Captain’s Log December 2009

December 2009

For once we are in time to wish you all the best for the silly season! This will be our first Christmas & New Year out of the tropics since 2001 and so far we are finding SA unseasonably cold in ‘summer’…….However Knysna is the beautiful location that we had hoped for and we are looking forward to exploring the town and region soon.

Our last news dates back to Easter 2009. Since then Lynne was in UK from late May for 3 weeks visiting family and friends and celebrating her mum’s birthday in June.

Eric’s daughter, Nicole & partner Dave came out to Tanzania to visit and had an impromptu ‘marriage‘ celebration on Pungume sandbank. Then in October, after many years in Tanzania, we dropped our mooring for possibly the last time (?!?!?) and set sail to South Africa, where we are now visiting Knysna for Christmas & New Year, then who knows……

Whilst in UK we celebrated Lynne’s mum‘s birthday with a visit to a village near Liverpool called Port Sunlight.

It began as the worker’s village for the Sunlight Soap factory and was designed by a number of architects and includes a comprehensive Art Gallery and museum. A fascinating place and well worth a visit. Amazingly whilst beaching the boat at Lazy Lagoon (an isolated lagoon a few hours sail north of Dar es Salaam) a couple of months later the only people we met walking on the beach there was a young couple who just happened to be from Port Sunlight!

In UK Lynne was also treated to a sail on her brother‘s yacht on Lake Windermere, which was fun despite the drizzly conditions.

At the end of August Nicole brought her fiancé Dave to visit Tanzania. We did the usual Zanzibar trip with Stone Town and Spice Tours, plus they spent a night ashore at a lovely boutique hotel (pre-wedding honeymoon!) In addition we went to the Fox camps in Mikumi and The Selous on safari and enjoyed both, particularly the boat safari at sunset on the Rufiji River and the sightings of wild dogs.

However the highlight of their trip was the wonderful wedding ceremony we had on a deserted sandbank off Zanzibar. With all the preparation in the world it would have been hard to improve upon the day! We had a lovely archway made out of twisted branches entwined with bouganvillea and a rock aisle leading up to an ‘altar’ table complete with music selected by Nicole & Lynne played on the laptop, Champagne and fruit laid out and lovely speeches – even the pageboys, Chui & Scrumpy, behaved well and only peed on the aisle rocks once! The location couldn’t have been better with a beautiful white sandbank surrounded by glistening tropical azure waters and bright blue tropical skies. Simple but stunning…. Nicole has some great photos on Facebook – let us know if you’d like a link to them. I am trying to figure out how to add one here (without much success!)

After we said our goodbyes to Nicole & Dave it was then time to say our goodbyes to many of our dear Dar friends. It was all too much for us to have a farewell party and having ‘left’ so many times before no-one believed we actually were leaving anyway! The down side of this was that there were people we didn’t really get a chance to say goodbye to and we apologise – we hope we are forgiven and that you all keep in touch from time to time. You can always find us via our website www.amarulasail.com or on Facebook (Lynne Dorning Sands) – Eric doesn’t do Facebook but Lynne will pass on any messages….
We have added a (long) daily log of our trip if you’d like more detail, otherwise here is a synopsis.

So, our latest cruise began on Wednesday 21st October after the usual final farewell drinks which went on for about a week, whilst we waited for gas bottles to be filled and various other loose ends to be tied up (which of course weren’t). We anchored at Sinda for the first night and had a wonderful relaxing sleep before waking up to a walk on the beach, a swim and negotiations with some local fishermen for some crabs and lobsters for lunch, after which we continued on our trip. 


Our sail took us down the coasts of Tanzania, Mozambique and South Africa with many wonderful experiences including numerous encounters with dolphins and whales, some great fishing (dorado, Spanish mackerel, wahoo, yellow fin tuna, barracuda), amazing hospitality at Linga Linga in Mozambique, meeting up with friends in Maputo, more wonderful hospitality at Zululand Yacht Club(Richard’s Bay), Buffalo River Yacht Club (East London) and ultimately Knysna Yacht Club, plus the chance to visit the Husuni Kubwa ruins at Kilwa which we hadn’t been to on our previous visits there. In addition we enjoyed many stunning beaches en route, and a mixture of fantastic sailing with current and wind carrying us along at up to and beyond 11 knots with just our headsail at times and some choppy, unpleasant conditions with big following seas and strong winds right on the nose. We probably sailed and motor-sailed 70/30 and mostly day cruised with the longest passages being from Ilha Silva (not far from Angoche) across the Beira Bight to Bazaruto Island – approximately 58 hours and Richard’s Bay to East London – approximately 45 hours.
From Dar es Salaam to Bazaruto we were almost entirely alone and apart from the occasional trade with local fishermen we had very little social contact (met up with Hannah & Woody at Kilwa early on in the passage), but we loved visiting the many different beaches, islands and sandbanks with the dogs.

Once we arrived at Linga Linga, near Inhambane we enjoyed meeting the lodge owners and other visiting yachties there, sharing stories, meals and drinks together.

At Maputo we met up with friends and had a wonderful time exploring the city and some of their favourite restaurants and enjoying their warm hospitality. Even the dogs made a new friend there, a Jack Russell/ Maltese Poodle cross, called Derek, who we took for daily walks with our two and had for playdates on the boat! In Maputo we were in a marina for the first time since we left Yamba (Australia) in April 2002! It was good to take water from the dock seeing as our water-maker had broken down a couple of weeks earlier. 
The isolation we had enjoyed at most of the anchorages down the coast was unexpectedly broken at Ilha dos Portugueses when a huge cruise ship disgorged its hundreds of passengers onto the beach nearby! Arrival in South Africa was also a shock to our systems, as we were suddenly vying for space on the international wall and in the end had to tie up alongside another boat at the end of a finger at the Tuzi Gazi marina. The cacophony of large ships, motorbikes on the dock, restaurant activity and other traffic, not to mention the wind and rain driving into the cockpit, convinced us to allow the dogs a change in their routine and let them sleep indoors. After 2 nights of this we decided to move across to the Zululand Yacht Club anchorage, which was delightful and ZYC so welcoming.
So here we are in first world South Africa after many years in deepest darkest Dar es Salaam and yet right there in our anchorage at ZYC we had hippos – yes hippos – and dolphins and apparently also crocs (however we didn’t see the crocs), then incredibly we had a stowaway onboard from Richard’s Bay to East London – what we thought was a cute green tree snake curled up on our bookshelf in the wheelhouse turned out to be a deadly Boomslang! Welcome to South Africa!
We continued our sail south using the next weather window and reached East London by December 7th, then our friends from Knysna joined us there and Trish & Lynne drove back to Knysna whilst Eric, Fitz and the dogs sailed the final leg and we made it to our destination goal of Knysna in good time for Christmas as planned. In fact ‘Amarula’ arrived in Knysna and completed her passage on 12th December, Chui’s 3rd birthday!
Now we plan to enjoy Christmas & New Year here with Trish & Fitz before they up and leave for Brazil in February. As yet we haven’t decided how long we’ll stay – we’re hoping summer kicks in soon – we’ve been told the winters here are very cold, but so far summer hasn’t even been warm yet (stop press – lovely day today!!)….
Anyway wherever you are and whatever you are doing this Christmas and New Year we send our best wishes and pray that 2010 is a great year for you. Wishing you health, wealth and happiness

Lynne, Eric, Chui & Scrumpy xxx

 For previous Captain’s Logs, please click here