Report of a thank you letter received 30 years after the yacht Zenezele called at Tristan for repairs during the Cape Town to Rio Race 1976.

Zenezele's 1976 Trip to Tristan da Cunha

6 men in a boat
..... is delighted to receive a special letter of thanks to the Tristan community 30 years after a memorable visit thirty years ago.

The 55ft sailing yacht was home-made in a
Johannesburg garden ( and named Zenezele which is the Zulu for 'do it yourself' ) aiming to compete in the Cape Town to Rio Race. Constructed by inexperienced amateurs, Zenezele was nevertheless regarded as tough but heavy, with a normal speed 5/6 knots. As a result of the weather and design almost everything failed except the mast, the rig and the hull.
The touching letter below epitomises Tristan's response to any ship or sailors in distress. The photographs show the 'do it yourself' expedition in calm and high seas, both relaxing and struggling to cope with the elements. There are many more vivid stories of Tristan islanders' help and hospitality throughout the island's history, but it is timely to receive this communication as Tristan's Quincentenary Year draws to a close and the community celebrate a traditional Christmas and New Year Holiday :

Buenos Aires,
December 12th 2006

To :
Mr. Mike Hentley
The Administrator,
The Island Council and people
of Tristan da Cunha

Dear Sirs,

We would like to share with you in the celebration of the first 500 years of Tristan and its archipelago.

For us, your island and surrounding seas have a very particular place in our memories and hearts. Possibly it is only our memories that retain that part of history, as it occurred 30 years ago!

On the October 24 th, 1976, a South African yacht, the Zenezele, owned and skippered by Mike Klopper, set sail from San Isidro, a northern suburb of Buenos Aires, with a crew of 6 young Argentines and a target of reaching Cape Town within three of weeks.

A shredded mainsail, one broken rudder and an engine-refusing-to-start later – none the less a broken galley on top of more than 20 days at sea – we were half way between Tristan and Gough and decided to call at your port.

The amazing sight of Tristan, with the cone’s cloud and counter cloud, green and brown slopes (quite a relief after nothing but blue/black seas) and the houses of The Settlement are still engraved in our minds.

As is the fantastic will to assist that we found at arrival. Despite relatively rough conditions, which did not allow our inadequate anchor to grab hold in the kelp, the Port Officer managed to send over to us a team of two chaps (one of us remembers Mr. Don Benedell with suit, tie and live jacket) who made the engine work, and thermal gear to allow us to properly adjust our rudder blade with cables giving us some steering.

After a rough night, “moored” to the stern of the fishing ship Hilary that set sail at 4 am, we were forced to sail off without being able to properly thank you all for your assistance.....and the 2 boxes of frozen crawfish that we enjoyed thoroughly the next couple of days! (We even had crawfish for tea!!!)

None of us have any doubt that it was your assistance that enabled us to reach our target, 38 days after leaving port in Argentina, on the night of December 31 st. the Zenezele limped into the Royal Cape Yacht Club.

Today, 30 years later, browsing your internet site brings back strong emotions and empathy towards that group of unique people living in a unique part of the world.

So from a grateful group of now not-so-young Argentines, Merry Xmas, Happy New Year and a toast the next 500 years!!!

Best regards

from the crew of the Zenezele,
now spread all over the world :

Carlos Engel: Córdoba, Argentina

Ricardo Preve: José Ignacio, Uruguay

Santiago Alvarez Forn: Rome, Italy

Edgardo Fischer: somewhere in the Caribbean

Luis Gall: Buenos Aires, Argentina

Guillermo Fox: Buenos Aires, Argentina