East African sailing trip – log 42

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September 29, 2004

village bandas
village bandas

The wind blew consistently through the night nevertheless our departure time was scheduled for dawn. The tide is running out and we have to negotiate huge over-falls to get out of the mouth. By the time we are over the reef the swell is about 6ft – luckily we are heading only a short way to the island lying opposite the mouth. We spot the white sand beach with the lone palm tree of Rukira Island, and head straight towards it, hoping it will offer shelter from the wind and swell.


The wind is a speedy 26-27 knots and there is no respite. We find an anchorage and decide to sit it out until the ocean becomes friendlier. 10:30am finds us reading in our cabin. The noise caused by the water slapping the hulls is deafening. By high tide our little beach and only protection is flooded – and we are completely exposed which worsens the slapping and rodeo-bucking motion.

Thankfully low-tide brings a few hours of relief, but this soon changes as the wind strengthens and blows a squall across our deck. We are out like a shot, closing hatches and rigging the rain-catcher tarp which Rhett has loaned us. We have had no rain since July 11, 2004 and would feel a whole lot better if we could catch water to fill our tanks. Wolf struggles in the wind to install it, losing a bungee-cord in the process.

rain squall
rain squall

Finally it is stretched out ready to capture whatever falls into its funnel shaped surface complete with hose fed into the tanks. We wait with baited breath – the rain subsides… we notice about 20 liters slowly draining through the hose when all of a suddenly a gust of wind catches the tarp and lifts it, spilling its precious contents onto the deck. The lonesome cloud that had dumped its load moves off as quickly as it appeared, without releasing another drop.

Sea conditions have not changed much although the wind has weakened. We eat breakfast and unanimously agree to take our chances; heading on to Fangove Island about 20 nm northward. The sea is still rough and we encounter another area of over-falls as we move from a depth of 10 meters into the deeper channel.
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Fangove island
Fangove island

We reach Fangove, a gorgeous Island which looks as if it belongs on a post-card, unfortunately as we sail closer we realize that as beautifully enticing as it is, the anchorage is still rough, and is right in front of a thriving fishing village with dhows heading back and forth from the mainland.

It’s still early enough to make our next desired haven Pumbavu, a little islet close to Songa Songa. The anchorage is no different from our last one but it is now 3:15pm so we drop our picks into the sandy bottom and ride the swells. Tomorrow we will get an early start and hope the wind plays kindly with us. This just isn’t the weather we ordered…

October 1, 2004

Another awful noisy, bouncy night! None of us slept too well… We weigh anchor eager to get moving, in these conditions it is usually easier just to be sailing. We hope to make it through the Jabundu channel on Mafia Island. This is an extremely narrow channel fraught with hazards; shallow sand bars, coral-heads, winds, tidal rips and local dhow traffic. We want bright enough day-light to navigate our wide catamarans through this channel safely with sufficient time to sail to the anchorage just off the lodge on Cholé Island.

Blessings are with us, because we arrive in the channel at noon under clear blue skies. The wind has dropped slightly, the water is crystal clear allowing me to stand on the bow and give directions to Wolf at the wheel. We pass through without incident and anchor as planned.

It doesn’t take long to realize that we are in for another uncomfortable night – although protected from the wind the tide rips past the point where our boats hang onto the chain for dear life. Water whacks and wallops the hulls with thunderous blows. It’s no point listening to our soothing collection of CDs and conversation is unpleasant when it is shouted between each other. I stuff earplugs into my ears in order to read. Nobody told me to expect this.

I am becoming depressed, and honestly miss my new Country, Canada 10,000 miles away.

“I’m tired, frustrated and I wanna go home!”

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