Captain’s Log April 2003

In general March was a quiet month with the impending war in Iraq and the nervousness associated with that situation. We did have some interest in the March Specials we were offering, particularly the Sunset Cruises over to Bongoyo Island. We provided a sumptuous seafood buffet, which proved very popular, all washed down with drinks of our guests’ choice. Whilst it was a quiet month Eric and I took the opportunity to brush up a little on our Swahili by studying every morning at the Slipway for 3 weeks. It was good to review many of the things I learnt some time ago, but the only way really is practice, practice, practice……

The long rains have stayed away so far and we are happy to report that we had a busy Easter despite all the travel warnings concerning East Africa. More and more people are beginning to hear about us and word of mouth is certainly the best marketing tool. We enjoyed the company of some families out from UK visiting friends and relatives based here in Dar and from the commendable reviews we received in our Guest Book, we are sure they all enjoyed their cruises with us. Mostly these took the form of sailing across to Zanzibar, snorkelling, swimming, diving, and kayaking at various islands, sandbanks and reefs, trips ashore to Prison Island   to see the giant tortoises and Chapwani Island to visit the cemetery dedicated to British sailors and marines who were killed in the first naval engagement of the first World War (September 20, 1914) when the German light cruiser Konigsberg sank HMS Pegasus in Zanzibar Harbour. Other sailors who died during the Anti-Slavery campaign in the late 19th Century are also buried there. In addition we organised Spice Tours and Stone Town tours for our guests depending on their requirements. This particular package provides a varied and attractive 4 day option for people who have a limited time frame.
From the corporate sector we had a very successful day out on St. George’s Day with Vodacom entertaining their clients and the Royal Palm Hotel providing an excellent spread and BBQ on board. The feedback was all positive and we are looking forward to their next visit. We welcome other corporate entities to provide their clients with the unique opportunity to sail & dine aboard our luxury catamaran.

Captain’s Log February 2003

Since our last Newsletter we have been down to Mafia and Kilwa and visited a number of the many reefs and islands between them.

We discovered wonderful coral gardens with a large diversity of corals and fish, mostly in shallow waters allowing both divers and snorkellers to enjoy the region’s pristine marine life. One of the highlights was the cuttlefish on most of the sites, where we observed them mating and depositing their eggs amongst the staghorn corals. I love to watch these creatures with their flowing ‘petticoats’, which make me think of them as ‘dressed squid’.
Whitebait were in abundance and fascinating to watch as they darted in their enormous groups, almost in formation, in and around the coral outcrops as we swam between them. These were particularly evident in the Bawara Banks, which are a group of reefs stretching two and a half nautical miles across and are described in Delwyn McPhun’s East Africa Pilot as “a snorkeller’s paradise”. One of the huge coral heads we swam around was an excellent site for shallow diving and snorkelling, with various crevices housing many varieties of fish, swimming in, around and out of them. On the three adjacent sites at which we snorkelled the topography, coral species and resident fish populations were different, which leads me to agree with McPhun’s comment.

An interesting observation that we made on this trip was the existence of the hard coral acropora, not only in abundance, but in pristine condition. This was a surprise as much of it has been destroyed in other parts of the Indian Ocean since the 1998 El Nino year. It was an exciting discovery and we hope to have more opportunities to dive further south in the future as our discoveries in this region demonstrated that many of these reefs and islands are equally as impressive as Mafia with their coral diversity and marine life.

We felt privileged to be in an area, which is unique in that it is relatively untouched with very little evidence of dynamite fishing. However we did discover a huge number of Crown of Thorns starfish on Afisi Reef to the south of Simaya Island, not far from the mainland. It was incredible to witness the number of these creatures wending their way like a spiky carpet across the reef, destroying it as they travel. This was the only reef in the area where we saw this destructive sight.

Simaya Island had a fascinating array of marine life, particularly the abundance of whip coral, which gives one the feeling of swimming through an underwater forest. On our second dive there on the way back north we had very poor visibility, however in the right conditions this island is an excellent dive site with beautiful beaches and a good anchorage in a natural harbour on the north side.

Kilwa proved to be a real treat with its superb ruins that date back to the 900’s. These ruins, with their Arabic and Portuguese influence, are extensive and impressive and give the visitor a real sense of the important part this region played in Tanzania’s trading history. We spent a few hours wandering around the ruins and didn’t even make it to the Husuni Kubwa and Husuni Ndogo complex some 1.5 km away from the main ruins. Renovations are taking place at the Great Mosque co-financed by France, Japan, Tanzania and UNESCO.

We had a very friendly welcome at the Kilwa Lodge from James and Kerry, who are looking after the watersports there. We took a trip with James and some of the other visitors through the mangroves in search of the resident hippos. Unfortunately we missed them but we were assured that they are around and it would certainly be a great location to relax and enjoy the tranquillity of the area along with the birdlife within the mangroves.

After our trip south we returned to Dar and were delighted to receive a copy of the latest edition of the UK publication “Country” (the magazine of the Country Gentleman’s Association) in which there is a fabulous 4 page full colour article all about us. To view article click here.

We have begun to note our guests comments on our Guest Book page – Enjoy!

Click here for the November Captain’s Log

Click here for the September Captain’s Log

Click here for the August Captain’s Log