East African sailing trip – log 62

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November 1, 2004

Today is our 18th Anniversary, we make arrangement to go ashore for a celebration dinner but then change our minds. We check buoy-weather. They predict a strong wind in the late afternoon and we think it better to go out for lunch instead. We choose the Amaan restaurant for its gorgeous setting. Wolf orders calamari and I opt for a mutton curry – our food is scrumptious and the view is spectacular. We see Karibu floating on the turquoise ocean framed by the palm arches, what an exquisite sight.

On our way back we take a dingy ride around the northern tip and discover a lovely bay with the dhow fishing fleet and small village. This is home to Zanzibar’s largest boat builders where many Dhows in various stages of construction can be seen.

The tumbledown fishing village has been overlooked by a rapidly increasing number of guesthouses, bars, shops, restaurants and backpackers just minutes from the village. Grey haired bohemians, young couples, gap-year students and yuppie professionals escaping city jobs are all drawn to its white sand, stage-set palm trees, turquoise sea and sparkling sunshine. The setting of Nungwi is beautiful, but the number of people, the hustle and bustle of tourists and seemingly uncontrolled development, although low level, take the edge off its charm.

We weave in and out of the dhows anchored in the bay, making our way to investigate smoke coming from the beach. As we approach we notice some dhows chocked with supporting poles lined along the shore. Fires burn low under the boats and people stand by with wet rags to subdue the flames if it should flare up. We assume that this is a way of getting rid of barnacles and other unwanted growth from the hulls.

We zoot off to explore a small nearby island and then head back to Karibu, we see a small yacht and decide to dingy closer to introduce ourselves to the crew. The skipper is a Danish national Andros and his Russian wife Ludmilla, after chatting a while we invite them to join us on Karibu for sun downers. This couple have been sailing for 9 years and by the time they get through the Suez into the Mediterranean they will have completed their circumnavigation; all these miles, in their little 32’ single-hull yacht with their cat to accompany them. 

All in all this special day is one we will remember and cherish always.

 November 2, 2004
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We offer to drop our new acquaintance off on the beach so that they can explore while we watch their boat, and we take another look at the Dhow building operation on the Northern tip of Nungwi.

There are no less than 100 boats of all shapes and sizes in the harbour. We had hoped to go ashore but the tide is way out and it would have meant leaving our dingy floating and walking the rest of the way to the beach, which did not appeal to Wolf.

We go in as close as possible and see boats in various stages of completion under the thatch roofed shelters. Generations of craft-men have worked this way on the beach outside the village for eons, turning the hardwood trees in the area into planks to build strong ocean-going vessels; using only the simplest of tools. We have heard that the locals are indifferent to tourists and do not show any emotion preferring to stay aloof.

On the way back to fetch our friends we become ensnared in a fishing net. It takes 15 minutes to untangle from our propeller. We struggle so as not to damage the net but the fisherman who owns the net approaches, takes out a knife and cuts the net free.

Nungwi’s proximity to some of Africa’s best deep-sea fishing grounds – Leven Bank and the deep Pemba Channel make this an angler’s paradise, this being said it stands to reason that the locals also take advantage of these fish-rich waters, placing nets everywhere. The clear plastic water bottles they use as floats are difficult to see and are sometimes tried to a line with a weighted down bamboo fish-trap on the end.

The more dangerous method of catching fish is nets; which are strung along the surface and also buoyed up by clear plastic water bottles. This poses a bigger problem as the nets can be snagged in propellers like the experience we had. It is impossible to know as we approach these floats, whether they are attached to a trap or a net just under the surface. 

Back on Karibu, I write my journal, prepare lunch and download photographs… Life is good, I am content; I am engrossed with this place and wish we could stay forever.

We spend another wonderful evening on “St Ludmilla” chatting long into the night; their experiences keep us enthralled and the Madagascar rum and Rosé wine from Mayotte they offer us, are difficult to refuse.

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