leaves from Hong Kong on a regular basis that could possibly take me to Sri Lanka, via Singapore and India. This would leave just three countries remaining. I am hoping against hope that there exists a shipping line that goes from Sri Lanka to the Maldives and then down to Mauritius or Reunion. If it does, and if I can get on it, I could feasibly be in Madagascar by June.
From Madagascar it would be a case of heading to the island of Nosy Be in the north of the country. There’s a rather large marina in the main city, Hell Be, and I should hopefully find at least one captain who is mad enough to take me to country number 200: Seychelles. Don’t forget, Odyssey rules state that I do not have to visit the capital, but must step foot on land somewhere within the contiguous boundary of the nation. The most southerly islands of the Seychelles are located just a couple of hundred miles north of Nosy Be: it ain’t going to be easy, but it is a viable option – and given the Somali pirate situation, it is possibly my only option.
Then I’ll have to head back over to mainland Africa via Comoros. Last time, this process took the best part of a month. This time, who knows? Realistically speaking, with Nauru out of the way and Mariana Shipping already being very helpful with getting me to Micronesia and Palau, the only big unknown is The Seychelles: once I have that ticked off the list, getting to the final country, South Sudan should be (relatively) easy: I’ve pretty much done that route once before.
Then I’m going to try and overland it back to Liverpool. Is this possible? Well yes, but it ain’t going to be easy. Getting a visa for Sudan from anywhere else but Egypt is said to be a bureaucratic nightmare of Gilliamesque proportions, but even when I get back to Egypt. the current civil conflict in Syria bars that way back to Europe. So then, two options remain – head back to Israel, take a ship to Cyprus, then Cyprus to either Greece or Turkey, OR waddle my way back through the now Gaddafi-free zone of Libya, get to Tunisia and take that infernal Grimaldi ferry (which I swore never to take again!) up to Italy.
Either way, once I’m back in Europe I could be home within the week. Of course I’ll be penniless and jobless with just my clothes on my back, but you won’t find me complaining. I’ll have finally finished my quest.