M/V Emeraude, Gabon

  • Date
  • 24 May 2000
  • Lodging
  • Mangaly Beach
  • Distance
  • 25 KM
  • Total
  • 74629 KM

We took a barge pushed by a tugboat from Mayumba to Pointe Noire since we’d been warned repeatedly about bandits along the Gabon and Congo border. Plus the border was closed. The barge, used normally for timber transport, could hold perhaps up to six cars. The tugboat had two rooms, a toilet (with a non-flushing, seat-less commode) and a kitchen with electricity. I was delighted over the idea of cooking dinner and planned a feast for everyone.

Twenty minutes after departure and as soon as the rice began a perfect simmer, I started to feel hot. I mean really hot. Then my stomach started doing summersaults – wretched seasickness! I fell into a chair and couldn’t move. Jim finished preparing dinner, washed the dishes and put things away. I sat with my head on the table unable to eat, drink or move. My excitement over pate, pickles, rice, lentils and sausages, and green peas ceased.

I was quite upset that I couldn’t handle the rough sea. Never before had the ocean affected me this way. I guess the small size of the vessel caused the seasickness.

Finally around 8:30 p.m. Jim insisted I think about where I would sleep. The car would be too difficult to reach, plus I can’t stretch out in there. So that left the kitchen floor or the deck of the tugboat. On the deck Jim arranged my thin mattress, sleeping bag and a pillow he’d bought as a surprise for me. I slept there from 9 p.m. until 6 a.m. with the ocean roaring all around. Amazingly the rocking and swaying of the boat lessened here as opposed to inside the small kitchen. After stretching out, the summersaults in my stomach subsided – a bit. And throughout the night when I woke and rose to look overboard, I saw several oil outposts with massive, orange blazes burning the gas off of the wells.

The most unpleasant part of the experience was the massive humidity. My head stayed wet all night and my sleeping bag and pillow felt damp throughout the hours. Still I woke in the morning freshness savoring the special night behind me. How many folks sleep on a barge riding from Mayumba to Pointe Noire?