Captain’s Log March 2004

CAPTAIN’S LOG January to March 2004

2004 began with New Year party celebrations at Ras Nungwi, Zanzibar.

After the party we disembarked our Italian group on 2nd January at Mbegani, north of Dar es Salaam and Eric & I sailed back to Dar to make preparations for our family trip to Dubai from 4th – 9th January to celebrate my father’s 70th birthday. However, no sooner had we dropped anchor back at Dar Yacht Club, than my mother phoned to say Dubai was off as my father had been taken into hospital. Sadly he spent his birthday in hospital undergoing more tests.

I spent the next week phoning UK to find out more information. On 10th January I was able to talk to my Dad briefly just before we sailed across with a group of yachts from DYC to Pamunda island in Menai Bay.

He was in reasonably good spirits, but the Doctors still had not identified what was actually wrong with him and he was obviously having trouble talking easily due to a nasty cough which was affecting his breathing. We said our goodbyes and I was anxious about when I would next speak to him, as we were to be away until Wednesday evening.

We had a lovely weekend relaxing with friends and showing some of the group the wonderful mangrove lagoon we had recently discovered on Kwale Island. Then we went for a dive at Kipwa Gini just west of Kwale and added this site to our growing list of activities for our guests on board.

We were able to share this site within the next couple of days, as we collected a delightful honeymoon couple, Justin & Emma, from Chapwani Island on 12th January for a 2 day trip sailing back to Dar es Salaam, stopping off to dive, snorkel, relax and enjoy en route. Justin was a diver so we dived at a couple of sites with him, including Kipwa Gini and although Emma had a try in the shallows, she decided she was more comfortable with snorkelling. Despite this the couple had a lovely time on board, savouring the food and wine. We enjoyed their company and also their delight at their experience.

After returning to Dar we had a couple of birthday parties on board over the next few days.

We took a group of 4 across to Mbudya for a sunset dinner cruise, fed them all kinds of delicious seafood and even treated them to an electric tropical storm on the way back. It was really quite exciting and luckily none of the group were worried by it. A couple of days later we took another group out to Sinda for a 40th birthday party. We had a fantastic sail, lots of seafood and wine and they enjoyed their day thoroughly. On returning to Dar we enjoyed sunset in the Bay and good music and conversation into the early evening.

Sadly, however, events back home had taken a serious turn for the worse. My father had been taken back into hospital on the 12th January and it was only then confirmed that he did have cancer after all, despite being diagnosed and then given the okay back in November. Even at this time they were giving him maybe 6 months to a year, possibly 2 years if he was lucky. However, we had a survey job coming up which would take us out of phone range so I decided that it was best if I bowed out of that trip, as I wanted to be in regular phone contact with home. Eric only left on the Tuesday evening (20th Jan) and I got a call from Mum on the Wednesday to say the Doctors suggested I come home. I flew out the next day arriving on Friday 23rd and by late the following Friday my Dad had passed away. Even the Doctors were stunned at how quickly the cancer had taken hold and robbed my Dad of his life. All I can say is that I was incredibly fortunate that I had spent 5 weeks back home with him before Christmas and that I was at least able to be there during his final week of life. Eric made it to his bedside with just about an hour to sit with him before he finally gave up his fight.

As a consequence I spent the next few weeks in England helping my mum cope with everything and closing off Dad’s affairs to the best of our ability and simply being there for each other. Eric had already planned a trip to Australia late February/ early March to work on his Ferry project, so we were at opposite sides of the world until late March when we both arrived back in Dar to get back to work on Amarula.

On the brighter side, Eric became a grandfather in February. His first grandchild, a boy named Bayden, being born to his son, Daniel & partner, Kim. Fortunately this was timed perfectly with his visit to Australia, so he was able to spend time with his new grandson. Sorry no photos yet……

As I mentioned earlier, we had a survey job at the end of January, which Eric undertook along with a young man, Mike, substituting for me whilst I went to UK. Mike was visiting his father in Dar es Salaam and was delighted to have the opportunity to go along on the job with Eric. We had been approached last year to work on a fisheries project to change fishing methodology from set surface gill nets to more target specific long lines and drop lines. The intention of this project is to avoid incidental catch of dolphins and whale calves in the gill nets and also to reduce navigational hazards created by the nets. Fish Aggregation Devices (FADs) have been widely used in the Pacific Ocean and more locally in the Indian Ocean at Mauritius, Seychelles and Madagascar. Indian Ocean FADs are made up of floating headgear with a marker buoy and radar reflector, connected by a combination of specific ropes and chain to an anchor on the bottom, the success of which is corresponding to the depth of water in which they are set, ideally 800 metres, but also they must be accessible by local fishermen and their traditional fishing boats. With Eric’s varied and local fishing experience and knowledge he was well placed to assist in the procurement of the components required for the FADs and with SV. Amarula, we were able to undertake the bathometric survey, more details of which can be found by clicking this link

Eric & I returned to Dar towards the end of March and had a great weekend with friends over at Menai Bay exploring the Kwale Lagoon again (we love this place!) and also checking out another great dive site at Bedford Banks.

We nearly always catch a fish when we sail over this area so we decided to see how it rated as a dive site. Apart from a strong current, making it more of an advanced than a novice dive site, the visiblity was excellent and fish life stunning. I was particularly excited because I was finally able to shoot photos underwater as Eric had picked up the special underwater housing we had ordered for our camera back in Oz last September. We made it back to Dar in time for the Yacht Club Closing Regatta Sail Past. This is where the fleet sail past the outgoing Commodore to show their respect and gratitude for his year in office, or perhaps throw waterbombs if they were not so impressed! It was a lot of fun and a great way to end the weekend.

We have a number of short trips and events planned for the coming months so our calendar is filling up fast. With that we look forward to seeing you on board soon.

Why not read our Guest Book page – Enjoy!

Click here for our Oct – Dec 2003 Captain’s Log

Click here for the July – Sept 2003 Captain’s Log

Click here for the June 2003 Captain’s Log (land-based safari trip)

Click here for the March/ April 2003 Captain’s Log (Mafia- Kilwa trip)

Click here for the December/ January 2003 Captain’s Log

Click here for the October/ November 2002 Captain’s Log (Aldabra & Cosmoledo trip)

FOR OUR 2002 AUSTRALIA TO TANZANIA LOG & PHOTOS – CLICK HERE

Click here to view our 4 page full colour article in the UK publication “Country” (the magazine of the Country Gentleman’s Association)