East African sailing trip – log 26

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September 9, 2004

Dhow ferry coming into the port at Ibo island
Dhow ferry coming into the port at Ibo island

As the sun announces the new day we set sail through the northern channel.

The welcoming SE fills our spinnaker and pulls us along at 5-6kts. Rhett radios us to tell us that we are heading for Ilha da Ibo.

We arrive and anchor in the lee of the island in 2.2mt of water over sand and sea-grass.

 Duck Manatee fetches us and transports us around the point to the old town and port jetty.

Ibo ancient and beautiful
Ibo ancient and beautiful

This ancient but still beautiful island is now a Nature Reserve and a Heritage site. Historically it is important because it was the centre for Arabian slave trading and later fortified by the Portuguese.

The forts are still standing and we explore the main one. Fort de Sáo Joás still has its original canons intact.

We stroll through the streets, along cobble-stone walkways, past houses covered in cowrie shells.

Cowrie shells cover the walls of this house
Cowrie shells cover the walls of this house

Although dilapidated the architecture is fascinating and one can easily imagine the splendour and opulence of its former “glory-days”.

Two ancient Mosques and a Portuguese Church built in 1580 still stand proudly having withstood the ravages of civil war, plundering and time.

Within the entrance courts of the old fort, silversmiths still ply their ancient craft of minutely delicate filigree jewelry. The silver they use is from melted down coins and the process is interesting to watch.
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Stunning silver filagree jewelry hand-crafted on Ibo
Stunning silver filagree jewelry hand-crafted on Ibo

Unfortunately we did not take money ashore so I didn’t buy any of these exquisite pieces. My photographs and videos are a reminder of these enterprising artisans and their unique product; as well as this welcoming and friendly island. 

By the time we are back on our yachts the wind has strengthened and we follow Manatee’s lead by hoisting the spinnaker. This causes a calamity as Wolf did not secure the snuffer-bag lines when he gives me the instruction to loosen off the sheet.

Fort on Ibo Island
built to last

Before we realize it and can do anything about it the snuffer-bag (spinnaker sock) shoots up to the top of the mast, and the rope to pull it down is flapping in the wind. Too high for us to reach… Big Problem!!!  

The only way to retrieve it is for Wolf to go up the mast – scary stuff as the sea is choppy. He straps himself into the boson’s chair and I begin to winch him up. Eventually with the boathook in one hand, the other holding onto the mast for dear life. He manages to miraculously hook the rope; I do honestly believe this was a miracle considering the circumstances as well as the sea and wind conditions. 

Barbi & Wolf - living with passion
Barbi & Wolf - living with passion

Once firmly back on deck, the wind now even stronger, we fight to pull the sock down – it has snagged and our combined strength and prayers are needed to get it loose. Finally the spinnaker is safely stowed and we sit in the cockpit visibly shaken and exhausted, with an added respect for the surrounding elements and a realization of just how alert we need to be – constantly! 

The plan is to anchor off  Matemo Island where the Rani Hotel Group are developing another resort. For some time now Wolf and I have been considering the option to hook up with one of these resorts and manage their charter –boat services.

But as we contemplate the reality of the work this entails (having had several years’ experience in the Comores Archipelago) we are facing doubts and misgivings; the logistics of and isolation from family and civilization weighs heavily causing us to shelve this plan.

Note about Matemo Island:

Matemo Island in the Quirimbas Archipelago, Mozambique, is 2400 hectares in size, with palm groves, palm vegetation and vast vistas. Discover the island, go for beach walks and enjoy striking sunsets that flood the skies with dazzling hues. The resort consists of 24 palm-thatched chalets: twelve twin beds; twelve queen size beds. Each chalet has an en-suite bathroom with indoor and outdoor showers…

addition: At the time we sailed past this island the resort was under construction.


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