East African sailing trip – log 30

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September 14, 2004

The River Ruvuma forms the border between Mozambique and Tanzania and before heading out to sea and up the coast, Rhett leads us across Suafo bay and into the Ruvuma River.

Raising the Tanzanian Flag
Raising the Tanzanian Flag

We sail up  the river for about a mile when he turns to face the mouth – we sail to meet them and stop alongside them.

He and Denise begin a flag raising ceremony, exchanging the Mozambique flag for the Tanzanian. Rhett salutes while the flag is hoisted.

We shout Swahili greetings to each other in the limited phrases we have learned.

“Jumbo – habari?” he shouts,

“Nzuri, habari yako?” I respond. 

Whales playing
Whales playing

The African sun is bright and warm on our bare shoulders, the wind is gently playing with my hair, I breathe the scent of the river, and the African bush…

I listen to the sounds of the birds and insects.  I am home; where my roots reach deep into this red earth… I am one with this unique land.

I am filled with gratitude and overwhelmed with emotion. 

When Wolf and I set off on this cruise we did not expect to visit Tanzania. We had instead planned on visiting and staying in Madagascar for at least 6 months – we had 2 x 3 months visas and yet circumstances had directed us to this moment.

a calm and restful anchorage
a calm and restful anchorage

An opportunity to explore and discover this area; Tanzania with her 500 miles of coastline, numerous wide and navigable rivers, hundreds of islands and estuaries and wilderness is a adventure we will always cherish. 

We leave the river and travel a few hours in perfect conditions, the wind filling our spinnaker like a swollen belly as we glide across the ocean to our next waypoint signifying our entry point into Mnazi Bay. By 11:00am we are bobbing at anchor. 

Rhett and Denise fetch us later, for a walk ashore to find out where the immigration offices are. I have a bad headache and decide to stay onboard. I felt that I needed to stay out of the sun and wind. A while later they drop Wolf back to collect our papers and passports. 

Clearing customs and immigration by flashlight
Clearing customs and immigration by flashlight

They had met the immigration officer on the beach – he had just completed a diving course and needed to get back to his village. Seeing this as a great opportunity he suggests they take him by dingy so that he can check them in at the same time. With only an hour to sundown they set off unaware of the distance to the village. The sea around the point is rough but they have no time to waste trying to get there as fast as possible in order to get back before dark. 

African Sunset
African Sunset

They ride the breakers onto the shore, walked 300mts to the police station where the immigration process begins. There is no power in the building and it is dark. By the light of Denise’s flash-light they are able to see the documents they are signing.

By the faint line of light slipping quickly beneath the horizon they make their way through the surf and back around the point. 

I have switched on the mast light and they are able to find their way back to our boats in the pitch dark. I have made dinner and once we have eaten it is early to bed for all of us. Exhausted but content…

Our Tanzanian expedition has really begun.

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