2 | January, 2019
It was almost written in the stars – a stupendously serendipitous moment, when we found likeminded people who have created the perfect vessel through which to tell the story of the dhow. The Flipflopi Project is everything we were hoping to do ourselves. But so much more. Here were people with an insatiable love for dhow boats and a burning need to change the lifecycle of single-use plastics. They used a symbol of Indian Ocean heritage and history – and repurposed discarded plastic waste to create something truly phenomenal: a dhow made entirely from plastic! An emblem of African legacy – packaged as a symbol of hope for the future. Hope for a healthy ocean and for future generations to see and experience a visceral, yet positive solution – to a problem they might not even knew existed. We wanted to get on board with this magic. The Flipflopi is surely the last chapter in the story of the dhows – a symbol and template for the future! So we sent them an e-mail.
Lo and behold! We get a reply – and as we suspected, these guys were beyond nice. Leader of the project, Dipesh Pabari, told us about their plans for the Flipflopi’s upcoming expedition: sailing from Lamu to Zanzibar to spread single-use plastic awareness. It turned out that Ben Morison, the founder of the project, had spent some time on Ibo Island, loved our footage of the dhows there and believed we were the ideal crew to film their expedition – we immediately volunteered for the job.
It all happened as fast as a sail unfurls in high winds. In the space of a couple of weeks, we organised, planned and prepared everything to join the expedition as their official film crew. First, we had to find funds to put us over during our time on expedition, and find a way to pay for flights, accommodation and other expenses we might have on this extremely budget trip. Our first meeting with Dipesh was great, they had everything figured out, and it became evident that these good people have come this far with their project because of their wonderful values and humanity – once we get ourselves to Lamu – we’d be looked after as if we were family!
We must have sent over 56 e-mails to prospective gear and lifestyle brands to secure possible funding towards our film. No one was more accommodating than Jason Ormrod at Orms – a photographic superstore with almost cult-like status in Cape Town. He has recently visited Watamu – one of the stops that the expedition would be sailing to, and he immediately became interested in this positive plastic project. He helped us to secure our dream camera on loan-basis: In another coincidental stroke of fortune, he had a meeting with Sony Middle East & Africa directly after our meeting, and that is how we got to test-drive the Sony A7Riii as our B camera. Orms also lent us a 24-70mm Sony lens and a couple of other essentials to help us get the expedition filmed. This was a game changer – to have this camera on board would be beyond helpful towards our goals. And so we acquired the last bit of equipment we needed for our (space saving) arsenal of gear to film the story of the Flipflopi.
In another soaring stroke of fortune, Ben and Dipesh were able to secure us some funds towards our flights to Kenya. And just like that, a mere two weeks after getting confirmation of being the official film crew, we were on our way to Lamu. When things happen this fast, you constantly have to wipe your eyes, pinch yourself or randomly confirm with your partner: Is this real? We’re not dreaming are we? But this was real life – a part of our dhow dream was finally coming true!
I’ll sign off with an official thank you to everyone who helped us be a part of this expedition by getting us there and getting us prepared:
Ben Morison
Dipesh Pabari
Becca Faber and Shyam Radie
Orms – in particular Jason Ormrod
Getaway Magazine – in particular Justin Fox, who has been an inspiration in our dhow journey and a huge support towards funding our film. (I will be doing a story for Getaway Magazine about the expedition – I’ll post more details here about publication dates etc.)
Guy and Lindsay who kept us productive and sane in the most pressing of pre-expedition preparation time.
Our parents who put up with us and put us up in the last few days before our departure – it was manic – thank you for bearing with us with unconditional love and kindness!
Our friends who donated funds towards this project: Christine van Deemter, Daniel Franklin, Sean Wilson-Smith, Luke Barritt, Nadine Brits, Wida Maritz – thanks for believing in us!
Warren Loots of Monkey Bay Beach Lodge in Malawi, who has been an incredible source of encouragement and support.
Ingrid Hale of Sail+Leisure magazine, who will be running another article by me about the Flipflopi vessel and master boat builder, Ali Skanda.
Hougaard of Landscapegear.co.za who gave us a massive discount on our Nisi filters.