East African sailing trip – log 52

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October 18, 2004

At daybreak we set sail in a light drizzle under overcast skies. Everything feels damp and cold, even our spirits. The swells are big and side-on, making the going uncomfortable and bumpy. I have been nauseous for 2 days and these conditions don’t help. I am not one to get seasick so it must be something I ate.

How quickly things can change – the sun breaks through the cloud-cover and floods us in light and warmth. Instantaneously our disposition shifts to match the welcoming rays… suddenly excitement replaces despondency, anticipation replaces trepidation and delight replaces reluctance. How I have longed to walk the streets of Stone-Town, Zanzibar…

We stop at the island called Miwi along the way; however Rhett is not happy with the anchorage so we proceed to another group of 4 islands known as Pamunda. We anchor in time for ‘siesta’- I read while the captain naps.

Surrounded by beauty beyond description, I am in awe. This is the stuff of glossy travel magazines – crystal clear turquoise water, white sandy beaches and jagged weather-hewn sandstone outcrops.  Rhett has spied the perfect place to enjoy our well-deserved sun downers – he says it is ‘picture perfect’ and reminds him of the beach in the movie “Blue lagoon” – I think it is even better! The idealic setting more than compensates for the roly unpleasant anchorage and the rain-showers during the night.

It is summed it in this true and profound quotation

“When I forget how talented God is, I look to the sea”… Whoopi Goldberg
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October 19, 2004

We hurry to pull up the anchor and move on. It is raining but the sun evaporates the clouds in no time, burning through mercilessly. Wolf has his job cut out, skirting the fishing nets and shallow reefs. The sun reflects mischievously off the water causing optical illusions and confusing us as we try to make out the clear plastic water bottles which the locals use here, as floats for their fishing nets.  

The wind is coming from behind us but is too weak to fill the sails; also motor-sailing gives us more maneuverability and ‘dodgability’. I take advantage of the power to save and sort hundreds of photographs from the camera to my laptop.

We head to Kwale Island and realize that it offers no calm anchorage in these conditions. Rhett heads for Chumbe Island (a marine reserve which is renowned for magnificent diving). After checking the charts Wolf decides to take the shortest route on the inside passage past Bawe Island, assuming yacht Manatee would follow.  They realize we are not following and that the anchorage is unsuitable and head directly for Zanzibar Harbour. They are under the impression that we have discussed the plans but we are in the dark.

We arrive at Bawe and radio a message that the anchorage is calm, quiet and beautiful. By this time they are already in Zanzibar getting ready to proceed through check-in formalities. Wolf says we are on our way and we open the throttles to get there as quickly as possible.

Customs and immigration process goes smoothly, with Denise and I remaining onboard our yachts as guardians. We have heard that it is not advisable to overnight in the harbour. We did hear that the Mtoni Marine Lodge about 2 nm from the harbour offers a great anchorage and friendly hospitality to visiting yachts and crew.

Mtoni Marine is a family friendly Lodge 10 minutes from Stone Town the capital of Zanzibar. The lodge offers great facilities including the large thatched-roof open-sided beach bar where one can lounge on hand-carved divans covered in overstuffed cushions. I found the décor fascinating – ancient chests, carvings, and artifacts – furniture obviously crafted locally by skilled artisans in the tradition of the times of Sultans. The Arab influence permeates throughout the buildings, adding to charm and mystique of this island.

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