Captain’s Log August 2002

Yamba, NSW, Australia to Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
The passage from Yamba to Dar began on 20th April, 2002, as we departed Yamba Marina, which had been our home base since our launch on 26th July, 2001 and ended on 24th July, 2002, as we sailed into the Dar es Salaam Yacht Club (DYC) after clearing through the port first thing that morning.

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We are now based in Dar es Salaam and have begun our charter operations. Apart from the past 3 years in Australia during the construction and mobilisation of “Amarula”, I have spent most of the past 9 years in Tanzania. Eric has been here for 10 years and has been coming and going over the past 3 years. It is incredible to see the changes and development that has taken place in the 18 months since my last visit here in December, 2000.
We are excited to begin our charters as this coastline is truly spectacular and as there is very little tourism here, it is a unique destination. Why not come and be one of the first visitors to this wonderful coastline, aboard our luxury catamaran. Combine it with a safari or come for an extended sail from Kilwa to Pemba.
Since our return to Dar es Salaam we have done the following trips:
We have taken groups of friends across to Bongoyo and Sinda Islands for day trips. Sinda is a 2 hour sail south of Msasani Bay, a lovely spot for swimming, snorkelling, kayaking.

There is a wonderful baobab tree on the island, which clearly demonstrates why this tree got its nickname the ‘bottle tree‘. Bongoyo is the closest tropical island to our base in Msasani Bay and the perfect spot for a short sail, followed by relaxing on board or ashore, or enjoying the warm, clear tropical waters around the island.
We had a very successful cocktail party one evening and sailed across to Bongoyo to anchor off and enjoy the sunset with drinks and bitings being served throughout the evening. To finish off we served Amarula with coffee, which provided a very popular close to the event. We will be happy to offer cocktail parties, evening dinner cruises for special occasions and corporate parties, in addition to the extended charters further afield. Other local destinations for day trips are Mbudya Island and Fungu Yasin sandbanks, both of which offer good dive sites.
In mid-August we had a delightful group of 4 young people on board for a 4 night/ 5 day trip to Pemba. Unfortunately the weather on our day of departure left a lot to be desired, but this didn’t stop us from having a short lunch and swim stop at Fungu Yasin. We figured we were wet anyway so why not enjoy a swim across to the sandbank, followed by a lunch of prawns, crabs and slipper lobster, washed down with champagne. The passage across was very choppy with driving rain in the cockpit. This didn’t help some of the more queasy members of the group, as they were forced to either stay inside or put up with being drenched outside. This was actually one of the worst nights we have experienced ourselves on board “Amarula”. However, fortunately the weather cleared up the next day after we arrived in Pemba and checked in with the customs and immigration at Mkoani. We sailed to Mesali Island, just north of Mkoani and managed to get our group kitted up for their first dive by the afternoon. Mesali Island offers spectacular diving and even at this time of year, which is not the best for diving, our group were ecstatic by the experience of their first dive here. As it was getting quite late we decided to anchor off the northern end of Mesali Island for the night and our guests were delighted with the choice of location. Having just crossed the Indian Ocean and stopped at numerous stunning tropical islands along the way, it is easy to begin to take this lifestyle for granted, however experiencing the delight of our guests reminds us just how fortunate we are ourselves. We went ashore for a look at the project that CARE Tanzania have set up with some of the local community. The island is a Marine Park and turtles come here to nest. The fees collected from the visitors go towards helping the local people manage their environment in more eco-friendly ways, such as guided walks around the island and marine life studies, rather than dynamite fishing!
As our time at Pemba was quite limited and our guests wanted to do plenty of diving we spent most of our time around Mesali as the diving there is rarely disappointing. On the second dive the next day, 4 very happy faces popped out of the water at the end of their dive, all excitedly reporting on what they had seen, the most impressive creature on the long list being a turtle. Having done the walk around the island that morning and seen where turtles had nested the previous evening made this all the more meaningful. Before departing on the fourth morning we had one more dive along the shallower wall off the north-east coast of the island. Again we settled a satisfied group back on board and went to clear out of Pemba. We sailed in a much more leisurely fashion back to Dar. Between Pemba and Zanzibar we were treated to 2 pods of dolphins playing and performing in front of our boat. It is wonderful when our guests are treated to such sights, which have become commonplace, but never boring for us. We passed close to Zanzibar to remain in more protected waters and enjoyed the sunset as we sailed past Mtoni Beach just north of Stone Town. Wending our way through the moorings off Stone Town proved quite a challenge, however I sat up forward whilst guiding Eric through. We contemplated anchoring off Chumbe Island, but decided to go with the calm weather and get to Fungu Yasin whilst our guests were comfortably sleeping. We anchored off the northern tip of Fungu Yasin at 0430 and managed to get a couple of hours sleep before attempting to find a good dive spot at Big T, close to Mbudya Island. En route we came across a distressed, overcrowded fishing boat who were heading dangerously towards the island and had engine problems, so Eric gave them a tow across to Kunduchi, whilst I took our group by dinghy to find a dive spot off Mbudya instead. After their final dive of the trip we finished things off with a lovely, relaxing lunch and a final bottle of bubbly, whilst anchored off Mbudya. We made our way back to Msasani Bay, where we deposited a tired, but delighted group back ashore. Eric and I had been invited to a dinner party that evening and were planning on an early night, as we had been awake most of the previous night and were quite exhausted, but very happy with how successful our first extended trip had been, however we finally rolled into bed at 4 am the next morning and thoroughly enjoyed a long lie in the next day.
Other than that our time since returning to Dar has been filled with preparing our Business Plan for the Tanzania Investment Centre for their approval and organising other logistics in ensuring our charter business runs as smoothly as possible. It is a new concept for Dar es Salaam and has generated a lot of interest within the local community. Although there are some charter operations based in Zanzibar, we are quite unique in our design and what we are able to offer, plus the fact that we actually live on board. It is amazing how many people have asked us where we are going to be living and seem genuinely surprised when we say “on the boat”. Why wouldn’t we? We make our own power, we make our own clean water, so have no concerns about washing our food in contaminated water and we wake up to wonderful sunrises from the back deck of the boat and dolphins swimming past whilst we eat breakfast……..