Captain’s Log August 2007

August 2007 – latest update (at last!!)

For crewmate Rhona’s Ramblings – oops Princess’s Ponderings click No 1No 2No 3 , No 4No 5No 6 ….phew I can’t keep up with all these ponderings myself!

We are now 3 months into our ‘World’ cruise of East Africa. After a short shakedown trip the first week of May to Lazy Lagoon, just north of Dar es Salaam we returned to Dar to finish off our provisioning and say our goodbyes – yet again – before we finally set sail south on May 12th.

Our intention was to leave at midday having partied hard the night before, however leaving Dar Yacht Club wasn’t going to be that easy! As our butter and chocolates were melting on the quarter deck other friends arrived for that final last farwell drink, again….. Finally at 1600 hours we let our mooring of the past 5 years go and made it to Sinda Island, just 10NM south east to anchor for the night. Next morning we had yet another farewell party at Sinda as 3 yachts from DYC sailed over for the day!

By Monday 14th May we really were on our way and sailed south to Mafia Island where we met up with old Dar friends, Jem & Brenda, who are running a coconut plantation there and making a wide variety of coconut soaps – Thanks Brenda we love them! After very wet ‘raindowners’ & snacks onboard we carried on south through Bawara Banks and had a couple of days at Songo Songo before heading to Kilwa. Having assisted with the Songo Songo environmental survey 4 years ago, it was interesting to go ashore again and discover what developments had taken place. It was also great to re-visit Kilwa and take in more of the history of the place and catch up with James and Kerry again at Kilwa lodge.

We spent a few days relaxing in the river at Kilwa and visiting the extensive and fascinating ruins, which in our opinion rate as some of the most interesting in the region. Having visited Zanzibar, Mombasa, Lamu and more recently Ilha Mozambique, Kilwa has to be up there as a top historical site. Kilwa was one of the principal trading centres on East African coast, dealing in Gold, Ivory & slaves but declined as a city soon after the Portuguese departed, early in the 16th Century. After only 10 years occupancy, they returned to their provincial capital of Ilha Mozambique and, according to McPhun’s East Africa Pilot, Kilwa “suffered an ignominious end when attacked by the Zimba tribe who ate most of the inhabitants’!

From Kilwa we sailed south into new territory (for us) and enjoyed the picturesque rivers and bays down the TZ coast as far as Mtwara, stopping off at Kiswere Harbour, Mzungu Bay, Lindi and the Sudi River.

Whilst provisioning for general fruit & veg supplies was to prove quite a mission along the coast, even in the grand metropolis of Mtwara, we’ve had no shortage of fishermen paddling alongside with their catches of the day and with purchases such as 1.7kg of lobsters for about $5 and 6 crabs and 6 lemon sole all for about $2, we certainly aren’t complaining. And we don’t even have to get dressed to go and haggle in the market!

Mikindani Bay just north of Mtwara was a beautiful spot and we enjoyed drinks at the elegantly restored German Boma in the town and at Eco2, which offers diving in this area. This region still retains a German architectural influence as it was an important part of German East Africa until the end of WW1. The whole Mtwara, Mikindani and Mnazi Bay area is well worth a visit and we hope to spend more time there on the way back to Dar in a couple of months, as the weather was generally not conducive to exploring & diving in May though we managed a few dips that whet the appetite for more!

Departing Tanzania was a very civilised affair with the immigration officer coming aboard to stamp our passports and the Port Captain providing the necessary port clearances for our next port of call, which was to be Palma just south of the border in Mozambique. With permission from the relevant authorities we spent a few days relaxing and diving in Mnazi Bay then crossed the border into Mozambique on June 5th.

We entered Palma, a picturesque coastal village, where we completed the immigration formalities and attempted to do our port clearances, however the Port Officer had gone away for a few days, so we were told to check in when we got to Pemba.

We spent a couple of days with excellent snorkelling & diving at Ilha Tecomagi, where we saw plenty of fish, some interesting coral gardens and a close encounter with a turtle. Unfortunately Hannes started with a high fever soon after we crossed into Mozambique and after treating him for malaria and a posible kidney infection there was little improvement so we arranged to have him evacuated back to Dar where he was admitted into IST Clinic. Not long after admission he was diagnosed with septicemia and an amoeba, a cocktail we were not equipped to either diagnose or treat properly onboard. We’re happy to report that he soon recovered back in Dar and joined us again on July 10th in Pemba, Mozambique.

En route to Mocimboa de Praia we stopped off at the beautiful islands of Vamizi and Rondui, both part of the Maluane Project, which is one of the many organisations developing the Quirimbas and turning the islands into eco-resorts for exclusive markets. Whilst the Quirimbas are a beautiful destination we felt that, as a sailing destination they do not offer a great deal, the lagoons are quite shallow, anchorages are often choppy and a long way offshore due to the fringing reefs. Many of the islands offer exclusive resorts & our experience was that they don’t always welcome visitors. We found that the region south of the Quirimbas including Pemba, Memba and Nacala Bays and the bays around Ilha Mozambique offered more protection, beautiful beaches and reefs with some excellent diving and fantastic whale watching opportunities.

During the first week of July, a family from South Africa joined us to explore the southern Quirimbas between Ibo and Pemba Bay. Unfortunately we had rather windy, overcast weather for the first few days and some rather green guests as the wind had whipped up the waves off the coast. Luckily we did manage some calmer diving off Wimbe Beach and some more relaxed sailing in Pemba Bay towards the end of their trip.

Ibo is an interesting historical island with 3 Portuguese forts and some amazing mangroves surrounding the island, which are only navigable at high tide.

However with all the derelict, overgrown buildings Ibo was reminiscent of the Chagos (which is uninhabited – long story and worth reading about if you do an internet search for Chagos Archipelago). The difference is that Ibo is still inhabited.

On Quissiva Island just south of Ibo we found more ruins and a lovely long sand spit, which Chui thoroughly enjoyed chasing his frisbee and the crabs around.

Hannes rejoined us on July 10th and after re-provisioning and exploring Pemba Town with its spectacular views over Pemba Bay and impressive monument to Samora Machel, we set sail south towards Ilha Mozambique.

En route we anchored in Rio Lurio, Porto de Simuco and Baia de Memba. Each place offering much better protection than the Quirimbas and the diving in Memba Bay was the most impressive since leaving Tanzania. We even scored 6 lobsters on a night dive!

The highlight of the trip so far has to be Ilha Mozambique. Approaching the island with its imposing fort on the northern tip one gets a feeling of being transported back in time to a whole different era. The town is now a world heritage site and the whole island is only 2km by 700 metres, so it is easy to wander round, take in the historical sites and get a feel for present day ‘Ilha’ as the inhabitants bustle around getting on with their day to day lives. The church within the fort dates back to 1522 and is allegedly the oldest European building in the southern hemisphere. Walking around Ilha you come across buildings such as the white-washed Catholic Church out on the point, the dominant hospital building, which was the biggest and best equipped hospital in the whole of Mozambique during the days when Ilha was the capital city and the impressive Palace Museum, which started out as a Jesuit convent, then became the governor’s palace and is now an excellent museum with artifacts from around the globe. The only downside to our visit to Ilha was the overwhelming stench as we dinghied ashore, as the locals tend to use the beaches as their public toilets!

Leaving Ilha we headed north again to Nacala where we were to rendevous with Rhona after her stint back at work in Dar. We were rewarded with numerous close encounters with whales, some being almost too close for comfort! One came up right in front of us as we were sailing and we had to veer to port as he came alongside our starboard side. The water was so clear we were treated to an amazing site of the whale, which was as long as our boat! Fantastic!

Luckily for us we also managed to meet up with ex-Dar friends, Billy & Denise, who are

now back in South Africa. Billy had to come up to Mozambique for work so we persuaded him to bring Denise along for a holiday away from her granny duties back in SA. We managed a whale watching trip with Denise, then Rhona arrived back and the girls had a great time catching up with plenty of bubbly flowing! After provisioning for our trip across to Madagascar we said goodbye to Billy and Denise and set sail from Nacala on August 10th.

More to come later………

We hope more of you can join us from time to time as we sail. Just drop us a text e-mail to our gmail address or to the one on the contacts page. Not sure what GPRS internet facilities there are in Madagascar so bear with us if we don’t get back to you for a while.

For previous Captain’s Logs, please click here