East African sailing trip – log 39

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September 24, 2004

sundown beach
sundown beach

Perfection is a word which cannot always be attributed to life at sea, but today is an exception. The ocean is flat as a pond, the sky a clear brilliant blue, uncluttered by clouds. We have to motor all the way to Sangarungu Bay, where we settle in a beautiful cove, just off Mnara Island.

At 5:00pm we set off with a cooler and deck chairs to enjoy our little cove, complete with white sandy beach and enclosed by a half circle wall and overhang of rugged by sandstone; sculptured by the hand of time, wind, and sea. It forms a spectacular backdrop while in the foreground lie rock-pools inhabited by tiny fish, mantis shrimps and sea-snails.

sunset in paradise
sunset in paradise

We arrange our chairs with our backs to the walls and look out towards the mangroves and calm bay, where our sailing catamarans are silhouetted against nature’s canvas of fiery tones.

Thoughts of pirate ships waft through my mind. Today it’s hard to believe that these waters were once infested with pirate dhows as they visited prominent trading ports collecting their living cargo. Contrary to popular belief the perpetrators were not predominately from European countries but rather from the Arab regions.

songa songa
songa songa

My thoughts are disrupted by the laughter from our little group enjoying the peaceful surrounding and the fellowship we enjoy together. I enter the moment, leaving behind my downcast mind-roaming. It has become darker and we pack up and head for the lights and comfort of yacht Manatee for our evening dinner.

The meal consists of grilled fish and a huge serving of Greek salad washed down by a cold beer-shandy (half beer, and half lemonade). With appetites satisfied, our eyelids begin to droop and we make our way back to Karibu and our cozy cabin; the lullaby comes from the calls of the night-jars; the splashing of fish jumping around our hull; and the high-pitched din of the painted reed frogs.


remnents of the slave holdings
building where the slaves were held while waiting for the traders

Here is a short history lesson on slavery in this area – taken from www.histclo.com

The profits from the East African plantations induced the Sultan of Oman, Sayyid Said, to relocate his capital from Oman to the east African island of Zanzibar (1840). The Sultan’s sovereignty at the time extended from southern Somalia to northern Mozambique. One source estimates that 1850 when the British Royal Navy was just beginning to turn its attention to the Indian Ocean slave trade that Arab traders were shipping about 20,000 Africans to slave markets annually.

rootclad wall
trees have grown around the ancient walls in an amazing way

An even larger number of Africans would have been killed in the attacks taking slaves and on the sad columns of Africans that winded their way from the interior to the Indian Ocean coast. The mortalities in the Eastern slave trade were especially high because the Arabs were primarily after women and children which meant the men had to be killed. This was not, however, a largely naval problem.

The Arab slave trade had once been focused on bringing slaves to Middle Eastern markets. Now with the growth of palm oil and spice plantations, there was a need for large number of slaves in East Africa itself.

September 25, 2004

Wolf and Rhett are out fishing at the crack of dawn, but the fish are either not hungry or still asleep. We eat breakfast and move over to a nearby island called Sanji ya kati. Apparently there are ruins ashore but as we sail past scanning for them through the binoculars we don’t see them.

We continue along the inside passage which is really shallow and has us holding our breath as skim over the sand.

Fresh baked blueberry muffins
Fresh baked blueberry muffins

I decide to bake muffins and a batch of scones and while we sail side-by-side, I radio Manatee and ask if they would like some with their tea. Rhett has no hesitation, still sailing he gets Denise to take the wheel and he drops Duck Manatee into the water and speeds over, pulling alongside us. By the time he is back onboard, he has eaten 2 blueberry muffins. After all he tells Denise… they are his favourite especially when they are warm.

We pass the ruins on Kilwa Island; sail around the point and drop anchor in front of the Kilwa Lodge. James the manager of the fishing concession, comes out to welcome us and invites us to join them ashore.

kilwa lodge
kilwa lodge

We enjoy our mid-afternoon siesta (it’s a hard life this sailing – hehe) then freshen up and head for the beach. Aahh civilization, at last! The staff and manager, Alyn (not a misspelt) Myberg, are all ultra-friendly.

We order sundowners and soak up the atmosphere. Sitting under the big thatch covered – open-sided boma facing the beach on comfortable couches, telling our sailing adventures and listening to their fishing stories; which of course have Wolf and Rhett spellbound. We meet the whole Lodge family, Brigitte and Jason the restaurant managers, Kerry James’ wife and their 2 kids Kent and Tyra, Nick the Boat maintenance Manager, and Irvine Beserk (Captain Morgan) who writes articles for magazines like Ski-Boat and Fly-Fishing etc.


Kilwa Ruins Lodge is the only fishing lodge in a 400 kilometer stretch of the Indian Ocean spanning Pemba in northern Mozambique and Dar es Salaam in central Tanzania. Sport fishing is at its absolute best here. In fact as we sail towards Kilwa our catamarans pass over a reef. With fishing rods out over the back – within a course of a few minutes Rhett had 3 of his best rapallas (lures) and all his tackle snapped off his rods.

Wolf fights a hefty fish only to lose it meters from our boat. Yellow-fin and massive “dog-toothed” tuna abound in these waters tempting anyone who wishes to pit their strength against that of the mighty “yellow dog” of the sea. Catching 100 pounders almost borders on the mundane at Kilwa Ruins Lodge, with 200 pounders being landed as often as the strength and stamina of the angler permits.

An abundance of species, including sailfish, marlin, giant trevally, wahoo and dorado, to mention but a few, join in the feeding frenzy making a haul of four or five different species in one day is commonplace.

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